Imatges de pÓgina
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EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE,

AND

Theological Review.

AUGUST, 1824.

A DISSENTER'S REASONS FOR SEPARATING FROM THE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. (Continued from page 204.)

THAT this intolerant spirit is still awake in the Establishment, and familiar to its most orthodox ministers, I can have no doubt, after reading a Sermon preached by Archdeacon Hook to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul's, on Thursday, June 18th, in the year 1818. Alluding to the expected grant of public money for the erection of new episcopal churches, and to the improved system for the education of children, the venerable Archdeacon concludes his alarum-bell oration in the following ry striking manner :

"The patrons of the prevailing fanaticism are awake, I repeat, to discern whatever opportunity may be afforded them, and of assuming the banners of the church, in order to occupy her best and strongest positions. We are, therefore, called upon to use the wisdom of the serpent, in order to prevent consequences so deplorable. We are to recollect, that in the former overthrow of the Church, the most active agents sprang from her own bosom. We are bound to call forth all our resources of prudence, of activity, and of courage; and to beware, that in endeavouring to diminish the influence of dissent without the pale of the Church, we do not commit ourselves, in this salutary design, to the mistaken zeal, or unauthorized innovations of dissenters within the Church."

Though enlivened and animated by the hope, that against a Church founded on Christian faith, and, in an eminent degree, the practice of Christian virtue, their enemies may not finally prevail against them-Mr. Archdeacon Hook appears to have forgotten, that some of the dissenters within," and of "the dissenters without" the Church, as he calls it, are members of a church which Christ loved and gave himself for-of a church, or mystical body, whose head is Christ-of a church, whose claims to veneration and obedience are of a far more exalted nature than the pretensions of any Scotch, German, Swedish, English, French, or Spanish Establishment-of an everlasting and heavenly church; so that the zeal, however mistaken, and the innovations, however unauthorized, of that evangelical ministry, and of those evangelical dissenters, may, nay, must finally prevail, when St. Paul's magnificent Cathedral shall have crumbled into dust, and when neither the Rev. James Hook's eloquent appeal to orthodox feelings and prejudices, nor old Thomas Edwards's catalogue and discovery, can even be remembered.

But, though enlivened and animated by this glorious prospect, I cannot resist the temptation of quoting once more from an anxious Promoter of Christian Knowledge-a zealous defender of the Church, alias, the Church of Englanda decided enemy, if not of the Bible, of

Pray, how was the Church overthrown? The Episcopalian Reformers got into possession of the Popish Establishment; the Presbyterians turned them out, and attempted to occupy what the others left; Charles the Second restored the Episcopalians-but the Church was not overthrown!

And, in a former overthrow, did not Cranmer, Ridley, &c. spring from the CHURCH'S (the Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome's) bosom also?

2 H

VOL. X.

those societies which circulate it.— | prudence, judgment, and all the energies "The Bible," says he, "although an of a sound mind, are scarcely less requiinspired work, does not convey inspira- site than the zeal of piety, we arrive at tion. The study of it must be prosecuted the nearest approximation to truth, like every other object of human re- which is open to human enquiry. Upon search; and where apparent contradic- this principle, that the Church of Engtions present themselves to our first land receiving the great body of evi perceptions, which will frequently be dence collected from the whole record of the case in enforcing the obligations of Revelation, hath formed it, under the particular duties, they must, instead of superintending care and tempered zeal being wrested and torn from the context, of the eminently pious and learned to create new and contending modes of Fathers of our Establishment, into a interpretation, he reconciled by a con- code of Institutes, sufficiently compresistent view of the whole tendency and hensive to embrace all who profess the bearings of the subject under investiga- distinguishing characteristics of the tion. No part or portion of Revelation Gospel;|| and narrowed only to the excan have been made in vain; and the clusion of those, whose principles miliperfect will of God can be known only tate against the doctrines of Christianity, by analyzing, comparing, and combining and the clear and obvious purposes of each separate and individual notice of Revelation. T the divine purpose,† and embodying the result of our enquiry into a system, which may safely and conscientiously be made the rule of Christian life. This is not the work of one man, or of one age. All human knowledge is progressive; and the labours of one generation form the basis of more extended information in those which succeed; and the comparison and balance of opinions thus collected, offer a second, and no less laborious process in the investigation necessary to arrive at sound and wholesome conclusions, more especially upon questions which embrace the eter

"Those who deny the authority of our Church, and persist in withdrawing themselves, as the deluded schismatics of a former age did, from its mild and apostolic controul,** would do well to con sider, whether their grounds of dissent are sufficiently grave, or their motives to it so scripturally warranted, as to justify a secession, which, by rending and tearing asunder the body of Christ,ff destroys all Christian unity: the maintenance of which, is itself as clear and distinct a duty, as any other proposed by Scripture to the obedience of mankind. ‡‡ If any man,' says St. Paul, nal interests of the whole race of man-consent not to wholesome words, even kind. Aided and enlightened by such a the words of the Lord Jesus, (and none process, in which learning, experience, other do we teach, or can teach upon the

* Perhaps a method more compendious than the Archdeacon's might be indicated: Christ says, "Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother," Mark iii. 35. The beloved Apostle affirms, that "He that DOETH the will of God abideth for ever," 1 John ii. 17.-confirming by this axiom of practical divinity his great Master's observation to the Jews, that "If any man will Do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God," John vii. 17.

+ Is it not strange, that so many whom nature and education have endowed with such ample means of ascertaining by analysis, comparison, and synthesis the divine purpose, should yet be “alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them?" It is true, that "the priest's lips should keep knowledge:" but not that knowledge which puffeth up.

That is, the perfect will of God cannot be elicited by study and meditation from the Bible itself by individuals: we cannot safely and conscientiously believe its doctrines and obey its precepts; but the only system worthy of our confidence, and capable of guiding us into all truth, is contained in the Articles of the Church of England?

And is the knowledge of Religion, of Divine Revelation progressive, like that of human arts and sciences! Is Archdeacon Hook's religion more complete than that of Paul, Peter, and James ?

As the dissenter is little concerned about the NONSENSE of this eloquent tirade, he might omit enquiring how a code of Institutes could embrace all who profess, &c.

So that all Presbyterians and dissenters in this kingdom, hold principles hostile to Christian doctrine and to the purposes of Revelation, because they will not admit some of the doctrines, and because they reject all, or several of the traditions maintained by the Church of England!

**The mild and apostolical controul of Whitgift, Bancroft, and Laud!-The mild and apostolical controul of the High Commission Court and Star Chamber!-The mild and apostolical controul of submission or death!-The mild and apostolical controui of the stake, the gibbet, the pillory, mutilation, imprisonment, &c. &c.

·

++ The very ghost of old Cyprian! Now, as Christ's people cannot be divided, his seamless tunic was not divided among its possessors; single, united, knit together, it exhibits the perfect concord existing between us his people, who have put on Christ; by the figure and type of this garment, he declared the unity of the church. Who, therefore, can be so wicked and perfidious, so infuriated by discord, as to fancy that he can rend, as to attempt to rend, the unity of God? the Lord's tunic? the church of Christ?"-De unit. Eccl.

Is the Archdeacon aware, that UNITY is not UNIFORMITY, and that the greatest impediment to the former, is the enforcement of the latter?

FROM THE COMMUNION OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.

235

Scriptures are sufficiently plain and perspicuous to admit of their being distributed among the lower and more ignorant classes of society, without either guide or comment to assist in the interpretation of them."

authority of our Church,) and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, (the duties of moral obligation through the love of God, and as a condition of acceptance,) he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, and evil surmisings.' 1 Tim. vi. 3, 4. On this ground it is that we are warned to avoid foolish questions and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, (which if words are capable of conveying instruction, apply directly to the supporters of modern dissent,)* for that they are unprofitable and vain;' and under this head, having been instructed in what heresy truly consists, a man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition,' we are commanded to reject, knowing that he that is such, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.' Titus iii. 9, 10, 11. To those who neither deny the authority, nor impeach the validity of the ordinances of the Church; to those who profess to be regulated by her discipline, who receive her hire, and have voluntarily pledged themselves to maintain her interpretations of Scripture, from a conviction of their purity and conformity to the will of God-it would seem to be unnecessary, if not insulting, to propose any arguments to enforce the duty of guarding every point of approach by which these ordinances, that discipline, and those interpretations of Scripture, may be undermined or impaired; and yet (for the truth, and the whole truth must be spoken, where such high interests are involved,) there are too many proofs publicly afforded in the present day, of a disposition on the part of men, thus bound and engaged by duty to the Established Church, to appeal from her decision to the incompetent authority of those, whose principles have led them step by step into what amounts to direct and avowed hostility against it; and in contradiction to the clear and obvious purpose of an Establishment, have united themselves in a new and strange fellowship, in order to give additional force and effect to the popular, but untenable position against which we have been contending, namely, that the

The venerable Archdeacon then proceeds to show, that Revelation's antidote or appendage, "the Offices, Liturgy, and Articles of the Church," would be very limited in their salutary operation, without the concurrence of a stronger antidote-the Priesthood. "How," says he, "when those rebellious tribes, [subaudi, the dissenters] ever prone to worship God in their own way, or, in other words, to desert his worship altogether, had gone astray, were they to be recalled to a sense of duty and allegiance? Not by multiplying and dispersing copies of the law alone; but, as expressly stated in our text, by sending out 'Levites and Priests, (that is, Anglican Priests) who had the book of the law with them;' (taking care, no doubt, that the pernicious volume should not fall into vulgar hands,) far from leaving it to the unaided views of ignorance and imbecility."

This is, indeed, a most singular and instructive specimen of the kind of zeal which actuates many 66 Promoters" of what is styled "Christian Knowledge," in an age that calls itself religious, liberal, and refined! In pleading for the obsolete prerogative of an imperfect ecclesiastical establishment, and in opposing the imaginary claims of its ordinances, discipline, and interpretations, to the transcendent and imperscriptible rights of Revelation, this unfortunate Preacher has only betrayed the weakness of a tottering cause, and convinced me of the danger of supporting, and of the necessity of renouncing a communion-whose warmest advocates are enemies of the Bible, and revilers of the brethren.-Let us have no fellowship with the men, who "have taken away the key of knowledge; who enter not in themselves, and them that were eutering in have hindered," Luke xi. 53.

Whether the Archdeacon's opinion, that the circulation of the Scriptures of God without guide or comment, is calculated "to undermine or impair" the in

*That is, to those evangelical unestablished Churchmen, who own no other rule of doctrine and worship besides the pure word of God; who literally consent to wholesome words, even the words of the Lord Jesus," and leave "the questions and strifes of words, the foolish questions, and genealogles, and strivings about the law," the Jewish, and heathen, and Anglican traditions, festivals, fasts, and other superstitious frivolities, to "the purest Church upon earth," of her false doctrine I, as yet,

say nothing.

stitutions of a Christian Church-that | her leave, is a most certain mark of heresy. Those holy men, Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and all the rest, have solemnly spoken of the majesty of the Divine Oracles in innumerable passages of their writings; yet they unanimously advise, exhort, and urge, every individual Christian, without any distinction of sex, condition, or profession, to read, yea, read over and over again, and, to the best of their power, constantly to handle the sacred volume. These great men knew that there are many hard, abstruse, and arduous things in the Scriptures; yet Chrysostom, nevertheless, exclaimsIf any man will be saved, let him study the Scriptures.' They knew that false Christians and heretics could wrest them to their own perdition, and to that of others; yet, nevertheless, that holy man exclaims-Listen to me, ye laymen, I exhort you, supply yourselves with Bibles, those remedies of the soul.' Observe his reason-Ignorance of the Scriptures, is the source of all evil.' Now, the case is sadly altered: we are told, that the Word of God is a waxen nose; and that it is easier to prove any thing and every thing by it, than to make love verses out of Virgil's feet, half feet, and penthemimers; an observation for which we are indebted to the venerable Archdeacon Pamelius."-Isaac Casau bon, Exercit. XVI. ad An. Eccl. P. 674.

"What, if the Church of England should alter her mind-for the very children know that it now teaches many things otherwise than heretoforewhat, if she should revise her liturgy? shall this affect the stability of the Divine Writings ? Away with such says-blasphemy."-lb. p. 300.

"Lo!" exclaims this learned French Protestant, "into what an abyss of impiety must they necessarily fall, who dare discuss religious topics on other principles than those of the Word of God. Rom. i. 2.”—Ib. p. 316.

I think I have now experimentally shewn, that, ever since the birth of Antichrist, two contrary principles have been at work in that field," the world,"

is, in his own embarrassed language
"a code of institutes, sufficiently com-
prehensive to embrace all who profess
the distinguishing characteristics of the
Gospel," whether the opinion, that
'new and contending modes of inter-
pretation" must result from a general
dispersion of the Holy Scriptures be, or
not, one of "those horrid blasphemies,"
with which the learned Casaubon charges
the antichristian advocates of Rome, I
need not insinuate, and dare not affirm.
Convinced, however, by reading and
experience, that those "new and con-
tending modes," are often the combined
result of ecclesiastical superstition and
secular intolerance, I cannot doubt the
MOTIVE, nor conceal the falsehood and
turpitude of such an imputation, cast by
a "preacher of righteousness" on that
very word, which is to "lead us into all
truth."

"Scioppius," says the old writer, whom I have just mentioned, "utters the most dreadful blasphemies against the inspired writings; of which the Lord has said, Search the Scriptures. But this innovating Theologist furiously attacks those, who, in matters of salvation, ask, Where is it written? That evil genius deems this a foolish question; and those who make it he declares to be fools. He compares God's written word with unwritten traditions; and ascribes less honour to the word of the living God than Pighius himself, who said, in the memory of our fathers- that the Scripture, unaided by the Church's authority, is of as little value as Esop's fables. A blasphemy which Cardinal Hosius has since dared to maintain."

In another passage this author "Let the pious reader observe the dark, cunning, and secret aim of this Baronius. He first enlarges on the depth and obscurity of the Scriptures; of their plainness in those things which are necessary to salvation, and which relate to amendment of life, he says not a word. Why is this? The Roman Church's new doctrine must be defended. To look, even superficially, into a Bible, without asking

*Perhaps this may be one of the "foolish questions" alluded to by the Rev. James Hook. + The people must be enlightened, "not by multiplying and dispersing copies of the Law ALONE, but by sending out Levites and Priests who had the book of the Law with them, far from leaving it to the unaided views of ignorance and imbecility." According to the venerable Anglican, the this country are, therefore, to be instructed in his own prejudices, and not left to their own imbecility, much less to the pernicious influence of the pure word of God. He takes it for granted, that the word is unaided by ministerial instruction every where, except within the pale of the Establishment! For example, in Edwards's Liturgy, Infant Baptism is only a commendable "custom of the church;" in Elizabeth's, it is an "institution of Christ." Which are we to believe of these two heads of the

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