ducted efforts for a further revision of the Prayer-Book, and especially of the Baptismal Service. Those true friends of the Protestant Church of England, who desire to remove from her formularies every locus standi for Tractarian heresy, may consider that, if Peter Martyr were now alive, they would have him on their side.

Let the Baptismal Services be reduced to the simplicity of Scripture, and we should get rid of expressions which ever have been, and ever will be, as long as they remain, a fruitful source of controversy and strife, and a burden to many conscientous clergymen, who reverence that solemn declaration, "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book."

And if the rituals were expurgated of all statements that "go beyond Scripture," no true churchman could fairly object to such expurgation, because he would be at liberty to put upon the simple words employed, as he is now upon the corresponding words of Scripture, the meaning which they could legitimately bear. I am, yours, very faithfully, C. J. FYNES CLINTON.

To the Editor. SIR,-I have noticed with satisfaction that you have given insertion to many valuable contributions, breathing a spirit of truthful recognition of the important fact, that our Church, excellent as are its formularies, and pure as is its faith, does now need that those formularies and that faith be stated in plain and unambiguous language. From this fact I am emboldened, as a layman, to beg the favour of expressing my conviction of the vast importance of the great work of the re-reformation of the Church of England. By re-reformation it is not intended that any hasty, crude, ill-digested schemes of change are to be adopted. The evils under which we labour are to be encountered in a thoughtful and prayerful spirit, with a deliberate, and even slow, rather than premature judgment.

The main points to be enforced at

the present juncture are the following:

1. That the crisis has arrived when action is demanded-that the time has come when the liturgy and constitution of our Church must be revised.

2. That this revision and reform must be initiated by the LAITY.

There can scarcely be adduced a parallel period in history in which the need was greater than at the present time, for those who love the simple truth of God's Word, to declare their protestantism against the Devil's errors. A great crisis has arrived in the existence of our Reformed Church. That Church must be more reformed, or it will sink back into what its insidious enemies, under the garb of friends, would have us call it, a branch of the Catholic Church, meaning thereby the Romish communion. But shall it be so? No! by God's grace, our beloved Establishment shall neither be a "free" nor a fettered Church. The lapse of time, and the secret machinations of popish emissaries have led to a fuller development of the popish elements, which the circumstances of our Reformers compelled them to compromise, in order to gain a certain good in the then infant state of the constitution of our Protestant Church. The ever watchful foe to liberty of conscience, and of the true faith, has for many years past found the means of insinuating her agents into our universities and pulpits, until it has come to pass, that many of our clergy dare openly confess their preference for Rome while retaining their offices in the English Church; at the same time, too many others, true to the national Establishment, find it difficult to escape from the dilemma into which they have been brought by the literal and isolated interpretations put by their brethren upon formularies to which both have sworn adherence. Here is the enormous danger which threatens our Church. From this predicament our bishops declare, by their want of action, that they cannot extricate themselves, the clergy, or their congregations. Hence the urgent, the insuperable, and undeni

able necessity which has arisen, that the laity should stand forward and extricate themselves and their pastors from a position into which they have been forced by many who should have been their watchmen and guardians. Your correspondent, "Č. A." has well observed, "this is the time to stir in the matter. The attention of the laity is now awakened, and the minds of men are brought to the consideration of questions from which in quieter times they turn away. The Protestant faith has been felt to be in danger, and it is surprising with what faithful zeal the laity have asserted their attachment to the doctrines of the Reformation." Would that we could say the same of the clergy, we should not now have had to repel the insolence of the Pope. Fully concurring then in the sentiments of "C. A." and others of your esteemed correspondents, the writer begs permission to speak, as a layman, on this all-engrossing topic.

It is to the laity undoubtedly that the Church must look for help in this time of her trial. The clergy have too often betrayed their trust; they have destroyed the prestige which formerly attended their office and station. While the English people are resisting the Pope of Rome, they are equally determined no longer to submit to aught that savours of ecclesiastical dogmatism or papal infallibility. Men's minds are on the alert. Independent inquiry is awakened. Intelligent and common-sense people will no longer consent to be bound by formularies couched in such ambiguous phraseology that they may be construed any way; neither can they much longer endure that their articles of faith should be wanting in harmony with their liturgy, or both obscured and superseded by medioeval rubrics and canons. principles laid down by Mr. Jordan must be adhered to, "that in nothing should we go beyond and exceed Scripture, however plausible and conclusive our deductions from it might seem to be."* The plain and un


mistakeable doctrines of the Bible must be more manifestly inculcated by the Church than is apparent in

* Christian Guardian. 1850, p. 565. JANUARY-1851.

some of our formularies. We want only christian simplicity, we regard not ecclesiastical dignity when it is allowed to stand in the way of the former. You may perhaps think the writer would advocate too violent a change, when he suggests extensive alteration of our episcopal machinery. But most strong and long formed has been his conviction, that until a different tie between Church and State exists, than that of the present parliamentary and too highly exalted bench of bishops, we can look for little prospect of a true performance of the duties of christian overseers by men, to whom political influence and the management of great revenues, are a constant snare. That we do need bishops of a different character, it seems to the writer that the present state of the Church bears witness. The bishops who ought to have led a reformation and extirpation of a pestilent heresy are now compelled to follow, and that too at not a very dignified distance. It is the settled opinion of many pious men of our Church, in which the writer fully concurs, that if the number of bishops were increased, their incomes equalized, and their functions restricted to the real spiritual over-sight of their clergy, that the Church, as a mere human establishment, would be strengthened, and the cause of Christ greatly promoted in this land. To this it must come?

In bringing this letter to a close, the writer would add his earnest protest against the notion of establishing a free Anglican Church. Wherefore should we abandon the privileges for which our fathers died, to the very enemies with whom they struggled unto victory? A cleansed Church! not a free Church! We need not go to the voluntary and inefficacious system of dissent, when a judicious and effectual purgation would bring to us so many pious and faithful brethren from the ranks of the Nonconformists as well as strengthen and establish thousands of our present members. We admit Romish ordination, and we keep up saints' days, but we should do wiser to abolish both anomalies, and manifest christian charity, instead of what


looks very like encouraging antichristian fallacies.

Trusting you will pardon this intrusion, and give insertion to these few remarks, if you can spare the space they may require,

I remain, sir, yours faithfully,

Holloway, Jan. 1, 1851.

To the Editor.

Sir,-My last concluded somewhat abruptly, and before I could come to my main point-the point which I conceive to be of real practical importance under present circumstances. I knew you would not have space for me to enter upon it as I wished. My former letter, therefore, must be considered only as suggesting the importance of setting aside unprofitable discussions, in order that we may apply ourselves to something better. Of course it will be evident to any one who considers that letter, that my impression is, that our Reformers, in compiling our occasional services, had far deeper, clearer, and more scriptural views of the true nature of baptism, and of the principles on which alone liturgical services could be constructed, than those who are now proposing to alter them. I would also observe, that, in your Review of the Bishop of Exeter's Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in your Number for last April, in answering the question, "What is the doctrine of baptism which is plainly deducible from the Baptismal Service itself?" pp. 181–185, you have given what appears to me to be the true and only reasonable interpretation of that service, and you have further illustrated the plain and undeniable doctrine of the Church of England on that subject, in other portions of that Review, and in your Review of the Bishop of London's late Charge, in your Number for November, pp. 516-521.

Having reference to such views of the Baptismal and other services of our Church, I maintained that our position, as Evangelical Churchmen, and (I will add) as the only true churchmen, is a tenable position. And, having myself no doubt or misgiving

on this point, I could not but say, that "it is our wisdom to take our stand upon" this position, "to make the best of it, and to fight the battle out in the name and strength of the Lord;" while we leave it to a very different party to strain " every nerve for the revival of Convocation, or the establishment of some ecclesiastical synod or tribunal, with a view to effect change, or to affix some particular sense upon our authorized documents," as is very well set forth in an excellent Tract, entitled "Prove all things;" a few plain questions propounded to the compilers of a pamplet, entitled "Vindicate your Faith, an Appeal to Churchmen," published by Wertheim and Macintosh.

But, if I thus earnestly deprecate any attempt to alter our services,not because I think them perfect or infallible, but because I think them fairly defensible, and have no confidence whatever in any existing party or body of men, to whom I can conceive it possible that the work of revision and alteration could or would be entrusted, it may, and will, be asked, What then should we do? And if this question were proposed to me, as any one who read my former letter might fairly propose it, I would say, that my own deep and strong impression, as the result of more than a quarter of a century of thought and observation, is this,-That instead of spending our strength and time upon the discussion of proposed alterations in the Liturgy, we should concentrate all our energies, first, Upon the careful consideration of our real position and advantages; and second, Upon the diligent, prayerful, and faithful improvement of them.

1. In regard to the first point, let us not beguiled by the efforts of our enemies the "false brethren un.. awares brought in," (Gal. ii. 4,)—to give too much prominence and importance to the controversy respecting the Baptismal Services. They would gladly set aside everything else, and would narrow the contest to the disputation of this inch of ground. It serves their purpose to do so. By this means, they get away from the full statement of Evangelical and

Protestant truth which is contained in our Thirty-nine Articles, especially as illustrated by the whole Book of Homilies, to which those Articles so distinctly refer. (See Art. XI. and XXXV.) This attempt, on their part, is dishonest and wicked, for it is expressly declared, in the Royal Declaration prefixed to the Articles.


OF ENGLAND (which have been allowed

and authorized heretofore, and which our clergy generally have subscribed unto)

DO CONTAIN THE TRUE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AGREEABLE TO GOD'S WORD, which we do therefore ratify and confirm, requiring all our loving subjects to continue in the uniform profession thereof, and prohibiting the least difference from the said Articles."

This is, in fact, no more than an amplification of the idea which is contained in the very title of the Articles, for they are entitled,

"Articles agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, and the whole clergy,



The attempt to set these Articles aside, therefore, or (which amounts to the same thing) to treat them as if they had no distinct and definite meaning, is on their part, dishonest and wicked. But for Evangelical Churchmen, (who are, as I have already said, the only TRUE Churchmen,) to give place to them by subjection, even for an hour, and to allow them to do this, is it not weak and foolish in the extreme? Nay, is it not also highly sinful in the sight of God?

In opposition to all such attempts, our wisdom and our duty must surely be, to take our stand upon the broad platform of Evangelical and thoroughly Protestant truth which is laid down in our Articles, as illustrated by the whole of our Homilies. And if we want any exposition of them, we find it ready to our hands in a book entitled "The Faith, Doctrine, and Religion, professed and protested in the Realm of England, and dominions of the same; expressed in Thirty-nine Articles, concordably


agreed upon by the Reverend Bishops and Clergie of this Kingdome, at two severall Meetings, or Convocations of theirs, in the yeeres of our Lord 1562 and 1604. The said Articles analised into Propositions, and the Propositions prooved to be agreeable both to the written Word of God, and to the extant Confessions of all the neighbour Churches Christianly Reformed. . Perused, and by the lawfull authority of the Church of England, allowed to be publike." The second edition of this book was published, and dedicated to Archbishop Bancroft, by his "Grace's poore Chaplaine, alwayes at command, Thomas Rogers ;" and the Preface is dated, "11 of March, Ann. 1607." This book, as we are informed by Mr. Goode, in his Work on the "Effects of Baptism," first edition, p. 94, "Came abroad with injunction from the Archbishop that then was [Dr. Bancroft] that there should be one of them bought for every parish in the Province of Canterbury.' It is therefore decisive evidence as to what was the true doctrine of the Church of England; or, in other words, what is the true sense of her Articles. And on this point Thomas Rogers is very plain and express, for he says in his Preface,

"35. The purpose of our Church is best knowne by the doctrine which she doth professe; the Doctrine by the 39 Articles established by Act of Parliament; the Articles by the words, whereby they are expressed; and other purpose then the publike Doctrine doth minister; AND OTHER DOCTRINE THAN IN THE SAID ARTICLES IS CONTAINED, OUR CHURCH NEITHER HATH, NOR HOLDETH, AND OTHER SENSE THEY CANNOT YEELD, THAN THEIR WORDS DO IMPART. The words be the same, and none other, than earst and first they were. And therefore the sense the same; the Articles the same; the Doctrine the same; and the purpose, and intention of our Church still one, and the same."

And he goes on to make an observation, which proves clearly, that what was then the doctrine and purpose of our Church must also be so now.

"If then the purpose be knowne by her Doctrine, and Articles; and the true

sense by their very words: NEEDS MUST THE PURPOSE OF OUR CHURCH BE THE SAME, because her Doctrine, and Articles for number, words, syllables, and letters, and every way be the very same."

Is not this common sense and com

mon honesty? Here, then, is the true and safe ground to be taken, and steadfastly maintained by all true and faithful ministers of the Church of England. Let us understand our position. Let us consider it in its full extent. Let us be prepared, on all occasions, boldly to put the question, as well as honestly to meet it:-If there be any one who is not prepared, after serious examination and reflection, deliberately and resolutely to take and maintain this ground,-be he bishop, priest, or deacon,-ought he not to leave the Church of England, and resign his preferments, whatsoever they may be? and ought he not to give place to honester men, who really do, in the sight of God and the Church, subscribe ex animo its Articles, and are prepared fully, plainly, constantly and unequivocally, to preach what they have subscribed?

When we are prepared, as a matter of duty, to take this ground, and to maintain, not here and there an isolated point, but our whole position in all its extent, then we shall find our advantage in so doing; for we shall clearly see, and be able to prove, that the whole of the Articles and Homilies are on our side. These documents set forth and maintain Evangelical and Protestant truth in direct opposition to Popery, Tractarianism, High and dry Churchmanship, and all other forms of error by which scriptural truth has been and is assailed; and they admit of no other interpretation. Then, too, we shall be prepared rightly to understand, and duly to use, our excellent and scriptural Liturgy, in all its extent. There will be no room for doubt as to the true interpretation of it. We shall interpret it by the Articles, and understand it in connexion with the whole body of truth which our Church maintains. And then, but not till then, we shall be prepared to give its true place, and the due honour which indeed belongs to it. And we shall

know that it is dishonoured by any attempt to distort it into that which it is not. And, to my mind, this appears to be the thing that should be protested against; and from which, to a certain degree, and within proper limits, we should seek to be relieved. If any person be really a fit subject for baptism, I think our Baptismal Service is a very suitable and beautiful service, and may very fitly be used. If any person ought to have christian burial, I do not see any reason for objecting to our Burial Service as a most suitable service for the occasion. Under present circumstances, it is but too obvious that many persons are baptized whose whole afterlife proclaims that they were unworthy recipients of that holy sacrament. In the present state of the Church, and of the world, this cannot be avoided. No changes in our Liturgy,-no possible exercise of discipline,-could relieve us from this difficulty, or from the oppression and burthen which the wise and tender-hearted Christian must feel when he considers it. But, to my mind, the grief and burthen is, not that such persons should have been baptized with a particular service, like ours, but that they should have been baptized at all. That any service compiled by man, however excellent, should be abused and profaned, is comparatively a small matter; but, that God's own ordinance should be profaned and abused is a real grief, and should make us weep and tremble. Yet, while the world remains what it is, we cannot help it. There are, indeed, cases of profanation and abuse, so gross and manifest that we ought to be relieved from them, and from all compulsion to take part in them. Nevertheless, if the administration of baptism (whatever be the form of service used, and even were it limited to the mere words of Scripture,) does not signify that the Church receives and embraces the individual, whether infant or adult, as being in promise and profession regenerate, and therefore to be treated and considered as such by the Church, till he proves himself otherwise, I really do not know what it means, or why it should be administered at all; for sacraments

« VorigeDoorgaan »