Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

The next point is to show what there is to repel a person from entering the church, who possesses evangelical views, which was the case with Mr. Herschell, and is the case still with a considerable, if not an increasing, number of the clergy of the establishment; what there is in the terms of clerical conformity to prevent such a person, whose original predilections might be in favour of it, from attaching himself to the system. He is bound, in the first instance, to subscribe, cx animo, that is with the whole heart and soul, to whatever is contained in the articles and institutes of the Church of England. The extent of this bond Mr. Binney discusses, and says, “ All in the prayer-book, all in the articles, all in the canons, are implicitly received, if our interprelation be right. Now the articles involve the approbation of the homilies, and sanction the public reading of the apocrypha." The clergyman is therefore strictly bound by the whole, “The articles and liturgy, the clerical offices, the books of ordination, homilies, canons, apocrypha and all." But when the contents of these come to be closely investigated, as in the sight of God, and compared with the letter and spirit of the New Testament, ample grounds appear for the conscientious and unhesitating rejection of them. These are discussed at some length, in reference more especially to clerical pretensions ; to the exclusive spirit of the whole system; to its fierce and uncharitable denunciations of all out of the pale; to spiritual reyenetation as occurring in baptism; the absolution; the burial service; and other particulars, for which our readers will doubtless refer to the sermon itself.

We find it extremely difficult to select passages from a work where every particular is so closely concatenated, forming in fact one argument, without far exceeding our limits. The subject of the exclusive, uncharitable, and intolerant spirit which seems to pervade the whole ecclesiastical constitution of the land, not only binding the clergyman to all and every thing in the church, but enforcing a stern spirit of unmitigated hostility to all and every thing connected with religious institutions out of the church, under pain of excommunication, has often been felt by conscientious clergymen to be a most perplexing and oppressive consideration. This is ably set forth in a passage which will often be read, preceded, however, by two pages, transcribed from the canons of the church, each particular article closing with a sentence of excommunication or anathema. One specimen out of the eleven canons quoted in the sermon, may suffice.

“ Whosoever shall hereafter affirm, that such ministers as refuse to subscribe to the form and manner of God's worship in the Church of England, prescribed in the communion book, and their adberents, may truly take unto them the name of another church not established by law, and dare presume to publish it. That this their pretended church hath of long time groaned under the burden of certain grievances imposed upon it and upon the members thereof

may attain to a share of the endowment of collegiate and cathedral churches? They only are the common possession of the realm, lying open to all that will qualify themselves to get a part in them. They are not enclosed in private men's estates, but they are the commons of the kingdom."-See Dr. Plume's Life of Hacket, prefixed to the Bishop's works, p. 23.

before mentioned, by the Church of England, and the orders and constitutions therein by law established, LET THEM BE EXCOMMUNICATED, and not restored until they repent, and publicly revoke such their WICKED ERRORS.”—p. 29.

Mr. Binney remarks, with a force and eloquence peculiarly his own,

“Perusing and re-perusing the above Canons, we suppose our inquirer to be shocked and staggered by their sweeping anathemas. One after another utters its report, frightening with its thunder the charitable affections. Loaded as they are with excommunications,'they seem intended to inflict capital punishmentfor excommunication is the highest form in which the spiritual displeasure of the Church can be expressed. Who then are the delinquents at whom the terrible contents of these pieces are discharged? Who are the persons whose exposure to such punishment our inquirer, if he subscribe, must in theory approve? These delinquents, it would appear, are just all the inhabitants of the entire realm, ercept those who are prepared to approve every jot and tittle of the English Establishment!--If any part of the king's supremacy is impeached ; if any thing in the Prayer Book is by any affirmed to be repugnant to the Scriptures ; - if any of the Articles is in any part said to be erroneous ;'- if the Church is denied to be true and apostolical ;-if Episcopacy or Prelacy be represented as repugnant to the word of God ;- if any individuals say that they belong to other churches; whether these churches are ancient or modern; whether they be that from which the English reformed, or those which profess to have reformed from it:-in all these cases, criminality is assumed and punishment provided; for every offender there is the same, or nearly the same, sentence--a sentence direct, brief, bloody- cut him asunder.' I speak in a figure. The sword of the Spirit,-a thing never to be trifled with, never to be flourished in bravado or sport- the sword of the Spirit is drawn from the scabbard; it glitters under the frowns and flashes of the countenance, the angry countenance of Holy Church ; and falls (or threatens it) on the hapless denier of any of her claims,- the adherents of her own ancient faith,-or the consistent advocates of an appeal to Scripture-a principle she professes to have taught them herself. If these Canons are right, it is not only true, as we are taught from Oxford, and consistently taught, that the Episcopal body is the only body in this realm that is a church ;' that the Church of Scotland, and other Presbyterians, and all the sects, are not churches, their ministers not ministers, their sacraments not sacraments ;-but it is also true, which Oxford, I believe, teaches Tiot, that the Romanist community is alike destitute of any just claims to the honours of churchhood.”—pp. 30, 31.

The only reply we have heard given to objections of this kind, has been, that these statutes are ancient and obsolete, and are not practically acted upon, and might be repealed, some of them relating chiefly to the episcopal bench. But still it is not denied that there they are, that such is the spirit of the system, and that to all and every part of its constitution, the subscriber must set his name. If, however, the statutes may be deemed ancient, the feeling that dictated them does not slumber. The Oxford writers, as we have seen, prove this; they would not only act up to the letter of the law, but betray an inclination to seek further aid from the state, as though their principles would lead them to sharpen, rather than to sheath, the exterminating sword. They look with little favour upon Protestants of other communions at home or abroad, and are anxious to draw a Strong line of demarcation between themselves and others. They protest against the error “ that we are but one among many Protestant bodies, and that the differences between Protestants are of N. 8. VOL. IV.

Kk

little consequence; whereas the English Church, as such, is not Protestant, only politically, that is, externally, or so far as it has been made an establishment and subjected to national and foreign influences. It claims to be merely reformed, not Protestant.” The same Tract (Vol. iii. No. 71, pp. 32, 33) contains a long and muchmeaning paragraph relative to foreign Protestant churches, and to the conduct of William III. and the dislike of the clergy to his proceedings, though we cannot exactly learn what it is that they would designate by the term already quoted, “the sin of 1688;" but we have little doubt it must be something in their view very flagrant.

Mr. Binney next proceeds to detail the probable processes in the mind of his supposed enquirer, to escape, if possible, from these difficulties, which, however, as an evangelical and conscientious man, bound by the solemnity of an oath, he finds it impossible for him to do. The following passage, which, for moral discrimination and fervour, it would be difficult to surpass, sums up the conclusion:

“ To become a clergyman, I must not only sacrifice the liberty of acting as I think the gospel prescribes and prompts,--the liberty of loving, and of proving that I love, all whom I believe to be men of God, shewing to others the way of salvation ;' but I must adopt, I think, in order to get rid of expressions that perplex me, such a mode of interpreting language, such special pleading, wriggling, and reservation,-such strange and unsatisfactory admissions, to find a sense for words, or to evade it, -as would not be tolerated in any straightforward business in ordinary life, or permitted to have a place in the conduct and the covenanting of worldly men. Such, unhappily, are my present impressions. The views I take of evangelical truth compel me to come to this conclusion. Others may not think and feel as I do. Holding sentiments, identical with mine, they may be able to do without scruple, what I shrink from as a positive immorality. I judge them not. "To their own Master they stand or fall.' I envy them indeed; for with my predilections, preferences, and tastes, I would willingly advance where they advance, and serve at the altar where they serve. I cannot do it. I envy and congratulate those who can. I envy them at once their opinions and their repose--the views that permit them to do, what they do, and the feelings that enable them to do it, and live. I felicitate them on their tranquillity,-on their calm persuasion that they do right,-their unruffled reflections in the review of their path,- their enjoyment of a blessedness I can never share. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in the thing that he alloweth.'

With my views I should be condemned. Masked or mitigated as subscription might be, it would often, I fear, rise before me in its true character-cover me with confusion,--fill me with bitterness. Retaining my sentiments as scriptural and true; yet admitting as such, and promising to use, and actually using, language apparently the very reverse, -what would this demand? - to what would it expose me? I must sophisticate my understanding. I must fetter my intellect. I must shut my eyes and close my ears, to much that at present seems distinct and loud. I must call things by their wrong names, and that too, where mistake may be infinitely hazardous. I must say to God, in an act of worship, what I should repudiate to man in confidential conversation. Acts like these would be pregnant with painful and punitive consequences. I should lose, I fear, the love of truth; or the power of pursuing, acknowledging, maintaining it. I should cease, perhaps, to be affected by evidence; plain words might come to be lost upon me: if I got over some that are lying here, seem to feel that I could get over any thing that there would be no language I could not pervert, parry, resist, or explain away. With my views, the act of subscription would either indicate the death within me of the moral man, or it would inflict such a wound that he would soon die, die, I mean, so far as those things are concerned which must be lost sight of to subscribe at all, and of those which are to be done and said after subscribing; or if he lived, and continued to live, I should be daily obliged to be doing something, which would lacerate, and pain him, and pierce him to the soul. The very services of religion would be sources of anguish. Prayer itself, would consist at times, of words which I feel I can never approve, and which, ever as I uttered them, would renew my misgivings, and disturb my peace. My nature, in its highest Essence, would be injured. My moral sense would be sacrificed or seduced. I CANNOT DO IT. I will not. This, too, would be great wickedness and sin against God.' It would be sin against myself. I never will consent to pay such a price for the advantages which clerical conformity can confer. I see them all. I feel their attraction. Principle as to some,-preference as to others,-taste, habit, association, as to most,-strongly induce and impel me towards them. I could wish them mine I should be glad to secure them. I would give for them any thing consistent with honour. It should not be heroism to refuse that. I determine to refuse it. To all the inducements to enter the Establishment, I oppose one thing, and but one With my predilections, I have little else ; but with my opinions I ought to have that-a living conscience. By God's help I will strive to retain it. li shall be kept by me, and kept alive. It and I must part company, if I offend it by deliberately doing what is wrong, God of my strength, preserve me from this; let thy grace be sufficient for me;' ' keep back thy servant from presumptuous sin.' With the light which Thou, I trust, hast poured into my soul, and the love with which thou hast replenished my heart, I dare not permit myself to sanction and to say, what I feel I must, if I consent to use these forms and offices. "A good conscience' is to be found only in withholding that consent. I am determined to withhold it. I go nowhere unless conscience can go with me. I am satisfied to remain wherever it remains. This is my feeling; and on account of this,-and of this only,-1 bere resolve to refuse orders,”-pp. 45-48.

Here we must pause for the present, reluctantly deferring the consideration of Mr. Ely's productions, in connection with the Leeds controversy, to the next number. But we cannot conclude without expressing our sense of the importance of the spirit of mingled firmness and candour in which Mr. Binney has conducted his argument, and his concern to meet the question with perfect fairness, placing himself in the position of those who differ from him. He constantly ascribes lo others only the purest motives, thus manifesting a disposition as amiable as we fear it is rare in these discussions, and which will find but Tew imitators, till the fruits of the Spirit are more extensively cultivated among us. In the controversies which we may be obliged to wage, it is most desirable that our zeal for what we believe to be the truth, should not extinguish or weaken our real love to the genuine disciples of Christ, with whatever section of the church they are associated. Difficult as the effort may sometimes be, it becomes us to maintain, at any price short of the compromise of principle," the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace,” as those who hope to meet in heaven, the region of perfect truth and of perfect love, many from whom they have been compelled to dissent, on minor points, while on earth. Each party will do well to remember, that every mistake is not necessarily a wilful and determinate one, and that their error is likely to be the most dangerous, as Bishop Watson suggests, " who most err against christian charity.” But all should recollect, that the Bible must be upheld as the only standa d of faith and practice, that final authority from whose decisions there can be no appeal. We devoully hope the day will never come in which Protestant Dissenters

shall swerve from the great principles of the Reformation, or allow themselves, from a wish to court the praise of spurious liberality, to contemplate with calmness any attempt, however specious, to throw the doctrine of the ATONEMENT into the shade, or invade the sole SuPREMACY of Christ in his church.

TIIE EDITOR'S TABLE. The whole Sermons of Jeremy Taylor, and the Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Iloly Dying. With a Biographical Memoir. London: Ball, Arnold, and Co. Royal 8vo.

The African Slave Trade, and its Remedy. By Thomas Fowell Buxton, Esq. London : John Murray. 8vo.

The Protestant's Armory; being a Collection of Extracts from various Writers on the Church of Rome, chiefly designed to show its apostate, idolatrous, and antichristian Character. Compiled by a Lay Member of the Church of England. R. B. Seeley. 8vo.

Memoirs of James and George Macdonald. By R. Norton, M.D. London: J. Shaw. 8vo.

The Curse of Britain. An Essay on the Evils, Causes, and Cure of Intemperance. By the Rev. W. R. Baker. A new and revised edition. London: Ward and Co. 8vo.

Divine Meditations upon several Occasions, with a Daily Directory. By Sir William Waller, Knt. Ann. Dom. 1680. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 8vo.

What Cheer; or Roger Williams in Banishment. A Poem by Job Durfee, Esq. ; with a Preface by the Rev. John Eustace Giles, Leeds. London : Simpkin, Marshall, and Co 12mo.

Gatherings; a short Collection of Pieces written at various Periods. By the Author of " The Listener." London : Seeley and Burnside. 12mo.

The Religious Wars of France, from the Accession of Henry II. to the Peace of Vervins. By Jonathan Duncan, Esq.B.A. London: J. Rickerby. 12mo.

Short Christian Doctrine, composed by the Order of Pope Clement VIII. by Father Robert Bellarmine, of the Company of Jesus, and Cardinal of the Holy Church. London: R. B. Seeley and Burnside. 12mo.

Episcopacy, Ordination, Lay Eldership, and Liturgies, considered in Fire Letters. By the Rev. Archibald Boyd, A.M. Seeley and Burnside. 12mo.

A Summary of the History of England. Translated from the French of Felix Bodin. By Jonathan Duncan, Esq. B.A. London: J. Rickerby.

A Mother's Reminiscences of a Course of Reading and Instruction. By Mrs. Borron. London: J. Rickerby. 18mo.

The Miracles of our Lord explained, a Correspondence between a Mother and Daughter. By the Author of Conversations on the Parables. Seeley and Burnside. 18mo.

Persecution of the Lutheran Church in Prussia, from the Year 1831 to the present Time. Translated from the German. By J. D. Löwenberg. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 18mo,

Aunt Mary's Poetry, original and correct. For the Use of Young Persons. Hlamilton, Adams, and Co. 18mo.

General History, briefly sketched upon Scriptural Principles. Translated from the German of the Rev. C. Barth, D.D., by the Rev. R. F. Walker, A.M. Religious Tract Society. 18mo.

The Union Ilarmonist; a Selection of Sacred Music. Arranged by Mr. T. Clark, of Canterbury. Sunday-school Union, 60, Paternoster Row.

Anti-Bacchus; an Essay on the Crimes, Diseases, and other Evils connected

« VorigeDoorgaan »