1. Conscientious Clerical Nonconformity: a Discourse, by T.

Binney. Third Edition. London : Jackson and Walford. 2. An Address delivered on Occasion of laying the First Stone of

East Parade Chapel, Leeds, on Monday, Sept. 2, 1839. By

the Rev. John Ely. Jackson and Walford. 3. Strictures on an Address delivered on Occasion of laying the

First Stone of East Parade Chapel, Leeds, on Monday,
Sept. 2, 1839. By George Ayliffe Poole, M. A. Incumbent

of St. James's Church, Leeds. London: Burns. 4. “ We must dissent." A Reply to the Strictures of the Rev.

G. A. Poole, M. A. on an Address delivered at the laying of the First Stone of East Parade Chapel. By John Ely,

Author of the Address. Jackson and Walford. 5. An Appendix to Strictures on an Address delivered on Occa

sion of laying the First Stone of East Parade Chapel, Leeds, by the Rev. John Ely.By Geo. Ayliffe Poole, M. A. Incumbent of St. James's Church, Leeds. With a Letter to Mr. John Ely. By the Author of the Strictures. London:

Burns. 6. A Letter in rejoinder to an Appendixto The Strictures"

of the Rev. Geo. Ayliffe Poole, M. A., on an Address delivered on Occasion of laying the First Stone of East Parade Chapel, Leeds, on Monday, Sept. 2, 1839. By the Rev. John Ely.

By the Author of the Address. 7. The Victory of Faith, and other Sermons. By Julius Charles

Hare, M. A. Rector of Herstmonceux, and late Fellow of
Trinity College, Cambridge. Cambridge: I. and I. I. Deighton,

London : J. W. Parker. 8. Secession Justified; or, a brief Narrative of Events and En

quiries which led the Author to withdran from the Church of England. By Philalethes. London: Simpkin, Marshall, and

Co. 1839. 9. Minor Publications, 8c. The great changes and revolutions of opinion continually occurring both in the church and in the world, which often alarm the fearful and confound the wise, demand the especial attention of religious men, in order that they may learn the lessons such occurrences are desigoed to teach, and stand prepared to fulfil the urgent duties which earth and heaven expect at their hands. Every period brings opportunities and obligations of its own, and the dispensations of Providence, whether on a larger or a smaller scale, are probably framed with a view to the culture of corresponding moral qualities on the part of human agents. The more active virtues find the largest scope for their exercise in scenes of stirring enterprize, as the seabird loves to spread its daring wing to the roughest gale; while the calmer graces of the christian character are best developed in seasons of depression and gloom, like the convolvolus which unfolds its blossoms during the darkness of the night.*

• « La belle de nuit."

Some lights, it is said, even strike the blind ; and there are seasons in which public events shed so strong a glare upon the path of life, that the least thoughtful are compelled to reflect, and they who are most absorbed within themselves are roused to a momentary observation of the state of the world around them. Without wishing to exaggerate the importance of the era in which we live, a fault however from which we can scarcely hope to be more free than our predecessors, the men of all ages being prone to consider that there could be no times like their times, and no crisis more fearful than that which was passing over them, we can scarcely doubt, with the prophetic word in our hands, and the history of the past spread before our eyes, that divine Providence is bringing us to the eve of some important changes, which, like the entrance of the ark into the temple of Dagon, will prove ominous to the cause of all false religions, and not favourable to the corruptions of the true. Though our heart trembles not for the cause of God, well kuowing that truth finds an equally congenial atmosphere in the storm and in the calm, as it bears “a charmed life,” and possesses an indestructible character, like some precious gem which neither the fires consume nor the waters drown, we yet believe that the conflicts of opinion likely to occur will put every man's principle to the test, and that they who are compelled to take part in the controversies of the day, whatever be the communion to which they belong, will find ample occasion for more than the wisdom of the serpent, and for all the guileless simplicity of the dove.

Under these impressions the remarks were offered with which the first part of this article closed ; and, in resuming our allotted task, we request it may be borne in mind, that our avowed purpose was to give some account of the ecclesiastical controversy which the Oxford Tracts had in part occasioned, and of the general state of the argument as it might be gathered from the works then brought before us. We briefly referred to the state of the established Church, which according to the statement of the writers themselves, was in a perilous condition, and whose interests their labours were designed to uphold. If we were thought to draw rather a dark picture of the state of things in reference to its concerns, we can only say, that our pencil was dipped in colours prepared to our hands by the first limners of the day, and ample confirmations of the fidelity of the sketch might be multiplied from various unexceptionable sources. *

We have seen, too, that in order to assist the Church in her present

“Two friends of the Church of England, who take any interest in her welfare, can hardly talk together in these days, but their conversation is sure to fall, before long, on the dangers that threaten her. That such is the fact, the experience nf almost every body present will bear me witness. All of you, my brethren, must have heard many such conversations within the last year: most of you will have taken part in them. Indeed, a month seldom goes by, but the sound as of some fresh crack in the walls of our church seems to pass from one end of England to another. ... If the walls of our church are indeed cracking-if the sound be more than an illusion, they must have been already in decay. It must have slipped off, at least in part, from the foundation on which it was originally built,” &c. &c.- Hare's Visitation Sermon, in his volume just published, p. 316.

struggle against the difficulties by which she is surrounded, the Oxford writers have advanced a scheme of their own, conceived very much in the spirit of Archbishop Laud, whose attempts to heighten clerical prerogatives, and to conform the Establishment more to the Romish model, were attended with such fatal results in the time of the illadvised Charles the First. Under the pretext of a sacred reverence of antiquity, and with the alleged purpose of promoting an ascetic and transcendental piety, they set up an exclusive claim on the part of the Anglican clergy to exercise the functions of the priesthood, and to dictate the religion of the people, their church being, according to their own monstrous language, “ the only church in these realms that has a right to be quite sure that it has the body and blood of Christ to give to the people.” Their suggestions practically amount to this, that the English church should separate herself more than ever from the other reformed churches, and trust for support to principles and claims strictly analogous to those of the Papacy, a course which would commit her to a general quarrel with the piety, the freedom, and the intelligence of the age. Rome was engaged in a similar conflict at the period of the Reformation, when civil and religious liberty was in its earliest infancy, and it ended in severing half Christendom from her pale. The chances of Oxford in such a war as this, at the present time, it may not be very difficult to calculate.

What sort of improvements in theology these men would introduce, if they had unrestricted sway, may be seen from their early attempt to throw the doctrine of the Atonement into the shade, constituting themselves the judges, in virtue of their exclusive sacerdotal claims, in what degree, or within what limitations this cardinal doctrine of the New Testament shall be taught at all. Their own language has been already quoted, inculcating a prudential reserve upon the clergy in the impartation of divine truth, from the tract entitled Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge, though we quite agree with the writer of the epistle to the Bishop of Durham, that the more reserve there were in communicating such religious knowledge as is contained in this tract, the better it would be for the church. We next reverted to the urgent remonstrance of Mr. Townsend against these errors, and against the evils which he deeply regrets to see begin to prevail in the Church, the perversion by learning of the simplicity of christian teaching, strenuously exhorting the clergy to shun these novelties, to despise such teaching, to abhor such perversions. And, lastly, we have examined the bold and searching appeals of Mr. Binney, showing what there is in the constitution and formularies of the church that might deter any honest and conscientious man from becoming one of its ministers. His argument being founded on documents, would appear to be valid on the most moderate view of church claims; but it has tenfold force if, according to Mr. Poole, the doctrines so zealously disseminated in the Oxford Tracts are fairly chargeable on the church of England. · We are aware that many of the clergy, much to their credit, are anxious to disown all sympathy with the fierce denunciations of the canons as cited by Mr. Binney, urging that they are not truly responsible for them. To us, this seems not a little strange, as several of them

iuculcate the duties of the clergy, and pronounce a sentence of excommunication for the breach, or the neglect, of them. On the other hand, we have heard of churchmen who as warmly contend that Mr. Binney's views are perfectly right, and that those of the evangelical clergy who object to any part of the system are bound, in honour, to leave the church. Under these circumstances, we should be glad to be informed, on competent ecclesiastical authority, whether the clergy are in any sense responsible for these regulations, or if they are not, who are the responsible parties, whether the bishops, the archbishops, or the bishops in conjunction with the clergy, or the lay members geDerally, or the state itself, which has permitted these things to stand as part and parcel of the ecclesiastical law. Responsibility must rest somewhere: we ask where ? Dr. Hook, however, is not so nice, and does not hesitate to recognize their binding character, especially mentioning the canons as authoritative. Witness the following extract from bis Sermon on Union :-“Every conscientious English clergyman acts on the principle, that while Scripture, and Scripture only, is his role of faith, he is in the interpretation of Scripture to defer to the Ritnal, Liturgy, Articles, and Formularies of the Church of England : he is to promote the glory of God in the highest, peace upon earth, and good will among men : but to do so not in the way which he may imagine to be the wisest, but according to the Regulations, CANONS, Rubrics, Customs of the Church. To these he is bound by vows the most solemn to conform."* Mr. Poole indeed urges, in his Appendix, p. 19," that a clergyman of the Church of England declares his assent, ex animo, to the xxxix Articles only, and to the three Articles in Canon xxxvi.” But whether he subscribe to all the canons or not, it is plain, according to Dr. Hook, that he is bound by the spirit of the whole system which these canons represent, in which case Mr. Binney's argument holds substantially good ; and he has taken care fairly to state the question respecting the Canons (p. 36.) in the language attributed to his supposed enquirer.

It might perhaps have been wished that Mr. Binney had introduced into the staple of this powerful discourse, some other topics connected both with clerical and lay conformity, of equal cogency with those he has brought forward, but we are aware of the restrictions imposed upon him by the limited character of the address he was called upon to deliver. He intimates this himself, and says, “ Had the author completed his original idea, another section or two would have been added, showing that if one, like the inquirer, with so many opinions in favour of the Establishment might yet be conceived to have serious difficulties in relation to conformity, how much more might Dissenters stand excused, who, as the result of investigating those very opinions, have found, as they think, reasons for regarding them as unscriptural and wrong. It was also his purpose to have glanced at the subject of lay-conformity, and to have attempted to depict the responsibility of those who, denying the doctrines, condemning the tendency, and lamenting the results of the offices of the church, yet not only sanction all they dissent from, but uphold and perpetuate what is admitted to

* See Call to Union, by Dr. Hook. p. 22.

press deeply and painfully on the consciences and the character of great numbers of the clerical body.” (p. 48.) Many will unite with us in the hope that he will fill up his original outline, and give the results to the public. In a future edition of this Discourse, many of the topics discussed in a very able pamphlet, universally ascribed to him, entitled, “ Hints Illustrative of the Duty of Dissent, might advantageously be incorporated.

Our anticipations respecting the extent to which this subject must shortly be discussed, through the length and breadth of the land, receive ample confirmation, from the succession of pamphlets and publications on the church controversy, continually issuing from the press. These productions gather round us, awaiting our critical awards, much as the ghosts of antiquity are described by Ben Johnson, hovering in countless succession, after some great slaughter, upon the banks of the fatal river, till they could obtain the means of transport across the stream:

“ The rugged Charon fainted, And asked a navy, rather than a boat,

To ferry over the sad world that came !" And we can assure our readers that our critical bark, were its whole space devoted to this one topic, would be far too restricted to meet the demands of the ecclesiastical question. We shall do our best, how. ever, to sketch the actual state of thinys at present, giving the chief prominence to the writers on either side who discover the greatest knowledge of the subject, and who treat it with the best temper. In this respect the writings of Mr. Ely claim immediate notice, and we call the attention of our readers to

IV. The Leeds CONTROVERSY. On Monday, September 24, 18.39, the Rev. John Ely, of Leeds, laid the foundation of East Parade Chapel, and delivered an address, in which, as is usual on such occasions, he comprehensively stated the religious principles of the body he represents, vindicating himself from the charge of needlessly dissenting from the national establishment. The address was printed, by request, and we extract from it the following summary of Mr. Ely's general views, which could scarcely have been presented in a more temperate form, or in a manner less likely to offend any, excepting those to whom the facts themselves, however stated, were inherently unpalatable, and who were likely to feel the full amount of the well-known axiom, “ the greater the truth, the greater the libel.”

“ We have to acknowledge that the system which we adopt as being at once expedient and scriptural, is a system of nonconformity and dissent. After the manner which, we fear, many may be disposed to call heresy, worship we the God of our fathers. We would maintain our position without acrimony, but we must be allowed to maintain it without compromise. Most sincerely do we venerate all the piety which we discover in the Establishment, and it is of a high order; most sincerely do we love all the pious men that are found within its pale, and they are not a few; yet we cannot but be non-conformists—we cannot but dissent. A state church is open to so many who seem to us to preach another gospel, - we see such an utter impracticability of discipline within that

« VorigeDoorgaan »