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PAROCHIALIA; or, CHURCH, School, and PARISH.

The Church System and Services, practically considered. By John SANDFORD, M.A., Vicar of Dunchurch. London: Long

mans. 1845. A LETTER TO THE VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNI

VERSITY OF OXFORD. By A. C. Tait, D.C.L., HeadMaster of Rugby School. London: Blackwoods. 1845.

A STRANGE fancy seems to have taken possession of the minds of men. Various persons, of different ranks and calibre, have taken up the notion, all at once, that either we ought to have, or must have, a New School of Theology. Whether the infection passes from one to another, or whether the idea has really struck many persons at the same time, we know not, but one after another, individuals of some note and consequence in the religious world, come forth, assuring us that a new school is springing up. Yet, strange to say, men who agree in the leading fact, differ widely as to the mode and character of its development. Take, for instance, the sketch of this new school, as given by Dr. Tait, and the view given by Mr. Sandford. Dr. Tait thus describes the idea which has possessed his mind,

" Perhaps I ought more distinctly to have stated what I mean by this growing school, whose theology derives much of its character from the works -especially the critical and exegetical works-of the great Protestant writers on the Continent. This school, though distinctly Protestant, by no means confines its sympathies to Protestantism. Its theological predilections are Catholic enough, to appreciate all symptoms of intellectual vigour and earnest thought, wherever they are to be found. My belief is, that this school contains by far the greatest amount of the talent of the rising generation. Now there can be no doubt that it is a most essential characteristic of this school, to promote free discussion and patient inquiry on all subjects, as the only sure method of arriving at truth; and that its members generally look with no very friendly eyes, even on the easy bonds by which our existing tests confine the range of our intellects. This school, I suspect, will soon be found to contain the best scholars, metaphysicians and poets, of the rising age. It contains men of very various characters, who differ in many matters of opinion, and who perhaps often fancy themselves to belong to opposing parties; but they are all united by the same eclectic-philosophical spirit, and the same admiration of intellect wherever it developes itself-an admiration which seems sometimes in danger of leading them astray from the simplicity of the gospel, and to blind them to the excellences of those devoted servants of Christ, who are content to obey their Lord, without reasoning on his doctrines, and to walk in unquestioning humility within those somewhat narrow limits which the evangelical school prescribes. When it is said that Dr. Arnold may be regarded as a specimen of this school, it is meant that he represents it, not in the dogmatic results of his investigations, but in that freedom of inquiry which he so boldly advocated and practised.

Without presuming to identify the distinguished names I mention with 1845.

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any school, perhaps I may be excused for saying, that the view of the thenlogy of Mr. Newman and his immediate followers likely to be taken by the very different men of whom this class consists, may be judged of from the famous charge of the present learned Bishop of St. David's; and that perhaps also we may gain some help on this point from an attentive consideration of the writings of Mr. Frederick Maurice.

As the theological sympathies of this school are at present very comprehensive, seeming almost to range from Mr. Carlyle or Schleiermacher on the one hand, to Mr. Newman or the Hermesians of Germany, or Müller's Symbolik on the other, so also are their politics. They will seldom be found to belong to any distinct party, but appreciating what is good and noble, and abhorring what is low and selfish in all. In fact, while the small section in parliament which arrogates to itself the representation of the youthful talent of England, is but the froth that bubbles at the surface, these men are really the deep and powerful current, which bears on the destiny of the coming age.

If the men of this school can be saved from too latitudinarian and rationalizing spirit--if their eclecticism does not degenerate into indifference or scepticism-if they can be made really to appreciate the vital importance of evangelical truth maintained in all its distinctive features, while they protest against the narrow-mindedness which would divorce it from the pursuits of intellect—if they can be made to sympathize with moral, as much as they do now with intellectual, vigour,-it is to this school that we must look as the best hope of the generation that is to stand in our place when we are dead.”—(pp. 16, 17.)

Here we have one view of the new state of things supposed to be rising and forming itself around us. The Bishop of Exeter, however, in his last Charge, and Archdeacon S. Wilberforce, in his Charge of November, 1844, seem to entertain another and a very different idea of the same thing. Archdeacon Wilberforce says,--

“Out of the deadness of the eighteenth century, our fathers “ were allowed to rouse the slumbering spiritual life of England; “and faithfully amidst obloquy and scorn they did their work. “ The great doctrines of God's grace—the very sound of which “had almost passed away–were heard again on every side. The “ work of God in the soul of the believer was again declared and “ vindicated. The access of every faithful soul to Christ, as its “true life, was simply and earnestly declared. To us it was “ given in our day to enter into and to perfect their labours; to " bear our especial witness for the common, as they had borne “ their's for the individual, life of Christian souls; to gather into “ the full unity of the Church the living energy which they had “ been permitted to arouse; to heal divisions; to join together “ bone to bone, and sinew to sinew, by prophesying to them in the “ word of God.”—p. 36.

This same idea is amplified by Mr. Sandford, in his preface to “ Parochialia," in the following manner :

“ The history of the last fifty years supplies us with a clue to what is now agitating and embarrassing the Church. When we contrast her present state with her condition in the last century, we thank God and take courage. We feel that anything is preferable to what characterized her

ihen :-an effete theology; a lax and licentious tone of morals; an ignorant and secular priesthood; an untaught and neglected population; empty churches; desecrated Sabbaths; a mere name to live, while all was dead. And the manner in which her resuscitation was effected, in great measure accounts for what we witness now.

" It was achieved, under God, by men to whom the Church owes a debt of the deepest gratitude. In some respects, indeed, they have no equals in the present day. They were men of earnest minds, mighty in the Scriptures, and full of the Holy Ghost. Their fervent piety, their pastoral assiduity, their zeal for Christ's glory and the salvation of immortal souls, demand our utmost reverence and love. And they were abundantly blessed of God. They were wise to win souls; they turned many to righteousness; and they shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.

"But it is no disparagement to say, that they were only pioneers in the revival of our Church. Their work was necessarily introductory; and they themselves were essentially evangelists. They found the Church asleep; and they awoke her from her torpor. They found her theology reduced to a mere system of ethics; and they revived it with the breath of the everlasting Gospel. They stirred the national mind: they awoke inquiry: by their preaching they aroused men to seek after God: and by the sanctity of their own lives they convinced them, that they could guide their feet into the way of peace.

" But they did not do all that was required to restore the Church's hold upon her people. They did not display her in her full proportions. They only laid the foundation, on which other men should build. Nay, it must be admitted, that they gave, at best, a partial and faulty representation of her; that they kept back some of her principles, and qualified some of her doctrines; and left their successors not only much to do, but also something to repair.

"Nor is it difficult to account for what was either defective or erroneous in their teaching. They saw the Church to be unmindful of Him

from whom she had received her commission; substituting cold formality for a living principle of faith; resting in the sacramental sign, while careless of the inward grace. Church principle, they saw, was too often only another name for worldly-mindedness and hostility to practical godliness. Instead of sympathy and encouragement, they themselves encountered opposition and obloquy. Their names became a by-word; their good was evil spoken of ;—and while their ranks were continually recruited, by those who manifested zeal in Christ's cause being classed in the same category with themselves,-finding little congeniality or support within their own pale, they were led to seek intimacies and avenues of usefulness without. They coalesced with dissenters, because they found, in some of them, a knowledge of Scripture, and a practical godliness, in which many professed Churchmen were wanting; and were hailed with a cordiality which was contrasted with the treatment they met with in other quarters. And in their desire for communion with the good, and for the prevalence of spiritual religion, they put forward only what they felt to be of primary importance, and depreciated and kept back the points of difference. To this it may be added, that their reading was all of one sort, and rather addressed to the affections than to the understand. ing. They were not men of learning: it was next to impossible that they should be: 'what time they had for reading was given to the expository and devotional writers of their own school, by which they were confirmed in their own views, and encouraged to deem them irrefragable.

"Of course, these men coloured, to a great extent, the religious mind of England. Serious and pious persons naturally turned to them as instructors, -and received from them their bias. And their fervency, their spiritualmindedness, the adaptation of their teaching to the wants and impulses of our nature, awoke response in many hearts. Their influence was, therefore, great and far extended : it affected many of the more earnest and influential spirits of the day, and communicated to them its idiosyncrasy. Whatever was faulty in their system was propagated with whatever was good in it. They had furnished the standard, and it was widely and unquestioningly adopted.

“To admit all this, is only to admit what all professedly allow,--that the best men are imperfect. And truly, whatever evil has resulted from it to the Church, is to be charged on others rather than on themselves. Men had learnt to connect piety with low church views, and laxity and want of charity with those opposed to them; to hold discipline and formularies cheap, because they seemed a mere dead letter; and to doubt whether there could be any sterling and distinctive excellence in a system which appeared so barren of good fruits.

" It was for the next generation to supply what was defective in previous teaching; and to do this, by exhibiting Church principle in connexion with its legitimate results. It was in the natural course of things that it should be so. Religion had taken hold on men's minds. Its voice had come abroad; its fruits were seen of all; its leaven was at work in many families; its heartstirring truths were heard in our pulpits, our universities, our senate-house. It was no longer the candle put under a bushel, but the light upon the billtop: The reflection was caught and multiplied: and it reached many who had never been drawn into the vortex of party; who had no sectarian prepossessions; who had been nurtured in the bosom of the Church, and were quick with the new life that was stirring within her. They belonged to no school; they could take a more impartial view than those who had contracted either the prejudices of the one party, or the prepossessions of the other. They could discern between good and evil, and approve things excellent; could appreciate both the sound principle and the godly fervour of these respective schools. They felt that our Church recognized the excellence, and disallowed the faults of both; and that if she could combine what was really good in each, such junction would make her the joy of the whole earth. She had been misunderstood, because inadequately represented; they wished to see her principles developed, her systein pervaded with life; and all that there is of heart and intellect in her children the learning of her universities, and the zeal of her parochial priesthood, clergy, and laity, co-operating together, under her apostolic rule, in the service of her Lord.

That there is need of just such a balanced system as hers, is becoming more evident every day. In the national character, and within the Church itself, there are elements which all too painfully prove this. Witness the headiness, the high-mindedness, the disposition to overvalue forms or to disparage forms, the spirit of party, the impatience of control, which characterize our age and country. Even amongst professed churchmen, is there not a lamentable want of anything like spontaneous submission to rule? And this, whatever be the ostensible principles,- -on the part of those who magnify authority, as well as of those who decry it. All, surely, proving that we need the spirit of the Church to pervade society, and her wholesome influence to be really felt.

“ But to this end, she must be rightly understood. On all sides, we find much ignorance about her true character. Neither her own members, nor those who separate from her, for the most part, apprehend her distinctive features. They know that there is a Church; and they believe that they respectively belong to her;-but they are at a loss to define what she really is. And it is but justice to both that this insight should be given them.

“ The members of our own church need it, -that they may appreciate her claims to their affection and obedience. Unhappily, her lineaments have been so imperfectly disclosed, that when actually seen, they are not always

recognised. And, therefore, it may chance that they are startled, and take offence, at what is, in reality, part and parcel of her system.

"In like manner, separatists require to be taught, what are the points at issue between them and our Church. It is a false kindness which would conceal differences, in themselves neither few nor unimportant. Nor will it erer really conciliate ; for "Truth is the basis of Charity.' What have churcbmen ever gained by slurring over points of disagreement, and assimilating their practice and teaching to dissenters ? Only a character of disingenuousness ;-while they created an impression that what was kept back would not stand inspection. The way to win, is by commanding respect; and this can only be done by candour and consistency. The more the Church realizes her true position, and appears among those who separate from her, as a thing of life and power-conscious of a high commission, and bent upon discharging it—the stronger will be her bold upon their minds. They may thus be led to investigations, from which she has every thing to gain, and nothing to fear; and when they see that her claims, founded on scripture, are borne out by the consentient voice of history; that her aims are high and holy; and that as the expounder of Christ's truth, and the dispenser of his ordinances, she has substantial blessings to imparty--they may haply learn the sin and the loss entailed by schism," -(pp. vi-xii.)

Dr. Tait and Mr. Sandford agree, then, it will be seen, in the belief,—that a New School is rising up, and that “the hopes of the country,”—"the hopes of the Church,”, depend upon it. Both talk of the orthodox churchmen and the evangelical churchmen of the last fifty years, as classes which are fading away; and both look to this fancied New School as that which is to decide the destiny of the coming age." But while they agree in this first step, this one idea,—they part company the moment they begin to define and delineate. Not one iota of resemblance is there, in the descriptions they give of the coming school. Surely this disagreement must cast á tinge of doubt over the whole speculation. Their consent is limited, in point of fact, to a single word : both expect something new," --but this new thing is of an Eclectic-Philosophical sort, in one dream, and of a Tractarian sort, in the other.

We utterly repudiate, however,—and deny, and reject, the whole fancy, be it single or duplicate. As we find it stated, in both of the above descriptions, it is wholly chimerical and void of foundation. But as fictions and romances in religion are never harmless, we feel compelled to devote a few moments to the exposure and refutation of both these imaginations.

And first, of Dr. Tait's :- This is the more entirely baseless and unreal of the two. It is the day-dream of a scholar, —of one who has spent his best days in a college, and who knows almost as little of what is going on in the world, as if he had been living in Windsor Castle, or on Mount St. Bernard.

Dr. Tait's "new school” is to be of the "eclectic-philosophieal" caste : and is to consist of men “who differ in many matters

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