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moment. Let this fact be thoroughly understood; and then, the next desire will of course be, to recover the lost ground; to get back to the position occupied, and the feelings experienced, in 1688, or in 1812, in order that thereby we may get over a large portion of the distance which now separates us.
The first of these declarations, or public manifestations, which we shall adduce, is that of Archbishop Sancroft, when addressing his clergy,—or rather, the clergy of the whole realm, in the year 1688.
Among various other heads of instruction, he gave the following:
“That they also walk in wisdom towards those that are not of “ our communion ; and if there be in their parishes any such, that " they neglect not frequently to confer with them in the spirit of "meekness, seeking by all good ways and means to gain and win
them over to our communion : more especially, that they have a
very tender regard to our brethren the Protestant Dissenters; " that upon occasion offered, they visit them at their houses, and “receive them kindly at their own, and treat them fairly wherever
they meet them, discoursing calmly and civilly with them;
persuading them (if it may be) to a full compliance with our “church, or at least that whereto we have already attained, we
may all walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing. And " in order hereunto, that they take all opportunities of assuring "and convincing them that the bishops of this church are really "and sincerely irreconcilable enemies to the errors, superstitions, " idolatries, and tyrannies of the church of Rome; and that the
very unkind jealousies which some have had of us to the "contrary, were altogether groundless. And, in the last place, " that they warmly and most affectionately exhort them to join " with us in daily fervent prayer to the God of Peace, for the
universal blessed union of all reformed churches both at home " and abroad against our common enemies; that all they, who " do confess the holy name of our dear Lord, and do agree in the “ truth of his holy word, may also meet in one holy communion, " and live in perfect unity and godly love."
Such was the truly Catholic position taken by Archbishop Sancroft. It may be said, indeed, that this prelate was in some degree influenced by the approach of danger ;- but we must bear in mind that, so far from being liable to sacrifice principle to a temporary expediency, he was the man who first resisted Popery even to imprisonment, and then laid down his dignity, rather than yield up his convictions of legitimate right. We must not then, for one moment attribute to the Archbishop a concession in which his conscientious conviction did not bear a part.
The next declaration we shall cite, is of a later date; and it comes from the other side. It offers, on the part of the Dissenters, as amicable an intercourse as the Archbishop himself could desire.
At the commencement of 1812, a discussion was carried on in the Oxford journals, on the expediency of founding an Auxiliary Bible Society for that city. One of the controversialists ventured to prognosticate, that if ever Churchmen were brought cordially to co-operate with Dissenters, the final result of such union would be, the destruction of the Church. The struggles of Laud with the Puritans were adduced as a proof of this tendency.
The Rev. James Hinton, the principal Dissenting minister in Oxford, in a letter addressed by him to the Oxford Journal, thus replied ;
“ It were easy to prove, that the Hierarchy of that day pos“sessed a spirit and a power entirely subversive of all the rights “ of society, both civil and religious: but it would be illiberal to “ render the present Church of England accountable for the crimes " of its ancestors.
*Our Church' (it would be replied) 'is no “ longer what it then was. The character of the present Arch
bishop forms a perfect contrast to that of Archbishop Laud : “ the present Primate protects the Dissenters, and receives their “thanks; his predecessor persecuted them with unrelenting “cruelty. Though I could perhaps easily prove, that many of “ the members of the Church of England retain persecuting
principles, I shall not impute their faults to the Church itself. “ I should be prevented from doing this, if from no other cause, “ at least by the gratifying sight of of a large and dignified society, “ led on in its benevolent career by twenty-one Archbishops and “ Bishops of the Established Church, by numbers of Peers, and “even Princes of the realm ; and these perfectly uniting with “ Protestant Dissenters in supporting all the truth that God has “ revealed, with a view of promoting all the charity and purity “ which it enjoins.”
To this description of his own feelings, Mr. Hinton added a declaration of what he considers to be the common feeling of his Dissenting brethren ; and his words deserve the more respect, as purporting to contain 'the avowal of a person very long known in the neighbourhood' from which be writes,- of one who has spent the greater part of his life in the Ministry among the Dissenters; and who, for thirty years past, has been well acquainted with most of the principal Dissenting congregations in the kingdom, and has been in the habit of hearing, at their public meetings, the sentiments of the whole body, on the subjects which have been discussed. The declaration is as follows:
“ While the Church of England enjoys her own pre-eminence,
as she has done since she banished her oppressors from the throne, and placed her protectors in their room; while she con“ tinues to hold fast her own liberty, and at the same time forms "a barrier for the protection of her neighbours, she will be too "much esteemed by the Protestant Dissenters, for her evangelical “ doctrine, for the sake of their own safety, and for the happiness " of mankind, to permit that any wish for her overthrow should “ be cherished among them. This liberality is the sure pledge of our continued esteem. And if her safety should ever be assailed, as it has been in times past, she will find the Protestant Dissenters, as at the memorable era of the Revolution, ready to lend a "powerful aid in her support.”i
Let us weigh these two declarations, then, and let us enquire, whether they express the present feelings of Churchmen towards Dissenters, or of Dissenters towards Churchmen? No one, we believe, will allege that they do. But if not, then we must have lost ground :-the friendliness of Churchimen and Dissenters must have diminished of late years. Let this be carefully noted; and let our first attempt be, to get back to that better position from which we have slid away. Let us do this, in the reasonable assurance, that if we can only get Churchmen to view Dissenters as Archbishop Sancroft viewed them,-and Dissenters to regard Churchmen as Mr. Hinton regarded them, we shall have restored a state of things from which the further advance to a complete re-union will be at least within the limits of possibility.
But in what respects have we departed from the spirit of those two declarations; and to what causes are that departure to be attributed ? Hidden and remote causes are out of the limits of our enquiry ;-visible and tangible causes we can easily devolope.
The most recent cause of deterioration is found in the Tractarian heresy. This system has asserted the most extravagant claims, –alleging that those and those only, who had received episcopal ordination, could administer the sacraments, or confer grace, &c. &e.,--and assimilating all Dissenters to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, without the least hesitation.
Now, certainly, whenever any particle of this spirit is cherished, there, union is obviously impossible. Indeed, on one side at least, it is not desired. The first duty, then, of Churchmen who desire union, is, to repudiate all such feelings as distinctly as possible ; and as much as in them lies, to adopt Archbishop Sancroft's system ;—“ frequently conferring with the Dissenters ;”_"visit
ing them at their houses, and inviting them at their own, and "treating them fairly wherever they meet them; discoursing calmly and civilly with them.” The distance, the evident alienation which has existed for several years past, and which has been in some degree participated in by many of the best men in the Church, must be frankly given up, or the idea of Union may as well be altogether abandoned. Whether Mr. Jordan acted wisely or unwisely in taking the chair, the other day, at a Methodist Missionary Meeting, we are not now called upon to decide ; but sure we are that those clergymen acted a most injurious and lamentable part, who addressed the Bishop in approval of his conduct in interfering with Mr. Jordan's undoubted liberty.
i Owen's History of the Bible Society, vol. ii. pp. 505, 506.
We pass on to the other branch of the question. The most recent offence against Union, as we have said, has been that promoted by the Tractarians, in denouncing all Dissent as unques• tionable Schism,-all Schism as a deadly sin ; and all Dissenting ministers as the followers of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. But it may be asked, whether this alienation of Churchmen is not partly a reaction from a previously-manifested hostility of the Dissenters? At least we know, that the Tracts for the Times took their rise in a conference of certain clergymen, who met to consider the dangers of the Church, in 1833 or 1834,—she being assaulted by Romanists and Dissenters in union, and betrayed, it was thought, by the Whig administration of that day.
It is quite certain, we apprehend, that Tractarianism was preceded by a new and vigorous exhibition of hostility towards the Church, immediately following the passing of the Reform Bill. Among other great changes which that measure was expected to bring about, one of the foremost was, either the reduction, or perhaps even the utter demolition of the Church. The animation and exultation of the Dissenters, in those days, cannot have been forgotten. No one can read Mr. Hinton's language of 1812, without perceiving that the events of the intervening twenty years had utterly changed the tone and spirit of the Dissenting body.
Now this lost ground must be retraced; or else the Dissenters like the Tractarians, will not be able cordially to desire an Union.
Nor, if they did, would it be possible. Peace and War cannot co-exist. Pacification must precede friendship. Those who are shouting, on one day, “ Down with it! down with it, even to the ground !” cannot, the next day, greet their still unsubdued foes with, “ Behold, how sweet and pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell “ together in unity.”
The Voluntary crusade, then, must be wholly abandoned, if the desire and endeavour for union be retained. The Dissenters must learn Mr. Hinton's creed, and repeat it day by day, until the “ Anti-Church-State” fever has been entirely subdued. So long as they are striving to destroy the Church, they are fighting with Churchmen. And peace cannot be made between men with unsheathed swords.
Nor let the Dissenters imagine that they will ultimately lose anything by ceasing from this useless wrangling. The loss arises out of the contention,-out of the division, which has so long existed. It was because Evangelical Church men and Evangelical Dissenters were not generally and thoroughly united, that Sir Robert Peel felt strong enough to endow Socinianism in 1844 and Romanism in 1845, in spite of their opposition ; and if they continue disunited, they will continue to be disregarded in Parliament; and will see more and larger grants to Romanism, year by year.
Thus far had been written and sent to the press, when, taking up the Record newspaper of Sept. 25, we found that the mind of a Christian friend had been working out, without the slightest communication with us on the subject,—the very same conclusions : The Rey. T. R. Birks there says :
“ There is now, more than ever, a yearning among real Christians of every name, after a closer union. And this desire itself may induce a hope that He who implants it will cherish it into full growth, and crown it with the desired blessing. But the breaches of the Church will never be healed by mere wishes alone, however fervent. It is truth alone that can unite us; while error prevails, there must be division. It is only as those errors are faithfully exposed, and heartily forsaken, that union will be really secured.
“ Now the late question, while it reveals the actual weakness of the Church of Christ through its divisions, may suggest also the first steps towards the cure, if a cure may be hoped for. The Bill arose from the confluence of two grand errors ; ignorance of national duty, and ignorance of the true nature of Popery. If union be our object, and resistance to further steps of evil, these two errors must be the first objects of our spiritual warfare. One of them has spread its infection most within the Established Church, the other among Dissenters; and perhaps it is hard to say which is the more pernicious. The one leads us direct into the arms of the Roman apostacy, the other into a national Atheism, even still more fearful.
“ In some Churchmen the second evil has now appeared in its ripest form. They have served the cause of Rome far better than her own children could have done. After having lent her all the moral strength to be drawn from the candid admissions and praises of seeming enemies, some of them have at length gone over to her ranks, and others linger behind, only to be, like the Canaanites,