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and intolerance? Will they maintain that our Articles forbid us to obey the scriptural rule, "Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." (Philip. iii. 16.) For this is all that is required of those who would join the proposed Evangelical Alliance.
Those who have taken the pains to compare our thirty-nine Articles with the confessions of other churches, must be well aware, that "in all matters of chiefest importance and fundamental points of religion," there is perfect agreement between us and "all the neighbour churches christianly reformed." And that, in regard to those points in which we differ from them, the Church of England has been careful to express herself with singular moderation. Insomuch that the nineteenth Article, which gives the definition of a visible Church,-the twentieth, "Of the Authority of the Church," --and the twenty-third, "Of Ministering in the Congregation," -might have been signed by the ministers of the reformed churches as readily as by those of our own; and do in fact agree, not only substantially, but even in expression, with the confessions of other churches. We need only refer our readers to "The Harmony of Protestant Confessions," for the proof of this assertion. And the thirty-sixth Article, " Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers,-while it declares whom the Church of England holds "to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered," pronounces no judgment upon others. We maintain our own order and discipline; but we do not impugn that of others. So careful indeed has the Church of England been in this matter, that when James the First attempted to introduce episcopacy into Scotland, and several Scottish clergymen were consecrated, they were deliberately and of set purpose, not episcopally ordained, lest their episcopal ordination should give occasion to any questioning of the validity of the Orders of Foreign Protestant Churches.
But let us look more particularly at those Articles to which we have referred, in which (if anywhere) we might expect to find the assertion of those exclusive and intolerant views, which commonly go under the name of High-Church Principles. And first we will quote
Article XIX. Of the Church.
"The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."
This truly Protestant definition was evidently intended to em
brace all the Reformed Churches, and to exclude the Church of Rome.1
This definition of the Church must be kept in remembrance, in reading the Articles which follow, or we might greatly mistake their meaning.
Of the Authority of the Church.
"The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's word written; neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree `any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation."
- This is, on the one hand, an assertion of the rights and authority of such a Church as before defined, against the usurpations of Rome; and on the other, a strict and scriptural limitation of its authority. Thomas Rogers expounds the first clause, as opposed to the errors of those," Which think that either one man, as the Pope, or any certain calling of men, as the Clergie, hath power to decree and appoint rites or ceremonies, though of themselves good, unto the whole Church of God, dispersed over the universal world."
If any one doubts this, let him only read the following statements from the Homily for Whitsunday, which must be considered as the most authentic exposition of the Article. "It is needful to teach you, first, what the true Church of Christ is; and then to confer the Church of Rome therewith, to discern how well they agree together.
"The true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship of God's faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone. (Ephes. ii. 19, 20.) And it hath always three notes or marks whereby it is known: pure and sound doctrine; the sacraments ministered according to Christ's holy institution; and the right use of ecclesiastical discipline. This description of the Church is agreeable both to the Scriptures of God, and also to the doctrine of the ancient Fathers; so that none may justly find fault therewith.
"Now, if you will compare this with the Church of Rome--not as it was in the beginning, but as it is at present, and hath been for the space of nine hundred years and odd -you shall well perceive the state thereof to be so far wide from the nature of the true Church, that nothing can be more. For, neither are they built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, retaining the sound and pure doctrine of Christ Jesus; neither yet do they order the Sacraments, or else ecclesiastical keys, in such sort as He did first. institute and ordain them. * Christ commended to his Church a Sacrament of his body and blaod: they have changed it into a sacrifice for the quick and the dead. Christ did minister to his apostles, and the apostles to other men indifferently, under both kinds : they have robbed the lay people of the cup, saying that for them one kind is sufficient. Christ ordained no other element to be used in baptism, but only water; whereunto when the word is joined, it is made, as St. Augustine saith, a full and perfect Sacrament: they, being, wiser in their own conceit than Christ, think it is not well nor orderly done, unless they use conjuration; unless they hallow the water; unless there be oil, salt, spittle, tapers; and such other dumb ceremonies, serving to no use; contrary to the plain rule of St. Paul, who willeth all things to be done in the Church to edification. (1 Cor. xiv. 26.) Christ ordained the authority of the keys to excommunicate notorious sinners, and to absolve them which are truly penitent; they abuse this power at their own pleasure, as well in cursing the godly with bell, book, and candle, as also in absolving the reprobate, which are known to be unworthy of any Christian society: whereof they that lust to see examples, let them search their lives."
* * *And the authority of the Church he thus expounds"Authority is given to the Church, and to every member of sound judgement in the same, to judge in controversies of faith; and so in their places, to embrace the truth, and to avoid and improve (reprove) antichristianity and errors; and this is not the private opinion of our Church, but both the straight commandment of God himself, particularly unto all teachers and hearers of God's word, and generally unto the whole church; and also the judgment of our godly brethren in foreign countries."
We quote this old exposition of these expressions, because they are just those which have been most commonly misunderstood and perverted. And this is not the only instance in which the true force and meaning of our Articles can only be rightly understood, by reference to some assumption and usurpation of the Church of Rome to which it is opposed. The manner in which the authority of the Church is restricted and limited in the remainder of the Article, is in strict accordance with the great Protestant principle which is asserted in the sixth Article, "Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation."
"XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
"It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard.'
This Article might be subscribed by all who hold "The Divine Institution of the Christian Ministry;" while it leaves to the several churches, which answer to the definition given in the nineteenth Article, to determine who are "lawfully called and sent," and who "have authority given unto them to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard." The moderation of our Church herein will be more apparent, if the foregoing Article be compared with corresponding Articles in other confessions.
It has been made but too apparent of late years, that many persons in our Church are great sticklers for traditions and ceremonies as if those which had been once appointed might never be changed. But here again the moderation and wisdom of our
For example, the XXXVIIth Article, and the expressions in the Oath of Supremacy. The constitution of England, from an early period, recognised three estates of the realm-the nobility, the Commons, and the Church, or ecclesiastics. The principles of Popery made the last of these the subjects of a foreign potentate, and exempted them from the authority and jurisdiction of their natural sovereign. The principles of the Reformation asserted and maintained, in opposition thereto, the supremacy of the sovereign "over all persons, in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as temporal;" or, in other words, the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil," none of which ought to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction." This is all that is meant, when it is said that the queen is head of the Church.
Church stands in remarkable contrast with the folly and intemperance of some of her children. This will appear from the following Article.
"XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
"It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word.
"Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly-that others may fear to do the like-as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church, ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying."
We are persuaded that neither Churchmen nor Dissenters are sufficiently acquainted with those Articles, in which the true sense of the Church of England, respecting the Church and its Ministers and Ceremonies, are so calmly and wisely expressed; and this must be our excuse for quoting them at length. We shall add one more, to which we have indeed already referred.
"XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
"The book of consecration of archbishops and bishops, and ordering of priests and deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it any thing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the rites of that book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward, unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered."
Now, if the exclusiveness and intolerance of what are called High Church principles, were indeed characteristic of our Church, where but in these Articles should those principles have been expressed, and that spirit manifested? It may indeed, be said, that some of those Articles leave the High Churchman (as he calls himelf) at liberty to hold and maintain his own views, as to what hings are "requisite of necessity" to the due administration of he Sacraments,-as to who are "lawfully called and sent,”—as
Does not this second clause plainly condemn those Tractarian ministers, who, “through eir private judgment, willingly and purposely break the traditions and ceremonies of e Church," which long and general custom has established, with the full consent and proval of all the bishops and clergy for a long series of years? Do they not offend igainst the common order of the Church, and hurt the authority of the magistrate, and und the consciences of the weak brethren."-much more than any Dissenters, who are ly following (according to their light and convictions) the traditions and ceremonies ich they have received from their fathers, and which our present laws fully sanction?
to what "ceremonies and rites of the Church" are really "edifying" and that taking advantage of this liberty, he may maintain what opinions he pleases on such points. We answer readily, that any calm and temperate statements on such points will, of course, leave much room for the differences of individual opinion: they will leave many subordinate questions open to discussion, but certainly they give as much liberty on the one side as on the other. And the very fact, that those Articles give so much liberty, and leave so many questions open, must be considered as condemning the arrogance and intolerance of those who would insist on binding what our Church has left free, and of shutting up what she has left open. Those only can be fairly considered as acting in the spirit of our Church, and in real conformity with our Articles, who cordially yield to all the full measure of Christian liberty which that Church allows. All that we contend for is granted, as soon as it comes to the question, What are we at liberty to hold, and how far may we judge for ourselves? And when our Articles decide or define nothing, the only appeal which they sanction is to the Holy Scriptures; for "whatsoever is required to the salvation of man, is fully contained in the Scriptures of God."
We are not unmindful of the fact, that the Articles which we have quoted were framed in this spirit of moderation, with reference to Foreign Churches, and not with reference to Non-conformists in our own Country. And we readily allow that, in the first instance, Dissenters from our own Church stood in a very different position from Christians in foreign countries; and might well be blamed, as making needless divisions and separations, or bringing forward captious objections-when Foreign Churches might have been altogether justified. But, as things now are, and considering the divisions which exist in our own country as the growth of generations and even centuries; and that now, for a long time, freedom of worship has been most fully conceded to them, that it is protected and secured by the laws, and sanctioned (tacitly at least) by all authorities in both Church and State, we think that it is right and Christian to speak of them, and feel towards them, as independent churches, in which the doctrines and principles, and forms of worship, which they have inherited from their fathers, are observed. Even if we thought their fathers had been wholly and exclusively to blame in the original separation (which we cannot say -for there were faults on all sides) we dare not visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children: for this would be an usurpation of a Divine prerogative. (Compare Deut. xxiv. 16, with Ex. xx. 5.) We
'Chrysostom, as quoted in the first Homily.