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Lessons of obedience the corrective to the tendencies of the

age. 83

point, which was discussed in considering the alterations in the Prayer Book, of a peculiar stress being laid upon lessons of obedience. If a peculiar adaptation to these internal changes also has existed in external circumstances, it must be as a corrective; for, of course, it is as a corrective to natural and prevailing tendencies, that the Divine Teacher lays an emphatic stress on particular instructions: such is the case in the commands delivered to the Churches in the Revelation.

In the time immediately previous to the period of our own Prayer Book, through the dark ages, it is evident that the Church had acted as such, and as counteracting the darkness of the age. Inasmuch as all the learning and ability of the times flowed into the Church, and filled all her offices, and thence emanated to the world: for, if that period was one of darkness and ignorance, she was the luminous body by which the darkness was irradiated. It is in the same manner of correction that she has operated since.

It was shown that obedience in various shapes has been very peculiarly the Divine teaching and Divine admonition, interwoven with, and infused into, our Services, speaking like the Urim and Thummim of the twelve tribes, the "light and truth on the breast" of the collective Church, or like the sacred voice in the temple, speaking to us in that way in which we are bound to be listening for the still small voice. And now it might be inferred from many points spoken of, either by implication or direct instances, in pursuing this subject of inquiry throughout the Liturgy, (in Part ii.) that this lesson of obedience has been that corrective which the spirit of the age required. But it may be again distinctly mentioned, first of all, in this, that the Religion of the age, as it has been developed both in the Church and in various forms of dissent, has in some shape or other substituted a kind of luxury of feeling, and a new doctrine respecting the Atonement for the ancient and scriptural doctrine of the Cross1; and has shown a marked repugnance to all those principles of mortification of life and self-denying obedience, which have been considered as connected with it, and which have formed the emphatic teaching

1 This allusion is explained in Tract No. 80, p. iii. 5.

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of our own Church. So much has this prevailed, that it has induced persons to believe that holy men of old, who spent their ives in frequent watchings and fastings and prayer, had entirely mistaken the whole nature of religion; had not only proceeded on a circuitous path, but had entirely missed the true one; and had quite mistaken the only mode of access to CHRIST. That to labour to become conformable unto His death, was in fact to forget the efficacy of it: and would serve as an evidence of having done so without some express declaration to the contrary. All this teaching is only mentioned as a fact, and as a proof of the tendencies and spirit, from whatever cause arising, of this age and nation. It may be that these distorted statements of Christian doctrine are but the shadows occasioned by the partial breaking in of the truth upon a corrupt age. Here therefore the Church has been, throughout the dangerous influences of the times, to those who would be guided by her, "a lantern unto the feet, "and a light unto our paths."

Another proof might be taken from the political principles which have characterised this country as associated with the name of liberty. It would be difficult to express them under the mildest terms, but as those of independence, of maintenance of national rights and privileges, as principles of resistance against arbitrary powers; whatever definite name and shape they assume, they immediately stand out before one as the very opposite to the peculiar tenets of the Gospel,-these are throughout, whether as shown in matters of detail or in their general spirit, directly the reverse to those principles described; from the precepts and example of Him "who learned obedience by the things "that He suffered." And although the maintainers of the political opinions alluded to would, in some measure, allow the necessity of loyal obedience, yet they would mention and dwell on cases of aggression, which would serve as exceptions. It is on this account that their opposition to the scriptural doctrine of the Cross is most apparent, inasmuch as Scripture, in expressing the duties of this kind in numberless cases of precept, example, and the like, never speaks of exceptions,-often carefully excludes them; whereas, knowing what is in man, and "looking before

"and after" for him, better than he could for himself, it necessarily would have mentioned such cases, if any exceptions had been necessary. It appears, therefore, as a very singular providential correction to all this, that there has come forth, as it were, a hand upon the wall, without a human body to which it can be referred as its Author, and has written in distinct characters, The lesson of obedience.

And in the next place, the external prosperity which has been alluded to, is a reason why, according to the usual tenor of the Divine dealings, a message of warning, of humiliation, and of obedience, should be addressed. That the pride of ease and abundance, the pride of intellect and false liberty, should be spoken to in a tone of this kind is quite in harmony with Scripture; so as to afford, from the analogy, an intimation that it is the same voice which speaks to us in both. To the poor the good tidings are preached but the commandments, and woe, and self-denial, to the rich. "Let the poor rejoice in that he is exalted, but the "rich in that he is made low."

10. Our situation a trial of obedience.

It might moreover be pointed out, that to those who would follow this Divine guidance, and the teaching of the Church, there has been something in her condition which has had peculiarly the tendency of fostering this spirit, and affording opportunities for the exercise of it, from the very peculiarity of her position. For the circumstance of our being mixed up with the world in spiritual matters is an especial trial of our obedience to GOD, of our obedience to His Church as such. It is especially a discipline to, and trial of, our obedience. If our chief and subordinate ministers are in some measure thrust into, or thrust themselves into, their position over us, by a certain temporal influence, and afterwards maintain their authority by things which are of this world, such as wealth, or learning, or eloquence: And if there is a want of effectual power in the Church to remove obnoxious ministers: such a state implies a very peculiar exercise of our faithfulness to the Church of GOD, when her own

intrinsic claims to our allegiance are so far withdrawn from view. And in her ministers also, it is the same exercise and trial of their Christian loyalty, when the claims which the world makes upon them to compromise their higher duties are so constant and so plausible. And obedience to the Church is more particularly an act of obedience to GOD, when she exercises few visible indications of her approbation or censure.

That this our peculiar position is especially a trial of obedience, will be seen from a comparison, which is obviously presented to us, with various dissenting bodies. To whatever of these congregations a person may attach himself, it is evidently, throughout, the very opposite to this temper of obedience which is called into exercise; so much so, that, in a mere moral point of view, without taking into the account the claims of the Church, one might consider this difference as the very characteristic between the Church and them. But the same argument might also be applied, in some degree, to other Churches, in comparison with our own, to show that the more visible and palpable is the authority which the Church exercises, the less is the temper of obedience towards the Church called into action. This may be forcibly seen in any single instance; if we suppose a clergyman acting up to the many duties which the Church enjoins, but in which, from the peculiarity of her position, she does not enforce compliance; and adhering to such as a matter of conscience: this is one of the strongest examples of allegiance to the Church, and dutiful loyalty of heart, which can be presented. But such is not at all the case in a strict adherence to those points where Church authority interposes to exact the performance. But the former is so peculiarly an exercise of obedience, that no irregular pains with a flock, no appeals to piety and conscience, can instil the spirit so powerfully, or in any way without them. It appears in such cases, that instead of the visible hand of the Church, and tangible influences, instrumental in producing order and regularity, it was rather done by that secret and unseen authority, of which the many commands in the Service are instances by word expressed in short, by imperceptible and spiritual, rather than by external and visible chains, such order is preserved. It is

ever in the still and small voice that God is heard. So quiet is the Church's teaching, ever pointing out the way to our feet; "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the "way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when "ye turn to the left." Besides that monitor which is lodged in the breast of each, it is our own Church, which, looking back to the early Church, and bringing down its teaching, is ever heard as a gentle voice behind us.

And now, if it be the case that there is, throughout and consistently, this peculiar and distinguishing 00s in our Church, we may expect to find the same realised in the peculiar temper of her sons, if in churches, as in nations, there prevail certain characteristic qualities, which are shown by a predominant influence of the same in their members. Something of a quiet resignation and temper of repose' is remarkable in those holy persons who have most closely adhered to the guiding hand, and drunk most deeply the spirit of our own Church. In this point of view it would be interesting to compare them with the remarkable saints of other Churches 2.

1 Witness, for instance, the dying words of Hammond and of Hooker; the words of Butler, Kettlewell, Wilson, Ken.

2 There is also another point from which our Church might be looked upon, if we would see her peculiarities. It is not pleasant to institute comparisons, or it might be shown, by a contrast with other forms of Christianity, which have relinquished the guidance of primitive Worship and Ordinances, how much we have still retained in the riches of a Catholic dispensation. If our Church has in some degree exchanged "beauty for ashes," the beauty of first love for the ashes of repentance," the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit "of heaviness," still is she replete with blessings peculiarly healing and restorative, according to the meek forbearance which accompanied her Master's presence of old. Observe the descent and falling away from spiritual gifts in that form of worship which is established in Scotland. Observe, instead of the consolations derived through ancient Liturgy, her cold disquisitions and dark speculations on the secret things of GOD; the penitential soberness which marks our Church may there be contrasted with a stern and gloomy sourness. We, when compared with primitive piety, appear to have dropped in some measure the more glad spirits of adoption, the more vivid consciousness that we are walking in the innumerable company of good angels, and the society of just men made perfect, in that city of the living GOD unto which we are come. Their system

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