11. Our recovery of lost privileges depends on obedience.

To all this it must be added, that if our circumstances have placed us in a position of servitude, if the height and depth of those mysterious blessings which are "hid in CHRIST" are, in some measure, withdrawn from us, as from " babes in CHRIST," we might suppose that we should have set before us the way and means of recovery, and of re-establishment as a pure branch of the Catholic Church. And now it would appear from Scripture, that it is the temper of obedience which alone will recover and realize these blessings to us; and to which also is attached the peculiar promise of strength and stability. It is "to the meek," says the Son of Sirach, "that mysteries are revealed," in distinction from "the many who are in high place and renown." (Eccl. iii. 19.) To which he adds, "Search not the things which


are above thy strength; but what is commanded thee, think "thereupon with reverence." It is this disposition, that of meekness, to which Scripture has attached the greatness of earthly promises, both as to duration, and as to the peace in this world which it is to obtain. It is reasonable to suppose that it is in the Church especially, as in the higher sense, "The land which the "LORD our God hath giveth us," that they are fulfilled. It is to this temper that the fifth commandment gives length of days. It is to this that the Beatitude promises the inheritance of the earth, as their peculiar portion; and the words refer us back to the Psalm from which they are taken, for the fuller explication of them, "The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves "in the abundance of peace." (Ps. xxxvii. 11.) And that again

abounds in fearful terrors of bad angels; every emblem of mortality which the charnel-house can supply marks their sepulchres. Filial confidence, Christian hope, the happy Sunday, the glad sense of Resurrection, infuse no cheering spirit into their religion. It walks through the valley of the shadow of death; but not as fearing no evil from CHRIST's presence: for the unearthly light which breaks into it reveals not blessed Angels, but shapes of dismay. We speak, let it be remembered, of the system, not of individuals, who may be of course far more acceptable in God's sight than we who have higher gifts.

this promise of the multitude of peace has a peculiar reference to
the Christian, is evident from a passage still higher than either,
when our blessed SAVIOUR mentioned this as that point in following
Him, in which we shall find rest. "Learn of Me, for I am meek
"and lowly, and ye shall find rest for your souls,"—that peace,
doubtless, which is beyond understanding.

·· •

Here therefore, clearly, is the strength of the Church; if she is
"to enlarge the place of her tent, and to stretch forth the curtains
"of her habitations" into that goodly territory which God has
given her in His Sacraments, it must be by this spirit of meek
submission. "Ye have seen," it was said to Israel in the wilder-
ness, and doubtless is intended of the spiritual Israel in the
world, "Ye have seen how I bare you on eagles' wings, and
"brought you unto Myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey My
"voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a
"peculiar treasure unto Me, above all people;
ye shall be
"unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." (Ex.
xix. 5.) It is this meek obedience which is the key to the
treasures of the kingdom. And it has been shown that this
is the lesson, which, by a mysterious provision, has been written.
on "the fringes of the garments," on "the bells of the horses,"
"as a sign upon the hand," as a memorial between the eyes,"
written, may we not say with reverence, by the finger of GOD;
inculcating that great Christian doctrine as the Divinely-sent pre-
servative, and as most of all opposed to that temper which has
characterized this age and nation, under various shapes and
appellations of liberty. And, as the fifth commandment lays the
foundation for this spirit of obedience, in the most intimate of
earthly relatives, that of parents, so does our own Church stand
in the most intimate position of spiritual relation towards us: if
it be not the purest, and highest, and best, which is no question
of ours (for we have not to choose, no more than we have to
choose our own parents), yet the best suited by Divine Pro-
vidence for our guidance and protection.

99 66

12. Dutiful allegiance to our own Church in particular,

The necessity of obedience to our own Church, and consequently the security to be found therein, are to be set higher than they usually are, even by her friends; such obedience extending to her spirit and intention (when not opposed to Scripture and the Church Catholic) as much as to points of positive command. For we are bound to obey the Church by CHRIST appointed. (St. Matt. xviii. 19.) And how does this obedience come before us individually, but by our own, while she is neither heretical nor schismatical? We cannot help ourselves, we have no choice. Obedience, therefore, to her is obedience to God in the highest sense, as to His appointment. And therefore such obedience contains within itself somehow its own protection, has within it safety, and more than safety. When we quit her guidance in pursuit of any apparent good, we lose this security; it is in this manner that our Church becomes to us the seat of "quietness and confidence."

"I will lie still,

I will not stir; lest I forsake thine arm,
And break the charm."


Or, to put the argument more particularly, we have the promise of our SAVIOUR's guidance in His Church to the end. Where are we to obtain that guidance so as to regulate our course? In the universal agreement of a general Council. But these have been found impracticable, from the very necessity of the case; therefore such suspension, or cessation, is the work of GOD, not of Where, therefore, is the allegiance due to such to be transferred? GOD has supplied us with that which, though not even a Council, perhaps, of itself, yet, in our state of necessity, stands in the nearest place to claim that allegiance, in a Convocation. But these Convocations have been now suspended by the same Power. General Councils have been found unworthy to preserve the deposit, from the unfaithfulness or divisions of Christendom; Convocation, from those of our own. To what, therefore, is our allegiance due? As in the former case to the last general Coun

cils, which were Catholic, so is it also now in our own case due to the last Convocation, and to that order of things which it has bequeathed to us in our own Liturgy. The very suspension of Convocation seems to rivet and fix the necessity of our obedience the more, for the Divine Lesson imparted thereby is, that since we are not in a state fit to regulate ourselves, we must abide by the fixed regulations of a better age. In this also are indications of the same fatherly Hand.

And, with respect to that teaching which God has supplied us with, in the very matter and structure of our forms of worship, it must be remembered that, in this Treatise, our Liturgy has been considered with respect to its weak points, its modern changes, wherein it has been our object to show, that the strength of GOD has been evinced even in this our weakness, that even those changes have been regulated by a Divine control. Much more, then, may it be concluded to be the case, that our strength and guidance consists in those ancient and Catholic forms themselves. To take one single instance; the appointment of select passages from Scripture in the Epistle and Gospel. Consider how valuable this is;-to say nothing of the harmonious union it supports with other Churches, consider how it prevents any popular religion of the day, and its peculiar doctrines, from taking up their abode in our sanctuary; or again, how it counteracts the very evils arising from a reaction against them; how, in short, it preserves the Catholicity of the Church. If any new Gospel were to prevail, it would endeavour to speak with the voice of Scripture, by selecting passages to suit its own purpose. But permanency and continuance is one of the chief attributes of the Church, of whom, as of her Divine Founder and Ruler, it may in some sense be said that she is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for "ever." Whatever popular impulses may prevail on one side or the other, they affect her not. In her still abides the Divine presence, as the visible Shechinah in His temple of old. He continues to be her King, "be the people never so impatient; "He sitteth between the Cherubims, be the earth never so un"quiet."

13. Especially necessary at the present crisis.

And it is especially necessary, in the present day, that we should look to our own Church in this view as our divinely-appointed guardian and instructor, as light, and as, consequently, refuge. And surely we have reason to hope that a stream which has been so providentially, and, we may say, miraculously preserved, bringing down its pure baptismal waters unpolluted, will not even now be lost; but continue to pass through the wild sea of opinions which prevail, and, as with that fabled river of old,

"Doris amara suam non intermisceat undam,”—

again to emerge, it may be, in a worthier and happier clime. In the meantime, through seasons of universal excitement, she administers strength and health to quiet minds. For those who reject her, amid the overflowings of ungodliness, the worst may be apprehended, whether we look to the signs of the times, or to the certainty of God's judicial visitations: "Forasmuch as this "people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly. . . . now, "therefore, behold the LORD bringeth up upon them the waters "of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria," (Is. viii. 6, 7.) the Antichrist, we may suppose, of the mystical Babylon, whoever he may be.

To ourselves in particular the importance of the subject arises from this circumstance. That "the best things are liable to be "abused," that "the perversion of that which is best is worst," have passed into proverbs. In the very highest and purest things evil will accompany us: an indefinite and unreal notion of Church principles may prevail, and the spirit of "lawlessness," with which the air is impregnated, may adopt that shape, as well as any other, from want of a deep seriousness of mind; and a temper of irreverence may pervade it, as well as other systems, from not realizing its principles. The same longing to set foot on forbidden ground, the same itching desire to handle, and curiosity to look into, the secret things of GoD, the same passion Tŵv

« VorigeDoorgaan »