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ful dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy sacraments : In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.” Then giving to each one a Bible, he added,
Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy sacraments in the congregation where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereto."
At the sound of these words, so strange and significant to him, Israel looked around upon the people of that congregation, to see if they were moved.
Innocent youth! he had yet to learn that most people who help to sustain these “ authorities ” “ to remit and to retain sins," are like the ostrich, which swallows bullets scorching hot from the mould, rags, leather, iron, and stone, with unqualified voracity.
Determined not to be hasty or superficial in his observations of this people, Israel followed this service, by attention to the notice of an evening meeting to be held soon thereafter.
At the appointed time he hastened to the chapel. Passing into the entrance room, he hesitated about going within until he had made some observations, unobserved.
What was his surprise to find that the audience room contained the minister with only about a score of women! Although the meeting was a general one, not a
“male member” was present. He determined to retain his position of observer instead of participator.
His surprise was greater when he afterwards heard the minister proceed with his exhortation, as it read
in a book, in a formal and reverent manner addressing those sisters more than once as
brethren.” “ This," thought Israel, “is formality wrought into folly.” He mentioned it to his Episcopal friend, and received this reply :
" In so doing, the minister showed his faithfulness to the proscribed order of the church. A minister who seeks to please men by the dictates of worldly wisdom, will adapt himself to the prejudices and foibles of his hearers, till his own identity and that of his sect are sacrificed. Such are worthy only of being compared to the celebrated French dramatic writer Gasper Abeille, who had a face of such extraordinary fexibility, that when he was reading a drama or tale, he could vary his features to suit the various characters as effectually as though he had worn a mask to represent each personage.
Who has not seen such men among the preachers of the denominations? We had better deserve the imputation of formality, and be true to the truth, than be informal actors conscious of falsehood and deceit."
ISRAEL next procured The Book of Common Prayer used by the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, and read it attentively. From all that he there found he inferred that the doctrines of this church materially harmonized with those of other churches called Calvinistic, so far as he instituted a comparison upon a general reading. A more careful examination raised a query respecting the idea of this faith
upon regeneration, or qualifications for baptism. Great stress seemed to be laid upon being born of water, as though baptism possessed hidden power to carry with it, when administered by the church, the virtue of the new birth. If the subject were thoroughly instructed in the dogmas of the Prayer Book, and received the rites of the church in good faith, all was well without any change of heart regenerating process other than the baptism.
This idea he found from conversation with those who were qualified and authorized to expound the letter of the instruction. It was true that the letter of the doctrine cited as a requisition of persons to be baptized, “Repentance whereby they forsake sin: and faith, whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of
God made to them in that sacrament;” but it also stated it in such a manner as to make
the interpretation that the “inward spiritual grace" always accompanied the "outward visible sign,” provided all the ceremonial conditions were fulfilled. Also that infants, regularly baptized, are at the time regenerated by the spirit.
Upon further investigation, he found that the opinions of standard church authorities divide
these points. “In baptism," says Archbishop Cranmer, “ those that come feignedly, and those that come unfeignedly, both be washed with the sacramental water, but both be not washed with the Holy Ghost, and clothed with Christ."
Another authority of this faith (Rev. C. P. Miles) states that “The blessing of regeneration, as shown in the Articles and Prayer Book, is a contingent blessing; it is neither promised nor received absolutely in baptism, but promised and affirmed to be received when the administration of the rite is accompanied by prayer and faith.” Of the baptism of infants, he also says:
“Repentance and faith are demanded as prerequisites even in the case of infant baptism. And before the ordinance is administered, prayer is enjoined to be offered in behalf of the child. The church here pleads the promise of Christ; and assuming that the repentance, and faith, and prayer of the parties present are genuine, she praises God, after the child is baptized, for having bestowed, in 'fulfilment of his promise, the particular blessing that was asked. The Church of England, if she errs at all in this matter, errs simply by adopting an expression of charity more extensive than is warranted by the circumstances of her position."
Again, Israel found this statement made by the same prominent Episcopal divine : “ The doctrine of baptismal regeneration is held by a large body of English churchmen [it might also have added "and American churchmen”]; but it is also denied by vast numbers both of the clergy and laity.”
This difference of opinion among churchmen Israel found to prevail upon nearly all the points of belief to which they subscribe ex animo. The subsequent reading of the principal works of the Tractarians or Puseyites confirmed him in this opinion. In these he found stated with unqualified boldness the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, and other dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, there seemed no difference between this branch of Episcopacy and the followers of the pope, save in name and certain associations. He therefore abandoned the attempt to determine absolutely the real creed of this church as they understood it.