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to the Book of Common Prayer can and superseding the authorized one; be relaxed, and room thereby allowed and, by requiring the man to pledge for the operation of this principle, as himself to pray in agreement with the well as for an adjustment of those doctrines taught in the Book of Artidifficulties which at present beset us. cles of Religion, we take care that his
First, then, I submit this as a prin- prayer shall be, in spirit and in truth, ciple also, that our Book of Common in agreement with the truth he is Prayer having been prepared by our bound to preach. Upon these princiReformers, they did then gather out ples the form of subscription might of the past, that is antiquity, all be amended thus :that was accounted worthy to be in- “That the Book of Common Prayer, troduced into it. Accordingly to us, and of ordering of Bishops, Priests, the Book of Common Prayer is the and Deacons, containeth in it nothing grand line of demarcation, our grand contrary to the Word of God; and bulwark and wall of defence against that he himself will for the most part all the forms of prayer, liturgies, and use the form in the said book preservices, that preceded it, and thus scribed, in public prayer, and admitherefore we are protected froin the nistration of the sacraments, on Sunsuperstitions of the past, or any threat days and other holidays appointed ened revival of them.
by the Church; and that in any prayer Secondly, I submit as another prin- he may use, adapted to any special ciple, that, with a relaxed subscription occasion that may arise, or in any vato it, this book of prayer should be the riation he may make in the form preonly form admissible in the public ser- scribed, nothing shall be said or done vices of the Sabbath, and other holi- contrary to the Book of Articles of days appointed by the Church for the Religion ; nor will he at any time use general use of the people.
any other form, either ancient or moThirdly, that on other occasions dern, except some form wholly and than the public services of the Sab- bona fide prepared by himself, and bath-day and holidays, the ministry that in agreement with the Book of may be allowed to use extempore Articles of Religion.” prayer with and for the people, but If, indeed, it be feared and alleged that they use no written forn, unless by some, as doubtless it will be, that it be one strictly and faithfully of by relaxing subscription to the Prayer their own preparing, or any com- Book, we peril the safety of those pilation from the Book of Common precious scriptural truths held and Prayer; so that in the matter of taught by the Church, I entreat them forms every man be strictly tied up to consider the following argument in to those of the Book of Common confutation of their fears. The last Prayer, or of his own bona fide pre- century has taught us that it was very paring
easy for men to reconcile the doctrines Fourthly, that relaxation of sub- of semi-Arianism, if not Arianisin itscription to the Prayer-Book be al- self, with their subscription; and the lowed, upon the principle that nothing present century shews us that it is no whatsoever be introduced there, but less so for others to hold semi-Popery, what is in strict conformity in point of if not Popery itself, while they subdoctrine with the Thirty-nine Articles; scribe Articles condemnatory of them. and that no additional form, rite, ce- Now why is this? Because that is felt remony, observance, practice, or cus- which the Archbishop allows, that tom be allowed beyond what is already “a rigid conformity" to everything in contained therein.
the Prayer-Book was never intended. By thus restricting the ministry to And yet the very same subscription is the use of no other form than that of required both for Articles and Prayerthe Book of Common Prayer, or one Book. What, then, is the consequence? of each man's own bona fide prepar. The subscription being weakened in ing, we guard against the revival of some things, externals only, and nonany antiquated forms, or the possibi- essentials it may be,- but still the lity of any modern one growing up subscription being weakened with serpect to them, -it becomes not very dif- it, which this plan would afford him. ficult to weaken it still further in the Again, every minister must be sensible matter of doctrines also. At the same that there are a vast number of times, time the Articles have been felt to be and seasons, circumstances, and oca difficulty hard to be got over. They currences, that demand the prayers or are most plain and faithful expositions the thanksgivings of the people, but of gospel truth. In them the essen- respecting which the ministers are tial doctrines of salvation are mani- not now at liberty to open their mouths festly set forth. To escape them has in the service, until they have been been found impossible. To evade supplied by authority, with a form for them has been attempted in Tract 90. this purpose. The consequence has Now all this testifies to their excel- been, within my own very recent exlency, to their fitness for the purpose perience, that, in the case of the royal for which they were designed. They births, when the people have rejoiced need no new test to support them in the happy event, and in the safe they require no help but their own deliverance of our beloved and gragrammatical sense to make them in- cious Sovereign, we, of the Church of telligible. By relaxing subscription England, have been behind all deto the Prayer-Book, but leaving it in- nominations of Dissenters, Roman tact respecting the Articles, we do Catholics, and even Jews, because we thereby strengthen and give force to are not at liberty ourselves to express them. We place them in a more pro- the warm and spontaneous feelings of minent position. We separate between
So also with respect to essentials and non-essentials, and we seasons, I have repeatedly known them do thereby attribute to them that such as have required either supplihigher influence which doctrines ever cations or thanksgivings, but those have over forms. Instead, then, of supplied for ordinary use have been perilling gospel truth by relaxing sub- unsuitable to them. "How many, too, scription to the Prayer-Book, we do are the circumstances and occurrences the more effectually conserve it, and in our immediate neighbourhood, that place it in that high and commanding might well be carried to the throne of position which the truths of the Gos- grace, but which, at present, we are pel ought ever to maintain.
restricted in. It remains but to show how, practi- Again, there are several things, in cally, such a relaxation would be pro- themselves non-essential, but which ductive of very great benefit to the are offensive to some, and drive them Church. In the very first place, we from our communion, as the requiring see that all occasion for a rigid con- sponsors at baptism, the sign of the formity to the rubric is at once re- cross in ihat service, and some one or moved, the consciences of those who two things of a similar character, the suppose themselves bound to enforce which a relaxed subscription of the and use it are relieved, and the effect Prayer-Book would allow of being of usage and practice in congrega- done or not, as necessity might octions allowed its due right. In fact, casion. In fact, we may safely say, here at once, by removing the cause that in a relaxation such as that proof the late disputes, we remove the posed, and within such safe bounds as disputes themselves. But, further those suggested, namely, the scripthan this, we give room for the exer- tural rule of the Thirty-nine Articles; cise of talents in the clergy, which there would be, as it were, an adjusthitherto have been left inoperative in ment balance, enabling the Church to our system, though it is proved to be accommodate itself and its ministrahighly effective in others; that is, tions to the wants and improvements we draw forth the powers of the mi- of the people, and at the same time nistry in prayer, as well as in preach- preserving its true Apostolical chaing. Many a man has the gift of pray- racter, the doctrine and fellowship ing extempore, as well as preaching of the Apostles," whole and undefiled. in the same most effective manner, There would, in fact, under such a but only needs the occasion to exercise system be open questions on variable
points of discipline, such as exist al- cordance with Scripture, and in faithready, as in the instance of the use of ful agreement with the Articles of our water in baptism, which the rubric Church. These changes might, 1 beallows to be employed either for im- lieve, be much more simply effected, mersion or sprinkling, the symbol than many are apt to suppose, by the being equally significant either way; omission of statements and declaraand the prejudices or scruples of men tions, which are not necessary to the being thereby respected and accom- due administration of the rites with modated. So might the use of the which they are connected; which are sign of the cross, of sponsors, and no where required by Scripture to be other similiar externals and non- made; and the removal of which, all essentials be made indifferent, and christian prudence, if allowed to have many a doubting mind relieved and its due influence apart from controedified, by them that are strong bear versy, would recommend; and all ing with the infirmities of the weak. faithfulness to our Master and His
In proposing, as I have now done, divine ordinances, could not fail to a relaxed form of subscription to the approve and to rejoice in. It has Prayer. Book, under the safe guidance been proposed, indeed, to leave these and protection of the Articles, I have points doubtful, and by bracketing only been endeavouring to shew how certain expressions, to make their use the suggestions of others may be car- discretionary. But this would not be ried into effect. Thus the proposal to get rid of the difficulty, nor would of Dr. M.Neile, respecting the repeal it be right that in such topics the of the Act of Uniformity, might in this Church should give an uncertain manner be readily accomplished. At sound. Far better would it be to get the same time I do not forget, that rid of the terms in our services, that besides the self-adjusting system are liable to doubt, and to fall back which I have here advanced, there upon the clear declarations of truth are requisite in our formularies cer- in our Articles, than to allow incertain definite and permanent changes, titude where there should be clearness which should be made in strict ac- and precision.
CONFERENCE ON CHURCH REFORM.
We find that it is proposed to hold, germ of a wise and temperate movebut at too late a period of the month ment within the Church, of an assofor the notice of our periodical, a ciation acting through the real and kind of confidential or preliminary attached members of the national Esconference on Church Reform. We tablishment, who shall be influenced have been favoured with what is by truly spiritual motives, to co-opeevidently an incomplete draft of the rate in working for that which is so resolutions which those who have urgently called for in the present cribeen instrumental in arranging the tical times, thorough Reformation details are desirous of suggesting to in Church matters. the meeting. These resolutions are, Much, under God, will depend we presume, to be proposed, subject upon the spirit in which this moveto any alteration, or indeed the ment is originated, the men who substitution of any other motions come forward, and the early efforts which it may be thought more expe- they may see fit to make. We are dient to adopt. With this understand- personally unacquainted with the paring, we do not hesitate to notice and ties who are moving in this matter, welcome, what we trust will be the but, judging from the contents of the
paper which has reached us, we see the members of the association, if not every reason to hope, that if God of the earth's high and wealthy ones, vouchsafe the spirit of love, wisdom, yet members of the true Church of and of a sound mind, to those who Christ; and then we, and the whole may be induced to join the associa- evangelical body of the Church of tion, much of good may be the ulti- England, may not scruple, not only mate result. It is proposed, we find, to wish them God speed, but to coto adopt the title of “The Wycliffe operate in their labours, and share Church Reform Association."
the blessings promised to those who It would obviously be improper to labour and pray for the peace and publish resolutions which may never prosperity of any branch of Christ's be adopted, or which may be so universal Church. changed as to embody new ideas or Since the above was written, we modes of action: it may be enough have received an amended and more for us to say, that the primary objects matured statement of the intended of the association are,
proceedings of the association; and 1. The carrying out of the Refor- as a whole month must intervene bemation to its legitimate development. fore we can return to the subject, we
2. The clearance of the formularies have decided upon giving the followof the Church of England from every ing summary of the topics to be vestige of Popery.
brought under the consideration of 3. The endeavour to promote a the meeting :comprehension of evangelical nonconformist Christians, such as was 1. A thorough revision of the Pruyercontemplated at the institution of the Book is recommended, excluding all ru
brics and expressions which are liable to Savoy Conference, and by the com
be interpreted at variance with Protestant mission of William III. in 1689.
principles: the revision to embrace a 4. A reform of the Church courts re - arrangement of the Services, and for Church government.
an improvement in their Gospel cha5. A reform in the arrangements 2. This might be effected by a Commisof the ministry.
sion of Clergy and Laity, in equal numbers, 6. A removal of the abuses attach
(nominated under the Royal sanction, by
the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ing to Church property and Church Prime Minister,) who shall prepare a repatronage.
vised copy of the Prayer-Book, to be While we do not, and cannot, in
submitted to the Legislature.
3. The subscriptory tests should be moour present uninformed position, dified so as to secure general union in pledge ourselves to co-operate with principles, but not stringently require the proposed association for securing ternative formulas where there is difference
absolute uniformity of ritual, allowing althe above objects, we shall not be of judgment on non-essentials. deterred from the advocacy and support of whatever wise and moderate 4. It is asserted that it would be desirsteps it may determine upon taking, able to have a new body of Canons framed, from the fear of being found acting
more appropriate to present times, and
more Christianly considerate towards those with what may be at present an in- who conscientiously differ from us-simconsiderable or uninfluential section ply retaining the old Canons as a record
of what was considered requisite in ages of Churchmen. Let us see that their
past. aim and objects are holy and single; 5. And that Episcopacy should be
brought to more simplicity and closer of their duties clearly established before conformity with the standard of the Scrip- the aforesaid court, tures, approaching the model of Archbi- 9. Fees and payments to the Clergy shop Usher.
should be better regulated and more duly 6. Some Court of Church Government, appropriated to those who actually officonsisting of an equal number of Clergy ciate. and Lay Communicants, ought to be re
CHURCH PATRONAGE. vived or reinstituted.
10, Some more substantial check is re[See Archbishop Whateley's Charge, quisite upon State patronage in the ap1844, on Church Government.]
pointment of Bishops and the nomination
of Incumbents. CHURCH PROPERTY.
11. The Lay Communicants are entitled 7. It is thought that there is need for to a voice in the recognition or refusal of a more equable and reasonable distribution nominees to the livings. of Church property, and that a check be 12. Curates need to be protected from placed on the sale of livings, as now cus- irresponsible refusal by a Bishop to grant tomary.
them a license, or from the power of the 8. Some regulation should be enacted, Bishop to withdraw their license from that the Bishops and Incumbents are them, without substantiating any charge liable to be deposed upon nonfulfilment against them before a fixed tribunal.
THE PRESENT POSITION OF PARTIES IN PARLIAMENT.
The position of the Government, and spoke out in the following passage, of all political parties in the House of demands the consideration of all the Commons, at this present time, seems Protestants of this land. to demand the serious consideration
“We humbly submit to the Irish of all reflecting persons; and certainly members that it is their especial business of all those who are deeply concerned
to organise to the progress of this Bill for the well-being of our country through committee, a more formidable The circumstances in which we are opposition than they have yet put forplaced, and the voice of the Protest- ward. We hear a good deal of pretended ant people of these lands, alike de- unwillingness to obstruct public busimand, that the recent aggression of the But we tell the Irish Members Bishop of Rome should be dealt with that so long as this infamous Bill of perby Parliament, in such a manner as
secution remains before the House, their tó vindicate the majesty of British
constituents know nothing of any public
business but the business of obstruction. law, and the independence of the British crown. But there is a party in
Whether taxes are voted-whether Mu
tiny Acts are passed-whether Approthe House of Commons, who, it ap- priation Bills get the due number of pears, are prepared to abuse their po- readings—how the colonies are governed sition there, and to avail themselves - what becomes of the much-longed-for of all devices which are permitted by reforms of the law, the burthens on land, the laws and usages of Parliament, in the duties on paper, the taxes on knoworder to obstruct legislation on the ledge--of these, and a hundred other subject. This party were, doubtless, matters that might be suggested, the fully aware long ago of the power
Catholic constituencies know nothing, and opportunities of doing mischief, and care nothing, so long as this Bill of which their position in that House af- pains and penalties remains upon the forded. If any of them were ignorant liament, or, being enacted, remains un
table of the Commons' House of Paror supine in reference to those
opportunities, “ The Tablet" took good
6. The business of the Irish Members care, before the Easter recess, to give during the recess is to prepare and arrange them not only broad hints, but direct
every possible forma and variety of amend. instruction on the subject. The inso- ment, and to be prepared, every Member lence and audacity with which it has of them, to speak on every Amendment.