though important, of inferior practical importance to this The Divine authority of the parochial priestly rule here contended for, being once establisbed, little would be left worth contending for, and that little would be in danger.

The hypothesis of Mr. Sikes, and it is one for which a large proportion of the evangelical clergy, whom he reprobates as. Gospel preachers, are known to be as great sticklers as himself, -the hypothesis on which the constitution of the Establishment is built, is this : That every parish minister is a servant of

Christ, appointed by the rulers of his household, to the care • of a certain district of country, calleol a parish,' being

charged with the care of all the souls that live in such a place.' He is to feed all its inhabitants with the sacraments, and to rule them according to the Scriptures. You very properly ask me,' says the Minister in the first dialogue with his parishioner, "to shew you my commission for assuming • the sole government and care of the inhabitants of this parish; • that is, you ask me how God Almighty is to be considered as setting me over this particular place.

· Twilight. Aye, Sir, that is exactly what I mean, because, if you can shew me that, I can easily perceive that no other minister ought to ihrust himself upon your people under any pretence

whatever. * Minister. True, John, and now attend closely to 'what I say, and you will soon see the matter in a very different light to that which has so misled

you: : My commission to take care of the people of this placé, is from the Lord himself. You acknowledge that I am sent by the authority of Jesus Christ into his vineyard the Church; and now I will shew you

that I have his commission to take care of this particular part of it. I received my commission from the. Bishop in these words, when he ordained me a Christian priest : “ Take thoù authority to preach the “ word of God, and to minister the holy sacraments in the congregation where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto;" and afterwards, he lawfully appointed me to this parish, when I first became your minister here. The Bishop, you know, derives bis authority from the Apostles, and the Apostles had theirs from our Lord himself, Whatever the Bishop does in the Church, in consequence of his authority from our Lord, through his Apostles, our Lord declares he considers as done by. himself. Now the Bishop appointed me, in Christ's name, to take care of this place, and no other; and therefore, I have Christ's authority to feed and govern that part of his flock living in this parish ; and if so, you and all your fellow-parishioners are bound to obey and submit your : selves, and receive my instructions, because I have, by Christ's authority, the rule over you.

Heb. xiii, 17. ... Tr. You have put it in a new light, indeed, sir! I cannot say I ever saw it so plainly put before.'

As honest John does not pretend to much book-learning, it is very likely that he never did. But it is not a new light it is a doctrine much older than Luther. Many ministers, however, who act upon this assumption, would not go quite so far in their statement of the principle. Yet, between Mr. Sikes and Mr. Simeon, there is only, we believe, this slight difference. The former contends, that to leave the parish church on any pletence whatever, is to fly in the face of Christ and his Apostles : the latter would tolerate, in case of necessity, stray: ing out of one parish to attend service in a neighbouring parish church; but on no account must the parishioner leave his church to hear the Gospel from a non-commissioned minister. There are the prayers, the all-perfect and all-sufficient Liturgy, and the Sacraments; and with these, if the pulpit is. dumb or dark, he must be content, and hope for better things. Mr. Sikes is, we readily.concede, the more consistent reasoner. The same liberty of choice, or right of private judgement, and power of judging, which would justify the preference of one parish minister to another, would, pushed but a step further, lead to the dangerous consequence of preferring a Presbyterian or an Independent minister in the same parish, to the parish minister, that is, unless the latter can be shewn to have a Divine commission and absolute claims which, under any circumstances, it would be impious to disregard. But, from this consequence, the evangelical clergyman shrinks back in utter horror. We must profess, however, that we cannot understand how the Church-government of the Establishment can be maintained consistently with a departure from the strict parochial principle. Honest Twilight has not been guilty of going to meeting, but merely of wandering out of his parish to hear a

Gospel preacher' in a neighbouring parish; having always thought, simple man! • that it was all one whether he went to • one parish church or another, provided he did not go to the - Dissenters' meeting.'

16. Min. Alas! iny good friend, you are not the only honest inan that has been so deceived with this very error; but you have been much more like a Dissenter than is commonly imagined.

Tw. Then I am sure it was because I knew no better; for I detest the Dissenters, and I

Min. Hold, John; shaine upon such words as those : you should rather pity them, and endeavour by all the kind methods of Christian charity, to shew them their faults, and so bring them back to the true Church and fold of Christ. “ If a man be overtaken in a fault,” says St. Paul, " ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Gal. vi. 1. And, I tell you again, your fault in deserting your minister and parish Church is that very siv which is the grand sin of Dissenters; and you are much nearer to being a Dissenter than you think for, John.

{ [w. Sir, I am sorry for the words I have said, because they do not become a Christian ; but I meant no harm to them, I only meant that I detest their principles, and their doctrines, and so forth : for Mr. B. has often told us that they make very poor Christians.

Min. Look you now !-How difficult is the task of knowing our selves! Ah! Mr. B. “ Why beholdest'thou the mote that is in thy brother's ey'e, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye, and behold a beam is in thine own eye?" Matt. vii. 3. But let us see

- told yoll, that

you were much nearer being a dissenter than you would like to see yourself, and I will shew you how : The dissenters, you know, despise and will not hear those ministers whom God hath set over them: So do you. The difference between you is this : that they choose any man they like, out of the church, and set him up, and then call him the Rev. Mr. Such-an-one, as we do Christian clergymen, and make believe to obey him : for mind ye; the instant the Rev. Mr. Such-an-one disobliges his employers, they send him packing, and get somebody else to do the work of their meeting.– -You choose one in the Church; and so far, your error is not quite so preposterous.--But then, to be as like a dissenter as you can, if your parish priest does not please you, as you cannot turn him out of the Church, (as the dissenters do, and as you would certainly do if you could) why you leave him there, and go to some other preacher that pleases you better.- Again, the dissenters cause divisions, and schisms, (as the Bible calls them) among Christians.-SO do you.-Such people as you set the minister of a parish and his congregation at variance ; you cause difference of opinion, and make the people separate from their pastor. But the Church of Christ, which he calls his body, should be all of one mind, and have no divisions in it. Christians should praise God with one mouth and one heart: and not say, “ I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos.” The Church of Christ should be without rent or division, as his blessed coat was without seam. Now, the only difference between you and the dissenters is this; They completely tear and destroy this sacred garment, and scatter the rags

in every corner of the kingdom ; You tear and rend it from top to bottom, and make it totally unfit either for use or ornament, but do not quite separate the tattered' piéces. You see there is hardly & pin to choose between these two horrible things.'

The sin of schism or division must certainly be considered as attaching to divisions in the Church, rather than out of it. Now, Dissenters peaceably, and it may be from pure motives

of conscience, as Mr. Sikes allows, withdraw from the Parish Church. They are separatists then, but must not be called schismatics, for they do not divide the Church; always understanding by the Church, the Church of England. The schism is, when Mr. Sikes is preaching in one parish church, and a

Gospel preacher' is preaching grace and election, justifica. tion and the new birth,' and other hard things in the adjoining parish, and drawing away all Mr. Sikes's parishioners. Here is a schism with a vengeance; altar against altar ;' the Church against itself! Which of the two is the schismatic, we dare not attempt to decide ; but the Church is obviously divided both in doctrine and in fact. The Gospel preacher may allege that he is the innocent occasion of this division; that in being charged with turning the world upside, down, he only shares in the reproach in which the Apostles gloried ; that

, Christianity has always been the occasion of schisms, setting the mother against the daughter, the father against the son, the circumcised against the uncircumcised; but that the occasion of such schisms is unjustly charged with being the cause of them. All this may be said, and said with truth. But then, the existence of the schism being indisputable, the inference will be most dangerous ; to wit, that schism is a thing inevitable in a Church constituted as is the Church of England ; that, as it is inevitable, so, as to those who are chargeable with origi, nating it, it is innocent; nay, that under all the circumstances of the case, this most borrible evil is a good thing.

As Dissenters, then, we maintain that we stand quite clear of schism. The schismatics are the members of the Established Church, who stray from their own parish. This is as clear as, the light of noon. Let us not be misunderstood, however, as meaning to cast any reproach upon their Christian character. They are only bad Churchmen. We only mean that they are schismatics, ecclesiastically speaking, as rebelling. against their lawfully ordained and divinely commissioned parish-priest, and depreciating the sufficiency of the provision which the Church has made, in the Liturgy and the Sacraments, for their edification.; As schismatics, in a New Testament sense, we are far from regarding them; notwitstanding they are very apt to be-, stow that hard name upon us.

That Dissent is no schism, we can prove by analogy. Every one knows the fierce contest which so long agitated the Romish Church, between the Jansenists and the Molinists. Here was a theological schism. Again, when two, and in one case three, rival Popes were contending for the chair of St. Peter, and excommunicating each other, while their partisans zealously had recourse to the logic of cold steel to decide the point, there was a political schism in the Church. But when Henry the Eighth declared himself the head of the Anglican Church, there was no schism, but only, as every Churchman will admit, a withdrawment, a peaceable separation. In like manner, when the Nonjuror party in our National Church, refused to acknowledge King William

as the head of that Church, here was a schism, and a dangerous one: and about the same time, the Hoadleyan controversy produced a theological division of the most angry kind. But when two thousand clergymen were ejected from the Church in the days of Charles II., the Church was only purified of schism, by getting rid of the schismatics who troubled her. It was, like the Reformation in Henry the VIIIth's time, a separation of parts, the sound from the unsound; with this difference only, that the minority who went out; did not carry the King along with them.

But though we have thus succeeded in preving-we hope to Mr. Sikes's satisfaction--that we are not guilty of schism in our separation from the Church, we are aware that we have yet to clear ourselves from the crime of breaking the laws, and despising the Divine claims of the duly ordained clergy of this realm. To this charge we shall now briefly address ourselves.

Imprimis, we deny the whole fiction of the ecclesiastical commission pretended to. We regard it as altogether 'apocryphal; as much so as the stories of Asmodeus and Bel and the Dragon. That it proceeds from the Lord,' we consider as a most impudent pretence, since it is well known that the Bishop dêrives all his authority froni the King, and that he is the head of the Church. The authority the Bishop possesses, is a.purely secular authority, as much so as that of the justice of the peace from whom the Dissenting teacher takes out his license; and the appointment he confers or sanctions, is a political authority also. The Establishment is, from the top to the bottom, a political arrangement designed to provide for the instruction of the people. Its form and constitution have been settled by the State, its articles decided on by the State, its ceremonies decreed by the State. It may be called a Royal Church, or a Parliamentary Church, or a National Church ;-any thing but an Apostolic Church. The Apostles explicitly disclaimed that very dominion which prelacy arrogates to itself. It is therefore a contradiction in terms, to suppose that they could devolve this species of jurisdiction on any imaginary successors. We have ample proofs in the New Testament, that many of the primitive Christians exercised the function of preaching with efficiency and success, who never took out their commission even from the Apostles ; and the Apostle Paul rejoiced that in any way Christ was preached. The Bishops of the Apostolic Churches were any thing but lords diocesan and princes palatine. They had no political authority, and they could not impart any. They had not more authority, and not larger dioceses, than many of our Dissenting bishops, the pastors of congregations.

* That what the Bishop does in the Church, our Lord considers as done by himself, is an assertion very false, and, considering what a modern Bishop is, and who made hių a Bishop,

« 前へ次へ »