« 前へ次へ »
errors which proceed from the corrupt tendencies and sensual prejudices of the heart, are peculiar to no 'ecclesiastical constitution.
Were the object of the Christian ministry no other than to initiate the people into certain doctrines; were religion a mere science, the principles of which could be inclosed in definitions, and appropriated, for all available purposes, by the memory; the establishment of a body of authorized teachers by the Civil Government, would not be altogether an unwise or impolitic measure. And as the only object of solicitude in such a case, would be the substance of the lessons conveyed, not the character of the teacher, the Government would act consistently in contenting itself with securing the uniformity of the professed opinions of her accredited agents. It must be pre-supposed, indeed, that the Government was fully apprized of the certainty of the truths which it took so especial a means of disseminating, and that it had opportunities which the nation at large did not possess, of discovering what it was deemed a bounden duty thus to impart. Hence the necessity of the hypothesis of an infallible test or expositor of truth.
Or we may take another view of the subject, and admit, that if the Christian priesthood, as it is sometimes termed, bore any analogy to that of the Jewish economy, with which it is almost identified in the Papal Church; were it instituted for the perpetuation of certain typical rites and ceremonial observances, by the mere performance of which an important end was accomplished, irrespective of their conditional efficacy with regard to the individual worshipper; and were the rules by which these services should be regulated, as definitely ordained in the New Testament, as the orderof the Levitical worship in the Pentateuch; then, the objects of the Christian ministry might be competently secured by an order of ecclesiastical
functionaries, established and endowed by the State. ' It is scarcely necessary to enter upon a course of evidence, to prove that this twofold hypothetical view of the religion of Jesus Christ, is, in reality, the very character which it assumes in the Romish Church. The whole system of that vast congeries of error, i is built upon these assumptions. Religion is a thing to be dealt
out by the Church in the form of external applications to the memory and the senses: it consists of doctrines to be implicitly received from her authorized teachers, and of services, sacramental or ceremonial, which are substituted in the place of moral duty. The one sole qualification that she demands from her inembers, is, obedience. Faith, merit, holiness, grace, and a title to heaven, it is the prerogative of the Church to, impart. None can be saved without the means of her sacraments; and hardy and determined, indeed, must that strong-willed sinner be, that can resist the mysterious operation of all the seven, squander away all the grace they bestow upon him, and miss the way to heaven in spite of the Church. The first question which the Priest puts to the infant when presented at the font, is,' Quid petis ab ecclesiâ Dei? What dost thou ask of the ' Church of God ? The response is, 'Fidem. Faith.' The Priest proceeds : 'Fides quid tibi præstat ? What doth Faith " bring thee to? Response, Vitam æternam. Life everlasting.' So then, Faith itself is the bestowment of the Church, the
Sacramental grace,' conferred in Baptism upon the unconscious infant. And this explains how it is that we are admitted in Baptism, according to the language of an archdeacon of the English Church, into a state of Grace:' that is to say, Faith being conferred upon us, we become believers. And the rest of the consequences predicated in the Catechism follow of necessity. We are made children of God, members of • Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. What need then, rather, what possibility is there of after-conversion ? A relapsed convert may be reclaimed : an inconsistent Christian, we will not say an immoral Christian, may be urged to repentance. But, upon the Romish principles, to suppose with that modern Luther, that arch-heretic Whitfield, that
Ire every Christian congregation, there are two sorts of people, some that know Christ, and some that do not know him, some that are converted, and some that are strangers to conversion ;-this, (according to Dr. Mant) is a conceit which revelation warrants not, and which reason and experience disclaim,' p. 61. .
. But let us bear further upon this point, a dignitary of the English Church, the late Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford /
That among men, baptized as Christians, taught from their infancy to believe the doctrines and practise the duties of Christianity, a special conversion also at some period of their life is necessary to stamp them true Christians, is an unheard of thing in the Gospel, and is plainly a novel institution of man. Bishop Randolph's Charge at Bangor. '1808.
But we have descended almost imperceptibly from the Romish to the English Church. We return to the subject of Faith as supposed to be conferred by the Church of Rome in Baptism. The very term Faith, it must be conceded, implies that something is included in the religion even of the Papist, besides what the tongue can impart, or the life and knee perform; that there are certain indefinite qualities which are to be produced in the soul by the ordinances of the Church. These qualities might with strict propriety be designated by
the term a life ; if the ideas of the Romish Church amounted to its being the existence of a spiritual principle. But no : it is rather an animal life in the soul, or a vegetative life, that is implied in their notion of the principle of Religion : for it is a something which is to be continually sustained and nourished by mysterious external applications of what is termed sacramental grace. If the appearance of levity be chargeable on our expressions, we beg once for all to disclaim any feeling that borders upon irreverence with regard to the ordinances of religion themselves, although we are obliged to exhibit in this contemptible light the monstrous perversion of sacred names and sacred things, which superstition has introduced.. .
Religion, then, even according to the Romish Church, bears some analogy to a life. We have seen that this life is supposed to originate in the visible ordinance of Baptism. Hooker himself, in a passage quoted in our last Number, urges as a reason for not administering the Eucharist to the unbaptized, 'that no
dead thing is capable of nourishment.' It would be contrary to the whole hypothesis of the Church, in relation to the necessity and efficacy of the sacraments, to allow of such an inversion of their order. The Church of Rome consistently deeming that the Baptismal sacrament, which can in no case be repeated with regard to the same subject, and that of the Eucharist, were an insufficient provision, as channels of grace, to meet all the exigencies of her members, made use of her Authority in matters of faith, to augment the number of sacraments to seven; the benefit of which act of benevolence is contumaciously rejected by the Protestant Churches.
The number of the sacraments, is, however, a point of subordinate importance, if the principle on which their administration is conducted, be not abandoned. The solemnity of Confirmation, in the English Church, although not nominally a sacrament, has ceased to be considered as such only since the discontinuance of the Unction, from which its ancient name, the Chrism, is derived.* We learn the design of this ritę, from the Rubric contained in all the Common-Prayer-Books before tbe last review, which declares, “That forasmuch as CONFIRMA
tion is ministered to them that be baptized, that by imposition of hands and prayer they may receive strength and defence against all temptations to sin, and the assaults of the
world and the devil ; it is most meet to be ministered when ? children come to that age, that partly by the frailty of their
* See Wheatley, “ Of the Order of Confirmation;" in which he contends in behalf of the ceremony, that it was very ancient and significant, and that the use of it was continued in all parts of the Church, through every century, quite down to the Reformation,
cown flesh, partly by the assaults of the world and the devil,
they begin to be in danger to fall into sundry kinds of (sin.* The Collect contains the petition, " That God, who had
vouchsafed to regenerate the persons who now come to be
confirmed, by IVater and the Holy-Ghost, and had given 6 unto them forgiveness of all their sins, would now strength, o en them with the Holy-Ghost the Comforter, and daily 4 increase in them the gifts of grace, viz :-The sevenfold • gifts of the Holy Spirit.'+ With respect to its efficacious influence, we might refer to the expressions quoted by Hooker, from Tertullian and Cyprian, as given in the Article on Baptismal Regeneration, which form a comment on the above collect. Remission of sins was, according to the Church, given by Baptism, the spirit, by imposition of hands. “The Fa: "thers every where impute to it that gift or grace of the • Holy-Ghost, not which maketh us first Christian men, but,
when we are made such, assisteth us in all virtue, arneth rus against temptation and sin.'! The honour of administers ing Confirmation, is restricted to the Bishops, as their pe
culiar and incommunicable prerogative :''asthey have the sole " honour, so they have also the whole charge of this institution. . It must be wholly omitted, if they do not perform it.'s “But 6 though the laying on of hands,' continues this learned expositor of the Book of Common Prayer, is a token that the Bishops act in this office by Divine authority; yet at the same time they sue to heaven for the blessing they bestow, in hum. ble acknowledgement that the precious GIFTS HEREBY CON: I FERRED are not the effect of their own power and holiness, but
of the abundant mercy and favour of him, who is the only fountain of all goodness and grace !!' .
We have dwelt the longer on the illustration of this rite as practised in the English Church, because we think it must be allowed to throw considerable light on the disputed import of her other ordinances. If Confirmation be a means of conferring the Holy Spirit, surely it is not incredible that she should also teach that Baptism conveys Regeneration. Let us abide by old Hooker's axiom, which he introduces in answer to some of the specious pleas of the Romanists: In actions of this • kind, we are more to respect what the greatest part of ' men is commonly prone to conceive, than what some few omen's wits may devise in construction of their own par
ticular meaning. The principle on which the Sacraments and Rites of the English Church are administered, we cannot then allow to be essentially different from that which
actuates the Romish Church, notwithstanding the particular (meaning,' and the construction of the offices devised by pious individuals. The principle is this; an inherent efficacy in the Sacraments legitimately performed, and the consequent adequacy of professional functionaries to the essential ends of the Christian ministry.
The fundamental point at issue between the secular and the evangelical clergy, or should we rather say between the Established Church and the Dissenters, is, the great purpose and the necessary qualifications of the Christian Ministry. "The Dis
senters,' says Mr. Biddulph, in his “ Remarks” on Dr. Mant's former Tract, ' are multiform in doctrine; and some -6 of them, as might be expected, approximate very nearly in ' their views of truth to our own doctrinal articles. Heterodoxy, " therefore, is not the ground on which they can altogether be
convicted of error, nor that on which some of them can be
addressed at all with any advantage. The real point of « general disagreement between us and them, is that of • church-government. We believe in the divine origin of o episcopacy, and in the necessity of a commission from the
great Head of the Church, transmitted through the Apostles, " by succession, to the regular exercise of the pastoral-func
tion. On this, Dissenters of every name are at issue with us.' (p. 136.) This is manly and explicit, and we sincerely wish that all the Evangelical clergy would come to the point with equal directness. Still, Mr. Biddulph omits to notice one essential circumstance, which, no less than the regularly transmitted Apostolic Commission, is necessary to the legitimate exercise of the pastoral function in the Established Church; and that is the recognition of the said Commission on the part of the State.
Now, there are only two ways of deciding the point at issue. The one method would be that of external evidence sufficiently strong to bear down all a priori reasonings, and hypothetical objections. A Divine right must be specifically revealed, and the regular transmission of the Commission through the Apostolic pastors of the Church of Rome, is susceptible of historic proof.
If this method be abandoned as fraught with uncertainty and danger to the cause of the Church of England, the alternative remains for Mr. Biddulph to substantiate his assertions by the internal evidence attending the said Commission, as arising from the reasonableness or the necessity of the case. But this would lead us back to the prior inquiry, which we started at first, namely, What is the nature of that Religion which it is the grand object of the Christian ministry instrumentally to propagate? Does it consist in the mere belief of certain propositions, or in a participation of certain rites ? or is it of a na