orthodox, which is made to imply the adoption of sentiments widely different from that of the Articles and Homilies of the Church, -and evangelical, which is converted into a stigma, now desiguate the contending parties into which the Church is divided. . Parties,' says the Author of the Letter by One of the Clergy, " there are in the Church, and the Bible Society, that unhappy source of division, appears to have occasioned them. There is an orthodox and an evangelical, a high and a low party; and the latter it is, which, so far as an observer may judge, has the co operation of the dissenting interest no less in the Parliament than in the Bible Society Of the clergy it does not comprise more than a fifth part, and of the laity within the pale, perhaps the same proportion.' p. 23.

The writer must be indeed verv ignorant not to know, that these parties in the Church existed long "efore the Bible Society was thought of. To represent it, therefore, as the occasion of intestine divisions resulting from a difference of principle and religious sentiment, is equally weak and disingenuous Nor is it less flagrartly unjust, to insinuate that the evangelical clergy have ever shewn the least disposition to co-operate with the Dissenters in any political questions, or to identify in the smallest degree their interests with those of the Dissenters, The fact is so notoriously opposite to such a statement, that malignity could not have framed a more unfounded charge.

A bigh, and a low party there have always been in the Church; and no scheme of political amalgaination can wholly identify the self-styled orthodox priest with the truly evangelical pastor. The two parties may be equally attached to the Establishment, but their views, their motives, their principles, their conduct being opposite, they will still be essentially distinguishable, and that in proportion to the secular spirit, the intolerance, and the doctrinal aberrations of the ascendant party. The fact, however, that such parties do exist in the Church, is indisputable. And unless the State should deem it fit to make anew iis selection of the party it shall endow and patronise, it were better to give up at once the impracticable plan of uniformity.

The other object to which we allude, is, to provide for the religious instruction of all classes, in the doctrines of the Church of England. This design, we think, it is pretty apparent the Esta lishment is utterly incompetent to accomplish. The doctripes of the Church are disputed by some of her own bishops, preached against in her own pulpits, stigmatized in the persons of tue vangelical clergy, and counteracted by the examples of a too large proportion of her officiating ministers. As a proyision, therefore, for the religious instruction of the commu,

pity, the design of the Establishment has proved at once iná. dequate and abortive. .

The question then may constitutionally be agitated, how far, for the support and maintenance of such an Establishment, the great body of the nation ought in fairness to be chargeable with so heavy an impost, in addition to their own voluntary contributions for the better promotion of the objects the Establishment was designed to answer; and how far those who bear this double burden, ought, on account of their conscientious attachment to their own religious tenets, to be disqualified for participating in all the rights and privileges of free-born subjects. These questions Dissenters may be allowed to agitate, and yet not be enemies to their country, traitors to the State, or hostile to the persons and the civil interests of the clergy themselves.

As to the Episcopal Church herself, be her altars and her fanes inviolate. Conscientiously and devoutly may Dissenters rejoice, that within that Church the flame of zeal has been rekindled from the dying embers, and that ber dead are again walking the earth. They would cherish no other rivalry, than that boly emulation which may mutually provoke to love and to good works. They would wish her no worse calamity, than to be delivered from a secular clergy, and from the fetters of State patronage.

Sir, Mr. Bullar exclaims, ' I am ro enemy to your Church, and I have no wish for its downfal. In its spiritual prosperity I shall ever unfeign edly rejoice. My language respecting it, shall be that of the illustrious Roman, with regard to his country, and without any invidious application of his qualifying phrase :-“ Stet magna, stet preclara, quemcunque modum merita sit de me.”

But what connexion, it may be demanded, have these questions with the Bible Society, the very principle of whose constitution excludes all such unwelcome discussions. With the Society itself they have no connexion ; for it had a tendency to preclude the agitation of such questions. But with the opposi-, tion of the clergy to the Bible Society they have an important and necessary connexion. On this account it may, with some reason, be esteemed an occasion of danger to the Church, inasmuch as it has served to develop the character of the clergy, and the spirit wbich would seem to be inherent in an ecclesiastical establishment; and inasmuch as it has elicited from so many of her bishops, and other dignitaries, the most presumptuous claims, and the most intolerant and violent demeanour. Mr. Gisborne, in allusion to some of these high pretensions stretched beyond all constitutional or reasonable limits of authority, remarks, in his sensible and spirited letter to the Bishop of Glowcester,

- Were I a Gloucestershire clergyman, you might require me reverently to obey your command not to contribute a guinea to the County Infirmary so long as there should remain a subscribing Dissenter. You might prohibit me, by a godly admonition, from looking into any book written by a member of a Bible Society. You might enjoin me, by a godly judgement, the difficult task of committing verbatim to memory the volume of Mr. Norris ; and the still more difficult task of committing it to memory with a glad mind and will. I do not conceive that our Church and our legislature, at the moment when, under the blessing of God, they emancipated themselves from the bondage of Popery, elevated each succeeding bishop into a pope.'pp. 17, 18.

The opposition raised within the Church against the Bible Society, has led some of her bishops and clergy to assume the unamiable and offensive character of daring calumniators of whole bodies of unoffending subjects. The coalition of Churchmen with Dissenters, in the Bible Society, has been paralleled with the case of

Loyal Britons forming a political association with, or furnishing with arms and money, those whom they knew to be exciters of sedition, abettors of privy conspiracy, and promoters of rebellion.'* ..

Once more: It has exhibited, according to One of the Clergy,' four-fifths of the National Church disinclined, if not actively hostile, whetber from principle or from fear, to the unrestrained circulation of the sacred Scriptures, as being fraught with danger to a Church professedly resting on the authority of the Bible only, as the key-stone of Protestantism. What effect this spectacle may have on the minds of all classes of people, it is not easy fully to appreciate.

We repeat it, that the Bible Society is not, in the remotest degree, answerable for these consequences,-consequences deprecated in the strongest manner, by some of the warmest supporters of the Society. "The petty differences among real ' Christians never occupied a moment the minds of those excellent men with whom the Institution originated, except to ex‘cite regret that they existed, and exultation in the prospect of

that perfect unity, wbich the light and purity of eternity shall ' for ever seal.' There is a bond of union, an identifying principle, which is capable of uniting the members of episcopal, and of congregational churches, in the strictest and most honourable amity. When Dissenters meet with a clergyman who is zealously availing himself of his political advantages, only for the advancement of the great objects of the Gospel, they feel but little disposed to discuss questions of ecclesiastical polity, to depreciate the excellency of the Liturgy, or to indulge

* See Extract from the Bishop of Lincoln's Charge, inserted in the "Letter to the Bishop of Lincoln.” p. 10.

. in a tone of querulous or invidious complaint. All the angry feelings of party, the very remembrance of the grounds of difference, give place to sentiments of personal esteem. The Dissenter, leaving at the threshold of the sanctuary every sectarian prejudice, enters with delight the consecrated edifice, where he rejoices to listen to the same familiar truths that have endeared to bin the plainer structure of his fathers. Ile feels upon common ground, and almost forgets, in the elevation of the moment, that there are any respects in which he is compelled to nonconformity. Perhaps it is not long that he is allowed to cherish this pleasing forgetfulness. The scene is changed. A man, episcopally ordained, but on whose head the unction of the Spirit has never been effused, on whom episcopal hands have conferred no spiritual gift, comes armed with the Clains of the Church, and arrayed in all the pride of prerogative, to drive away the

devouring wolves of sectarianism' from the consecrated en:closures of the Establishment, and to forbid all intercourse with the · Calvinists. Now for the watchword, - The Church

is in danger.' Now for schism, and party-spirit, and petty persecution. Now for the crowded meeting-house, while reasons of dissent, living reasons, soon teach the insulted sectaries, why their fathers pleaded, and suffered, and died in the cause of nonconformity.

We allude to facts, plain facts; and we will again borrow the language of Mr. Bullar.

'I must be permitted to doubt, Sir, whether the rich endowments of the Church were originally intended to become the recompense of calumny, ingratitude, and strife; whether it was for purposes like these, that the legislature of the country founded the Establishment.'

But, to take our leave of this subject ;-Whatever may be the conduct of any members of the Church, with regard to the Bible Society, to whatsoever consequences their opposition may lead with respect to the Establishment, let not the friends of the Bible Society, of every denomination, be disappointed of the enjoyment of that mutual confidence and Christian unity, which their common object is so well calculated to induce. “ Sirs, ye “are brethren :" Do each other nu wrong. The mistakes which are made by worldly-minded persons, respecting the motives of Dissenters in engaging in the circulation of the Scriptures, are natural enough, although the imputation to which it has exposed them, from persons who act themselves from no higher motive than temporal policy, are not the less unwarrantable, characterized as those imputations are by the blindness of fear, and the baseness of enmity. They have no doubt arisen, in part, as Mr. Bullar remarks, from 5 too low an esti

Imate of Christian benevolence ;' and 'we shall conclude by transcribing his excellent remarks upon this subject.

"You perceive,' he continues, effects arising from an internal impulse, which surprise and confound you; and you are then disposed, Sir, it would seem, to impute these effects to such causes as give energy to the ordinary pursuits of mankind. But, Sir, do the Scriptures indeed develop no other impulse than that which sways the -affections of a heathen? Have you, Sir, never considered the mighty effects, which they so often ascribe to the love of God? I weli remem. ber that, when the first British missionary ship was aboạt to sail to the South Sea Islands, and considerable zeal was manifested, by the Dissenters of Southampton, to supply the missionaries with various comforts during their stay at Spithead, the only explanation which a person could give of the affair, who talked to me on the subject,-a man of education too, with a head well-stocked with Latin and Greek,--was, that they were going to make Presbyterians of the South Sea islanders! This gentleman seemed to have no idea of a motive beyond merely temporal policy: though it would indeed have been hard to say what policy, what mischief, what artful • veil,' could cover those proceedings; or in what Dissenters were to be gainers, by spending thousands of their property in speculating upon making Dissenters, not Christians, of the half-naked barbarians of the Pacific Ocean!

“ How can we reason, but from what we know !" And yet, Sir, Christianity both generates and develops a principle of sympathy, powerful enough to produce much greater effects, than those at which you have been so alarmed, in the progress of the Bible Society.' -. There is such a thing, Sir, as the Communion of " Saints. It is a part of your own creed. There is a sacred internal fellowship among good men : the cultivation of which gives far more pleasure to a true Christian, than he could derive from amusing himself with the “ lamentable and ludicrous mistakes” which his erring, but immortal fellow-men, may unhappily be making in the most serious of all concerns. I do not pretend to say, that all, who meet to buy and distribute bibles are, ipso facto, good men. But I know many of them to be such : and between these, though some may entertain one notion about indifferent matters, and some another, there is a point of union arising out of the most operative sympathies, Kindred pursuits in arts, in literature, in arms, will produce strong attachments : but kindred feelings of penitent abasement before Infi. nite Purity, of elevated hope in the One Great Oblation on the “ Cross once offered,"'-of ardent gratitude to Him who died for them; kindred joys and sorrows in the happy progress, or in the lamented infirmities of the Christian life ;-a mutual expectation of the same perfect happiness in a better world ;-will cement a much stronger attachment than any inferior sympathies. pp. 25—27.

« 前へ次へ »