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Shall we again be told that Evangelical clergymen never aflude to Dissenters in an unfriendly way? that they do every thing in the true spirit of Christian philanthropy? There are other specimens of this candid and Christian temper in the present work, which we must submit to the attention of our readers.
It does not appear very wonderful to the Author of this • Exposition, that men should object to a system, (Articles of
religion prescribed by Parliament,) which, by exacting subscription to fixed and settled opinions, and requiring obedience
to ecclesiastical superiors in all things lawful, effectually re• strains the progress of error, and the innovation of weak, ' wicked, and designing men :' for he remarks, that error and novelty will always find advocates and friends, and he tells us, that authority prevailed to check the progress of these new * fangled opinions'— the Independent scheme. We can be at no loss to understand in what way authority prevailed to check their progress. The Queen, instigated in many cases by the bishops, and in some others, proud of exercising her arbitrary will over the consciences of her subjects, committed the abettors of the new-fangled' opinions to prison, and visited them with the abominable severities of the High Commission Court, and the Star Chamber : a method of proceeding very similar to that which was adopted by the High-priests and Jewish chiefs, to check the progress of the new-fangled' opinions taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. We are unable, however, to penetrate the Author's meaning, when he refers to the · • innovation of weak, wicked, and designing men.' Is this series of epithets designed as a character of persons within the Church, or of persons without the Church? Had Mr. O'D. paid more attention to accuracy and completeness of information, he would not have left this point doubtful; as it is, he has evidently left some parts of his introductory narrative, in a very ambiguous and suspicious state. He informs us, that in the year 1566, a bill to oblige the clergy to subscribe the Thirtynine Articles, which bad been subscribed by the archbishops and bishops, and by the clergy in Convocation, in 1562, was introduced into Parliament; and having passed the Commons, was sent up to the Lords ; where, after the first reading, its further progress was stayed by command of the Queen, who perse* vered in her own determinations at all times, without heeding 'the opinions or advice of others.' On this occasion, Archbishop Parker drew up an humble petition, which was signed by the bishops, and presented to the Queen; in which they be seech her majesty to grant that the said bill may be read, ex
amined, and judged' by the Lords; and that she would be
pleased to give her royal assent thereto,' as the matter touch
eth the glorie of God, the advancement of true religion, and • the salvation of Christian sowlles. This petition availed nought. • The truth is,' says Mr. O'D. "the Queen was exceedingly
averse to the House's meddling with ecclesiastical matters, the doing which she thought an encroachment upon her prerogative. Here is an instance of 'innovation proposed by all the bishops of England, with the archbishops at their head, together with the clergy in convocation assembled, frowned upon by the Queen, and by her authority alone prevented passing into a law; though, in the opinion of the bishops, it was for the glory of God, the advancement of true religion, and the salvation of Christian souls, that it should pass ! Were these bishops weak, wicked, and designing men ? As no man can innovate in the Church, who does not belong to the Church, it must be in the Church that the weak, wicked, and design‘ing men' were, or are to be found. The Author's assertion, that subscription to fixed and settled opinions effectually re• strains error, is so notoriously demonstrated to be false, that we cannot suppress our astonishment that he has hazarded it. What must be thought of his regard to truth, when facts, clear as the light of day, and his own recorded declaration, stand forward trumpet-tongued', as evidences against it? Dr. Mant's party, unquestionably the majority of the clergy, have subscribed the "fixed opinions' of the Articles, and maintain that Baptism and Regeneration are one and the same thing. This . doctrine,' says Mr. O'D. (p. 228.) is downright Popery, and • utterly at variance with the doctrine of the Church of Eng* land! How much of truth then, does his assertion contain ? He himself proclaims its gross falsehood; and we do not hesitate to say, that this manner of writing is utterly unworthy of Christian candour and honesty. That man must be reduced to a situation truly pitiable, who, considered apart from church matters, is entitled to just estimation for probity and goodness, yet who cannot avail himself of the simple and holy manner which distinguished the primitive advocates of Christian truth, in their defence of its doctrines, but having to defend a system of Articles, and Rites, and Ceremonies, made obligatory by human authority and by worldly policy, is betrayed, almost at every step, into the violation of principles the most honourable and sacred!
What can be the meaning of the following passages in the Introduction ?
• Toleration and liberality have only grown to maturity in the nineteenth century; but it is a matter worthy of serious consideration, whether the cause of religion has been really benefited to the extent generally supposed, by our lar system of toleration. Although we cannot approve of any coercive measures in order to awe men into unity of religious belief, we would not have it supposed that we consider secession from the estabļished church as no evil, or but one of little magnitude. Men may reason and cavil, but schism will yet remain what schism ever was, an evil and a crime. But this is a matter between them and God. p. xxxvi.
In this passage coercive measures are disclaimed, and schism is represented as a inatter between a man's conscience and bis Maker. But what beneficial purpose can be answered by such statements, linked as they are with the assertions, that secession from the Established Church is a crime, and that our system of toleration is lax? To denominate the former cri ninal, is not leaving the matter between God and men, but is passing á condemnatory sentence against them. And in what respect is our present system of toleration lax ? What are the bracings which it would receive from this complainant, did he possess the power of modifying it at his pleasure? What new Acts of Parliament would he have introduced, to prescribe to our consciences, and to regulate our devotion to our Maker? We might justly have expected from an Evangelical clergymnan, a pointed reprobation of all restraints upon the conscience of mail, and the strongest assertion of the principle that religious sentiments and practice can be acceptable to the Almighty, only as they are inatter of personal conviction and of internal homage. We might have expected from such a one, a professed Teacher of the Gospel, the declaration of the New Testament to be strenuously maintained, that Evangelical faith and purity are matters which cannot be under the control of human authority. Instead of this however, we have to contemplate in Mr. O'D. a professed Minister of Corist suggesting the invigoration of our lux system
of toleration, as he pronounces it to be, and which he would persuade us has been injurious to religion ! Mr. O'D. should have delivered his sentiments more broadly on this subject; we wish he had di tioctly informed us what plans he has to propose, to cure the defects of the present lax system of toleration. There are cases which, under this system,' subject Christians meeting together for po other purpose or business whatever than that of religious worship, to fine and imprisonment : what furthér severities would Nir. O'D. have inflicted on persons for worshipping God without the permission of their fellow-creatures?' 'Would he have the Star Chamber and the High
Commission Court' revived ? Under what system of toleration,' we would ask bim, had the Gospel free course,' and was it glorified in the beginning? The New Testament will not fail to inform him under what circumstances the cause of reli. gion was benefited in the days of the Apostles. But he has, it should seem, yet to learn, that religion was most prosperous, when the dictates of human authority were allowed no obligation among Christians; and when Christians stood before the tribunals of secular authorities, not to reéeive their commands, but to suffer for conscience' sake. . He has yet to learn, that the Gospel is great, only as it displays its own majesty; heavenly, as its pucity is uncontaminated by the touch of worldly power ; the institution of Christ, only as it is freely addressed to mankind for their salvation. Does Mr. O'D. think the Apostles would complain of a 'lax system of toleration ?' Would they have considered an alteration in such a system-an increase of its rigour -- as necessary to benefit religion? We have referred Mr. O'D. for reproof, to the New Testament; we will not part with bim however till we ask him, when he alleges that tolerátion is · lax,' how, on his own principles of obedience, he dares thus fly in the face of his Sovereign, who has explicitly declared,
I will maintain the toleration inviolate? We cannot refrain from animadverting with some degree of severity on such a passage as this, which is nothing less than a sanction to persecuting principles in religion. No man avows himself a persecutor: the character is too odious to be openly assumed.
" Coercive measures' may be disclaimed, and a softening language may be held; but whoever charges criminality upon another person, solely on account of secession from the Established
Church, and complains of any system of toleration which simply protects professors of religion in the exercise of religious rights, has passed the limits of Christian integrity, and gives his voice in favour of restraints upon the conscience. He does not indeed burn men at the 'stake, når hang them at the gailows; but he has imbibed the spirit of intolerance, and chooses to take his rank with persecutors, Mr: O'D. would do well, were be seriously to revise the above sentences, and serupalously to examine the spirit which dictated them. Let him consider whether such sentiments as he'has recorded, and sach language as he has adopted, are consonant to the Christian Scriptures, and correspondent to the laws and practice of Him who is the supreme and only legislator in the Christian Church, and at whose tribunal alone the obligations imposed on the consciences of men by natural religion, and by Revelation, are matter of investigation and award. We
e cannot suffer ourselves to overlook a Note which occurs at p. 16, relative to the text 1 John v. 7.
The author is fully aware that the testimony of this text has been and may still be objected to. He thinks it right, therefore, tu' de clare that, after a very candid and full investigation of the evidence advanced on both sides of the question, he dares not reject it; nay
farther, he is most fully convinced that it is an essential part of scripture, as originally indited by God's Holy Spirit. Critics and commentators should never forget the curse denounced on those who mutilate and cancel scripture.' Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
The genuineness of 1 John v. 7. is a question purely critical, and can be determined only by critical rules. Mr. O'D. should have remembered that a curse is denounced on those who add to Scripture, as well as on those who cancel it. Persons equally well qualified to investigate the evidence as to the genuineness of this passage, as is the Author, have been most fully convinced that it is not an essential part of Scripture, and that it never was indited by the Holy Spirit. We would remind Mr. O'D. that the curse he refers to, if it be admitted as justly referrible to any other parts of Scripture than to the Words of the • Book of the Prophecy of the Revelation,' can be pointed oply against the wilful corrupters of the Scriptures. This mode of writing on such a subject, cannot be too severely deprecated.
On the XVIIth Article, which defines Predestination to Life, the Author strenuously asserts the Calvinistic interpretation, and avows himself ' a decided Calvinist.' Here we think he is perfectly correct. Predestination is unquestionably the doctrine of his Church. The language of this Article is clear and decisive; and in our opinion it could have been drawn up only by predestinarians. We are happy in applauding the temperate and candid manner in which Mr. O'D. discusses this subject; he writes on it with a most commendable union of firmness and liberality:
The definition of the Visible Church, contained in the XIXth Article, is perfectly accurate, and we extract with pleasure the following sentences from the Author's exposition in its elucidation.
• The visible church is defined to be " a congregation or assembly of faithful men :” men of uprightness, integrity, purity, zeal, and love, retaining a profession of “ the faith once delivered to the saints," wherever they dwell, whether princes or subjects, noble or base, rich or poor, teachers or learners, young or old, male or female, bond or free, these shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. Wherever such men as these assemble, and enjoy the preaching of the pure and undefiled Gospel, unmixed with the errors of man, and undebased by " the words which man's wisdom teacheth ;” retaining and duly administering the sacraments as insti. tuted by Christ; there is the Church of Christ.' pp. 156, 157.
O si sic omnia! These are expressions truly excellent, such as every Christian must cordially approve. Happy would it have been, and happy might it still be, if nothing were considered as essential to the constitution of the Visible Churcb, that