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lution, will have the noblest opportunity of becoming popular by reform"
The trainers of this Preface also tell us, "it hath been the wisdom of the Church of England, ever since the first compiling of her public liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it. The former of these assertions, I know not how they can prove; but to the truth of the latter, the present times bear irrefragable testimony!'
After being well informed that the alterations that took place, were in effect nothing, we are told that the "office ifor the baptism of such as are of riper years added, is now become necessary;" because, "through the licentiousness of the late times, Anabaptist)) crept in amongst us, and still continues to grow." Anabaptists are surely much obliged to the charitable authors of this Preface, for sowing the seeds of their faith in so hot a soil!
Lastly, they have "good hope, that what is there presented, will be also well accepted and approved by all sober, peaceable, and truly conscientious sons of the Church of England." This is certainly a very lively hope ,• but it is the opinion of many " truly conscientious persons at the present day, that to be "peaceable" when libeities are infringed and truth at stake, is to become partakers in the crime!!! Thus much for the " Preface."
We proceed to the dissertation "concerning the service of the church," which displays indeed such profound erudition, that suffice it for Ignoramus to observe, that it commences with informing us, " There was never any thing, by the wit of man so well devised, Or so sure established, which in the continuance of time, hath not been corrupted:" , and terminates with telling us what the "wit of man," without the help of these inspired agents, could never have found out, viz. "that when men pray in private, they may say the same in any language that they understand!" What a privilege I What an invaluable discovery!! We accept it, and are thankful for it as a national blessing; and with pious gratitude for such heavenly wisdom proceed to the next.
"Of Ceremonies.,"—Herein is truly set forth, that "of such ceremonies as be used in the church, some at the first were of godly intent and purpose devised, and yet at length turned to vanity and superstition. Some entered into the church by undiscreet devotion, and such zeal a* feu without knowledge; which, not only for their unprofitableness, but also because they have much blinded the people, and obscured the glory of God, are worthy to be , cut away, and clean rejected.' Now it is no more strange than true, that all the "ceremonies that are still retained," have entered the church by the same " undiscreet devotion," and "zeal without knowledge," and because they were" winked at in the beginning], grew daily to more and more abuses, and had at length'tnf ned to vanity and superstition; have much blinded the people, and obscured the glory of God, and are worthy to be cut away, and clean rejected." But there is a grand, an insurmountable obstacle in the way; they are profitable!!! But I perceive there is no hope of " cutting away, or clean rejecting," any of the idle ceremonies that remain; for they have not forgot to tell us that "no man ought to take in hand, nor presume to appoint oralter any public or common orderin Christ's church, except he be lawfully called and authorised thereunto; meaning, I presume, except he be in the ministry ; that is, in other words, telling us, " no man ought to take in hand, nor presume to alter any public or common order in the church of England, except he be sworn, 'duly and truly to maintain them as they are. This is certainly very curious logic.
There are certain causes rendered for retaining the ceremonies they have, but not of weight enough to satisfy me that what are retained are agreeable to scripture or reason, for Christianity is not a ceremonial religion, and no ceremony is consistent with it.
The next is the order of reading the Psalms, in which it is ordained, that at the end of every Psalm shall be said "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;" answered by," As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen." A plain Christian, uninnured to self-deception, would exclaim— "This is not in conformity with the precepts and practice of Jesus Christ and his apostles, therefore, I cannot believe it was so ' in the beginning:' that it has been so for many hundred years, and with the majority of Christians is so now, I lament, but rejoice in the consolation that you cannot prove from scripture that it was so 'in the beginning,' or that it will be soo world without end.' God forbid." When they attempt to prove the antiquity of this doctrine, they of necessity have recourse to the Nicene Council, the members of which, in this respect, were as rank papists as any that composed the Council of Trent. Scriptures they have none!
VOL.. III. i M
It is not unworthy of remark, that the translation of tha Psalms that is used, is King Henry the Eighth'*, the worst extant. No deviation must be made without an Act of Parliament!
The next thing to be noticed is, the Calendar of Saints, apostolical and popish. Were I to ask a churchman, for what are they introduced? The answer I shall presume would be, for our example. From this I should infer two things, first, if we are to follow the example of the apostles and evangelists, there pla«ed for that purpose, it is evident we must separate ourselves from this church, which has separated itself from their doctrines; and secondly, if that of the saints, as they are stiled, of the sixth to the eleventh centuries, there also for that purpose, it is equally evident what church we must join; for these were all staunch pa
f ists ; all offered the " tremendous sacrifice''' of the mass, beieved in purgatory, implored the prayers of those they deemed saints, had a great veneration for their relics, and even believed God wrought miracles by them; believed the doctrines of transubstantiation, seven sacraments, auricular confession, and priestly absolution I What tremendous boluses of popish doctors—we can neither digest nor swallow them; yet these men are stiled "saints," and placed for our example!!! Surely if a proud and haughty spirit—if an insatiable thirst for avarice and ambiton—if a malignant, uncharitable, persecuting spirit, be required, before they can inherit this title—these men have been very properly canonized and placed for our example.
There are many other ingredients which were prepared in the same mortar by the same pestles (alias pests), some of which are swallowed by most Protestants, but digested by very few ; such as, first, the doctrine of the Trinity, which was served by the ecclesiastic cooks who lived towards the end of the third century, and relished well enough to be confirmed by a council, anno 325/ Second, the doctrine of Original Sin, which is a made dish of Augustine's of the fifth century. Third, the infidelizing doctrine of Eternal Damnation. These, I say, very few can. digest! Without examination, without reason, without the scriptural knowledge of the God qf love, they appear only as a gnat, but with it like a camel. But these absurdities were maintained with vehemence, these monstrous boluses were rapaciously swallowed from the fifth to the sixteenth century : and in those ages of popish darkness, came in all the other popish monsters which are rejected by the church of England, but which I think' myself justified iu "saying she would retain, were it nottbatthe gain would be (if I may so speak) a dear earned penny!
Next follows a Table of Feasts, including saints' days, &c. which, as Dr. Lindsey has observed, "serves only to bring over Protestants to Hie bosom of popery." Then is imposed the popish doctrine of Fasting or Abstinence; like the Papists we are favoured with a " Table" to help the memory; and very nesessary it is, for the days and times, are many, viz. the day preceding the nativity of Christ, and fifteen others; the forty days of Lent; the Ember Days at thefourseasons of theye'ar; the three Rogation Days, and all the Fridays in the year. A pretty de"cent quantum!
I shall just notice, here what is noticed for us (and in my next proceed to the" Morning Service"), namely, " that such ornaments of the church and ministers sW/6e retained as were authorised by Act of Parliamentin the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth,". and leave it to others to judge, whether this is any thing like keeping the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation." When to the retaining of what affects no doctrine or discipline, to the retaining only of paltry ornaments and popish dresses, is annexed a positive " shall be," we may look upon it as a proper criterion to judge of the church's moderation in all things. • Your's, &c.
Birmingham^ Jan. 1813. An Anti-ceremonialist,
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians'' Magazine.
TTwas not my intention to have extended this subject be- yond the limits of a first essay, but on re-perusing that, so many ideas have suggested themselves as being of first consequence in the. formation of the mind, that I cannot refrain from calling the attention ofyour readers once more to so important a concern; important I may justly term it, for what is man without mind? a'mere sensual animal, living on momentary pleasures which often fail, always cloy? and leave him at last possessed of so much empty wretchedness, that life • becomes a burden, and annihilation itself preferable to existence. But give him an exalted mind, and it will raise him as it were to tk« confines of heaven; it will fit him for a happy eternity; it will give him a source of felicity that nothing can destroy. He will I ben smile at the threats and menaces of the world, its temptations he will despise, and its pleasures will pas* by him like the idle wind.
I closed my last, Mr. Editor, with some remarks on Conceit; but more may yet be said concerning this powerful enemy of the human mind. Conceit appears to have its origin in ignorance, for the most ignorant are .generally the most conceited; they who have the least knowledge think they have the most. It seems strange that any man should make such a conclusion as this, but if we examine the movements of the mind that lead to it, we shall find it very natural. The ignorant man is so little acquainted with any objeet in nature besides himself, that almost all the ideas he possesses are such as immediately relate to himself. Did he know the immensity of creation, he would see his own insignificancy; did he know the superiority of the wisdom of God, he would be sensible of his own ignorance: but of these he knows nothing. The consequence is, that his own wisdom appears to him to be the best, and the largest world he knows of is the ground on which he daily treads.
To clear away this opiniative pride from such a mind, and to set it in the right road for acquiring knowledge and wisdom, is perhaps the most difficult task that instruction could undertake; for strong conceit closes up all the avenues to the understanding, and sets obstinacy as a sentinel to give the alarm when any thing in the shape of information shall approach. There is often much difficulty in teaching those who are desirous of learning; but to convey instruction to the mind that conceit hath walled round like the city of Troy—to a mind that will not be informed, is almost, if not quite, beyond the best efforts of any man. He, therefore, who encourages it, hath no hope of improvement; for his enemies will not assist him, and his best friends cannot.
Although Conceit is founded in ignorance, yet it is not confined to those who are compleatly so, it is often the companion of talent and learning; and here its effects are most to be regretted. A wise man smiles at tie conceit of a cornpleat ignoramus—from him he looks for nothing else ; 'but when he finds it associated with talent, and an understanding by no means destitute of information, he feels, the shaft of disappointment, for from such a man he expected better things: and yet how often are these qualities blended together! Where is the man who hath not his conceits? where is he who is not ignorant on some point which he fancies he knows? and would not he who has vanity enough to declare