Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

berately and of free choice betaking themselves to the ministrations of those Clergymen in their neighbourhood who have taught most distinctly what we understand by Church doctrines, and most carried out the Church's system. We have known similar persons express the greatest admiration for Dr. Pusey, and make a point of attending at churches where he preached; while that most Catholic book, " The Christian Year,” forms the groundwork of many a dissenting sermon. These are signs of hope; streaks, we may trust, of the bright day, when Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. So thinks our Bishop :

“ Such thoughts as these will send us out into the dark masses of our uninstructed people, there, under God's grace, to repair by earnest work an evil which admits of no other remedy. Let the Church do its duty, and the State and the Church may again be one. High over our heads is the law of God, eternal and unchangeable; in our hands is the transcript of that law, given by the inspiration of God Himself; far back in remote antiquity are the records of councils such as will never meet again, the voice of a Church united in itself: and here in our Prayer-Book, stamped with the seal of Church and State, are prayers which lead us on from Baptism to the grave, and through the grave to heaven : and creeds and articles, to fix the young or the wandering mind upon the fundamental truths of our most holy faith: and above all, there is the Holy Communion to make us one with Christ, as CHRIST is with God; and to unite us all, as brethren, one with another.

Surely it is our bounden duty to receive this treasure into our hearts, and then to go out into our families, our neighbourhoods, our parishes, our schools, among our children and god-children, servants and labourers; to prisons, and hospitals, and workhouses, and almshouses, even into the highways and hedges, and there to deal with every single soul as if our own lives depended upon the issue. If this be done, the Church will soon, by God's blessing, reabsorb all dissent within herself; for every sect is still part of the Church.

• They have departed for a season, that we might receive them for ever, as brethren beloved, both in the flesh and in the LORD.'”—Pp. 32, 33.

But to return to our primary subject. What are the conditions of successful working ? How are we to penetrate these dark masses, instruct more fully in the way of the LORD those who have a zeal for it, though it be not according to knowledge? If they are to find perfect rest in the Church, it follows that the whole of the Church system must be brought to bear upon them; there must be no paring down, no diluting, no compromise ;-the creeds must be maintained to the letter,--sacramental grace vigorously asserted; -no imitations of their own ways and irregular practices, no bringing the Church down to them will make converts. They must see that absolution is better than inward assurance,-baptism more certain evidence of our adoption than private feelings,—Holy Com

1 An acquaintance of the writer was once told by a Presbyterian minister, that he studied, for purposes of sermons, three books,--the Bible, the Prayer-Book, the Christian Year.

[ocr errors]

com

munion the nearest approach to Christ, open to the Church militant. We must not go among them with faltering lips, and stammering tongues, doubting and hesitating about our mission, uncertain wbat to teach, undecided what is the truth. If we do, we shall fail. Our only hope of bringing those back who

, are estranged, is our being able to show that in the Church the feelings of the heart are best satisfied, and that with her are to be found the greatest aids to a holy life. Mere hard dry controversy will never do this,-calling names will not do it, -reviving old grievances will not do it.-Nothing can do it, but our patiently, diligently, judiciously setting forth the truth as it is in Jesus. But then our views of truth must not be lax, but definite,—not latitudinarian, but dogmatic.

And if we are to work successfully we must, as we hinted above, have faith in our position. We must not doubt or half believe the claims of the Church of England on our allegiance. We suppose that with most whose minds are beginning to recover from the shock of recent events, their very doubts have issued in a more settled conviction that the Church of England is a safe one wherein to live and wherein to die; let that position be carefully examined, and plainly stated, it is impregnable.--For what is the mission of the present English Church ? We dismiss all popular views. With the Apostle of the Pacific we say “the day of negations is past. Faith lies not in denying but in affirming.” What is it the Church of England affirms? We reply, the faith of undivided Christendom. The faith of Nicæa, of Constantinople, of Ephesus, of Chalcedon, enshrined in creeds which have Ecumenical authority, the old faith held in east and west and north and south before Christendom was rent in pieces; this faith it is ours to maintain, and to this bear our witness. This is our mission, to guard this sacred deposit, to suffer no addition to be made by any authority short of that which first imposed it, to allow nothing to be taken therefrom on any plea, under any pretence. Surely this is a real tangible ground, a Tou ot@.—It is nothing shifting, variable, but certain, sure, fixed. If we have faith in it, and act upon it, we may yet remove mountains.

But it may be said that we are taking for granted there are few or no hindrances to our successful working, whereas in truth they are many and great. We are quite aware of this. It is half the battle to know what opposition you may expect, and we cannot but wish that Bishop Selwyn had with his earnest exhortations to work, given us some further hints how to dispose of the influences which go to counteract the healing tendency of work. Of course we are too much tempted to overvalue our present difficulties, to fancy their like were never seen in any Christian Church, and to think little of former trials, and therefore we were glad to meet with this eloquent passage, which we would recommend to the earnest consideration of all who are down-hearted.

a

“Why should we wonder that difficulties meet us at every step in such a state of things as this? If secular tribunals usurp the jurisdiction of the Church ; if the voice of her great council is silenced ; if dissenters are admitted into our universities; if men of all religious opinions are elected to serve in parliament; if now, for the first time the census of the population represents, however erroneously, the multiplicity of our divisions ; let us not disguise the conviction, painful though it may be, that all these things are the inevitable results of years of past neglect. We might have kept the ground which others have won.

“But the Church is not therefore lost. Her doctrines are not compromised. Her creeds are not abrogated. Her articles are not convicted of error. No decision of any incompetent tribunal, no pressure of external power, no fire of persecution, no straitness of bondage, can affect the eternal truth, which God has for ever united with His Church ; and which no man can sever from it. It touched no point of the eternal truth of God, whether Darius prohibited prayer-or again, commanded all nations to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. The truth was not lost, because Ahab killed the prophets of the LORD. The Church did not prosper less under the heathen emperors than when kings became her nursing fathers, and queens her nursing mothers. The Church was not lost, when she awoke from her trance, and 'found herself Arian.' The eternal truth did not perish in the great schism which rent asunder the East and the West, and silenced, perhaps for ever, the (Ecumenical councils of the Church. No judgment was pronounced on the real nature of the Sacrament, or the real duty of obedience, when three bishops were sentenced to the stake, or seven to imprisonment. Such judgments so far as they were inconsistent with the eternal law of God, were simply null and void ; annulled in the court of heaven, even before they were pronounced by the lips of man.” -Pp. 28–30.

There are however sundry internal difficulties, which we do not think Bishop Selwyn takes into account; for instance, the widespread absence among our own members of any thing approaching a Church spirit, of which we are doubtful whether its ignorance or its bitterness be its chief characteristic. It does make one almost despair at times, to see the difficulty any thing like a Church doctrine or practice has in winning acceptance. There is a large class of people, mostly of spick and span respectability, who throng our churches on Sunday mornings, and who in consequence of the patronage they are thus graciously pleased to bestow on the Establishment, think themselves authorized to sit in judgment on all matters connected with the Church. It is not so much the opposition of earnest-minded Puritans that impedes the Church, as the obstacles thrown in her way by this large class in whom the most extensive charity cannot pronounce the religious element to be at all strongly developed. Such men oppose every thing a Priest can devise for the benefit of his people; and how powerful they are, particularly in large town parishes, none can know save

a

those who have tried to work with such an incubus on their backs. These are the men ever ready to suspect evil, nourish suspicion, flatter popular prejudices, inflame animosities, throw up difficulties, set Prayer-Book, Church, Bishop, Clergy, at defiance, for their own selfish ends. These are the men who have lately banded themselves together for the purpose of procuring a revision of the Book of Common Prayer, or as they call it, “ bringing the formularies into accordance with the written word.” It is true this machinery at present is but weak; an ever-shifting body composed of London church wardevs, who on the whole are good types of this respectably irreligious class, is not likely to do much. Still the fact of this combination, and the existence of two other associations for the same purpose, indicate, though such things be straws, what shape the next popular aggression on Church principles may take. We could not wish for better ground to fight the Church's battles, or more convincing testimony on which side the Church's formularies are, or for a better hope for rallying all Church feeling in the land. But the moral certainty, which by God's blessing we may have of success, does not make us long for the strife ; for that the battle will eventually have to be fought on the Prayer Book, we entertain but little doubt. And whenever it comes, it will prove a sad hindrance to work.

And the prospect of such a struggle, should be an especial call to all who are on the Church's side, to unite and lay aside all that may reasonably be supposed to hinder godly union and concord. When the enemy is about to assault the camp, it is not a time for doing aught which can induce even a suspicion that we are faltering in our allegiance to our spiritual mother. The friends we associate with, the books we read, the devotions in which we embody our petitions and aspirations to the throne of grace, should not be drawn from the resources of a modern Communion openly hostile and avowedly determined to supplant us.

If our own Church cannot give us all we need, we may freely avail ourselves of those time-honoured services from which our Book of Common Prayer was compiled. The Imitatio, too, and the “Spiritual Combat," and the like, are the common inheritance of Christendom. We speak only of those modern publications which breathe the exaggerated spirit of an affected Ultramontanisn.

With these few words, we take leave of the Bishop whose sermons have formed the ground work of these remarks. He is about to sail again for his distant diocese. He bears with him the prayers, the best wishes, the sympathies of all who can value self-sacrifice and zeal, and who recognize in him one raised up by God in degenerate times, to show to the world what under difficult circumstances, and new political combinations, and rude cannibals, and in another hemisphere, the Church of England

can do.

BISHOP SOUTHGATE ON THE WAR.

The War ; its Origin and its Consequences. By the Right Rev. · HORATIO SOUTHGATE, D.D., Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal

Church in America. London: James Madden.

It is one of the curious combinations of the times that the staunchest friends of the Autocrat of all the Russias are found among the citizens of the American Republic. We cannot, with the English Editor of Bishop Southgate's pamphlet, assign this alliance to a mere sentiment of impartial justice on the part of our Transatlantic brethren. We fear much that they are swayed by their own supposed interests and jealousies. The Bishop himself, however, undoubtedly is free from any inferior bias. He was personally resident for fourteen years in the East, with the special object of making himself acquainted with the historical and actual relations of the Greek Church ; and is, therefore, well entitled to a bearing on “ The Origin and Consequences of the Present War.”

Under this impression, we purpose just to lay before our readers the substance of what he has written, and shall scarcely add any comment of our own.

And first, we will borrow the author's succinct statement concerning the history of the dispute wbich has led to the present very alarming crisis :

“ It was originally a question, not between a Christian and a Mohammedan power, but between the two great branches of the Christian Church, the Oriental and the Western, or rather the Greek and the Latin. I will not go into a full sketch of the history of the controversy respecting the Holy Places, as the scenes of our Saviour's life and sufferings in and about Jerusalem are called. It will be enough for my present purpose to indicate that from the time when Helena and her son, Constantine the Great, built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and that of the Nativity at Bethlehem, until now, the guar

, dianship of those sacred shrines, and of others that have since risen in hardly less memorable localities, has been, at different periods, harshly, not to say fiercely, contested between the Greeks and Latins. time the Latins held possession of them for a long interval. At another, by treaty between Francis I. and Suleiman the Magnificent, they were placed under the protection of France; and at another, by capitulations between the Sultan and Louis XIV., they were restored to that protection. This seems to have been in 1673. In 1757, they were brought back to the Greeks; and I cannot discover that any change has been made from that time till the year 1850.” P. 5.

“In 1850, the Marquis de Lavalette came, and he came with threatening orders from the Court of the Imperial President, who was then rapidly expanding the form of his despotic power. For a moment, I go

a

a

At one

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »