« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
on behalf of the people, and the administering of (supposed) sacraments. In our church, indeed, as in almost all others, the administration of the sacraments is generally committed (very naturally and properly) to the clergy. It is a thing evidently suitable that a Christian minister should take the lead in the public worship, and especially in the most solemn portion of it, the celebration of the sacraments. But it is remarkable that all the apostle Paul says in his epistles to Timothy and to Titus of the duties of Christian ministers (which is not a little) has reference to the instruction of the people, and contains no allusion to the administration of the sacraments. And this certainly does seem to indicate at least what he considered as the most essential portion of their office.”
To this paragraph a note is subjoined. It refers to a subject which we believe perplexes some of the best members of the church of England, the laity no less than the clergy. We cannot hope to express the archbishop's thoughts in fewer or better words than he himself makes use of, and therefore we transcribe his note :
" It is remarkable that there is, in one point, a coincidence between some of the extreme high-church and extreme low-church parties, both seeming to regard the administration of the sacraments as the principal and distinguishing office of the clergy. There are persons who di not scruple to authorize, and to employ-in fact, virtually to ordain—any one, churchman or dissenter, to the office of publicly expounding Scripture and holding public meetings for preaching and prayer, though they would not think of authorizing him to administer the sacraments.” We do not remember to have seen any discussion
this subject on grounds such as a consistent member of our own church would wish to occupy. The following suggestions may possibly remove some difficulties from those who feel with us that it undoubtedly was the intention of the Divine Founder of the church, that in every age a body of men should be set apart for its service; or, in other words, that the Christian ministry is a divine institution.
First, then, let it be noted, that while our Lord himself commanded his disciples to baptize, He nowhere commands them to administer the Eucharist or Lord's Supper. If, then, the laity are necessarily excluded from the administration of either sacrament, it would seem that baptism rather than the supper of the Lord is entitled to this distinction. Yet the fact is, that for ages past lay baptism has been permitted in the church. Hooker, whose accuracy in such matters will not be questioned, says that, " baptism by any man in the case of necessity was the voice of the whole world heretofore," that is, till Cartwright, the Puritan advocate, first objected to it; "and,” he adds, "neither is Tertullian, Epiphanius, Augustine, or any other of the antients against it." Vol. 59.--No. 273.
Baptism even by women seems to have been practised at an early age, since it was forbidden by the fourth council of Carthage. Hooker goes further : he thinks that neither Tertullian, Epiphanius, nor St. Augustine, meant to forbid baptism by women in extreme cases; and it is well known that he himself defends it. (Book v. 62.) The church of Rome, again, accepts as true baptism the baptism given by heretics; and therefore lay baptism, whether administered by men or women, for the only limitation imposed is that it shall have been given in the name of the Three Persons of the Trinity “with the intention of doing what the church doth.” (Canon IV. Session 7, Council of Trent. The design is
.) obvious enough ; indeed it is avowed in a subsequent canon; namely, to sweep all heretics into the meshes of the papal net, and so enable the church of Rome to deal with them as her own heretical subjects. Now, on the other hand, the administration of the Lord's Supper, both amongst Protestants and Romanists, is universally regarded as a function exclusively ministerial. We are persuaded that it is not so in any other sense than that in which baptism is also exclusively a ministerial function. Those who argue to the contrary must fall back, not in this instance on the argument of Levitical priesthood continued in the Christian church, and upon tradition, but upon the argument of a Levitical priesthood only, in the very teeth of tradition; for tradition is all against them.
The church of England, without entering upon these niceties, takes much safer, and, in our opinion, much higher ground. And we think the archbishop of Dublin, in common with many others of whose perplexities we have spoken, has overlooked the distinction. She maintains that “it is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same. (Art. 22.) And then, dealing with the two sacraments separately, she wisely discourages private baptism “ without great cause and necessity," and provides a conditional or hypothetical form of baptism when any doubt may have arisen. “If thou art not already baptized, I baptize thee,” &c. Thus intentionally, it would seem, leaving the question of lay baptism by laymen, and even by women, undecided, or rather leaving it with the conscience of the parties concerned. With regard to the Lord's Supper, she pursues the same course; if a private sacra
a ment be required, which is to be conceded only in cases of " extreme emergency,” an office is provided for the purpose, and the minister is directed in the discharge of his duty; but she asserts nothing as to the validity or otherwise of a lay communion. The same principles, then, ought to be applied to the question of lay preaching It is undoubtedly forbidden in the congregation ; so is the administration of either sacrament. And here the church
pauses. The archbishop's statement, that there are persons who do not scruple to authorize and to employ laymen in the office of publicly expounding Scripture, and holding public meetings for preaching and prayer, should have been qualified with this limitation --in the congregation. If he had in view the lay agents employed in the church of England, especially by our great societies, the assertion is even yet too broad. Our lay agents are not encouraged in publicly expounding, nor in holding public meetings for preaching and prayer. There are circumstances which might warrant such a course; just as there are circumstances which have all along been held sufficient to justify lay baptism; and, in the judgment of such men as Hooker, even baptism by female hands. But to state the point with perfect fairness, it should be added that laymen, whether paid lay agents or Christian gentlemen, if they preach and pray in public, do so for the most part before an audience which can only by a painful exaggeration be called a (Christian) congregation. If they assemble a crowd in the streets or the lanes of the city, how many of their hearers have even been baptized ? If they stand on the common of a country parish, what proportion of their hearers are real Cbristians ? We do not speak of addresses or prayers in private houses, for these Dr. Whately does not seem to have in view, and they need no justification ; indeed it would be difficult to raise an objection to a practice directly sanctioned by many instances on record in the New Testament. And after all, we must remember that the solemn charge is laid upon the lay members no less than upon the clergy of the church to promote to the utmost of their power the cause of Christ their Lord. Both are to be instant in season and out of season, occupying till the Lord come. Irregularities will occur; a new condition of things has to be provided for in the church of Christ ; and this must be met in a spirit of enlarged and comprehensive wisdom. While souls are perishing, let us take care lest even irregular zeal should be repressed too rudely. Indolent, apathetic laymen we have in sad profusion, as well as drones amongst the clergy. We are not insensible to the danger which would arise were the laity of the church of England seriously bent upon an invasion of the ministerial office. We do not forget that the Lord is the God of order and not of confusion ; but the great danger of the church of England has always lain, in these matters, upon the side of too much stiffness; we long to see her more elastic in the application of her principles, and in her power of accommodating them to the everchanging circumstances of the age, and at the same time equally firm in maintaining the principles themselves.
In the course of the “ lecture” upon the Lord's Supper, the sacrificial character of the death of Christ comes beneath review. The archbishop remarks, that besides the many distinct and express declarations of the sacred writers, the very institution of the
Eucharist itself was sufficient to impress upon their minds the sacrificial character of the death of Christ, considering who and what the persons were to whom these declarations were made. Had our Lord been merely a martyr, it might have been natural to commemorate his death, perhaps by something symbolical of death; but surely not by eating and drinking these symbols of His body and blood. The bread broken and the wine poured out, sufficiently representing the wounding of the body and the shed ding of the blood, are both partaken of by those who celebrate the rite:
“ Had we, then, no such allusions as we find in Scripture, to Christ our Passover as sacrificed for us, and entering into the most holy place with his blood, as a sacrificing priest as well as a victim-even if we had fewer of such statements and allusions still the sacrament of our Lord's Supper, early and generally established, as we know it was, would be a decisive proof that the early Christians must have understood, from the very character of that ordinance itself, that our Lord's death was not a mere martyrdom, but a true sacrifice, similar to—though far surpassing—the expiatory sacrifices which they had been familiar with under the law, and which we find so often referred to as types of the offering of Christ."
On the "recent attempts to explain away all these and other passages as figures of speech,” as well as, on the other hand, against “the danger of rash attempts at explanation,” some wise cautions follow. In the course of these the archbishop quotes a passage from bishop Butler, which, however familiar it may be to a section of our readers, we make no apology for quoting once more. It is a curious fact, that the writers of the new school in theology seldom condescend to notice bishop Butler ; and when they do so, it is with an air of contempt. In this, indeed, Butler does not stand alone. The superciliousness of their tone is almost equal to the shallowness of their reasoning and the obscurity in which they love to indulge, or from which they are unable to escape. And, indeed, this obscurity is a vast advantage; and they make use of it with wonderful success; for we observe that most of their opponents are always ready to compliment them on their intellectual powers. Now the well is not really deep, though they have a contrivance for rendering the water muddy. Besides, as Mr. Nolan bas well remarked, in the preface to his four sermons on • The Vicarious Sacrifice,” “to declare their meaning at once would be too startling, and might cause a reaction.” The public mind must be gradually prepared for it. Perhaps the clear-obscure of their style serves as the dim religious light in their churches to conceal what must yet be introduced without forcing it as yet into too prominent notice. But to return to bishop Butler. He says :
“ Christ offered himself a propitiatory sacrifice, and made atonement for the sins of the world. ... And the sacrifice was, in the highest degree, and with the most extensive influence, of that efficacy for obtaining pardon of sin, which the heathens may be supposed to have thought their sacrifices, and which the Jewish sacrifices were, in some degree, and with regard to some persons. How, and in what particular way, it had this efficacy, there are not wanting persons who have endeavoured to explain; but I do not find that Scripture has explained it. . .. Again, some have endeavoured to explain the efficacy of what Christ has done and suffered for us, beyond what Scripture has authorized; others, probably because they could not explain it, have been for taking it away, and confining his office as Redeemer of the world, to his instruction, example, and government of the Church ; whereas the doctrine of the Gospel appears to be, not only that He taught the efficacy of repentance, but rendered it of the efficacy it is, by what He did and suffered for us.... And it is our wisdom thankfully to accept the benefit, by performing the conditions on which it is offered, on our part, without disputing how it was procured on His."*
On which archbishop Whately comments thus :
“ Such is the sober statement of that truly great theologian, in his Analogy, Part ii. c. 5. He was one who sought to know no less, and was content to know no more, of divine mysteries inscrutable to man's reason, than the inspired writers tell us ; and he guarded against the error of those presumptuous speculators, who, when the illumination from heaven—the rays of revelation-fail to shed such full light as they wish for, on the Gospel dispensation, are for bringing to the dial-plate the lamp of human philosophy.”
We did not sit down with any intention of giving our readers a complete analysis of this valuable work. It is full of pregnant hints for thoughtful readers. There are some points on which we should differ from its most reverend author; though we trust they are not of essential moment. We think his charity sometimes too large, and that the differences which exist, even amongst the members of our own church, are of a far more serious nature than he is willing to allow. We admire his catholic spirit, but we must not forget that charity itself becomes a dangerous weakness, especially in a christian ruler, if it overlooks the distinction, trifling as it may seem at first, but widening and deepening as it goes along, between pure truth and truth mixed even with a shade of error. The remarks on “ the explanatory teaching of the Bible” are highly valuable, as, though of course in a less degree, are those on “giving explanations on the prayer-book.” We regret, however, that more has not been said upon the necessity of inculcating
* It would have been more correct to bishop's meaning, though obscurely exhave said that the Redeemer, “by what pressed. (See Acts v. 31.) So in our Lihe did and suffered for us,” purchased the tany : "That it may please Thee to give right of bestowing the gift of repentance us true repentance. upon sinners; and
this may have