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Art. XI.-The Church of England compared with Wesleyan

Methodism. By EPAPHRAS. Second edition. Bristol: Richardson. London: Seeley and Burnside. 1837.

WE will at once proceed to examine the contents of this little tract. Small as it is, we never remember to have read any thing on the same subject so simple and plain, yet so dignified, and so well adapted to answer the purpose of the writer.

The doctrines and tenets of the church of England and of Wesleyan Methodism are laid side by side in a naked and ungarnished form; each is stripped of every accident (to speak logically) which were likely to present the slightest difficulty to the meanest capacity. In the same style shall we endeavour to review this work.

It appears that a parochial minister was given to understand, that a member of his congregation had been invited to attend a dissenting place of worship: the zealous priest, mindful of his vow and duty, immediately addressed the aforesaid member in the form which is now before us, and which we strongly recommend to the serious consideration of every one yet halting between two opinions, or professing before God and man that he is a Methodist:

“ I have heard with pain,” says Epaphras in his address, “that you have been invited and urged, according to the universal practice of the Methodists, to attend their chapel; doubtless with a view of inducing you at last to become a member of their community. As the invitation comes to you under the insidious pretext of affording you more privileges,' more liberty,' and

greater helps,' than you now enjoy, I think it my duty faithfully and affectionately to place the matter before you; leaving you to judge, in the sight of God, which system of instruction offers you the greatest advantages for the welfare of your soul, and which is best calculated to build you up, as a humble, happy, consistent follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. In doing this, there is no fairer way than a faithful comparison, side by side, of the two systems.

Whoever has had the least experience in parochial duty, must have observed the zeal and perseverance of those dissenters, whose object it is to acquire a superiority of strength, that they may effect the overthrow of the Church. Indeed, dissenters cannot deny, that there are many amongst them who have recourse to every art and trickery to enlarge the borders of their dominions. Mr. Gathercole, in his Letters to a Dissenting Minister, exposes at considerable length the divers disgraceful means which are used to effect their object. He tells us that books of all kinds are widely circulated, containing invectives and calumnious falsehoods against the Church; that our clergy are misrepresented as being “immoral;” their flocks as destitute of evangelical

truth as ever were the inhabitants of Hindostan; and with such like charitable design of trepanning the unwary and the unthinking, they sow the seeds of schism and dissension all over the land. But this will never do. We must set out on our journey, for we have a great deal of ground to go over ere we have done. We bespeak our readers' leave to dwell at some length upon this little tract, because we deem its subject matter of vast and serious import. After the preface, the author thus commences his labour of love.



I. The church of Christ in Eng- 1. Methodism had its origin land took its rise in apostolical from John Wesley, within the last times.

century. A pure and independent church, governed by its own bishops, and worshipping God in a liturgical form of prayer, brought not from Rome, but from the East, existed among the ancient Britons; and subsequently with equal independence, though not so free from corruptions, among the Saxons. By the Saxons, the division of the country into parishes was first made. Dominion was at length usurped over this church by the Pope of Rome; from which she was, through God's grace, emancipated, at the time of the Reformation; when the church of England returned to the pure doctrines and worship of the British and Saxon churches.

What can be plainer and simpler than this? Or what argument can be conceived stronger or more unanswerable in favour of the Anglican church? The church of Christ has existed for above eighteen centuries,-Wesleyan dissent has existed little more than half a century. The church of Christ was founded by a divine person,-dissent introduced by men.

It has been falsely asserted, that the church of England committed the sin of schism in dissenting from the church of Rome. For one moment we will waive the point. Let it be granted that the Roman Catholic church was the original church in Britain, and that we have thrown off those ordinances and rites, which, not being founded upon Scripture, but on superstition, and

*" If separation be schism, churchmen set us the example in their own conduct, and by seceding from the church of Rome, taught us the lawfulness of dissenting from the church of England.”James, p. 239.



perceiving to be the cunning interpolation of infidelity, we were warranted in rejecting. Are the dissenters authorized in consequence to secede from us, and set up a new system of their own, opposed to Scripture, and unsupported by, and irreconcilable with argument? It is idle to say that dissenters have as great a right to secede from us, as we had for withdrawing from the church of Rome. The assertion is not just, for the cases are not similar. Our apostolic Church never did dissent from the church of Rome. Christianity existed in Britain in the first centuries, before the bishop of Rome usurped universal dominion, and impiously arrogated the attributes of divinity. It was not first introduced, as we have seen it sometimes erroneously affirmed, by St. Augustine.

A very admirable pamphlet* upon this subject has just been forwarded to us, entitled “The Antiquity of the Church of England," by the Rev. M. W. Foye, M. A., Curate of St. Martin's, Birmingham. It bears so much upon our present question, that we shall make use of several of the arguments which it contains. Mr. Foye clearly proves, that the church of England was founded, not only during the lifetime of the apostles, but by an apostle or apostles in person. Secondly, that Paul was its founder. Thirdly, that the celestial fire thus deposited on our altars, never expired, but burned brightly and increasingly till, in the seventh century, the British church, on her first acquaintance with, rejected the arrogant pretensions and corruptions of the church of Rome. Fourthly, that the reasons and grounds of this rejection, evidence the purity of the Church in England at that time. Lastly, that even when Saxon idolatry did, for a while, intrude upon and oppress the Church here, it was not the Romish missionaries after all, but the clergy of the old national church, and Irish missionaries from the island of I-Columb-Kill, who converted the Saxon settlers, and reduced the kingdoms of the Heptarchy to the obedience of Christ. The emissaries of the pope only intruded upon and usurped their labours.

* This is a very excellent pamphlet: it contains very valuable information. We strongly recommend it to the public. Price Sixpence. Seeley and Burnside, Fleet-street.

† The late venerable Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Burgess, in one of his admirable tracts, distributes this evidence “into a selection of seven epochs of Christianity in Britain, from the first introduction of the gospel to the beginning of the seventh century, namely, the preach ing of the gospel by St. Paul in the first century ; the public protection of Christianity, by King Lucius, in the second century; the Dioclesian persecution in the third and fourth century; the establishment of Christianity, by Constantine, in the fourth ; the suppression of the Pelagian heresy in the fifth ; the synod of Llandewi Brefi in the (1.) “It is probable, from many considerations,” observes Mr. Foye, “that the church of England was founded by an apostle, or apostles, in person : first, from the easy and frequent intercourse between Britain and Rome during the lifetime of the apostles ; but secondly and more especially from the vast number, not only of Romans, but also of other foreigners, trafficking in Britain, settled in Britain, and serving in the armies in Britain. In the year of our Lord 43, Britain was reduced to a regular province of the Roman empire; and, a few years after this, we find that there were so many foreigners in England, that in one year (61) no less than 70,000 of them perished in an insurrection of the natives. At this time, too, so populous and rich a mart was London, that it is recorded of Seneca, the philosopher, that he amassed a property in the island to the amount of 300,0001. on the lowest calculation. Now, we know from the New Testament alone, to say nothing of the facts of profane history, that our blessed Christianity had at this time spread itself mightily abroad in the world. At Rome, we know, there were zealous Christians even amongst the higher orders of the state-yea, even in the palace-amongst the members of the imperial household. Mark this quotation-Paul, writing from Rome to the Philippians (iv. 22) has these words :--' All the saints salute you: chiefly they that are of Cæsar's household. We know from the nature of the thing, from facts and experience, that a new, despised, calumniated, persecuted religion does not all at once climb up and ramify among the higher orders of the stateespecially when the powers that be are its chief leading enemies and persecutors. Hence, then, we infer that Christianity at Rome must have shot her roots deeply down, and spread them far among the lower orders of society, by the time she had so shot her branches up among the higher classes as to have her converts—her saints—even among the lordly officers of the imperial household. Let us just add to these remarks, what even heathen history tells us, that in the reign of Nero, about the year 64, when, by public decree, search was made for the Christians, 'vast indeed was the multitude (ingens multitudo) which was apprehended of that pernicious sect,' as Tacitus and others then called the Christians in their ignorance. Now, though we should suppose that of those Britons, whom business, curiosity, fashion, pleasure would bring to Rome, none caught a glimpse of the gospel, can it be for one moment imagined that of the vast numbers of foreigners, not only from the west, but also from the east (the birth-place, remember, cradle, and starting-point of Christianity), campaigning,-trading, -settled in Britain, there were found no professors of the gospel of the Lord Jesus?

sixth; and the rejection of popery by the British bishops in the seventh çentury."Tracts by the Bishop of St. David's, p. 125.

I think we cannot admit the supposition; and if there were amongst them such professors, as it is almost certain there were, then, I ask again, are we to suppose they did not possess zeal, piety, courage enough (as they all did in that age,) to say a word for their Master, to 'feel their spirit stirred within them,' when they saw whole families, tribes, provinces given to the most shocking and revolting idolatries? Were they not bold enough to let fall, in the dark and cruel places they passed through, some of that heavenly fire which they knew had been deposited with them not more for their own than others' use? Here, again, the mind starts back from such a supposition.

So that you see with what strong probabilities the question of the early origin of Christianity in Britain comes recommended before you; so much so, in fact, that it is a very prevailing opinion among writers who have examined into these matters, that Christianity was planted here within four years after our Lord's crucifixion. But we rest not upon probabilities, however strong, or opinions, however prevalent; we have direct unquestionable testimony on the subject. Some of which I now proceed to state.

(2.) Gildas, the earliest christian writer of this country whose works have come down to us, (born 511,) has left us on record the fact, that the cheering beams of the true Sun—the Sun of Righteousness-shone out upon this frozen isle, shivering with the icy cold of heathenism and idolatry, a little before the defeat of Boadicea by the Roman legions,'—an event which occurred A. D. 61, that is, while the apostles were in the very height of their evangelical career. Here, then, is decisive testimony as to the precise time of the first establishment of Christianity in this country, somewhat before the year of our Lord 61. But this will appear more evident when we consider,

(3.) By whom it was first planted. Mark this, that the early fathers, without any one contrary testimony, inform us in general that it was by the apostles of our Lord personally. Thus, (to give a few instances,) Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus, a most eminent writer and accurate church historian of the fifth century, has these words : The apostles persuaded even the Britons to receive the laws of the crucified Lord.' Tom. iv. Serm. 9. And, to bring this home to Paul, as one, at least, of those apostles, he says, in another place, 'St. Paul, after his release from imprisonment at Rome, went straightway to Spain, and thence hastening away to other nations, carried the light of the gospel to them also,' in 2 Ep. ad Tim.; and that we may lie under no mistake as to what other nations he means, he adds in a third place, ' that he (Paul) after having gone into Spain, brought salvation to the islands that lie in the ocean.' Tom. i. Ps. 116.

A plain description of Great Britain and Ireland. He knew of no other islands lying in the ocean ; besides, it was the classical as well

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