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ance. Sir Herbert Jenner Fust may be overruled. And it was so. The memorable judgment was at last given, and the Evangelicals shouted for joy. But, alas! the triumph scarcely merited the jubilant strain. The highest court pronounced, what? That the doctrines of the party be tolerated. Read the elaborate judgment as you will, that is all. Had they seceded, they would have secured this, and something more. compact body of high-souled men, wearied of the yoke of secular bondage, and indignant at the dishonour done to the Divine Head of the Church by the introduction of civil authority, where his sceptre alone ought to sway, they could bave done this with impunity; for no bishop on the bench-not even Henry of Exeter-would have dared to prosecute a thousand clergymen, the indelibility of priestly orders notwithstanding. The liberty wherewith the king of the spiritual dominion endows his subjects would have been theirs. Instead of a territorial circle, the breadth of the land would have been their field of operation ; and instead of the vassalage of waiting upon the breath of a lawyer to recognise or deny their orthodoxy, they would have gone forth, in the security of truth and the dignity of freedom, to proclaim those sublime verities which concern a kingdom not of this world. Had they left houses and lands for the sake of this kingdom, the temporary loss would have been a clear gain of an amount of moral power, compared with which, the highest establishment status is light as the passing breeze, and worthless as an infant's bauble.
Well, matters are assuredly ripening for this issue. Rest, in their present anomalous position, they will not find. We say nothing of Episcopacy, but of its establishment. The latter has proved an unquestionable failure. It has not secured unanimity of religious sentiment; for the establishment contains as many sects as are to be found beyond its pale. It has not covered the land with light; for, in many of the parishes of England, the superstitions of the dark ages continue to hold their gloomy sway. It has not fairly distributed ecclesiastical revenues ; for whilst bishops and other dignitaries enjoy an enormous revenue, and whilst the sinecures of the establishment are a disgrace to the age, many of the curates and other inferior clergy receive a pittance which a city merchant would be ashamed to offer to his butler. It has not, by the administration of its own laws, saved the government from annoyance; for a great part of every session of parliament is worse than wasted by religious questions with which a secular government ought to have nothing to do. It has not prevented schism, one of the chief objects contemplated by its organisation ; for it is rent hy the noisy claims of conflicting parties; and whilst the life and soul of the nation have already joined the ranks of dissent, the multitude that remain within its enclosure are divided in opinion on essential doctrine. It has not brought into operation an effective code of discipline, without which no confraternity can realise the objects it professes to seek; for the defections and moral divergencies of many of its adherents defy the control of existing law, and cry loudly for punitive powers which neither church nor state has at command. It has not proved itself the willing ally of social and secular progress; for it is notorious that every question respecting the enfranchisement of the people, the removal of invidious religious disabilities, the abolition of iniquitous laws-affecting trade and commerce,
the sanitary improvement of the nation, and the general prosperity of men in harmony with the spirit of the times, finds in it their most determined foe. It has not aided or encouraged the education of the successive generations of youth that have come under its maternal care; for the government, seeing the deplorable ignorance of the people, have lately been devising means to remedy the frightful barbarism of the country by independent resources. And it has not conserved the doctrines of Protestantism, nor preserved England from the encroachments of papal Rome, as the pestilential spread of Puseyite folly and the daring exploits of Pius IX. and his Jesuit emissaries too clearly prove.
Now, the evangelical clergy and their adherents know all this as well as we do. They are not ignorant of these things. They are thoroughly conversant with every fact we have stated ; and we prophesy that not one among them will deny the truth of our affirmations. If there be any difference between us and them, it is in the mode of utterance; for, when they speak of such things, it is in tones of anguish and bitterness which we cannot command, and in language whose biting strength we will not attempt to imitate. And yet the only remedy which reason, common sense, and Scripture hold out to them, they pertinaciously refuse to adopt. Happy in their present position they cannot be. There is an open door before them, through which they may pass, and be freemen. By availing themselves of this, they would be immediately liberated from the bondage of the state ; they would vindicate the claims of their divine Master over conscience and conduct; they would enter upon the unchecked possession of their Christian privileges, relative to the election of officers, and all other correlative matters affecting the kingdom of Christ, of which they are subjects; and they would give to the world a practical proof of their faith in the ample resources of Christian gratitude. To quote the words of Merle D'Aubigné to the Bishop of Chester, now Archbishop of Canterbury—“ The Church of Rome has a government of its own; each dissenting church the same; the Anglican Church has none. The government of the Church is a political government—a mixed government, composed of her friends and her enemies. What a privilege ! Truly, she would have everything to gain in ceasing to be the National Church." Yes, they have nothing to lose but what is injurious to their spiritual interests and dishonouring to their Lord, and everything to gain that can facilitate the former and glorify the latter, by ceasing to be connected with the state. Whatever may be our opinion relative to the comparative merits of the various forms of church government—a question on which we avoid entering, and a question which they are able to decide for themselves—we see no necessity for their formal association with any existing party of dissenters. We would not have them to confound the idea of dissent with the idea of Presbyterian, Congregational, or Connectional church polity. The two things are quite distinct. They are not homogeneous. They may take with them their episcopacy, if they prefer it-entire, but pure—whole, but free. It is highly probable, that a Free Evangelical Church would be, at the present juncture of affairs, an incalculable blessing to England. Its advent would be hailed as the dawn of brighter days for the interests of truth, liberty, and man. It would command attention and obtain encouragement; it would gladden many a heart, now panting for religious liberty; it would be a great stimulant to activity in efforts for the evangelisation of the world, It would give energy to non-sectarian sentiment for the general good. It would obviate many a cause of unbecoming irritation; it would be as life from the dead in many parishes of England; it would draw together brethren who are kept asunder by the anti-social and anti-Christian union between church and state ; it would read a lesson of deep meaning to statesmen ; it would be hailed with many a “God speed” by the good and the wise in other churches; it would set an example, eloquent in meaning, to the continental states, and to those new nations which the streams of emigrants are founding in our vast colonial possessions; it would be an important step in advance in the world's progress towards happier and better days; it would be a becoming tribute to the supremacy of the only King of the Church ; and, perhaps, we may add, without offence, it would shed new light, in the experience of those who formed it, on many a passage of Scripture, which the different circumstances of union with the state and freedom from its bondage have caused to be differently read. If they found that Episcopacy did not work well, the power of modifying it would be in their own hands. Experience would bring light-light would suggest improvement—improvement would lead to success.
Were the organisation of a Free Church, then, the grand historical fact which should render memorable the middle of the nineteenth century, the parties of whom we write have every encouragement and every facility for making the noble experiment. Many of them have great wealth. How can it be invested more safely than in the cause of eternal truth? Many of them have great influence. How can it be used better than in the diffusion of the Gospel ? Some of them belong to the nobility and aristocracy of the land; rank and dignity honour themselves when devoted to the honour of the world's Redeemer. The coronets and crowns that have been laid at His feet have lost none of their lustre by the position. The names of the nobles who aided the Reformation will never be forgotten. The illustrious ancestors of our illustrious Queen, who wielded their influence against the corruptions of Rome, and left her tyrannic communion, will be held in remembrance while the world has a history; and principality and power ennoble themselves when they use their talents in view of the return of Him whose right it is to reign.
There are difficulties in the way which timidity may exaggerate, and traditional attachment to the establishment increase; but it is a truism, that no great work was ever achieved without victory over difficulty ; and intelligent conference among the friends of unfettered truth will clear
away the clouds that hover in the horizon. Faith will remove mountains; hope will not flag with such a prize in view ; perseverance in the right will place the laurel on their brow; and prayer for the direction of Him who errs not will be answered “while they are speaking. We are not insensible to those traditional attachments which plead strongly with memory and call up many impressive reminiscences. The poetry of the rural "Church,” using the word in its popular sense, has many charms for us. As a mere matter of taste-waiving higher considerations we could linger long about the Gothic porch and ivy
mantled tower. But, alas ! like the odes of Anacreon, the poetic beauty covers much corruption. Many of those venerable buildings are, both figuratively and literally, “ full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness.” And, in a matter of this kind, where conscience speaks and evangelic truth is so intensely interested, sentiment must give place to something higher and holier-stern duty. The history of the past, with its melting legends, as it hovers around the tombs of our ancestors, must be merged into the claims of the present and the demands of the future. Architecture, grey with age and covered with the hieroglyphics of former generations, must not keep good men lingering, whilst the angel of the Lord summons them to speed, lest they be overthrown in the threatened calamity:
One thing is certain, whatever may be said for or against the established hierarchy, the agitation relative to the union has set in with sudden and unexpected force. It is the theme of every conversation—the topic of every newspaper, journal, and review. No longer a dissenting dogma, it has sought the breadth of a nation as the arena of its struggles. Puseyites are “voluntaries” in their way. High Churchism sounds a defiant note against secular control. It is the question of the day, and is likely to remain so for many a day to come. No power can prevent that; no authority can put it down; no equivocation can make it slip aside. It contains the whole matter at issue between the secular and the spiritual. To discuss it, church reformers are writing tracts and pamphlets; High Churchmen—some of them the genuine successors of Nimrod, useful men in their way, friends of the squire, and vigilant guardians of parochial rights and rates—are venturing upon the novel and dangerous experiment of public meetings, generally, however, with this wise precaution, that no discussion be allowed; fanatical tractarians are insisting upon the power of the Church to settle her own ordinances; and evangelicals, who ought to see the matter in its true light, are, notwithstanding their known habit of fighting shy of it, compelled occasionally to drop a word about the union. But the question will have more than a word. It will not hide itself under the cloak of superior spiritualism. It will not be silenced by the cry—“Ours is the most Scriptural church in Christendom!” It will mutter something both by the side of the Geneva gown and the white surplice. In chapel, stall, and cathedral, it will speak. Accustomed to the taunt of infidelity, it will only wax bolder as the brand is successively burnt into its brow. It will be heard at hustings and polling-booths. It will trouble candidates for the honour of a seat in parliament. It will find some one to introduce it to the august representative assembly, and will refuse to be placed in the custody of the officer in waiting. It will try the strength of perhaps more than one government; and if the present minister is “not strong enough for his place,” it will grapple with a stronger than he, and, if he yield not, overthrow him. For the question must ariseindeed, it has arisen-how is it that the Established Church of England, the wealthiest Protestant hierarchy in the world, is so helpless with all its wealth, so impotent with all its power, and so notoriously unable to accomplish one of the purposes of a New Testament Church ? Salutary change is manifest in all directions but in it; everywhere else there is improvement; in it, retrogression. All around there is the
activity of freedom; in it, noise without progress. Signs of mental life meet us wherever we turn beside; but in it there are ghastly spasms, which speak of an age whose characteristics would be as much out of place in this, as the costume of the days of Henry VIII. would be on the subjects of Victoria I. The issue of the coming storm need not unsettle any wise and discreet man. Truth and liberty have gained so little by the secular tie which binds the church to the state, that they cannot lose much, were that tie broken to-morrow. Let it be broken, and it will then be seen whether the evils under which the Church groans are inseparable from Episcopacy, or only the results of its secular alliance. The admirers of Episcopacy ought to stake it upon this issue. Let it be broken, and statesmen will soon have the opportunity of judging whether they cannot do their proper work with greater facility without the equivocal aid of a bench of bishops. Let it be broken, and her Majesty will enjoy the liberty of hearing the Gospel in any church she pleases, without the terrible responsibility of being the head of a dominant sect. Let it be broken, that the various forms of religion may meet on equal terms, and struggle against what they deem error with legitimate weapons, and every true man will say—“ God defend the right !”
MARSTON'S NEW DRAMA:
PHILIP OF FRANCE AND MARIE DE MERANIE.” THERE are two modes of conveying truth, the poetic and the rhetorical. Poetry, like nature, can never be defined. Our best description is but the record of a phase of infinite experience. If there be any new dictionary-maker among us, let him reverently write down no more than this; Poetry, the work of a poet in his vocation. As to that vocation, in its height, and length, and breadth, and depth, he who feels it most will be least inclined to dogmatise. Nevertheless, there are functional characteristics of which both he and we may speak without presumption. Since absolute perfection is the poet's kalon, the hidden and unapproachable centre to which he involuntarily gravitates, everything which he exhibits should be the ideal of its kind: The ideal of conception, the ideal of sensation, the ideal of expression. The ideal of expression; that kind of expression which, by the constitution of our nature, is the most efficient to reproduce in the most perfect human mind the existing state of mind in the poet. The poet has this expression, because (to speak vaguely) he addresses all things to himself. The great enchanter practises on his own soul, certain that the spell which raises the ghost there is no less than the golden formula.
The rhetorical mode of expression is often confounded with the poetical, because, though differing widely in principle, they often approach in practice. Every man is in some degree a Rhetor who speaks to be heard. What the poet finds in himself, the orator finds in his audience; and as the audience rises in the scale of intellect, the aspect of rhetoric is dignified towards poetry. But the poet and the orator are the Priest and the Levite; and the best effort of the one is but a ministration of the oracles of the other.