« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
** Not so much from the increasing strength of any particular sect, as from the increasing and combined strength of all, or at least of the generality of sects; for, though many of the sects differ as much from each other as they do from the church, they agree in hostility to the church, and are ready, each with the hope of obtaining the ascendency, to co-operate against her. Even if they should not do this, the increase of the strength of each alone, according to the idea 1 have suggested, must necessarily injure the established religion in its most essential interests. I conceive, however, that the established religion, so far as this part of the united kingdom is concerned, has less to fear from Catholics, than from almost any other sect; both because, circumstanced as this country now is, the Catholic doctrines are less likely to gain ground, and because Catholics are less inclined, than persons of any other persuasion, to cooperate with those, who are of other persuasions, against the Church." \
In this latter opinion we do not concur with our author; far the history of this country affords abundant proofs of the readiness of the Romanists to coalesce with the sectaries against the established church. Many instances of such an union may be found in the history of the reigns of Eliza. beth anil the first Charles; nor do we think that the disposition either of the Catholics or the Dissenters in this respect differs,a jot from that of their ancestors.
The following remarks on a position advanced in the House of Commons, by that able politician, Lord Howici, are truly excellent.
"In a report of Lord Howick's speech, which is now before me, he is represented as saying, that 4« the notion of religious and political opinions being identified with each other, is a mis» taken one," and that "this identification of religious and political opinions had long since ceased to exist." I understand this to mean, that religion and politics have nothing to do with each other, or, in other words, that the preservation of a religious establishment is no concern of the state; a position, which goes to the overthrow, not only of our particular church, but of every religious establishment whatever. If, however, the opinion, that religion and politics are connected with each other, has at all ceased to exist, J may venture to say, that it has not long ceased to do so, In matters of this sort, it cannot be said to be longt though several years have intervened, since Bishop Warburton proved to demonstration, that an alliance necessarily subsists -between a state, and the religion established in it; and his work is
still still held in so high a degree of estimation, that every one, who pretends to any knowledge on this subject, is supposed to have read if. It is not long, since Judge Blackstone, speaking of the Test and Corporation Acts, which are the bonds of union between the church ard the state, calls them "two bulwarks, by which the established church is secured against perils from nonconformists of all denominations, Infidels, Turks, Jews, Heretics, Papists, and Sectaries," and "which secure both our civil and religious liberties •." Lord Howick himself admits, that so recent a writer as Dr. Paley, whose work is, at this hour, the lecture book in morals and politics in one of our universities, asserts the connection between religion and politics, i. e. between the church and state. By religion, of course, I here mean social or public religion, and not that religion which is confined to a man's own mind, or own house, and which passes between God and himself, or between God and himself and his own family only. If Lord Howick referred to such cases as that of the prophet Daniel, who was cast into a den of lions, because he "kneeled down upon his knees three times a day" in his own house, and there worshipped God in the manner in which he had been accustomed to tlo, or to the cases of many among ourselves, who in the days of papal persecution, were punished for their private religious opinions, or private acts of worship, he said what is true, but it was nothing to bis pur* pose."
The injury arising to the church from the introduction of Calvinism into our pulpits, is thus stated:
"Many clergymen of the Church of England, adopting the peculiar notions of Calvin, or however of the late Mr. Whitfield, who was a Calvinist, have assumed to themselves the title of Evangelical or Gospel ministers, and have not only asserted these doctrines to be doctrines of the Church of England, but encouraged the belief, that the clergy of the Church of England, being by far the majority of them, who omit to follow their example, neither preach the doctrines of the Church nor the doctrines of the Gospel. Inconsequence of .this, the Church is exposed to that danger, which must necessarily arise from a degradation of the cluiracter of her ministers; for, if this allegation were true, it would follow, that the ministers of the Church are false to their most solemn engagements, and preach doctrines contrary to those, which (hey have subscribed to as true. But this is not all: for, misled by such suggestions as these, the people are drawn off from the Church (in which, with a few exceptions, they are thus taught to believe, that the Gospel is not
* Commen. b, iv.ch- 4} and ch, 33.
preached) not only to the Methodistic societies, which were instituted by Mr. Whitfield, and in which the doctrines acknowledged to be Calvinistie are more particularly insisted on, but also to those Methodistic societies, which were instituted by Mr. Wesley, and which, though denominated Arminiun, retain the doctrines of justification by faith exclusively of works, the new birth (or instantaneous and sensible conversion), and assurance of salvation, which are either the concomitants or consequences of Calvinism, and which, to the generality of the people, are probably the greatest inducements to adopt Calvinism. Now, though I entirely absolve the persons, to whom I refer, from the design of being enemies to the Church, I am obliged to contend that their conduct is as injurious to the Church, as that of enemies can be, and in some respects more so. On this subject, the Church has too much reason to adopt the complaint of the Psalmist, and to sav, "It was not an open enemy that hath done me this dishonour; for then I could have borne it. Neither was it mine adversary, that did magnify himself against me : for then, peradventure, I would have hid myself from him. But it was even thou,' my companion, my guide, and mine own familiar friend." Psalm lv.
Having explained what he means by the dangers of the Church, and stated the causes from whence he conceives th«m to arise, Mr. Pearson goes on to propose the methods by which he thinks it possible for them to be averted. And he sets out with expressing it as his opinion, that nothing should be done for the internal regulation or improvement of the Church, without the advice and consent of the convocation. His reasoning on this subject cannot but carry conviction home to the mind of every man who attends candidly to it, though we have not the slightest hopes that it will produce any effect upon those who are "fettled upon their lees."
To the Convocation, if it were permitted to fit for real business, Mr. Pearson would submit some proposals of alterations. These are first a scripture reading or a short service to be read daily in churches and chapels, instead of the morning and evening prayer, as now directed; secondly, an abridgement of the Athanasian creed, and an omission of the condemnatory clauses; thirdly, an improvement in our translation of the scriptures, particularly the reading Psalms. *
* See Orth. Churchm. Mag. Vol. ix. p. 109, Vol. xii. p. 131.
G G Having
Vel. XIII. Churchm. Mag.for August 1807.
Having made these propositions, Mr. Pearson proceeds to observe that
"The Convocation, if assembled for the dispatch of business* would have it in their power to benefit the church by other me* thods besides the recommendation of what is new, and might be no less useful in preventing innovations, than in promoting alterations. On many occasions, a declaration of their opinion would be as effectual a remedy for an existing evil, as the enacting of a law. Not long since, Mr.Overton, a clergyman, ventured to> charge the great body of the clergy of the Church of England with being Dissenters from the Church, affirming himself and those ministers and members of the Church, who are usually styled Evangelical or Gospel, to be' the only true ministers and members of it:—" We are the true Chtnchmen, and, in a very fundamental and important sente of the word, Mr. Daubeny and his associates (under which expression was meant to be included the great body of the clergy) are Dissenters from the Church, of England." True Churchmen ascertained, p. 397 *. The injustice, as well as the absurdity, of this accusation might easily be shewn to those, who had inclination and opportun ty to attend to the proof; for, though it be admitted, that^ in consequence of the royal Declaration prefixed to the Thirty-nine Articles, moderate Calvinhts, as they wish to be called, may be considered as legitimate members and ministers of the Church, it necessarily follows, from the same authority, that they ought not to be considered as exclusively so; the Declaration, as we aretold, "being issued for the very purpose of silencing the controversy between the Calvinists and Arminiansf." Since, however, the generality of men are more influenced by authority, than, they are by reasoning, it is greatly to be wished, that this affirmation had been authoritatively reprobated. If the Convocation had solemnly pronounced it to be, what it undoubtedly was, a libel on the great body of the clergy, it would, in all probability, have been reiterated with much less confidence than it has been, and the mischievous effects which it was calculated to produce, would have been more completely counteracted.
"Lastly, the very idea, that the Convocation did, from time to time, deliberate whether the Church, by certain alterations, might not be brought nearer to perfection, would tend lo produce
— : - — — —. ■!
* There is too much reason to fear, from the effect, which Gospel preaching, as it is called, is found to have^ in alienating people from their parish ministers, and inducing them to attend the Gospel preachers in their neighbourhood, that affirmations of this kind are not confined to books. -n
+ Collier's Eccles. Hist, of Great Britain, rol." ii. p. 746.
the (fae beficf, that she was either as near to perfection as possible, or that no alterations -were advieea'le for the present; whereas, when every thing relating lo the Church is suffered to remain the same, without even a deliberation about alterations, for a hundred years together, it will not easily be credited, that she is so ready to admit improvements, and to go on towards perfection, as she professes to be."
These are the methods proposed for contributing to the internal safety of the Church; our author next calls the consideration of the minister to some others " with which the Convocation could not with propriety take a leading part." The first is a Review of the Act of Toleration, as far as regards the licensing of dissenting teachers: the next the enlarging the size and encreafing the number of places of public worship, and "augmenting, restoring, or securing the revenues of the Church." It is then recommended that the public offices of religion should be constantly performed, not only with decorum and regularity, according to the directions of the rubrics, but also with propriety and effeQ. This certainly is an important consideration, and to render it effectual, it is proposed that a ritual professorship or tectureship, be instituted in each of our Universities. *
"Another method, by which the dangers of the Cburch may be averted, is the care of its professed members, and especially of those who are in situations of rank and influence, to shew, by their conduct, that they consider its preservation and prosperity as a matter of importance."
Here occasion is taken to recommend a stricter observance of the Lord's Day, particularly among the higher ranks, a regular attendance on the service of the Church, and particularly the solemn ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
The last subject, considered in this valuable pamphlet is, "That of Patronage, or the principle on which Ecclesiastical Preferments ought to be disposed of."
"In its original design, this power or privilege was not a gift, which might be employed to the personal advantage of the individual, who possessed it, but a trust, which was committed to him for the benefit of the public. This design, therefore,
* See Orth. Churchrn. Mag. for Nov. and Dec. 1806, and for Marsh 1807.
G Q 2 ought