« PoprzedniaDalej »
is intended when we speak of a theocracy? That , venient and well-digested liturgy, founded on the God, in a peculiar manner, undertakes and adminis- genuine principles of revealed religion, be composed ters the government of a nation--he is, by particular for public use; and also, whether proper persons and interference, that nation's sovereign. If then God, places be provided by the state for the worship of God, when he, more than at any other time, took upon him and for the instruction of the people ?" the rule and guidance of a state, sanctioned and com- And, after all, what is meant when a religion is said manded lay interference with the Church, does not to be established ? Is it not that there are conferred this faet, I will not say enjoin, but justify, in its prin- by law certain rights on the professors of that religion ? ciple, such interference for ever? That which is now Then few, if any, separatists can be found, who, if the morally and essentially wrong, could not have been Church of England is antichristian for being an estathen morally and essentially right, or have received, blished Church, do not share her guilt. “The toleraas a system, God's especial sanction.
tion act," said Lord Mansfield,“ has rendered the DisIt may be alleged, that we thus authorise persecu- senters' way of worship not only innocent, but lawful; tion—but it is not so. Milner, in a chapter on eccle- has put it not merely under the connivance, but under siastical establishments, * which deserves a most the protection of the law; has established it.” “And," attentive perusal, has properly distinguished between says Mr. Speaker Onslow, “ as far as the authority of compulsion and restraint. We have no right, indeed law can go in point of protection, the Dissenters are as we have no power, to compel a man to be a Christian-truly established as the Church of England.” It is no we could only make him put on the mask of hypo- answer to assert that the Episcopal Church is here crisy; but we have a right to restrain him from pro- pre-eminently established and endowed. If it be wrong pagating those notions which are derogatory to God, for civil laws to interfere with and assign rights and and, by consequence, injurious to his fellow-creatures. privileges in one case, it must be equally wrong in The first would be persecution; the last is only a be- another. And let us see how, in this respect, the Diseoming zeal for the honour of Him, whose servants, senters are really circumstanced. I quote from the men, in their civil, as well as in their private ca- recently published pamphlet of an author,* strenuously pacity, ought to be. If this principle be admitted, opposed to the Established Church. Addressing the we have the authority for those indifferent forms and Dissenters, he says, “your ministers do not refuse every regulations which must be found in every Established government or political indulgence; they accept of exChurch. “Few persons, I think,” says Milner, “will emption from military duty, and from serving on indispute the principle of general expediency and utility quests and juries ; and they are right: it is of immense as directly applicable to this important subject. Has advantage that, free from such secular calls, they may not every state a right to ordain what is conducive to 'give themselves entirely to the word of God, and its preservation, and the good of society ? And for to prayer.' But where is the theory? Strictly keepthese purposes is any thing to be compared with right | ing to that, what business has the government to religion and the fear of God? What shall hinder, know them as ministers, or as any thing but Englishthen, but that the state has the same right to make men ? Laws, it seems, then, may be made to confer laws concerning religion, as concerning property, special immunities upon ecclesiastics. Your chapels, commerce, and agriculture ?
Is it not a great tov, under certain conditions, are exempt from taxamistake to separate religious considerations from tion; nay, there is a parliamentary grant, formerly civil? And while you attempt to do so in theory, denominated the “Regium donum,' annually voted will it not be found impossible in practice? And for the augmentation of the small livings of Dissenting should not laws be always made for practice, and ministers; this, though strongly objected to by some, not for mere speculation ? The more the gover- is accepted by others; it is dispensed according to nors feel the importance of religion (I speak not the individual discretion, I believe, of certain minow for the next life, but for this), the more concerned nisterial trustees, who have each a part at their diswill they be to establish it. They must do so, if they posal; and, I doubt not, it carries gladness to the regard even the temporal good of their subjects. Then, habitation and the heart of many a worthy man.” briefly, these three considerations, viz.-Ist, the clear Thus Dissenting Churches are not only established, evidences by which Christianity is supported; 2dly, but endowed. the importance of its doctrines; and, 3dly, general It may be urged, that no preference should be expediency, appear to me to supply materials for an shewn to one denomination above another; that the argument in favour of ecclesiastical establishments, civil magistrate should be neutral. With respect to which admits of no satisfactory answer. Thus, the all religions? Are Judaism and heathenism to be Gospel is of divine authority ; its fundamentals are on the same footing with Christianity ? If so, you, as revealed with so much clearness, and are of so much legislators, forget God : idolatry, we are told in Scripconsequence to the interests of mankind, that they ture, is “an iniquity to be punished by the judge" cannot be rejected without great wickedness of heart; (Job, xxxi. 28). If the neutrality is not to extend to even the wrath of God is declared to abide on him that all religions, you must draw the line of demarcation believeth not the Son. Under these circumstances, somewhere : where that to be, is another question ; will any man, who thinks it the duty of the supreme for then it ceases to be a question of principle; it is power to consult the good of the community, believe it no longer, to those who inveigh against the dominant a matter of indifference whether suitable forms of Church, a point of consciencem-it has degenerated in smo prayer and thanksgiving, or, in short, whether a con- an unholy contest for pre-eminence and power.
fou • Church History, vol. il. chap. 17.
• Fiat Justitia.
However, the reaction in favour of the religion of CHURCH HISTORY.
Rome, which, but for the indifference of Charles's From the Restoration until the present time.
character, would have shown itself in his reign, (Concluded from Number XLV.)
appeared with accumulated strength soon after the
accession of his brother, James the Second, and with It has been remarked, that the anarchy and con- the most serious consequences.
For the purity of fusion into which the state affairs of England were their Church had been purchased at too dear a price thrown by the usurpation of Cromwell, affected in for the Protestants of England quietly to surrender an equal degree the interests of the Church. Indeed, their hard-earned victory over corruption. Had religious opinions were so blended with the political James continued to govern on the same principles he differences of this period, as to give a marked cha- professed on coming to the throne, he might have racter to the war on both sides. At an early stage continued till death in quiet possession of it. The of the disturbances, the struggle was between the members of the Church were willing to remain by Episcopalians and Presbyterians, greatly to the ad- their sovereign, so long as he left unsullied their vantage of the latter ; but as the violence of opposi- national faith ; but they could not be bound to any tion to every thing like a settled form in government measures by which their religious rights were inincreased, and when the appearance of Cromwell gave vaded, and their liberty of conscience abused. Yet it to the war a new and more uncompromising aspect, was not altogether from his arbitrary conduct in rea third religious party came forward, in unison with ligious matters, that James was compelled to abdicate the rising spirit of civil innovation, which agreed with the throne. Among other instances, when the six the Presbyterians only in persecuting the friends of bishops were imprisoned for presenting their petition, Episcopacy, and differed from them in every par- an important civil right was invaded, which can justly ticular wherein that party was willing to embrace be claimed by every individual in a free government. moderate measures. The state of the Church, there- But James's main object was the re-introduction of fore, presented a subject of the greatest difficulty, and popery; and in resisting this, his Protestant subjects called for the most prompt attention, on the restora- acted under a full acknowledgment of an undeniable tion of monarchy (A.D. 1060). Oppressed and strait- principle--that the first and most binding relationship ened by a powerful opposition from without, she exists between man and his Maker, the consequence nevertheless retained that internal purity purchased of which is, that submission to the “powers that be” for her at the reformation by the blood of the good is only so far virtuous, as it is not subversive of this and virtuous; but she had yet to learn, in the rough most rational obligation. It was James who erred in school of human experience, that the greatest of all endeavouring to force those subject to him to a contrary gifts--the one most essential for her conformity to line of conduct; and the history of this period can the likeness and character of her divine Founder,-- shew how earnestly many of the most distinguished is charity. Thus the struggles of dissent were need- churchmen endeavoured to avoid the extreme meaful, since they taught the Church rightly to estimate sure of their sovereign's abdication. William, prince the high privileges of toleration; and those blessings of Orange, ascended the throne, vacated by his fatherwhich liberty of conscience, properly so called, is in-law, in the year 1689. When the oath of allecalculated to confer on a nation.
giance to the newly constituted monarch was required, When Charles ascended the throne of his father, eight bishops and about four hundred of the other the bishops had been forcibly driven from office for clergy refused to comply, from scruples of conscience ; nearly twenty years. During which period all, with and for this they suffered deprivation of office. the exception of nine, had ended their days in the The propriety of requesting such an oath, during obscurity of private life. These were immediately the lifetime of James, is certainly questionable. reinstated in power, and the remaining sees filled These excellent men might, and no doubt would, by the spring of the following year. All livings and have lived quietly under a government which interother Church property, which had been illegally ac- fered not with their plain duty of obedience to God ; quired during the late confusion, were also restored but what (they considered) could absolve them from to their lawful owners. But these measures, however the oath of civil allegiance they had given to James ? equitable and necessary, could not be carried into Yet if their conscientious adherence to their pledged effect without great resistance. The present race of word be in this instance worthy of admiration, their clergy, unfettered by any dependence, had by time subsequent conduct is, I fear, open to censure. For acquired a degree of local authority, dangerous no they continued to exercise the sacred office after they doubt to the cause they should promote, but still too were deprived of their temporal jurisdiction, and flattering to human pride to be quietly surrendered maintained in the Church a succession of bishops in by the readmission of episcopal superiority. They opposition to those who were appointed by governtherefore submitted to Charles a declaration of their ment. It is true that they had derived the spiritualia grievances. To this the bishops replied; and to their ties of their calling from a source without the sphere reply an answer was returned by Baxter, the brightest of civil interference; but by acting as they did, they ornament of the non-conforming party. But no good are in some degree chargeable with adding to the could possibly result from a discussion, in which many schisms by which the Church was distracted. charitable concessions were alike wanting on both This resistance on the part of the bishops continued sides. It was also owing to this unyielding spirit to the until the year 1779. The most important measure reasonable requests of each other, that the Conference during the reign of William and Mary was that enat the Savoy proved of no avail in promoting harmony titled the Toleration Act; by which full liberty, as of sentiment; moreover, the Act of Uniformity, which regards religious worship, was granted to all Proteste was again brought into operation, greatly increased ant dissenters, provided they did not deny the docthe number of dissenters, by declaring indifferently trine of the Trinity. Of all steps taken at any time without the pale of the Church all those who in any to promote peace and tranquillity in the nation, none particular refused to admit its provisions. With has ever been more effectual than this. The date of regard to Charles's religious sentiments, it can hardly the act is 1689: since which time little important be doubted that he was inclined to popery. But the alteration has taken place in the Church. She arrived contemplation of religion, under any form, could at this era in her history through the gradual deveafford little satisfaction to one whose life was wholly lopment of important measures, intimately connected speut under the delusive hope of finding tranquillity with the political welfare of England. It had been by procrastinating the duties of the present hour, and the will of God that the simplicity of the truth planted happiness in sensual gratifications.
in our island, in the earliest days of the Gospel pro.
mulgation, should suffer corruption under the influ- of friendly salutation, when cold indifference, ence of Rome; and doubtless for the accomplishment if not secret dislike, is lurking in the breast. of the wisest purposes, however dark and impene: It is agreed among men of the world, that trable this order of Providence may seem to us. length, through the intervention of many secondary when you narrowly investigate the secret causes, truth resumed its native purity, and the pro- principles of conduct, you will discover the accomplish this end, the
Church had learned intoler necessity of regarding them with caution. It ance ; and the period which checked this unchristian
is a painful reflection, but a true one, which principle marks a bright epoch in her annals, on which is forced upon every thinking mind as we all parties can look with satisfaction. The nature of advance in life, that men are not what they the Church of England is that of an authorised and
seem to be. Time, and change of circumpaid establishment, supported by the government, but not so exclusively as to render dissent from it an of
stances, prove men's sincerity: uprightness fence against the state. The necessity for the inter- of intention requires to be tried by time. ference of government, for religious instruction to be There are but few persons who have not had made a national concern, is to be found in that lead
reason to mourn, with bitter disappointment, ing principle of our nature, admitted alike by all parties that is the carnal mind is enmity against God;"
over persons in whom they had misplaced that “there is no desire in the human race for religious their confidence or their affection. But we instruction.” Can the voluntary system be effectual are now concerned with insincerity of a deeper under such circumstances as these? or has it pro- and more serious character,— insincerity in duced, even in its most favourable field of adventure,
religion. any results adequate to supply the spiritual wants of the people ? Experience must give a negative an- Many seem to be religious who are not: swer to both these questions.
they assume a character they do not possess. But not only is the necessity of the case provided | We all feel at once how hateful it is merely for; the precedent of Scripture is also conformed to, in the constitution of our Church. For if the Bible is
to put on an appearance of regard, when to be considered as one consistent whole, derived from
there is none in the heart. We could not one unerring source,--if the Old Testament as well as endure to be so imposed upon, and should the New, is given by inspiration of God, and is profit- not fail to let such persons know that we see able for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in through their imposture; that we are not to Established Church beyond all argument, and the be deceived by such specious disguise. In responsibility of rulers to provide for the spiritual religious matters, no man who thinks at all well-being of the nation based on the sure foundation seriously, imagines that he can deceive God of the revealed word. Speaking of the benefits which by an empty profession of religion ; but follow from the connexion between Church and State, an elegant modern writer uses the following remark worldly-minded men do not think about per“Let any one regard the Church Establishment as a
sonal religion they take it for granted. moral police disseminated through the country; and There is in many who regularly attend pubhe must be blind to the interests of civilisation, if he thank not God for the advantages which are produced
lic worship an apparent reverence for reliby the distribution of educated men in every part of gion. They present the form and lineaments England. Let him regard it as the instrument, under of the Christian character; they seem to take God, of spreading the knowledge of pure and simple great interest in the general cause of Christ; Christianity; and he must be ignorant of the blessings their deportment in public worship is deof our holy faith, if he thank not God that a minister of the Gospel is provided for every parish."
vout; perhaps their households may wear a Oxford.
serious aspect : still they have not that vital enjoyment of Christ's holy Gospel, which will
be acknowledged in the day of judgment. INSINCERITY IN RELIGION:
In our social intercourse among men of inA Sermon,
tegrity and worth, principle is every thing; BY THE Rev. W. B. MACKENZIE, B.A.
words and professions are only valuable as
they stand for principles. You profess to Curate of St. James's, Bristol.
be upright in all your dealings; but will Isaiah, xliii. 22.
your professions of honesty stand the test, if " But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but strong temptations to fraud are before you? thou hast been weary of me, O Israel."
You profess to love another, will this make It is a common observation, that there is you cling to him through all unfavourable very little sincerity in the world. Persons changes of outward circumstances ? You constantly assume a character they do not profess to obey another, will this make you possess; they do not appear in proper give up your own ease and inclination from a colours: in common intercourse with one conviction of duty ? It is easy to make great another, they make professions of regard profession; we want reality - principle. It which they do not feel. Sometimes it is a is the solid weight of character, which is felt man's interest to appear to be devoted to and valued for its true worth. another, when he has really no such disposi- I propose now to offer some remarks, tion. Many a face seems lighted up with which may serve to detect a mere formal pleasure, and many a hand is held out in token profession of religion. The subject on which I shall chiefly remark is the habit and enjoy- | power of the Spirit ? Does the chamber ment of secret prayer.
assume an aspect of sanctity from the holy I. Many have continued for awhile in fervour with which the secret worshipper habits of secret prayer, and yet are only formal holds direct converse with his God? Does professors. Most persons have had periods he struggle for utterance as if his throbbing of serious thought. You have retired for heart would burst ? Does the scene look prayer : you have made solemn resolutions : like a sinful mortal giving expression to his "I will live differently; this neglect of my soul self-abhorrence, his deep abasement for sin, cannot continue :” you have felt deep alarm his thankful dependence on an atoning Salest, after all, you should perish: you seemed viour ? Does it give you a living picture of to be turning to God; and so long as this a creature, empty and vile, coming to be lasted, there was great earnestness in your filled out of Christ's fulness; weak and perishsecret prayer; a warmth, a seriousness, a ing, coming to receive life and strength from holy importunity, a relish in secret commu- an all-sufficient Redeemer; ignorant, and nion with God, which promised well. You then looking for direction and wisdom from the delighted in God, and frequently went into great source of true knowledge ? Does he your closet, and shut your door, and prayed seem like a creature that feels himself too to your " Father, which seeth in secret." You mean to be noticed
-a mere worm ? is such thought this would continue; it was then the tone of humiliation, that he sinks to abyour intention to persevere in prayer; to ject unimportance, to nothing, and is God in think of living without prayer would have Christ all in all before him? This is comshocked you. However, time proves since- munion with God—this condition of soul is rity. “ Be thou faithful unto death." You a test of sincerity. A formal professor, notthen had strong hopes that you were a con- withstanding his occasional feelings, is deverted
person ; and felt comfort and peace. | fective in these secret dealings of the soul Soon, however, these affections abated; the with God. Yet it is to the tone of this unwarmth of devotion cooled; you continued observed communion with God you must secret prayer : but you lost your love for look for true religion.
What says your the duty — it became a weariness. Yet, closet regarding you ? Secrecy is not the after all, you could not bring yourself to place for disguise. Hearts are ever open to believe, “Surely, this altered state of mind God; but when we are alone, they are open shews I am not really a child of God. I find even to ourselves, if we will only look at it irksome to hold communion with God, my them. love is gone.” You could not think this had Secret prayer is the spiritual thermometer ; been merely an imaginary change; though all it tells the warmth of the heart—it indicates your religious impressions had vanished, yet the rise or fall of religious affections. Formyou pleased yourself with thinking of what alists do not leave off secret prayer at once. you had been, and that your present languor It becomes a weary duty; then some special is only a temporary state, which will soon give circumstance interferes to make them neglect way to brighter prospects and more joyous it once : it becomes easier to omit prayer the emotions. You depend on your past expe- second time: they will attend public worship, rience, and indulge a vague expectation that and this keeps the conscience quiet. Peryou shall be again quickened, and have more haps they will not wholly neglect secret life imparted.
prayer; but the heart is hard — the spirit II. Mere formal professors after a while gone-all is hollow, formal, deceptive. leave off prayer in a great degree. They
III. It is evident that these formal worshipobserve the customary duties of religion, pers are utterly deceived in thinking they and thus think themselves religious; and are converted : this weariness in prayer shews this opinion gains strength by time, so that the change was not real. Its result shews it it becomes like a title to a family estate-a was imaginary; a natural excitement of feelthing not to be questioned. They feel quite ing--not a spiritual change of heart. Like a secure under most piercing appeals to the morning cloud,” it had no principle of duheart — they are invulnerable: they think ration—nothing which could last. We look they enjoy sermons and conversation of a for it after a while ; but it is
gone—vanished very spiritual character, and feel a transient -lost. Wherein was this state deficient? glow of love and joy which tells them the How are we to distinguish the feelings of a root of the matter is still in them. But fol- mere formalist from the presence of God's low them home — trace them to their secret renovating Spirit ? chamber : do you see them bend their knees 1. They have not the spirit of prayer. Theirs before God ? Do you hear them bemoan their is not prayer suggested, inspired by God's unworthiness, confess their sin, adoring the Holy Spirit—theirs are not the holy breathings fulness of Christ's love, supplicating the of a soul inwardly moved and wrought upon by that Great Author of true godliness. In sepse of peril which he felt before ; his fears sincere converts the Spirit operates by his are gone, and so are his prayers; he only secret energy on the soul, creating such de- wanted to be safe. Not so with a true consires as God will fulfil. Their prayers are vert. You are sure the work is not done: tbus according to the will of God; for the a great work is daily before you-wants now panting soul of the spiritual worshipper is multiply-light increases---your high priviadapted to the mind and will of God. When leges rise in your estimation--you see more a believer breathes the fervent wants of his and more what you are and should be-you heart before God, this implies a full reliance feel far more deeply than at first, how poor, on God to satisfy his need ; when you give empty, and helpless you are—you sink in fervent utterance to your soul's destitution, your own eyes, and wonder how God should this shews you are fully persuaded of Christ's condescend to notice you-his love astonishes fulness of grace for yon; when you bewail you—the sense of your entire dependence on your ignorance, this glorifies Christ's omni- God rather increases--you do not seem to science, and shews you accept Christ as yourself to be growing, but to be more unyour wisdom ; when your sense of guilt and worthy than you ever thought yourself bepollution weighs down your spirit, and you fore; but you can depend and lean on Christ's cry, in deep sorrow, “ Create in me a clean love and promises with increased confidence : heart,” this shews your faith in Christ as the your desires abound-you never seem satisrighteousness of his people, and your depend fied, but go on daily hungering and thirsting ence on the Spirit as the sanctifier of the —you long for closer communion with Godheart; when you grieve before God at the you are fully conscious how much business sight of your spiritual misery-poor, blind, you have to transact at the throne of grace naked--this is magnifying the riches of Christ, thither you often go, ever about your and proving your full conviction, that, though Father's business, which increases in magniyou have nothing, yet you are “ possessing all | tude and importance every day. things. This is the spirit of prayer-prayer
2. Mere professors, being deficient in seinspired by the Spirit; the utterance of the cret prayer, soon fall back again into their soul's hidden feelings. Whatever want you former sins and worldliness. They reformed express with full confidence, in prayer, shews their lives for a time, while their fears lasted. that you reckon the Saviour able to supply it. But these died away; temptations regained Your sense of danger drives you to Christ, as their force: they returned, by little and little, the rock that is higher than you : you are like to their former life. Sin immediately crea child, simple, ignorant, dependent, coming to ates disrelish for secret prayer : a man that the Father, to be taught, guarded, cherished. lives in sin feels he has no business in the This is the spirit of adoption, which leads presence of God; thus he hides himself, as did you to your heavenly Father ; this is worship- Adam. Such persons have no claim on God's ping God in spirit and truth. To you the promise that he will keep them,—" I will put promise is given,--" The Lord is nigh to my fear into their hearts, that they shall not them that call upon him, to all that call upon depart from me." If God do not uphold him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of men, there is no possible dependence for them that fear him: he also will hear their them. But these formal professors have no cry, and will help them." This is the spirit interest in such promises; therefore they of
prayer. But the mere formalist, when he soon become careless again, and end in givdid pray, was a stranger to this. He had ing up their seeming devotion and piety. never sincere love for God, which made it There is much false profession, false confihis delight to approach God.
dence, false hope, in persons who " seem to wanting, which is the strength and spirit of be religious.” If you are now living either the believer's prayer, because faith gives a without prayer, or in frequent neglect of it, living reality to the future. Faith lives among you have forsaken God, even if you ever bethings unseen; hence spiritual prayer is called gan to seek him; and you are yet children of
prayer of faith.” True prayer is no- wrath. Here is no liability to mistake: the thing but faith expressed in words. Prayer signs are beyond question. A prayerless is the thankful breathing of a soul feeling man is a graceless man. Whatever you have its danger, but relying for safety on Christ. felt, or known, or believed ; whatever be your This was not the prayer of the formal pro- hopes, whatever your professions ; if you are fessor. A mere professor, when he had some living without prayer, you are without God temporary emotions excited, thought he was in the world. And in the face of this unsurely then a child of God, and the work doubted proof that your religion is all a was done. What he wanted, was to escape dream, why will you Hatter yourselves with hell. He thinks he is out of that danger, hope ? Personal religion without fervent and his soul is at rest; he has not now that I prayer in secret! religion without any sense