Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

vinism, have given the latter a new root and figogr, by grafting it on the fundamental principles of Christianity. They have converted to Calvinism, even the Armibian Methodists. But there is too much piety among the followers of Mr. Wesley, to admit of their co-operation in rooting out the doctrines of Grace, from the hope that Calvinisin will die with them.

...

PARTIES IN THE CHURCH.

Ir

In a despotic government, the existence of parties wonld be absolutely incompatible with the authority of the Monarch, and with the quiet of society. In a free state, the existence of opposite parties is necessary to its liberts, and is the badge of its freedom. In the Legislative As. semblies of the Corsican, disputes were unknowo. The members were only the puppets that moved, as the band behind the curtain directed them. If any of them became restiff, and tried to emancipate themselves from his grasp, they quickly disappeared, and were either sent to drag á life of wretchedness in some of his bastiles, or were doomed to perish by the dagger of some assassin, 1. Did they secretly conspire to remonstrate as a body, they were driven by the tyrant's power, or scattered by his breath into exile. In the British Parliament, every measure of government is examined, its project criticised, and all its faults exposed. The Minister of the day is not more safely intrenched behind the prerogative of his Sovereign than his opponents are sheltered by the sacred rampart of the Constitution. When the power of the Pope over Europe was absolute and uncontrollable, Princes were condemned to kiss his toes, and if any one rebelled he was hurled from bis throne by the thunder of the Vatican. Whoever dared even to express a doubt of the Supreme Pontiff's Infallibility was immediately concluded to be a heretic; and, as the foe of God and man, committed to the flames. In the Church of Rome, though the reins of spiritual tyranny are considerably relaxed by the spirit of liberty which the Reformation has scattered, the chains of Ecclesiastical despotisin are still severely felt, and either bind the genius of liberty or strongly repress it. The same Revolution that gave freedom to our Parliaments conferred it on the Church, and the consequences have been the same in both. ' . Under the broad shade of British liberty, men of very different political sentiments find cover and protection, and even the discrepancy of their ideas, like the different parts of music, furnish an agreeable and salutary harmony. In the Church, those who serve, and those who worship at her altars, though discriminated from each other by the peculiarities of party distinction, suffer them for a while to be absorbed in the Liturgical service, with which the mother supplies all her children. Whatever the sentiments are which they feel, they join in expressing the same language of adoration, humility, and gratitude... ii.

Those who are called the High Church Party, and with whom almost all the power and patronage of the Church were lodged in the reigns of the First and Second Charles, are now reduced to a small number. The two peculiari. ties of this party-were-First. A constant disposition to treneh upon the liberties of the nation, by exalting the Royal prerogative. The passive obedience and non-reVOL. II.

2 N

sistance for which they contended, were not to the whole Legislature, as Dean Swist, in his Sentiments of a Church of England-man, would have us believe; but to the Monarch who was independent of Parliaments, and even in opposition to them. The former is a wholesome doctrine, and though a man may easily put a case, in which those in whom is the Fee Simple, might justly call the Trustees to an account, yet this is only a supposable thing, and not likely to happen in our times, at least; and being an extreme and improbable case, ought not to be generally descanted on. How true soever the right of resistance may be, as a speculative point, it is of so delicate an application that the discussion of it requires equal delicacy. The tendency of their doctrine however was, either to destroy the freedom of Parliament, by rendering it the mere tool of arbitrary power; or to change the gorera. ment from a limited, to an absolute Monarchy.-Second. The belief that Episcopacy was absolutely necessary to the very being of a Christian Church. Had they argued for it, as the best mode of Ecclesiastical Government; had they contended for it, as that which certainly prevailed universally in the times nearest to those of the Apostles, and as, therefore, having the best title to be supposed of Apostolical authority; or, had they considered it as of Divine obligation, by founding it on the decisions of Scrip. ture, their conduct would have been fair and irrepres hensible. The greater part of Presbyterians and Independents claim a Divine constitution for their forms of go. vernment; but so far as we know, the most bigoted of the bigots, of either the one or the other, never pleaded for their platform as absolutely necessary to the existence of a Christian Society, and to the validity of the sacramental seals.---The moderate advocates for Episcopacy think they have sufficient scope, in the writings of the Fathers; in the History of the Churches planted by the Apostles, in the Apostolical directions given to 'Timothy and to Titus, and in the comparative excellencies and defects of existing Churches, to show the advantages of Episcopal government. It becomes not, in their opinion, the advocates of a liberal Church to advance claims which would exclude themselves from charity, and their neighbours from heaven. They think it very possible, that the constitution of the Church of England, and of other Episcopal Churches, may be the most perfect, though they be not the only Churches in the world. The only perfection of Churches, as well as of men, which they know, is comparative ; but this always implies that there are more than one. To the order of Bishops they attach great impor. tance, but to exalt that order to the depression of the great doctrines of Christianity, by representing them as more necessary to the existence of a Church, they think is to exalt them, (as the eagle in the fable elevated the tottoise,) only to dash them to pieces. It cannot be denied that many Clergymen of this party have been distinguish ed by eminence in piety, solidity of learning, and the greatest strictness of moral principle.

Those who are called Low Churchimen are now, and have long been, by much the most numerous party in the Church of England. Their political principles are in perfect union with the genuine spirit of the British Constitution. They have always been, and they continue to be, the determined foes of absolute government, and the Tesolute adherents of limited Monarchy. In them the Brunswick Succession found the most powerful and watchful auxiliaries, before it rose to the throne, and its firmest supports since its accession. During the first two reigns after the Revolution, this party was, in the great body of the English Clergy, comparatively weak, and those who were called High Churchmen were, in the lower House of Convocation, much more powerful. Providentially the reins of government being in the hands of a bench of Bishops, who were men of moderate principles, and of mild, though firm tempers, the violence of the other party was repressed, and the vessel of the Constitution safely conducted into port, after having escaped a furious storm. As the rage of the High Church party, like the violent paroxysms of a fever, left that body relaxed and feeble, and reduced to a state of languor, from which it never recovered, the temperate heat and manly firmness which invigorated the measures of this party, have given it a tone of health that has not forsaken it to the present day.

With respect to Episcopal Government, they think that, taking the various directions given by St. Paul to Timothy and Titus, with the light thrown upon them by what we know of the constitution of the Jewish Church, and by the History of the Christian Church, in the times nearest to those of the Apostles, they have satisfactory evidence that Episcopacy is of Apostolical authority. They also think that, in a mixed government like ours, its different orders supply to the different ranks in society Ministers of religion, better classified and adapted to their various circumstances, than any other form of Ecclesiastical polity. They are also strongly attached to liturgical worship, in preference to extempore prayer, and particularly to their own admirable Liturgy, as giving a decided superiority to the services of the Church of England, to those of any other Episcopal Church. But they do not consider Episcopaoy as necessary to the existence of a

« PoprzedniaDalej »