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man, and an admired preacher, that he should say in a sermon, that the works of the Fathers were very imperfect, and their opinion not much to be trusted to."
“But,” said I, “ Richard, if a person, whose word you could take, were to show you an old book written by persons who had seen our Saviour; who had heard St. John and St. Paul preach, and had been well acquainted with them; should you not value such a book, and wish to know whether there was any thing in it which could throw light on the history of those early times of the Church, and especially with reference to the subjects you and I have been now conversing on?"
“Indeed, Sir, I should,” he said. “But if what Mr. Cartwright said is true, it is too much to expect that any such treasure should be found by us."
“No, Richard," I said, “it is not too much. The kind Providence of God has permitted some of the writings of those good men to be preserved to this day. And there is no more doubt that they are their genuine writings, than that Bishop Ken wrote the Evening Hymn, or Bishop Wilson that little book you like so much."
“ If this is indeed as you say," he replied, "we have great reason to be thankful for such a proof of God's care for His Church. But I beg you, Sir, to tell me, whether there is any thing in these writings you speak of, which confirms what I have been venturing to state to you as my opinion gathered from Scripture, concerning the threefold distinction of Christian ministers."
"Next Sunday,” said I, "You shall see and judge for yourself.”
As we came home from church in the afternoon of the following Sunday, he reminded me of my promise, and I gave him a written paper, containing a few extracts, which I had translated from the works of the Apostolical Fathers, telling him that I might possibly have made a mistake here and there in the rendering, but that he might depend on such being the general force and meaning of the passages.
The extracts I gave him were the following :
“ Clement, with other my fellow labourers."- Phil. iv. 3.
“Ignatius and the holy Polycarp, the Bishop of the Smyrnæans, had formerly been disciples of the holy apostle John."— Martyrdom of St. Ignatius.
“ The Apostles, preaching throughout countries and cities, used to appoint their first fruits, after they had proved them by the Spirit, to be Bishops and Deacons of those who should hereafter believe.”-St. Clement to the Cor.
“The Apostles knew that there will be dispute about the name of Bishoprick or Episcopacy, wherefore they appointed the aforementioned, and gave them authority beforehand, in order that if themselves should fall asleep, other approved men might succeed to their ministerial office.”—The same.
“All of you follow the Bishop as Jesus Christ followed the FATHER; and the Presbytery as the Apostles; and reverence the Deacons as God's ordinance. Let no man do any of those things which pertain to the Church without the Bishop. He that honoureth the Bishop, is honoured of God; he that doeth any thing without the privity of the Bishop, doeth service to the Devil.”— S. Ignat. to the Smyrn.
“ Have regard to the Bishop, that God also may regard you. My soul for theirs who are subject to the Bishops, Elders, and Deacons : and may it be my lot to have a portion with them in God.”—S. Ignat. to Polycarp.
"The Bishops who were appointed in the farthest regions are according to the will of Jesus CHRIST; whence it becometh you to go along with the will of the Bishop."-S. Ignat. to the Ephes.
“ That ye may obey the Bishop and the Presbytery, baving your mind without distraction, breaking one bread.”—The same.
“Some indeed talk of the Bishop, yet do every thing without him ; but such persons do not appear to me conscientious ; on account of their congregations not being assembled strictly according to the commandment."-S. Ignat. to the Magnes.
" I exhort you to be zealous to do all things in divine concord : the Bishop presiding in the place of God, and the Presbyters in the place of the council of Apostles, and the Deacons, (in whom I most delight,) intrusted with the service of Jesus CHRIST."— The same.
"For as many as are God's and Jesus Christ's, these are with the Bishop." S. Ignat. to the Philadelph.
“Be ye earnest to keep one Eucharist, for the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ is one, and there is one cup in the unity of His blood, one altar, as one Bishop, together with the Presbytery, and Deacons, my fellow-servants."— The same.
“Hold to the Bishop, and to the Presbytery, and Deacons. Without the Bishop do nothing."—The same.
“When you are subject to the Bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me as living not according to man's rule, but according to Jesus Christ.”—S. Ignat. to the Trall.
" He that without the Bishop, and Presbytery, and Deacon, doeth ought, that person is not pure in his conscience.”—The same.
“Polycarp, and the Presbyters who are with him, to the Church of God, sojourning at Philippi.”-S. Polyc. to the Philipp.
“ Being subject to the Presbyters. Deacons, as to God and Christ.”The same.
Two or three weeks afterwards, as we were walking homewards after Evening Service, he gave me back the paper, with expressions of great satisfaction and thankfulness; and added, that he blessed God for having led him to make the inquiry, and that he was sure, if many religiously disposed persons, who now think little of such matters, would turn their minds to them without partiality, they would fear to separate from a Church like ours, which, whatever may be its imperfections, is substantially pure in its doctrine, and in the apostolical succession of its ministry
“Sir," said he, “I am a poor, hard-working man, as you know; but the interests of my soul, and of those dear to me, are of as great importance in the sight of Almighty God, and ought to be to me also, as if my lot had been cast in a higher station. It is to me, therefore, no matter of indifference, (as many have told me it should be,) what is the truth on these great subjects ; but I am more and more sure that it is a Christian duty first to inquire into them, and, when we have found the truth, to act up to it humbly but resolutely.
“The times are bad, I confess: but yet, young though I am, I do not expect, as the world now goes, to see them much better.
“What our Lord said about iniquity abounding, and love growing cold, seems to be but too suitable to our present state. I have often thought it and said it, though I have seldom met with any one who would agree with me in the opinion. The Church of England, I can plainly see, more plainly perhaps than
a person in a higher station, is in a manner gone. The Church in England, God be thanked, however afflicted, remains, and ever will, I trust, whether the world smiles or frowns upon her.
“I have therefore determined, Sir, by God's grace, to look to myself, my wife, and children, and not to trust the world to do us any good, either in time, or in eternity.
“And if by following THE TRUTH now, we shall all be together hereafter in the society of Prophets, Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs, you know then, Sir, we shall have nothing more to wish for, nothing more to fear; every doubt will be satisfied, every difficulty removed. And I assure you, Sir, it is the very comfort of my life to spend a portion of every Sunday in looking forward to that happy time.”
“God bless you, Richard," said I, as we parted at his garden gate; and, when I came home, I could not but fall on my knees and thank God for having given me such a parishioner.
These Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
Gilbert & Rivington, Printers, St. John's Square, London.
THE PRINCIPLE OF SELECTION.
Among projected alterations in the Liturgy, not the least popular seems to be a very considerable change in the selection of the Sunday Lessons. People do not see, first of all, why such and such chapters are chosen out of the Old Testament, in preference to others which they think more edifying. Secondly, they see no reason why the Church should not assign Proper Lessons to every Sunday from the New Testament as well as from the Old.
One who hopes that he should not be found froward, were a change to be made by competent Spiritual Authority, begs leave, nevertheless, to submit to all considerate lovers of the PrayerBook, the following remarks on the two points specified above.
1. Before people find fault with the selection of particular chapters, they ought to be tolerably certain that they understand the principle, on which the Lessons in general were selected. It is to be regretted, that we have remaining little, if any, historical evidence, touching the views of the Compilers of the Liturgy, in that portion of their task. What we do know, amounts to this :
In King Edward's Prayer-Books no distinction was made, as to appointing lessons, between Sundaye and other days of the week. The chapter of the Old Testament set down for the day of the month was read in course for the Sunday Lesson ; as is the case still in regard of the New Testament. With a view to this, probably the well-known notice was prepared, which now stands prefixed to the Second Book of Homilies, but in Strype's opinion' belongs rather to the first Book. “Where, (i. e. whereas) it may so chance, some one or other chapter of the Old Testament to fall in order to be read upon the Sundays or Holidays, which were better to be changed with some other of the New Testament, for more edification, it shall be well done to spend your time to consider well of such chapters before-hand.” This came out first, as it seems, in 1560; and about the same time a Commission was
· Life of Parker, i. 167. 8vo. VOL. 1.