« PoprzedniaDalej »
they were in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Common sense and common integrity require, that the sense in which they were intended, imposed, and understood then, be the sense in which they should be understood and subscribed now. Lapse of time effects no change in religious truth. If in any subsequent period it had been discovered that the Reformers had been mis. taken, that the Church was established upon principles not strictly orthodox; if any pas. sages in the Articles, Homilies, or Liturgy, taken “in the true usual literal meaning," had been found to be “ contrary” or not “agreeable to " the word of God," ought not such passages to have been altered or expunged? Or if those of the Clergy or Bishops, who entertained such sentiments, had not sufficient influence to procure the omission or alteration of the obnoxious passages, ought they not to have resigned their preferments, and to have renounced all connexion with a Church, which they must have considered as erroneous ? Would not this have been more consistent with that integrity of moral principle, which ought to characterize all Christians, and especially all Deacons, Priests, and Prelates; than to continue subscribing, and requiring subscription, to Articles, in “the literal and grainmatical sense,” after that sense had been generally abandoned ?
The abandonment of the true sense of the Articles by great numbers of the Clergy has been
too evident to escape particular observation. In the year 1675 the Earl of Shaftesbury said in the House of Lords, I am extremely in the dark s to find the doctrine of predestination in the " seventeenth article to be owned by so few great “ Doctors of the Church.” The same fact was stated in more general terms in the same House nearly a century after, by the great Earl of Chatham. “ We (said his lordship) have a Calvin** istic Creed, and an Arminian Clergy."
But the Bishop of Lincoln leaves every preceding writer, who has pleaded for Clerical Subscription on any other than Calvinistic principles, far behind him. He plainly and boldly asserts the Creed of the Church of England to be Anti-calvinistic, and employs no small portion of labour and sophistry to impose an Anti-calvinistic sense on its Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies. Ample proof of what the Bishop denies is contained in the following sheets. But it is curious, to observe, that the Calvinistic part of the Clergy, both in their preaching and in their writings, frequently introduce various passages from the Formularies of the Church, as fairly and fully expressing the sentiments they believe and maintain, without any addition, limitation, or commentary ; but that when the Bishop quotes the seventeenth Article, to state his sentiments respecting predestination, he interlards it with so many additions and limitations, as to convey a very different no. tion of the subject from what the Article itself,
taken “in the true usual literal sense," soul naturally convey to any unsophisticated mind.
Does not this mode of procesding rery much resemble what in common life is called an evasion of the law, which in various cases is deemed an aggravated offence, and punished with double the penalty attached to a more direct breach of it? It is like springing a mine under the foundations of the Church; and cannot but be regarded by every true Churchman as more insidious, and likely to be more pernicious, than an open attack.
If a parochial Clergyman has been deprived of his living, and a Fellow of a College expelled from a University, for impugning the doctrine of one Article, shall the doctrines really contained in other Articles be opposed with inpunity? Does that which is heresy in a Priest, become orthodoxy in a Bishop ? Does the guilt of offences, either civil or canonical, diminish in proportion to the dignity and eminence of station of those by whom they are committed ?
Can we wonder at the language of the enemies of the Church on this subject? One of them says;
“ There is a book, called the Bible, in " which such and such doctrines are written as “ with a sunbearn. There is also an establish"ment, called the Church, which teaches the self“same doctrines, and is the very echo of that « book. This Bible is said, by the Clergy, to be ss of Divine authority, and a revelation from God. 6 And for the Church, they tell us, it is the best
“and purest in the world; and indeed, unless
they thought it so, nothing could justify their “ solemn subscription to its decisions. Yet “ how many of them open their mouths, and “ draw their pens, against those very decisions “ to which they have set their hands! Can those “ of them, who do this, really believe the Scrip“ tures to be divine, and their Church to be in " the right? Does it not rather look as if religion
was no more than a state engine on the one “ hand, and a genteel trade on the other"?”
Another of them reproaches the Church in such strains as these. “At one time, predestination is “ of high consequence, and niade an article of « faith, and all free willers should be banished “ the land, or locked up in dungeons, like wild “ beasts; which was the judgement of the “ Bishops, in James the First's days", concerning « the Arminians. At a different season, when pre"ferments ran high on the other side, as in King “ Charles the First's reign, and ever since, Ar- minianism not only recovers credit, but grows
modish, and consequently orthodox; whilst “ predestination becomes an old-fashioned piece
• Sloss on the Trinity, pref. p. 10.
Independent Whig, (not the newspaper of that name,) vol. ii. p. 9.
• The date here assigned to this fact is apprehended to be incorrect. The advice mentioned was given in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The particulars may be seen in Strype's Annals, &c. ch. xvii. p. 207.
“ of faith, and a sure sign of fanaticism. And
yet it continues one of the thirty-nine Ar“ ticles; and yet it must not be believed; and
yet it must be signed and assented to with a “ sincere assent.”
From the same quarter the Clergy are assailed with the following cutting expostulations: “Is " there one of you that conforms to the genuine
sense, or even to the words, of the Articles: Are “ not those Articles Calvinistical? Were they not
composed by Calvinists? And are you not now, " and have been long, Arminians ? And do you “not write and preach against those who defend
predestination, which is one of your own Arti“ cles? Will you say that Articles, will you say that
oaths, are to be taken in a sense different from " the words, different from the meaning of those “ who composed them? If you do, then you “ maintain that Papists, nay Mahometans, may “subscribe our Protestant Articles, and be still “ Mahometans and Papists.- What subscriptions
declarations, or indeed what other ties, can “ bind men who subscribe the direct contrary to “ what they believe? Subscribe the doctrines of
Calvin, yet remain antagonists to Calvin ? Is “this practice, this solemn assertion of a false
hood, for the honour of religion or of Church“ men? Or is it not the direct method to harden
men' against truth and conscience, and to turn holy things into contempt? Yet you still go