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Townsend,* *"are unanimous on all those points which peculiarly characterise true Christianity. They assert the divinity, the incarnation, and the atonement of Christ; and thus bear their decisive testimony against the modern reasoners on these points. They are unanimous in asserting that the primitive Churches were governed by an order of men, who possessed authority over others who had been set apart for preaching and administering the Sacraments: and certain privileges and powers were committed to that higher order which were withheld from the second and third. The reception of the canon of Scripture, the proofs of its authenticity and genuineness, rest upon the authority of the fathers; and there are customs of universal observance, which are not in express terms commanded in Scripture, and which rest upon the same foundation. We are justified, therefore, on these and on many other accounts, in maintaining the utmost veneration for their unanimous authority, which has never in any one instance clashed with Scripture, which will preserve in its purity every Church which is directed by them, and check or extinguish every innovation which encourages error in doctrine, or licentiousness in discipline." “He that hath willingly subscribed to the word of God," says Bishop Hall,† attested in the everlasting Scriptures; to all the primitive creeds; to the four general councils; to the common judgment of the fathers, for six
* The New Testament arranged in Chronological and Historical order. ii, 134.
+ Concio ad Clerum, Pratt's edition.
hundred years after Christ, (which we, of our reformation, religiously profess to do;) this man may possibly err in trifles, but he cannot be an heretic." This is the doctrine of common sense not less than of the Church. It was the departure from it which constituted the necessity of the English Reformation. It is the departure from it which constitutes the danger of our day. It is in the return to it, in standing in the ways, and asking for "the old paths," that our safety and our hope are to be found. It is a blessed omen for our times, that, through the zealous devotion of Pusey and Keble and Newman, the ancient documents will soon be brought, in their translations of the Fathers, within the common reach.
Of kindred interest, and of scarcely inferior importance, is the study of the English Reformation. For a time, the Church, drunk with too much prosperity, had wandered and grown wanton. For a time, God left her to eat of the fruit of her own ways, and be filled with her own devices. But,
"His own possession and his lot
The wrath of man he makes to praise him. The remainder of it he restrains. When the time came that he would have mercy upon Sion, men were not wanting to the work, with holy hearts, and giant hands, and tongues of fire. They took their stand upon the pure word of God. pealed to the consenting voice of all Christian antiquity. They toiled. They prayed. They bled. They burned.
They persevered. They triumphed. The Church, deformed before, was now reformed. She returned to her old principles, and to her "first love." "We look," says Joseph Mede, after the form, rites, and discipline of antiquity; and endeavour to bring our own as near as pattern." "If I mistake not greatly," says Casaubon, writing to Salmasius,† "the soundest part of all the reformation is in England; for there, with the study of the scripture, there is the most regard to the study of antiquity."
we can to that
But I must check myself. I may not enter now upon this rich and tempting field. The time would fail me to tell of Wickliff, and Cranmer, and Ridley, and Latimer, and Taylor, and Rogers, and the glorious host of witnesses for God, that "loved not their life unto the death."
"Methinks that I could trip o'er heaviest soil
* Mede's Works, ii. 1061.
↑ Epistola, 709.
"On foot they went, and took Salisbury in their way, purposely to see the good Bishop, who made Mr. Hooker sit at his own tablewhich Mr. Hooker boasted of with much joy and gratitude, when he saw his mother and friends; and at the Bishop's parting with him, the Bishop gave him good counsel, and his benediction, but forgot to give him money; which when the Bishop had considered, he sent a servant in all haste to call Richard back to him, and at Richard's return, the Bishop said to him, Richard, I sent for you back to lend you a
For thus equipped, and bearing on his head
A thousand times more exquisitely sweet
The freight of holy feeling which we meet
In thoughtful moments, wafted by the gales
From fields where good men walk, or bowers wherein they rest.
Holy and heavenly spirits as they are
With what entire affection do they prize
Their new-born* Church! Labouring with earnest care
To baffle all that may her strength impair;
That Church-the unperverted Gospel's seat;
In their afflictions a divine retreat;
horse which hath carried me many a mile, and, I thank God, with much ease; and presently delivered into his hand a walking staff, with which he professed he had travelled through many parts of Germany; and he said, Richard, I do not give but lend you my horse; be sure you be honest, and bring my horse back to me at your return this way to Oxford. And I do now give you ten groats to bear your charges to Exeter; and here is ten groats more, which I charge you to deliver to your mother, and tell her I send her a bishop's benediction with it and beg the continuance of her prayers for me. And if you bring my horse back to me I will give you ten groats more to carry you on foot to the college; and so, God bless you, good Richard."-Izaak Walton's Life of Richard Hooker.
"New-born;" not as the Church, but as the Catholic Church re
Source of their liveliest hope, and tenderest prayer!
In doctrine and communion they have sought
But theirs the wise man's ordinary lot,
WORDSWORTH, Ecclesiastical Sketches.
Let us hope that to this most fruitful field of truth, and purity and piety, and charity, Mr. Blunt's delightful "Sketch" may turn many an eager eye and many a vigorous foot. And for ourselves, dear brother, when the cares and disappointments and disquietudes of life disturb or weary us, and we are tempted to fall back, or turn aside, or falter, on the high, "right onward" course of duty, next to the Author of our faith, and the bright cloud of prophets and apostles who stand nearest to his throne, let us direct our eyes to the illustrious fathers of the English Reformation. "We shall find there," I cite again the eloquent and admirable Rose,* "bright examples of saints and martyrs. -of men of whom the world was not worthy-who have done all and suffered all, that men could do and could suffer, for that one blessed cause, and in so doing and so suffering have found an elevation, a peace and a joy which nothing could give but the sense of God's presence, and the influence of God's Spirit, blessing his own servants in doing his own work. So warned, and so cheered, by the voice of
*The Study of Church History recommended.