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The vine will spread, the vine will, Then tremble not, because the woes shoot,
Are bitter that they speak; And shadow parching lands, And fear not, if the furnace glows; And far and wide shall drop its fruit And once the flesh was weak In children's lifted hands;
Weak, when the cock at morning crew; O'er palace gates and cottage eaves At eventide, in tortures true. Shall men go pluck the goodly leaves. |
Review of Books
THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH. A Sermon preacht at Brighton, Dec.
10th, 1840. By JULIUS CHARLES HARE, Archdeacon of Lewes. Parker: London. IS UNAUTHORIZED TEACHING ALWAYS SCHISMATICAL? A
Sermon preached before the University of Oxford, May 12th, 1844. By the Rev. J. GARBETT, Professor of Poetry, and Prebendary of Chichester.
Hatchards: London. THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH. By W. B. NOEL, M. A. Nisbet,
London. THE UNION OF ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS, POSSIBLE, DESIRA
BLE, AND NECESSARY. By A CLERGYMAN. Norwich: London, · Seeleys.
(Continued from page 361.)
We feel sure that our readers will not quarrel with the lengthened extracts that we have given from Archdeacon Hare: nor do otherwise than agree with us that he, at least, has afforded, on the part of the Established Church, most valuable materials for the furtherance of Christian Union.
We come now to no less an interesting document; and amidst all that we are constrained to associate with our thoughts of Oxford, of a dark and forbidding character, we feel it to be a real refreshment to turn to such sentiments as were broached by the Professor of Poetry in the University pulpit.
Without pledging ourselves to an entire agreement with every statement, and certainly without pretending always to comprehend the meaning of the learned Professor, we cannot but regard his sermon as suggesting a somewhat novel, but singularly interesting view of divine truth. We must regret that where there is evidently such a capacity for promoting the edification and direction of the Church in these perilous times, so
involved and unintelligible a style of writing should be adopted. God's truth should not be put in jeopardy by man's conceitedness. Great plainness of speech is, happily, not at variance with the purest classical propriety; and who that is privileged to possess a Scriptural, spiritual discernment, would wish to run the risk of conveying an uncertain sound, or no intelligible sound at all, to the inquirers after truth?
In proportion as we value this sermon, do we regret this drawback to its usefulness. Still, we can gather sufficient from it for our present purpose, of plain and unequivocal meaning. Would that we could all be actuated by the spirit which pervades it; and, accrediting the view of divine truth which it suggests, suffer that view to influence our feelings and practice towards those who differ from us. A great point, indeed, of Chrisa tian union, would thus be gained. The Professor is aware that he probably “exposes himself to misinterpretation among those who press Church privileges, as it seems to him,
to a virtual denial of Holy Writ, and the subversion alike of right reason and Christian charity.” But he fear lessly lays down the principle on which he goes to work.
and a principle of Holy Writ; and to resist it is to tempt God, and to incur, before the eyes of the world, an overwhelming overthrow at the tribunal of both."
“The exclusion of all, out of the Episcopal Church, from the covenant ed mercies of the Gospel, is a dogma so intolerable, so unsustainable by Scripture, so opposed to experience, so contrary to the theory and practice of our own church, and so dangerous in its influence upon our own character and ministrations, that it ought firmly, though temperately, to be resisted.
“The restoration to the church of her lost children, that which, next to the maintenance of the truth, is her greatest and holiest work, is on such principles an impossibility. On one side, à haughty and anathematizing isolation; on the other, a sullen and vindictive alienation, and what seems a reasonable enmity to the church, as opposed to the plain truths of Scripture, is the inevitable result. Her apostolical constitution, her divine commission, her holy discipline, her Scriptural teaching, cannot balance with the body of the people this repulsive power. One extreme engenders another; and if she should be overthrown, Rome and Dissent will divide the spoils.
“On the other hand, none versed in Holy Writ, and the Scriptural claims of the church, can palliate formal schism, and a separatist spirit. I dare not do so: nor do I sympathize with those who should attempt it.
“All, I am sure, ought to mourn over the distracted condition of the church; and pray that Christ, by the power of his Spirit, may make Himself an effectual centre of union, if not of uniformity. I would there were both!
“Finally, I do not rest a great ques. tion, which stands on a larger basis, on any isolated fact, or isolated text; however powerfully it may minister to the proof of it. That the fruits of the Spirit are the evidence of God's blessing and Christ's presence, interpenetrates the whole body of Scripture. It is alike an axiom of reason,
The Professor takes his text from Philippians i. 16. “Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached. And I therein do rejoice; yea, and I will rejoice.” The object of the sermon is to show, lst, That what some would call schismatic preaching commenced as early as the Apostles' day. 2. That while the Apostle reprobated the spirit in which the party in question went to work, he rejoiced in the soundness and faithfulness of their preaching. He accredited the message, though he could not approve of the spirit in which it was delivered. And that hence we learn that God, in his mysterious wisdom is pleased to carry forward his work of evangelization very differently to what we in our ignorance are often led to expect; and, consequently, that we should learn the duty of Christian charity and forbearance, towards those who proclaim the same truths, but out of different ecclesiastical enclosures.
" But there were two parties at Rome, who, with a very different temper, contributed to this result! One portion of the Christian community, catching new boldness from the apostolic spirit, not only devoted themselves to the propagation of the truth, whose power they had themselves experienced, but deferred to Paul's divine commission, no less than to his pre-eminent abilities, and incalculable services to the faith. They laboured throughout with his concurrence, and in dutiful subordination to his authority. But another party, distinguished, probably, by the same zeal and indefatigable energy, preached the Gospel, as he informs us, out of strife and envy, so as to add, of deliberate purpose, fresh sorrow to his imprisonment. Wherein, then, was exercised this personal strife, which not only mingled unconsciously as it often does with other and purer motives, but was, on the apostle's statement, the very life-spring of these men's zealous ministrations? And from whence did they come? No doubt they came from a fierce ungodly jealousy of St. Paul. His authority had overshadowed, if not eclipsed their own. It had interfered with their independence, crippled their influence, and wounded the self-love and petulant pride engendered by successful preaching. The intoxication of spiritual power was too much for them, and the newly-experienced delight of compelling other men's souls to bend before the force of their own.
“As had happened, therefore, in the church of Corinth, which his own hands had planted, these men assailed his character.-Probably with ingenious spite, they denied or they depreciated the gifts with which God had endowed him. They undervalued the authority of the apostolic commission! They might have inveighed against that insatiable and monopolizing ambition which claimed to reap where he had not sown, and to enclose with in the fence of ecclesiastical order the field of other men's free labour, which had anticipated his own. And that such an opposition to the authority, and contempt for the persons of the apostles, was in no way peculiar to the churches of Rome or Corinth, is no inference from arbitrary premises, no assumed result even of unchangeable principles, but is demonstrated, as in the case of Diotrephes, by the recorded facts of Scripture. Unquestionably this practical condition of things, inevitable though it be, from the impure medium through which, the instant it came in contact with general humanity, divine truth was conveyed, is a rude dissolver of many an ecclesiastical dream. Nay, I will not call it so! it is not to be undervalued! of many a fond and holy fancy of ancient piety. These were, indeed, earthly and turbulent elements in which and with which to work, energies of evil, ill fitted to coalesce with the divine spirit of the Gospel; and, as we might very reasonably suppose, little calculated either to lay hold on the theory of Christian truth, or to recommend it to the reason and
convictions of other men! But here, as in a thousand other instances, hypothesis is rudely handled by experience. Fact rebukes our speculative reasoning, and even the more justifiable prepossessions of our hearts!
“ Observe, then, the Gospel was preached by these men, notwithstanding all this ! Though they were not only, like all that minister in heavenly things, vessels of clay, and sorely infirm, but positively impure; that which they contained and conveyed into the hands of other men, was really gold, and the unadulterated treasure of life.
“And when Paul speaks of their preaching Christ, or the Gospel of Christ, with candid and reasonable minds, versed in the simplicity of Scripture, and even the genuine remains of apostolic men, and the relics of the first baptismal creeds, there can be no doubt as to the meaning of this emphatic phrase-simple as it is emphatic—labouring, though it be, to some minds, with the prodigious births of later ecclesiastical systems. If there were nothing else, indeed, to give this expression a very precise and intelligible meaning, yet, anyhow, the hostile attitude in which these teachers evidently stood to apostolical authority, excludes those complex and artificial definitions of the Gospel --that church-theory—which modern times have not only permitted to grow around it, but have worked into the core of it, and identified with its essence.
“ But we do not rest upon this negative proof. The recorded preaching and writings of the great apostle, taken in themselves, and in their own ample compass, if uninterpreted and unsupplemented by an extrinsic theory, furnish, even on the confession of an opposing theology, irresistible evidence of its nature. This gospel, then, in the promulgation of which Paul rejoiced, was no gigantic sacramental system, the growth, intellectually and morally, in part, of sacerdotal usurpation, but, in fact, a great deal more of influences and combinations of events unforseen, and unrebuked, as they rose, by the simple
“Whatever be the position and true value to be assigned to the apostolical commission in the persons of those great teachers upon whom alone the fulness of its powers descended! Whatever be the dignity and prerogatives of those after them, who, either as chief pastors, or humbler labourers, are duly called in the congregation to preach the same doctrines, and to minister in holy things! Whatever efficacy, and whatever weight, in the order of means and instruments of grace, be assigned to the sacraments ordained by Christ himself, yet this, beyond question, according to St. Paul, is the essence of the Gospel, its concentrated power, and living force. This, detached from all accessories-this, made hare of all accidents—this, taken in every variety of form, if I may so say, out of the vehicles through which it is conveyed, the means by which it is enforced, and the forms in which it is embodied, is the transforming, quickening, saving energy which God became man that he might convey to perishing sinners. It is Christ our life, and faith, instrumentally conveying to the soul the vital virtue which resides without stint or measure in Him!”
vation. Still less do I say anything in disparagement of that specific form which our own church has adopted, and solemnly enjoined upon her children; I, for one, regard it with the profoundest reverence and a filial obedience, and account it, with her greatest theologians, though not essential to the existence, yet indispensable to the perfection of a church!
“But so much being granted, what I wish to insist upon is this; as proved, even to demonstration, by the simple Scriptures, interpreted by the ordinary laws of reason and principles of language, apart from tradition and arbitrary though venerable hypotheses: that the truths of the life-giving Gospel of Christ, which are of power to reconcile men to God, and to save the soul, are not only capable of being separated, by an intellectual analysis, from any specific form of church government and instruments of discipline, but are constantly so presented in Scripture! that they are, from a divine wisdom, deliberately so urged, and continually placed before our eyes in this their independent force, and, conditioned only on the presence of that Spirit who bloweth where he listeth, in their naked, essential efficacy! Albeit, the Gospel is laid before us under a diversity of aspects and relations; sometimes in its first creative energy in the soul; sometimes in the struggles and painful developements of the Christian life; sometimes in its visible works; sometimes in its consummation in the intuitions of a divine and contemplative love, as handled by Paul, or Peter, or James, or John, it is still the same. In all it stands aloof, as far as statement goes, of any specific form or regimen, as essential to its power. Of inference, more or less distinct, short of certainty, I say nothing. To allow that there is no explicit statement, such as no candid mind can possibly resist, if it accepts the rest of the Gospel, is quite sufficient for me when speaking of truths called vital, in a book declared to be a full and sufficient rule of faith. This is enough for my argument, that these essential verities are not explicitly put, by the word itself,
- It must not, however, be supposed that the Professor is indifferent to the peculiar privilege and blessing of his own Church.
· “I say nothing," he adds, “ in derogation of that living machinery and systematic discipline which, in one form or other, almost all Christians are agreed in thinking of the highest importance to its propagation, efficacious teaching, and continued preser
in that inseparable connexion with anything, which is necessary to make that thing too, essential to salvation, though we may so infer by argument more or less probable. And my text presents one of many proofs of it.”
Most forcibly is it argued, that if ever such proceedings deserved to be anathematized, it was in the apostles' days.
divine authority of each is equal, which, even on the supposition of the same saintliness of life, and the same shining forth of the divine Spirit from within them, is in the broadest possible opposition to the real state of the case: for where are the miracles ? There are other fallacies in it, but here I can only notice this.
“ Yet, with all these aggravations, and manifold circumstances of danger, though it flowed from lips not apostolical, no, not even, as future facts will indicate, apostolical by commission; though the very worst ambitions of the world were fermenting in the heart of them who proclaimed it, yet it was still the Gospel of Christ unto salvation. It was not emptied of its spirit, or stripped of its inherent divinity. And the apostle not only utters no anathema on them who thus received it, which he emphatically reserves for those who love not the Lord Jesus in sincerity, but acquiesces—not only acquiesces, but rejoices in the extension of the truth as a counterbalance to personal injury, and a schismatic teaching - Notwithstanding, every way, whe. ther in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, and therein I rejoice, yea and I will rejoice.'"*
" And it is the more decisive and unexceptionable, because it occurs at a period in the history of the church when, for more than one reason, we could least of all have expected a specific instance of such a principle; however easy it is to collect from that which is argumentatively of greater value than an isolated fact, or isolated text, its general tone and confessed spirit. When the apostolic power of miracles, and the apostolical infallibility, and the apos. tolical holiness, the very visible image of the Saviour's righteousness trans. fused into his chosen messengers, were all in undiminished action in the church, they rendered an opposition to that authority tenfold more heinous than at any other period it could possibly be. Because it was an opposition, not to representatives, withdrawn by twenty or thirty generations, or con. structively and virtually only, but direct and wilful, and such was as really, both immediately and by moral and logical consequence, was imminently dangerous to the purity of the faith and the salvation of men's souls. Our first impression certainly is, that such opposition would be a moral impossibility instead of a frequent fact! And this deserves to be insisted upon, and broadly put forth. Because, though it is a common assumption, and powerfully, though perhaps un. consciously, influences many eccle. siastical arguments, yet the hypothesis that resistance to the apostles and their successors as God's messengers and vicars, is equal in guilt, and entails the same spiritual consequences on teacher and taught, is both historically and argumentatively unsustainable. It involves the vast assumption that the evidence of the
Thoroughly do we concur in the following passage:
“What is demonstrable is this, that the true Gospel of Christ was efficaciously preached by men of a separating and anti-apostolical spirit. Moreover, it could not but happen, that not only the general truths of the Gospel, but even their peculiarities, and their opposition, at all events, to apostolical
* Such too the tenor of his statement to the Corinthians when he treats himself and Cephas and Apollos as mere instru. ments of God, and not to be thought of by the side of the power which wrought salvation. Men, now-a-days, like the disciples of old, would fain call down fire on those who oppose them. They remember not who it was that said, 'Ye know not what spirit ye are of.' 'Nor, when they told him, “We saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him because he followeth not us,' how our Lord replied, 'He that is not against us, is with us,' &c."