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on Regeneration, as bordering very closely on a doctrine which the greatest divines of our Church would never have sanctioned ; and wherein, by endeavouring to unite two opposite interpretations, instead of disproving the false, and drawing the correct conclusion, the preacher has, in some measure, failed in his purpose.
To unite the evangelical system with its opposite, is, we conceive, impossible; to preserve a temperate medium between them would be highly advantageous ; and the means by which this end may be attained, Mr. Townsend has, for the most part, clearly exhibited.
Art. II. - The Ecclesiastical Polity and other Works of Richard
Hooker: with his Life by Izaak Walton, and Strype's Interpolations : to which are now first added, the “ Christian Letter” to Mr. Hooker ; and Dr.-Covel's “Just and Temperate Defence" in reply to it; accompanied by an Introduction, a Life of Thomas Cartwright, B. D. and numerous Notes, by BENJAMIN HANBURY. London: Holdsworth and Ball. 1830. 3 vols. 11. lls. 6d.
The Protean spirit of hostility to the Church has assumed a new exterior, and one for which our readers, we doubt not, were little prepared. If the merits of a cause might be judged from the respective modes in which it is attacked and defended, ours would be triumphant indeed. The Church has never shrunk from exhibiting the grounds of her claims. She has done so openly, boldly, and left her character and deserts to the comment of the world. Her foes, on the contrary, have evinced the most extraordinary ignorance of her nature and constitution ;-an ignorance which we are justified in designating wilful, since all the means of knowledge were close at hand. Seldom have they ventured to attempt a direct attack, and wherever this has been done, it has only ended in the exposure of their entire want of information, and their entire incapability of wielding the weapons of logic and controversy. Their warfare, therefore, has principally been conducted by mine and ambuscade. Cheap tracts and pamphlets, too obscure to reach the hands of educated persons, and too contemptible for serious notice, have done no small proportion of the work. The poison, readily imbibed by the lower extremities, is circulating through the body ecclesiastical. Men have renounced the Church without attending to that plain maxim of common equity, “audi alteram partem.” The less dishonest part of these would be astonished to be informed, that many of the schismatical objections are false in fact, and the rest frivolous in the highest degree. They would learn with surprise, that we consider the cross no part of baptism, and kneeling no essential of the holy communion; that we do not worship “ an oriental deity,” and that
we do not believe that the episcopal blessing 'can confer such sanctity on the element of earth, as to transfer the same property to corpses committed to it. All this they would discover with the most entire amazement, while a little further consideration would shew them how vast is the disproportion between the imputed delinquencies of the Church of England and the sin of schism, denounced in terms so emphatic and express by Christ and his Apostles. Instability and ignorance are the best excuses that can be alleged; but they are poor indeed, whether we consider the immense importance of the subject to which they are applied, or the great facility of obtaining a right judgment through a book of such universal circulation as the Common Prayer. Such has been the character of the warfare waged against our Zion; but in all the multifarious shapes which it has assumed, never yet have ingenuity and treachery been taxed to so severe a tribute as Mr. Hanbury has required. For him has been reserved the signal infamy of attacking the Church beneath her own colours, and, while seeming to welcome her with the peaceful standard of the dove, hoisting the crimson defiance-flag of schism. The device is too palpable : Mr. Hanbury evidently thought himself more than a match for his author ; but his author might obtain a hearing for him where otherwise he could have no chance. He might be read by churchmen, he might be read by posterity ; two classes of the human race with whom he could not, on his own merits, presume to cultivate a very extensive acquaintance. Thus, like a grub preserved in amber, he might manage to attract some portion of notice ; and while some, amused with the curiosity, esteemed the substance, a few readers of his own class might perhaps attach more value to the insect inmate.
Hooker, we need not say, is the palladium of our Church. His piety, his research, his genius, his eloquence, could receive no augmentation of glory from our commendation. We should as soon entertain the idea of reviewing Shakspeare as of attempting to criticise a writer so universally known, and of reputation so little capable of alteration by human praise or blame. His editor alone we deal with ; and we do not intend to repose our pen till we have admitted a little light on the character of this gentleman.'
Towards the close of the last year we read with considerable interest an advertisement of a forthcoming book, bearing the prolix title prefixed to this article. Of Mr. Hanbury we knew nothing. To edit Hooker appeared a task not undeserving to be committed to the combined learning and piety of the kingdom. The plain appellation of Benjamin Hanbury was no voucher for these qualifications ; still, however, a new luminary might be on the horizon, not unworthy even of the glorious region which he had aspired to illustrate. At
least, we anticipated a faithful edition, cleared from much previous confusion and error (and herein we do not say that we have been disappointed), accompanied by a well-intentioned, though perhaps defective, commentary. The book is before us; and, behold, it is an attempt to REFUTE HOOKER!
The accompaniments with which our editor has been pleased to encumber his author are too voluminous to be examined in detail, too desultory to be classed or analysed, and too futile to be worthy of distinct examination. We shall take a few of the principal as they occur; and afford our readers the opportunity of deciding what is likely to be the value of a commentary disfigured by such material blemishes.
The work opens with a rambling Introduction, confessedly bor. rowed in great measure from Towgood, and almost in his
words; the arguments adduced are exactly those which we refuted so elaborately last year, shamelessly re-stated without any attempt to patch up the shattered Dagon of dissent, before his reinstatement on his pedestal. This conduct has the more effrontery, inasmuch as Mr. Hanbury professes to have read our observations, and occasionally condescends to reply to a few pages of them in a note of a few lines. Like his wise and honourable precursor, he makes the controversy between the Church and the Dissenters turn on the single point of the Twentieth Article. Having done this in Towgood's own words, he falls foul of us in a note as follows :
It has been found expedient, recently, to venture on a reply to Towgood's remarks on the Twentieth Article. The attempt is, however, as futile as it was presumptuous. Having first made a circuit in which the writer rears a phantom, he bravely cries, “ The Article claims authority for The CHURCH; i. e. of Christ." And on this assumption he proceeds to combat Towgood's arguments, and actually fights with weapons borrowed from his antagonist, till, as he says, he has “annihilated all the gravamen of the charge against the Church, and overthrown Mr. Towgood's bulwark.” (p. 237.) But who authorized this writer to explain this clause to mean the Church of Christ? Has he alone discovered the meaning of those who forged the clause in question ? And if it be true, has he not plunged his Church into greater difficulty; for, according to his interpretation, what becomes of the sense of the Article itself? If the Catholic or Universal Church be meant, where is it found that she “ hath power to decree” what she never can “ decree" on Protestant principles? How is she to be represented, and who is to decide, whether or not she expounded“ one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another?” Till they are satisfied on these matters, Dissenters are not likely to answer to the “call” of this writer, “ to yield up their cause.”—Vol. I. Pp. xxxii. xxxiii.
An analysis of this note will enable us to see far into our author's purity and profundity.
Mr. Hanbury, we will first take leave to observe, is a worthy disciple of his illustrious master, and has caught every thread of the mantle of his inspiration. To oppose Mr. Towgood is “ PRESUMPTION!” This sort of argument, Mr. Hanbury might have known, would not have the slightest effect upon us. Mr. Towgood was a
may have so
fallible man, whatever himself or Mr. Hanbury may have thought ; and we even take the liberty to think that there have been men more generously gifted by nature. We will add too, that however presumptuous” the "
attempt” to refute Towgood, we consider an attempt" to controvert Hooker at least equally so; and we cannot conceive with what countenance, after such an expression, “the editor trusts that he shall not be chargeable with presumption !”*
We are accused of falsely assuming the expression, “ the Church,'' in the Twentieth Article, to mean the Church of Christ ; and we are called upon to give our authority for this explanation. The minor charge of fighting with Mr. Towgood's weapons, we shall only so far notice as to admire how Mr. Hanbury, if such was his impression, could engage
in a combat at such formidable odds. But we are to shew who authorized us to explain this clause to mean the Church of Christ. Now we might with very good reason retort the question, and ask Mr. Hanbury who authorized him to explain it otherwise ? Does he suppose that 'the authors of that clause distinguished national churches from the Church of Christ? or that they applied the term Church at all without understanding a Church of Christ ? Surely they meant to claim no more for the Church in England than for the Church in any other country. What they predicated of the Church, they predicated universally. The Church of Christ, in England or elsewhere, has the authority there claimed ; and none but the Church of Christ can possess it. Neither is it hence to be necessarily inferred that nothing is binding on a national Church which is not binding on the Catholic Church at large. Suppose our proposition (paraphrasing the language of the Twentieth Article) ran thus : “The State hath power to decree laws and ordinances, and authority in controversies of jurisprudence; and yet it is not lawful for the State to ordain any thing contrary to the law of God.” Such a proposition would be true, and it would be definite ; yet none would think, on the one hand, of limiting its application to England, or, on the other, argue that an assembly of all the states of the earth would be necessary to impose laws on mankind. The Dissenters constantly lose sight of the distinction between the visible and spiritual characters of the Church. In the latter she is, of course, essentially the same every where; in the former she partakes the nature of temporal societies, and her regulation must vary according to political constitutions, to seasons, and to circumstances. “ The things that are seen are temporal,” † and a visible church, as such, must necessarily be of temporal regulation. The churches to whom St. Paul addressed his epistles were all united in one faith ; yet, as outward and visible communities,
* Vol. I. p. xi.
of 2 Cor. iv. 18.
they were all wholly distinct, and, as regards minor matters, under distinct systems of edification.
But, according to Mr. Hanbury, this interpretation“ plunges the Church into greater difficulty." 66 If the Catholic or Universal Church be meant,” he inquires, "where is it found that she hath power to decree' what she never can ‘decree' on Protestant principles ?” Mr. Hanbury, it appears, belongs to the Independent denomination.* Let him inform us then how the affairs of an Independent congregation are conducted; a congregation which, if its name be of any weight, must be eminently unshackled. Is there absolutely no rule or method in its public ministrations ? No discipline, no system, in its internal concerns? No prayers added to THE ONLY ONE which the
e ? No excommunications of profligate or heterodox members? If otherwise, who “hath power to decree" these several innovations ? Who hath power to make prayers for the use of a whole congregation,-a whole “Church," as they themselves would speak? We suppose it will not be contended that men have a right to impose extemporaneous prayers, which a congregation cannot previously study, and yet have no right to compose prayers for the previous approval of those who are to use them. Who
them authority to bind and loose, to expel and to admit ?
All these things, according to Mr. Hanbury, can never be decreed on Protestant principles. And yet it is most certain that they must be decreed, if any society would retain the slightest pretensions to the name. have said before, in terms which we defy Mr. Hanbury to controvert, “ Human authority is, in their case and ours, the foundation of rites and ceremonies; and though Dissenters may quarrel with our appointments, they cannot quarrel with our principles.” †
Mr. Hanbury is one of the many thousands who misapprehend the very meaning of the term Protestant, which they so abundantly use. They understand it simply to imply dissent from the Church of Rome ; were this view correct, a Protestant must renounce the Apostles' Creed. A Protestant Church, according to our notion, signifies one which protests against the usurped authority of Rome, and appeals to the Word of God as the foundation of her faith. This our Church has done. If any believe she has corrupted that Word on which she professes to build, to him, by her own confession, she has renounced her authority. But over him who entertains no such belief, she exercises a right to be obeyed in indifferent matters for unity and conscience sake.
Next, Mr. Hanbury comes down upon us with the question, “How is the Church to be represented ?" We ask, How is his congregation
* Vol. I, p. xvi.
† Christian Remembrancer, Vol. XI. p. 228.