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Now, however repugnant to scriptural rule and primitive example, we may judge the assumption of a right in the teachers of this sect, to act as dispensers of divine truth and pastors of the flock of Christ, without a regular ordination derived from apostolic authority, yet all their rules show, that the candidates for orders in the established church ought not to think lightly of the necessity of careful antecedent preparation for the discharge of their sacred duty, from any supposition, that the experience of this sect proves that its functions can be performed with at least popular acceptance, by men carelessly selected and prepared. If in addition to this, we examine the catalogue* of books on biblical knowledge, sacred history, practical piety, and religious biography, in which we are told these sectarians judge it necessary for their preachers to be well instructed, the example would rather prove the necessity, than discourage the exercise of literary industry, as a preparation for the sacred Ministry. Surely then, my young friends, it is not unreasonable to call on you, who come forth from this seat of science and literature, to offer yourselves for pastors in the most enlightened
stand, to farmers, and mechanics, and peasants ;” as," unable to officiate in an edifying manner at the sick man's bed,” &c. &c. This is the temper and language which necessarily alienate and offend the ministers of the Established Church, and lead them to regard the sect, which this author would recommend to the good opinion of the public, in an unfavourable point of view, which must tend to weaken the effect his exposition means to produce ; but to the younger clergy these very reproaches are worth attention. “ Fas est et ab hoste doceri.”– Vide Portraiture of Methodism, by Jonathan Crowther, thirty-one years a member, and twenty-six years a travelling preacher amongst the Wesleyan Methodists. London, 1811, p. 233, 235, 306, 309, 310, 311.
* The author I have quoted gives the following catalogue ; he asks, “would not the classical authors most proper to be put into the hands of men about to become ministers of Jesus Christ, be the Bible, the Epistles of the Apostolic Fathers, a well written History of the Church of Christ since the death of the twelve apostles, espe. cially a History of the Waldenses and Albigenses; Foxe's Book of Martyrs, the History of the Popes and Papacy, Burnet's History of the Reformation, the Sufferings of the Protestants in France, especially in the reign of Lewis the XIV.; Neal's History of the Puritans, and the History of the Church of Scotland, in the reigns of Charles the II. and James the II. To those I would add as Christian classics, the Works of Archbishops Leighton, Tillotson, and Secker; of Bishops Newton, Horne, and Porteus; of Mr. Baxter, and various other non-conformist writers, especially those of Dr. Watts and Dr. Doddridge, as well as the writings of Mr. Whitefield, Mr. Wesley, and Mr. Fletcher ; many others might be mentioned, especially Shuckford's and Prideaux's Connections; a few good commentaries on the Old and New Testaments should be a distinguished part of the Ministerial classics, as well as a History, a Dictionary, and a Geography of the Bible; and also the lives of eminent Christians, more particularly eminent ministers of Christ.”
as well as the purest church of the Christian world, to add to
Permit me to trespass on your attention, while I adduce one
* I am tempted to adduce another testimony with respect to the utility of extensive
revealed; of the church of Christ, and especially the church of Rome; of the sacrament of penance, combined with purgatory; of indulgences, church censures, &c.; of scriptural theology, in all the views in which the church of Rome considers it; on moral theology, or the moral nature and character of human actions, including distinct discussions on conscience, on laws, on virtues, and crimes, with an appendix on the precepts of the church, and the obligations of the clergy. These volumes are certainly written with much learning, much scholastic acuteness, condensing a great variety of matter into the smallest space, embracing a great extent of moral and theological inquiry. On the doctrines which they contain, I mean not now to make any remark, further than that they appear to maintain all the dogmas of the papal church, its supreme authority, and the whole system of doctrines, rules, and discipline recognised and confirmed by the Council of Trent, with unmitigated strictness. Yet these form but a part of the studies which are prescribed to the divinity students in the college of Maynooth. I leave it to you, my young friends, to draw the inference.
I may be permitted to add, that the controversy on the grand points of difference between the papal and the reformed churches, has been carried on within a few years back with considerable activity. In England it has been revived by some of the most eminent prelates* of the Protestant church; in Ireland, chiefly by the Roman Catholics themselves. Within a very recent period, we have in this country seen the validity of the Protestant ordinations sharply disputed,- the most severe charges against the Protestant translations as corrupting and falsifying the Scriptures, reiterated after a long lapse of years,—the papal supre
.* Vide the Bishop of Durham, Dr. Barrington's charge, delivered in the year 1806. His grounds of separation from the Church of Rome reconsidered, and his Charge, in 1810.
The Bishop of St. David's, Doctor Burgess's two letters to the Clergy of St. David's, the first to show that Christ, and not St. Peter, was the rock of the Christian Church; the second, on the Independence of the British Church ; both republished in that excellent collection of Tracts, entitled, “ The Churchman armed against the errors of the time,” vol. 2; also the Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. (Prettyman or) Tomline’s charge, delivered in 1812.
+ Vide Ward's controversy of Ordination, printed in 1719, reprinted Dublin, 1807, to which a clear and able answer was published by Dr. Elrington, the present Provost.
Vide Ward's Errata of the Protestant Bible first published at London, in 1688, and republished in Dublin, 1807—to which the Rev. Mr. Grier has published an elaborate and useful answer.
macy asserted, * with full confidence that it could never again be questioned or denied—and the Protestant church denounced
as a novelty,f which must speedily fall, and nothing but the memory of the mischiefs it has created shall survive.”
In all this the friends of charity and peace may see much to lament, but the advocate of truth can see nothing to alarm him, so long as he can prove that the tenets of the Church of England are founded on Scripture, warranted by antiquity, and calculated to promote rational piety, and virtuous conduct. The friends of that church will not shrink from a controversy, which may awaken the public mind to examine the tenets they defend with attention, and compare them fairly and fully with the opinions to which they are opposed. If they are expounded with any degree of judgment and zeal proportioned to their own clearness and importance, the result must be favourable to the cause of genuine Christianity, and the interests of the Established Church. There was no controversy “ when all the western world believed and slept.” When literature revived, controversy began, truth prevailed, and the reformation was established.
But though freedom of discussion is desirable, the rancour and bitterness which too frequently attend religious disputes cannot be too anxiously deprecated, or too vigilantly guarded against. If therefore your duty should render it necessary for you, my young friends, to engage in such controversy, forget not that to support and diffuse the influence of genuine Christianity, it is as essential to maintain charity, as to establish truth. You will therefore remember the apostolic injunction, “ that the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Actuated by these feelings, you will most carefully avoid every approach to violence and contumely, every thing breathing the spirit of acrimony and contempt; you will never impute to any individual, much less to any sect or class of Christians, principles or consequences which they deliberately and solemnly disclaim and renounce.
Convince them if * Vide Stranger's Gift, or an end to Controversy, upon the Primacy of the Chair of St. Peter- Dublin, 1813.
Also Mr. Clinche's Letters on Church Government, p. 387 to 400 et alibi. + Vide Dr. Dromgoole's speech, p. 34, Dublin, 1814.
you can, that their tenets are inconsistent, and their views mistaken, but except on irresistible evidence impute not to any, deliberate falsehood, or malignant perversion. And even if these are unhappily found on one occasion, or in a few individuals, do not therefore hastily condemn an entire sect or class as accomplices in their crime, or infected by their corruption. Wherever you discern candour and sincerity, piety and zeal, fail not to acknowledge and applaud them, though they may be combined with ignorance and error. Above all things, presume not arrogantly to wield the terrors of divine vengeance, and pronounce the sentence of divine condemnation. To " his own master let every Christian stand or fall.” Before you brand others with the stigma of folly and of guilt, remember you yourselves are frail and fallible. To conciliate to your opinions and your reasonings serious attention and candid regard, be assured you must convince your opponents, that you feel towards them kindly and candidly. Thus only can you extend the dominion of reason, and promote the triumph of truth.
And surely the period cannot be far remote when religious truth shall finally and decisively triumph. After the dark and troubled agitations of five and twenty years, events the most unprecedented and unhoped for, plainly declaring the guiding hand of providential mercy, have combined all the nations of Europe, however separated in situation, and still more separated by jarring opinions and hostile prejudices, have combined them in the sacred cause of freedom, and endeared them to each other by a union of sufferings and of exertions, of virtues and of benefits, and above all, by the exercise of moderation and generosity in conquest, unexampled in the history of the world, which recommends, by exemplifying the efficacy of Christianity, and which, while it secures uninterrupted commercial intercourse, and constitutional freedom in every state, promises also to secure universal freedom of opinion, and the unchecked communications of thought. The Inquisition* no longer crushes the mental energy of one
* This was delivered on the 2d of May, 1814, when the writer could not have foreseen the re-establishment of the Inquisition in Spain, and the decree of the pope restoring the order of the Jesuits wherever his power extends. These facts, by showing that the principle of intolerance and the anxiety for the extension of its power and influence still exist undiminished in the church of Rome, undoubtedly check the hopes which are here expressed, and appear to retard the approach of that extended reformation, which, however, there can be no doubt will ultimately take place.