« AnteriorContinuar »
Some late publications, and a declared indisposisition to reformation, especially in the great object of worship, forbid to entertain any present hope of much success. Nevertheless, in the mean time, truth and right things should be proposed to the public, however unlikely to succeed at present; and often proposed, that men may not lose sight of them. And Providence will raise up instruments to forward its own designs, when the time comes.
It remains to be inquired what remedy there may be for those who cannot, with a safe conscience, continue to officiate, or join in the forms of worship of our Liturgy ; who may be afraid of incurring his displeasure, who hath said, Exod. xx. 3, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods before me;" and of contravening our Saviour Christ's express command, so often, but not too often repeated by us ; “ Thou shalt worship the Lord men shall know that the head of every man is Chirst ; and as the head of the woman is the man, so the head of Christ is God. The ample illustration of which great truth may possibly be reserved for that glorious day, when the fulness of the Gentiles being come, the Messiahship of Jesus will be more evidently displayed—the Unity of the Godhead be established; and the great stumbling-block of offence to the conversion of the Jews being removed, then “ shall all Israel be saved.” Rom. xi. 25, 26. But, in the mean time, there must needs be heresies amongst us, says the same apostle, that they which are approved may be made manifest.–Vindication of the Histories of the Old and New Testament, by Bishop Clayton, pp. 34, 35.
thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Matt. iv. 10.
Dr. Samuel Clarke's superior genius and learning were the least of his excellencies. His unassuming modesty and humility ; his piety, integrity, ardent love of truth, and zeal for God, and his true worship in the world, still more distinguished him from ordinary men. It appears from his conversations with Mr. Emlyn, to whom he opened hiinself without reserve, that the great object of his life, studies and endeavours, was to procure the removal of the declarations and subscriptions required in our church to its Articles and Liturgy, and the reformation of the Liturgy itself; and that, if he had been raised to the see of Canterbury, which, to the everlasting honour of the princes of the last reign, was destined * by then for this Unitarian divine, he would then, indeed, have exerted all his interest and great abilities, to make our church the most pure, as it has been long the most respectable of all the reformed churches.
It was a noble attempt that he made, related by Mr. Whiston, to change the doxologies that were used in the singing of Psalms in his church at St. James's, which, not being prescribed by the Rubric, he might think himself at liberty to alter.
* Emlyn, Vol. II. pp. 492—494.
But through the zeal of Robinson, the then bishop of London, it proved abortive.
The alteration attempted to be introduced was this : To God, through Christ, his Son,
Our Lord, all glory be;
Immortal glory be. But as the venerable apostolic old man, who has preserved this account, remarks_“ The bishop, in the way of modern authority, was quite too hard for Dr. Clarke in the way of primitive Christianity."*
Dr. Clarke's heart was entirely set on bringing about some reformation in this capital point of Divine worship; and if his valuable life had been prolonged, in whatever situation he had continued, he would have used his best efforts for it; and if no success had attended them, I am inclined to believe, from what Mr. Emlyn lets fall of the uneasy state of his mind, and from his manifest disapprobationt of all religious worship
* Historical Memoirs of the Life of Dr. S. Clarke, third edit. p. 76.—Mr.. Whiston was above fourscore years old when he published this last edition.
+ This is strongly marked in his amendments of the Liturgy of our church, cited below; in which he blots out every passage, without exception, in which Christ is considered as an object of worship, or prayer offered to him.
not immediately addressed to God, the Father, that he would have given up his preferment, and retired.
But what he might not perhaps have been able after all to effect himself, he was labouring at his leisure hours to make more easy for those that came after him.
“ He once shewed mé (saith Mr. Emlyn) that he had been making some emendations in his Common Prayer Book. And the very last time I think I ever saw him, the March before he died, in some of our last discourse at parting, he asked me, if he had shewn me what he had been doing in his Common Prayer Book. · I said, I had just seen it once. He said, it should not be lost."'*
This his last labour, as it should seem, and monument of his zeal for the honour of God, and purity of his worship, has been presented by his son to the British Museum, where, it is to be hoped, it will not be deposited in vain.
Emlyn, Vol. 11. p. 294. . The author of the Confessional (third edition, p. 426, note), has given the first information to the public concerning this manuscript, and at the same time produced from it a valuable attestation of Dr. Clarke to the design of his own admirable work, which will long remain a classic of the first account in our church, until it be superseded and set aside by that full Scriptural reformation in doctrine and worship, which it aims to promote.
Dr. Clarke's Amendments of the Liturgy recom
mended. The amendments of the Liturgy, proposed by Dr. Clarke, chiefly relate to the right direction of prayer and thanksgiving to its only object, the one living and true God, as taught by our Lord Jesus Christ; not but that he has made some very considerable improvements in other respects, as he passed along. It was no small satisfaction, in the perusal of them, to find that those parts of our public service, which had long seemed to me to countenance an unscriptural, and therefore unlawful, forbidden worship, i. e. the offering up of
prayer to any but the one true God, the Father, were all of them either cancelled or altered by this eminent person. I should have held it fitting and needful for my own justification, to have given some account of those passages in the Liturgy on the article of Divine Worship, which I had scruples in reading, or in joining in the constant use of them; but I reckon it a fortunate circumstance, that I am able to say, they were also, in a greater or lesser degree, the objections of Dr. Clarke.