Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

language as this from that eminent prelate, who at least was the principal person in compiling the second book of Homilies, if not in a great degree the author of it, may shew the reader the cogency of these words. 'If our great reformers, 'the authors of these Homilies, Cranmer, Ridley, * Latimer, and Jewell, had themselves, as it is 'pretended, held Calvinistic opinions, is it, &c..-' That they held those opinions which are now called Calvinistic, must be put out of all doubt: but they were wise enough, not to make the deeper doctrines of revelation the direct or prominent subject of the sermons, which were to be read to a multitude, "unstable and unlearned," (in the school of Christ,) who, till more fully instructed, would be liable to 'wrest them, as well as the 'other scriptures to their own destruction.'

'Our reformers followed no human authority; 'they had recourse to the scriptures themselves 'as their sole guide.. And the consequence has 'been, what might have been expected, that our 'Articles and Liturgy do not exactly correspond 'with the sentiments of any of the eminent rc'formers upon the continent, or with the creeds 'of any of the protestant churches which are there 'established. Our church is not Lutheran—it is not 'Calvinistic—it is not Arminian.—It is scriptural: 'it is built upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus 'Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.''

From the note on this page, it might appear that the reformers adopted the opinions of Luther and Zuingle, though not of Calvin. But, however that may be, I have no objection to his Lord-. ship's conclusion, though it has perhaps, 'more of 'sound than meaning.' For ' we cannot imagine 'it possible that any church or sect should not 'say the same thing concerning itself; and we 'have no doubt, that Calvin and the Institutes 'themselves, if they could speak, were they re'proached with any human origin, would indig'nantly disclaim the charge, and affirm, that they 'were not Lutheran, &c., but scriptural.'l And the evangelical clergy, before God, must continue to say the same concerning themselves and their tenets, till some more conclusive ' refutation' has been made of them.

1 Ref. 589.

And now, at the close of this work, I may perhaps assume a measure of confidence, not unlike what the very title of his Lordship's book exhibits. I am confident, that I have demonstrated the doctrines, commonly called Calvinistic, (though not every tenet of Calvin,) to be that of our liturgy, our articles, and our homilies; and of those reformers, both before and after Queen Mary's reign, who compiled them: and I call on the opponents of Calvinism to disprove this, if they can, by.fair quotations and substantial arguments; for assertions must go for nothing. I trust I have also shewn them to be the doctrines of the holy scriptures, both in the Old and New Testament.— But before I close I would drop one hint. If indeed the doctrines in question be those of our established church; and if its rulers in genera) proceed on the plan adopted by some of them; namely, that of discrediting, as much as they can, the most pious, laborious, and competent clergymen, who hold them: if, when one of this description is removed, they make a point of substituting in his place a man of discordant principles: if they discourage, as to ordination, the most exemplary, regular, and unexceptionable young men in all other things, even if only suspected, by reason of their connexions and friendships, of holding these sentiments, and prefer men of far inferior talents, learning, and even moral character: will they not, with their own hands, endeavour to subvert the establishment? Could a shrewd dissenter, if admitted as an unsuspected privy-counsellor, give them more appropriate advice, in order to accomplish his purpose of gaining the ascendancy to the dissenting interest? They who have been used to hear the doctrines called evangelical, in which the question, "What must I," a lost sinner, "do to be saved ?" is constantly asked and clearly answered; if they at all pay attention to it, will never after endure another doctrine in which this question is not answered to their satisfaction. However attached to the establishment, they will at length seek at the meeting-house that instruction which they cannot find at church: and, though this at first be the only inducement, yet, becoming acquainted with dissenters, and hearing all their objections; (having at the same time no person at hand to answer these objections ;) they will gradually imbibe the esprit du corps, and perhaps at length become more zealous dissenters than they are to whom they join themselves. Thus hundreds often become dissenters simply by

1 Chr. Observer, Sep. 1811, p. 593.

the removal of an evangelical clergyman, and the substitution of one of contrary sentiments; who has the mortification of officiating in an almost empty church, while his sole relief consists in declaiming against Calvinists and dissenters, which makes the case still worse. All this would be prevented, if a competent evangelical man were appointed, if not as rector, yet as curate to succeed one of his own sentiments; and the person of contrary tenets were more comfortably provided for elsewhere. And, unless it be vainly supposed that authority can crush the whole party, surely this would be the more politic conduct.—Again, a young man who desires the ministry as "a good "work," and longs pro officio, non -pro bmeficio; who can without hesitation declare that' he thinks 'himself moved by the Holy Ghost to take this 'office upon him;' will never finally give up his object. If excluded from the church, what he accounts ill usage will weaken his attachment; his objections to the dissenting cause will proportionably abate; and he will gradually be led to enter the ministry among the dissenters. And, as these things, Considering what human nature is at the best, cannot but tend to alienate his mind from those who have been unkind to him, and to attach it to those who are kind; (and the heart has a vast effect on the judgment;) it will not be wonderful if at length he become a zealous dissenter, and a champion of the party against the church of England. Thus, some of the most pious, able, and even learned of our young men, having received an university education, in order to be ministers of the establishment, may be thrown into the opposite interest, and spend all their lives and talents, in a manner unfavourable to her predominance in the nation.—Our danger is therefore more from within, than from without, whatever numbers may suppose; far more from our own negligence and impolicy, than from the machinations of any adversaries.

Indeed the marked hostility manifested to the great principles of the gospel, throughout this and other late publications, even by those who should be chief master builders of our Sion, forms no strong presumption, at least against the doctrines opposed. British priests and prelates may be on the wrong side, as well as Jewish priests and scribes and rulers; and prelates and councils in succeeding ages. Hence a very serious admonition might be addressed to them, to beware "lest "haply they be found even to fight against God;" to scrutinize the sources and principles of their opposition; and to beg of God to set them right wherever they err, and to lead them in the " midst "of the paths of judgment."

And now, O God, before whom we must all soon appear, without respect of persons, to receive our final and eternal doom; Thou God of truth, who knowest on which side in this argument thy truth is found; 'illuminate all bishops, priests, and 'deacons' by thy Holy Spirit, . in the true know'ledge and understanding of thy word :' 'Grant 'us all by the same Spirit, to have a right judg'ment in all things: Bring into the way of truth 'all such as have erred and are deceived:' 'Take 'away from us all blindness of heart, all pride.

« AnteriorContinuar »