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necessary qualifications in a candidate for holy orders, as stated in the 34th canon and the act of the 13th of Elizabeth, the latter of which appears to have been intended to supply the insufficiency of the former. The points in which the act differs from the canon he comprises under five heads.
1. As it regards the age of those admitted to preach and adıninister the sacraments.
2. The persons allowed to sign testimonials. 3. Their knowledge of the matter for which they are to testify. 4. The person to whom the candidate is to render an account of his faith. 5. His having special gifts or ability to be a preacher.-P. 36. He then proceeds :
That the act which enjoins all these, remains still in force, is, I believe, unquestionable. That it is not complied with by our spiritual rulers, is equally so; and so far as this is deviated from, the intentions both of the church and the state are defeated, and I will not hesitate to say, to the great detriment of the established religion.-P. 36.
The canonical age for ordaining deacons, Mr. A. allows to be twenty-three, apprehending, at the same time, that they are not allowed to preach, any more than to administer the sacraments, till the age of twenty-four ; and that no licence of a Bishop can set aside an Act of Parliament. Now it is undeniable that deacons have been used to preach without let or hindrance ever since the passing of the Act; so that it would be somewhat out of date to question now, for the first time, their authority so to do. But to calm our author's apprehensions on this point, we will refer him to the office for “ the Ordering of Deacons," from which he has himself quoted at large a few pages onward. It is therein stated that, “ it appertaineth to the office of a deacon ..... in the absence of the priest, to baptize infants, and to preach, if he be admitted thereto by the Bishop.” The Bishop's charge also to the newly-ordained runs thus :—“Take thou authority to read the Gospel in the Church of God, and to preach the same if thou be thereto licensed by the Bishop himself.”
In Mr. A.'s remarks on the persons allowed to sign testimonials, and their knowledge of the matter for which they are to testify, we readily acquiesce, though possibly our conclusions might not be altogether the same. It is unquestionably a violation of a most solemn trust, and pregnant with the most fatal injury to the Church, for a beneficed clergyman to sign the testimonial of a candidate for Orders, with whom he is not thoroughly acquainted, both as regards his way of life, and the orthodoxy of his opinions. It is owing to this practice, which prevailed to a greater extent formerly than we trust it does now, that we are overwhelmed with that influx of preachers who have styled themselves Evangelical, as if they alone were the infallible preachers of the Gospel of Truth. We will not say that the doctrines which they inculcate are not in the main true; but they are not the whole truth. Their sermons are almost entirely directed to one point, and sometimes there is nothing in them to which a decided objection could be raised. But it is the assertion of one doctrine exclusively, while others equally important are kept in the back-ground; and the virtual depreciation of one condition in the Gospel covenant, by the unauthorised prominency which is given to another, that tends to nourish a system of pharisaical religion, the effect of which it is impossible to witness without disgust, and to contemplate without dismay.
We now come to the subject of examinations :
The canon merely says on this head, “ that the candidate shall be able to yield an account of his faith in Latin, according to the thirty-nine articles of religion, and to confirm the same by sufficient testimonies out of the Holy Scriptures.” This speaks of his capability; but it does not say by whom he is to be examined, or to whom he is to give an account of his faith. The act, therefore, in question determines this matter, and renders it imperative that he be able to answer and render unto the Ordinary an account of his faith in Latin, according to the said Articles. How far this is attended to in general practice, every one knows who has been examined for the sacred office either of deacon or of priest. The examinations are generally by the chaplain alone; not by the ordinary, as the canon and the law directs. I'here is therefore a total, or nearly total, deviation from the intention both of the Church and the State ; and that man in my opinion must possess more than a common hardihood, who can undertake alone to examine and decide on so grave a question, as whether the persons called before him for about an hour, have all the qualifications for the sacred office which the Church designed and the word of God demands.Pp. 40, 41.
Whatever may be the letter of the canon in this point, the spirit of it is fully complied with. The Bishop's chaplain may be supposed fully competent to examine the candidate; and that the examinations are limited to about an hour is altogether untrue. If Mr. A. had the good fortune to escape so easily, we had not ; and we know that in the diocese of London, and doubtless in other dioceses also, the candidates attend for several days, the Bishop occasionally examining himself, and descending even into the minutiæ of reading the Liturgy and the Bible. The number of candidates also who have been from time to time rejected as unqualified, is a sufficient proof that matters are not conducted exactly as here represented. Indeed, Mr. A. himself allows in the sequel, that the examinations are not in all cases trifling, though “he most solemnly declares, that he was never asked a single question about the thirty-nine articles.” Is not this somewhat of a curious complaint from one who sneers at the eighty-seven questions of the Bishop of Peterborough, and cavils at “ensnaring questions about the seventeenth Article?" For our own part we wish that a rigid examination on the doctrines of the Liturgy and Articles was an essential part of the candidate's probation, and that heterodox notions on any of the great points of faith and practice were considered a bar to admission into the sacred profession. Upon Mr. A.'s own showing, the Bishop is bound to give such a turn to his inquiries, and to reject the person who holds any unscriptural opinions ; but what would be the outcry raised against a decision which should affect any of the low party in the Establishment, experience will readily testify. We come now to the last of our author's “five points :"
But beside the matters already mentioned, the law of the land demands that every person to be ordained priest must have special gifts or ability to be a preacher. “In a minister," says Hooker, “ ignorance, and disability to teach is a maim, nor is it held a thing allowable to ordain such.” St. Paul, in his directions on this subject, particularly mentions an aptness to teach, as one of the essential qualifications necessary to be attended to in every candidate for the sacred ministry. What attention is paid either to the directions of the church, the law of the land, or the word of God in this important matter, is too obvious to require mentioning. Generally, nay, I may say almost universally, the special gifts and ability of the candidate to be a preacher, is never once inquired into, but is entirely taken upon trust.-Pp. 45, 46.
And in fact, at the time of ordination, it must in great measure be taken upon trust. At first setting out in his ministerial career, the youthful preacher can scarcely be expected to have attained that excellence both in matter and in manner which it is his duty to acquire by exercise. If he neglect this duty, the fault is in himself, and the injury unquestionably to the Church; but it is to be hoped that there are comparatively few who do neglect it. Of late years, at least, it must be acknowledged, that the public worship of our churches has been performed, even by young men, in a manner which reflects credit upon their zeal, their taste, and their acquirements. With respect to the diocese of London, we have already observed, that "reading” forms part of the examination, accompanied with a recommendation from the Bishop to seek the advice of some practised and judicious friend to direct the beginner, and, by friendly criticism, assist him in acquiring a correct and energetic delivery.
Thus much on the subject of ordination, on which we have spoken somewhat at large, as the topics seemed to embrace a degree of interest which rendered it necessary to place them in their proper light. From ordination Mr. A. proceeds to the inculcation of sound doctrine, the necessity of which we admit as readily as himself; but as we should possibly be strangely at issue on the meaning of the term, and the points on which we differ being sufficiently known to our readers, we shall spare them the trouble of the discussion. We must, however, venture upon the following morceau :
That men of sound religious views, correct conduct, active zeal, and fervent piety, are rapidly on the increase, is not to be disputed. This, while it is matter of much rejoicing to the real friends of Christ and his Church, is no small cause of alarm to the opposite party. They are therefore constantly on the alert, to thwart their views and to arrest their progress. If they would confine themselves to legitimato measures to effect their design, none would complain. But while bishops can mistake, and clergymen can deliberately urge and goad them
on by the most direct and wicked slanders, to use all the influence with which their high stations invest them, all the learning with which they are endowed, all the reasoning and eloquence of which they are masters, and all the power they can claim, to crush them; or if this cannot be done, to take care, by every measure they can possibly devise, to prevent “the creeping in unawares" into the Church, of another individual of such a noxious and dangerous tribe :- I say, while this can be done in the face of day, and against the evidence of facts constantly staring them in the face; and while reviewers, Christian Remembrancers, and caterers for Gentleman's Magazines, can approve of such conduct, and call on men of wealth and influence to lend their helping hand, to join in the impious outcry against them, and to put them down, they cannot but see and deplore the spirit that is still abroad and actuating their enemies; while at the same time they may set at defiance, in the name of the Lord, all the weapons that are formed against them.
And what is the object of all this clamour? It is to render them odious in the sight of those who are considered the influential part of the nation. And what are the measures they adopt? They state, and reiterate their statement against the evidence of the most stubborn facts, that nearly all the private and public depravity of the land are owing in great measure, if not altogether, to the doctrines and labours of the evangelical preachers. Wearisome, indeed, it is to hear a twice-told tale; but more than doubly so it is to confute falsehoods which have been a thousand times confuted. They know the statement to be false. They know also that the doctrines which these ministers teach, their lives, and the lives of their numerous and attached followers, are as opposite to the consequences they impute to them as light is to darkness. Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil! Their gross falsehood confutes itself, &c. &c. &c.Pp. 65–67.
This ebullition of Christian forbearance we have quoted thus at length, not so much on account of the compliment with which we are flattered therein, as for the purpose of exhibiting the calm and Christian spirit in which writers of Mr. Acaster's fraternity occasionally speak of their fellow-labourers in the vineyard of the Gospel. We have broken short the string of the invective, which proceeds in a similar style for some pages further, laying the whole burden of the abuse upon the eleventh Article, which is quoted for the purpose of silencing the opponents of the amiable writer. We should be greatly obliged to Mr. Acaster to inform us in what page and volume of the Christian Remembrancer the doctrine of justification by faith only, as maintained in that Article, is denied or disputed; or by which of those Bishops and clergymen, whom he thus disgracefully attacks, he has ever heard it called in question. We have sworn and subscribed to the Articles of the Church of England; we believe the doctrines they utter no less firmly, and more Scripturally, than Mr. Acaster; we have certainly infinitely more charity than he can boast of; and we wish him to improve in the knowledge of his Bible, and the practice of its precepts, with all our heart.
Our Author's attention is next directed to the subject of Pluralities and Church Patronage. That the former are a great, though necessary, evil, and that the latter, like every other good, may sometimes be abused, is acknowledged on all hands. But with respect to pluralities, VOL. XI, NO. IX.
the kingdBut while a preferment
where shall the remedy be found ? It is idle to talk of every parish having its resident incumbent in the present state of things. Where the income is sufficient to maintain a clergyman as a clergyman ought to be maintained, we see no reason for heaping him with preferment upon preferment till he absolutely totters under the weight. But while a large proportion of the benefices throughout the kingdom are inadequate even to the provision of the necessaries of life, pluralities must be endured. At least we can imagine no remedy for the evil; and are sure that Mr. Acaster has thrown no great light upon the subject.
In his fourth and last chapter he has insisted upon the necessity of reformation; but the means which he has affected to propose are not likely to be very efficient. We shall therefore make but one more quotation from his work; and that for the purpose of ending our remarks with a word of warning, in regard to the dangers with which the Church is really beset.
We have certainly on the bench some individuals, who for their piety, learning, zeal, and fatherly affection would have done honour to their high profession in any country, or in any age. The people are looking up to them in expectation that by their means, a different state of things may be eventually witnessed: but generally speaking, from the glaring evils which are tolerated and practised in this high quarter, and the injury which the church sustains thereby as a body, they have lost the confidence of the people.—P. 136.
Certainly they have lost it;—but who are they? Not the upright and zealous defenders of those sacred and salutary principles, which the most able and pious of our early divines were ever foremost to uphold; not the steady and unflinching churchman, who despises the pharisaical pretensions of the self-conceited “ elect;” not the honest supporters of the rights of Protestantism against the venomous attacks of popery and liberalism :--but those, who, in these dangerous times, draw aside the “igrorant and the unstable” from the way of life, by laying other foundations of Christianity than that which Christ and his Apostles have laid ;-those who have basely deserted and treacherously betrayed the Protestant Establishment into the hands of its enemies ;-those, who untrue to their own party, will never be trusted by any other. These have lost the confidence of the people; these have lost the confidence of themselves; and many of them even now repent the part which they have shamefully taken in the late disastrous crisis. We leave them to their own consciences:- they have our pity; and that is more than they deserve!