« ZurückWeiter »
Scotland, and appeared in standard histories, that the Scotch Liturgy "was the work of Laud, with his chaplain Dr. Cosin for the immediate instrument." The main difference between the English and Scotch Prayer-book consisted in the propounding by the latter of the sacerdotal and sacrificial system of Andrews, Cosin, and Laud. There was a prayer of oblation of the consecrated elements before their delivery; and the prayer of consecration contained the petition that the elements might become to us the body and blood of Christ, being the very expression used in the Sarum Missal before the Reformation, and in Edward VI.'s First Prayer-Book. These illjudged alterations from the English Liturgy increased the prejudice of the Scotch people, and at once united with them the large party in England who viewed the Laudian practices with alarm and indignation. It is matter of well-known history how the Scotch Prayer-Book, though introduced by the King and Scotch bishops, was forcibly resisted by the congregations, and stigmatized as an attempt to reintroduce popery; that a "solemn league and covenant" was adopted by the whole nation against it. The Covenanters rose in armed rebellion against their king. The King was forced into a capitulation withdrawing the Prayer-Book. The Covenanters afterwards sent Commissioners to the Long Parliament. By their influence mainly, owing to the unpopularity of the bishops, the House of Commons suppressed Episcopal government in England, and decreed a common form of worship for the two kingdoms on the Presbyterian System and Westminster Confession. The rejection of the Laudian Prayer-book by the Church of Scotland, and the fall of the Episcopal Church of England, may serve to illustrate an important principle upon which the security of a Church Establishment rests. General and essential uniformity is the keystone of the structure. An Established Church rests upon a national compact between the Sovereign Power, the Heads of the Church, tho Parliament, the Patrons and builders of churches, the Clergy and the congregations. Each party agrees to restrict private action and tastes in certain particulars, for the sake of maintaining one recognized mode of worship, one standard of faith, and one common discipline. The security of the Establishment depends upon the faithful observance of this contract by all parties. Every departure from the standard of faith and worship, or violation or neglect of discipline, so far weakens the compact. In Scotland the King and Bishops combined to force upon the congregations an obnoxious Liturgy. The congregations trampled, by an armed resistance, upon the constitutional discipline. In England, the bishops attempted to introduce, though very partially, alterations in the mode of worship, and the national compact was shaken. The Parliament met the Episcopal infraction of the compact by an antagonistical infraction on their part; till the weakened national compact could no longer maintain itself, and suffered dissolution under the despotism of the Long Parliament. Thus the Church of England as by law established, which had withstood Rome when the proportion of Romanists within the realm was nearly one-third of the entire population, during the reign of Elizabeth brought over nine-tenths of the Romanists to its pale, during all which time a rigid uniformity was exacted—in other words, whilst the national compact remained firm,—now, within forty years after Elizabeth's death, became weak through the relapse of some of its bishops and clergy towards Romish ceremonies, and so became an easy prey to Parliamentary interference.
It may seem to some a harsh judgment to stigmatize such venerable names as Andrews, Overall, and Laud, as answerable, in any manner, for the calamities which befel the Church and State of England in an evil day, and under an unconstitutional monarch. But the Elizabethan Reformers would have regarded the practices of their venerable successors as opening a direct road to the restoration of the Mass, in its essential characteristics, at least, "to make the Lord's Supper as like the Mass as possible." The Elizabethan Reformers sacrificed one of their most valuable associates, the venerable confessor Bishop Miles Coverdale, to the cause of uniformity, when they ejected him from the Church because he would not wear the surplice or rochet. Their justification was, that if they allowed one bishop exception from vestments prescribed by law, they must allow other bishops licence to introduce ornaments not sanctioned by law. The infraction of uniformity by Archbishop Laud and his associates casts back a reproach upon the severity with which Archbishops Parker and Whitgift enforced the surplice and square cap. Or if Archbishops Parker and Whitgift rightly understood the genius of the Church, of which they were the earliest supporters and ornaments, then the school of Archbishop Laud is to be condemned for the introduction of dangerous practices which tended to the ruin both of Church and State.
The history of the last-revision, in 1662, must be deferred to the next Number.
VOICES FBOM THE WATCH-TOWER,
"Go, set a watchman,—let him declare what ho seeth."—Isaiah xxi. 6.
The subject of the present paper is not one which the writer would have chosen; but it seems to be dictated by the events of the passing hour. If there shall be future papers on the perils of the present time, they will probably deal with internal wants and dangers ;—but just at this moment the topic which most strikes the mind is one of a different character. And thus it may happen that the opening words of warning will differ in an important respect from those that will follow.
The danger which at this moment threatens the Church established in this land, is one to which it has never before been exposed in an equal manner or degree. It is menaced, first in Ireland, and then in England, with a dissolution of all connection with the State—with a reduction to the condition of a Voluntary Association; resembling, perhaps, that of the Wesleyan-Methodist Society. Now, if this menace found the Church, like the Wesleyans at the period of their first organization,—a tolerably united body, actuated by one spirit, and adhering to one doctrine,—it might, perhaps, be no very terrible calamity. But it is quite evident that this is not the case. Three (if not more) distinct systems are striving together for ascendancy; and their real heart-union is, apparently, impossible. A single illustration may make the difficulty intelligible. Let us suppose, for a moment, that the fiat had gone forth that the Church, from January 1, 1870, should be absolutely separated from the State; and that a Commission had been given to three eminent men to frame a constitution, a "platform" of doctrine, and a code of laws. Let these three men be Dr. Pusey, Dr. M'Neile, and Dr. Stanley. Is it not quite certain that these three eminent persons never could come to any agreement? The Tracterian and the Evangelical could not be brought to concede the latitude which Dr. Stanley would demand; nor would the Evangelical and the Rationalist consent to that approximation to Rome which the Oxford professor would desire. Thus no result could possibly be reached.
Now, though these three men never will be thus commissioned, the fact thus figured forth remains a reality, that the three opinions which they represent are all in existence and in strength, within the pale of the Church; and that whenever the binding and compressing weight of the State is taken off, their mutual animosity will instantly appearand a dissolution and separation of the Church into three or four sections may be looked for. This dissolution will terminate, in fact, "the Church of England," and will leave Rome, in the eyes of multitudes of unthinking persons, the only "Church of Christ" discernible in this realm. This is surely a real, and not an imaginary, danger; and it is, perhaps, at no great distance.
But what is it that has made such a state of things possible?—what is it that has brought the question of "the disestablishment of the Church" into the foreground, and made it, in truth, " the question of the day"?
It is a fact, which has never been seen in Eugland before,— the practical anion of almost every religious body outside the Church, in one simultaneous effort to effect her overthrow. This sort of combination is one which has never existed in past times; but being once formed, and having proved its strength, it is not very probable that it will speedily break up, or vanish away. Let us consider for a moment the principal elements of this new confederacy.
1. The chief of these is found in the startling fact, that what was earnestly and strenuously upheld for centuries as "Protestant Dissent," has now ceased to exist. There is, at the present moment, no Protestant principle, no Protestant feeling, among the English Dissenters.
At the first hearing of this, many Dissenters will indignantly deny the fact. Thus, at the last meeting of "the Congregational Union of England and Wales," the Chairman, Dr. Raleigh, said, "We don't wish to touch true Protestantism: we love it too well." But if he had been asked to point out any practical proofs of this love, given by himself or his brethren for twenty years past, he would have been mnch perplexed to find any.
In truth, in this as well as in one or two other respects, the contrast of modern with primitive Dissent is very striking. In the earliest days of their history, says Dr. Price, "the Puritans were the most inflexible and zealous Protestants in the land."* Their main quarrel with the Church was, that she was not Protestant enough. "They charged upon the Church the remainder of Popery"f which they thought still lingered in her services and among her ministers. The Protestant lectures, sermons, and books, of those days, were chiefly the work of Dissenters.
But now the case is wholly different. A protest is still sometimes heard against the errors of Rome; but it is only audible among the Presbyterians of Scotland, and the Episcopalians of England. Protestant lectures or books, delivered or published by Dissenters, are scarcely ever heard of. And when a Dissenter, now and then, asserts, like Dr. Raleigh, his stedfast Protestantism, it is generally found, if explanation be asked, that the only "Protestant principle" for which he feels any real value, is that which he takes to be the centre and foundationstone of all, "the right of Private Judgment."*
* Hi't. of Protestant Nonconformity, vol. i. p. 166. t Ibid., y. 200.
Now, this said "right of private judgment,"—whatever the teachers may mean,—is generally taken by the hearers to imply, the right of every man to hold whatever opinions he pleases. Which supposed right is a dream; or, more properly, a falsehood.
The Scottish Free Church Magazine said with great truth, several years back, "We often hear people say, 'That is my opinion;' and,'I have a right to my opinion.' But this is a serious error. No man can have a right to hold a wrwig opinion."
"The thought of foolishness (or, a foolish thought) is sin." (Prov. xxiv. 9.) A man has no right to take his brother's wife, neither has he any right to form an opinion, on any pretexts or "imaginations of his evil heart," that to take his brother's wife would be justifiable. Towards the end of the last century, a clergyman (Mr. Madan) persuaded himself, and tried to persuade other people, that it was just and reasonable to take two wives. But he had no "right to hold any such opinion ;" for such a belief was contrary to the law of God.
And yet this notion, this interpretation of "the right of Private Judgment," is almost the only vestige of Protestant principle which the bulk of modern Dissenters retain. Of course, not being omniscient, we cannot safely aver, that never, on any occasion, does a Dissenting Minister of modern times warn his people against the pernicious and wide-spreading errors of Popery; but certain it is, that such warnings are exceedingly rare. The last of them that has come within our own experience occurred so long since that it has quite faded from the memory.
In truth, their polemical efforts seem to be directed, by choice, in a very different direction. In Revolution-days, their chief quarrel with the Church was, that it was not Protestant enough; and whenever any struggle occurred between Rome and the English Church, the aid of the Dissenters on the side of Protestantism, might always be anticipated. But now the spirit of Dissent is greatly changed. Its opposition to the Church is so constant and so absorbing, that no time or thought is left for the warfare with Rome.f
• Thus, in a recent speech at Not- + An instructive instance of this
tingham, Mr. Bernal Osborne said, "I occurred not many weeks ago. The
am a good Protestant, a sound Pro- Scottish Reformation Society published
tcstant,—that is, a man who stands a tract, entitled, "Changing the Or.
up for the right of Private Judgment dinance;" in whicli it was shown how
himself, and concedes it to others." the Lord's Supper had been changed