« ZurückWeiter »
sound-hearted members of the Church (especially among the laity) will not, except on rare occasions, and under strong excitement, take any personal pains to counteract the tactics of the movement party. This state of things, if it continue, can bardly fail to lead to fatal results. The bishops are expected by many "to put down Ritualism;" but it seems to be forgotten that no rulers in this 19th century can safely or usefully act, except so far as they are manifestly supported by public opinion. And, as yet, public opinion expresses itself more by a kind of otiose grumbling, than by proper and adequate methods.
In the present instance, the case is surely clear and simple. Nothing more is asked than that those who, of their own free will, have thought proper to make themselves members (and therefore, to a certain extent, governors) of a Society, should interfere, by the use of their legitimate privileges, to prevent that Society from passing into hands that will pervert or destroy it. Has the idea ever crossed the minds of our readers, of this venerable Society issuing, under its sanction, "The Little Prayer-book," "The Altar-Manual," and other tracts, which now emanate from the premises of Messrs. Palmer, of Little Queen Street? Near as their premises are to the Society's house, we may be thankful that they have, at present, no connexion. With a Ritualist majority on the Tract Committee, a change in this respect might ensue sooner than quiet people would suppose probable.
"In that case," says the reader, "I should withdraw my subscription." Probably: yet it seems worth observing, that this is not the Ritualist plan of operations when defeated. The Church Times of December 12th says:—" It has been a point of some difficulty with Churchmen, whether the Society is worth supporting, or whether it would not be better to draw off, and to establish a Society for Promoting Catholic Truth. We are glad, however, that that question has been answered in the negative. We are for sticking like limpets wherever we have &pied a terre, and seeking, where things are not satisfactory, to mend them." The acute leaders of this school are far too well aware of the prestige of an ancient body, and of the advantage of gaining a reputation for orthodoxy by getting their opinions endorsed by a Society presided over ex officio by the Episcopate, to think of deserting such a position.
It is, indeed, much more easy to sever one's connection with a Society, than to set up any effective substitute for what one thus deserts; and whether regarded in respect to its traditional position, its large income, or its identification with the Church, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge is far too important a body to be surrendered lightly to any antagonist. It is much to be hoped that the clergy and laity of the metropolis will see it their duty to come forward—not spasmodically, but habitually—for the purpose of taking part in its management, and ensuring that it shall still speak a language which Protestant Churchmen can recognize and approve. The Standing Committee must continue to be composed of men who are faithful to the principles of the Reformation; and their decisions must not be liable to be reversed by monthly meetings packed in the interest of extreme opiuions.
RYLE'S BISHOPS AND CLERGY OF OTHER DAYS.
Bishops and Clergy of Other Days; or, the Lives of Two Reformers and Three Puritans. By the Bev. J. C. Ryle, B.A., Vicar of Stradlirokc, Suffolk; Author of Expository Thoughts, 8fc. London: W. Hunt fy Co. Ipmich: W. Hunt. 1868.
Whkther the real design of the author was that of a book which should be appended to a preface, a house of old materials to be attached to his own new portico; or, whether the temple was first in his design, and the vestibule secondary, is not a point of great moment if the whole edifice is praiseworthy, as is the case with the volume before us. If it be true that Mr. Ryle had a strong desire to give utterance to the sentiments which make up his introduction, and thought that this end could not be so conveniently attained as by preparing a volume at the head of which his thoughts might stand, he shall not bedisappointed in his aim; for we shall make some extracts from his Preface, which is a bold, outspoken expression of opinions in the spirit of which we fully agree. Indeed, we may say of it, as of the whole book, that such words are eminently "necessary for these times."
"The volume now in the reader's hands requires a few prefatory words of explanation. It contains the lives of live eminent English ministers: Hooper, Latimer, Ward, Baxter, and Gurnall. Of these, the two first were bishops, leaders in the noble army of our Protestant Reformers, and martyrs at the stake in the reign of Queen Mary. The three last were famous Puritan divines, who lived and died in the seventeenth century.
"Of course I have chosen these five men as subjects of biographies deliberately, purposely, and with special reasons. What those reasons are I will proceed to explain.
"I hold, then, that the lives, deaths, and opinions of the leading English Reformers demand special investigation in the present day. The Church of England, as it now is, was in great measure the work of their hands. To them, with a few trifling exceptions, we owe our
present Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies The natural way to
ascertain what views of religion are 'Church views,' is to inquire what kind of views were held by our Church Reformers in the sixteenth century. In matters of doctrine, are we of one mind with Cranmer, Ridley, Hooper, and Latimer? If not, we may be sure that our 'Churchmanship' is of a very equivocal kind. It cannot be the true Churchmanship of the Reformed Church of England.
"Holding these opinions, I have endeavoured to produce a correct sketch of two of the leading champions of the English Reformation. The two I have chosen, undoubtedly, were in some respects not equal to Cranmer or Ridley. In popular talent, however, and general influence with their conntrymen, they were probably second to none. I venture the conjecture that the middle classes and lower orders of Englishmen in the sixteenth century were more familiar with the names of Hooper and Latimer than of any of the Reformers. None, I suspect, left so deep a mark on the minds of their generation, none were so often talked of round English firesides, as the two whose lives are found in this volume. None, I am firmly persuaded, so thoroughly deserve to be had in honour. They were men of wbom the Church of England may well be proud. She may reckon among her sons some perhaps who were their equals; but none, I am sure, who are their superiors. For abounding usefulness in life, and noble courage in death, the two bishops I have tried to photograph in this volume were never surpassed." (Preface, pp. v.—vii.)
These remarks are followed by an array of testimonies in defence of Fox's "Acts and Monuments," a book which it has been the fashion, for some time past, to assail with the most vilifying language by those who have imbibed the [anti-Reformation virus. The Author replies to the violent abuse heaped upon Fox by one who has recently made himself very notorious by the lengths to which he has gone in that evil direction, and thus concludes his general observations on the Reformers :—.- *
"After all, the animus of most modern attacks on the English Reformers is too transparently clear to be mistaken. The writers who make them dislike Protestantism most cordially, and want the Church of England to be Romanized once more. The writings and opinions of the Reformers stand sadly in their way! How can they possibly get over this barrier? They try to damage their character, and so to impair the value of their testimony. I predict they will not succeed. I believe that, like the viper biting the file, they are only labouring in vain and hurting themselves. I am not afraid of the result of any amount of examination that can be applied to such men as Hooper and Latimer. Let men turn on them all the light they please, so long as it is fairly and honestly turned on. They will stand any properly conducted investigation. They will come out unscathed from the ordeal of any just inquiry. In a word, their names will live and be honoured when their assailants are clean forgotten." (Preface, pp. xv., xvi.)
With regard to the Puritans, we, perhaps, should not join the Author in claiming for them as much attention in the present day, as for the Reformers. The latter, not the Puritans, are our standard; and it is to their principles that an evil and perverse generation has to be recalled; although we fully concur in the opinion,—
"Never, I believe, were men so little understood and so absurdly maligned as the Puritans. On no subject, perhaps, are English Churchmen so much in the dark, and require such thorough enlightening
"The common impression of most English Churchmen about the Puritans is, that they were ignorant, fanatical dissenters, who troubled England in the seventeenth century,—that they hated the monarchical form of government, and cnt off Charles the First's head,—that they hated the Church of England, and caused its destruction,—and that they were unlearned enthusiasts who despised knowledge and study, and regarded all forms of worship as Popery. There are living ecclesiastical orators of high rank and brilliant reputation, who are never weary of flinging the epithet 'Puritanical' at Evangelical Churchmen, as the hardest word of scorn that they can employ. Let no Churchman's heart fail when he hears himself stigmatized as 'a Puritan.' The man who tells the world that there is any disgrace in being 'a Puritan' is only exposing his own ignorance of plain facts, or shamefully presuming on that wide-spread ignorance of English Church history which marks the nineteenth century." (Preface, pp. xvi., xvii.)
The Author defends the Puritans from the charges brought against them by High Church writers and orators of the present day, of having been enemies to the monarchy and the Church of England, unlearned and ignorant; and does not fear to assert that, "as a body," they " have done more to elevate the national character than any class of Englishmen that ever lived." Strong words; presently, however, followed by some in which we entirely agree, as furnishing the solution of the well-known tone of contempt which has ever been assumed towards that excellent and grievously wronged body of Christians :—
"Does any reader wonder that such men as the Puritans should be so bitterly hated in the present day? Does any one ask how it is that certain Ecclesiastical pulpit-orators and platform-speakers never lose an opportunity of having a fling at them, and mentioning them with scorn? I will answer these questions without hesitation. They are hated because they were thoroughly Protestant and thoroughly Evangelical! Against Popery in every shape and form they were always protesting. Against sacramental justification, formalism, ceremonialism, baptismal regeneration, mystical views of the Lord's Supper, they were always lifting up a warning voice. No wonder that Ritualists, Tractarians, Romanizers, and their companions, loathe the very name of the Puritans, and labour in every way to damage their authority. You might as well expect Gardiner to praise the works of Cranmer, Harding to recommend the study of Jewell, and Cardinal Bellarmine to urge the perusal of Whittaker, as expect Ritualists and High Churchmen to speak well of the Puritans! So long as English Churchmen dislike Protestant and Evangelical opinions, so long they are sure to dislike the Puritans." (p. xxi.)
The book consists of samples, arbitrarily chosen, of the Reformers, and the Puritans; the avowed aim of the writer being to exhibit the doctrine of the former as in contrast with the no longer "Romanizing," but " Romish," teaching which has sprung np in the midst of our "Befarmed" Church, and to recommend the latter as models of pure and profitable Gospel teaching. We agree with the Author's purpose as respects the Reformers, as being useful and important; remarking only that the Church of the Reformation is to be brought continually to those Standards in which the Reformers and their helpers in the work jointly concurred, rather than to the sentiments contained in their sermons, or any other parts of their teaching which have come down to us. The Reformation itself was not a compromise; the united mind of those who effected it gave no uncertain decision: but the language in which it had to be expressed in the Prayer-book was, unhappily, though necessarily, a compromise. All large documents are (and it must be so), more or less, of this character. When an address, or any other public manifesto, is to be signed, the phraseology must be so managed and adapted as that all may be willing to affix their names. But when it is completed, individual subscribers are often heard to complain, some that it goes beyond, others that it falls below, what they could have desired to see put forth. The framers of our Prayer-book were cramped by their circumstances: and to this cause are to be referred our present complexities, whenever disputed points are brought to trial. Single words, and short types of expression, of at least an ambiguous cast, which were at hand when the framers of the Liturgy set about their work,—these are the salient pegs on which Rome-poisoned clergymen, with some plausibility, but with much more dishonesty, are bold to hang up their pretensions.
"It is easy to say that Hooper and his brother Reformers did their work badly, countenanced many abuses, left many things imperfect and incomplete. All this may be very true. But in common fairness men should remember the numerous difficulties they had to contend with, and the mountain of rubbish they had to shovel away. To my mind the wonder is not so much that they did so little, but rather that they succeeded in doing anything'at all." (p. 15.)