« السابقةمتابعة »
and that is the charge of idolatry, which was laid by all the orthodox fathers against the Arians, for worshipping and praying to Christ, when they believed him not to be the true God, but only a creature, though of the most exalted nature. This does so fully show the sense of the Church against all worship, be it of what kind it will, to any creature (for it was not the highest and most sovereign worship which the Arians were supposed or charged to give to Christ,) that it is the plainest thing in the world, that there could be no manner of worship then to saints or angels, or to the blessed Virgin, as there is now in the Roman Church."
The primitive Christians continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, which was their manner of expressing the celebration of the holy communion. We have express scripture that Christ gave the cup to his apostles, who all drank of it; and St. Paul says, "the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ?" Nevertheless, the Roman Church, in direct defiance of our Lord's peremptory command, and the usage of the whole Church, up to the year 1414, deprived the laity of the cup in the sacrament. The Council of Constance decreed, "Although Christ did institute this venerable sacrament after supper, and administered it to his disciples under both kinds of bread and wine, yet, notwithstanding this......and, in like manner, that although in the primitive church this sacrament was received of the faithful under both kinds, yet, for the avoiding any dangers and scandals, the custom has reasonably been introduced, that it be received by the officiating persons under both kinds, but by the laity only under the kind of bread; since it is to be believed most firmly, and in no wise to be doubted, that the whole body and blood of Christ is truly contained, as well under the species of bread as under that of wine. "
In this canon the Church of Rome honestly confesses that her daring impiety in this particular is in direct contradiction to the usage of the primitive church, as well as the usage of their own church, to the fifteenth century. The idolatry of worshipping the consecrated symbols with divine honour is the natural consequence of their doctrine of the corporeal presence, and which is of so modern a date as the thirteenth session of the Council of Trent, which is the foundation of the present Roman sect. And we do not charge the guilt of idolatry upon the Church of Rome as our own private opinion merely, but as the sober and deliberate decision of the Church of England in her communion office. "The sacramental bread and wine remain still in their natural substances, and therefore may not be adored, for that were IDOLATRY to be ABHORRED of all faithful Christians." Erasmus, who was well acquainted with the fathers, says, that "it was late before the Church (of Rome) defined transubstantiation, which was unknown to the ancients, both name and thing." And Alphonsus à Castro plainly says that, "concerning the transubstantiation of the bread into the body of Christ, there is seldom any mention in the ancient writers."
In looking at the present state of the Roman Church, we have no hesitation in adopting the sentiments of Bishop Bull, “that the Church of Rome hath quite altered the primitive ecclesiastical government, the
1 Coun. Constance, sess. xiii. in Perceval's Roman Schism, p. 144.
primitive canon or rule of faith, and miserably corrupted the primitive liturgy, or form of divine worship." And we can arrive at no other conclusion, than that Bellarmine's sixth note-" of agreement in doctrine with the primitive Church,"-is not a mark of the Tridentine Church, nor one into which she will ever allow her members to inquire too particularly. Her most prominent marks are intolerance and cruelty, which has fixed indelibly the mark of Cain-the scarlet mark of blood-upon her, and last, not least, the mark which the Holy Spirit has himself affixed to her Strong delusion that they should believe A LIE;" and " speaking LIES IN HYPOCRISY, having their consciences seared with a hot iron."
PURITANISM AND ITS EFFECTS.
ON the principle that "ex nihilo nihil fit," in other words, that every effect must proceed from some cause, it becomes a question of much importance, at the present time, what the cause is which has led to the gross immorality, lawless insubordination, and total want of religious principle, which we observe in many of the large cities, and in some of the rural districts of the country. The effect is certainly very obvious, the cause lies rather deeply hid. By the philosophical and inquiring mind, however, the whole will be traced to what, in general terms, may be denominated PURITANISM.
In Queen Elizabeth's day, a set of fidgetty men (under what external influence we stop not to inquire) made a pretence of conscientious scruples for refusing, in the first place, to comply with the ceremonies of the Church; by and by they could not, for the same reason, yield obedience to the discipline of the Church; and, lastly, they found out that, from the self-same cause, they could not agree with the doctrines of the Church! In order to gain credit with the public, these men were for ever proclaiming that they were the only true" gospellers," and that the Church party were deep in the slough of "legality" and Erastianism. They also pretended to great "liberality," rejecting with scorn to be bound to form or party; whilst they clamoured loud against churchmen, as intolerant bigots, and men wedded to lifeless forms and outward observances. Pure inward religion was all that they valued; they would not be confined to outward rites and ceremonies-not they. They were holier than other men, and their religion of a more spiritual nature than common; at least, so they gave out, and endeavoured to make men believe. Hence they got the name of Puritans; but they delighted most in being denominated "gospellers."
The principal features of their religious system were as follow:-Faith was constantly and prominently brought forward, which was all very right and very proper; but the mention of good works was looked upon as savouring of heresy, or "legal" darkness: nay, by some, good works' were thought to obstruct the path of salvation !-the feelings were roused, whilst the judgment was rarely called into exercise; the audience were continually called upon to " COME to Christ," and to "EMBRACE Christ;" but there was no mention of the fact that Christ must receive men into his church before they can embrace him, and that it is then the duty of
his servants to FOLLOW Him in the path of piety, and holiness, and every good work. Much was said of the utter depravity of human nature; but scarcely was any mention made of what human nature is, when renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and strengthened by its union with Christ; extempore prayer and rhapsodical preaching were lauded to the skies; but one rarely heard of the importance and efficacy of the holy sacraments of Christ's appointment; and, not to be tedious, rant, fanaticism, loud speaking, and violent gesticulation, were esteemed the principal qualifications of the preachers; whilst the commission of Christ, and the sober decorum of the ministers of the Church were ridiculed and despised.
We might trace the connection between this system and the practice of the Puritans in the days of the first Charles and of Oliver Cromwell. The nation became disgusted with a system of religion in which there was much more of pretension than of practice, and of hypocrisy than of holiness. Unfortunately the reaction led to the other extreme. Gospel had been so prostituted, that, for a season, it appeared to be in some degree superseded by the "ethics" of heathen philosophers. But, fortunately, the services of the Church counteracted in no slight degree the deadening tendency of this philosophical system of preaching. The services of the Church embody a complete system of divinity, pure and scriptural and consequently of the most spiritual and evangelical character. The moral essays of the pulpit received life and vigour from the desk and altar; and hence, although neither very proper nor evangelical, they led to no bad consequences.
About a century ago, John Wesley and his companions revived the puritanical mode of preaching in England. About the same time, or a little before, Ebenezer Erskine and his companions, who formed the "Secession" in Scotland, adopted this style of preaching, which had rather unaccountably fallen into desuetude in the Kirk of Scotland: we say unaccountably, because its basis is very firmly laid in the "Confession of Faith," to which all the ministers of the Scotch Kirk are required to set their signature. This revived style of preaching was now dignified with a new name; it was now, par excellence, designated" evangelical;" and, in order to exalt its fame, and to depreciate the more sober system prevalent among churchmen, they denominated the latter" dry moral preaching."
Wesley's system became popular. It treated principally, or, rather, wholly, of faith: it encouraged enthusiasm, and spiritual pride; it quieted the consciences of the greatest sinners, by assuring them that they were of the number of the elect, if they could only point to a particular time at which they were sensible of their conversion; and it recommended itself to all ranks, by liberating them, in a great measure, from the obligations of apostolical fellowship, and strict attention to the services of the Church, and regular recourse to the instituted means of grace if, instead of these, they spoke much about liberality of principle, and an interest in Christ, ́ and a prayerful spirit. Many of the ministers of the Church became converts to this system, and the late eminent and pious Simeon, of Cambridge, by his influence and writings, put a stamp upon it, which gave it ready admittance into most of our large towns. From the peculiarly high chararacter which the so called " evangelical" system obtained, we might naturally expect to find the most beneficial results wherever it prevailed.
Let us, then, take a look at the state of society in our large towns, in Wales, and in Scotland, where the system was most prevalent, and where the fairest proof of its influence and practical effects may be seen. We do not mean to assert that other causes may not have been in operation; but we have a right to judge of the value of a religious system from the influence which it exerts over all other causes, and the effects it has on society, and the general tone of the morals and manners of a neighbourhood where it is adopted. We are aware that we are about to venture upon untrodden ground, and therefore must guide our steps with caution: and, if we go wrong, we shall be glad if any of our friends will lend their aid to bring us back to the path of truth. Indeed, we should rejoice to see the subject temperately and candidly discussed in our columns, so that our readers as well as ourselves might be able, from sufficient data, to form a correct judgment in regard to the matter.
Looking at the state of society in our large towns, we may occasionally hear the loftiest pretensions to high evangelical experience asserted; but, at the same time, we meet with almost a total disregard of what may be called the obligations of religion. We hear a great deal about faith; but the means of grace are sadly undervalued, and the precepts of the Gospel but little regarded. There is a running after sermons and popular preachers; but the sacraments of the Church are often neglected, Christ's commission is despised, and good moral conduct is at a great discount. Prayers of no ordinary length may be made by some; but, at the same time, and sometimes among the same persons, drunkenness, and licentiousness, and a spirit of insubordination, are common. That this is the case in most of our large towns will not be denied. The quantity of ardent spirits consumed; the number of loose characters abounding, and the frequent feverish meetings which take place, are evidence that the popular system of preaching has not produced effects equal to its pretensions.
But, lest it should be supposed that densely populated cities afford no criterion of the value of a religious system, let us take a look at Wales, where puritanism, or so called, evangelical preaching, has found a better reception than almost any where else; and, what do we find? As much drunkenness and more insubordination than any where else! The late proceedings of the Chartists clearly testify that, upon them, at least, the system of religion, most popular among them, has not succeeded in impressing them with a sense of subordination and due submission to the powers that be. In short, the Principality has been the nursery and asylum of high" evangelical" doctrines, as they have most unwarrantably been denominated; and, beyond all dispute, there is a sad lack there of "good works."
If we go down to Scotland, the most Calvinistic country in the world, in other words, as the phrase has for some time implied, the most gelical" portion of the kingdom, we learn, from authentic returns, that there is more ardent spirits consumed, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, than in any country in the world. This is certainly a remarkable fact; and from it, we may assume, that the prevalent system of religion has not been able to counteract the increasing depravity. For a time, during the latter part of the last and beginning of the present century, the ministers of Scotland very generally relinquished the high Calvinistic, or, as it would be called, the real " evangelical" system of preaching; but, of late years, it has become very popular. It would be
an interesting inquiry to ascertain whether drunkenness, and debauchery, and insubordination, and crime, have increased in something like an exact ratio with the prevalence of the popular system of religion. In Scotland, the usual cry about FAITH is as loud as in any part of the kingdom; and, as we said before, it is all very right that faith should be considered as the very life and soul of every religious act and virtuous deed: but, on the other hand, it cannot be too strongly impressed on the mind that a religious system which exalts faith to the almost total disparagement of the sacraments, the precepts, the ministry, and other institutions of the Gospel, is and must be grossly pernicious, how much soever it may claim for itself the title of " evangelical." The effects of such a system are now beginning to appear wherever it has prevailed: it is therefore time to expose the hollowness and danger of the delusion; the character and safety of thousands of our countrymen would render longer silence almost criminal.
The so called " evangelical" system has not effected the high and holy purposes of the Gospel of the Son of God. Much irreligion and gross immorality are indisputably prevalent in those localities where the popular system has had the fairest and fullest trial. And, what is the remarkable fact connected with this result? It is, that the advocates of the popular system are aware of its failure, although they will not directly acknowledge the humiliating truth. For some time back, they appear to have discovered the defects of their favourite system: some of powerful minds, with whom the love of truth is stronger than the bands of prejudice, have returned to the true EVANGELICAL principles which the Bible reveals, and which the Church of England has so fully embodied in her various offices and formularies; but the great majority, both of Churchmen and Dissenters, who had embraced the popular system, have, of late, on discovering its inefficiency, adopted a very different course. To promote that religious feeling and moral rectitude which their favourite system has totally failed to produce, they have had recourse to devices of a novel and rather equivocal character. Temperance Societies" are now to accomplish the work of the Gospel of Christ, and to do the office of his Church. Wonders, not less surprising than the pseudo-evangelical system was once thought capable of effecting are now to be wrought by this remarkable device. The sacred institutions of Christ are all but superseded by the temperance system, which is to effect what they were intended to accomplish. "Revivals are also discovered to be necessary to supply the defects of the system which was to make saints of all who embraced it. These revivals are to do the work of the Gospel, and to effect what the so called evangelical system has so signally failed to accomplish. They are to make men moral and religious, and better than those around them.
It does not require the spirit of prophecy to predict that the temperance system and the revival system will, in their turn, prove as complete failures as that whose defects they are intended to supply. They are devices of men usurping the institutions of God; and, therefore, be they ever so popular and ever so prosperous for a time, they must ultimately be found to be complete failures.
All this may be accounted as the language of prejudice by the advocates of those popular movements. But we appeal to facts, and are willing to abide by the result of impartial investigation, and we really think