Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

any given time, are the highest efforts of thought possible in that age. To construct a perfect and absolute metaphysic requires :- 1st. A perfect and absolute discernment of all the possible sources of human knowledge. 2nd. An adequate conception of the limits of the human intellect. 3rd. An exact and definite acquaintance with the whole possible sphere in which human reason may be advantageously employed. 4th. A clear and distinct differentiation between the subjective and the objective. In so far as any philosophy is wanting in the qualities definitively specified above, it is necessarily tentative and temporary, capable of further development and a nobler reconstruction. In which point, then, did the philosophy of Thales chiefly exhibit a deficiency? The chief defect, we apprehend, consisted in the possession of no clearly defined principle by which the subjective might be distinguished from the objective—the ideal from the real. The unity which was sought was not analyzed with sufficient care, and the analogy implied between the spirit of man and the soul of the universe was rashly, perlaps, overstrained. Here, in the first earnest struggle of mind with the mysteries it felt, it failed clearly to distinguish between itself and the phenomenal universe; and thus it clung to the tangible and visible in preference to the ideal. Everything changes and is metamorphosed, it is true; but by what power are these changes made— by what percipiency are these changes registered? Are all changes equally fatalistically determined? If not, why is not man differentiated from the material elements around him? But, in this era, when the perilous questioning of the mysteries around man are merely fashioning themselves, we ask, perhaps, too much. Has not much been done, when a new tract of thought is opened up? Truly, we dare not hesitate to exclaim, with Pliny, of those who thus enrich the realms of thought, “ Hail to you, and to your genius! Interpreters of Heaven! Worthy recipients of the laws of the Universe! Authors of principles which connect Gods and men!”

Religion.

WHICH SYSTEM IS MOST IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, AND

PRODUCTIVE OF THE BEST RESULTS-EPISCOPACY, PRESBYTERIANISM, OR CONGREGATIONALISM?

EPISCOPACY.-ARTICLE IV. In reading the papers which have been not the case, they must have mistaken their written on this subject, in the Contro- way, either through inattention, or for want versialist, I have been much surprised to of a larger development of that somewhat notice how each writer, as by common con- metaphysical quality, the faculty of abstracsent, has departed from the thesis given; for tion, which enables a man to distinguish if we except the first article on Episcopacy, clearly between a thing and its estrinsie the real matter in dispute has scarcely even adjuncts or accompaniments. The subject been approached.* The talent displayed by is clearly written—"Which system is most the various writers forbids the idea that they in accordance with the Scriptures, and prohave purposely avoided the theme as one too ductive of the best results Episcopacy, difficult for discourse, since they have entered Presbyterianism, or Congregationalism into another equally difficult; yet, if this be If, however, I had not seen this heading, I

could have come to no other conclusion than * It is proper to state that this paper was sent to us when only two of the articles on each subject that the subject in dispute was the propriety had appeared.

or impropriety of a State Religion or National

Church. It is a departure from the real | Europe, especially under the first French subject into this which has led the Episco- Republic. palian to speak somewhat too disparagingly Secondly, let me say that the general of his dissenting brethren;—which has led developments of Episcopacy have been anythe Presbyterian to cite the non-endowed thing rather than the making of bishops Papal church as a bad example of Congrega- "the subjects and minions of the State." tionalism, and to attribute an apostolic There is a principle so strongly inherent in foundation to the results of a " bad ambi-man, that even Christianity has, thus far, tion.” It is the same departure, too, which failed to eradicate it; and perhaps if we look has induced the Congregationalist to look beneath the surface of things, we may see with such jaundiced eyes upon a God-hon- therein a new evidence of the truth of our oured and time-honoured order of men; and holy religion in the testimony that principle in the warmth of his declamation, to load gives to one of the most controverted of its with undistinguishing vituperation and slan- doctrines — the fall of man,- proceeding, der a whole race of bishops,—to some of as it seerns to do, from an instinctive conwhom, as I may have occasion to instance, sciousness of his fall, and an attempt to he is actually indebted under God for the raise himself, — I mean the principle of liberty he now enjoys, for the privilege he LAWLESSNESS

, or political antinomianism. uses to such excess, of “ speaking evil of dig- Christians are imperatively taught in the nities.” Not less consistent indeed would Holy Scriptures the duty of obedience to the infidel be who denounced Christianity as the laws, and the authorities” or adminisan evil because it had produced such mad trators the laws, of the nation in which enthusiasts as the Scandinavian Anabaptists, they dwell. Yet among Christians under such prelate-murdering fanatics as Balfour every form of church government, this politiof Burley, or such demons in human form cal antinomianism or lawlessness has, again as the Spanish inquisitors, than are these and again, been manifest. Among Congrewriters, in attributing to different forms of gationalists, who are lacking in union, and church government all the evils which have consequently in power, this principle has accompanied those forms in the different generally displayed itself in resistance or phases of their chronological course.

disobedience to the law or its imposts. The The wanderings of which I complain will " Independent” places himself above the law, render it necessary for me to devote a little his conscience being the sole judge of its time to clearing the way of the obstructions propriety; and if he disapproves, he thinks thus thrown upon it, and to treat the subject it right to disobey. The Presbyterian and rather less in order” than I could wish. Episcopal churches being more like organised First, then, let me intimate that Episcopacy corporations, have displayed the same prinis not necessarily a State religion, nor is a ciple in a different manner. Theirs have State religion necessarily Episcopal; though not been individual acts of resistance or disour Congregational advocates have treated obedience, but a combined effort to place the the two as almost synonymous terms. Indeed, Church above the Throne. We have wit“Rolla," in his argument, seems to lose sight nessed this latterly, as well as in former of the fact that there are any Episcopal times, among the Presbyterians of North churches in the world besides that of Eng- Britain; and numerous have been its maniland, or any National or State churches but festations among Episcopalians, that being what are Episcopal; whereas, if he will look the “sacerdotal element” which led to the around him, he will find that, in addition to corruption of the Greek and Latin churches : the Roman and the Eastern churches, there while in our own country, it has forced a are unestablished Episcopal churches in pusillanimous monarch to do penance at the Scotland, in America, yea, and even in Eng- tomb of an arrogant archbishop; led another land itself—as witness that of the Moravian unfortunate king to the scaffold through brethren, of whom more anon; and that foolish adherence to the teachings of Laudian on the other hand, Presbyterianism is the ecclesiastics; and has latterly, under the established religion of Scotland, while some- Tractarian “conspiracy,” attempted to“ unthing like “ Congregationalism" has been re- protestantize the Protestant church.” Thus, peatedly “established” on the Continent of then, by taking a wider gaze, we discover

that bishops are not usually the “subjects everything except a little sediment. The and minions of the State." Nor will our Throne and Church fell together. The own annals fail to furnish us with more Episcopal clergy, good and bad alike, were glorious and illustrious examples of this proscribed and hunted as wild beasts. Somefact, of which I will just instance one thing akin to Congregationalism and Pres. England had been freed from Papal domina- byterianism united was the “established tion, and almost freed from Papal error, when, religion, a hatred to liturgies and creeds through the intrigues of Jesuits at home and forming the principal cement of its union; abroad, a monarch was induced to attempt and evangelical truth and wild fanaticism the restoration of both. He usurped the were apparently in close alliance. The prerogatives alike of lay and clerical nobles “Restoration succeeded. The Puritans and commoners. He issued his commands, were in their turn ejected; and cold formalwhich often were clearly adverse to the laws ism became the predominant religion, while of the land; and usually enforced obedience. the state of morals was eminently loose and But at length he tried his autocratic experi- bad. But must we blame Episcopacy for ments upon men who knew their duty to this? or even liturgies and creeds? I think their country and their God, and were re- not. The nation, escaping from the iron solved to perform it. They were bishops: rule” of the “ Puritans," which was felt to and sever bishops were committed to the be an intolerable restraint, ran somewhat Tower because they would not become “the naturally to the opposite extreme; and the subjects and minions of the State.” They Church, in defiance of her own ritual and both resisted and suffered as Christians. formularies, yea, in direct contradiction to They resisted, not the law, but the arbitrary her own “form of sound words,” taught docwill of one who was seeking to over-ride the trines inconsistent with them. But what law, and set it at defiance. And their became of the "ejected"? Truly, “ there resistance, instrumentally, was the cause of were giants in those days,the days of Howe, the overthrow of the Stuarts, and the glorious and Owen, and Baxter, and the Henrys, Revolution of 1688; and laid the foundation Matthew and Philip; but where are their of the civil and religious liberties we now successors ? Where is the Presbyterian enjoy.

Church of England, not loaded and bowed One more fallacy I must endeavour to down with creeds and rituals, nor corrupted explode. It is that of attributing the de- by union with the State? Alas, how are the generacy of Evangelical Christianity into mighty fallen! Behold their remains in the formalism or dull morality, to forms of congregations of Unitarians scattered here church government, or even to the accidents and there about the land,“ denying the Lord of creed,” “ endowment," or “establish that bought them.” But the Congregationalment.” That degeneracy has its origin in ist may object, that after the severance of something deeper—the common degeneracy their brief union with the State, these churches of man, his fall from original purity. I will were endowed by mistaken men and women, cite a few examples which our own recent whose wealth, left for the propagation of history will furnish. Any one at all ac- truth, is now prostituted to the propagation quainted with the literature of our English of error. Well, then, take another example

. Reformers (and the labours of the “ Parker Where are the old denomination of General Society” have put them within the reach of Baptists? They were unendowed Congremany who otherwise could not have access gationalists, yet they universally fell into to them), will at once give them credit for the same error; and are now fallen almost evangelical principles, and for a depth of into annihilation! while the “ Established " learning to which we moderns can make no Episcopal Church is waking into new vitality approach, simply because we have too much and comparative purity. to do, and have to live almost at railroad I have thus, I think, made it manifest (as speed. Yet, in a few ages after, we see their far as could easily be done in part only of a successors, under Charles the First, making brief paper), that evils which have been a retrograde movement, and attempting to attributed to various forms of church governseize hold of that papal cup of abomination ment have their root in something deeper; which their forefathers had emptied of and consequently, that the bitterness with which each in turn has been assailed, is not lished” doctrines or “ articles” of belief; and only a breach of Christian charity, but really it used to be the practice, though I know ill-judged and misplaced. I have thus not not what it may be now, for men, quite as only somewhat “cleared the way," but, in a fallible as the inditers of the Episcopal sort of incidental manner, entered into the Church's creeds and formularies, to examine second branch of the subject proposed—the the proposed minister as to his belief in these comparative practical value of that form of before he received his “call” to preside over church government which I hold to be the the church. Where this is not practised, right one.

the danger is only greater. Ministers and Induced, and almost forced, by the “wan- churches both have lapsed and may lapse. derings” of others thus to begin my observa- | With no settled doctrines it is impossible to tions at the wrong end, I will now proceed predicate on what point between evangelical in the same direction, and endeavour briefly truth and Atheism either the one or the to show this practical value in a more direct other may eventually land; or to what form, before I turn to that which I consider extravagant abuse they may ultimately carry its best foundation-scriptural authority. the liberty wherewith Christ hath made

B. S., the Congregational advocate, exults them free." in his freedom from the restraint of creeds Another fact on which the Congregational and formularies. He tells us, “it is in vain advocates lay much stress is the power they to frame creeds, to establish articles, and to possess of choosing their own ministers. publish canons of belief; no man can, no That serious evils have resulted from forcing man ever did assent to them honestly and upon parishes ministers to whom they were intelligently, because the governors of the repugnant, I candidly acknowledge. But religious community to which he belongs there are evils of an opposite character, when commanded him to do so. His mind must men “seek unto themselves teachers having and will sit in judgment upon every thing itching ears." The numerous splittings and which is offered for her belief; and unless discords, the heart-burnings and divisions she finds what she deems sufficient evidence which result from this practice are patent to she cannot (if she would) believe.” To the every one; but every one does not know, latter part of this sentence I, as an Episco- what I, who have been occasionally behind palian, and a believer in creeds, cordially the scenes, do know,—the state of dependence assent; but I deny that it is therefore in in which the independent minister is usually vain to “frame creeds, establish articles, and kept, or the necessity he is under (unless publish canons of belief.” Creeds bave been wealth or extraordinary talents render him universal in Episcopal churches; and if a truly independent) of preaching to please his creed be in accordance with scripture-if it people, or ceasing to eat bread. Nor is it be a summary of scripture doctrine--it is easy to conceive of anything resulting from true, and challenges the belief of a Chris-“ church patronage” being more indecorous tian, yea, of every man who believes the or antichristian than a scene which, some Scriptures. And even the Congregationalist forty years since, occurred among a congrepractically denies his own axiom. He rejects gation in a Nottingham “chapel," where the creeds, but he expects his minister to believe officers of justice had to interfere on a Lord's and preach certain doctrines, which he (as a day morning, to prevent a riot and an actual better judge than Councils or Reformers, or battle for possession of the pulpit, between a whole host of wise and learned men) deems the two parties into which the congregation in his own popeship to be essential; and his was divided. To such evils both Presbyunfortunate, but far from “independent” terian and Episcopal authority presents a minister, has not, in most cases, the advan- check, though their institutions, like all tage of knowing by “creeds," and " articles,” other things in this fallen world, are not and “canons of belief," what those doctrines without their defects. are; but may chance to find, and in many The Presbyterian, on the other hand, instances has found, that what is deemed exults in the equality of the ministers of his sound doctrine one year may be deemed error church, which, though it possesses its advannext. In most congregations the law is not tages, is not, I think, without its disadvanthus lax. There are recognized if not "pub- tages also." I demand," said a very repub

lican citizen to Lycurgus," a form of equality of office which is calculated to excite government in which all shall have equal a laudable ambition,—a “provoking of one power.” “Begin it, friend,” was the law- another to love and good works.” If it has giver's reply, " in thine owo family." Were been alloyed by a greater number of corruptalents and mental acquirements equal, were tions than the other two, it is only perhaps moral character in all respects equal, then because it has existed so much longer in a equality of power and privileges would be world of contamination and sin. And as strict and proper; but such is not the case existing among the “United Brethren" it in any of God's providential arrangements in has never exhibited either that lawlessness the universe around us. I defend no abuses. which disobeys the civil ruler, or attempts I plead for none of those excrescences which to place the church above the throne; that have grown around our venerable Church. worldliness which induces secularity; or that I am far from defending the practice of quarrelling, splitting, and dividing, which giving the highest appointments, either civil has been the reproach of the Congregational or ecclesiastical, to the families of the rich churches: but shows to the world at the and noble, holding as I do that for such present time, as it has done through all the offices mental capacity and moral worth ages of Papal darkness, a picture of a church form a far better patent of nobility. But I imbued with primitive simplicity, possessing do hold that, apart from all abuses, inequality all the ardour of a first love, and gifted with -a difference at once in position, influence, a missionary spirit which makes the whole and emolument–is really an advantage to a world its sphere. church, and calculated to raise the standard I come now, in the last place, to that which of her ministry.

is the first branch of the thesis—the scriptural And now, in concluding this branch of the evidence for Episcopacy; and here I need not subject, I will just revert again to the im- be otherwise than brief, because the matter propriety of blaming any institution for evils was well stated by F.J.L., in the first article. which do not belong intrinsically to it, but Indeed, after the Rev.J. A. James's admission are mere accidents of its existence. National that “no case occurs in inspired history establishments, whether right or wrong, have where it is mentioned that a church elected really nothing to do with this question. its own pastors,” I can well afford, not only Were all the statements made and quoted to be brief, but generous. I can afford to by“ Rolla” “ the truth, the whole truth, and give up the inference which may be legitinothing but the truth” (and many of them mately drawn from the frequent use of the are mis-statements and half-statements, the terms“ bishop," " presbyter” or “elder," and deductions from which have been refuted“ deacon," in the apostolic writings. I can again and again), still his burning eloquence afford to admit that the terms “bishop” and would be wholly misapplied. The objections "elder" were somewhat indiscriminately used even of John Milton were against the prelacy as designations of the same person. I can of his day, with its State corruptions and afford to admit that we have no such clear Laudian and popish developments. Episco- revelation respecting matters of church pacy, as an institution, has existed and still government as respecting matters of faith or exists independent of them all. And not to things essential to salvation. I can afford mention some of the bishops of our own even to allow that in the earlier days of the Church, against whom the said advocate apostles no regular system of church governseems so strangely prejudiced,-a visit to ment was established, though I will not any of the Moravian settlements in " this allow, either to the Congregationalist or to realm of England” might convince him, or John Henry Newman, that they left only any man, that there are Episcopal the germs of a system for man in his superior clergy, and bishops ruling them, who partake wisdom to develop. I will only now press more largely of the primitive simplicity of my claim to the indisputable and incontroapostolic times than any other denomination vertible facts, that one bishop or overseer in our most christian land.

was enjoined not to receive an accusation The Episcopal form of government, then, against an elder but before two or three possesses all the advantages of combination, witnesses (1 Tim. v. 19); thus showing him order, restraint, supervision, and that in- 1(though not an apostle) to be a judge or ruler

« AnteriorContinuar »