[Being Nos. 38 and 41 of TRACTS FOR THE TIMES, 1834.]

[Tract No. 38 (Ad Scholas)]


{21} Laicus.—Will you listen to a few free questions from one who has not known you long enough to be familiar with you without apology? I am struck by many things I have heard you say, which show me that, somehow or other, my religious system is incomplete: yet at the same time the world accuses you of Popery, and there are seasons when I have misgivings whither you are carrying me.

Clericus.—I trust I am prepared, most willing I certainly am, to meet any objections you have to bring against doctrines which you have heard me maintain. Say more definitely what the charge against me is.

L. That your religious system, which I have heard some persons style the Apostolical, and which I so name by way of designation, is like that against which our forefathers protested at the Reformation.

C. I will admit it, i.e. if I may reverse your statement, and say, that the Popish system resembles the Apostolical. Indeed, how could it be otherwise, seeing that all corruptions of the truth must be like the truth which they corrupt, else they would not persuade mankind to take them instead of it? {22}

L. A bold thing to say, surely; to make the earlier system an imitation of the later!

C. A bolder, surely, to assume that mine is the later, and the Popish the earlier. When think you that my system (so to call it) arose?—not with myself?

L. Of course not; but whatever individuals have held it in our Church since the Reformation, it must be acknowledged that they have been but few, though some of them doubtless eminent men.

C. Perhaps you would say (i.e. the persons whose views you are representing), that at the Reformation, the stain of the old theology was left among us, and has shown itself in its measure ever since, as in the poor, so again in the educated classes;—that the peasantry still use and transmit their Popish rhymes, and the minds of students still linger among the early Fathers; but that the genius and principles of our Church have ever been what is commonly called Protestant.

L. This is a fair general account of what would be maintained.

C. You would consider that the Protestant principles and doctrines of this day were those of our Reformers in the sixteenth century; and that what is called Popery now, is what was called Popery then.

L. On the whole: there are indeed extravagances now, as is obvious. I would not defend extremes; but I suppose our Reformers would agree with moderate Protestants of this day, in what they meant by Protestantism and by Popery.

C. This is an important question, of course; much depends on the correctness of the answer you have made to it. Do you make it as a matter of history, from knowing the opinions of our Reformers, or from what you consider probable?

L. I am no divine. I judge from a general knowledge {23} of history, and from the obvious probabilities of the case, which no one can gainsay.

C. Let us then go by probabilities, since you lead the way. Is it not according to probabilities that opinions and principles should not be the same now as they were three hundred years since? that though our professions are the same, yet we should not mean by them what the Reformers meant? Can you point to any period of Church history, during which doctrine remained for any time uncorrupted? Three hundred years is a long time. Are you quite sure we do not need a SECOND REFORMATION?

L. Are you really serious? Have we not Articles and a Liturgy, which keep us from deviating from the standard of truth set up in the sixteenth century?

C. Nay, I am maintaining no paradox. Surely there is a large religious party all around us who say the great body of the Clergy has departed from the doctrines of our Martyrs at the Reformation. I do not say I agree with the particular charges they prefer; but the very circumstance that they make them is a proof there is nothing extravagant in the notion of the Church having departed from the doctrine of the sixteenth century.

L. It is true; but the persons you refer to, bring forward, at least, an intelligible charge; they appeal to the Articles, and maintain that the Clergy have departed from the doctrine therein contained. They may be right or wrong; but at least they give us the means of judging for ourselves.

C. This surely is beside the point. We were speaking of probabilities. What change actually has been made, if any, is a further question, a question of fact. But before going on to examine the particular case, I observe that change of some sort was probable; probable in itself you can hardly deny, considering the history of the universal Church; not extravagantly improbable, moreover, in spite of Articles, as is sufficiently proved by the extensively {24} prevailing opinion to which I referred, that the clergy have departed from them. Now consider the course of religion and politics, domestic and foreign, during the last three centuries, and tell me whether events have not occurred to increase this probability almost to a certainty; the probability, I mean, that the members of the English Church of the present day differ from the principles of the Church of Rome more than our forefathers differed. First, consider the history of the Puritans from first to last. Without pronouncing any opinion on the truth or unsoundness of their principles, were they not evidently further removed from Rome than were our Reformers? Was not their influence all on the side of leading the English Church farther from Rome than our Reformers placed it? Think of the fall of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Reflect upon the separation and extinction of the Nonjurors, upon the rise of Methodism, upon our political alliances with foreign Protestant communities. Consider especially the history and the school of Hoadley. That man, whom a high authority of the present day does not hesitate to call a Socinian [Note 1], was for near fifty years a bishop in our Church.

L. You tell me to think on these facts. I wish I were versed enough in our ecclesiastical history to do so.

C. But you are as well versed in it as the generality of educated men; as those whose opinions you are now maintaining. And they surely ought to be well acquainted with our history, and the doctrines taught in our different schools and eras, considering they scruple not to charge such as me with a declension from the true Anti-popish doctrine of our Church. For what the doctrine of the Church is, what it has been for three centuries, is a matter of fact which without reading cannot be known. {25}

L. Let us leave, if you please, this ground of probability, which, whatever you may say, cannot convince me while I am able to urge that strong objection to it which you would not let me mention just now. I repeat, we have Articles; we have a Liturgy; the dispute lies in a little compass, without need of historical reading:—do you mean to say we have departed from them?

C. I am not unwilling to follow you a second time, and will be explicit. I reply, we have departed from them. Did you ever study the Rubrics of the Prayer Book?

L. But surely they have long been obsolete;—they are impracticable!

C. It is enough; you have answered your own question without trouble of mine. Not only do we not obey them, but it seems we style them impracticable. I take your admission. Now, I ask you, are not these Rubrics (I might also mention parts of the Services themselves which have fallen into disuse), such as in the present day incur the odium of being called Popish? and, if so, is not this a proof that the spirit of the present day has departed (whether for good or evil) from the spirit of the Reformation?—and is it wonderful that such as I should be called Popish, if the Church Services themselves are considered so?

L. Will you give me some instances?

C. Is it quite in accordance with our present Protestant notions, that unbaptized persons should not be buried with the rites of the Church?—that every Clergyman should read the Daily Service morning and evening at home, if he cannot get a congregation?—that in college chapels the Holy Communion should be administered every week?—that Saints' Days should be observed?—that stated days of fasting should be set apart by the Church? Ask even a sober-minded really serious man about the observance of these rules; will he not look grave, and say that {26} he is afraid of formality and superstition if these rules were attended to?

L. And is there not the danger?

C. The simple question is, whether there is more danger now than three centuries since? was there not far more superstition in the sixteenth than in the nineteenth century? and does the spirit of the nineteenth move with the spirit of the sixteenth, if the sixteenth commands and the nineteenth draws back?

L. But you spoke of parts of the Services themselves as laid aside?

C. Alas! …
What is the prevailing opinion or usage respecting the form of absolution in the office for Visiting the Sick? What is thought by a great body of men of the words in which the Priesthood is conveyed? Are there no objections to the Athanasian Creed? no murmurs against the Commination Service? Does no one stumble at the word "oblations," in the Prayer for the Church Militant? Is there no clamour against parts of the Burial Service? No secret or scarcely secret complaints against the word "regeneration" in the Baptismal? No bold protestations against reading the Apocrypha? Now do not all these objections rest upon one general ground: viz. That these parts of our Services savour of Popery? And again, are not these the popular objections of the day?

L. I cannot deny it.

C. I consider then that already I have said enough to show that the Churchman of this day has deviated from the opinions of our Reformers, and has become more opposed than they [the latter] were to the system they protested against. And, therefore, I would observe, it is not fair to judge of me, or of such as me, in the off-hand way which many men take the liberty to adopt. Men seem to think that we are plainly and indisputably proved to be Popish, {27} if we are proved to differ from the generality of Churchmen now-a-days. But what if it turn out that they are silently floating down the stream, and we are upon the shore?

L. All, however, will allow, I suppose, that our Reformation was never completed in its details. The final judgment was not passed upon parts of the Prayer Book. There were, you know, alterations in the second edition of it published in King Edward's time; and these tended to a more Protestant doctrine than that which had first been adopted. For instance, in King Edward's first book the dead in CHRIST were prayed for; in the second this commemoration was omitted. Again, in the first book the elements of the LORD'S Supper were more distinctly offered up to GOD, and more formally consecrated than in the second edition, or at present. Had Queen Mary not succeeded, perhaps the men who effected this would have gone further.

C. I believe they would; nay indeed they did at a subsequent period. They took away the Liturgy altogether, and substituted a Directory.

L. They? the same men?

C. Yes, the foreign party: who afterwards went by the name of Puritans. Bucer, who altered in King Edward's time, and the Puritans, who destroyed in King Charles's, both came from the same religious quarter.

L. Ought you so to speak of the foreign Reformers? to them we owe the Protestant doctrine altogether.

C. I like foreign interference, as little from Geneva, as from Rome. Geneva at least never converted a part of England from heathenism, nor could lay claim to patriarchal authority over it. Why could we not be let alone and suffered to reform ourselves?

L. You separate then your creed and cause from that of the Reformed Churches of the Continent? {28}

C. Not altogether; but I protest against being brought into that close alliance with them which the world now-a-days would force upon us. The glory of the English Church is, that it has taken the VIA MEDIA, as it has been called. It lies between the (so called) Reformers and the Romanists; whereas there are religious circles, and influential too, where it is thought enough to prove an English Clergyman unfaithful to his Church, if he preaches anything at variance with the opinions of the Diet of Augsburg, or the Confessions of the Waldenses. However, since we have been led to speak of the foreign Reformers, I will, if you will still listen to me, strengthen my argument by an appeal to them.

L. That argument being, that what is now cried up as Protestant doctrine, is not what was considered such by the Reformers.

C. Yes; and I am going to offer reasons for thinking that the present age has lapsed, not only from the opinions of the English Reformers, but from those of the foreign also. This is too extensive a subject to do justice to in a conversation, even had I the learning for it; but I may draw your attention to one or two obvious proofs of the fact.

L. You must mean from Calvin; for Luther is, in some points, reckoned nearer the Romish Church than ourselves.

C. I mean Calvin, about whose extreme distance from Rome there can be no doubt. What is the popular opinion now concerning the necessity of an Episcopal Regimen?

L. A late incident has shown what it is; that it is uncharitable to define the Catholic Church, as "the body of Christians in every country governed by Bishops, Priests, and deacons;" such a definition excluding pious Dissenters and others. {29}

C. But what thought Calvin? "Calvin held those men worthy of anathema who would not submit themselves to truly Christian bishops, if such could be had." [Note 2] What would he have said then to the Wesleyan Methodists, and that portion of the (so called) Orthodox Dissenters, which is friendly at present to the Church? These allow that we, or that numbers among us, are truly Christian, yet make no attempts to obtain Bishops from us. Thus the age is more Protestant now than Calvin himself.

L. Certainly in this respect; unless Calvin spoke rhetorically under circumstances.

C. Now for a second instance. The following is his statement concerning the LORD'S Supper. "I understand what is to be understood by the words of CHRIST; that He doth not only offer us the benefits of His death and Resurrection, but His very body, wherein He died and rose again. I assert that the body of CHRIST is really (as the usual expression is); that it is truly given to us in the Sacrament, to be the saving food of our souls." … "The SON of GOD offers daily to us in the Holy Sacrament, the same body which He once offered in sacrifice to His Father, that it may be our spiritual food." … "If any one ask me concerning the manner, I will not be ashamed to confess that it is a secret too high for my reason to comprehend, or my tongue to express." [Note 3] Now, if I were of myself to use these words, (in spite of the qualification at the end, concerning the manner of His presence in the Sacrament,) would they not be sufficient to convict me of Popery in the judgment of this minute and unlearned generation?

L. You speak plausibly, I will grant; yet surely, after all, it is not unnatural that the Reformers of the sixteenth {30} century should have fallen short of a full Reformation in matters of doctrine and discipline. Light breaks but gradually on the mind: one age begins a work, another finishes.

C. I am arguing about a matter of fact, not defending the opinions of the Reformers. As to this notion of their being but partially illuminated, I am not concerned to oppose such a view, being quite content if the persons whom you are undertaking to represent are willing to admit it. And then, in consistency, I shall beg them to reproach me not with Popery but with Protestantism, and to be impartial enough to assail not only me, but "the Blessed Reformation," as they often call it, using words they do not understand. It is hard, indeed, that when I share in the opinions of the Reformers, I should have no share in their praises of them.

L. You speak as if you really agreed with the Reformers. You may say so in an argument, but in sober earnest you cannot mean to say you really agree with the great body of them. Neither you nor I should hesitate to confess they were often inconsistent, saying, at one time, what they disowned at another.

C. That they should have said different things at different times, is not wonderful, considering they were searching into Scripture and Antiquity, and feeling their way to the Truth. Since, however, they did vary in their opinions, for this very reason it is obvious I should be saying nothing at all, in saying that I agreed with them, unless I stated explicitly at what period of their lives, or in which of their writings. This I do state clearly: I say I agree with them as they speak in the formularies of the Church; more cannot be required of me, nor indeed is it possible to say more.

L. What persons complain of is, that you are not satisfied with the formularies of the Church, but add to them {31} doctrines not contained in them. You must allow there is little stress laid in the Articles on some points, which are quite cardinal in your system, to judge by your way of enforcing them.

C. This is not the first time you have spoken of this supposed system of ours. I will not stop to quarrel with you for calling it ours, as if it were not rather the Church's; but explain to me what you consider it to consist in.

L. The following are some of its doctrines: that the Church has an existence independent of the State; that the State may not religiously interfere with its internal concerns; that none may engage in ministerial works except such as are episcopally ordained; that the consecration of the Eucharist is especially entrusted to Bishops and Priests. Where do you find these doctrines in the formularies of the Church; that is, so prominently set forth, as to sanction you in urging them at all, or at least so strongly as you are used to urge them?

C. As to urging them at all, we might be free to urge them even though not mentioned in the Articles; unless indeed the Articles are our rule of faith. Were the Church first set up at the Reformation, then indeed it might be right so to exalt its Articles as to forbid to teach "whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby." I cannot consent, (I am sure the Reformers did not wish me,) to deprive myself of the Church's dowry, the doctrines which the Apostles spoke in Scripture and impressed upon the early Church. I receive the Church as a messenger from CHRIST, rich in treasures old and new, rich with the accumulated wealth of ages.

L. Accumulated?

C. As you will yourself allow. Our Articles are one portion of that accumulation. Age after age, fresh battles have been fought with heresy, fresh monuments of truth set up. As I will not consent to be deprived of the records {32} of the Reformation, so neither will I part with those of former times. I look upon our Articles as in one sense an addition to the Creeds; and at the same time the Romanists added their Tridentine articles. Theirs I consider unsound; ours as true.

L. The Articles have surely an especial claim upon you; who have subscribed them, and are therefore more bound to them, than to other truths, whatever or wherever they be.

C. There is a popular confusion on this subject. Our Articles are not a body of divinity, but in great measure only protests against certain errors of a certain period of the Church. Now I will preach the whole counsel of GOD, whether set down in the Articles or not. I am bound to the Articles by subscription; but I am bound, more solemnly even than by subscription, by my baptism and by my ordination, to believe and maintain the whole Gospel of CHRIST. The grace given at those seasons comes through the Apostles, not through Luther or Calvin, Bucer or Cartwright. You will presently agree with me in this statement. Let me ask, do you not hold the inspiration of Holy Scripture?

L. Undoubtedly.

C. Is it not a clergyman's duty to maintain and confess it?

L. Certainly.

C. But this doctrine is nowhere found in the Articles; and for this plain reason, that both Romanists and Reformers admitted it; and the difference between the two parties was, not whether the Old and New Testament were inspired, but whether the Apocrypha was of canonical authority.

L. I must grant it.

C. And in the same way, I would say, there are many other doctrines unmentioned in the Articles, only because {33} they were not then disputed by either party; and others again, for other reasons, short of disbelief in them. I cannot indeed make my neighbour preach them, for he will tell me he will believe only just so much as he has been obliged to subscribe; but it is hard if I am therefore to be defrauded of the full inheritance of faith myself. Look at the subject from another point of view, and see if we do not arrive at the same conclusion. A statesman of the last century is said to have remarked that we have Calvinistic Articles, and a Popish Liturgy. This of course is an idle calumny. But is there not certainly a distinction of doctrine and manner between the Liturgy and the Articles? And does not what I have just stated account for it, viz. that the Liturgy, as coming down from the Apostles, is the depository of their complete teaching; while the Articles are polemical, and except as they embody the creeds, are mainly protests against certain definite errors? Such are my views about the Articles; and if in my teaching, I lay especially stress upon doctrines only indirectly contained in them, and say less about those which are therein put forth most prominently, it is because times are changed. We are in danger of unbelief more than of superstition. The Christian minister should be a witness against the errors of his day.

L. I cannot tell whether on consideration I shall agree with you or not. However, after all, you have said not a word to explain what your real differences from Popery are; what those false doctrines were, which you conceive our Reformers withstood. You began by confessing that your opinions and the Popish opinions had a resemblance, and only disputed whether yours should be called like the Popish, or the Popish like yours. But in what are yours different from Rome?

C. Be assured of this—no party will be more opposed to our doctrine, if it ever prospers and makes noise, than the {34} Roman party. This has been proved before now. In the seventeenth century the theology of the divines of the English Church was substantially the same as ours is; and it experienced the full hostility of the Papacy. It was the true Via Media; Rome sought to block up that way as fiercely as the Puritans did. History tells us this. In a few words then, before we separate, I will state some of my irreconcilable differences with Rome [Note 4] ...

L. Thank you for this conversation; from which I hope to draw matter for reflection, though the subject seems to involve such deep historical research, I hardly know how to find my way through it.

The Feast of St. James.

[Tract No. 41 (Ad Scholas)]


{35} Laicus. I am come for some further conversation with you; or rather, for another exposition of your views on Church matters. I am not well read enough to argue with you; nor, on the other hand, do I profess to admit all you say: but I want, if you will let me, to get at your opinions. So will you lecture, if I give the subjects?

Clericus. To lecture, as you call it, is quite beyond me, since at best I have but a smattering of reading in Church history. The more's the pity; though I have as much as a great many others: for ignorance of our historical position as Churchmen is one of the especial evils of the day. Yet even with a little knowledge, I am able to see certain facts which seem quite inconsistent with notions at present received. For my practice, I should be ashamed of myself if I guided it by any theories. Here the letter and spirit of the Liturgy [Note 5] is my direction, as it is of all classes of Churchmen, high and low. Yet, though I do not lay a great stress on such views as I gather from history, it is to my mind a strong confirmation of them, that they just account for and illustrate the conclusions to which I am led by plain obedience to my ordination vows.

L. If you only wish to keep to the Liturgy, not to change, what did you mean the other day by those ominous words in which you suggested the need of a second Reformation? {36}

C. Because I think the Church has in a measure forgotten its own principles, as declared in the sixteenth century; nay, under stranger circumstances, as far as I know, than have attended any of the errors and corruptions of the Papists. Grievous as are their declensions from primitive usage, I never heard in any case of their practice directly contradicting their services;—whereas we go on lamenting once a year the absence of discipline in our Church, yet do not even dream of taking any one step towards its restoration. Again, we confess in the Articles that excommunication is a solemn duty of the Church under certain circumstances, and that the excommunicated person must be openly reconciled by penance, before he is acknowledged by the faithful as a brother; yet excommunication, I am told, is now a civil process, which takes place as a matter of course, at a certain stage of certain law proceedings. Here a reformation is needed.

L. Only of discipline, not of doctrine.

C. Again, when the Church, with an unprecedented confidence, bound herself hand and foot, and made herself over to the civil power, in order to escape the Pope, she did not expect that infidels (as it has lately been hinted) would be suffered to have the absolute disposal of the crown patronage.

L. This, again, might be considered matter of discipline. Our Reformation in the sixteenth century was one in matters of faith; and therefore we do not need a second Reformation in the same sense in which we needed it first.

C. In what points would you say the Church's faith was reformed in the sixteenth century?

L. Take the then received belief in purgatory and pardons, which alone was a sufficient corruption to call for a reformation.

C. I conceive the presumption of the Popish doctrine {37} on these points to lie in adding to the means of salvation set forth in Scripture. ALMIGHTY GOD has said that His SON'S merits shall wash away all sin, and that they shall be conveyed to believers through the two Sacraments; whereas, the Church of Rome has added other ways of gaining heaven.

L. Granted. The belief in purgatory and pardons disparages the sufficiency, first of CHRIST'S merits; next of His appointed sacraments. [Note 6]

C. And by "received" belief, I suppose you mean that it was the popular belief, which clergy and laity acted on, not that it was necessarily contained in any particular doctrinal formulary.

L. Proceed.

C. Do you not suppose that there are multitudes both among clergy and laity at the present day, who disparage, not indeed CHRIST'S merits, but the Sacraments He has appointed? and if so, is not their error so far the same in kind as that of the Romish Church—the preferring Abana and Pharpar to the waters of Jordan? Take the Sacrament of Baptism. Have not some denominations of schismatics invented a rite of dedication instead of Baptism? and do not Churchmen find themselves under the temptation of countenancing this Papist-like presumption?—Again, there is a well-known sect, which denies both Baptism and the LORD'S Supper. A Churchman must believe its members to be altogether external to the fold of CHRIST. Whatever benevolent works they may be able to show, still, if we receive the Church's doctrine concerning the means "generally necessary to salvation," {38} we must consider such persons to be mere heathens, except in knowledge. Now would there not be an outcry raised, as if I were uncharitable, did I refuse the rites of burial to such an one?

L. This outcry would not proceed from the better informed, or from the rulers of the Church.

C. Happily, we are not as yet so far corrupted. Our Prelates are still sound, and know the difference between what is modern and what is ancient. Yet is not the mode of viewing the subject I refer to, a growing one? and how does it differ from the presumption of the Papists? In both cases, the power of CHRIST'S sacraments is denied; in the one case by the unbelief of restlessness and fear, in the other by the unbelief of profaneness.

L. Well, supposing I grant that the Church of this day is in a measure faulty in faith and discipline; more or less, of course, according to the diocese and neighbourhood. Now, in the next place, what do you mean by your Reformation?

C. I would do what our reformers in the sixteenth century did: they did not touch the existing documents of doctrine [Note 7]—there was no occasion—they kept the creeds as they were; but they added protests against the corruptions of faith, worship, and discipline, which had grown up round them. I would have the Church do the same thing now, if I could: she should not change the Articles, she should add to them: add protests against the erastianism and latitudinarianism which have incrusted them. I would have her append to the Catechism a section on the power of the Church.

L. You have not mentioned any corruptions at present in worship; do you consider that there are such, as well as errors of faith and discipline?

C. Our Liturgy keeps us right in the main, yet there are what may be considered such, though for the most {39} part occasional. To board over the altar of a Church, place an orchestra there of playhouse singers, and take money at the doors, seems to me as great an outrage, as to sprinkle the forehead with holy water, and to carry lighted tapers in a procession.

L. Do not speak so harshly of what has often been done piously. George the Third was a patron of concerts in one of our Cathedrals.

C. Far be it from my mind to dare to arraign the actions of that religious king! The same deed is of a different nature at different times and under different circumstances. Music in a Church may as reverentially subserve the feelings of devotion as pictures or architecture; but it may not.

L. You could not prevent such a desecration by adding a fortieth article to the thirty-nine.

C. Not directly: yet though there is no article directly condemning religious processions, they have nevertheless been discontinued. In like manner, were an article framed (to speak by way of illustration) declaratory of the sanctity of places set apart to the worship of GOD and the reception of the saints that sleep, doubtless Churchmen would be saved from many profane feelings and practices of the day, which they give into unawares, such as the holding vestries in Churches, the flocking to preachers rather than to sacraments (as if the servant were above the Master, who is LORD over His own house), the luxurious and fashionable fitting up of town Churches, the proposal to allow schismatics to hold their meetings in them, the off-hand project of pulling them down for the convenience of streets and roads, and the wanton preference (for it frequently is wanton) of unconsecrated places, whether for preaching to the poor, or for administering sacred rites to the rich.

L. It is visionary to talk of such a reformation: the people would not endure it. {40}

C. It is; but I am not advocating it, I am but raising a protest. I say this ought to be, "because of the angels," [Note 8] but I do not hope to persuade others to think as I do.

L. I think I quite understand the ground you take. You consider that, as time goes on, fresh and fresh articles of faith are necessary to secure the Church's purity, according to the rise of successive heresies and errors. These articles were all hidden, as it were, in the Church's bosom from the first [Note 9], and brought out into form according to the occasion. Such was the Nicene explanation against Arius; the English articles against Popery: and such are those now called for in this Age of schism, to meet the new heresy, which denies the holy Catholic Church—the heresy of Hoadley, and others like him.

C. Yes—and let it never be forgotten, that, whatever were the errors of the Convocation of our Church in the beginning of the eighteenth century, it expired in an attempt to brand the doctrines of Hoadley. May the day be merely delayed!

L. I understand you further to say, that you hold to the Reformers as far as they have spoken out in our formularies, which at the same time you consider as incomplete; that the doctrines which may appear wanting in the Articles, such as the Apostolical Commission, are the doctrines of the Church Catholic; doctrines, which every member of it holds as being such, prior to subscription; that, moreover they are quite consistent with our Articles, sometimes are even implied in them, and sometimes clearly contained in the Liturgy, though not in the Articles, as the Apostolical Commission in the Ordination Service; lastly, that we are clearly bound to believe, and all of us {41} do believe, as essential, doctrines which nevertheless are not contained in the Articles, as e.g. the inspiration of Holy Scripture.

C. Yes—and further I maintain, that, while I fully concur in the Articles, as far as they go, those who call me Papist, do not acquiesce in the doctrine of the Liturgy.

L. This is a subject I especially wish drawn out. You threw out some hints about it the other day, though I cannot say you convinced me. I have misgivings, after all, that our Reformers only began their own work. I do not say they saw the tendency and issue of their opinions; but surely, had they lived, and had they had the opportunity of doing more, they would have given into much more liberal notions (as they are called) than you are disposed to concede. It is not by producing a rubric, or an insulated passage from the services, that you can destroy this impression. Such instances only show they were inconsistent, which I will grant. Still, is not the genius of our formularies towards a more latitudinarian system than they reach?

C. I will cheerfully meet you on the grounds you propose. Let us carefully examine the Liturgy in its separate parts. I think it will decide the point which I contended for the other day, viz. that we now are more Protestant than our Reformers.

L. What do you mean by Protestant in your present use of the word?

C. A number of distinct doctrines are included in the notion of Protestantism: and as to all these, our Church has taken the VIA MEDIA between it and Popery. At present I will use it in the sense most apposite to the topics we have been discussing; viz. as the religion of so-called freedom and independence, as hating superstition, suspicious of forms, jealous of priestcraft, advocating heart-worship; {42} characteristics, which admit of a good or a bad interpretation, but which, understood as they are instanced in the majority of persons who are zealous for what is called Protestant doctrine, are (I maintain) very inconsistent with the Liturgy of our Church. Now let us begin with the Confirmation Service.

L. Will not the Baptismal be more to your purpose? In it regeneration is connected with the formal act of sprinkling a little water on the forehead of an infant.

C. It is true; but I would rather show the general spirit of the Services, than take those obvious instances which, it seems, you can find out for yourself. Is it not certain that a modern Protestant, even though he granted that children were regenerated in Baptism, would, in the Confirmation Service, have inserted some address to them about the necessity of spiritual renovation, of becoming new creatures, &c.? I do not say such warning has not its appropriateness; nor do I propose to account for our Church's not giving it; but is it not quite certain that the present prevailing temper in the Church would have given it, judging from the prayers and sermons of the day, and that the Liturgy does not? Were that former day like this, would it not have been deemed formal and cold, and to argue a want of spiritual-mindedness, to have proposed a declaration, such as has been actually adopted, that "to the end that Confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying of such as shall receive it ... none hereafter shall be confirmed, but such as can say the Creed, the LORD'S Prayer, and the Ten Commandments," &c.; nothing being said of a change of heart, or spiritual affections? And yet, upon this mere external profession, the children receive the imposition of the Bishop's hands, "to certify them by this sign, of GOD'S favour and gracious goodness towards them."

L. From the line you are adopting, I see you will find {43} Services more Anti-Protestant (in the modern sense of Protestant,) than that for Confirmation.

C. Take, again, the Catechism. What can be more technical and formal (as the persons I speak of would say,) than the division of our duties into our duty towards GOD and our duty towards our neighbour? Indeed, would not the very word duty be objected to by them, as obscuring the evangelical character of Christianity? Why is there no mention of newness of heart, of appropriating the mercies of redemption, and such like phrases, which are now common among so-called Protestants? Why no mention of justifying faith?

L. Faith is mentioned in an earlier part of the Catechism.

C. Yes, and it affords a remarkable contrast to the modern use of the word. Now-a-days, the prominent notion conveyed by it regards its properties, whether spiritual or not, warm, heart-felt, vital. But in the Catechism, the prominent notion is that of its object, the believing "all the Articles of the Christian faith," according to the Apostle's declaration, that it is, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

L. I understand; and the Creed is also introduced into the service for Baptism.

C. And still more remarkably into the Order for Visiting the Sick: more remarkably, both because of the season when it is introduced, when a Christian is drawing near his end, and also as being a preparation for the Absolution. Most comfortable, truly, in his last hour, is such a distinct rehearsal of the great truths on which the Christian has fed by faith with thanksgiving all his life long; yet it surely would not have suggested itself to a modern Protestant. He would rather have instituted some more searching examination (as he would call it,) of the state {44} of the sick man's heart; whereas the whole of the minister's exhortation is what the modern school calls cold and formal. It ends thus:—"I require you to examine yourself and your estate, both toward GOD and man; so that, accusing and condemning yourself for your own faults, you may find mercy at our heavenly FATHER'S hand for CHRIST'S sake, and not be accused and condemned in that fearful judgment. Therefore, I shall rehearse to you the Articles of our Faith, that you may know whether you believe as a Christian man should, or no."

L. You observe the Rubric which follows: it speaks of a further examination.

C. True; still it is what would now be called formal and external.

L. Yet it mentions a great number of topics for examination:—"Whether he repent him truly of his sins, and be in charity with all the world; exhorting him to forgive, from the bottom of his heart, all persons that have offended him; and if he hath offended any other, to ask them forgiveness; and where he hath done injury or wrong to any man, that he make amends to the uttermost of his power. And, if he hath not before disposed of his goods, let him then be admonished to make his will, and to declare his debts, what he oweth, and what is owing to him; for the better discharging of his conscience, and the quietness of his executors." Here is an exhortation to repentance, charity, forgiveness of injuries, humbleness of mind, honesty, and justice. What could be added?

C. You will be told that worldly and spiritual matters are mixed together; and, besides, not a word said of looking to CHRIST, resting on Him, and renovation of heart. Such are the expressions which modern Protestantism would have considered necessary, and would have inserted as being so. They are good words; still they are not those which our Church considers the words for a sick-bed {45} examination. She does not give them the prominence which is now given them. She adopts a manner of address which savours of what is now called formality. That our Church was no stranger to the more solemn kind of language, which persons now use on every occasion, is evident from the prayer "for a sick person, when there appeareth small hope of recovery," and "the commendatory prayer;" still she adopts the other as her ordinary manner.

L. I can corroborate what you just now observed about the Creed, by what I lately read in some book or books, advocating a revision of the Liturgy. It was vehemently objected to the Apostles' Creed, that it contained no confession of the doctrine of the atonement, nor (I think) of original sin.

C. It is well to see persons consistent. When they go full lengths, they startle others, and, perhaps (please GOD) themselves. Indeed, I wish men would stop a while, and seriously reflect whether the mere verbal opposition which exists between their own language and the language of the Services (to say nothing of the difference of spirit), is not a sort of warning to them, if they would take it, against inconsiderately proceeding in their present course. But nothing is more rare at this day than quiet thought. Every one is in a bustle, being bent to do a great deal. We preach, and run from house to house; we do not pray or meditate. But to return. Next, consider the first exhortation to the Communion: would it not be called, if I said it in discourse of my own, "dark, cold, and formal"? "The way and means thereto [to receive worthily] is,—First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of GOD'S commandments, &c … Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of GOD, an hinderer or slanderer of His word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or any other grievous crime, repent you of your sins," &c. Now this is what is called, in some quarters, by a great abuse of terms, "mere morality." {46}

L. If I understand you, the Liturgy, all along, speaks of the Gospel dispensation, under which it is our blessedness to live, as being, at the same time, a moral law; you mean that this is its prominent view; and that external observances and definite acts of duty are made the means and the tests of faith.

C. Yes; and that, in thus speaking, it runs quite counter to the innovating spirit of this day, which proceeds rashly forward on large and general views,—sweeps along, with one or two prominent doctrines, to the comparative neglect of the details of duty, and drops articles of faith and positive laws and ceremonial observances, as beneath the attention of a spiritual Christian, as monastic and superstitious, as forms, as minor points, as technical, lip-worship, narrow-minded, and bigoted.—Next, consider the wording of one part of the Commination Service:—"He was wounded for our offences, and smitten for our wickedness. Let us, therefore, return unto Him, who is the merciful receiver of all true penitent sinners; assuring ourselves that He is ready to receive us, and most willing to pardon us, if we come unto Him with faithful repentance; if we will submit ourselves unto Him, and from henceforth walk in His ways; if we will take His easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him in lowliness, patience, and charity, and be ordered by the governance of His Holy Spirit; seeking always His glory, and serving Him duly in our vocation with thanksgiving: This if we do, CHRIST will deliver us from the curse of the law," &c. Did another say this, he would be accused by the Protestant of this day of interfering with the doctrine of justification by faith.

L. You have not spoken of the daily service of the Church or of the Litany.

C. I should have more remarks to make than I like to trouble you with. First, I should observe on the absence {47} of what are now called, exclusively, the great Protestant doctrines, or, at least, of the modes of expression in which it is at present the fashion to convey them. For instance, the Collects are summaries of doctrine, yet I believe they do not once mention what has sometimes been called the "articulus stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiĉ." This proves to me that, true and important as this doctrine may be in a controversial statement, its direct mention is not so apposite in devotional and practical subjects as modern Protestants of our Church would consider it. Next, consider the general Confession, which prays simply that GOD would grant us "hereafter to live a godly, righteous, and sober life." Righteous and sober! alas! this is the very sort of words which Protestants consider superficial; good, as far as they go, but nothing more. In like manner, the priest, in the Absolution, bids us pray GOD "that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy." But I have given instances enough to explain my meaning about the Services generally: you can continue the examination for yourself. I will direct your notice to but one instance more,—the introduction of the Psalms into the Daily Service. Do you think a modern Protestant would have introduced them into it?

L. They are inspired.

C. Yes, but they are also what is called Jewish. I do certainly think, I cannot doubt, that had the Liturgy been compiled in a day like this, only a selection of them, at most, would have been inserted in it, though they were all used in the primitive worship from the very first. Do we not hear objections to using them in singing, and a wish to substitute hymns? Is not this a proof what judgment would have been passed on their introduction into the Service, by Reformers of the nineteenth century? First, the imprecatory Psalms, as they are called, would have been set aside, of course. {48}

L. Yes; I cannot doubt it; though some of them, at least, are prophetic, and expressly ascribed in the New Testament to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

C. And surely numerous other passages would have been pronounced unsuitable to the spiritual faith of a Christian. I mean all such as speak of our being rewarded according to the cleanness of our hands, and of our walking innocently, and of the LORD'S doing well to those that are good and true of heart. Indeed, this doctrine is so much the characteristic of that heavenly book, that I hardly see any part of it could have been retained by present reformers but what is clearly predictive of the Messiah.

L. I shall now take my leave, with many thanks, and will think over what you have said. However, have you not been labouring superfluously? We know all along that the Puritans of Hooker's time did object to the Prayer Book: there was no need of proving that.

C. I am not speaking of those who would admit they were Puritans; but of that arrogant Protestant spirit (so called) of the day, in and out of the Church (if it is possible to say what is in and what is out), which thinks it takes bold and large views, and would fain ride over the superstitions and formalities which it thinks it sees in those who (I maintain) hold to the old Catholic faith; and, as seeing that this spirit is coming on apace, I cry out betimes, whatever comes of it, that corruptions are pouring in, which, sooner or later, will need a SECOND REFORMATION.

The Feast of St. Bartholomew.

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1. "It is true he was a Bishop, though a Socinian."—Bp. Blomfield's Letter to C. Butler, Esq., 1825.
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2. Vide Mr. Perceval's Churchman's Manual, p. 13.
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3. Vide Tracts for the Times, No. 27.
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4 [Vid. supr. vol. i. Preface, p. xxxii; and infra, Article xi; Retractation.]
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5. [In these Tracts "Liturgy" stands for the Book of Common Prayer and Administration, &c.]
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6. [Purgatory as little "disparages the merits of Christ," as the "open penance and punishment of sinners, in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord," spoken of in the Anglican Commination Service; nor do pardons "disparage His Sacraments," for sacraments take away the guilt, and pardons the punishment, of sin.]
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7. [This was the point too broadly contended for in No. 90, infr.]
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8. 1 Cor. xi. 10.
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9. [Here, as above, the principle of doctrinal development is accepted as true and necessary for the Christian Church.]
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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