« ElőzőTovább »
Page 186—The divines have added an habitual grace, given to every just man in particular, which is a spiritual quality created by God, and infused into the soul, whereby it is made grateful and acceptable to the Divine Majesty, whereof, though the fathers speak not in express terms, nor the Scripture, yet it is clearly deduced from the verb justify, which, being effective, doth necessarily signify, to make just, by the im. pression of real justice, which reality, because it is no substance, can be nothing else but a quality or habit.
measure of which divine and glorious life is, in all men, as a seed which, of its own nature, draws, invites, and inclines to God, and this some call vehiculum Dei, or the spiritual body of Christ, the flesh and blood of Christ, which came down from heaven, &c. &c.
It is this inward birth in us, bringing forth righteousness and holiness in us, that doth justify us.
Both which words (justify and just) import the substantive, that true and real virtue in the soul as it is in itself—to wit, it signifies really, and not suppositively, that excellent quality expressed and understood amongmen by the word justice. Now this word “justify” doth, beyond all question, signify a making just, &c. &c.
It will be seen by the above extracts, that there is a fundamental agreement between Barclay and the Romanists, in reference to the righteousness which is the ground of the sinner’s justification before God. Both agreeing in rejecting the righteousness of Christ, imputed to the believer through faith (Rom. iv.), and substituting infused righteousness as the one thing needful. Here, then, is at once a strong resemblance, not to say an agreement, between these two “ Churches,” on a most important point. Another coincidence in principle is the rejection of the authority of the written word, and the exaltation, by early Quakerism, of immediate revelation, by Papists of tradition, as the paramount rule of faith. But Mr. Lucas also developes very fully and accurately, a third ground of union, less known to the generality of our readers, but powerfully felt among the Friends, and that is the complete subjection of individual judgment, in the mass of the members, to the authority of “the Church.” One would imagine that nothing could be more opposed to the doctrines of early Quakerism than this. The “ light within ” every man, is the guide proposed to us by the Friends, "and if,” as Mr. Lucas says, " it should appear that this guide, however unchanging and unfailing in himself, yet has not condescended to afford to man, in the way they suppose, an unchanging, unfailing guidance; then it must admitted hat the doctrine of Friends leaves the business of sect-making to go on without help or remedy.” The early Quakers soon discovered this, and the most leading minds among them, sedulously inculcated “submission to the judgment of the Church as the remedy.' " The Church” being, in the Quaker's view, the collection of persons following the guidance of the inward light; and the dictates of the Spirit being enunciated with the greatest clearness through those who had “grown up in the truth,” the elders and leaders of the people. To these it was competent to say, “It seemeth good to the Holy Ghost and to us :" to the others remained submission and acquiescence. This was the species of Church government which is advocated with consummate ability by Barclay, in his work called “The Anarchy of the Ranters,” a treatise esteemed by some superior to his well-known “ Apology." This kind of system, at the first, met with much opposition, and the sturdy independence of some of the early
“Friends” occasioned great difficulties, and impeded its advance; but it has now become practically established, and the judgment of the Church, or, in the usual terms, “what Friends think,” is a standard superseding private judgment and appeal to Scripture. The minds of the mass of the Society of Friends are in complete subjection to traditional religion; and, prepared, as Mr. Lucas evidently was, by ignorance of the doctrines of grace, by low views of the authority of Scripture, by contempt for “private judgment,” and respect for traditional faith, nothing more was requisite, in order to his embracing popery, than, in the first place, the conviction that the voice of the “Catholic Church,” in all ages, must outweigh the ipse dixit of George Fox and his associates, and, secondly, the erroneous, but plausible
, idea, that the exposition of the faith of God's elect was committed to those who profess to sit in the seat of St. Peter, and to have the Holy Ghost, .not given by God's free-grace donation, as the wind blowing where it listeth, but transmitted in lineal succession, as the money of Simon Magus might have passed down from father to son.
The convert has been gained; great is the glorying of the adherents of Rome; and if the “ Friends” do not adopt methods more adapted to establish their members in the faith once delivered to the saints, we cannot but anticipate, this will not be a solitary instance of conversion to Romanism from within their borders.
SECESSION FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF LEONARD
STRONG, LATE RECTOR OF ST. MATTHEW'S PARISH,
DEMERARA. We noticed in our January number, the fact of the secession of a clergyman in the West Indies, from the Established Church, but were not, then, at liberty to mention those particulars with which we were acquainted. Since that period “A Letter to all the Brethren in Christ"* has been published; in which Mr. Strong gives an account of those serious convictions that have led to separation from the Established Church of England and Ireland. Before entering on any examination of the “Letter,' we must take a review of the position in which this clergyman stood, previous to his resignation of the clerical office, as it has fallen to the lot of few persons, in our day, to give up so extensive “a field of usefulness," at the call of conscientious duty.
The parish of St. Matthew, over which Mr. Strong presided, is one of great extent; stretching, we believe, upwards of one hundred miles along the banks of the river. In this district there were, in addition to the parish church and the chapel of ease, one or more preaching stations, and several schools; the whole number of communicants amounting to not less than nine hundred. Under these circumstances, placed, apparently, by the hand of Providence as a light in a dark place, able to preach the gospel to thousands who might otherwise be left in entire negation of any external help, as to hearing the word of truth ; beloved
* Published at Exeter , sold also at No. 1, Warwick Square, London.
and respected by his numerous flock, it must have been no slight twinge of conscience, no mere passing excitement, no floating vision of “extended usefulness” or carnal ease, which could have led to the conclusion to which Mr. Strong deliberately arrived—to surrender all worldly advantages, every flattering bait of Satan, to take up his cross, deny himself, and follow Jesus, in leaving, at the bidding, as he believed, of his word, the ministration of the gospel in the Establishment. We hail that decision as a proof that even in our day, when it is so rare to find persons acting out their own conscientious convictions from the word of God, there are at least some instances to be found in which the claims of Jesus to the allegiance of his followers, are practically recognised.
We will now present our readers with some extracts from the pamphlet which Mr. Strong has published, which will put them in possession of the reasons which weighed on his mind, and led to his taking this decided and important step.
In order to perceive the plain dishonesty of my remaining in the Establishment, my Brethren should be fully aware of the solemn conditions on which we are admitted to the office of ministering in the Church of England. The Candidate cannot be entertained as such, until it be ascertained on the authority of competent witnesses, that he has not held for three years past, any sentiment contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England; neither can he be admitted to Orders until he have seriously declared his full agreement with her Thirty-nine Articles, deliberately subscribing the same, as also three of ber Canons respecting the King's supremacy, the Book of Common Prayer and Articles above-mentioned, declaring those who impugn either, excommunicated ipso facto! He must also subscribe before his Bishop, previous to receiving a licence to minister, or induction to a Parish, the following declaration contained in the Act of Uniformity :-"I do declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the book, intituled the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the united Church of England and Ireland, together with the Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches ; and the form or manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.” Which declaration he must also read within two months after his licence or induction before the whole congregation, together with the certificate of having previously signed it before the Bishop; furthermore, he must, within the same time, read in public the Thirty-nine Articles, and declare solemnly before the congregation his unfeigned assent and consent thereto, with a declaration that he will conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England as is now by law established !
With these preliminaries have I solemnly complied, and on those conditions have I been severally licensed, and inducted into the offices of Minister in St. Mary's, and Rector in St. Matthew's Parish, which I have, under God, unworthily exercised successively during the last Eleven Years.
Should it, therefore, appear in the following confession of my deliberate and serious convictions on all these points, that my sentiments are entirely altered, that, while I hold fast, and, through God, would steadfastly cleave unto all the precious truths and grace of the Gospel, I abjure as evil, those very things to which I have solemnly assented as a condition of holding the ministerial office, if, I say, it appear from my present sentiments that I am according to the very Canons I formerly signed, ex-communicated ipso facto, from the communion of the Church of England, I then think, dear Brethren, that, however you may differ from me in these sentiments, you will be unanimous in the conclusion that I could not honestly maintain my position as Rector of St. Matthew's Parish !
First, then, I have scriptural conviction, that a National Church cannot be the Church of Christ, being openly
and avowedly the Church of the Nation, actually established, ordered, and regulated by the law of the Nation. The nation is an integral portion of the World which knew not Jesus, knoweth not us, cannot receive the Spirit of God, over which Satan is the Prince, and whose Spirit he is !* That World which, by the Cross of Christ is crucified to the Church, as the Church to it, out of which she is called; in total separation from which, consists her standing as the Church and sanctification unto God, from
* John i, 10; 1st John, .iii, 1; John xiv, 17, 30; 1st Cor. ii. 12.
which evil World Christ died to redeem' us all, and which, while they who are called out are declared to be of God, still lieth in the arms of the Wicked One!*
I need not take pains to prove that the British Nation is held together by the same principles that formerly cemented the empire of the Cæsars, now the monarchies of Turkey and Persia, principles that cannot be acknowledged, or sanctioned in the Church of Christ-human wisdom, selfishness, pride, lust of honour and earthly fame, power of arms, retaliation, covetousness, &c.—against which the wrath of God will one day be revealed, at the appearing of Jesus Christ!
We find, therefore, that the establishment is deeply imbued with these principles : it hath its honour and dignity from the world ; its Primate ranks next to the Royal Family ; its Prelates, selected by the King, sit in the highest court of the empire, wear the world's proud titles, exercise the world's power, and dwell in her palaces! Moreover, the pastorships of the Church of England are in the patronage of the Crown or State, as also worldly property to be bought or sold at pleasure. Our Lord's command is, “ He that is greatest among you, let him be the least or servant of all;" the Apostle says, “not as Lords over God's heritage, but ensamples to the flock,” whereas the various dignitaries of the Church of England are notorious, and its ministers are not only distinguished from their brethren in society by the titles of Right Reverend, Very Reverend, Venerable, Reverend—but, in the congregation of the Saints, wear, as distinguishing garments, robes of honour, partly taken from the Jewish priesthood— partly from the schools of human wisdom; and you may see Archbishops and Bishops, clad with the pomp and rank of the nation, laying hands and calling down blessings on the heads of believers who kneel before them to ratify their baptism into the death of Christ, and solemnly renounce the pomps and vanities of this world. Now, dear Brethren, though you may all agree in sanctioning and upholding these things as sacred-I cannot. I have weighed them, I am sure, solemnly and prayerfully by the express word and will of God, looking in vain for their sanction in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, and consider all plainly contrary to the commands of Jesus, and spirit of true discipleship. They are, in my humble judgment, pure, unmixed evil, neither casual nor partial, as that of heretics or hypocrites in the congregations, but flowing from her constitution, essential to her being, and continually pleaded as necessary to her existence. Against them, the purest doctrine taught within her formu. saries, or by some of her ministers, cannot weigh: for them, the holiest saint that clings to her assemblies cannot atone. While, therefore, I continued a Minister in the establishment, I was in the world—the world's accredited minister, clothed with the world's power-received my rank and standing in the world's society from my profession as clergyman-was part and parcel of this, in my judgment, worldly system, from his Grace the Primate, down to his Reverence the Curate—and felt in my conscience every call in Scripture to come out of the world, and touch not the unclean thing, loudly calling upon me to leave her communion. I cannot agree with many, in calling this worldliness the handmaid of the Gospel, or necessary to its promulgation, but truly feel, that the truth, as it is in Jesus, must have waxed very feeble, wherever it can suffer itself to be supported or garnished by those very things it was sent into the world to consume ! Pardon me, dear Brethren, for thus differing from you, and remember many holy men have thought with me. I am not judging your consciences, but confessing my own.
It will be easily imagined, that these principles of her worldly constitution have circulated through her Articles and Forms of worship, furnishing like objections to my conscientiously using one or subscribing to the other; accordingly, every expression in her worship, that would identify the Nation with the Church, her wars, victories, &c., with the cause of God, or call down destruction on her enemies, I utterly deprecate, as also every expression that would Christianize nations and national wars, or equalise the Kings of the Gentiles with the anointed of David's line; and while, at my Master's command, I honour, submit unto, and humbly obey the kings and powers that be, as originally ordained of God, yet do I consider it quite repugnant to God's word to honour more the majesty of Britain's Monarch; than I should the Chinese Emperor if dwelling within his dominions !
I honor the king's earthly majesty, and all in authority under him, but cannot subscribe to that which would allow him chief power or any power at all in the Church of Christ. His dominion is on earth, her Lord and place is in the heavens, above principalities and powers, she is risen with Christ. We are commanded by our Lord to submit to all authority and law without in the world, as originally ordained of God, with humility and reverence, to pay without murmuring, all dues, taxes, &c., rendering to all custom and honor, and, when required by human laws to disobey Jesus, we are to suffer patiently the penalty of disobedience!
The Prerogatives of God's anointed kings of David's line over his peculiar nation, who were to rule by laws especially given by God, cannot be assumed by Gentile kings over or among the flock of Christ; there is no such office in the Church of the first-born as a king to rule. It is especially prohibited in Mark, the 10th chap. 42nd verse—“ Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles, or nations, exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them: but so shall it not be among you,” &c. See also Luke, 22nd chap., 25th verse, &c., to the same point.
* Ist John, v. 19.
God divided the earth into nations in the days of Peleg. He gave them rule and authority to take life for life. For the use or abuse of this power, they will give account, when Christ shall judge the nutions. The history and end of the earth's powers that are ordained originally of God, are fully told out in Nebuchadnezzar's image, and Daniel's vision of the four beasts. With this early appointment of nations, God has never yet interfered in his dispensations with his people, either in the Abrahamic, Jewish, or present spiritual Israel. His people are still distinct. The Church is a pilgrim and stranger here, she meddleth not with kings or laws, saving to honor and obey them under her head who is in heaven! She hath no country or nation, but seeketh a better, a city that hath foundations -she is as Abraham in Canaan, and cannot be reckoned among the nations; and although the Lord gave his Jewish people laws for a king, and authority for rule, judgment, &c. He hath taken it away from his Church; she is neither to judge nor condemn in fleshly things : it is in reference to magisterial judgment, that Jesus speaks in Matthew the 5th chap. 38th, 39th, 40th verses ; as also in the matter of the woman taken in adultery, “neither do I condemn thee;” as also where Jesus says, man, who made me a judge or divider among you?” and where he refused to take the government of the nations until he receives it from his Father hereafter. His example is to be strictly followed by us, his disciples
every disciple shall be as his Master." A christian nation cannot be ; were the whole nation a disciple, she could not stand, obedience to Jesus would render her the world's outcast; she would be trampled under foot. Every nation stands at present by principles opposed to Christ. The New Testament preserves the history, character, and end of the Church of Christ, as totally distinct, and in particular contrast to that of the nationsLuke 12th chap. 30th verse. “For all these things do the nations of the world seek after : and your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” The Church, therefore, can only obey, never interfere with the laws of nations. Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto man more than unto God, judge ye. If Jesus say, “Resist not evil ;”> “Do to others as ye would they should do to you;” “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you ;" “Blessed are the peacemakers ;”. “Live peaceably with all
" if strife, hatred, wrath, emulations, are works of the flesh and darkness, how can disciples of Jesus wear weapons and serve in the wars, taking peace from the earth?
In addition to my former remarks on the Prayers and Services, I humbly declare my decided objection to all printed prayers as unscriptural, and a yoke thrown over us by man, hindering the free work of the Spirit, whose office it is to move and exercise true supplication and prayer in the members of Christ. However beautiful, expressive, and correct the prayer may be, it is a yoke thrown over the disciples, which the Apostles cast not, and a manifest addition to their commandments and rules in the Churches. For a suppliant to God in Christ to carry before Him a printed prayer, composed by another man in his study, centuries before, seems opposed to the Apostle's declaration of our free access to God through Christ by the Spirit ; and those brethren in Christ, who deliberately sat down to prescribe prayers for succeeding generations, surely forgot that the Spirit in them was to abide in the Church after their decease, and able to preserve union, truth, and order in the assemblies of Christians, without their additional rules and forms of godliness, which are a virtual denial of the power and continued presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church of Christ.
Again, the forms of thanksgiving and fasting, in commemoration of the deliverance from the Popish plot, the martyrdom of Charles the First, and Restoration of Charles the Second, in which there appear to be many things blasphemous and untrue, are among those things contained in, and prescribed by, the book to which every Clergyman declares his unfeigned assent and consent. I am much astonished to discover how light godly men make of the solemn declarations and signatures imposed on them as the condition of their ministering; surely, if truth and sincerity are essential to godliness, they cannot dispense with them. In the Church Catechism, we teach every child, however ungodly and worldly, to declare he was made, in his baptism, a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven : whereas, these things are only to be obtained through faith, and are manifested by the fruits of true holiness, for “no unrighteous person is an inheritor of Heaven, a Child of God, or a Member of Christ.”
With the manner of administering and receiving the Lord's Supper in the Church of England, however imposing, orderly, expressive, and humiliating the service may be, and however much communion and blessing I have enjoyed in it, I can no longer agree. The mingling up of the Apocrypha with the Scripture sentences at the commencement, is highly objectionable, as it is in the daily services. But the order of a priesthood in the Church of