« ElőzőTovább »
Adam, Abel, Enoch, and all the other servants of God were saved in. Why do men, therefore, either call it a new-fangled faith, or report evil of us for setting it forth? Why? I fear me, this is one cause. The old faith, that all those servants of God had, whom the Apostle nameth in the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews, had a life and conversation joined unto it, which was rich and full of all good works. Therefore, seeing there be so many babblers and prattlers of faith, and so few that bring forth the worthy fruits of penance, it giveth to the world occasion to report of us, that our faith is but new-fangled."
The above is a legitimate example of the leading theme of our author. Personal holiness is that which he demands from all who would affect to take interest in, or have a part and lot in, the great separation from Rome which was witnessed by the times he lived in. The true Christian is the true Protestant. A Protestant so called simply in contradistinction to a Papist, (the one subscribing to one creed and the other to a different one, whether mutilated or surreptitious,) is no better than a Christian so called simply in contradiction to a Mahommedan or Hindoo. “'Tis true 'tis pity, pity 'tis 'tis true” that names once eloquent with inner meaning should now bear so faint and yet expansive an interpretation. Coverdale's godly object was to make the first Protestants what the first Christians were, to give a substratum to the title, and a reason for the hope that was in them. Another exhortation follows to the same effect :
“Wherefore, let us, that have received the old true faith of Christ, not only be contented to abide any storm or trouble for it; yea, to be mocked, scorned, persecuted, and put to death therefore, if it so please God; but also unfeignedly, every man to his power, in his heart by fervent prayer, in his mouth by good words, and in all his body by virtuous conversation and good Christian works, help and labour, that the blessed Word of God may have the due honour belonging thereunto; and that the same, which it hath lost through the ungodly behaviour of some, may, through the grace and goodness of God, be won again in our good living: that God may have of us better servants, our prince truer subjects, and our neighbours more unfeigned lovers, than many have been before us. Amen."
Surely it was an humble spirit that suggested these words :
“A surer proof of incurable foolishness and lack of understanding is not, than if we stand greatly in our own conceit. Wherefore, if for honour, beauty, cunning, or any such thing, we be moved unto pride, the best is to humble ourselves before God and to consider our own deformities. In conclusion, it shall chiefly refrain us from pride, if we ponder well, not only what we are in ourselves, how filthy in our birth, and as a bubble of water in all our life, yea, even worms' meat when we die, but also what Christ became for us."
Our last extract is more in the controversial style, nor was Coverdale a mean craftsman thereat :
“But not regarding how he threateneth and faceth, and how he garnisheth his new and wanton religions with false, but dissembling titles, boasting of many hundred years, many general councils, fathers, holy men, doctors, universities, cloisters, singing, praying, fasting, almsgiving, displaying, and telleth such like; all his bragging set aside, let us cast his religion from us, and take upon us unfeignedly, the true old religion, which hath endured since the beginning of the world, by the which all holy men have ever loved, worshipped, and served God, and knew nothing utterly of the pope's religion, And if we must for this cause be hated and persecuted of the world, well; it happened even so unto all holy prophets before us likewise, and specially unto Jesus Christ our Lord, which shall shortly come to judgment, and utterly destroy the kingdom of Antichrist, whom he now killeth, with the spirit of his mouth. Our possession is not here upon earth; the kingdom of heaven is our native country."
Solemn truth in the concluding sentence and yet truth only partially fulfilled! Because iniquity aboundeth, the love of many waxeth cold, the red cross is half effaced from too many a breast, the pilgrim's staff too often a frail and artificial thing, ill fitted for the precipice and jungle. To such degenerate ones, (and who shall claim exemption from the ban?) the voice of Coverdale is yet heard speaking. May we listen and arouse ourselves to put on the whole armour of God, that we may stand in the evil day, and having done all stand! May our eyes be intent on the coming of the Lord, when these vile bodies shall be raised to a glorious inheritance. Then shall every “ cemetery" of the departed, the “Gods Acres” of land far and near give forth their dead,
“I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls
The burial-ground God's Acre! It is just;
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust."
ON THE EXERCISE OF PATRONAGE IN THE CHURCH OF
No, III. We have considered the manner in which one who desires to be a quiet, unostentatious, parochial Clergymau may be, and often is, discouraged and injured by the neglect of those who have patronage to bestow, and who ought to encourage him. Let us now look at some other cases.
No one who takes an enlarged and comprehensive view of the Church of Christ, and what pertains to its best interests, can question for a moment the importance of sound and extensive theological learning ;-of erudition in the Hebrew tongue, (the original language of full three fourths of the sacred volume);-or of divided Protestant principle, in the Ministers of the Church. The prevailing standard in all these respects should be high: though some will excel in one or other of these qualifications, and few can be expected to excel in all. The question then arises, is the patronage of the Church of England so bestowed as to encourage excellence in all these particulars.? or in any one of them?
Our Church is a Protestant Church. The language of her Articles, Homilies, and of her Liturgy too, is decidedly and unequivocally Protestant. We cannot suppose our readers to be so ignorant, or so prejudiced, as to need any proof of this fact. A man must wink hard who does not see it.
Now then, if a Clergyman should be a decided Protestant; if he should enter cordially into the Protestant principles and spirit of our Church, and should preach and act accordingly; if he should witness a good and uncompromising protestation against the Church of Rome in his ministrations; will this man meet with encouragement and promotion? .
The throne of these realms is a Protestant Throne; and the Sovereign holds it only by virtue of a solemn declaration, that the fundamental and distinguishing doctrines of the Church of Rome are false, and superstitious, and idolatrous. The Legislature and Government are professedly Protestant. The people are a professedly Protestant people. And, most of all, as we have said before, our Church is a Protestant Church, and every Bishop of that Church has solemnly declared, before God and the Church at his consecration, that he is ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine, contrary to God's Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same." This vow may be forgotten upon earth: but it is registered in heaven.
Now if Popery be not “erroneous and strange doctrine, contrary to God's Word”-if it be not such, peculiarly and emphatically,—we would gladly know what is?
Is then the patronage of our Church under a Protestant Sovereign, by a Protestant Government, and among a Protestant people, and more especially by the Bishops of our Protestant Church (who have taken this solemn vow) so bestowed, as to encourage clergymen to a faithful discharge of their duty as Protestants ? If a Clergyman stands fair and unexceptionable in other respects, as to doctrine, learning, diligence, moral character, piety, and he is especially to be noted as a faithful and uncompromising Protestant, will be encouraged and promoted ? and, more especially, by our Bishops?
If not, we put it to the common sense of plain, downright Englishmen, of those whose national characteristic used to be plain common sense and downright honesty, whether there be not, somehow or other, a fearful amount of insincerity in our professedly Protestant patrons. And we leave it to their judgment to determine, what word is strong enough to be applied to the conduct of those, who have taken the solemn vow to which we have referred, and do not fulfil it?
So far as our observation and experience goes, we see but too much to believe, that, if a clergyman should
be distinguished as a decided Protestant (unless he have very decided popular talents), he must be set down as a ruined man: so far as the patronage of our Church is concerned, the portion he must expect for himself and his family is beggary and starvation.
Again, let a Clergyman be (as we have supposed before) unexceptionable in regard to doctrine, learning, moral character and piety, (we plead for none other,) but his peculiar excellence is a knowledge of Hebrew and other languages. His taste and talent have led him to apply himself to the sacred and oriental languages. He has made himself thoroughly master of them, so that he might be safely entrusted with the charge of translating the Bible into some foreign tongue, in which no faithful version of God's Word is extant. Surely, if it were merely for the credit of our Church, and its reputation in foreign lands, this man will be patronized and promoted by the learned bench of Bishops! for to what purpose are some of the dignities of our Church, and the emoluments which pertain to them, if some of them cannot be applied to encourage Hebrew learning ? And could they be better applied, than by putting such a man in a position, in which he might employ his talents and learning in making or revising a version of the Scriptures, for the use of some benighted nation, in which the people are perishing for lack of knowledge? Would it not be for the honour of our Church, if such were sought out and patronized? Would it not be for the advantage of religion, (one of whose fairest and most useful handmaids is sound learning,) if Hebrew learning were thus encouraged ?
But Hebrew learning is not the only learning. A Clergyman may have no special pretensions in that line: but he may have given his whole mind, and the best of his time and strength, to the acquirement of sound theological learning, in its various departments. He may have shown himself able to grapple with the subtlest forms of heresy, to detect, expose, and refute them. In the present militant state of the Church, surely such attainments in theology will be valued! Surely sound scriptura theology will be patronized and encouraged.
But alas, is it so? is it to any purpose (so far as his advancement in the Church is concerned) that a man should establish his character as a sound scriptural theologian, and a learned Protestant divine? Will he be placed in a position to pursue his studies, and to employ his talents to the best advantage ? so that, if he proposes to write a book, he may consider what will be most useful? What will promote sound learning, and increase the stock, or the facilities of acquiring a stock of sound theology ? instead of merely inquiring, What will be popular ? What will sell ? and what will take with such and such a party?
We ask again the question, Is sound theological learning encouraged by those who have the Patronage of the Church in their hands?
If not, what will and must be the consequence, but that a meagre, miserable, commonplace, superficial theology, without distinctness, without energy, without extent or variety, without depth or spiritual value, will more and more prevail ?
“The hungry sheep look up and are not fed!” We only add, that we do not write at random. We have cases in our eye, in every class to which we have referred.
But, indeed, is such reference needed? Will not the observation and experience of every one of our readers furnish instances, in which such Clergymen as those to whom we have referred, are suffering from neglect, and struggling with most painful difficulties?
And is not the general result of this neglect yet more obvious ? Is not the theology that prevails in our pulpits, in many respects superficial, and unprotestant? And, if we look to the Bishops and dignitaries of our Church, how many of them can we set down as sound theologians? as Masters in Israel? How many can any of our readers name, to whom we would think of applying for information and guidance on a great question in divinity, or in a case of spiritual or theological difficulty? : We have Bishops who are diligent and exemplary in superintending their Dioceses, and in stirring up their Clergy to pastoral diligence, both by precept and example, and we are thankful for them. But have we Bishops to whom we can look up as sound divines, as thorough scriptural and Protestant and learned theologians? who are worthy successors of Jewel, and Usher, and Davenant?
These are the men that we want. But is the present system of bestowing the patronage of our Church (if system it may be called) such as is calculated to raise up a body of Clergy, from which such Bishops could be chosen ? And when a Bishop is appointed, is it on account of his scriptural piety, his Protestant principles, his Hebrew learning, or his sound and extensive knowledge of theology, that he is placed upon the Bench?
Let us look this matter full in the face. Let the common