Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

shame, that those who lean in either direction, number in their ranks men of undoubted piety and unquestioned zeal. We grieve to be separated from those whom we cannot but revere: we fear the effect which such virtues may produce on others; either leading them to underrate the errors of their possessors, or to disbelieve their existence altogether. And we are affected by shame, too; shame for our Mother's sake; for sure we are, that if her two sons would boldly and calmly carry out all that she enjoins and teaches, there would be no doubt amongst good men as to which side they ought to take; no inclination to look with desire or satisfaction on the dark superstition of Rome, or the grim fanaticism of Geneva.

It is a painful and a fearful thing, too, to see " Satan transformed into an angel of light.” Let us not be misunderstood: we accuse not the men, the good and pious men of all parties in question, of ill designs, or ill wishes, or ill thoughts; but we do believe that Satan is, through their very virtues, assailing our Church. It is a sore trial to our faith and charity, to behold excellent men of apparently opposite opinions. It tempts us to one of these conclusions; either that they are hypocrites, or that a man's belief is of no consequence.

Both these hypotheses are false - both these sentiments are sinful, Hard as the trial

may

be difficult as it may prove-we are bound in this instance to reconcile faith and charity; to hold fast our own faith in the midst of such temptations—to abandon it, or depreciate its value; and at the same time to give all due credit to those who differ from us, or who appear to do so. And here, in this last clause, lies our greatest comfort. The differences are often less than they appear. Though the practical effect of their teaching upon others, and sometimes

, too, upon themselves, is to widen the breach, and to impel the disciple towards extremes; yet in many, very many instances, the differences at present existing in the minds of good men, are rather contingent than essential; nay, often they are rather apparent than real.

Let us, then, while there is yet time, endeavour to heal the breach: let all the true and loyal sons of our Church rally round her formularies, and show, by their consistent lives, what our Church really is. Let them but reduce her theory to practice, and we may yet escape. did so, they would conciliate the support of the wise and the good, and allay the alarms of the ignorant and the weak. Nor would even the wicked attack that fortress, which would then become evidently impregnable.

It is from partial developments of Anglican principles that danger is to be apprehended; though not in the way that many suppose. Paradoxical as it may appear, our own firm belief is, that the movement towards Rome is attributable to Geneva; and the movement towards Geneva, attributable to Rome. The one arises from a dread of Puritanism, the other from a horror of Popery. Men see either within or without our Church some evil which disgusts them; and, in their zeal to avoid it, adopt the opposite extreme.

Within our Church, we feel assured that, if the one extreme section

If they

66

are more

were more Protestant, their opponents would become more Catholic; and that were they, in their turn, to become more Catholic, their opponents would become more Protestant. As it is, many men seem to think that they have done enough if they avoid the errors of their adversaries; whilst wholly neglecting the sin or the error, whatsoever it may be, which doth most easily beset them.

The increase of these two vicious tendencies (towards Rome and Geneva) is greatly aided by the original defect or faulty training of the minds which are swayed by them. It is an old saying, that abstinence is easier than continence; and it is an acknowledged fact, that extremes

taking” than the mean. Sober duty is both laborious and tiresome. Sober truth is neither striking nor attractive to the ill-educated intellect, or the ill-trained mind.

It has been because we have promised to maintain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that many have promised us their aid, and given in their adhesion. At the present juncture we are sadly in want of a bold defender of the Faith. Even those who do hold the truth seem afraid to assert it, lest they should be classed by the ignorant or calumnious with the advocates of error. The only chance for our Church is, that we should relinquish our prejudices, extinguish our party feelings, forget our partialities, and boldly carry out the whole of that which she teaches and enjoins, without reference to the fancies or fears of this or that alarmist. We must not be ashamed or afraid to assert one doctrine, for fear of being called Papists or Puseyites "; another, lest we be styled Puritans or “ low churchmen"; we must not think it necessary to select one or the other error; we must not conceive it needful to have a choice between one or another truth; we must combat ALL error, without partiality, and defend ALL truth, without diffidence. We must have no degrees of likes and dislikes; we must like all that our Church likes, and dislike all that she dislikes: maintain all that she maintains, and protest against all against which she protests. We must give no half-adhesion, no lip-loyalty, no eye-service; but we must rally round the standard of our ancient faith—the faith of Peter and Paul; the faith of John, Jude, and James; the faith of Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp; of Cranmer, and Ridley, and Latimer-the one Holy Catholic Faith. We must forget minor differences, and endeavour to merge them in love for our common mother, obedience to her commands, and submission to her teaching; and we must learn to feel vividly, practically to feel the truth, that “ though not infallible, she has never failed.

The title of our next article will be, CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT? Both!

5

IN DEEP AFFLICTION.

LUKE xxii. 42.

“FATHER, Thy will, not mine be done !"
So pray'd on earth Thy suffering Son;
So in his name I

pray:
The spirit fails, the flesh is weak,
Thy help in agony I seek;

o take this cup away!
If such be not Thy sovereign will,
Thy better purpose, then, fulfil,

My wishes I resign;
Into Thy hands my soul commend,
On Thee for life or death depend;
Thy will be done, not mine.

J. MONTGOMERY.

A POPULAR HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.

CHAPTER I.

BRITISH AND ANGLO-SAXON CHURCHES.

If there be prophets on whose spirits rest
Past things, revealed like future, they can tell
What powers presiding o'er the sacred well
Of Christian faith, this savage Island bless'd
With its first bounty. Wandering through the west,
Did Holy Paul awhile in Britain dwell,
And call the fountain forth by miracle,
And with dread signs the nascent stream invest?
Or he whose bonds dropped off, whose prison doors
Flew open, by an Angel's voice unbarred ?
Or some of humbler name, to these wild shores
Storm-driven ? Who, having seen the cup of woe
Pass from their Master, sojourn'd here to guard
The precious current they had taught to flow?

WORDSWORTH.

It is a question often tauntingly asked of the Protestant by Romanists, Where was your religion before the Reformation ? But this question has its foundation in ignorance, fortified by bigotry. It seems very probable that the Gospel was preached in Britain, even before its sound was heard in the imperial city; and it is certain that the British church was established several centuries before Augustine's mission to England.

It is a matter of uncertainty, however, who first disseminated Christianity in the British Isles. Eusebius asserts that it was some of the apostles, which is confirmed by Theodoret, who, elsewhere, after having mentioned Spain, says that St. Paul brought salvation to the isles which lie in the ocean. These testimonies of the fourth and fifth centuries, are also supported by an expression of Clement of Rome, who wrote before the end of the first century, and who was the contemporary and fellowlabourer of the apostle. Clement expressly says, that being a preacher both in the east and west, he taught righteousness to the whole world, and went to the utmost bounds of the west. If these words are to be taken in their literal sense, then little doubt can remain that this kingdom was first converted to Christianity by the great apostle of the Gentiles. This testimony in favour of St. Paul's visiting Britain, is far stronger than the traditional testimony concerning St. Peter, St. James, Simon Zelotes, Philip, and Joseph of Arimathea : but whether Christianity was introduced into this island by any of these holy men ; or whether, after the persecution on the death of Stephen, by some of the Syrian Christians who were “scattered abroad;" or by the devout soldiers of the same nation whom the famine foretold by Agabus might have driven into the armies of Claudius, and who might have come with him into Britain; or by some of the Jewish converts dispersed over the world when Claudius“ commanded all Jews to depart from Rome,” cannot be clearly ascertained. It must suffice to know that the island was early blessed by the dissemination of Christianity, and that before the end of the second century the Britons had generally received the Gospel.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The Julian spear
A way first opened ; and with Roman chains,
The tidings come of Jesus crucified :
They come—they spread—the weak, the suffering hear;
Receive the faith, and in the hope abide.

WORDSWORTH.

[ocr errors]

History is not the only testator of the existence of the British Church in the earliest ages of Christianity. Popular tradition has long pointed to Perranzabulæ, or “ St. Pieran in the Sand,” a district near the sea, in Cornwall, as the site and sepulchre of an ancient British Church, which had flourished for a succession of ages, and had dispensed to a rude but a religious people, the blessings of Christianity, in its simplest form of primitive purity. This church was founded by Piranus, celebrated for sanctity about A.D. 404, and for ages the Cornish people pointed out a swelling mound of sand cast up by the turbulent ocean as its site. It savoured only of legendary fiction till A.D. 1835, when the tale was confirmed by antiquarian research. The winds and the waves had

marred many a previous enterprise, and the church slept on in her sandy bed; but at that period every obstacle was overcome, and it was revealed in all its unpretending simplicity, and its rude but solid workmanship, to the wonder of antiquarians. Its discovery also confirmed not only the independence, but the primitive purity of the ancient British Church. In its interior, none of the accompaniments of a Romish place of worship was found. There was no rood-loft for the hanging up of the host, nor the vain display of fabricated relics. No latticed confessional was there; neither was there any sacring bell, or daubed and decorated images of the Virgin Mary, or of Saints to indicate the idolatry of the worshippers. In vain did the discoverers of the precious relic look for any confirmation that the unscriptural adoration of the wafer, and the equally unscriptural masses for the dead, had formed a part of their faith. They had evidently neither used beads nor rosaries; neither pyxes nor agnus deis; neither censers nor crucifixes; for not the remnant of one or the other could be discovered. At the eastern end was a plain unornamented chancel, in which stood a simple stone altar, and in the nave of the church were stone seats of similar construction, attached to the western, southern, and northern walls. Its primitive simplicity gave the lie direct to the Papists' constant appeal to “antiquity;" to “ the faith of their forefathers;" to the “old religion;" while at the same time it proved, that the faith of the British Church singularly harmonized with that which Cranmer and the Reformers introduced into the doctrine and ritual of the Church of England ! The sea has again covered it with its sands, but the tale it has told will exist through all time to the shame and discomfiture of the advocates of Popery!

Little is known of the British Church till the third century. It must, however, have flourished; for in the persecution of “Dioclesian's fiery sword,” which worked “ busy as the lightning,” there were found therein men willing to offer up their lives for the sake of the Gospel In that persecution, Alban, “ England's first martyr," perished; and Julian, Aaron, and others, shared his fate. That this persecution was widely extended, is proved by the fact that Alban suffered martyrdom at Verulamium, now called St. Alban's, from the martyr. This persecution was stopped when Constantius Chlorus was declared emperor; and at his death, which took place at York in the year following, his son Constantine the Great began his reign, in which it pleased God that most of the outward miseries of the followers of Christ should terminate. A.D. 307.

During the reign of Constantine the Great, the British Church greatly flourished. At the council of Arles, which was assembled by Constantine against the Donatists, in 314, there were three English bishops present, and the manner in which that council communicated its canons to the bishop of Rome, proves that the representatives of the churches there assembled esteemed themselves independent of his authority. They tell him that certain matters were settled, and inform him in order that he might make them public, which is rather the language of authority than of submission. British bishops were likewise present at the council

« FöregåendeFortsätt »