« FöregåendeFortsätt »
thinking themselves bound to believe or preach them? How far this is consistent with Dr. S's profession, in a former page, that “ he lays nu general charges without proof,” is a point which I leave for you, Sir, to determine. As far as the charge is made particular, I beg permission to observe, that whatever Mr. Danbeny, may have said to Dr. Sheppard' in person, he has said to the world, and that in the most public manner, that “a man, who subscribes to dreeds, and confessions of faith, must do it ex animo, as an honest man;" and he has been the person to hold out a censure upon the lax notions of Dr. Paley, about articles of peace. From these circumstances, I feel disposed to suspect a mistake in Dr. S. when he ascribes the above opinion to Mr. D. the only clergymant whom he instances as thinking belief in the doctrines of the articles not necessary to subscriptions and thence I argue that he is also in a mistake (even as far as his own experience may go) in ascribing the same opinion to the clergy in generat.
Allowing, however, that Mr. D. máy have said, as represented by Dr. S. that “ in subscribing to the 17th article, he was not called upon to believe in the doc. trine," he may have had a very different meaning from what Dr. S. has annexed to his words. To the above words add some others, such as these,“ of Calvinistic predestination," and the sentiment will assume a very different complexion. It will then, I apprehend, be more agreeable to Mr. D.'s real opinion, and to that of ihe great body of clergy, who subscribe to the articles, and who distinguish between the Apostolic and the Calvinistic doctrines of election and predestination. And I have not a doubt on my mind, that if the words were used at all by Mr. D. they were so explained by others in addition to them, or so used in connection with the general, conversation, as to convey some such meaning as that which I have taken the liberty to suggest.
It is possible that Dr. S. will not admit that any other than the Calvinistic doctrine of election is consistent with the 17th article. Such I imagine to be the case from these words in his 9th page, “ Your controversy with Mr. Overton I read, I was sick of it. Mr. Overton, as an honest man, believes the doctrine of the 17th article, which he has subscribed 10. You do not:" And consequently, Dr. Sheppard, although you do not say as much, Mr. Daubeny is a dishonest man; and so is every
Fol. VII. Churchim. Mag. Srpt. 1804. Cc clergy
clergyman who has the unhappiness to think with him on this mysterious subject, instead of holding the opinions of yourself and Mr. Overton. Surely for the sake of Christian charity the sentence might run better thus:“ Mr. Overton believes the doctrine of the article, which he has subscribed to, in one sense ; Mr. Daubeny believes it in another. Each of thein is an honest man.” I fairly confess that I am not one of those persons, who can to their satisfaction reconcile the article in question with the Calvinistic doctrine of election. But I believe that there are those who can. I humbly conceive those men to be in an error, and I trust that I do no wrong in thinking so. But I had rather cut off my right hand, than suffer it to offend by alleging or insinuating a charge against their honesty. . .
The 10th page contains an accusation of the same kind, even more open and gross than that just noticed. The accusation itself, and the ground on which it rests, are thus stated :-" Your inconsistency is manifest in this; if a person baptised by a dissenting minister is brought to be buried in your church, or church yard, the civil law obliges you to bury him. In the burial service you express that you have a sure and certain hope of their resurrection to eternal life through Christ. By your publications you say they are all schismatics and heretics; in the appointed duty you say they are gone to Heaven : ergo, you are an inconsistent man. Reconcile this to integrity of conscience if you can.” Whether a minister of the Church of England is obliged to bury a person baptised by a dissenting minister, is a question, concerning which we do not stop to inquire. ; We may safely allow that he is so, without alarm, at Dr. Sheps pard's conclusion. The fact is, the Doctor's notion of lhe inconsistency and want of integrity of Mr. Daubeny, or any other minister in reading the service in such a case, is founded upon a total misconception of the service itself. We do not express a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eterpal life, of any individual we bury, but of the resurrection in general. Still less are we absurd or presumptuous enough to say that those, whom we bury, are gone to Heaven. Of the individual we do indeed in one passage express a charitable hope that he rests in Christ; a hope, which I doubt not Mr. D. would willingly express, and heartily entertain of any person, over whom he might be called upon to read the
service. But when Dr. S. gives to the general expressions in the service this particular meaning, the charge of inconsistency, and the challenge to reconcile this conduct to integrity of conscience, which he levels against Mr. Daubeny, and through him against the body of the clergy, recoils upon himself; who, as a presbyter of the Church of England, has declared his approbation of her offices; and, as a man of common honesty and sincerity, must abide by the interpretation which he has given of this particular office of burial.
In the same page, Dr. S. remarks, “ In one thing the Dissenters have the advantage of you :" (he means of the clergy, from whom in this as in other cases he seems willing to detach himself.)“ They have discipline; you have none. They do not suffer any immoral persons, proved to be such, to come to the holy table. You cannot refuse the vilest of characters the sacrament, when they conie to qualify for a place: if you do, you will be prosecuted in a civil court, and cast.” This is more than need be allowed. If a person be proved to be immoral, either by confession in open court, or by conviction by a sentence of the judge, I apprehend that a minister of the Church of England has authority from the statutelaw to refusé him the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. If a person, not legally proved to be immoral, should apply, and a minister should from strong circumstances deem him an improper communicant, he would certainly be placed in a delicate and trying situation. In case of the person being “ an open and notorious evil liver," or, ás Dr. S. expresses it, “ the vilest of characters," a mimister (it is to be presumed) would do his duty as prescribed by the rubric and canons, and not admit him to the communion, at the same time taking the precaution of presenting him to the ordinary. Whether he would be safe from a legal penalty in so doing, will admit of a question, notwithstanding Dr. S. takes upon himself to decide, by an authoritative sentence, that the minister would be prosecuted and cast in a civil court. If, however, the fact be, as stated by Dr. S. whatever censure may fall upon the legislature for not giving so wholeSoine a power to the church, none at all can fall upon the church itself for not possessing it. She does what she can for excluding unfit persons from the holy communion : and I can say, for my own part, what I doubt not many others of my brethren can say for their's, that in such a ¢ ¢ ?
case as that before us, I would obey the injunctions of the church, although at the risk of a temporal penalty. Nor do I wish to take any credit to myself for this declaration, as I confess I should not very greatly dread the consequence, were I to be suinmoned to a court of justice to defend myself upon an action for damages,
The 14th page contains a vehement attack upon the whole episcopal order. " To give you a surfeit of Bishops, read Bower's History of the Popes.” The cor. ruptions of Papacy were, it is presumed, as well known at the time of the reformation as at any subsequent period. Yet Calvin himself, the founder of the Presbyterian form of Church Government, pronounced the persons who should separate from such an episcopal church as that of England, to be worthy of every anathema. He appears to have been guided by this simple reason : that a distinction was to be made between the abuse of a thing and the use of it; between the arrogant pretensions of the bishops of Rome, who admitted no law paramount to their own will, and the legitimate power of the English bishops, who were content to submit themselves in every thing to the written word of God. If Dr. Sheppard how. ever is of opinion, that there is something so contagious in episcopacy, that it must corrupt and defile every one connected with it, we may recoinmend as an antidote to the lives of the Popes, the lives of such truly apostolic Bishops, as Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, at the time of the reformation; and Secker, Horne, and Wilson, in our own days. .
Towards the close of his letter, Dr. Sheppard says: “ I think myseli a favoured individual, and that I do not deceive myself, if you will point out any part of my conduct inconsistent with the gospel, I will thank you for the reproof, and alter it. Before God I pray to be huinbled to the dust; but before man, like Paul, I boast.” If Dr. S. will permit a perfect stranger to do of his own accord that to which he has invited Mr. Daubeny, I will yenture to suggest to him whether he feels himself to be acting agreeably to the precepts of the gospel when he gives such evident proofs of ill will to our church esta blishment, to which he, as a minister of it, has promised and owes his support; but which he is endeavouring to overthrow by general attacks, and more especially by vilifying the characters of his brethren, the clergy. That many individuals among the clergy do not act in a manner worthy of the vocation, wherewith they are called, and thereby give occasion to the enemy to speak evil of the church of which they are ministers; much as it must be lamented, cannot (it is to be feared) be denied, But when we are told in the most sweeping and unqualified language, and without the slightest attempt at proof, that the clergy do not think themselves bound to believe or preach doctrines, to which they have subscribed, and which they have engaged to preach; we feel ourselves compelled to suspect that the person, who makes the charge, does not abound in that Christian charity, which : "believeth all things, hopeth all things;" and the pain of the reflection is increased by the knowledge, that it is not an open enemy that hath done us this dishonour; but one, whom from his profession we could have hoped to rank among the companions that we mnight have trusted, and to have walked with him in the house of God as friends.
When I first took up my pen to address you, Sir, on the subject of Dr. Sheppard's pamphlet, I did not expect to have been drawn on to such a length. But indeed there are many other things in it, I had marked for animadversion, besides those which have been here noticed. If you think that the pamphlet requires attention, and that what I have written is to the purpose, you will have the goodness to insert this in your magazine; if you are of a different opinion, your omission of this letter will be no offence to the writer, who with a willingness to serve the cause of orthodox churchmanship, if it be in his power, would derive much greater gratification from seeing it supported by abler hands than his own.
I am, Sir,
Your hearty well-wisher, Sept. 15, 1804. AN EPISCOPALIAN PRESBYTER,
ON THE APPLICATION OF THE WORD METHODIST,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE, SIR, VOUR correspondent, who in your last number
1 signs himself a villager, very roundly asserts that many stump with the name of wethodist, enthusiast, and