« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the cherished feelings of their hearts, and to proclaim their anxiety to be free from the control which restrains their fantastic fancies and attempted assimilations of the creed and practice of the Church of England to those of Popery. A stimulus has been given, we cannot imagine without design, or without complicity, to those who are striving to compass such ends, and so a way is being prepared, by the unsettling of men's minds for future measures, fraught, we believe, with ruin to the Church and State of England. In these disasters, should they occur, we believe the State will eventually suffer more than the Church, and the laity of England will part with the true secret of the intellectual and religious freedom which they enjoy. Even Nonconformists will, we think, rue the day which hands them over without resource to the spiritual despotism which is now held in check by the status, in our country, of the Established Church.
Again, if we look abroad, we find the whole continent of Europe seething with religious almost as much as with political ferment. France and Germany are uttering more than inarticulate murmurs against the tyranny, actual and prospective, of the Church of Rome. Those who are ironically termed “the faithful” in these lands, in sullen anticipation of the great burden about to be placed upon them, are lifting their weary side, and the whole superincumbent mass of clerical despotism is trembling lest the giant force, reluctantly oppressed, should shake off the load of which it is weary, and go forth free: as Dr. Manning tells us in his recent pamphlet* :
“What Government, at this day, professes to be Catholic ? How should any Government which does not even claim to be Catholic be invited ? What country in Europe, at this day, recognises the unity and authority of the Catholic Church as a part of its public laws ? What country has not, by royal edicts, or legislative enactments, or revolutionary changes, abolished the legal status of the Catholic Church within its territory ? On what plea, then, could they be invited ? As governments or nations, they have, by their own act, withdrawn themselves from the unity of the Church. As moral or legal persons, they are Catholic no longer. The faithful, indeed, among their subjects will be represented in the Council by their pastors; and their pastors are not only invited, but obliged to be present. If any separation has taken place, it is because the civil powers have separated themselves from the Church. They have created the fact, the Holy See has only recognised it. The gravity of the fact is not to be denied. It is strange that, with the immutability of the Church, and the progress,' as it is vaunted, of society before their eyes, men should charge upon the Church the responsibility of breaking its relations with society. The Church at one and the same time is accused of immobility and of change. It is not the Church which has departed from unity, science, liberty ; but society which has departed from Christianity and from faith. It is said: 'If Christian unity be destroyed, if science have separated from faith, if liberty choose to reign without religion, a terrible share of the responsibility for these evils rests upon the men who have represented in the Christian world unity, faith, and religion.' Does this mean, upon the Episcopate, Councils, and Pontiff's? Who, if not these, ‘have represented in the Christian world unity, faith, and religion'? Have they, then, misrepresented these things to the
* We would wish to call attention to a remarkable prophetical paper by the Rev. E. B. Elliott, in the Christian Observer for 1868, and to beg of them to comparo it with the statements of Dr. Manning.
To this question we would answer, that they have misrepresented these things to the world. By the monstrous delusions they have been upholding, and the baseless dogmas they have been enforcing, they have alienated not only governments, but all mind and intellect beyond the narrow pale of the clergy, from sympathy with religious practice and belief. Other causes, no doubt, have contributed. In Germany more especially, where, while religious belief has been comparatively free, secular despotism, in all shapes and forms, has been oppressing the nations with petty but galling relics of mediæval tyranny, thought and learning, restricted from free political development, have, in the only open channels available to them, poured out the wildest utterances and the most revolutionary fancies in criticism of all sorts, and with the most disastrous results to the moral and religious well-being of the mighty nation so enthralled. Still, there, too, we have signs of a hopeful reaction, and feel assured that if the intellect of Germany could be recalled, from the dreamland in which it is expatiating, to healthy political action, it would be as mighty to build up as for some years past it has been to destroy.
Upon the attitude of Spain and Italy we need not dwell. None can be ignorant how the wildest infidelity and the most grovelling superstitions, as correlatives, hold dominion over the minds of men and women respectively in those countries. We hail with thankfulness the slight indications which hàve been manifest during the past year, of religious freedom, and toleration of Evangelistic effort. There has been an entrance for God's word “which giveth light, which giveth understanding to the simple.”
Our narrow limits preclude us from more than casting our eyes over the progress of Christianity in the Mission fields, to chronicle its warfare with idolatry, the successes and reverses which it has met with during the past year, and its prospects for the future ; we pass the momentous topic over with the simple expression of our feeling that in this quarter there is much for which we may “thank God and take courage.”
Finally, we feel that it would be faithless and sinful to entertain doubt or distrust as regards the future. God's promises are sure, and He will be found more than faithful to those who believe upon His name and trust themselves implicitly to Him. Churches and individuals may and do unduly arrogate to themselves those promises of Scripture ; but to those who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, in the midst of all the doubts and disquietudes which are now perplexing men's minds, and filling them with anxious thoughts as they peer wistfully into the dark future, we too would have them take up, and appropriate, with far more truth and confidence, not to Peter nor to the Pope, but to the Saviour whom they love, “Thronus ejus sicut sol in conspectu meo et sicut luna perfecta in æternum ; et testis in cælo fidelis.”*
* Psalm lxxxix. 36. E. V.
2. Voices from the Watch-Tower. 10. Public Affairs ........
5. The Anointing of Believers ......
3. Quesnel's Commentary on St. Mat-
10. Notices of Books ..........
5. "Schools of Thought.” ............ 127 2. Blunt's History of the Reforma-
tion in England ..................
2. Blunt's History of the Reforma-
9. Locky's History of European Mo-