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That the founders, lay and clerical, of the Church of England, corrected all that required correction in the doctrines of the Church of Rome, and nothing more, may be quite true. But we never can admit the circumstance that the Church of England possesses the a postolical succession as a proof that she is thus perfect. No stream can rise higher than its fountain. The succossion of ministers in the Church of England, derived as it is through the Church of Rome, can never prove more for the Church of England than it proves for the Church of Rome. But this is not all. The Arian Churches which once predominated in the kingdoms of the Ostrogoths, the Visigothis, the Burgundians, the Vandals, and the Lombards, were all episcopal churches, and all had a fairer claim than that of England to the apostolical succession, as being much nearer to the apostolical times. In the East, the Greek Church, which is at variance on points of faith with all the Western Churches, has an equal claim to this succession. The Nestorian, the Eutychian, the Jacobite Churches, all heretical, all condemned by councils, of which even Protestant divines have generally spoken with respect, had an equal claim to the apostolical succession. Now if, of teachers having apostolical orders, a vast majority have taught much error, if a large proportion have taught deadly heresy, if, on the other hand, as Mr. Gladstone himself admits, churches not having apostolical orders, that of Scotland for example, have been yearer to the standard of orthodoxy than the majori.y of teachers who have had apostolical orders, liow can he possibly call upon us to submit our private judgment to the authority sf a Church on the ground that she has these orders ?
Mr. Gladstone dwells much on the importance of anity in doctrine. Unity, he tells us, is essential to truth. And this is most unquestionable. But when
. he goes on to tell us that this unity is the characteristic of the Church of England, that she is one in body and in spirit, we are compelled to differ from him widely. The apostolical succession she may or may not have. But unity she most certainly has not, and never has had. It is matter of perfect notoriety, that her formularies are framed in such a manner as to admit to her highest offices men who differ from each other more widely than a very high Churchman differs from a Catholic, or a very low Churchman from a Presbyterian ; and that the general leaning of the Church, with respect to some important questions, has been sometimes one way and sometimes another. Take, for example, the questions agitated between the Calvinists and the Arminians. Do we find in the Church of England, with respect to those questions, that unity which is essential to truth? Was it ever found in the Church? Is it not certain that, at the end of the sixteenth century, the rulers of the Church held doctrines as Calvinistic as ever were held by any Cameronian, and not only held them, but persecuted everybody who did not hold them ? And is it not equally certain, that the rulers of the Church liave, in very recent times, considered Calvinism as a :lisqualification for high preferment, if not for holy orders ? Look at the questions which Archbishop Whitgift propounded to Barret, questions framed in the very spirit of William Huntington, S. S. And ther. look at the eighty-seven questions which Bishop
1 0119 question was, whether God had from eternity ri provaled certain persons; and why? The answer which contented the Archbishop was Affirmative, et quia voluit.”
Marsh, within our own memory, propounded to canto didates for ordination. We should be loth to say that either of these celebrated prelates had intruded himself into a Church whose doctrines he abhoried. and that he deserved to be stripped of his gown.
Yet it is quite certain that one or other of them must have been very greatly in error. John Wesley again, and Cowper's friend, John Newton, were both Presbyters of this Church. Both were inen of ability. Both we believe to have been men of rigid integrity, men who would not have subscribed a Confession of Faith which they disbelieved for the richest bishopric in the empire. Yet, on the subject of predestination, Newton was strongly attached to doctrines which Wesley designated as “ blasphemy, which might make the ears of a Christian to tingle.” Indeed, it will not be disputed that the clergy of the Established Church are divided as to these questions, and that her formularies are not found practically to exclude even scrupulously honest men of both sides from her altars. It is notorious that some of her most distinguished rulers think this latitude a good thing, and would be sorry to see it restricted in favour of either opinion. And herein we most cordially agree with them. But what becomes of the unity of the Church, and of that truth to which unity is essential ? Mr. Gladstone tells us that the Regium Donum was given originally to orthodox Presbyterian ministers, but that part of it is now received by their licterolox “ This,” he says,
serves to illustrate the difficulty in which governments entangle theinselves, when they covenant with arbitrary systems of opinion, and not with the Church alone. The opinion passes away, but the gift remains.” But is it not clear, that if a strong Supralapsarian had, under Whitgift's primacy, left a large estate at the disposal of the bishops for ecclesiastical purposes, in the hope that the rulers of the Church would abide by Whitgift's theology, he would really have been giving his substance for the support of doctrines which he de lested ? The opinion would have passed away, and the gift would have remained.
This is only a single instance. What wide differences of opinion respecting the operation of the sacraments are held by bishops, doctors, presbyters of the Church of England, all men who have conscientiously declared their assent to her articles, all men who are, according to Mr. Gladstone, ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, all men whose voices make up what, he tells us, is the voice of true and reasonable authority! Here, again, the Church has not unity ; and as unity is the essential condition of truth, the Church has not the truth.
Nay, take the very question which we are discussing with Mr. Gladstone. To what extent does the Church of England allow of the right of private judgment? What degree of authority does she claim for herself in virtue of the apostolical succession of her ministers? Mr. Gladstone, a very able and a very honest man, takes a view of this matter widely differing from the view taken by others whom he will adınit to be as able and as honest as himself. People who altogether dissent from him on this subject eat the bread of the Church, preach in her pulpits, dispense her sacraments, confer her orders, and carry on hat apostolical succession, the nature and importance of which, according to him, they do not comprehend. 13 this unity? Is this truth?
It will be observed that we are not putting cases of
dishonest men who, for the sake of lucre, falsely pre tend to believe in the doctrines of an establishment We are putting cases of men as upright as ever lived, who, differing on theological questions of the highest importance, and avowing that difference, are yet priests and prelates of the same Church. We therefore say, that on some points which Mr. Gladstone himself thinks of vital importance, the Church lias either not spoken at all, or, what is for all practical purposes the same thing, has not spoken in language to be understood even by honest and sagacious divines. The religion of the Church of England is so far from exhibiting that unity of doctrine which Mr. Gladstone represents as her distinguishing glory, that it is, in fact, a bundle of re ligious systems without number. It comprises the re ligious system of Bishop Tomline, and the religious system of John Newton, and all the religious systeins which lie between them. It comprises the religious system of Mr. Newman, and the religious system of the Archbishop of Dublin, and all the religious systems which lie between them. All these different opinions are held, avowed, preached, printed, within the pale of the Church, by men of unquestioned integrity and understanding.
Do we make this diversity a topic of reproach to the Church of England ? Far from it. We would oppose with all our power every attempt to narrow her basis ! Would to God that, a hundred and fifty years ago, a good king and a good primate had possessed the power as well as the will to widen it! It was a noble enterprise, worthy of William and of Tillotson. But what becomes of all Mr. Gladstone's eloquent exhortations Wo unity? Is it not mere mockery to attach so much mportance to unity in form and name, where there is