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wonderful how Mr. Noel always assumes, that because a bishop has the power of suspending an incumbent where cause is shown, or withdrawing the licence from a curate, he will exercise that power against the evangelical preacher, and that if the same authority were transferred to the people, they will only use it for the maintenance of true religion and virtue. A bishop or a judge is guided by law, by precedent, and public opinion; the two first are understood by the clergy, and the latter has the greatest weight; but a congregation have none of these; they know no law but their own will, or rather the will of the cleverest demagogue among them; their idea of public opinion is derived from a newspaper; and no one individual feels himself responsible. When they dislike a minister they have only to withdraw his salary, and they deprive him of the means whereby he lives. For our part we are most averse to all collisions; we hope never to enter a court of justice except as a spectator; but, if ever we are unfortunately forced into legal strife, we should much prefer the Court of Arches itself to the male heads of families or a committee of ladies.
Again, "The Anglican Church is defective, because it holds out promotion as a stimulus to exertion in the professional duties of the ministry. Now this is again assuming too high a degree of purity on Mr. Noel's part. Can he suppose that out of many thousands of clergy there must not be many who will make an increase of income an object? We believe Mr. Noel is well off in worldly matters, but he must recollect that the majority of mankind are struggling for a subsistence,
"Contentus famâ jaceat Lucanus in hortis
Marmoreis; at Serrano tenuique Saleio
Gloria quantilibet quid erit si gloria tantum est?"
It is a fine thing to see a person (as we have seen) build and endow a church at his own expense, and so devote his time and his fortune to the promotion of the kingdom of God; but few are able to do this, and therefore few are called to do it. We admit the desire of promotion is not the best stimulant to exertion, but it is much better than the alternative which Mr. Noel proposes, the fear of starvation. These Anglican labourers, he would say, are mere eye-servants, they are fonder of their wages than of their work, their overseers are negligent and countenance carelessness; therefore let us make them slaves. 66 Slavery," said Sir Fowell Buxton, "is labour extorted by force; wages, the natural motive, is not given, but their place is supplied with the whip-a motive there must be; and it comes at last to this, inducement or compulsion, wages or the whip."-(Life of Sir T. F. Buxton, p. 245.)
Now if a clergyman happen to have somewhat of a mercenary spirit (as many must have in our fallen state), it is better that he should have the desire of some small advancement before him than the fear of a distrustful meddling Radical congregation. Revolutionists are always the greatest tyrants; the freest people in the world uphold negro slavery, and Mr. Noel would put on the screw of coercion instead of a slight prospect of reward. But “the Anglican Church is defective in discipline-for instance, a clergyman refused to sit on a committee of the Bible Society with his neighbour, a professed Arian. The next Sunday the Arian publicly attended the communion in the parish church, and the congregation and minister, being subjects of the State, had no power to exclude him." Perhaps the power exists notwithstanding; and perhaps if it had been exercised by a bishop, Mr. Noel would have been the first to complain. But the clergyman was, in one view, justifiable, for the Arian either told a solemn lie or renounced his errors. The Nicene Creed, composed as a barrier against this very heresy, forms a part of the Communion Service, in this the communicant joins, he therefore makes a solemn profession of the orthodox faith. However we can also quote an example on the other side: we know it to be a fact that a Presbyterian minister, well known in the literary world, was highly commended for his prudence in never touching on the doctrine of our Lord's divine nature. "He is extremely wise," said a member of his flock; "for, as half his congregation are Arians, he manages to continue among us without giving offence."
We now come to the second part of our review, in which we shall endeavour to answer some of Mr. Noel's objections to the formularies of the Church of England. He says the "Anglican Church is defective, because it cannot free itself from sundry passages in the Liturgy, which are incorrect, and therefore unfitted for the use of Christians." The three portions which are most severely attacked are the Ordination Service, the Baptismal and Burial Services. The objection is, that the Church assumes the spirituality of her members; that priests receive the Holy Ghost; that private Christians are made children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; and that we commit the body of a deceased friend to the ground in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life. Now as (like Pharaoh's dreams) the objection is one, we shall endeavour to deal with it as such at first, and afterwards consider each passage. In the first place, Mr. Noel attacks us for doing the very thing which he does in a much greater degree: we acknowledge our congregations as Christians because they say they are; he would exalt them into judges, bishops, and doctors of divinity. A man may be a very good
Christian, God may have given him all things needful for life and godliness, and yet he may be a very bad divine and a still worse judge of the qualifications of a minister. The essential doctrines of the Gospel are within the reach of all who seek to understand them; but abstruse questions of Church-rule and polemical argument are understood by few. He who can easily examine himself whether he be in the faith, may find great difficulty in examining witnesses or deciding upon the orthodoxy of a minister; and if an accusation were brought for heresy, he may probably never have heard the difference between an Arian and a Socinian. Yet to such Mr. Noel would commit the supreme rule in the Church, while he objects to the indiscriminate admission of Church members. There is certainly some flagrant inconsistency here.
With great respect be it spoken, the same objections to the wording of the Prayer Book will apply to the word of God itself; and we believe that nothing but the overwhelming weight of external evidence, producing from infancy the deepest veneration for the Bible, could prevent our present race of captious dissenters from cavilling at it as they do against the Liturgy. We assume as an axiom that "the law of the Lord is perfect." Now this perfection consists in its being, like God's other works, perfectly adapted to its own end, the conversion of the soul. It is not a perfect treatise on natural science, for it represents the sun as standing still; but this is accounted for because it was given to Joshua as he could understand it. Had the Copernican theory been revealed to him in a moment, the people could not have been made aware of the truth, and the kings of the Canaanites would have escaped while the Israelites were listening to a lecture upon physical astronomy. They saw the sun stand still at Joshua's word, and Sir Isaac Newton himself could not have convinced them against the evidence of their senses. The same principle pervades the whole. The Bible is a popular treatise, not a logical one. It does not define and explain terms, but takes words as they were known and understood at the time. This is a plan very different from what we should have devised either for a code of laws or a system of ethics. Again, the sun is the emblem which David uses (Ps. xix.) for the law of the Lord. Now the sun, like the word of God, is perfectly adapted to his own end, the diffusion of light and heat; yet in one sense he is imperfect: as he comes to us through an imperfect medium the atmosphere, his rays are subject to refraction, and our organs which receive them are liable to error. Now it is just so with the word of God, it comes to us through the imperfect medium of language, and our understandings being finite are often incapable of fully comprehending it. We should consider him a fool who
would shut his eyes till he could ascertain the exact position of the sun irrespective of refraction; and in the same way he who will not use the Scriptures which are perfectly adapted to teach him the way of salvation, till he can understand every word, and reconcile every difficulty, will wilfully perish in his own blindness. The defects of our sight must be corrected by our touch, and where one part of Scripture seems inconsistent with others, we must endeavour to expound each part, so that it may be consistent with the general intent. A single insulated text, when not combined with others, may lead to fearful errors. We have heard of a soldier who struck his comrade and afterwards cut off his right hand, because, he said, "it had offended him ;" and if Radicalism were not at the foundation of Mr. Noel's errors, we might probably trace them to undue weight given to an insulated text; but we have not found even one which can be strained to support the sovereignty of the people. Our answer, then, to Mr. Noel's objections to portions of our services is this: if he supposes that in the Burial Service the Church of England asserts the salvation of all that are buried in consecrated ground, let him look to other parts of the Prayer Book, as the Athanasian Creed, and he will find his mistake. If he fancies his congregation are misled by hearing him read it (we feel sure, like many expressions in Scripture, it is perfectly correct in the sense it was intended), let him preach a sermon to show the fallacy of their opinion. We are obliged to do this in explaining Scripture itself; why then hesitate to do it in considering our forms which are closely drawn from the Scriptures. If the Prayer Book be only imperfectly adapted to its own end, the supply of forms for congregational worship, it comes, perhaps, as near what is required as any human composition can; it is, therefore, much better to explain one part by another, than to cavil at the whole; or to suppose, that by changing the present order of things, we should arrive at a higher or a purer system of devotional worship.
3. All social religion must assume the spirituality of those who unite in it. If, therefore, we are to have any prayer in a public congregation, the question is only one of degree; and after all that has been said, we think that we assume a less high degree of religious attainment than our opponents, who raise all private Christians to the rank of ruling elders. It is said of the late Rev. Legh Richmond that, in one of his tours, he met the late Robert Hall at the house of a mutual acquaintance. Mr. Hall, as a dissenter, stated some of the usual objections, which we have named, urging the danger of using the strong language of the Liturgy in a mixed congregation, and pressing, like Mr. Noel, for a more select communion. Mr. Richmond was asked to lecture
in the family circle, and consented, saying to Mr. Hall, that he hoped he would conclude with prayer. There were some strangers and a number of servants present. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Richmond remarked, that of course Mr. Hall had had opportunities of conversing with the servants, and was well acquainted with their religious state; and when Mr. Hall replied that he had never been in the house before, Mr. Richmond retorted his own arguments against himself, showing, that in his approach to God with the congregation, he had evidently assumed their conversion. Mr. Noel objecting to the Baptismal Service will of course not teach his children the Catechism, or allow them to say, "Wherein I was made a member of Christ." "It is a fearful thing," say the dissenters, "thus to lead children to assume their own conversion." Now we ask, Will such persons teach their children to repeat the Lord's Prayer? If they do, we think they are inconsistent, for it assumes a much higher degree of spiritual life than the Baptismal Service. The few simple words which our Lord has taught us, while they are plain enough for the comprehension of a child, yet contain depths of spiritual knowledge which even the most advanced Christian must long after in vain. Let Mr. Noel be called to the death-bed of the most experienced member of his flock, and he cannot suggest for self-examination in the solemn hour of death any portion of Scripture which will open more of the experimental teaching of the Holy Spirit than the Lord's Prayer. The Spirit of adoption, the power of approaching God as a reconciled Father in Christ, the desire for his kingdom, the complete submission to his will, the sense of sin combined with full Christian charity, are some of the points of Christian experience which that wonderful prayer opens to our view. Now no man in this imperfect state can fully attain to the profession which we make when we use the Lord's Prayer, though every Christian will do so to a certain degree.
The Church of England assumes the regeneration of her members and their consequent adoption into the family of God; the Lord's Prayer assumes more, not only that they are adopted, but that they can act upon the knowledge of their adoption. It desires them to profess that they have the Spirit of adoption; not only that God is our Father, but that we can address Him as such. Man may, we believe, be a child of God without knowing it, at least without enjoying his privileges as he ought; but the Lord's Prayer assumes that he does know his own state, and that he has a considerable portion of the assurance of hope, as nothing else can give him a desire for the coming of Christ's kingdom. The form, however, rests on the highest authority, and by it our Lord calls upon us to approximate to a high degree