« PreviousContinue »
2 Tim. i. 6; 1 Cor. iv. 1. And this divine gift was supposed to be conferred by human agency, and the laying on of hands; a remarkable example of which is visible in the ordination of St. Paul, even after his miraculous conversion. (Acts xiv. 23.)
"The argument, then, stands thus. We find what we conceive to be an express commission to the ministry given by Christ; we find that it was so understood by the Apostles; that they acted on it; that they ordained men to the priesthood wherever they went; and, in order to provide for the extension and continuation of the ministry, that they gave to certain more exalted officers the same power of ordination, in addition to other privileges of the ministry; that they speak of these privileges as the gift of God, but that they speak of them as bestowed through the instrumentality of man."*
We might appeal to ecclesiastical history, did our limits permit; we might argue the point of the apostolical succession, by an appeal to reason, could reason hope to be heard; but we forbear to fill our pages with arguments on a topic so familiar to our readers as that under discussion, especially as the volume on our table demands yet further notice with reference to matters of equal moment with the preceding topics.
Dr. Arnold not only denies the doctrine of apostolical succession, thereby lowering the Clergy, and desecrating the Sacraments of the Church—for in that case they are merely human officers and human ordinances—but maintains, moreover, that the sacramental commemoration of Christ's death needs not the presence of a minister any more than the administration of baptism, which may be performed by any body; and that the power of the keys as committed to sacerdotal hands is a notion too unchristian to bear the light.
We would crave the privilege of addressing ourselves shortly to these three points. We begin with Baptism.
With regard to baptism, Dr. Arnold says, " The question has been decided by the authorities of the Church of England." (Appendix, p. 412.) We challenge the Doctor to produce these authorities; and if they be found only in the sentences of Ecclesiastical Courts, and the practice of unauthorized Laics, we oppose to them the doctrine of our Church, as laid down in her Articles and Rubrics. The commission to baptize was given by our Redeemer only to his Apostles, and by them to their successors in the ministry; in conformity with which practice the Twentythird Article of our Church runs thus :—
"It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or Ministering The Sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same."
* See Rose's Series of Discourses on the Commission of the Clergy, p. 36. VOL. XVII. NO. iv. D D
If it should be alleged, in answer to this statement, that the prohibition extends merely to the public performance of the baptismal rite, and that lay baptism is allowed in private ministrations, we confidently appeal to the office for Private Baptism, to prove the fallacy of this distinction. Indeed, Private Baptism is forbidden by our Church, except in extreme cases of necessity, "when need shall compel;" and even then she carefully confines the ceremony to her lawful ministers, according to her Rubrics :—
"First, Let the minister of the parish (or, in his absence, any other lawful minister that can be procured,) call upon God; and then the minister shall pour water upon it:"
"If the minister of the same parish did himself baptize the child;"
"But if the child were baptized by any other lawful minister, then
the minister of the parish shall examine and try whether the
child be lawfully baptized or no."
We interrupt the course of our quotations to beg our readers to mark emphatically what follows, and to observe that our Church not only obliges her ministers to examine generally into the validity of baptisms alleged to have been performed, but that the very first question which they are directed to ask of " those that bring any child to the church, and answer that the same child is already baptized," is this,—
"By Whom was this child baptized?"
We arrogate the privilege of asking Dr. Arnold whether a church allowing lay baptism could have put this searching question? And we fortify ourselves by the authority of Wheatly, who thus illustrates the Rubrics which we have quoted :—
"Our Church, by prohibiting all from intermeddling in baptism but a lawful minister, plainly hints that when baptism is administered by any others, it conveys no benefit or advantage to the child, but only brings upon those who pretend to administer it the guilt of usurping a sacred office."*
Dr. Arnold contends for the lay administration of the Lord's Supper; and asserts that the notion that " there can be no true sacramental commemoration of Christ's death without the presence of a minister,"
IS " MANIFESTLY ABSURD AND PROFANE." Appendix, p. 411.
Again we quote the 23d Art. of our Church. "Manifestly absurd and profane" as the notion is, the Church of England maintains it unequivocally; that church, of which our consistent author is a minister! She peremptorily declares that none but lawful ministers can "minister the sacraments in the congregation." "Granted," says our author; "it is most ft, most excellent, as a rule of order and decency, that they who minister should especially wait on their ministry in the very holiest act
* Wheatly's Rational Illustration of Common Prayer, p. 371.
of our christian brotherhood. But they minister not as distinct from their brethren, but as being of their number."—P. 138.
If the communion be as our author declares, " the very holiest act of our christian brotherhood," we would venture to suggest, looking at the question in the abstract, that the presence of " the stewards of the mysteries of God" at its celebration might be reasonably looked for amongst the ordinances of Him, by whose law they minister in holy things. As unto the sacrament of Baptism a lawful minister is necessary, (for Christ empowered only such to administer that rite, " Go, preach and baptize,") so unto the due solemnization of the Lord's Supper is it equally necessary that a lawful minister should consecrate the elements by prayer. Our Church forbids private communions,* and in her office for the Communion of the Sick, it is cautiously provided that there shall be " three, or two at the least," besides the siek person and the curate, to partake of the eucharist, whilst an exception to this rule is confined by her to " contagious times of sickness;" but on no occasion does she contemplate the celebration of the Communion without the presence of a minister. When superstitious and timid Christians feared that " the unworthiness of the ministers" might hinder the effect of the sacraments, the Church did not tell them that private Christians might assemble and administer the Lord's Supper to themselves without the intervention of a priest; but quieted their minds by assuring them that their fears were groundless, inasmuch as the sacraments were "effectual because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men."—Art. XXVI.
There is no room, then, for Dr. Arnold's sneer, touching " the repetition of a particular form of words by one particular individual." (Appendix, p. 410.) The Church to which he belongs holds the ministration of her ministers to be necessary and essential to the sacraments, whether administered privately or publicly; and we esteem it, in the language of Usher, "monstrous presumption for private persons to meddle with such high mysteries."^ But what shall be said of Dr. Arnold? Is he not an abettor of such "monstrous presumption?" Has he not done all that in him lies to lower the dignity of the priestly office; to pour contempt upon the doctrine and the discipline of the Church of England in these lucubrations? And this, too, before an audience of boys, who are to be sent forth from Rugby thus imbued with mischievous opinions and "dangerous deceits!" Is this an era,—are these the days,—is this the audience, when, and before which, these heresies are to be preached? A due estimation of the christian sacraments, and the christian priesthood, has been placed, by abler men than Dr. Arnold, amongst the fundamental articles of the
• Canon, 71. + Usher's Body of Divinity, p. 412.
christian religion. "If the sacraments be not only signs or emblems of spiritual benefits, but the instituted means of conveying these benefits; and if the ministration of the priesthood as a divine ordinance be necessary to give the sacraments their validity and effect; then are these interwoven into the very substance of Christianity, and inseparable from its general design. So much, indeed, is said in Scripture of the church of God as a spiritual society, subsisting under a visible government, and administered by means of these ordinances, that, to treat the consideration of these points as of little weight, appears to be depreciating, if not the system of Christianity itself, yet the mode which Infinite Wisdom has ordained of carrying it into effect."* Alas! that such a man as the author before us, a D.D., a schoolmaster, and a priest, should be found amongst the traducers of our most sacred institutions and offices !" Quis talia fando," &c.
But, in good truth, we have still further fault to find with our author, who denies to the Clergy the power of declaring absolution. If they have no such power, why, we ask, is the privilege of reading the absolution confined to priests by our Church? She says expressly, that God "hath given power and commandment To His Ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins." But what says Dr. Arnold, that consistent minister of the Church? that "magnus Apollo " of Radical Infidels and Liberal Schismatics? He says, "It is idle to talk of a minister having an exclusive power of declaring what we have heard already from the very source to which alone he is indebted for it." (Appendix, p. 414.) But our Church talks thus, we see; she talks idly, then; and she not only talks thus idly, but actually restrains the remission of sin to her priests! Can Dr. Arnold remain any longer in the communion of such a church? He tells his readers that "it would be a strong presumption against any man's understanding, if he did not venerate and listen to the wisdom of those great men whom God has raised up at different times, as the intellectual lights of the world." (Introduction, p. vi.) It is this truth that comforts us in the review of Dr. Arnold's volume, which runs counter to all the great authorities whom, in questions of ecclesiastical polity, and theological doctrines, we have been wont to venerate and to follow; and we feel but little alarm, whatever may be our disgust, at the assaults of Dr. Arnold upon the dignity and the power of the ministers of the Church of England, thus injuriously assailed, thus contumeliously degraded, when their sacred function can be approached with hope of triumphant hostility only by one who ventures to hurl the arrows of his scorn against such men as Hooker, and Bull, and Pearson; and who may dare then
• Van Mildcrt's Hampton Lecture, p. 151.
to aspire to the honour of a guide in matters of religion, when their immortal pages shall cease to be read!
If, after this comment upon the volume before us, which we thus dismiss without further remark, our readers should wish for more detailed information as to its contents, we beg leave to refer them to the pages of the work itself, of which we confess we have already had more than enough.
Art. II.— The Autobiography of a Dissenting Minister. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1834. Pp. viii. 227.
"Truth will out"—" Murder will out," are sayings which cannot be gainsaid. They are fundamental maxims, established upon evidence which is as extensive as the range of human nature; for they are based upon a principle commensurate with the scriptural adage, "Be sure your sin will find you out." Applying these maxims to the state of affairs now agitating between the Church and Dissent, we have, in the work before us, an additional proof of the correctness of the positions upon which national proverbs are founded, and of the unerring certainty with which truth, however hampered or impeded, will eventually rise to its intended and natural level. We look upon publications of this kind as of incalculable value; not mere ephemeral bubbles upon the great stream of literary trifling, but as substantial parts of the solid frame-work of the philosophy of the age. We know that several of our contemporaries have laboured hard to disprove the authenticity of the details, as well as the genuineness of the character of the author of this Autobiography; but we, unquestionably, believe both, not because his assertions tally with our prejudices, but because his narrative so perfectly agrees with the theory of dissent, and the examples every where afforded by dissent, that we cannot doubt occurrences so consonant to reason and experience. Believing, then, that this work details what has really happened, we shall make no scruple of using it by way of showing what Dissent really is; thereby justifying ourselves in the eyes of those who may, perhaps, suppose that we have occasionally indulged in unjust suspicions against those who worship without the walls of the Establishment.
The author states in his Preface, that his object " is to set forth, in a more popular and homely form than that of abstract argument, the insuperable evils of the voluntary system." (p. v.)
lie is perfectly assured and convinced, that dissent, bad enough as it is, would be yet worse, were it not for the existence and operation of the Established Church Were the Establishment to be destroyed, there would