« السابقةمتابعة »
I agree with “ An Architect,” that the pews are in most cases too high.
I will finish with a slight variation of what I have said in my former letter,—I do not exaggerate when I say, that ninety-nine out of one hundred of our churches require to be entirely new-pewed, and all facing one way.
Yours, &c., A PRESBYTER. P.S.—Since writing the above, I have looked into a popish chapel now erecting, all the seats of which are pewed, looking one way, three feet and a half wide, and little more than three feet high. Why, I ask, is this change to be found ? My answer is, because English habits require it, and more particularly at the present time, now that Christians are divided into so many sects.
MR. PERCEVAL AND THE “RECORD" NEWSPAPER. SIR,- The accompanying letters, of which I request your insertion in the November number, will speak for themselves. The first, containing (as I think) a very foul and scandalous imputation against myself and others, was admitted into the “Record;" the latter, containing (as I hope) a reasonable and Christian reply, was refused admittance. This is not the only instance of such conduct that I have experienced. Another correspondent in that paper accused me of an unfair quotation; I wrote to vindicate myself, and to give reasons why the charge could not be maintained : this also was refused admittance. Another correspondent ("W.C.") having fallen vehemently foul of me, as insulting the readers of the “ Record” by my line of defence on another point, I wrote to shew that the fault was in his being incapable of understanding a plain argument, and in thinking that the readers of the “Record” were as foolish as himself: this also was refused admittance, the reason assigned actually being this—that, as “many readers” were “not competent judges," they “would be likely to be mystified, if not misled, by the ingenious distinctions, and what we consider Jesuitical sophistries, of the rev. gentleman." —Record, Oct. 9.
The dissenting managers of the “ Record” deserve considerable credit for their discovery of this novel method of investigating and defending the truth. None can deny its claim to originality; but what sort of a compliment it is to their writers and readers, to suppose the first incapable of affording a plain refutation of sophistry, or the second incapable of understanding such plain refutation, I may safely leave to them to explain. If either of the parties think that insult and injustice is done them by such a supposition, I must beg them to observe that it is none of my doing.
When I first wrote to that paper (which I had never seen) to ask information concerning some charges which I had been informed had been brought against me in it, I supposed that its writers and conductors (whom I suspect to be chiefly the same parties) were gentlemen of candour and fair dealing, who would honestly defend their own
VOL. XII.-Nov. 1837.
positions as long as they were capable of defence, or as honestly surrender them when proved to be indefensible. I therefore gave them open challenges in the frankest way, with my own name; thus pledging my reputation on my side, and my hope being that calm discussion and gentlemanly bearing might abate the asperities I had heard complained of against them, and draw together in defence of the church of England those who profess to be as zealous for it as my friends and myself. That hope I must now surrender. Instead of a straightforward answer, I met with shuffling and evasion ; instead of gentlemanly bearing, I experienced the most ungentlemanly and dishonest conduct -wilfully and deliberately dishonest, as I pledge myself to prove.
But the attempt has not been without some advantage to myself, and, possibly, to the cause for which I labour. It has opened my eyes, and may do those of others, to a danger to which our church and religion (as distinguished from the establishment) are exposed; of the extent and reality of which I had not the remotest conception.
1. The same column in the “ Record” which (after it had safely determined not to allow me to insert a line in my defence) held me up as dishonouring the ministry of the church, held also up to scorn “ episcopal baptism" and “episcopal confirmation." Here presbyterian
" ism avowedly stalks forth.
2. The same paragraph that held me up as sunk in “spiritual darkness,” dared to hold up to scorn and derision that which the holy scriptures and the creeds of the church warrant us in designating as one of the FUNDAMENTAL doctrines of the Christian religion; I mean the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. “Mr. Perceval,” wrote the heretical scribe, “neutralizes this great truth” (of the Spirit of God being the only effectual teacher)" by embracing, in all its naked falsehood, the wretched figment of baptismal regeneration.” The writer went on (seemingly not knowing the value of the terms he uses, which, I trust, may plead in mitigation of his impiety and profaneness,) to call it “an awful, unscriptural, and soul-destroying delusion,” to affirm that they “who have received valid baptism have been made the children of God by adoption, members of Christ, and inheriters of the kingdom of heaven.” Here rank, unblushing rationalism shews itself,
3. The same number (“ Record,” Oct. 2,) which refused a Christian clergyman leave to rebut false and scandalous charges, which, by the most dishonest rakings together of half-sentences and disjointed periods, had been brought against him in that paper, put forth, of its own accord, a flimsy defence in behalf of one (Jacob Abbot) whom a clergyman (Rev. F. Ellaby) had denounced as an open and avowed Socinian, and had pledged his reputation to demonstrate it from his writings.
Yes ! in the “Record” the accused semi-papist is reviled, but not permitted to defend himself ;-the accused Socinian is smoothly spoken of, but not permitted to be convicted. Is it too much to say of such a paper, that it loves Socininiasm better than catholic doctrine ?-in other words, that it is semi-Socinian? I think not. Presbyterian, rationalistic, and semi-Socinian, are the terms which, upon the strength of
the foregoing premises, I do not hesitate to predicate of the “Record.” Whether a fourth term may not as demonstrably be attached to it, will best appear when their mode of conduct in respect of the Roman controversy is considered, which I purpose to do in my next.
In the meantine, we have this subject for meditation,--that a presbyterian, rationalistic, and semi-Socinian paper is the chief organ of religious intelligence in, I will not say a large, but an active and influential portion of the religious world in England; a considerable part of which is composed of members of the church itself. Thus, it appears that, while men's chief attention has been directed to guard against the Romish wolves on one side of the fold, the lurking hyænas of rationalism in its various grades have crept in at the other, and have already taken quiet possession of a portion of the flock. May the Chief Shepherd protect and defend, recover and restore, his sheep! But the under-shepherds must do their duty also ! I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
ARTHUR PERCEVAL. East Horsley, Oct. 16th, 1837.
(To the Editor of the “Record.”) Sir,— There seems to be something of an approach--if you do not think that it is too early to interpose in the dispute between Mr. Perceval and some writers in the “ Record_towards dishonesty, in the unqualified use of popular theological terms, of which Mr. Perceval and others occasionally make use. They adopt the ordinary terms used by the Roman church, and then, if they are (as naturally they may be) so accepted and understood by ordinary readers, and a charge of symbolizing with the Italian sect is consequently laid against those who make use of them, forthwith an outcry is raised, and any fellow-feeling anxiously disclaimed. Whether this is done to exhibit, on the one hand, their superiority to vulgar protestantism, and, on the other, their learned acquaintance with the doctrines and practices of Catholic antiquity, in the subsequent defences which are offered, we, of course, cannot decide. It has been already observed by Forbes, Bishop of Aberdeen, “Non prodest verba quædam usurpare, si significatio nova ac supposititia sub verbis illis introducatur, sicut fieri cernimus in vocabulis sacerdotii, altaris, oblationis, speciei, confessionis, pænitentiæ,” &c. Epist. Dedicat. to Instructiones Historico-Theol. Now the words and language adopted by the Rev. Mr. Perceval, and other writers of a similar stamp, are often such as have acquired a new signification, and accordingly, when used by Luther and Cranmer, &c., they are duly qualified, and protected from being under. stood in the modern popular sense, by a variety of cautious provisos. Who would suppose, in ordinary language, that, when speaking of a sacrifice, the author or writer confined himself to the ancient catholic meaning of the phrase ?--and who would use the term, under existing circumstances especially, but with a certainty, almost, of being popularly misunderstood ? That is the point; as what is published is, of course, intended for the world, not a learned private circle. Who, again, would suppose, in inodern times, that praying for the dead referred to the ancient catholic custom, rather than to the Roman modern doctrine of praying, or offering up of masses, for the release of souls out of purgatory? The two doctrines might, as quotations are often made from the Fathers, be supposed to be identical ; for, in the passage from Tertullian (De Corona, $3), commonly cited by papal controversialists in defence of the latter doctrine, the words, “pro natalitiis," which explain the sense of catholic antiquity in the observance, are generally omitted. The necessity, therefore, of caution in the use of language which can be so easily misunderstood, and the avoid. ing of doubtful phraseology, and the careful adoption and adherence to common language for common purposes all these are points (and in the present times especially, as before remarked,) worthy of attention by those who would guide the world in theological matters, and would think it very unjust to be excluded from being classed among the pastors of the catholic church.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
Mr. Perceval's Reply to “C. S.” Sir,- I would ask of “C. S.” whether it is quite consistent with the charity which “thinketh no evil," to impute to “dishonesty” (a hard word that, to bring against a man by name in the public papers, by one who writes in anonymous concealment] and to vain desire of exhibiting learning, conduct which surely admitted of a very different construction. What, if, together with the catholic terms, we have been in danger of losing the catholic doctrines expressed by them! What, if, by surrendering those terms to the exclusive use of our Roman adversaries, we have given them an unjust advantage in their otherwise vain appeals to antiquity, liable to confound the ill-educated and half-informed of our own people who should be drawn into controversy with their priests—and not in their appeals to antiquity only, but to scripture itself! What, if we have seen attempts to explain away the mysteries of our holy faith, according to the rationalistic school of Germany, and to limit men's belief of God's dealings with their souls to the measure of their carnal minds ! Under such circumstances, and they are real, and not imaginary, is it matter of reproach, that we have endeavoured, from the church's ancient armory, to draw weapons with which to meet these fearful dangers-that we have endeavoured to rescue from our adversaries those sacred terms which they had misapplied, and, by explaining them in their true sense, (for we have explained them again and again,) to shew our people that the passages in scripture and antiquity, where they occur, do not bear the construction our opponents put upon them—and that, in doing this, we have endeavoured to vindicate from reproach, and to establish clearly in the sight of men, those truths and doctrines from which, through misapprehension of the terms in which they were expressed, they had been tempted to shrink with vague, though not unnatural, apprehension ?
“Č. S.” admits the terms to have been used by the catholic writers of old,-to have been used also by the reformers of our church. If this is not warrant enough, let him consider that, before finding fault with us, he must find fault with the liturgy of the church of England, even as it stands now, still more with that which the whole body of the church of England ascribed to the aid of THE HOLY GHOST-I mean the first of Edw. VI. He must find fault with the liturgy of the English royalists, with that of the English non-jurors (for they both had separate liturgies),-with that of the Scottish episcopal church, -and that of the American, -yea, with every liturgy which the catholic church from east to west has ever used ! Nor must he stop here. It was the Lord of glory, himself, who spake of the Christian Altar. It was the Apostle of the Gentiles who affirmed, “We have an altar." Hard measure, surely, that we should be openly censured with dishonesty and sinful vanity, for using, in respect of our holy religion, the terms made use of by its blessed Founder, his great apostles, the catholic fathers, the ancient liturgies, the great reformers ! “ The Fathers,” says Bishop Andrews, “ made no scruple of these terms, no more need we.” Praying a more charitable opinion at the hands of " C. S.,"
I am, Sir, your obedient Servant, ARTHUR PERCEVAL. East Horsley, Sept. 29th, 1837.
P.S. - At the same time, I thank him for his caution, which is by no means to be disregarded.
PUBLICATION OF BANNS.
Sir,-I have been much surprised at the objections made by the clergy to that part of the new marriage act which relates to the substitution of the registrar's certificate for the publication of banns; and still more at the tone and manner which it has been thought proper to adopt. Their consciences, it seems, are alarmed; the canons, which are every day either modified by custom or superseded by law, they all at
once discover cannot be violated with impunity; their ordination vows must not be trifled with ; and they appeal to men in anthority to justify their resisting the innovation. But they are disappointed : Archdeacon Hodson is of a different opinion, and Sir Charles Wetherell, when he answered their doubt, must have laughed in his sleeve at those who raised it; for, in truth, there is not the slightest foundation for these complaints.
When it is asked, whether it is imperative on a clergyman to marry a couple under certain circumstances, the answer is, that their obligation to perform the ceremony at all does not arise from any specific rule of law, either ecclesiastical or civil. It is a paramount duty of
. his office, and the canons, the rubric, and the statute, only prescribe the conditions and the mode. The canon forbids him to marry without banns, under penalty of suspension; the rubric declares that the banns must be published before the marriage is solemnized; and the marriage acts of 1754 and 1823 condemn the person who offends to fourteen years' transportation. Now, the act of 1836 only permits the substitution of one condition for another; it makes the registrar's certificate equivalent to banns; and where is the evil of this ? There is no religion or holiness in banns; and of what importance is it to a clergyman in what manner publicity, which is the only object, is secured. In fact, the alteration is beneficial, and it is only to be lamented that the act did not abolish banns altogether. Whoever has attended the metropolitan churches must allow that their publication is an intolerable nuisance, an unseemly interruption of divine service. Notices of other matters have been prohibited by a recent act, at the request of the clergy themselves, and I hope, therefore, we shall hear no more of these frivolous objections. Who the parties were that made an application to the secretary of state does not appear; but the cold official reply of Mr. Phillipps must have damped their ardour ; and if they petition for the repeal of the law, I will call for its extension.* Sept. 3, 1837.
• This letter expresses a decided view of the question in a practical common-sense way, although it is one which many will revolt from. The writer, however, has no excuse for the tone in which he speaks of the scruples of other men. It is a point on which many minds might naturally be scrupulous, and there is nothing more to be deprecated than Aippant remarks on scruples which, as every one will allow, really have at least some shadow of foundation. To be conversant with them, even, is lowering enough. The view this writer takes of it seems to be, that the legislature may settle the terms on which publicity shall be given, so as to justify a clergyman in performing the ceremony. He assumes, however, that this is all which the publication of banns performs. But it does one thing more-it keeps up at least a remembrance that marriage is a religious rite, and not a mere civil contract, and that, being solemnized before the church, the church is made acquainted beforehand with the intention of the parties, that it may interpose, if there be any just cause or impediment. This shews that it is a case in which it is a matter of interest to the whole body of Christians, that this holy ordinance should not be desecrated by being solemnized between those against whom any impediment exists. The substitution of a licence, which comes, though nominally from an ecclesiastical officer, really from a civil authority, is the first departure from this, and there does not seem to be so great an objection to the substitution of anuther civil authority. Others, however, take a different view of the question altogether; and there is no