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men have, in new congregations, knelt towards the east, in conformity with the ancient, and recent, and still existing practice of our church; two have used a table, where the rubric implies that the elements must be placed somewhere, but says not how. Strong party spirit has taken up these reports, not for their own sake, (else why do they pass unnoticed irregular innovations in the mode of administering the communion or baptism?) but because it was easier so to cast a slur upon a body of men, and, through them, upon sound principles, than to refute them. Undoubtedly, were individuals to introduce customs, however laudable, solely on the ground of their being the practice of the church catholic, they would be to be blamed; we must, unquestionably, in our ministrations in the church, adhere to the rites of the church of which God has made us ministers ; but the actions in question have all proceeded from an attentive study and minute obedience to the directions of our church ; they evince a spirit which desires to obey her, not to adopt things simply because they recommend themselves to the individual's own mind, or because the church in her best days had them. I need not say to you, that reverting in any case to the directions of the church, when they have been neglected, is not to be called an innovation; otherwise, time was, in the memory of man, when to keep Good Friday holy would have been an innovation; to have public worship on Ascension-day might, in most places, perhaps be so now.
I doubt not that, now you have received this information, you will correct the impression, as far as you have contributed to give authority to what heretofore could have no weight; and I should particularly wish it to be done by you, whether by inserting this letter, or in any other way, because I do not wish to appear to be entering into controversy with you. Yours, very faithfully, E. B. PUSEY.
Christ Church, St. Simon's and St. Jude's,
PUBLICATION OF BANNS.
SIR-I am not at all surprised that “S. B.,” who does not understand the ground of our objection to the new law which requires the clergy to celebrate marriages without banns or episcopal licence, should think us unreasonable in offering any; though I think, under any circumstances, he might have better expressed his opinion.
We believe that the Son of God has entrusted the regulation of divine offices, and of the conduct of the clergy in the discharge of them, to the bishops of the church; and that any attempt to set aside their authority in these things is an act of affront and dishonour to Him, which ought to be resisted by all who are called by his name.
Now the last instruction which the bishops of our church, in their episcopal capacity, have given to us in the point before us, is a peremptory prohibition to celebrate marriage except by banns or episcopal letter. In the teeth of this prohibition, the laymen and dissenters who compose the civil legislature have commanded us to do what the officers whom Christ has set over us in these very matters have ex. pressly forbidden. Unless, then, we are prepared to assist in setting aside that distinction which our Lord laid down between the things of God and the things of Cæsar, unless we are prepared to join the dissenters in their attempts to supersede the apostolic government of the church, and to recognise as transferred to the civil government of the state that commission of ecclesiastical government which we believe our chief pastors to have received from our Divine Founder, we feel that we cannot yield obedience to this act. We feel that though the instance itself is trifling, yet the principle is the same; and that to acknowledge the principle involved in this act will be to lay our church, in its internal administration of divine offices, at the mercy of the prime minister of the day. Such are the views we entertain, totally irrespective of the details of the plan.
The first clause of magna charta says-“The church of England shall be free, and enjoy all her rights and liberties inviolate.” How a church can be said to be free, whose ministers are compelled to celebrate divine offices contrary to her discipline, perhaps “S. B.” can inform us. If he cannot, then it remains to be seen whether the civil legislature of this country will wilfully and advisedly persist in trampling upon the great charter of the nation's liberties, in a matter affecting the consciences of quiet and unoffending men. If " S. B.,” after this, shall think fit to petition the legislature to do so, the course is open to him. But I cannot but hope that, if he had regarded the question in the light in which it is now submitted to him, he would have forborne the remarks contained in his letter.
Let the same ecclesiastical authority which put forth the prohibition, withdraw the same; and however inexpedient and upadvised I should consider such a step to be, my conscientious scruples, in respect to the act, would be wholly removed. The party which applied to Sir Charles Wetherell entertained no doubt whatever of the meaning of the act; but as members of parliament did, it seemed desirable to have the matter set at rest. The very surprise expressed by experienced members of parliament, when they were informed of the dilemma in which the clergy were placed, afforded room for the charitable hope that the point had not been duly weighed by the framers of the bill; and under that impression the communication, as a matter of fair dealing and courtesy, was made to Lord John Russell. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Sir,~"Private judgment" has two special aspects. First, as it regards the doctrines which are according to godliness; and such as respect the salvation of the soul. These latter I must see with my own eyes, and believe in my own heart, or I cannot be saved. There is no salvation by the faith of another. Secondly, as it regards “ undecided points," on which wise and good men, in almost all ages, may have been divided
in opinion; on such points each person must be left, and must leave others, to their own judgment. These are no subjects for dividing the church of Christ. Our Saviour Christ has not been explicit (it may be) or peremptory about such lesser matters : he may have left them thus on purpose to try the strength of our attachment to him and his people; and to see whether we will be obedient to his first and last commandment, to “ love one another :" and whether we bave a divine judgment and spiritual “senses exercised to discern both good and evil." and whether we will love what Christ our Lord and Master loved, and in some proportion to its worth and importance. A holy and humble Christian will never, willingly, separate from the church of Christ where he can read the scriptures, join a pure service, and enjoy liberty of conscience, in minor matters. He will see abundant reason to prefer Christian love and Christian unity above all proffered advantages of division, to induce him to remain where he is, and not regard those who are given to change. But Mr. Noel not only allows, but makes it every man's “ duty” that he should be governed by his own “private judgment,” not only in the private concerns of his own soul with God, but in the public matters of church government and discipline, in which he must bend to his mind the whole family of God, or else desert it, and erect another, after his own heart! This is a dogma as foreign to the word of God as it is to common sense, and to all practicable harmony in divine worship; and a dogma, to the evils of which there can be no possible bounds set till every man, who in conscience chooses, becomes a church to himself!
Mr. Noel has, further, bewildered the subject, and, I conceive, bewildered himself likewise, by giving, as the representatives of his several different sections in the Christian church, unfair, because unusual, examples. Mr. Noel, indeed, brings on his examples so abruptly and mysteriously, that one scarcely knows how to judge of the justice or injustice of his assumptions respecting them. They start up before us, like the concealed warriors of a certain clan; and we know not where they come from, with what societies they have mingled, what information they possessed, or under what previous prejudices they may have laboured. The first is assumed to “ be a man who bears all the scriptural marks of a child of God; he wishes to learn whether it is God's will that he should baptize his child in infancy.” (p. 10.) The second is also assumed to be “another Christian, bearing all the marks of a child of God, and wishes to determine whether he should join the episcopalian section of the church of Christ, or the presbyterian. He, too, examined scripture, weighed the evidence on both sides, conversed with upright and intelligent men in both communions, and prayed to be directed right. After much deliberation, he became convinced it was the will of Christ that he should be so ordained. With that opinion he became a presbyterian minister." (pp. 11, 12.)
The “baptist," also, Mr. Noel conducts, by precisely the same means, to his conclusion in the rejection of “ infant baptism." (pp. 9, 10.) And “a dissenter-of devoted piety—is allowed to entertain decided objections against the principle of an establishment. He may
hate its connexion with the state, while, also, he wishes to destroy that connexion." (pp. 20, 21.)
While I admit the candour of the above cases, I must at the same time confess that I have no recollection of good wishes and bad judgment being so united. The cases supposed are highly elliptical, partial, and unsatisfactory. I would ask whether Mr. Noel does, in his conscience, consider that the great body of such “ sections," or any considerable number of them, do really arrive at their respective, and in some points opposite, conclusions, in the manner he has represented ? If not, the whole is delusive. If only one in a thousand, or even in a hundred, which may be reasonably doubted, settles down in his opinions, with a clear judgment, unprejudiced mind, and a pure undefiled conscience, such instance is surely no fair representative of a whole denomination. Yet, Mr. Noel, as their apologist, has given us no other. In consequence of the assumption in the foregoing processes, Mr. N. justifies and applauds the conduct of such persons, as we have before seen, in deciding and acting as they have done, on account of their respective differences of opinion on “infant baptism," episcopacy, and the national church. Mr. Noel then asks—Am I now to separate from his society ? How has he sinned ? Iu fidelity to Christ he was obliged to act as he did, and if I separate from him, I do it only because he has done his duty.” (p. 12.) The schism involved in all this we have spoken of before, but “shall I separate from him?" is a question of a most extraordinary character, and involves a deception or a mysticism not easily explained. “Shall I separate?" implies a present union; otherwise, we are already separated. And then the question changes its nature. It will now be, what is the nature of the separation ? and who has made it? Because Mr. Noel, in asking the question, “shall I separate ?” is personating churchmen. What union, then, we ask, previously existed between these respective parties and churchmen? Were these also churchmen? If not, where did churchmen unite with them? If nowhere, it is quite beguiling us to ask, Shall I separate from him ? The question has really no meaning. If, however, they were previously churchmen, we may ask, what are they now? Are they in the church still ? If so, and they have only an opinion drawn from scripture, which gives a meaning to certain points, somewhat “obscure" in their “ evidence,” differing a little from what is generally received, but which does not prevent or hinder the unity and harmony of divine worship, and is not intended to divide or separate those who believe thus ; they may, perhaps, be well considered as cases in point to be decided by the apostle's rule of Christian liberty—“ Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” This by the way. But Mr. Noel's statement implies, that if they were churchmen previously, they are so no longer: then the question, as applying to a churchman, “Shall 1 separate," becomes worse than jesuitical; and can have no tendency but to throw the guilt of whatever may have taken place, upon him; though the process of each case, as given us above, leaves the churchman perfectly unnoticed and neutral. If, however, the parties alluded to were previously churchmen, (and to
assume a union between them and churchmen, if they were not so, is absurd,) and now are dissenters or presbyterians, the question “Shall I separate ?" belonged, and belonged only, to these parties before they separated from the church. Why did not Mr. Noel honestly say, as the common sense of the case requires that he should have said, “ Though I allow that the respective parties described have indeed separated from the church, and separated on account of the most trifling difference,' and have done it only because they differ, on obscure and undecided points,' from the church which they have deserted : still I have a case of conscience which I wish to put respecting the duty and conduct of churchmen towards their separating, and therefore so far schismatical, brethren.”
I admit, indeed, that the question just put would be an important and fair question. But then, as it would involve the parties so separating in the guilt of schism, Mr. Noel, as their advocate, would not gain his end in putting it; namely, that of convincing churchmen of their guilty conduct in separating from their brethren. We must then remind Mr. N. of his own argument, (pp. 14, 15, &c.) and request him, if he would convict, as he probably well might, churchmen of their “intolerant, imperious, and uhbrotherly course" towards separatists, he must cease to be guilty of the “injustice” (p. 14) of laying the fault of separating, not on those who do, but on those who do not, separate from their brethren. I am aware that Mr. Noel has especially in his view, when he says, “ Shall I separate from his society ?" the separation, not from religious communion, but from religious societies, which are made up of many classes of Christians. It is admitted that churchmen may be faulty in declining to join with such societies. But why does Mr. Noel, in bis endeavour to convince them of this sin, act with such great injustice? In the first place, why does he use, respecting churchmen, to whom in truth it does not apply, the term separate or separation; while he declines the use of it towards persons really separating from the church of Christ, and to whom it literally does apply? Why employ the phrase, “ to separate from,” which cannot apply to a thing merely declined, and avoid that phrase as too offensive, where its application is literal and graphic? In the second place, why has Mr. N. changed the foundation of schism, which is in scripture described as causing divisions in the church of God, and taken the arbitrary (though it may be very pious) and unscriptural ground of charging schism on those who decline divisions ? This is surely “ essentially schismatical.” (p. 23.) It would, indeed, in my judgment, be at the least an impolitic act in churchmen, were they now to "separate” from the British and Foreign Bible Society; because by remaining in that society they contribute, I conceive, to the good work of circulating the word of God more than all dissenters put together. But of the “Religious Tract Society," which Mr. Noel places before us as a bond of Christian union, I do not by any means feel the same satisfaction respecting it, because, with some religious and conscientious men, I begin to entertain very reasonable doubts about the fair and non-sectarian conduct of that society. When I see them shewing so much jealousy about church and state as