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sension, and recal some, who now dissent, back to the national fold. Let it be always remembered, that the Church of England stands in a very peculiar situation, the law requiring all denominations of worship to pay equally and largely to its support. This circumstance does most certainly, in common honesty, require that there should be no needless causes, even in words, which may prevent all, who pay towards the support of the Church, from partaking of the benefits to be derived from its prayers, its preachings, or pastoral aid.
I will occupy your valuable time by only one other observation. Highly and justly has our late excellent King, George the Third, been praised for having made the Judges independent of the throne; but how much more imperishable would be the laurels won by our present sovereign, if he would make our bishops independent of his mi
nisters? If translations were put an end to, if our bishops felt themselves fixed for their lives amongst those, the character of whose eternal existence may depend on their exertions and example, great would be the benefit. They would then "lay their hands suddenly on no man :' they would counteract that enormous evil, the admission of unfit persons into the ministry; and they would take care, that, when our nobles or gentry purchase livings in order to provide for the temporal concerns of their sons, they should provide also that they were fit to promote the eternal interests of those whom they undertake to lead in the way of salvation. As the general knowledge of mankind increases, the evils I have alluded to, and many others, will become more and more obvious, more and more complained of, and the dangers which threaten our Church will approximate in increased rapidity and added force. These dangers may still be averted by the timely interference of the temporal and spiritual heads of our Church; and they may be certain of
being ably supported by all the friends of our generally excellent Establishment; which, nevertheless, cannot be rendered permanent, and I believe I may certainly predict cannot much longer remain established, without reform. I have grown grey in the regular attendance on the Established Church, and my sincere attachment is the cause of my troubling you with my fears. I have the means of knowing that the dangers do threaten, increase, and approach, and I sound not a vain alarm. I would sooner see these dangers averted through the means of your publication than any other channel; and from your very first to to your last Number I have been truly a constant reader.
ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN OPINION AND PRINCIPLE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
THERE exist, in the extensive regions of North America, certain districts of country called pine barrens; where the soil is generally covered with forests of fir, not quite valueless, but just better than nothing. It is presumed that the land, after due culture, would produce such useful vegetation as might at least reward the tiller's toil. The fact and the assumption thus placed before the reader, may be received by him as a kind of parable. Opinion is a pine barren; which may one day be converted into a fruitful field, and become principle. I doubt not, indeed, that, with a little skill, a critic might detect a flaw in this analogy; since all figurative illustration partakes more of the art of the painter than of the science of the logician. In the mean time, the practical lesson, and with that alone are we immediately concerned, is self-evident. It is one thing to theorize correctly; another, to believe and act.
I have been led to these remarks, by reflecting on the peril to which we are all exposed by relying upon
what we sometimes prematurely call our creed, without following out that creed into its consequences. In the retrospect of my own life I am able to allege, that, as far as I can read my character, in the variations of the last thirty years, I held opinions in 1801 which I hold now; but I am not perfectly sure, that, even at the end of the long interval, they are matured into principles. Of their general correctness I have no doubt; of their influence I have frequently painful cause to be sceptical. But, however this may be in my own case, I have had much opportunity of observing with what readiness, and apparent self-congratulation, many of my fellow wanderers through this wilderness assume that things are well with them, because of the purity of their doctrine; especially in the case of my clerical brethren, who, as it is obvious, are most exposed to the delusion here intended.
As an example of this, I might mention a circumstance which has lately occasioned me, as you will suppose, great embarrassment. A young clergyman lately applied to me to recommend him to a neighbouring rector, as curate; and the principal parts of his letter on this subject are as follows:-" Rev. Sir, Although it does not become me, unless on an occasion fairly demanding it, to announce the soundness of my theological sentiments, I feel it to be at once a matter of duty and of pleasure to assure you, with reference to my application for the curacy of B, that your excellent friend will find my creed to be, in fundamentals, entirely coincident with his wishes; knowing, as I do, the perfect orthodoxy of his own faith, and his natural anxiety that his assistant should feed his flock with the same wholesome nourishment which he himself has so long administered. Suffice it to say, that my opinions on the doctrine of the Trinity, and on the Divinity and Atonement of the Messiah, are in full accordance with the standard writings of our Church, and indeed, as Mr. Jones of Nayland
very properly reminds us, with the catholic or universally-received system of revealed truth. If I needed conviction on the doctrines of atonement and sacrifice, I should have discovered it in the unanswerable work of the Archbishop of Dublin; to say nothing of other apologists, with whom you are doubtless familar. Allow me to add, that I am the more solicitous to profess orthodoxy of opinion at this crisis, because of the suspicion attached to many otherwise worthy characters, who have unhappily been betrayed into a certain laxity of sentiment; or, at least, have incautiously acted with men of a very different stamp from themselves. I allude to the Socinians, and to the abettors of their principles'; for such, with submission, I consider those to be who combine with them, even for a cause confessedly good; or, rather let me say, for one which has a favourable aspect in the eyes of such as are dazzled by its plausibility. It is perhaps advisable to state, on the present important occasion, that although your highly respected friend is understood to be somewhat tinctured with certain popular though subordinate errors in theology, I cannot but think that the differences between him and myself are merely verbal.
On the doctrine of justification, dubiously, I fear, called the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ ; on baptismal regeneration; on the influences of the Third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity; and finally on the innocent recreations of the world, it is possible that Mr. C—— and your correspondent may seem to entertain some variety of sentiment. There is, however, an excellent maxim, deduced from the first and purest ages of the church, In necessariis unitas, which I need not quote further; although I will add the good advice of a later agenamely, 'Let us agree to disagree.' In the main principles, as I have already acknowledged, there cannot be a shadow of discord. I am decidedly a Trinitarian; but, at the same time, dare not conceal my
jealousy of preaching a faith without works, or such irresistible impulses as make man irresponsible, and a mere passive machine; and lastly, of inculcating such a severity and strictness of life, as cannot consist with the known feebleness and imperfection of our moral nature * * * * * * * * I can scarcely leave town at present, as most of my Oxford friends are now here; and my engagements are numerous." It is impossible, I conceive, that any reader of this address, meant to be its writer's confession of faith, can hesitate as to the little value of opinions when contrasted with principles. With what self-complacency may a young theologian assume that all is right, because he holds certain sentiments which are held by the holiest members of the mystical church! They too are Trinitarians; and when you have said this, you have described the whole of the likeness existing between them and a novice who pulls down the very edifice of which he supposes himself to be a pillar. But these things are the pine barrens of Christianity. I by no means undervalue even an atom of correct opinion. It is better than stubborn heresy. A speculative Trinitarian is preferable to a speculative Socinian; but the first of these has a long, long journey to travel, before he will set his foot on the narrow way leading to eternal life. And suppose that he adds, to what he calls catholic views of the Trinity, a similar estimate of the doctrines of atonement and sacrifice. What is the value of this addition? In both instances there is correctness of opinion without influential faith. Each sentiment is held without humiliation -with the renunciation of no sin, with aspiration after no holiness. We do not allow these anomalies in the common intercourse of life. The world is wise enough in its own wisdom to know what is meant by a man of principle. It acknowledges no such empty phrases as a man of correct opinions, a man of right views. It looks for practical results; CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 356.
and also for consistent results.My correspondent refers to Archbishop Magee as malleus hereticorum; and I am the last person to question the value and influence of his work, which, in my judgment also, is unanswerable. But let us not admire without discrimination. The question is, how far does this performance reach? Not, as I think, beyond the limits of orthodox opinion. All Christian doctrine involves practical consequences. Let us illustrate this undeniable verity by observing the author's application of his great subject. "On this day" (Good Friday) "we have assembled to commemorate the stupendous sacrifice of Himself, offered up by our blessed Lord for our redemption from the bondage and wages of sin; and on next Sunday we are invited to participate of that solemn rite, which he hath or dained for the purpose of making us partakers in the benefits of that sacrifice. Allow me to remind you, that this is an awful call, and upon an awful occasion. Let him who either refuses to obey this call, or presumes to attend upon it irreverently, beware what his condition is. The man who can be guilty of either deliberately, is not safe*."-When it is considered that this is the application, addressed primarily to the under-graduates of Dublin university, and then to all the readers of a work so very generally read, it is not surely an ill-timed or hard observation to say, that we have here a right opinion defrauded, if I may so speak, of its practical results. Whatever may be the value of the Eucharist, that is not the primary consequence of the doctrine proved. An atonement supposes the existence of sin; and such an atonement, of the deepest and most deadly transgression. We have, therefore, a previous lesson to learn,-the knowledge of the distemper to be cured; the mode of cure by faith in Him who was slain; the consequent humiliation, and the consequent gratitude. Not
but what all this is adumbrated in the Lord's Supper; but it is well to be explicit with such as partake of it, and to tell them far more than a short paragraph, which may lead them to presume-notwithstanding a brief caution-and to imagine, that a ceremony attended with a certain solemnity and mysteriousness of feeling, transient and inoperative, is the great consequence of the sacrifice and death of Christ.
In spiritual things, as in physics, it is safest to reason from effects to causes; and to shun the danger of assuming the purest confession of faith to be a guarantee of the confessor's character. If Athanasius himself were equal, or inferior, to Socinus in the tenor of his life, where is the difference between the two men? Which of them is nearer to the kingdom of heaven? If I must answer the latter of these questions, I will say, Socinus on this ground, that a man who holds the truth in unrighteousness is so far more criminal than one who abets error, and, as such, is not answerable for the neglect, or abuse, or practical contempt, of truth. My reply, I am conscious, is still open to examination; and you, sir, perhaps, may question its validity. I shall, however, have reason to be tolerably well satisfied, if this communication should tend to persuade the disputants of the day to look deeper than the surface, into the religious pretensions of their allies in the cause of God and his Christ. We must not be lulled to rest and security by certificates of orthodoxy, and nothing better. How can I possibly recommend to a clerical brother, as an assistant, one who begins by owning the co-equality of Three Persons in the Godhead, and ends by disowning all that is valuable in the Gospel, both as a message of reconciliation and as a sanctifying principle? When we can find a holy consistency, or opinion ripened into faith, we cannot too much rejoice in the discovery; and what " God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." But he has united, in the
example of all his people, cause and effect; and in their case they can never be separated, for by their fruits ye shall know them. The experience of many years, as affecting myself, and the observation of the world around me, religious and irreligious, have taught me what my juniors at least, can scarcely so well estimate. I have seen, indeed, the Name which is above every name dishonoured and despised by the open reproaches of heresy; but also degraded by many who have reminded me of the complaint;
Upon my head they placed a fruitless
A VISIT TO A CATHEDRAL.
(Continued from p. 420.)
My Dear Friend,
My last letter left us conversing at my matin casement, as our eyes were fixed on the pomps and desolations of a once far-famed city, the abode of princes and prelates, of bards and philosophers, of mighty warriors and lordly dames, whose memorial has long since lain low with them in the dust. Every year adds to the devastations of our ancient cities, while new ones spring up thickly in our abodes of commerce and pleasure, as gay as wealth and Roman cement can make them. It is right and expedient, no doubt, to clear away whatever of antiquity becomes a positive inconvenience to posterity. It is not now necessary that our towns should be hemmed in with ruinous moats and walls and mouldering gates, occupying valuable space, barring out fresh air and sunshine, and perpetuating fever and plague, just because some five hundred or a thousand years ago men could not sleep in peace in their beds
without such precautions, and because poets and antiquaries delight to feast their eyes and recreate their minds with such vestiges of past glory; but I pity the man who sees them removed without a pang. Go to our beautiful, convenient, and incomparable new London bridge; and, after you have intently surveyed the old one, with its age-worn piers and massy incumbrances, and reconciled your mind to the necessity of the new structure, tell me if you can witness without pain the ruthless devastation at work upon it, or upon the mouldering walls of the venerable ecclesiastical edifice of St. Saviour's, towards its south-west angle. I think this instinctive feeling may be often made good use of as a principle; and especially in this day of reckless innovation, when some men would almost tear up their father's grave to make room for a steam-engine, and break up his coffin to feed the furnace. And they may gravely reason, Are not the living of more value than the dead? and what use is there in wasting serviceable ground for an unproductive tomb? The cold marble returns nothing; whereas the steamengine will feed and clothe orphans, and manufacture books and roast beef, and help, if need be, to send out Bibles and missionaries.' To all which excellent reasoning I can only oppose instinct; and I believe that this instinct was implanted in us for wise ends; that it is a sort of flywheel, to equalize the irregular velocity of human machinery; nay, that it can be vindicated by sound philosophy, and is also sanctioned by Scripture itself-for in no book is there so much said of the veneration for what is old as in the Bible. This thought often reconciles me to some things that are rather cumbersome in our ancient institutions, in our schools and universities, and in our Church itself. I could scarcely reconcile my mind to a new translation of the Bible, even though in some things it might be a better; I should view a new Book of Common Prayer
with terror, as I do some of my friends who are proposing it. See, at this moment, with what vertiginous rapidity the national wheels are running round after Parliamentary Reform; yes, and I myself am in a good degree a reformer: the state, I believe, much needs it; the church I am sure does: but I should be sorry to lose the heavy fly-wheel of our two universities, which drags upon the giddy movement, and prevents the popular machine taking fire by its own friction. Would I, then, go to the length of our excellent Oxford friend, who says that Manchester and Old Sarum should be legislatively just where they were five hundred years ago, though the one has grown up from a paltry village to possess more than the wealth and population of many a state, and the other has nothing left but the grassy mounds which speak its former greatness? Would I have our religious and political institutions stand still, while every thing else that is human changes? Why, no; and there I think the respected Member for Oxford is grievously in fault; and I see not, upon his principles, why he should not insist that Manchester should have but one village church, and depopulated Sarum be constrained to maintain fifty steeples, with a due apparatus of clergymen and other officers; for if houses and churches are to accompany wealth and population, I see not why political privilege ought not to do the same. But still a flywheel is necessary to regulate the transition: houses may grow up too quickly to be profitable, even to their owners; edifices may be hastily condemned as ruins before they are ruinous; immature opinions may be too heedlessly acted upon; the blind man may lift up his foot before he knows where he is to put it down: and hence this instinctive dread of change often becomes a valuable regulator, or, to keep up the mechanical metaphor, a "governor;" such as you see yonder in Winchester Bridewell, where but for this con