Page images
PDF
EPUB

If a

after the condemnation it has received from the archbishops, bishops, and University, a system of Church teaching, even of the minority ; it is no Church teaching at all; it is—a HERESY. Now, therefore, those who, after these condemnations, persist in such teaching, and in practices which tend to conduct the thoughtless and the unlearned to Popery, must be dealt with as preachers and teachers of heresy, and so dealt with before our bishops in their respective dioceses. real Convocation were now sitting, and we could appeal to it for its decision, and if we could bring before it, piece by piece, and article by article, all the Tractarian system of teaching and practice, we are as certain, as we are of our own personal identity, that cach and every picce and article of the whole framework would be condemned. But as this is not the case, and as we have, therefore, to look to the individual opinions of the archbishops and bishops not assembling in Convocation, but delivering their opinions seriatim to their clergy, we are compelled to have recourse to those opinions, and to derive from them both instruction and comfort, under the peculiar circumstances in which the Church is placed by the mooters of this heresy,

Now the archbishops and bishops of our Church having given deliberately their opinions, it remains for the laity to act with decision, and to put a stop to the progress of error. This is in their power. For example—if the doctrines preached by the Tractarian clergy are in manifest opposition to the Thirty-nine Articles, the churchwardens, or other laity, should represent that this is the case to the bishop of the diocese. The bishop will then require the clergyman so preaching to supply him with the sermons so preached, and if the representations of the laity be found correct, he will deal with them accordingly. So if Popish ceremonies are introduced into our Church by Tractarion clergy, let the same course be adopted, and let them be corrected and stopped. All this can be done wisely, charitably, piously, legally, and ecclesiastically; not in a passion—not vindictively—not with any tone or language of a party or factious character; but it can be done as a grave and Christian duty, a duty which is due to that dear and blessed Church, the mother of us all-not the Church of Rome, but the Church of England.

It is one of the artful plans of the Tractarian school to represent the heads of the Church of England as really divided upon this subject. But this is not the case. Some of the bishops have seen more good arising out of a few of the early Tracts than others have done; but all have concurred in this, that, as a whole, they have been injurious. Some of the bishops have thought more highly than others have done of the personal piety of some of the authors of the Tracts; but all have concurred in blaming the creation of a schism and of a heresy, which must tend to drive the lay members of the Church, either onwards to Romish, or backwards tó Protestant Dissent. We have read every Charge which has been delivered by the heads of our Church with regard to this heresy; and we have no hesitation in saying, that the condemnation under which Dr. Pusey is now suffering is one which is not merely inflicted by the University of Oxford, but is in complete harmony with all the declared opinions of our episcopal governors.

But of late another voice has joined the chorus of episcopal reproof; and from the far distant continent of Asia we have received the Charge of the Metropolitan of Calcutta, which has harmonized with the opinions of European and British bishops. There is so much fair, manly, deliberate, but pointed and irresistible criticism in this Charge, directed with so much of force and acumen against all the really vulnerable points of the new heresy, that we should delight to publish the whole of that portion which relates to Tractarianism. This, however, we cannot do, but we must publish the whole of what is said by the Bishop on "How Tractarianism is actually destructive, by implication, of the several doctrines of the Gospel itself.” After having shown in what respects this beresy wears, in its general features, a different aspect from the Gospel as revealed in the New Testament—first, by reason of the general language of the Tractarian writers not being the language of the inspired writers ;-secondly, by reason of the grand object presented to the view of lost man by Tractarian writers not being that which the Gospel sets forth ;-thirdly, by reason of the order of topics in the New Testament and in the Tracts being widely different ; fourthly, by reason of the want of proportion as to the more or less importance of certain doctrines and truths, which proportion is kept up in the New Testament, but lost sight of by the Tractarian writers ;= fifthly, by reason of our attaining to holiness in this system being of a nature quite different from that of Scripture ; sixthly, by reason that in the Bible you behold everything with unveiled, but in the Tracts with a veiled face ;-and, seventhly, by reason that the general results of the two systems, as to comfort, peace, a filial spirit, love to Christ, motives to effort, joy, hope of heaven, are so opposite, that the one is “ the spirit of bondage again to fear;" the other, “ the spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father;"-after thus stating and proving that in these various features this heresy wears a different aspect from the Gospel as revealed in the New Testament, he proceeds to show how it is actually destructive, by implication, of the several doctrines of the Gospel itself.

Since, then, if this Charge against Tractarianism be true (and true it is to the letter), over it must be inscribed, “ MENE, MENE, Tekel, UPHARSIN.” We now propose to supply the whole of the statement of the Bishop of Calcutta on this head :

“ But I proposed (says the Bishop) also to show you, secondly, how this system was not only different from the Gospel in its general aspect, but actually destructive, by implication, of its several doctrines.

* And yet what need have I to show you this? Does not the case speak for itself? What can the Gospel in its details be, when thus disfigured in all its general features by human tradition ? Must there not be a fatal dereliction of truth? Not perhaps an avowed onethat I do not charge upon this system. If it were, the danger would be less. But a fatal dereliction, of a covert character, which increases the real peril. Destructive errors brought in surreptitiously, under the cloak of tradition, on each head of doctrine, constitute the danger. Enough of truth is left to beguile conscience, and enough of crror is mixed to defeat its purpose. Thus another Gospel’ is taught, which is “ not another ; but there be some that pervert the Gospel of Christ.'

“1. Let us begin by showing this commixture of error with truth, as it respects the holy Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice. The Bible stands—the reading of it is not forbidden-it is allowed to be the ultimate standard of faith. Our sixth Article is not denied. All this is well. Here is a grand fundamental truth apparently admitted.

“ But then mark how soon the error comes in and nullifies it. Tradition, written and unwritten, is the joint rule of faith. The fathers and the Catholic Church are the authoritative expositors of Scripture. Our Bibles must be, what is termed, catholicized. Thus the word of God is no longer the sole rule of faith, but is controlled by the word of man. Tradition is the complemental revelation, and supersedes the true.

“ 2. Again, the doctrine of the Cross of Christ remains; his atonement is admitted; the meritorious agonies of Gethsemane and Calvary are dwelt on ; the cross of Christ is enforced: but, lo! all this is soon explained away by self-mortification, prostrations, the cross of Christ within us, visible representations of his sufferings, exclusive exhortations to conformity to the cross of our Lord by the Holy Spirit, which, when the merits and atonement wrought out by that cross are comparatively suppressed, sink, as every age has proved, into mysticism and superstition. Thus the error comes after, and defeats the truth.

« 3. So the grand central doctrine of our reliance upon Christ, by faith, for pardon and justification, is acknowledged ; but then observe how the error steals in. The word indeed remains-justification is continually spoken of; but it is explained away by the Tractarians. It is no longer the justification of the New Testament, but of the Council of Trent. It is made to consist of an infused righteousness within us, as well as of pardon without us; and thus the entire body of scriptural theology is silently corrupted, the ground of our acceptance with God shifted; and though faith is still spoken of, yet when we come to the practical question as to what is the instrumental cause of justification, we are told that the sacraments, not faith, are the grand connecting link. Thus faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect ; perpetual doubt and fear are engendered, hope is extinguished, the corner-stone of salvation is dug up, and the glory of Christ transferred to man's miserable doings.

“4. A diligent use of the means of grace, and especially of the two blessed sacraments

, is insisted on, as it ought to be, and must be, in the guidance of souls. This is well, because it is a scriptural and important truth. But mark how error follows upon it. Over-statements with regard to the sacraments destroy their nature, and mar the simplicity of the Gospel. They are considered as the causes of our justification and salvation; they are spoken of as if they were the only springs of divine grace, and as having a saving, intrinsic efficacy. The one is made the exclusive source of spiritual life, wbilst the other involves a refined transubstantiation ; and both are so dwelt upon as to lead our flocks insensibly to rely upon them in the way of an opus operatum.

5. The sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, and repentance and conversion to God, are taught, as they could not fail to be. But tradi tion soon contrives to destroy their efficacy, by the manner in which works of congruity, fastings, the observance of times and seasons, almsgiving, absolution, auricular confession, prayers for the dead, invocation of saints, the private use of the crucifix, celibacy, monastic vows, extreme unction, and a multitude of other matters, of will-worship and voluntary humility,' after the manner of the Romish breviaries, are partly apologized for, partly recommended, partly incidentally spoken of, partly slightly blamed ; so that, instead of the sanctification of the beart and life to God by his Spirit, a slavish temper of superstition is too much encouraged.

“ 6. Once more, Church discipline, subjection to pastors, reverence for holy places and persons, and the episcopal polity of our own Reformed Church, with its apostolical doctrine and order, are very properly defended and enforced. All this is well, but is utterly spoiled by subsequent statements. These writers make the apostolical succession to be a vital point in salvation, the grand centre of the Christian system ; and insist on the necessity of proving, by an

rendless genealogy,' the transmission of the sacramental virtue in unbroken personal descent from the apostles.

7. The exercise of private judgment—that is, of each man's responsibility to God—is admitted, as it cannot but be admitted in a Protestant Church; but the shackles of error are soon thrown over it-it is limited to the discovery of wb is to be our authorized teacheri.e., the Church; and then to her teaching the individual judgment is to yield.

“8. Lastly, if any of the grace and blessedness of the Gospel remains, the general doctrine of Reserve is still at hand to annihilate its force. The Tractarians pretend indeed only to inculcate discretion in teaching catechetical instruction-order, wisdom, the giving 'milk to babes,' the 'not putting new wine into old bottles,' the communicating truth to our people as they are able to bear it.' But all this we admit. Who ever claimed the right to neglect them, and who has neglected them? But all this is essentially different from the reserve they insist on. We are to veil from the world (they tell us) holy sentiments;' we are not always to proclaim the grace of the Gospel. We are not to preach, in season and out of season (as the apostle did), Jesus Christ and him crucified.' This is a mistaken opinion. We are to dread "an indelicate exposure of religion (such is the language of our authors), as occasioning the perpetration of crimes almost unequalled in the annals of the world.' To bring forward explicitly and prominently the Atonement, is quite opposed to the teaching of Scripture. This seals and sums up the whole system.”

Of such a system as this, thus analyzed, thus dissected, thus explored, and thus exposed, may we not say with perfect truth, and without exaggeration, " Mene, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN?"

This is the system which tends to Popery. Its principles and its proceedings are all that way. Human traditions are the fountain ficad of all the Papal system--and the first principle of the Trac

tarian writers is “ Tradition a joint rule of faith.” So the Papists and Tractarians proceed, as they begin, together. Commencing with tradition, they go on to justification by infused righteousness, the authority of the fathers, the Catholic Church the interpreter of Seripture, salvation by the sacraments, not by faith, the sacrifice of the eucharist, absolution, sin after baptism almost irremissible, apostolical succession and episcopacy of the essence of the Church, prayers for the dead and invocation of saints, the use of the crucifix, extreme unction, celibacy of the clergy, the infallibility of general councils, the power of the keys, the independence of the Church upon the State.

Then the assimilation is also evident in the manner in which the two systems are defended. Our Tract-writers, like the Jesuits, possessed of fine talents, learned, masters of stylo, practised in debate, constantly resort to distinctions when in danger of being confuted, explain away every particular expression, appeal to the sound parts of their tenets, elude, omit, escape, multiply imperfect quotations, and at last complain, as the Jesuits have done for three centuries, that they are not understood by their opponents. Everybody understands them except themselves.

The assimilation is further apparent from the extenuating language in which the writers of the Tracts speak of the idolatry and corrupttions of the Papacy, and the zeal with which they decry the Reformation. In a word, the scope of these writers for the last eight or nire years has been to write down the Reformation and the Church of Eng. land, and to write up Popery and the Church of Rome. And what is the consequence ? A falling away to Popery amongst our clergy and laity, which has begun, and which will and must go on, till the evil be efficiently checked.

But this heresy is now judged. The University itself has decided. The wisdom, the piety, the learning, and the authority of the Episcopal bench are all ranged against this system ; and we say, indeed, with the Bishop of Calcutta, “ the leaders seem more and more entangled in the meshes of their own sophistry; and in the midst of confusion, and because of it, I seem to hear a voice behind me saying, “They shall proceed no

further their folly shall be manifest to all men.' “MENE, MENE, Tekel, UPHARSIN !" Tractarianism has been weighed in the balances, and found wanting.

OUR EVIL HABITS.* There is an allegory extant, which says, that when Satan was desirous of procuring possession, after death, of the soul of a certain man, the only temptation which he thought it necessary to throw in the way of his intended victim was that of idleness. And there is probably no snare so sure and fatal as that which, when once it has gained the mastery, holds its captive powerless-exposed without defence to the

“Moral Strength; or, the Nature and Conquests of Evil Habits Considered." By William Mousley, M.A., Vicar of Cold Ashby. London: Matchards. One vol. 12mo.

« PreviousContinue »