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Art. I.-SUCCESSION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Continued from page 264.
This alliance is attended with so many disadvantages, that it seems strange more vigorous efforts have not been adopted to sever the connection. We do not here pretend to enumerate all the evils of this alliance, nor to give extended views of those which we will present, A few brief observations are all we have room for.
1. This connection of church and state reduces the church to a servile condition, inconsistent alike with Scripture and the example of the primitive church. The clergy are in a state of abject dependance on the civil magistrate, and of miserable subjection to unconstitutional
The king and parliament may fashion the church into any shape they see fit, in opposition to the united exertions of the clergy. King Henry did this once; and it may be done again whenever the king and parliament are so disposed. For one hundred years the convocation has done no business; and it is not likely the king can be persuaded to permit it to do any, though the most serious changes are about to take place in the government of the church by the king and parliament.
2. The dogmas of the church seem to be in opposition to the con. stitution of the state. The result that always may be expected from such a connection is, contention and continually clashing interests coming into contact with each other. Both kinds of jurisdiction, the civil and religious, are made strangely to encroach on one another. We do not here particularly refer to the judicial power of the bishops' courts, in matrimonial or testamentary matters, though these are purely secular. As church censures are followed with civil penalties, the loss of liberty or imprisonment, and the forfeiture of the privileges of a citizen, the clergy must have become absolute lords of the persons and properties of the people, had there not been lodged in the civil judica. tories a superior jurisdiction, by which the sentences of the spiritual courts can be revised, suspended, and annulled.
We have an instance of this collision in the sacramental test, by which the participation of one of the sacraments is perverted into a
VOL. VIII.- October, 1837. 31
test for civil offices. A minister may be compelled by the civil ma. gistrate to admit a wicked and profligate person to the Lord's supper. Thus, by the law of the land, the institution of Christ is made void. The sacrament is made a qualification or test, necessary for the attain. ment of a lucrative office, and for securing continuance in it when attained. There is, indeed, no way in which the spirit, power, and use of the sacrament could be more effectually abrogated by statute, than by thus retaining the form, and at the same time altering its proper design.
3. Another consequence of the confusion of spiritual and secular jurisdiction in the English Church is, that ecclesiastical censures now have little or no regard, agreeably to their original destination, to purity and good morals. They serve only as a political engine for the eviction of tithes, surplice fees, and the like, and for the execution of other sentences in matters purely temporal. No possible method could be more effectual in rendering the clerical character odious, and the discipline contemptible, than this.
4. Besides, a plan of relief, retaining the present alliance of church and state, seems impossible, without involving the state in the most serious calamities. England, in consequence of her religious establishment, is now agitated to an extent which threatens seriously her political existence and the cause of true religion. We will here introduce the sentiments of Warburton on this subject, in his Alliance, as quoted by Dyer :-“While the civil magistrate endows the clergy, and bestows on them a jurisdiction with coactive powers, these privileges create one supreme government within another, if the civil magistrate have not, in return, the supremacy of the church. And nothing is so much to be dreaded as an ecclesiastical government not under the control of the civil magistrate. It is ever encroaching on his province, and can never be satisfied. In the Roman Church, when spiritual men had got influence enough to be exempted from civil courts, and to set up a separate jurisdiction, popes became, by degrees, the sovereigns of emperors and kings. Cardinals, the beloved children of these popes, became princes; and bishops, as their brothers, became at once secular and spiritual lords. And, on the other hand, the Presbyterian government, during the little time it prevailed in England, gave no favorable proofs of its designs when its progress was retarded by Oliver and his adherents. A religious establishment, free of many of those political evils which are wont to attend a state on account of religion, might, I aver, be framed; but the true policy is, to let religion and civil govern. ment exist apart, and to encourage each to attend to its own province. Both, then, will flourish.”
5. Moreover, true religion cannot be promoted by coercion. Men, however, have been long in discovering, and even yet seem scarcely to have discovered, that genuine religion is of too delicate a nature to be compelled by the coarse implements of human authority and worldly sanctions. The law of the land ought to restrain vice and injustice of every kind, as ruinous to the peace and good order of society, for this is its province; but let it not tamper with religion, by attempting to enforce its exercises and duties. These, unless they be free-will offerings, are nothing. They are even worse than nothing; they are injurious to all concerned. By such an alliance, and ill-judged aid, hypocrisy and superstition may be greatly promoted, but genuine piety never fails to suffer.
Add to this that the jurisdiction of the church is purely spiritual. No man ought to be compelled, by rewards or punishment of a temporal or political nature, to become a member of any Christian church ; or to continue in it any longer than he honestly believes it to be his duty. All the ordinances of the church are spiritual, and so are her weapons and censures.
The weapons of the church are Scripture and reason, accompanied with prayers and tears. These are her pillars, and the walls of her defence. The censures of the church are admonitions, reproofs or declarations of persons, unfitness for her communion, com. monly called excommunications, which are of a spiritual nature, and ought not to affect men's lives, liberties, or estates. No man ought to be cut off from the rights of a citizen or subject merely because he is disqualified for Christian communion; nor has any church on earth authority from Christ to inflict corporeal punishments, seize persons, distrain goods, or employ ecclesiastical censures, by an indirect coer. cion, as tools for effecting the same worldly purpose. Coercive measures are the weapons of civil magistrates, who may punish those who break the laws of their country with corporeal pains and penalties, as guardians of the civil rights of citizens; but Christ's kingdom is not of this world. (See Neal's Hist. Pur., vol. i, p. 26.)
From this part of our subject may we not legitimately infer, that the alliance of the English Church with the state is neither Scriptural, apostolical, primitive, nor useful; but, on the whole, it is unfavorable to the interests of true religion? We may also infer that it was neither schismatical nor sinful for Mr. Wesley and others to reject this part of the English polity, and take for their guide the Holy Scriptures and the example of the primitive church, as far as she followed Scripture. We will next consider,
VI. The early doctrine and fundamental principles of the English Church respecting Episcopacy and Succession.
The fathers of the English Church did not believe that bishops and elders were different orders of clergy, nor did they place episcopacy on the footing of divine right, so as to nullify ordination by elders; but, in process of time, they so far deviated from the great principle of Protestantism, of Scripture, and the primitive church, as to place the principal jurisdiction in bishops, and thus reject the supremacy of the body of elders. In this they receded from original principles, and retrograded towards Rome. It is proper, however, to remark, that the clergy, as we have seen, had little to do with the reformation of the English Church, as this was effected by the king and parliament. To elear up this matter to the satisfaction of the reader, the following arguments are adduced :
1. The English Church, in her early days, did not maintain that episcopacy was of divine right, and that ordination by presbyters was invalid. Indeed, reordination of persons ordained by presbyters was a perfect novelty in this church at her formation, and for many years after. It was reserved for recent times to profane the ordinance of Christ by reordinations, and to exclude from the character of true churches those who were more intent on following Scripture and primi. tive usage, than to receive a fundamental element of popery as a rule of practice. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the English Church, as expressed in her articles, homilies, and liturgy, gives no foundation for recent exclusiveness. The proofs of this declaration will be called for, and they are the following:
(1.) In a “ Declaration, made of the functions and divine institution of bishops and priests," signed by Cromwell, the two archbishops, eleven bishops, and twenty divines and canonists, in the year 1637 or 1638, it is declared, speaking of the ministerial office, “ That this office, this power and authority, was committed and given by Christ and his apostles unto certain persons only; that is to say, unto priests or bishops, whom they did elect, call, and admit thereto by their prayer and imposition of their hands.” The same document, in speaking of what the fathers of the church did, says, “ They did also institute certain inferior orders or degrees,-janitors, lectors, exorcists, acolytes, subdeacons,-and deputed to every one of these certain offices to execute in the church, wherein they followed undoubtedly the example and rites used in the Old Testament; yet the truth is, that in the New Testa. ment is no mention made of any degrees or distinctions in orders, but only of deacons or ministers, and of priests or bishops ; nor is there any word spoken of any other ceremony used in the conferring of this sacrament, but only of prayer and the imposition of the bishop's hands.” (Burnet, Hist. Ref., vol. -, p. 322, and Addenda, p. 467, Col. v, p. 394.) Such were the views of the first reformers from popery in the English Church.
(2.) In a book published in 1543, called “The Necessary Erudition of a Christian Man,” similar sentiments to those expressed above are uttered. This book was drawn up by a committee of bishops and divines, and was afterward read and approved by the lords spiritual and temporal and the lower house of parliament, published by King Henry's authority, and was designed for a standard of Christian faith. (Burnet, vol. i, pp. 369-374.) In this book we have the following view concerning the orders of clergy “Their (deacons') office in the primitive church was partly to minister meat and drink, and other necessaries, to the poor, and partly to minister to the bishops and priests. Of these two orders only, that is to say, priests and deacons, Scripture maketh express mention, and how they were conferred of the apostles by prayer and imposition of hands; but the primitive church after. ward appointed inferior degrees." (Neal, vol. i, c. i, p. 31, to whom we are indebted for this quotation. See also Miller's Letters, letter vi, p. 141.) According to this book, deacons were no order of clergy at all in the primitive church, bishops and elders were of the same order, and the authority of archbishops and metropolitans was only of human appointment.
(3.) In the year 1540, in the reign of Henry VIII., we find the sen. timents of the early reformers, respecting ecclesiastical orders, very clearly expressed in the resolutions of several bishops and divines of some questions concerning the sacraments.” They were “a select number of divines, who sat by virtue of a commission from the king, confirmed in parliament.” (Burnet, vol. i, pp. 369-374; and Col., No. xxi, p. 256.) Cranmer was the leader in this select committee. answer to the tenth question, which is, “ Whether bishops or priests were first ? and if the priests were first, then the priests made the
In Cranmer says
bishop,” we find the following among
other answers. * The bishops and priests were at one time, and were no two things, but both one office in the beginning of Christ's religion.” The arch. bishop of York gave the following answer :-“We think that the apostles were priests before they were bishops, and that the divine power which made them priests made them also bishops ; and although their ordination was not by all such course as the church now useth, yet that they had both visible and invisible sanctification we may gather of the gospel. And we may well think, that when they were made bishops, when they had not only a flock, but also shepherds appointed to them to overlook, and a governance committed to them by the Holy Ghost to oversee both ; for the name of a bishop is not properly the name of order, but a name of office, signifying an overseer. And although the inferior shepherds have also care to oversee their flock, yet forasmuch as the bishop's charge is also to oversee the shepherd's, the name of overseer is given to the bishops, and not to the other; and as they be in degree higher, so in their consecration we find difference even from the primitive church.” The next is the bishop of London's sen. timent :-“I think the bishops were first, and yet I think it is not of importance whether the priest then made the bishop or else the bishop the priest ; considering (after the sentence of St. Jerome) that in the beginning of the church there was no (or if it were, very small) difference between a bishop and a priest, especially touching the signification.” The opinions of others are to the same purpose, but our limits do not allow us to enlarge. In their agreement, or summary of opinions on this tenth question, we find the following answers as the sum of their decision :-1: " At the beginning they (bishops and priests) were all one.” 2. “ That the apostles were priests, and after were made bishops, when the overseeing of other priests was committed to them.” 3. “That the apostles first were bishops, and they after made other bishops and priests.” 4. “That the apostles were made bishops, and they were after made priests.” 5. “That bishops, as they be now-adays called, were before priests.” 6. “ It is no inconvenience if a priest made a bishop in that time."
The eleventh question discussed is “Whether a bishop hath authority to make a priest by the Scripture or no? And whether any
other but only a bishop may make a priest ?” The answers to this question were as follows Some thought that bishops had no authority to make priests without the authority of the prince; but others thought the authority came from God, but that bishops could not use it without permission from the prince. Others believed that laymen had power to make priests, especially in time of necessity.
The twelfth question is— Whether, in the New Testament, be required any consecration of a bishop and priest, or only appointing to the office be sufficient ?" Cranmer believed that appointment or election was sufficient. Others thought imposition of hands and prayer were required.
Thus, according to Cranmer and the principal divines of his day, episcopacy was not a distinct order from presbytery, by divine right, but only a prudent ecclesiastical constitution for the better government of the church. Dr. Miller (letter vi, p. 141) places this transaction in the year 1548, and in the reign of Edward VI.; but Bishop Burnet,