Page images
PDF
EPUB

The above extracts from Bishop White's writings are sufficient to prove his firm adherence to the Three-Fold-Ministry, as a divine Institution, and his unwillingness in any way to compromise the claims of that Ministry. They greatly misrepresent Bishop White, who deny that this was his deliberate and often expressed conviction.

We leave Dr. Tyng's Letter without further comment.

There is also before us, a Letter of the Rev. Dr. E. H. Canfield, Rector of Christ Church, Brooklyn, to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter. He acknowledges that he was one of the Presbyters alluded to in the Bishop's Pastoral. He adopts two lines of defense; both of which are based on radical mistakes as to matters of fact, and the latter of which has nothing whatever to do with the question in dispute. His first plea is, that in admitting a Sectarian preacher into his pulpit, and in himself preaching after such Ministers had publicly performed the devotions, he did not disobey the Canon, because such services were not for the Church's "own congregations of worshipping people.” Unfortunately for Dr. Canfield, the Canon makes, and allows of, no such exception. This is a sufficient answer to his whole argument. Besides this, the Service in his own Church was in fact for, and was attended by, his own people. The public at large, and the public press generally, regarded it, and alluded to it as a Church Service, for a Church congregation, at which non-Episcpal Orders were publicly and officially recognized by him. The preacher on that occasion so regarded it, and (most impertinently, we think) so declared it. Dr. Canfield's conduct, therefore, was a violation of the Canons, both in letter and spirit.

His second line of defense is simply an evasion. The simple question, and the only question, is, whether he has broken the Canons which he has solemnly sworn before God to obey. He however raises the irrelevant inquiry, as to the bearing of these Canons on the validity of non-Episcopal Orders. He says:

"The Pastoral Letter is evidently based upon the theory, that the Canons were expressly designed to deny the validity of non-Episcopal Orders, and to forbid any public acts which might appear to sanction such a doctrine. I do not question your right to draw this conclusion from them, and to hold it as a matter of private opinion, but I do respectfully protest against your attempt to enforce your inferences, in an arbitrary way, as the law of our Church. You must know that this was not the doctrine of the Reformers, and Fathers of the Church of England, who framed the Articles and arranged the Prayer Book; and that the founders of our Church in this country were ‘far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline or worship.'”

Now Dr. Canfield is equally unfortunate as to both the points which he here raises, irrelevant as they are. The Church by implication does, in the plainest manner possible, deny the validity of non-Episcopal Orders. In the distinction which she so clearly draws between those who have, and those who have not been Episcopally ordained, she accepts the one Ordination, and she refuses to accept the other. Most certainly, the man who denies this interpretation of the Church's requirements here, is not a man to be reasoned with on any subject, Bishop Potter, in his Pastoral Letter, has stated this argument as plainly as it can be stated.

As to the other point, “the doctrine of the Reformers and Fathers of the Church of England,” Dr. Canfield is equally wide of the truth of history. He will allow us to say, that the dogmatic manner in which he accuses the Bishop of gross ignorance of the principles of the English Reformation, savors too strongly of that denunciatory spirit which characterizes a certain class of men. Has it never occurred to the Doctor that self-conceit and abuse are not argument ? and that there may possibly be such things as true conscientiousness, genuine piety, and accurate learning, outside the circle of his own little clique ? A little more modesty, Dr. Canfield, or a little more knowledge, would be quite becoming. You have read such second-hand, superficial, and one-sided works as that of Mr. William Goode, and you have been misled by them. That is all. Bishop Williams has stated the argument in proof of the real opinion of the English Reformers on the Christian Ministry, as clearly as it can be stated, in an Article in this Review. The conclusion to which the Bishop comes, is this:

Surely, if they held anything, they held that Episcopacy was a Divine Institution, and, therefore, of binding obligation in the Church, and that ordinary, lawful calling to the Ministry was, from it, by Imposition of Hands. This, if anything, was the point they reached, when they had worked out of their scholastic notions about the identity of the Episcopate and Presbyterate, and the conveying of Orders by the porrectio instrumentorum.

* Am. Quar. Church Review, Vol. xvi. No. 4.

And near the close of his Article, the Bishop, in alluding to certain spurious and false opinions which are often sought to be fastened upon those Reformers, uses the following language, which we commend to the attention of the Rev. Dr. Canfield.

“ The assurance which can claim that such persons represented the opinions of our Reformers, and the ignorance or party spirit which can admit such a claim, are equally matters of wonder."

Next in order, we have a Letter to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Potter, from the Rev. John Cotton Smith, D.D., Rector of the Church of the Ascension, New York; whose name has already appeared in our previous pages, in connection with the disorderly conduct which called forth the Pastoral Letter.' The motto which Dr. Smith has chosen for his pamphlet is certainly significant, and seems to us quite appropriate. Idcirco legum servi sumus, ut liberi esse possimus. Freely rendered, the sentiment seems to be this. “ Therefore have we vowed obedience to the Laws of the Church, that we may break those Laws at our pleasure.” This Letter, though numbering twenty-six pages, contains almost nothing in the way of argument which has not been already noticed ; yet its dogmatical tone calls for a little careful attention.

He justifies his “fraternizing Services," on the ground of precedents which the Bishop had sanctioned. This whole subject, the Bishop, in his Pastoral Letter, had already disposed of, with a frankness, and in a manner which, as it seems to us, renders Dr. Smith's allusion to it now, in every respect, exceedingly ill-judged.

Dr. Smith also maintains, that he has not broken the Canons of the Church, because the Services alluded to were not held for “any congregation of this Church.” As we have already said, this is an evasion, a technical quibble. Besides, the Twentieth Canon has no such limitation. It is absolute, and unqualified.

He then endeavors to show, and at great length, that the English Reformers and eminent Divines of that Church, have acknowledged the validity of non-Episcopal Orders. Now, we repeat here, that all this has nothing whatever to do with Bishop Potter's Pastoral Letter. The only question on which Rev. Dr. John Cotton Smith is called to plead, is, whether he has, or has not violated the Canons, and broken the Law of the Church. In respect to his new line of defense, if it can be called such, we refer to what we have already said. Bishop Williams has settled that matter beyond further cavil, in his masterly examination of the subject, in the Article before referred to.

Besides this ; Dr. Smith should remember, that, at the Reformation, it was Doctrinal corruptions, not the question of Ministerial Orders, which was then before the public mind. With regard to the Episcopacy, the greater and better part of the Continental Reformers, had no dispute with the English Reformers, upon that subject. They agreed that it was primitive, Scriptural, and obligatory ; except so far as the Romish Schoolmen had been able, by their sophistry, to depress the Episcopacy, and build up the Papacy on its ruins. Rome, by her crafty arts, prevented the Continental Reformers from obtaining the Episcopacy then, and Rome laughs in her sleeve to see such men as the Rev. Dr. John Cotton Smith, playing into the hands of Episcopacy-haters now. In the turmoil of that unsettled, transition period, there were, undoubtedly, irregularities of conduct, and expressions of opinion, from which, if taken as precedents, almost anything can be proved. Even Rome herself had not then crystallized into its permanent Trentine form. The real question, and the only question, so far as the English Reformers are concerned, is simply this ; as Dr. Smith well knows. What conclusion did the English Reformers then finally and deliberately reach, as to the constitution of that Ministry which Jesus Christ, through His Inspired Apostles, established in His Church ; and which He promised to be with, until the end of the world ? That conclusion we have already stated.

There is another point to be made here.

Suppose the

or the

“Opinion” of some of the English Reformers was, as Dr. Smith represents it ; what then? That “opinion” “opinion” of all the Reformers in Christendom, has not a straw's weight in settling the real question at issue. That question is simply this : Have we, or have we not, that Ministry which Christ established ; and which He promised to be with until the end of the world ? And then, again ; suppose it can be proved, that some of the very best English divines did admit that, in cases of absolute necessity, an irregular, or man-made Ministry, might be valid. Such a necessity never has occurred, and never will. The Great Head of the Church will fulfill His promise. But suppose that certain English divines did grant as much as this. What then? Does Dr. Smith maintain that there is any such necessity now, which prevents Sectarian Ministers from being properly ordained ; that is, if they are suitably qualified ? Or is all this meant as a mere quibble ? Besides, such "absolute necessity” would, as Dr. Smith ought to know, form an exception, which only establishes a general principle, instead of destroying it. It is, therefore, in itself, an unanswerable argument for the Apos- · tolic Succession of a Three-Fold Ministry.

But has Dr. Smith represented the opinions of individual' divines fairly and honestly? In a foot-Note, he makes the following important confession, In quoting page after page of what looks like a very formidable array of authorities, he says :—" for most of the quotations which follow, I am indebted to Mr. William Goode's Work.” Now, Dr. Smith knows, or ought to know, that that work of Mr. Goode's has not the slightest authority with scholars; and that it has been proved, again and again, to be little more than a tissue of misrepresentations, so far as this question is concerned. And yet Dr. Smith ventures to cite those opinions as confidently as if they were the fruit of his own impartial reading, and as if their utter worthlessness had not been repeatedly exposed. Such a method of citing authorities would not be tolerated a moment by respectable lawyers in our civil courts.

Let us examine two or three of these authorities. This is the way in which he quotes Stillingfileet :

34

VOL. XVII.

« PreviousContinue »