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chosen few, who, if they do not hold very opposite sentiments to those of Nucleus (as I believe they do), have yet the wisdom to keep their opinions to themselves; and, at all events, have the charity to do no overt act towards molesting or injuring the National Establishment. Indeed the inconsistency of those Dissenters who act otherwise, must be apparent, in supposing that the triumph of Popery and Atheism would ever contribute to advance the cause of God, and the diffusion of His word, which they profess to have at heart; while their impolicy must be equally obvious, in imagining that civil rights and liberties, for which they contend so earnestly, will ever be furthered by either the arbitrary despotism of the one, or the revolutionary excesses of the other, extending any favour to their present abettors, when they shall no longer require their assistance. For myself, I hardly know whether most to deplore the error or short-sightedness of so many of the present Protestant opponents of our Reformed Church ; although as "nil dictum, quod non dictum prius," so may we add 'Nil jam actum,' since all we are now witnessing and anticipating appears only of a class with the treatment observed towards Bishop Hall and his church in the Commonwealth, and to spring from the same source : nor should I have troubled your readers with my preceding observations, had they not appeared to arise legitimately out of the consideration of that particular case. How far this opinion may be shared by the Christian public, is not for me to predicate; but it is certainly one which I do not feel able to renounce under the reasoning of Nucleus.
ON COMMON SENSE.
To the Fditor of the Christian Observer. A CORRESPONDENT in your Number for last October, page 609, asks the important question, “What is common sense ? " and attempts, not unsuccessfully I conceive, to shew that the definition of it given by the present Bishop of Calcutta in a college prize-essay, was inaccurate. Yet, I confess, it appears to myself, on a calm investigation of the subject, that your correspondent has himself somewhat erred in his remarks on it. That the Bishop was rather lax in his definition, can admit of little doubt; as common sense is confessedly inadequate to lead us to a reception of “ truth” when regarded in its Scriptural signification. Of this fact, the entire history of the ancient Greeks and Romans may furnish indisputable evidence. “The world by wisdom knew not God ; " and St. Paul himself was pronounced a babbler" by the Athenians; yet I cannot but think that common sense is, within certain limits, that faculty which enables its possessors to see and to embrace “truth."
What those limits are, I shall immediately attempt to shew. Admitting that in “ the things of the Spirit of God" common sense is lamentably blind, still may it not be maintained that in natural things its judgment is generally correct, and its verdict to be received as just. My time forbids me to enlarge. Yet I would, as a Christian brother, just hint to your correspondent what I myself have thought and concluded on the interesting subject that he has started. Can it then be questioned by any one who is gifted with thought and observation, that common sense appears in the uniform judgment which
it passes on certain laws of nature and on pluin substantial facts, which are subject to the view of all men ? To give some familiar examples. That according to the above laws, heat and cold, air and water, will produce invariable effects, is admitted by all who are not notoriously wanting in the faculty in question. That the seasons, in their respective revolutions, will act, as hitherto they have acted, on the animal and vegetable kingdoms, is equally admitted by it. That a moral and an immoral course of life will necessarily be productive of proportionate advantages and disadvantages in the life present, is also conceded by every man of common
Other and more important instances of its uniform decision respecting the laws of nature, may occur to your correspondent and your readers. And, as to the plain substantial facts 'that I refer to, it is almost superfluous to detail them ; such as that the sun rises and sets, &c.
But I must employ my short remaining leisure in remarking that common sense (or that faculty of observing and judging which belongs to the far greater portion of mankind) is not without its use in matters of natural religion. That some first cause and supreme power, as well as intelligence, exists, has been denied by very few persons, of whatever age or country. That such a Being is to be feared—that His fa. vour is to be desired and sought—that things temporal are comparatively vain—that man should act justly by his neighbour—that a life of virtue is preferable to a life of vice, is again the testimony of common
And in spite of those clouds of prejudice which appear in the present day so seriously to blind the eyes even of devoted Christians, on the subjects discussed by Mr. Newman and Dr. Pusey, I do think
common sense ” must lead those who will consult it, to see the fallacy involved in their system of theology. For example, would not common sense determine that to buy, read, and understand the many learned massive tomes that pass under the designation of the Fathers, is impracticable to men of small fortune, limited scholarship, and scanty leisure ?
I close these imperfect hints, which I submit to the kind and candid consideration of your Correspondent, by assuring you that I shall thankfully receive any exposure of the errors into which I myself may have fallen in my view of common sense ; and that I shall welcome a fuller discussion of the subject from some less occupied and more able pen.
ON PRAYING TO, OR FOR, THE DEAD ;_WITH A POSTCRIPT
ON BISHOP JEBB AND THE HOMILIES.
For the Christian Observer. It might have been thought that if any thing be certain with regard to the doctrines of the Church of England, it is that they do not allow of praying either to or for the dead. Yet the former practice is upheld and enforced by some who call themselves Anglicans and Apostolicals; while the proceedings at Doctors' Commons, upon the Carisbrook monumental inscription, shew that there are also those who think the latter not forbidden.
It is surprising that the divines who uphold these vain notions can venture to call themselves either Anglicans or Apostolicals ; for they find nothing to sanction such fantasies in the writings of the Apostles, which only can be said not directly and verbally to refute them because they were not then invented; and as for the formularies of the Church of England, they positively and vehemently explode them.
We will intrude upon our readers with only one striking passage, upon each of these notions, from the Homilies. And, first, as to the Popish practice of praying for the dead, we read in the Homily on
"Now to entreat of that question, whether we ought to pray for them that are departed out of this world, or no. Wherein, if we will cleave only unto the word of God, then must we needs grant that we have no commandment so to do. For the Scripture doth acknowledge but two places after this life.” “ These words (of Abraham to the rich man in the parable), as they confound the opinion of helping the dead by prayer, so they do clean confute and take away the vain error of purgatory." Therefore, let us not deceive ourselves, thinking that either we may help other, or that others may help us by their good and charitable prayers in time to come” (after death). “ Évery mortal man dieth either in the state of salvation or damnation...... Where is then the third place which they call purgatory; or where shall our prayers help and profit the
There is much more to the same purport : but this may suffice. The Homily, it will be observed, inseparably joins prayers for the dead with purgatory; as do the Papists themselves. The Oxford Tracts vainly endeavour to disconnect them, teaching that we may pray for the dead without believing in purgatory. The Papists, though unscriptural, are consistent; for if nothing remains for a sinner after baptism but penance and the baptism of tears, without any certainty that they are availing, purgatory, or something of the sort, is necessary to eke out the deficiency. Not so if we rightly believe that “ the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin.”
We will now quote a passage from the same Homily upon praying to the dead; whether for themselves to bless us, or to implore them to intercede with God to do so; for the two come to the same issue.
“Yet thou wilt object further that the saints in heaven do pray for us, and that their prayer proceedeth from an earnest charity that they have towards their brethren on earth. Whereto it may be well answered, first, that no man knoweth whether they do pray for us or no; and if any will go about to prove it by the nature of charity, concluding that because they did pray for men on earth therefore they do much more the same now in heaven
; then may it be said by the same reason, that as oft as we do weep on earth, they do weep also in heaven; because while they lived in this world it is most certain and sure they did so.”
And here we may remark how unscriptural, and in our views idolatrous, it is to address the Virgin Mary as the Roman Catholics do, and as Mr. Keble also does in his well known poem: if he means it seriously for an invocation, and not for mere versification.
“ Ave Maria ! Mother blest,
To whom caressing and caressed, &c.
Yet may we reach thy shrine."
* It has been most sophistically said that our church only declares that there is no commandment in Scripture for the practice ; not that it is forbidden. The answer is, that the case was not
directly before the sacred writers; but that, as in numerous other instances, it is provided for incidentally, as the Homily goes on to shew.
Virgin Mary to know all the thoughts of all hearts, in all places, so as to be aware who is addressing her, unless she be omniscient, which is an attribute of Deity? The defenders of the practice reply, that the angel addressed her “ Hail Mary!” Certainly he did : it was a customary salutation ; but it was in her presence and hearing ; not eighteen hundred years after her death ; she being in heaven, and her suppliants scattered over various regions of the earth. There is no warrant in Scripture for attaching a sort of miraculous sanctity to the Virgin Mary above all the faithful disciples of her and our Lord ; or calling her, with Mr. Keble, “Lily of Eden's fragrant shade ;" whose heart was made
a shelter meet
For Jesu's Holy Dove ;" or for such inflated language as
“His throne, thy bosom blest,
O mother undefiled-
Becomes the sinless child.” We read, in the prophetic address to the Messiah, Psalm xlv. 6 : “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever ; " but it is extravagant to say that this means, either maternally or figuratively, the bosom of the Virgin Mary.
We by no means wonder that writers of the Oxford Tract school evince great dislike to the Homilies. Mr. Knox's friend, Bishop Jebb, asserts that they have no claim to be called “the Homilies of the Church of England ; that they are not authoritative Church documents ; that none but “sectaries " consider them so; that they are wholly unfit for general circulation or perusal; that he would not be the man to distract the mind of a child, or to contaminate the heart “of any young person, but especially a young female," with placing the Book of Homilies in their hands ; and that, above all, they ought to be expelled from Ireland, because they “vituperate Popery. He considered it a duty, he said, to bring up the Roman Catholic and Protestant children of Ireland in schools in which "everything should be excluded which might wound the feelings of either communion ; " so that the plan now in operation of shutting out the Bible from the parliamentary schools, on the ground that its introduction would “wound the feelings ” of the votaries of Popish ignorance and superstition, is exactly what Bishop Jebb recommended. He supposes the case of a Protestant child“ shewing the Homilies to a Roman Catholic school-fellow;" and exclaims, with a horror which Dr. Pusey or Mr. Newman might envy, “ Let them jointly open the book at any one of the innumerable passages in which the Church of Rome is characterised, and let us figure to ourselves the consequences ! For my own part, I shrink from the consideration, much more from the discussion, of them! And this from a churchman, a clergyman, a prelate, who had again and again solemnly declared“ his unfeigned assent and consent," that the Homilies contain "a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times." Neither Bishop Jebb, nor any other divine of his school, would easily persuade twelve plain men in a jury-box, that it is perfectly ingenuous to subscribe that a book contains godly and wholesome doctrine ; and then to publish and republish an elaborate pamphlet to prove that it is so pestiferous, that it ought not to be circulated, and that it can. not, without gross offence, be placed in the hands of a female or young person. Nor would he be more successful in the second count, that whereas he had declared, in the sight of God, his belief that it is “necessary for these times," he maintained that it is unnecessary and most unsuitable; that it is so vituperative, and likewise so indecent, that he deprecated its circulation in his diocese ; and that he was horror-struck with only figuring to himself the possibility that a copy might find its way into a school, and be glanced at by a Roman Catholic and a Protestant child in company. Nor would the matter be much mended when he informed the jury, that as often as he subscribed the words “ for these times," he had a mental reservation by which he meant not these times, but the times two or three hundred years ago. This falls in very pertinently with his friend Mr. Knox's assertion, that the revisors of our Liturgy were led by Divine providence to act “stealthily,” using exoteric words with an esoteric meaning; as also with Dr. Pusey's plan of calling in history to colour document; and with Mr. Newman's assertion that he and his friends will not say that the Articles have any meaning at all. Mr. Newman is certainly right, if they are to be interpreted so laxly that a man may subscribe, without if, but, explanation, or qualification, that their doctrine is necessary for these times; secretly meaning, that it is not necessary, though it was so in some by-gone age. We need scarcely remark how nugatory, nay ridiculous, such a mental reservation makes this solemn act of subscription. Could Dr. Jebb induce any twelve jurymen in all Limerick to believe, that the subscription which he was required by the Church to make when he was appointed Bishop of that diocese, was merely an attestation to a historical fact, that the doctrine of the Homilies was necessary in the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; and that this wondrously wise and edifying announcement is couched in words indicative of present time. It would have been no gratifying spectacle to any true Anglican Protestant to have seen a Jesuit priest rise after the prelate had made his subscription, and ask him, “Do you, Dr. Jebb, really believe what you have just affirmed, that your Homilies contain a wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times? If you do, of course you will instantly promote their extensive circulation.” “ You mistake me,” replies the bishop; “ I do not mean that it would be wholesome to circulate the book in Ireland, far from it; no, nor indeed any where : I will do all that is in my power to suppress it; it is a most dangerous, vituperative, and obscene publication ; and when I used the words ' necessary for these times,' I did not mean these times, but some other times : though, to be sure, no other times had been mentioned in the document." Perhaps some of the bystanders would ask, If the doctrine was godly and wholesome in the days of Queen Elizabeth, must it not be so still; and if there was especial reason for then so strongly enforcing it, is there not precisely the same reason now in Ireland, where Protestantism is struggling with Popery, as it was in England at the era of the Reformation? Even Bishop Burnet, who was no admirer of some of the doctrinal statements in the Homilies, and who has been represented, though unjustly, as considering them practically superseded, expressly states that, under such circumstances as those of “ these (our) times,' they are peculiarly necessary. He says: