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out the whole of this business, the personality of the real agents in it is kept involved in a perpetual cloud: which is the very thing that was to be done.
guishing of which the terms Committee and Sub-Committee are in one place held up to view in form and ceremony, are, by what is done in so many other places, so effectually confounded.
BAPTISM AND SPONSORSHIP PROPER, WHEN INSTI
TUTED-BAPTISM USELESS, SPONSORSHIP IMPROPER, NOW.
Of this tract the main object is—to promote the passing a correct judgment on the nature and tendency of the formulary, which forms the subject of it. To this purpose it will not be necessary to enter into any part of the history of that same formulary, other than what is legible upon the face of it, together with a few such other particulars of Church history as are matter of universal and undisputed notoriety.
When, upon the accession of Elizabeth, and the re-substitution of the Protestant system to the Catholic, a set of formularies to be employed on religious occasions was framed,—the interest of public peace concurred with this one particular interest, in recommending to the ruling few, the preserving, with as little change as might be, every institution which was not, on some particular account, in a particular way and high degree obnoxious: and the prepossession,-which, in the breasts of the uninformed and unscrutinizing multitude, habit had formed in favour of every thing, in which they had been accustomed to behold an object of respect,-was sufficient to present change, in so far as it went, in the character of a hazardous operation,-adherence to established usage as the course most favourable to general content and peace in a word as the only safe one.
In the Romish ritual, mixt up with those notions, which, having been suggested by the temporal interests and interest-begotten prejudices of successive rulers, were of course subservient to those interests, others may be observed, which,—having been instituted in a state of things altogether different from that in which the religion of Jesus, and with it the authority of the successors of St. Peter, found itself seated on the throne,-had, though no longer suited to the times, been preserved from change, only because no special and urgent interest had been felt calling for a change.
Among these, the formulary here in question, viz. the Catechism together with the supposed more important formulary of Baptism by which it was preceded,—and the confessedly less important formulary of Confirmation by which it was followed, formed so many links of a connected chain.
In the difference between the primæval and the subsequent states of Christian society, may be found the cause of those two leading features in the Catechism, of which the monstrosity will come to be displayed in the ensuing tract: viz. the unperformable obligation actually taken upon themselves by the Sponsors, and the obligation pretended to be imposed by them upon the child :-of that monstrosity and palpable absurdity in the texture of the instrument, and of the ceremony in which it is employed, and of that immorality, which in the lips and breasts of those who bear a part in that ceremony, is the consequence of the continuance of the practices in question, in a state of things, which, in respect of the particulars in question, is so opposite to that, in which these obligations were at first instituted.
At the time at which this Sponsorship had its rise, it had in utility and reason a foundation at least, and that altogether a natural and obvious one.
In those days, it was in the persons of adults rather than of infants-of infants no otherwise than in company with, and in the character of appen. dages to adults, that the religion of Jesus received its recruits. To the condition of an adult, and to that alone, are any obligations such as those in question, adapted,—and with them the formulary in question, in so far as those obligations are contained in it. To this position, when once brought to view, who is it that can refuse his assent?
Be the society what it may into which a member is received, a precaution too obvious not to be in
some degree attended to in it, is—the taking mea. sures, such as the particular nature of the case points out, for avoiding to give admittance, in the character of a member, to any person other than such an one--in whose instance a ground presents itself for expecting to see two conditions fulfilled :—the one a negative, the other a positive one: the negative one,—that of his not inflicting in any shape annoyance upon the Society, or any of its members ; the positive condition—that, in some way or other he will be contributory, to the purposes which in its formation the Society had in view.
In the early ages of the religion of Jesus, any society formed for the exercise of it was naturally and necessarily a select one: as a whole, it was surround. ed with adversaries : at a very early period, it was split into parts called sects; and each sect beheld in some measure an adversary in every other. On the admission of a new member, the making such provision as the nature of the case admitted of for the fulfilment of the above conditions, was therefore an obvious and rational, not to say a necessary and unavoidable, exercise of prudence.
Thus useful and unexceptionable, at its commencement, and even for ages afterwards, was the institution of Sponsors : by this one institution it was, that provision was made for the fulfilment of both those conditions: for the negative one, by the very açt performed by a man in offering himself as a