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at all; in deference to an authority set over me by man, I should be as one who surrendered his loyalty to Him who is the only ruler over all who rule.
Your lordship upholds as a remedy against the pre- I
tensions and zeal of Rome the changing our defensive policy for a constructive one. If I accepted your lordship’s teaching-with regard to priestly prerogative and supernatural power, I should indeed feel I had entered on a constructive policy ; it would, however, appear to me to be one utterly subversive of all protest against grave error—the cession of all a Protestant holds dear, the quitting a shelter from untruth and slavish submission, to erect a new faith’s home, built on a Romish foundation, cemented with Roman dogma, nothing less than a prison to restrain all who would follow their Lord under the perfect law of Christian liberty. There is no human being, my dear lord, who has a greater admiration and respect for your private character than myself. Few, in that character, love you more ; need I say, then, how painful it is for me to declare that here I must stop ? I am one of those who think that, allowing a great margin for private opinion, there is a limit at which none are justified in holding oflice in an establishment recognized as Protestant—if passing that limit they avow a creed repugnant to every idea connected with the history of our Church, her preaching and practice for centuries, I esteem them not justified for their own sake, or the sake of those who are true to her,
to remain within her pale. In all truth I can say, could I be brought to believe the doctrines on which I have now commented to be those of our Church, I would not remain in connection with her. “ I am, my dear Lord, yours very truly, “ S. G. OSBORNE.
“ To the Right Rev. the Bishop of Salisbury.”
THE FALL OF OUR ESTABLISHED CHURCHES.
I REFER to this subject, not to introduce it for‘the first time, but in order to measure by facts the progress made in this direction. That progress is as rapid as their enemies could desire. Protestant and Scriptural in their foundations; the exponents and stereotyped expression of national responsibility to Him who is King of nations as well as King of saints, and if true to their fundamental doctrines, well fitted to conserve the salt of the nation, and to spread the gospel with greatest effect among the greatest number; they now seem passing under the sentence of doom. Judgment begins at the Church of Ireland, the weakest politically regarded; the most earnest, evangelical, and faithful. No Church has more intrepidly upheld the claims of Scriptural education, or more zealously taught the truths of evangelical religion, or repudiated with more thorough antipathy the intrusive errors of Ritualism and Tractarianism. Those statesmen who are most opposed to it as an establishment are foremost in expressing their ap
preciation of the piety and zeal and labours of its clergy. But few can have read the speech of Mr Gladstone, in May, 1867, on the motion of Sir John Gray,without recognizing in it, not to speak of other manifestoes in the same direction, a notice to quit. The reason of the new movement lies in the new and miserable estimate entertained of the principle of a Church establishment. The Established Church is now regarded as a fact found in the inventory of facts in general. Its existence or continuance is viewed as dependent on the number of its adherents,
and so regarded it stands or falls before the logic of '
such facts. The ancient and Scriptural view is that which Mr Gladstone originally upheld—that it is the duty of the nation to profess the truth, and to aid from its funds, given anew or long and justly inherited, the teaching of the truth. A national conscience may in these times be regarded as an anachronism, but it is no less a divine thing. Let this go, and we let go the grand element of the defence of a national Church. It may be a case tolerated as a success, or cast off as a failure ; but it cannot be upheld as a sacred national obligation. It is now, therefore, a question of months, not of years, how long the Church establishment in Ireland shall last.
The Church of Scotland comes next on the roll of institutions that are to be broken up. This Church has recovered nearly all the ground it lost in 1843 ; it has more members and adherents, as recent statistics prove, than all the other denominations in Scot
land. Its clergy, as a whole, are more devoted, faithful, and laborious ; its educational and missionary work more abundant; its life more intense ; its success great beyond all expectation; but it is surrounded by hostile forces and weakened by internal disputes, and thereby presented to statesmen in its least favourable aspect. Not a few of the leading Scotch nobility have become infected with Ritualism, and thereby contrary to their own highest interests, and in so far subversive of their country’s welfare, they would rather see it swept away than otherwise. The bishops of the Church of England, who in better times were its allies, and even champions, are now most of them its enemies, and suicidally lend their strength to a degenerate Scotch episcopacy, in preference to national Protestantism.
The Church of England’s turn comes next. Strongly rooted in the constitution of the realm, and richly endowed, she is placed in the midst of Christian denominations that, combined, exceed her in numbers, and are hostile to her existence as an establishment. The liberation society is a power in the present condition of things, and the dissatisfaction with the Church it originally kindled is fed with other fuel, and spreads. But the Church of England, alas, is likely to commit suicide before it is swept away. It is at present an aggregate of conflicting sects, teaching doctrines destructive of each other; with articles truly Protestant it presents the sad spectacle
of ministers within its pale teaching the very doc