« PreviousContinue »
fully developed ; and thus its agents and instruments are often at the first led blindfold. Satan may come in, we know from Scripture, even as an Angel of light. But the development has now at length been sufficiently clear and unequivocal. And painful as it is to me to write on the subject, especially considering how much there is of what is eminent and estimable in many who have more or less appeared to favour the doctrine, - I dare not shrink from avowing my conviction that Mr. Bickersteth is warranted in the warning-cry he has sent forth; and that the Oxford Tractarianism bears with it evidence of being in very truth one form of the voice of the False Prophet, prefigured to St. John under the sixth Vial in the Apocalypse.
It does not need that I should here at length set forth or illustrate the doctrines or spirit of the Tractarianism referred to. The following brief summary may suffice, sketched by one who has drawn the picture from the writings of its chief heads and authors. It appears, he says, that it is their avowed desire and object, " to reappropriate from Popery the doctrines which our Reformers rejected,—to set up a Popish rule of faith, a Popish doctrine of apostolical succession, a Popish view of the Church and Sacraments, a Popish doctrine of sacrifice in the Eucharist, available for the quick and dead for remission of sins, a doctrine on Transubstantiation, Purgatory, invocation of Saints, &c, &c, -aye and even on the Papal supremacy,—which, if not Popish, is at least so near it, that it is like splitting hairs to draw a distinction between them : nay, which is admitted to be in most of these instances consistent with the Tridentine statements ; and only not Popish, because it does not reach all the extravagances practised in the Romish communion.” This is an awful, but I fear too palpably true statement. Sad 3 that the moral sense should be so perverted with individuals who hold these sentiments, and who thus advocate the very doctrines which our reformed Church was framed to protest against, as to allow notwithstanding of their retaining its professorships, and eating its bread !-Strange that while, as in the notable case of Lady Hewley's charity, the Civil Courts have adjudged that dissenting ministers, professing a religious creed essentially at variance with that of the founder, are by that profession ipso facto excluded from the benefit of the religious endowment, our ecclesiastical law should have failed to define, or to enforce the acting upon the same rule,-a rule which reason and common equity cannot but approve of: to the effect of excluding from within its pale of these avowed enemies of our beloved English Protestant Church !
1 I need hardly say that I refer to Mr. Goode. His most valuable Tract, The Case as it is, ought to be in the hands of every one who would wish rightly to estimate the real character of the new theological school at Oxford.
9 “Case as it is ;” pp. 53, 54. 3 So the Rev. T. F. Dibdin, in a late Letter to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.
It is the business, however, of an Apocalyptic Expositor to confine himself to the Apocalyptic bearing of the subject. And most assuredly, if the interpretation of this prophetic book hitherto given be correct, (and I trust that the reader is well satisfied with the evidence of its correctness,) it may be shown that there is not a single token wanting, whereby to recognize the acts and spirit of the present Oxford religious school, as but an antitype and fulfilment of that which appeared in symbol to issue from the mouth of the False Prophet, so as described in the text. Let us trace the parallel, first, in respect of its theological character and doctrine ; secondly, in respect of the time, manner, circumstances, and associations, that have marked its movement and promulgation.
As to its theological character and doctrine, the first thing which strikes us (and it is indeed a most striking one) is that it notoriously takes for its model, in respect of doctrine and practice, not the primitive age, so
And this by repeated and most solemn decisions. The appeal to "primitive" practice, &c, occurs perpetually, as any one at all acquainted with the Tractarian School must be well aware of : although in nine cases out of ten, perhaps ninety-nine out of a hundred, where this word is used, the reference is not to the first century, and comparatively seldom to the
as is often most strangely and untruly asserted by its teachers, but that of the fourth and fifth centuries ; an æra when the Church was greatly corrupted,' and which the Apocalyptic visions designate as that of the first marked development of the apostacy — nor this alone, but that it has selected for the primary and fundamental doctrines of its movement, that very dogma respecting the sacraments as the only, and in the case of baptism, the necessarily effectual, means of communicating divine life to man, as well as that respecting the priesthood of their apostolic succession, as its only and its ex opere operato conveyancers, (to the destruction of personal spiritual religion, and supercession of the grace and Spirit of Christ, Himself directly and individually the illuminator and quickener of each dead soul,) which in the same prefigurative visions of Patmos were noted with the silent reprobation of the divine inditing Spirit, as the primary and fundamental doctrines of the then incipient apostacy. 4—2. It appears that one of its next advances, still in close imitation of the early false teachers, (that
second century, or even the third, but rather to the fourth, fifth, and perhaps sixth centuries.
So the Bishop of London in his late Charge, p. 60: “Not the primitive Church, but the Church of the fourth or fifth century; infected as it was with the remains of Gnostic superstition, and the inventions of enthusiastic or ambitious men."
? See my first Section on the Sealing Vision, Vol. i. p. 238, 257, &c.
3 Mr. Perceval states that, at the commencement of the labours of the Tractators, the leading principle selected to be put forward by them was the doctrine of the apostolic succession, as a rule of practice :—that is, 1st, that the participation of the body and blood of Christ is essential to the maintenance of Christian life and hope in each individual ; 2. that it is conveyed to individual Christians only by the hands of the successors of the apostles and their delegates ; 3. that the successors of the apostles are those who are derived in a direct line from them by the imposition of hands, and that the delegates of these are the respective presbyters whom each has commissioned."-So Mr. Keble, Pref. to Hooker, p. 77, speaks of “the necessity of the apostolic commission to the derivation of sacramental grace, and to our mystical communion with Christ.” Goode, 16.
Dr. Pusey's well-known Tracts on Baptism show how early and prominently the doctrines of the fourth and fifth centuries concerning that sacrament were urged by the Tractarian School.
“I call all this Judaizing a direct idolatry. It is exalting the Church and the sacraments into the place of Christ; as others have exalted his mother, and others in the same spirit exalted circumcision.” So Dr. Arnold in 1837. Life, Vol. ii. p. 74.—How exactly agreeable with what I have written of the germinating apostacy in the fourth century.
See my Vol. i. p. 250, &c. At page 259 I there previously cited the above extract from Dr. Arnold. VOL. IV.
germ of the False Prophet,) apocalyptically noted also, in the same and another picture of that primary age of apostacy, has been to doctrines of reserve on the atonement, and doctrines concerning justification, through which Christ was and is virtually superseded in his character of our atonement: as also to doctrines concerning the mediution of living priests, and of departed saints, through which He is equally superseded in his character of the mediator for sinful men.-3. It refuses to receive as the one rule of faith and practice the written word and commandments of God; a firm adherence to which is one constant mark of the true prophets, and witnesses for Christ, in the Apocalyptic prophecy : 6 making them
Viz. the incense vision of Apoc. viii. 2. 2 So in the famous Tracts 80 and 87. The doctrine is one which has been condemned by the Bishops generally. See especially the Bishop of London's most just and strong reprobation of it, at pp. 27-29 of his late Charge.
3 See Mr. Newman's Treatise on Justification, and the first of the Sermons for the Times entitled Nehushtan.-Compare my Vol. i. p. 264.
* The following is a quotation on the point referred to, from Tract No. 10. p. 4. “ This is faith, to look at things not as seen, but as unseen: to be as sure that the bishop is Christ's appointed representative as if we actually saw him work miracles as St. Peter and St. Paul did.” And then ; "The ministeringpriest is by the same faith to be looked on by the congregation as the bishop's representative :"-irrespective of course of doctrine.—Let me again refer the reader to the weighty and important observations of the Bishop of London in his late Charge, pp. 9–12, on the dangerous and unscriptural character of Levitical views of the Christian ministry.
5 The following is Mr. Newman's remark in the famons Tract No. 90, on our Anglican Article against the Invocation of Saints; that "not every doctrine on this matter is a 'fond' thing, but the Romish doctrine. Accordingly the primitive doctrine is not condemned in it. Now there was a primitive doctrine on these points." He adds elsewhere (Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, p. 18) that “the Ora pro nobis, (or Prayer to the Virgin Mary,) was not necessarily included in the invocation of saints which the Article condemns."- It is also said in Tract 71, p. 27: "The Tridentine Decree declares that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke the saints; and that the images of Christ, and the blessed Virgin, and the other saints, should receive due honour and veneration ; words which themselves go to the very verge of what could be received by the cautious Christian, though possibly admitting of an honest interpretation." See other quotations in the “ Case as it is," p. 29.-Compare with this and the Note preceding my Vol. i. pp. 306-315, 381.
The Bishop of London (Charge, p. 57,) speaks of it as a subject of deep concern that any of the English clergy should recommend or justify, under any qualification, prayers or addresses to saints; a practice, he says, “which ended in idolatry;” and at p. 49, he reprobates the practice adopted by a few of the clergy [of this Oxford School] of decorating the communion-table with flowers on saints' days, as "worse than frivolous, and approaching very nearly to the honours paid by the Church of Rome to deified sinners."
So of the children of Chrst's true Church, Apoc. xii. 17, "them that keep the commandments of God, and preserve the testimony of Jesus Christ ;” and of
void, as did both the Pharisees of old, and the apostatizing teachers (or germinating False Prophet) of the fourth and fifth centuries, by the addition of another rule of faith and conduct; viz. that of its own traditions and the commandments of men.2-4. It supports in no equivocal manner the Papal pretensions and authority, just as the full-grown Apocalyptic False Prophet did those of the Beast, from soon after the rise of the Beast's empire in the West :3-inculcating the reverence due to the Pope of Rome, admitting his universal primacy,“ deploring the schism from him made at the Reformation, longing for reconciliation with him, even
the Church's faithful martyrs, vi. 9, " those that were slain for the word of God;" &c, and xx. 4, “them that had been beheaded for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus ;"—where that “the word and commandments of God" mean only the written word and written commandments, appear sufficiently from Christ's saying that the Pharisees had made God's words and commandments void by their traditions. Matt xv. 6.
See my Vol. i. p. 264. ? “ Scripture is not the only ground of the faith.” “Catholic tradition is a divine informant in religious matters." “We agree with the Romanist in appealing to antiquity as our great teacher.” “These two (the Bible and Catholic Tradition] together make up a joint rule of faith." “ When the sense of Scripture, as interpreted by reason, is contrary to the sense given of it by Catholic antiquity, we ought to side with the latter." “ Such tradition is infallible.” Such are some of the quotations given on this head by Mr. Goode in his Case as it is, p. 9; taken from Newman's Lectures on Romanism, pp. 369, 329, 355, 47, 327, 160, and Keble's Sermons, 146;-with many others to the same effect. Add the famous rule, Quod semper, quod ubique, &c.
The equal authority of catholic Tradition and the written Scripture, was the first point determined on at Trent: and in this, says Ranke, i. 204, half the business was justly regarded to be settled.
3 See on the earlier history of the apostate priesthood of professing Christendom, Vol. iii. p. 164, &c; and on its causing the world, after the Beast's rise, to worship it in Western Europe, ib. 182.
4. “ Among the Catholic verities impressed on the surface of Scripture are the following ;-baptismal regeneration, the sacred presence in the Eucharist, the oneness of the visible Church, the primacy of si. Peter.” “The supremacy of the Pope is an event in Providence. We find ourselves as a Church under the King now, and we obey him. We were under the Pope formerly, and we obeyed him. Of course the union of the whole Church under one visible Government is abstractedly the most perfect state." So the British Critic for July 1841, and Tract No. 90, quoted by Mr. Goode, ibid. p. 33: who adds from the British Critic another quotation, to the effect of their " having no sympathy with the Gallican party, so far as it is at issue with the ultra-montane ;-regarding national theories as involving a subtle Erastianism, and betokening an inadequate estimate of the fulness and freeness of Gospel privileges :" i. e. as derived from the Pope.
ó “ That deplorable schism." Brit. Crit. for July 1841, p. 2. So Mr. Newman in his Preface to the Hymni Ecclesiæ, 2nd vol., speaking of the Reformation and Reformers, says, “Cæco quodam reformationis (quam vocant) æstu in ecclesia passim fervente.”—Again, in his last volume of Sermons : “ We cannot hope for the recovery of Dissenting bodies whilst we are ourselves alienated from the great body of Christendom. We cannot hope for unity of faith, if we of our