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is not peculiar to the members of the Romish Church; it is not peculiar to those who are mistaken in their belief as to what ' is a good end; it is not peculiar to any sect, age, or country;
it is not peculiar to any subject-matter, religious or secular; ' but is the spontaneous growth of the corrupt soil of man's heart. p. 142.
' Dr.Whately is very happy in his chapter on theUndue Reliance on Human Authority, in shewing how texts of Scripture have been adduced to justify errors previously received, instead of the errors having been engendered by misinterpretations of the texts. The extent of the jurisdiction of the Romish see; the infallibility of the church; the real presence in the Eucharist; worship of saints; prayers for the dead; and various other points, are adduced in elucidation of the principle, which fully corroborate the author's position.
Dr. Whately considers it a great mercy that no compendium of religious doctrine, such as it is most probable the early teachers of Christianity used to their catechumens, has been handed down to us; and that the Apostles must have been “su'pernaturally withheld' from drawing one up, which would
naturally appear to them the most expedient' way of teaching, inasmuch as such forms would have been as authoritative as Scripture itself. “God's wisdom, doubtless, designed to guard 'us against a danger, which I think no human wisdom would · have foreseen, the danger of indolently assenting to, and com‘mitting to memory, a form of sound words, which would in a • short time have become no more than a form of words, received ' with passive reverence, and scrupulously retained in the mind, • leaving no room for doubt, furnishing no call for vigilant in'vestigation, affording no stimulus to the attention, and making ' ‘no vivid impression on the heart. It is only when the under
standing is kept on the stretch by the diligent search, the * watchful observation, the careful deduction, which the Chris*tian Scriptures call forth, by their oblique, incidental, and ir* regular mode of conveying the knowledge of Christian doc'trines—it is then only that the feelings and the moral portion
of our nature are kept so awake as to receive the requisite * impression ; and it is thus accordingly that Divine wisdom has ' provided for our wants, curis acuens mortalia corda.' p. 202.• More troublesome, indeed, may be the diligent search of the 'Scriptures than a compendious appeal to established formu‘laries; but God has appointed that this labour shall be the . Christian's lot, and shall bring with it amply its own reward. • The care, and diligence, and patient thought, and watchful
observation, required in drawing for ourselves the Christian 'truths from the pure spring-head, will be repaid by our having, „hrough Divine grace, those truths ultimately fixed in the
heart as well as in the understanding: we shall not only read, "but mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; so that the hea"venly nourishment will enter into our whole frame, and make
us not merely sound theologians, but, what is much more, sin'cere Christians and good men, truly wise unto salvation, through 'faith which is in Christ Jesus.' p. 212.
The chapter on Persecution is as valuable as its predecessors : but since we have not space to extract an important passage which is prophetic of a state of society fast approaching, we are unwilling to enter into an insufficient examination of it.—The last chapter is on Trust in Names and Privilegesma principle inherent, like the former which have been discussed, in our nature, and as rife in Protestants and Mohammedans as in any Romanists. The more justly founded the reputation for genuine piety is the party to which any man belongs, the more is he in danger of omitting to cultivate genuine piety in himself, and to take to himself the character of that party, as a substitute for the work in his own heart.-In the Appendix are some interesting remarks, to shew that they who trust to their evidences, and gifts, and graces, are as much trusting to works as the Papists are (p.340), and as much destroy the true nature and value of faith,
REV. W. HARNESS ON SCHISM.
Schism: two Sermons, by the Rev. W. Harness, M. A. The real disciple of Christ, who knows both the responsibilities and the privileges which the title of Christian implies, will feel the importance of endeavouring to ascertain what constitutes schism. Such an one knows, that the church, the body, derives all its vitality from union with Christ, the Head; and all its activity and symmetry and power, as a body, from the communion of the saints ; he therefore will be careful to guard against dividing the body of Christ, so as to interrupt the healthful circulation between member and member, and tremblingly alive to the danger of fatally severing the members from the Head. The more important the subject, the more necessary it becomes to guard against error; and our attention has been drawn to these discourses
of Mr. Harness by the mixture of truth and error which they contain. Our own convictions of the sinful and destructive consequences of schism are very clear and positive; and we rejoice in any attempt to enlighten our fellow-Christians by exposing it, and warning them of its evil nature. But we are sorry to be compelled to say, that we think the Sermons before us have a tendency to confirm opinions already too prevalent, rather than to remove them ; to increase the danger of schism, by strengthening party feeling, instead of leading to a
VOL. 111.-NO. II.
closer union with Christ, and communion with each other. The line of truth lies between the two extremes of superstitious corruptions of the church, on the one hand, and sectarianism, on the other. We hardly know which extreme is the worse, or even the more tending toschism, for a superstitious and corrupt church multiplies all the temptations to resistance, and aggravates every mark of holy indignation at its usurpations into the crime of schism. This middle line of truth we think Mr. H. has transgressed, and has so expressed himself as to encourage the notion, now too prevalent, that the differences between the Protestant churches and the Papal church are not of great importance ;-a notion which would leave the Reformers themselves liable to the charge of schism. We can truly say, with that excellent man, Richard Baxter," that the thoughts of the divided state of Christians have brought one of the greatest and constantest sadness to our soul that ever it was acquainted with; especially to remember, that while we are quarrelling and plotting, and writing and fighting against each other, so many parts of the world remain in the infidelity of Heathenism, Judaism, or Mohammedanism; where millions of poor souls do need our help.; and if all our strength were joined together for their illumination and salvation, it would be too little.”
Mr. Harness lays down two positions (p. 2) on the nature and effects of schism : first, that it is unchristian in its nature; and, secondly, that it is injurious in its consequences : and, in pages 3, 4, 5, brings his proofs from Scripture. Thus far we perfectly agree with him, and assert that we cannot overrate the evil consequences which inevitably follow from the origination and perpetuation of divisions in the church; for our Lord has assured us, that a house divided against itself must fall. And, moreover, we cannot but consider all those as culpably ignorant who attempt to justify these schisms, and persuade men that many good effects spring out of them: namely, emulation and incitements to action, which without them we should not have had. The faculties of our nature are so numerous and manifold in their application, and good and evil are so mixed in a society of men professing the Christian faith, that, when they have in an unjustifiable manner separated themselves into parties, each party retains some of the elements of moral and spiritual life; and, as they continue in a juxta-position to each other, with certain necessary relations, from which man can never detach himself in this world, it is to be expected that they should act and re-act upon each other, and some effects will doubtless result that are partially good, and better than nothing. Yet these motives from without are far more often carnal, and of this world, than such as should actuate Christian men; and fall very far short of what would most certainly result, if all these parties were in union, and acting according to the rules which our Lord has laid down for the government and conduct of his church. We refer now to those effects which are so much cried up-namely, that the Church of England owes much to the Dissenters, as the Dissenters have formed societies, &c. for religious ends, which have been the means of provoking the Church of England to rouse itself from its supineness, and follow their example, by constituting similar societies in their turn. In p. 6, Mr. H. says, 'it is self-evident that this unity is not
disturbed by any, even the slightest differenceamong Christians; and that, therefore, to preserve the unity which the Apostles have enjoined and the Redeemer prayed for, it is indispensable that his disciples should agree in maintaining one form of doe“trine, and one form of church government :” and in p.9,"If one form of faith is necessary to preserve the unity of the church, it may with confidence be affirmed that one form of church government is equally indispensable.” Here Mr. H. begins to display that feeling which has been the cause of so much trouble to the church catholic, and from which our own country has suffered no little,-the hankering after an unrealizable uniformity; a raising of non-essentials up to the same high standard, as faith necessary to salvation. St Paul, in 1 Cor. xiii. rebukes this narrow spirit, which would cut and square all down to one particular model, by dwelling upon the true nature of unity, which is of the Spirit, and perfectly compatible with a variety of gifts and manifoldness of outward appearance. “There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism;" but it is no where said, That there is but one form of church government: and it is of this confusion of two things so different in kind, that we complain-namely, doctrine and circumstantials.
The common ground which necessitates one faith is, that by nature all men are equally in need of the common salvation : in this the circumstances of all men are alike : but when we come into the world of the senses, the circumstances of most societies differ; and consequently the government, both civil and ecclesiastical, must bend and adapt itself accordingly. The principles upon which all governments should be founded, and their ultimate end-namely, the well-being of man-should undoubtedly be the same; but to say that all governments should be uniform in their modes and means of attaining these ends, is to assert, what cannot be realized; for it supposes that all nations are alike in all respects, and that what is fitting and convenient for one is fitting for all. Mr. H. is quite right in asserting the absolute necessity of church government; but here he must stop in his absolute assertions. This brings us to the point at which we shall take our stand; and as it would be too long and tedious to go through the two sermons before us page by page, and point out what we object to as erroneous, we shall turn our attention to
the cardinal errors of the whole, and endeavour to base all our condemnation of them upon the principles which have been held in common by the soundest and most learned Protestant divines.
Mr. H., after having related the fact of the universality of Episcopacy,' and alleged that this is an infallible testimony of the Apostolic origin, and the Apostolic authority of the episcopal form of government,' says: “Now, my brethren, this truth involves 'a most serious consequence : it proves episcopacy to be the ' sign of that true church to which every Christian should adhere. All other congregations are heretical assemblies, and without the pale of that catholic church to which the promises of the Gospel are addressed. Out of this church there is no 'Apostolic succession of bishops : consequently no authorized priesthood; consequently no valid sacraments; and consequently no appointed means of grace. The most which a ( wise and benevolent liberality can presume to say of those who voluntarily separate themselves from the body of Christ, the 'church governed according to Apostolic rule and discipline, ' conveys but a questionable comfort. As St. Paul said of the heathen wife, that she was hallowed in her believing husband, we may hope that the errors of the separatist may be pardoned for the sake of the truth with which it is allied : but he stands 'not within the revealed limits of mercy, and is dependent for bis salvation, not on the covenanted but the uncovenanted 'graces of God.' pp. 31–34.—We hold it to be a sound rule, that all premises which necessitate an absurd conclusion must be false ; and, to extend it to interpretation of Scripture, we say that any interpretation which results in contravening the clear precepts of the Bible must be a wrong interpretation. Now the conclusion arrived at and announced above by Mr. H. cannot be otherwise classed. For, according to his reasoning, all those bodies of men professing Christianity that do not retain episcopacy as the form of their church government are no Christian societies. Therefore the Scotch Church and the Reformed Churches on the continent, and all Non-conformists, although they accept the foundation of faith as expressed in the Apostles' or Nicene Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, &c. are unchurched at once; their sacraments no sacraments; and the members themselves no better, and no other as to outward standing, than the heathen. We would remark here, that many of the separations which have taken place in the Christian church, and to keep in view more particularly our own church of England, are not to be charged wholly upon those bodies who have outwardly left her communion; but that the guilt of the schism is to be partly laid upon the body: from which the separation was made : for the persons in authority have occasionally assumed a more absolute power than was just, and have attempted to exact an