Page images

pp. 6-8.

passage, on the word church, he ex- lonica was so termed. A small congregation presses our own views exactly :

which met in Cencbræa, the port of Corinth,

was called the church, or assembly, of Cenchræa. * The word .church' is commonly used

A small assembly which met beneath the roof in the following senses :

of Priscilla and Aquila in or near Rome, was "1. The place where a Christian congrega

called the church in their house. Philemon tion assembles, – a building used for public had a church in his house ; and when Paul worship; e. 9., 'the parish church.'

spoke of the Christian congregations scattered "2. Something indefinite, as when an ex

over a country, he always termed them the pression being quoted from the prayer-book, it churches, or assemblies

, of that territory. Thus is said to be what the church teaches.

we read of the churches of Judea, the churches "3. The clergy paid by the state : 1.9.,

of Galatia, and the churches of Macedonia ; when a young man joins the national clergy in but

never of the church of Judea, the church England or Scotland, he is said to go into the of Galatia, the church of Macedonia; because charch.'

the Christians of a single town formed one * 4. All persons baptized by the national assembly, but the Christians of a country many clergy, and connected with their ministry ;

assemblies." e. g., 'the church of England,' the church of

General considerations which condemn Scotland.'

“5. All the congregations throughout the the union between church and state world acknowledging a particular ecclesiastical are then adduced. In showing that it discipline; e. 9., “The Roman catholic church,' is condemned by history, Mr. Noel * the Greek church,' the Armenian church,'

says, * the presbyterian church.'

*6. All persons throughout the world bap- “The Greek legislators, wishing to secure tized in the name of Christ ; e.g,' the visible for the republic the greatest military force by church catholic.

means of the most complete social unity, for* All these six meanings of the word are bade dissent from the popular superstition. contrary to the original meaning, and are A man who disbelieved the power of fictitious wholly unscriptural. It is not once used in and corrupt deities was thought to be a bad scripture in any of these senses.

citizen, and was as such condemned. Draco " Besides these, it has three other meanings. punished dissent with death ; Plato would have

"1. It was originally used to express an it denounced to the magistrates as a crime ; assembly of the citizens in the Greek republics. Aristotle allowed but one established worship; When the legislative assembly was summoned and Socrates was sentenced to death as a nonby the town-crier, it was called an ekkinoia, a conformist. In the Greek republics, the union charch. In this sense the word is frequently between the state and the religion was so comused by Thucydides, Xenophon, Demosthenes, plete that the rights of conscience were wholly and other writers. And in this sense it is used disregarded. Men did not inquire what was in the 19th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. true, but what was politic. The republic must A crowd having assembled in the theatre at be a great unity for attack or defence, and the Ephesus to maintain their idolatry agair the religious independence which would break that doctrine of St. Paul, it is said by the historian, unity must be exterminated. that the excipoia, or church, was confused; Heathen princes had yet more powerful upon which the town-clerk urged them to motives than republican magistrates to unite restore order, declaring that every matter might themselves strictly with the priesthood. be determined in a lawful éxkinoia, or church; Despotic rulers have ever sought to extort from with which words he dismissed that riotous their subjects all possible advantages for themimkingia, or church.

selves, and for this end to retain them in the “ 2. It being the word commonly used to most complete servitude. They have chiefly express an assembly of citizens, it was thence depended on their armies; but the fears and adopted by the apostles to express an assembly the hopes excited by superstition have been too of Christians; the Christian sense of the word obvious a support not to be largely employed. growing naturally out of its civil sense. Each Well paid soldiers have been their first instruChristian congregation is, therefore, in the New ment of power; their second has been a wellTestament called an ékaingia,-an assembly, a paid priesthood. Priests have lent to despots, church. The congregation of poor persons at in aid of their selfish designs, the portents and Philippi was called the church, or assembly, of the predictions of superstition; and despots that place. The poor congregation at Thessa- have, in return, invested the superstition with splendour, and punished nonconformity with the bishops assumed in many places a princely death. Heathenism presented no obstacle to authority; they appropriated to their evangelithis union. The superstition being a corrupt cal function the splendid ensigns of imperial invention offered nothing which was disagree- majesty. A throne surrounded with ministers able to corrupt rulers; and the vices of rulers exalted above his equals the servant of the meek were not uncongenial to an equally corrupt and humble Jesus; and sumptuous garments priesthood. Nebuchadnezzar exalted bimself dazzled the eyes and the minds of the multiwhen he compelled his subjects of every creed tude into an ignorant veneration for their to bow down to his golden idol; Belsbazzar, arrogated authority. The example of the amidst his revels, felt no objection to praise bishops was ambitiously imitated by the presthe gods of gold and silver;' and it seemed to byters, who, neglecting the sacred duties of Darius excellent policy to establish a royal their station, advanced themselves to the indostatute that no prayers should be offered to any lence and delicacy of an effeminate and luxurigod but himself for thirty days. The infamous ous life. The deacons beholding the presbyters Tarquin could, without any inconvenient deserting thus their functions boldly usurped restraint upon his passions, build temples to their rights ; and the effects of a corrupt Jupiter ; Caligula and Nero felt no remorse at ambition were spread through every rank of their wickedness excited by the fulfilment of the sacred order.' The splendour and ambition their functions of supreme pontiffs; and, on of the clergy manifest clearly that the Christhe other hand, the Brahmins of India found tians were become a powerful body, whom nothing in their vedas and purannas which Constantine would desire to attach to his cause, made them blush at the vices and the tyranny and their number renders it very probable that of the rajahs by whom they were enriched. policy was the earliest ground of his Christian By the aid of the superstition the despot forti- profession. His conduct to the Christians fied his tyranny, and by the aid of the despotism was strictly in accordance with his interests ; the priest gave currency to his falsehoods. and it is very probable that the protection with Thus the union of the state and the priesthood which he distinguished them may, in the first was an alliance of force and fraud. Neither instance, have originated in bis policy.' But party was strong enough to rule alone. But if it began in policy, political considerations when the priest preached for the despot, and would still more powerfully urge him to conthe despot governed for the priest, both the tinue it. He had learned, no doubt, from the more easily kept their feet upon the necks of disturbances continually excited by Licinius, the people ; and made the universal degradation that neither himself nor the empire could enjoy subservient to their greatness.

a fixed state of tranquillity as long as the an“ When the churches began to be corrupted cient superstitions subsisted; and, therefore, from by the increasing wealth of their ministers, this period, he openly opposed the sacred rights this pagan union of the state with the priest of paganism as a religion detrimental to the intehood was extended to them; and emperors rests of the state. On the other hand, it is too with the Christian name sought the aid of a plain that he was an irreligious man. It was in the corrupt Christian priesthood, as beathen year 313 that he published the edict of Milan, emperors had sought the aid of augurs and of by which he proclaimed universal toleration, heathen priests. Constantine, who first openly and secured to the Christians their civil and protected the Christian churches, can scarcely religious rights. But, in the year 325, be be supposed to have done so from religious ordered his rival, Licinius, to be strangled; and feeling. The progress of Christianity had been the same year in which he convened the Counvery considerable. If, before this reign, the cil of Nice, was polluted by the execution, or Christians did not amount to more than one rather murder, of his eldest son. “It is not twentieth part of the population, as asserted by disputed that bis career was marked by the usual Gibbon, still this number of avowed Christians, excesses of intemperate and worldly ambition : at a time when the profession of faith in Christ and the general propriety of his moral conduct exposed them to martyrdom, indicates that a cannot with any justice be maintained.' After much larger number were secretly convinced of his conversion to Christianity, he still conits truth. Licinius, the rival of Constantine, tinued, as supreme pontiff, to be the head of could not, by his heathen zeal, raise any popu- the religion of heathen Rome, and thus conlar enthusiasm in his support; and if we had tinued to be invested with more absolute no other proof of the numerical extension of authority over the religion he had deserted, professed believers, we may infer it with certainty than over that which he professed. But, as he from the recorded habits of the clergy. had been the bead of the heathen priesthood, • During the third century,' says Mosheim, it seemed to him right that he should make

himself equally the head of the Christian in many places, assumed an equality with the priesthood. He, therefore, assumed a supreme bishops in point of rank and authority. We jurisdiction over the clergy.

find also many complaints made of the vanity “One of the earliest objects of his policy and effeminacy of the deacons. An enormous Tas to diminish the independence of the train of superstitions were gradually substichurch. For which purpose he received it into tuted for genuine piety. Frequent pilgrimages strict alliance with the state ; and combined in were undertaken to Palestine and to the tombs his own person the highest ecclesiastical with of martyrs. Absurd notions and idle cerethe highest civil authority. The entire control monies multiplied every day; dust and earth of the external administration of the church brought from Palestine were sold and bought he assumed to himself. He regulated every | everywhere at enormous prices, as the most thing respecting its outward discipline; the powerful remedies against the violence of final decision of religious controversies was wicked spirits. Pagan processions were adoptsubjected to the discretion of judges appointed ed into Christian worship, and the virtues by him; and no general council could be called which had formerly been ascribed by the heathen except by his authority. Though he permitted to their temples, their lustrations, and the the church to remain a body politic distinct statues of their gods, were now attributed by from that of the state, yet he assumed to him the baptized to their churches, their holy water, self the supreme power over this sacred body, and the images of saints. Rumours were and the right of modelling and of governing it spread abroad of prodigies and miracles; robbers in such a manner as should be most conducive were converted into martyrs : many of the to the public good. Thus he exercised at once monks dealt in fictitious relics, and ludicrous a supremacy over the heathen and the Christian combats with evil spirits were exhibited. A priesthoods. He was the chief pontiff of whole volume would be requisite to contain an heathenism, and the chief bishop of the Chris-enumeration of the various frauds which artful tian church. And this state episcopate he knaves practised with success to delude the exercised many years before he was baptized, ignorant, when true religion was almost superand long before he was a member of the church seded by horrid superstition,' The number of he was its summus episcopus, and only a few immoral and unworthy persons bearing the days before his death received from Eusebius, Christian name began so to incrcase that bishop of Nicomedia, the ceremony of baptism. examples of real piety became extremely rare.

“The consequence of this union between an | When the terrors of persecution were disirreligious prince and the clergy, who were pelled, -when the churches enjoyed the sweets already much corrupted, was lamentable. At of prosperity, - when most of the bishops the conclusion of this century there remained exhibited to their flocks the contagious examno more than a mere shadow of the ancient ples of arrogance, luxury, effeminacy, hatred, government of the church. Many of the and strife, with other vices too numerous to privileges which had formerly belonged to the mention,when the inferior clergy fell into presbyters and the people were usurped by the sloth and vain wranglings, and when multihishops; and many of the rights which had tudes were drawn into the profession of Chrisbeen formerly vested in the universal church tianity, not by the power of argument, but by were transferred to the emperors and to subor- the prospect of gain and the fear of punishdinate magistrates. The additions made by ment,-then it was, indeed, no wonder that the the emperors and others to the wealth, honours, churches were contaminated with shoals of proand advantages of the clergy, were followed fligates, and that the virtuous few were overwith a proportionable augmentation of vices whelmed with the numbers of the wicked and and luxury, particularly amongst those of that licentious. The age was sinking daily from sacred order who lived in great and opulent one degree of corruption to another; and the cities. The bishops, on the one hand, con churches were thus prepared for that fatal tended with each other in the most scandalous heresy which, at one time, seemed to threaten manner concerning the extent of their respec- the extermination of evangelical doctrine tive jurisdiction; while, on the other, they throughout Christendom, trampled upon the rights of the people, violated “ After the death of Constantine, his son the privileges of the inferior ministers, and Constantius succeeded to the government of emulated, in their conduct and in their manner the eastern provinces, and eventually became of living, the arrogance, voluptuousness, and the sovereign of the whole empire. And as he, luxury of magistrates and princes. This per- This empress, and his whole court, were Arians, nicious example was soon followed by the he forth with used all his influence, as the head several ecclesiastical orders. The presbyters, of the church to exterminate, as far as possible,


evangelical doctrine ; and the whole world

And again : groaned and wondered, says St. Jerome, to find itself Arian. The tyranny of Theodosius re

• The churches being thus appointed by stored the orthodoxy of the churches, but could Christ to exercise self-government, which is not revive their piety; and from that time, in essential to their fidelity, purity, and vigour,

have received also divine instructions respecting union with the state, they continued to be so corrupt, that at length the profligacy, cove

the discipline which they are to exercise. Here tousness, fraud, and arrogance of the clergy let us notice only two main points, the admisgenerally, from the pope to the obscurest monk, sion and the exclusion of members. Respect80 revolted the conscience and the common ing the first, they are instructed by our Lord sense of Europe, that in the sixteenth century and his apostles, to admit no one into churchit burst from this oppressive and degrading fellowship by baptism except upon a credible yoke.” pp. 34–43.

profession of repentance and faith,

“ It is, therefore, the will of Christ that none Though Mr. Noel has evidently de- but believers shall be baptized, that the churchsired to confine himself to his avowed es may be associations of saints and faithful subject, The Union of Church and State, tized, they must be the infants of saints and

brethren.' And if any infants are to be bapyet, in discussing the principles of that fuithful brethren who heartily dedicate them to union, he has occasionally made obser- God through Christ, and will train them up vations which afford some insight into for him.” p. 190. his sentiments on kindred topics. It

The “IF” in the preceding paragraph appears to us, that he perceives the

is expressive ; and we are inclined to unscriptural character of diocesan

think that it is inserted rather for the episcopacy, and that he also sees that

sake of others than as indicative of his the baptism of infants accords more

own views; for our author says again,fully with the system which he is abandoning than with the genius of New

"A church ought to be an association of Testament Christianity. Without ex- saints and faithful brethren, and all admitted pressing himself positively against the into the association ought to afford, by their baptism of all children, he indicates conduct and profession, reason to hope that they

are so too. None, therefore, are to be baptized hesitation respecting the propriety of but those who profess to repent and believe in baptizing any, while he condemns Christ. Such is Christ's order; but the church pointedly the general practice of pædo- has received another order, by canon 68, which but pastoral superintendence, without any verted, believers and unbelievers, are confounded appearance of religion, and, perhaps, without in one undistinguishable mass; and evangelical common morality. And the churches of Christ ministers are agents in accomplisning the fatal and his ministers are the state's agents in thus | amalgamation. violating Christ's commands." pp. 194, 195. “ Next comes the ceremony of confirmation.

is as follows:- No minister shall refuse or debaptists. Thus he says,

lay to christen any child... that is • " Since the law of God requires that the brought to the church to him on Sundays or churches have godly pastors, that no one be holydays to be christened ;

and if he baptized without a credible profession of re- sball refuse to christen,

he shall be pentance and faith, that the gospel be preached suspended by the bishop of the diocese from his to every creature, that all Christians should ministry by the space of three months.' This act as brethren, and that Christ should be

canon, passed by a synod of dignitaries and supreme in his own house,- if the state ordain proctors, would not bind the pastors of churches that parishes should receive ungodly pastors, unless it had been confirmed by the crown ; but prohibit Christ's ministers from preaching the the assent of the crown has made it law, and it gospel in parishes wherein the ministers are un- has thus changed the church from an assembly godly, compel by legal penalties parochial of saints and faithful brethren' into a conministers to admit improper persons to the geries of the whole population of each district. sacraments, and demand for the crown a su- Swarming myriads from Marylebone, St. Pan. premacy which is inconsistent with the su

cras, Shoreditch, and St. Luke's, bring their premacy of Christ, then the churches must myriads of children to be christened without render to God the things which are God's, and the remotest idea of dedicating them to God, or refuse obedience to the state. To avoid which of training them for God. These become collision, the churches should be separate from members of the church, till the church becomes the state; and, while paying to it all secular not merely the world, but comprises the most obedience, should be free to accomplish, without disreputable part of the world ; its members its control, the whole law of Christ.” p. 144. | living without worship, without the bible, with

At the baptism of an infant the minister, by In the following passage our readers order of the state, directs sponsors to bring the will find that Mr. Noel perceives clearly child to be confirmed ‘so soon as he can say the the tendency of infant baptism to in- creed, the Lord's prayer, and the ten commandtroduce into the churches of Christ structed in the church catechism. Those con

ments, in the vulgar tongue, and is further inpersons “ignorant of the gospel and ditions being fulfilled, the minister must forward unconcerned about their salvation, and all the children of the parish to the bishop, to confound believers and unbelievers in with his certificate of fitness for the rite. And one undistinguishable mass :”—“ a fatal child can say the creed, &c., the bishop is

being thus certified by the minister that the amalgamation,” which he laments that ordered by the state to say of the whole crowd evangelical ministers, as well as others, of children who there and then profess to take are agents in accomplishing.

upon themselves the baptismal vows, that God

has óvouchsafed to regenerate them by water * The Lord Jesus Christ having claimed from and the Holy Ghost, and has given unto them all believers to express their faith in him before forgiveness of their sins.' the world, without which confession their "After confirmation, each person not convicted cowardice would prove them to be no believers, of heresy or immorality has a legal right to atrequired them to be baptized, baptism being the tend the Lord's supper at his parish church. appointed mode of professing their faith. Re- By 1 Edward VI., cap. 1, · The minister shall pentance and faith are, therefore, the essential not, without a lawful cause, deny the same (the prerequisites to baptism : and if the infants of sacrament) to any person that will devoutly believers are to be baptized, as is generally be- and humbly desire it.' To have been at a card lieved, it must be on the supposition that God party on the previous Monday, at a ball on accepts them as penitent believers, through the Tuesday, at the race-course on Wednesday, and faith and the prayer of their parents. But the at the theatre on Thursday, to have spent Fripractice of the establishment is to baptize all day in talking scandal, and to have devoted the children of the several parishes without any Saturday to some irreligious novel, would be no inquiry into the faith of the parents, or any legal disqualification for the reception of the rational prospect that they will receive a reli- Lord's sapper on the following Sunday. No gious education. By the sixty-eighth canon, a proofs of a worldly temper, no indolent selfminister who refuses to baptize any child who indulgence, and no neglect of prayer, would is brought to him to the church for that pur- affect the parishioner's statutory right to force pose, is liable to suspension for three months. his way to the Lord's table. The minister is Thus, though parents and sponsors are alike obliged by law to administer to him the ordiangodly, and general experience proves that nance, the church is forced by law to receive their children will grow up ungodly too, the him into communion with them. None but Anglican minister must baptize them, and believers are invited by our Lord to his table, thank God that he has regenerated them with and the churches are commanded to separate his Holy Spirit. Through this church law the themselves from evil men : but the statute inconditions of baptism are generally violated, terposes, and both the minister and the church the ends of it are frustrated, and the nature of must admit all who will to the sacred feast.” it is forgotten. The baptized millions of Eng. pp. 461–464. land having made no profession of faith, for they were baptized without their consent, bap

The contrast between the charactertized atheists, deists, and profligates, dishonour the Christian name; and the churches of Christ istics and tendencies of that baptism which ought to be composed of saints and which is inculcated by the English faithful brethren, as the churches of Rome and established church, and that which the Corinth, of Thessalonica, Philippi, and Colosse, New Testament prescribes, is one of the were, are churches of persons ignorant of the gospel

, and unconcerned about their salvation, topics on which Mr. Noel is most full They ouglat to be separate from the world ; but and explicit. Again and again he rethey are the world: converted persons and uncon- minds his readers, that in the New

« EelmineJätka »