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not wish to bring down the Bible from its highest point of estimation ; but we want to raise up to that honour which God intended them, the other two institutions of his grace. He who said, “ Search the Scriptures,” said also, “ Hear the church" (" .... if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican); and he who said, “ Hear the church,” said also, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Why should some persons be so continually descanting upon the importance of the Bible, and so seldom upon the importance of the other two? I fear it is because those two have slipped out of their estimation very much : and it may be truly affirmed, that in proportion as this is the case the Bible itself will not be understood. I do not say that they altogether neglect those two: it is, at present, but a question of degree that I am maintaining. I charge them with not giving to God's ministry and sacraments that degree of importance which is required; and it is an error which, if they do not take heed, will increase upon them more and more.
The Romanists did not all at once shut up the Bible; but year after year, from the time of the Apostles, they descanted upon the dignity, the privileges, and the importance of " holy church,” till at last they corrupted the sacraments and threw away the book. Thus it is ever with fallen man : he is ever choosing some favourite part of duty, and overlooking or undervaluing the rest.
In Babylon, and the parts about Mesopotamia, we have heard of a people who adhere to the celebration of one or both of the sacraments, although they have long lost both Bible and ministry. There, haply, God has permitted a portion of his church to bring upon themselves those evils which clinging merely to the sacraments superinduces. In Italy and Papal Christendom God has given up another part of the church to their idolatry of ordinances, and living orders of ordained men; and there they are worshipping, not only bread, but houses, as if God's substance were stone and brick; and worshipping men, as if Christ had lost his Divinity in humanity, and had divided his personality among myriads of mendicant monks and friars. Now, in England, God seems to have given up a portion of his people to an idolatry of the written word; and accordingly we see all those evils of disagreement, schism, and proud intellectualism, with increasing rapidity coming on, which, if not checked by His grace, will bring the whole of the church into confusion, and the nation to revolution and anarchy.
This Protestant error is more especially encouraged among our Dissenting brethren. If they would take half the pains to know the nature of a church which they do to exalt and circulate the Book, they would not only understand better the Book itself, but their eyes would be opened to the incompleteness of
their own church institutions, and the meagre and insufficient, and often erroneous, apprehensions which they have of the two sacraments. He who is zealous for the glory of God and the advancement of truth, will use all his influence to keep bis fellow-men in mind of their duty to all the institutions of God, and those particularly which he finds them most inclined to undervalue. In the commencement of the dark ages such a one would have seen which way society was drifting, and would have exerted himself to shew the value and due place of the Bible; and the more they, impatient of the exposure of their error, had vociferated “The Church! the Church !” the more he would have cried “The Bible ! the Bible!” and he would have laboured to convince them that he did not value the church and ministry less than they, but he valued the Bible and sacraments more; and that, if they would persevere in slighting the Book, the church would become corrupt, and the sacraments void. So now, in these Protestant times, any one, looking dispassionately at the state of Christian society in England, must see that—the Bible being recovered from its oblivion, and by the invention of printing a means being open for the multiplication of copies and their universal dispersion as it never was before ; and, also, that invention having so increased knowledge and concentrated time and talent as to enable men to provide for the regulation of civil society, as it were, independently of the church; and therefore losing sight, in a great measure, of the necessary relation of the state to the church (its fostering mother, rightly understood )--they must see, I repeat, that the church and its ministry are now being forgotten and undervalued, with all those eminent privileges, dignities, and sanctions with which God endowed them: and seeing, also, that the sacraments, as direct means and channels of grace from God, are losing their importance and dignity, being considered mere signs and emblems, it becomes every good man's imperative duty to draw men's attention back both to the one and the other, by explaining and defending their value, their place, and their pecessity, as once it was done with regard to the Bible.
One step towards restoring these neglected ordinances to their intended honour and respect may be, to do what we can to abate the proud and exclusive confidence which is placed in the written Book; which, because it is exclusive, is idolatrous. I will therefore, in conclusion of this article, endeavour to shew that we Protestants are no more secure (without fear and trembling, earnest prayer, faith, and vigilance in all duty) in our present possession of the pure word, thạn the early Christians were in the possession of the pure church and ministry. Notwithstanding our invention of printing, and multiplica
tion of copies, the Bible may be taken away from us, without a miracle, as those were from them.
Let us consider how the early Christians lost the purity of their ministry and sacraments, and we shall find a parallel with respect to the Bible. When the church had little by little exalted herself into that state of lordly power and tyrannical influence which made her drunk, as it were, with vanity, elated with her unity, her universal acknowledgment, and supremacy (we confine our observations to the church of the Western Roman Empire), God visited her in that which was her greatest pride-namely, her unity. She boasted of her unity, although it was the solitary thing in which she had been faithful to her Master; and even that she latterly preserved rather by threatening and force, than by love, making it merely external, instead of internal and external also. However, she had in great measure kept her unity, as the Pharisees had kept faithful amidst surrounding idolaters to their testimony of the one true God; and it was in that unity God visited them with his judgment. The Reformation broke, first a priest, then a kingdom, and at last nations, from her communion; and as all God's judgments are tempered with mercy, this very breaking of the unity of the then one church of the Roman empire was attended with most important blessings : Protestantism was established, and we were all rescued from the tyranny of the church, now an apostate. But still it was a judgment; for God, had it been all in mercy, could have reformed the whole church by his convincing Spirit, insteading of breaking off a part of it.
And now see how that judgment upon a boasting universal church has worked its deadly way since the Reformation. Look at Christendom now, which should have been Christ's united witness to the idolatrous nations of the earth. Instead of our "all speaking the same words, walking by the same rule, and minding the same thing,” into what rival and opposing sects are Christians divided! We are all broken into parties, each one deeming itself more like what the church ought to be than the other. A man looks into his Bible, and finds a church spoken of by Christ and his Apostles as existing to be his witness on the earth till he should come again ; but when he asks, 'Where is this loving united church?' lo, twenty different sects stand forth to claim the honour, each separated, on the grounds of both doctrine and discipline, from the rest, and boasting of its separation.
So that at last it has come to this, the very idea of the church is gone. Men smile when you talk of the church to them, and of the duty of obedience to the church ; and they have been obliged to substitute, in order to give a meaning to Scripture where the church is mentioned, the idea of the unseen and spiritual elect, not one of whom is, or can be, known till Christ comes to reveal unrevealed things; whereas the church was a revealed thing, to be seen and known, of all men and to be a visible, standing, public witness among men till he shall appear.
Thus did the original church corrupt herself, her ministry, and the sacraments, by idolizing them when she had neglected the word of God.
Let us now see whether our exclusive reverence for the word, and consequent neglect of the ministry and sacraments, may not bring us, with regard to that word, into a parallel condition. We will take England as the sphere of our contemplation; and as in England the church is in its strongest and most healthy state, what her experience is may be still more probably the experience of all the less favoured nations of Europe.
We have at present one authorized version of the Scriptures, to which the generality of Christians appeal as a unity (as once they could have done to the church). The Bible is, in England, one Book; the same, word for word, in every man's house and every church in the kingdom; a standard universally known from north to south, and from east to west. No one at present dreams of the word of God being incapacitated as a universal rule and standard of appeal (as once no one dreamt the church would become so incapacitated).
But it must be remembered, that our having one universally acknowledged authorized version of the Scriptures was God's blessing to the church in this land. It is the authority of the Church of England, and the state's having acknowledged and supported that authority, with the power which God gave it to use for his glory, which makes the authorised version the universal thing that it is. Let the authority of the Church of England cease to be respected (and it is ceasing fast); and let the vile doctrine, that the state has no right to interfere in religious matters, be promulgated every where (and it is spreading fast), and so let the state repeal all the enactments with regard to the translating and printing of the Bible, throwing all open to all sects; and then soon we shall have as great a difficulty to find out which is the Bible, as now we have which is the church.
There are three ways in which the Bible may be shut up from the people ; and these three may either work separately or altogether. First, by the changes which take place in the language into which it is translated. No man knows, who has not studied the point, how beneficial the Church of England has been in preventing those insensible fluctuations in the meaning of words which cause us to misunderstand the meaning of writers. As the authority of the church ceases, respect for its writers will cease, who made our language, especially our theological language, what it is. As Burnet and Taylor and Jewell
and Hooker, and all the church writers, to Horsley, become unread, while modern authors, cultivating only the taste of the day, monopolize public reading and public admiration, the language of the Scriptures will come to be considered more and more obsolete, inelegant, and barbarous. This of itself will form a ground for new versions of the Scriptures, as it has already for new versions of the Psalms; and even now a low murmur is begun to be heard upon the subject.
It is probable that this was one reason why Mr. Irving did what he could, as an individual, to call back public attention and taste to the style and phraseology of those writers who lived near the time when the Bible was last translated for the authorised version. The hue and cry that has been raised against him for so doing, and the exclamations of unintelligible jargon,' 'mystified language,''obsolete phrases,' &c., uttered by all who do not choose to study the great writers of their church, from Bishop Hall to Bishop Horsley inclusive, may convince us that the language of the Bible already is tolerated but as a dead language, or like what the enclosures of the church-yard are to the mourner, proper only to the occasions of sorrow and of gloom.
Intimately connected with the subject of language and its permanence, is that of education. Education is going on every day; and our schools, public and private, are daily sending forth fresh minds to act upon, and be acted upon by, society. This alone should make us suspect the propriety of the London University's having no standard of Christian religion for its tutors and pupils. The language of England is essentially a church language: its adaptability to embody and convey the doctrines of the Bible is admirable. In this respect, the Liturgy of the Church and the labours of churchmen have been a blessing to every Englishman. Now the doctrines of Christianity are foolishness to the natural man; and we Christians have little apprehension of the advantages which we inherit from having had a religious church education all-impregnated with Gospel truths, and forming insensibly on a Christian standard our notions of what is and what is not reasonable. This religious schooling of the intellectual powers, and our obliging the theories of philosophers and scientific explorers and teachers to run parallel with, and teach nothing contrary to, the great mysteries of the Christian faith, is the cause why our understandings receive as so reasonable the great mysteries of the Christian faith.
If, then, the youths of the London University are to be allowed, and indeed taught, to run loose as they like into philosophy and science, having education based upon what is