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As a proper conclusion of this subject we might, did time and space allow, contrast the church of England with other churches not recognizing the three orders of the ministry; or the Congregational churches of New England at the present time, with the Episcopalian body on the same territory. We do not fear that such a comparison would exhibit less purity of doctrine, or a lower standard of Christian duty, in Congregational churches than in the Episcopal communion. The English church, described by those who have had the best opportunity of knowing it, is represented as a miscellaneous aggregate of all characters, principles and opinions. “Myriads of its members have nothing of Christianity but the name received in baptism, and retained without one spontaneous act of their own.
, Its thirteen thousand churches are generally without brotherly fellowship, without discipline, without spirituality, without faith. Of its twelve thousand nine hundred and twenty-three working pastors of churches, about ten thousand are supposed to be unconverted men, who neither preach nor know the gospel.” (Church and State. Noel, p. 399.) Can it be possible that this church has a ministry of three orders ? and holds the doctrine of one baptism for the remission of original sin? Is it strange that the whole world do not “ seek shelter in this fold ?” do not think that the Episcopal church in this country is yet reduced to such a sad state. But how many of its clergy are leading it toward the same inglorious end! how many are there whose influence would be less pernicious if they would drop their "troublesome disguise" and become Roman Catholics? The practice of receiving to communion all who have been baptized, and can repeat the catechism, though giving no evidence of personal Christian experience, together with the general glorification of the sacraments, and of the unity of the episcopate, cannot but tend continually to reduce the piety of the church to a dead formalism. Already Unitarians in England and America easily find their way into the Episcopal church ; their views of Christianity, as a sort of easy morality, agree well with high-churchism ; and human nature is easily satisfied with a ritual religion. Unitarianism and Universalism cannot flourish in Connecticut; and every body knows where these elements are absorbed. We have never known the individual proselyte, who entered the Episcopal fold from a Congregational church because he expected to find a more rigid purity of doctrine or a higher tone of Christian character; but we have known many whose motives in changing their ecclesiastical relations were of a very different sort. To glory in such accessions is to glory in infirmity.
Until other inducements, besides the unity of the episcopate and one baptism for original sin, are presented, we think the religious strength of our churches will not be weakened, or their respectability diminished, by the increase of the Episcopal sect. A few words of advice from the London Christian Observer, may here be safely repeated. “If American Episcopalians hope to make converts by exaggerated representations respecting apos tolic succession and sacramental grace, they will find that they will only disgust and repel the majority of their countrymen ; while those who are convinced by their inflated arguments will be inclined to go farther, and to push their principles to consistent issues, which only are to be found in full-blown popery."
On one point incidentally handled in the foregoing discussion, we add in this place a few words which would have been a digression from the argument pursued in the body of the article. We refer to the Church Reviewer's doctrine touching " the guilt of original sin,” which guilt, he says, is removed from infants by the institution of infant baptism.
The Reviewer's doctrine, especially when we remember the adventitious importance of his utterances, deserves to be stated distinctly and completely in his own words. He says, “ It is impossible without destroying the attribute of justice in God, to hold that any guilt attaches to original sin, previous to the actual choice of transgression ; unless there is also held a doctrine which New England rejects as a foul and fatal error, the doctrine of one baptism for the remission of sins.' Churchman so holds the doctrine of baptism as that he can also hold the guilt of original sin without impugning the Divine justice.” “If God permits men, without agency or fault of their own, to come into the world, with not only a depraved nature, but also with a guilt attaching to that nature, which, in the words of Article IX, deserveth God's wrath and damnation;' then evidently, some mode might be looked for, in which, with as little agency on the part of an individual, this guilt could be remitted. This mode is afforded in the institution of infant baptism.”
“ Where it is not believed that God has graciously instituted a means by which the guilt of original sin can be so remitted, there men's instinctive sense of right and justice makes them uneasy.” (pp. 7, 8.) In a word, his doctrine is the atrocious and most ungodly doctrine that the institution of infant baptism with an efficacy for the removal of the guilt of original sin, is a matter of simple justice on the part of God toward the unfortunate and helpless. So remarkable a position
deserves to be considered ; and we cannot but think that the Church Review would do well to reconsider it in several particulars.
1. The Reviewer's doctrine contradicts the very article of his own church to which he makes reference; or more exactly, it contradicts his own construction of that article. God commits no injustice when he inflicts upon guilt the penalty which it deserves. But the Reviewer tells us, expressly, that if we “hold that any guilt attaches to original sin previous to the actual choice of transgression,” and do not hold the doctrine that original sin is remitted to the unconscious babe in baptism, we "destroy the attribute of justice in God.” He teaches clearly that those only who agree with “ Churchmen" in holding that doctrine of baptismal regeneration which New England theology rejects as a foul and fatal error, “can hold the guilt of original sin without impugning the Divine justice.” He teaches that everywhere “man's instinctive sense of right and justice" protests against the possibility that God has not "provided a means by which the guilt of original sin may be remitted” to infants" without any agency on their part.” That is to say, he takes it for an axiom that if God had not provided and revealed a method by which parents and sponsors can cause original sin to be removed from innocent and helpless children, it would have been unjust in God to punish men for the guilt attaching to the nature with which they are born into the world. But Article IX, according to his construction of it, teaches concerning this identical guilt-the guilt attaching to their nature without any agency or fault of their own—that it “deserveth God's wrath and damnation.'
2. There is room to doubt whether the Reviewer does himself believe at all that doctrine of the guilt of original sin which he says the New England theology rejects, and which he condemns it for rejecting. We need not undertake here to define or explain the theological doctrine of original sin, as we on our part accept and maintain it. We have only to do with the Reviewer's own statement of the doctrine. The doctrine of original sin as he represents it, is the doctrine which undoubtedly some New England divines do hold, and which some others do as undoubtedly reject-between whom we have no occasion now to mediate or to pronounce judgment. The doctrine of original sin, as he represents it, is “ that antecedent to choice, that is to actual transgression, there is guilt"-a real demerit ; that “men, without agency or fault of their own, come into the world, with not only a depraved nature, but also with a guilt attaching to that nature," a guilt which without any act or thought of personal sinfulness, exposes them—so long as they are unbaptized-to“God's wrath and damnation." This is the doctrine which, he says, the New England theology rejects, and which he condemns it for rejecting. Does he himself believe this doctrine ? So far as we know, or can imagine, the belief of this doctrine always carries with it the belief that it is intrinsically consistent with the justice of God. They hold that it was true “ from Adam to Moses” and in all the ages that preceded the coming of Christ and the institution of infant baptism. They hold that it is true in all those regions of the world where Christ is not named, and where no water is consecrated for the washing away of sin. They hold that it would have been true though God had never been manifested in the flesh, and no provision had been made for the salvation of men. They hold, unshrinkingly, that Christ came into the world on a mission of mere mercy. They utterly, and with a Calvinistic coherence of logic, repudiate the thought that God was under any obligation of justice to interpose in behalf of any individuals of a race apostate and condemned. Not so with this Church Reviewer. The doctrine of original sin, as he himself represents it, is in his view wholly inconsistent with the Divine justice; and God is therefore under the necessity of introducing into the world the institution of infant baptism, as a means by which the guilt of original sin may be remitted. The doctrine of original sin is, in his view, so contrary to the moral sense, that it cannot be believed unless we also believe that God who permits men, without agency or fault of their own, to come into the world in so dreadful a predicament, has provided a relief that shall take effect on the individuals to whom it happens to be applied with as little agency on their part as they had in bringing themselves into existence. Far be it from us to assign any limit to such a reasoner's capacity of believing. We only hazard the remark that there is room for a question whether he really holds, in those depths of the soul where every religious conviction has its lodgment, that doctrine of original sin which he says the New England theology rejects, and the rejection of which he imputes as a heresy to our ministry and our churches.
In whatever state or territory of the Union, the writer of the article on New England theology may have his diocese, we canno: but hope that candidates for orders in that diocese, however dependent they may be on their bishop for ordination, will not be exclusively dependent on him for instruction in the abstrusities of dogmatic theology.
ART. VII.THE CHURCH AND ITS MINISTRY.
Report of the Committee of New Haven County, Conn., on
the Subject of Salaries and Parsonages. 8vo. New Haven: George B. Bassett, 1852. Thirty-sixth Annual Report of the Directors of the American
Education Society, May, 1852. 8vo. pp. 46. Boston.
Some of our readers will perhaps remember that we undertook, in a former number,* to discuss the relation of ministers to their people. The pamphlets whose titles are given above have reminded us that we then but partly carried out our design, and prompt us to take another step in the same direction. We are the more willing to do this from the fact, that so much evidence has reached us that our former observations, inadequate and incomplete as they were, met an admitted exigency, and declared the truth in respect to it.
In the article referred to we endeavored to call attention to the obligations imposed respectively on the parties to the relation in question, and to show that, on the one side, at least, they are not properly discharged. We undertook to show that the labors of ministers in behalf of the people of their charge are not met, as a general thing, by adequate pecuniary provision, or by a proper measure of sympathy with them in their work. We maintained that there is between every minister of the Gospel, and the people over whom he is regularly set as a religious teacher, a contract-implied if not expressed-and if not expressed, only because of its being too manifest to need any formal expression, by the terms of which contract so long as he gives himself to the study of word and doctrine for their edification, they are bound to see that he and his family are supplied with the temporal necessaries and comforts of life. We declared, too, that although the civil tribunals might enforce only the payment of the stipulated salary, this was nevertheless but a merely nominal sum ; in fact only the approximate exponent of the real interest of the contracting parties, and that the higher law, which to ministers and avowed Christians certainly is the highest law, is not satisfied with anything short of compliance with the entire spirit of the sacred contract.
We were the more free also to argue and set forth this
* Vol. 10, p. 236.