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that the peasantry still use and transmit their Popish rhymes, and the minds of students still linger among the early Fathers; but that the genius and principles of our Church have ever been what is commonly called Protestant.
L. This is a fair general account of what would be maintained. C. You would consider that the Protestant principles and doctrines of this day were those of our Reformers in the sixteenth century; and that what is called Popery now, is what was called Popery then.
L. On the whole there are indeed extravagancies now, as is obvious. I would not defend extremes; but I suppose our Reformers would agree with moderate Protestants of this day, in what they meant by Protestantism and by Popery.
C. This is an important question, of course; much depends on the correctness of the answer you have made to it. Do you make it as a matter of history, from knowing the opinions of our Reformers, or from what you consider probable?
L. I am no divine. I judge from a general knowledge of history, and from the obvious probabilities of the case, which no one can gainsay.
C. Let us then go by probabilities, since you lead the way. Is it not according to probabilities that opinions and principles should not be the same now as they were 300 years since? that though our professions are the same, yet we should not mean by them what the Reformers meant?, Can you point to any period of Church history, in which doctrine remained for any time uncorrupted? Three hundred years is a long time. Are you quite sure we do not need A SECOND REFORMATION?
L. Are you really serious? Have we not Articles and a Liturgy, which keep us from deviating from the standard of truth set up in the sixteenth century?
C. Nay, I am maintaining no paradox. Surely there is a multitude of men all around us who say the great body of the Clergy has departed from the doctrines of our Martyrs at the Reformation. I do not say I agree with the particular charges they prefer; but the very circumstance that they are made is a proof there is nothing extravagant in the notion of the Church having departed from the doctrine of the sixteenth century.
L. It is true; but the persons you refer to, bring forward, at
least, an intelligible charge; they appeal to the Articles, and maintain that the Clergy have departed from the doctrine therein contained. They may be right or wrong; but at least they give us the means of judging for ourselves.
C. This surely is beside the point. We were speaking of probabilities. What change actually has been made, if any, is a further question, a question of fact. But before going on to examine the particular case, I observe that change of opinion was probable; probable in itself you can hardly deny, considering the history of the universal Church; not extravagantly improbable, moreover, in spite of Articles, as the extensively prevailing opinion to which I alluded, that the clergy have departed from them, sufficiently proves. Now consider the course of religion and politics, domestic and foreign, during the last three centuries, and tell me whether events have not occurred to increase this probability almost to a certainty; the probability, I mean, that the members of the English Church of the present day differ from the principles of the Church of Rome more than our forefathers differed. First, consider the history of the Puritans from first to last. Without pronouncing any opinion on the truth or unsoundness of their principles, were they not evidently further removed from Rome than were our Reformers? Was not their influence all on the side of leading the English Church farther from Rome than our Reformers placed it? Think of the fall of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Reflect upon the separation and extinction of the Nonjurors, upon the rise of Methodism, upon our political alliances with foreign Protestant communities. Consider especially the history and the school of Hoadly. That man, whom a high authority of the present day does not hesitate to call a Socinian', was for near fifty years a bishop in our Church.
L. You tell me to think on these facts. I wish I were versed
enough in our ecclesiastical history to do so.
C. But you are as well versed in it as the generality of educated men ; as those whose opinions you are now maintaining. And they surely ought to be well acquainted with our history, and the doctrines taught in the different schools and eras, who scruple not
"It is true he was a Bishop, though a Socinian."-Bp. Blomfield's Letter to C. Butler, Esq. 1825.
to charge such as me with a declension from the true Anti-popish doctrine of our Church. For what the doctrine of the Church is, what it has been for three centuries, is a matter of fact which cannot be known without reading.
L. Let us leave, if you please, this ground of probability, which, whatever you may say, cannot convince me while I am able to urge that strong objection to it which you would not let me mention just now. I repeat, we have Articles; we have a Liturgy; the dispute lies in a little compass, without need of historical reading :-do you mean to say we have departed from them?
C. I am not unwilling to follow you a second time, and will be explicit. I reply, we have departed from them. Did you ever study the Rubrics of the Prayer Book?
L. But surely they have long been obsolete ;-they are impracticable!
C. It is enough; you have answered your own question without trouble of mine. Not only do we not obey them, but it seems we style them impracticable. I take your admission. Now, I ask you, are not these Rubrics (I might also mention parts of the Services themselves which have fallen into disuse), such as the present day would call Popish? and, if so, is not this a proof that the spirit of the present day has departed (whether for good or evil) from the spirit of the Reformation ?— and is it wonderful that such as I should be called Popish, if the Church Services themselves are considered so?
L. Will you give me some instances.
C. Is it quite in accordance with our present Protestant notions, that unbaptized persons should not be buried with the rites of the Church ?-that every Clergyman should read the Daily Service morning and evening at home, if he cannot get a congregation?-that in college chapels the Holy Communion should be administered every week-that Saints' Days should be observed?—that stated days of fasting should be set apart by the Church? Ask even a sober-minded really serious man about the observance of these rules; will he not look grave, and say, that he is afraid of formality and superstition if these rules were attended to?
L. And is there not the danger?
C. The simple question is, whether there is more danger now than three centuries since? was there not far more superstition in the sixteenth than in the nineteenth century? and does the spirit of the nineteenth move with the spirit of the sixteenth, if the sixteenth commands and the nineteenth draws back?
L. But you spoke of parts of the Services themselves, as laid aside?
What is the prevailing opinion or usage respecting the form of absolution in the office for Visiting the Sick? What is thought by a great body of men of the words in which the Priesthood is conveyed? Are there no objections to the Athanasian Creed? no murmurs against the Commination Service? Does no one stumble at the word "oblations," in the Prayer for the Church Militant? Is there no clamour against parts of the Burial Service? No secret or scarcely secret complaints against the word regeneration in the Baptismal? No bold protestations against reading the Apocrypha? Now do not all these objections rest upon one general ground: viz. That these parts of our Services savour of Popery? And again, are not these the popular objections of the day? L. I cannot deny it.
C. I consider then that already I have said enough to show that Churchmen of this day have deviated from the opinions of our Reformers, and become more opposed than they were to the system they protested against. And therefore, I would observe, it is not fair to judge of me, or such as me, in the off-hand way which many men take the liberty to adopt. Men seem to think that we are plainly and indisputably proved to be Popish, if we are proved to differ from the generality of Churchmen now-a-days. But what if it turn out that they are silently floating down the stream, and we are upon the shore?
L. All, however, will allow, I suppose, that our Reformation was never completed in its details. The final judgment was not passed upon parts of the Prayer Book. There were, you know, alterations in the second edition of it published in King Edward's time; and these tended to a more Protestant doctrine than that which had first been adopted. For instance, in King Edward's first book the dead in CHRIST were prayed for; in the second this commemoration was omitted. Again, in the first book the
elements of the LORD's Supper were more distinctly offered up to GOD, and more formally consecrated than in the second edition, or at present. Had Queen Mary not succeeded, perhaps the men who effected this would have gone further.
C. I believe they would; nay indeed they did at a subsequent period. They took away the Liturgy altogether, and substituted a Directory.
L. They? the same men?
C. Yes, the foreign party: who afterwards went by the name of Puritans. Bucer, who altered in King Edward's time, and the Puritans, who destroyed in King Charles's, both came from the same religious quarter.
L. Ought you so to speak of the foreign Reformers? to them we owe the Protestant doctrine altogether.
C. I like foreign interference, as little from Geneva, as from Rome. Geneva at least never converted a part of England from heathenism, nor could lay claim to patriarchal authority over it. Why could we not be let alone, and suffered to reform ourselves?
L. You separate then your creed and cause from that of the Reformed Churches of the Continent?
C. Not altogether; but I protest against being brought into that close alliance with them which the world now-a-days would force upon us. The glory of the English Church is, that it has taken the VIA MEDIA, as it has been called. It lies between the (so called) Reformers and the Romanists; whereas there are religious circles, and influential too, where it is thought enough to prove an English Clergyman unfaithful to his Church, if he preaches any thing at variance with the opinions of the Diet of Augsburg, or the Confessions of the Waldenses. However, since we have been led to speak of the foreign Reformers, I will, if you will still listen to me, strengthen my argument by an appeal to them.
L. That argument being, that what is now considered Protestant doctrine, is not what was considered such by the Reformers.
C. Yes; and I am going to offer reasons for thinking that the present age has lapsed, not only from the opinions of the English Reformers, but from those of the foreign also. This is too