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Afterwards we detect an insinuation that the clergy of the Establishment cannot say as much.
But “if you please," gentle reader, "we will pass on to the next charge. “No Scripture is enjoined to be read in their public services. The person officiating is not required to read a single chapter : this is sometimes done, sometimes omitted. No form of prayer is enjoined or used.” “Is this true, or not?' Our author avers that “it has not the semblance of truth;” and adduces the minutes of conference, to prove the incorrectness of the charge, which run thus: “The LORD'S SUPPER SHALL BE ALWAYS ADMINISTERED IN ENGLAND ACCORDING TO THE FORM OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH ; but the person who administers shall have full liberty to give out hymns, and to use exhortation and extemporary prayer. Whenever divine service is performed in England on the Lord's-day, in church hours, the officiating minister SHALL READ EITHER THE SERVICE OF THE ESTABLISHED Church-OUR VENERABLE FATHER'S ABRIDGMENT,—or, at least, THE LESSONS APPOINTED BY THE CALENDAR. But we recommend either the FULL SERvice or the ABRIDGMENT.” Our author adds, that these injunctions are strictly observed. He offers to give ten pounds if, in any one chapel, they turn out not to be so. He declares unequivocally that the Lord's Supper is administered according to the form of the church of England. Now we should be very sorry, were any language to escape our pen in animadverting upon the above assertion, similar to that which the Vindicator of the Wesleyans has permitted himself to use in speaking of a clergyman of our Establishment (Epaphras). But truth, whose authority is as unquestionable as her sternness, forces us to join issue with him
his statement. As decorously as such contradiction can be expressed, we beg to say, that the Church Liturgy is not used in all the Wesleyan chapels; nor is the sacrament administered according to the form of the church of England; nor are the lessons appointed in the calendar always read upon the stated days. What the writer could have been dreaming of, at the time he ventured these assertions, we know not; but we recommend him, for the future, to look to his proofs ere he suffer his inclination to get the better of his judgment, and to pause before he again palms upon the world what he cannot substantiate. When the Wesleyans were first established in membership, we do not doubt but that the Church Service was used; presently, however, came the “Abridgment,” and next “the injunction” to read the lessons appointed in the calendar: “ but worse remained behind.”—The defection of John Wesley was, at length, consummated in the almost total rejection of the Church Service. Is it possible our author does not know such to be the fact ?
We will here take leave to canvass the matter on another ground. We are told in the Dialogue before us, that, conformably to "the minutes of conference,” the Lord's Supper shall be administered according to the form of the Established Church. And we are not left to infer, but it is positively avouched, that such rule is now adhered to. The writer, of course, does not understand what he has pledged his veracity
on. Does he mean to say that our regularly ordained priests officiate at their sacrament, in their chapels? or, would he have us suppose that the ministers of his society are regularly ordained, according to the form of the church of England? Because, to administer the sacrament according to the form of the Established Church, it is indispensable that the priests who have to consecrate the elements shall have been episcopally ordained. Reason, custom, the practice of the primitive Church, the authority of the Fathers, and the prescript of Scripture, forbid any deviation in this respect.
The next charge runs as follows:-“ No bond of union exists, among the Methodists, between the ministers and people. The flock have no shepherd; the shepherd has no stated flock; he itinerates from place to place, knowing nothing of the people amongst whom he goes. No sick among the Methodists are regularly visited by the minister.” Here is an allegation. How does Vindicator meet it? By evasion again. His answer is nothing but an interrogatory, in which we can discern no relevance whatever. “ How many,” he pertinently inquires, “Wesleyan ministers do you think there are in Great Britain ?" Reader, such is the replý, such the rejoinder, such the refutation of so serious a charge!
The Wesleyans are accused of countenancing female preachers; and how does our Vindicator get over this? “If,” says he,“ your clergyman wishes to have a dispute on this subject, let him assail our good friends the Quakers.” This, we must say, is a convenient mode of palliating a fault, if not exactly novel or logical. Vindicator might learn from that Book we revere in common, that the sin of another is no warrant, but that every man will have to suffer in himself the measure of his individual transgression. Meanwhile, in reference to "female preachers,” let any Wesleyan turn to the following inhibitions in that word which cannot err: 1 Cor xiv. 34, 35. 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12.
But let us conclude, and then try to dismiss this pamphlet from our recollection, for, we must confess that the spirit and tone of it have given us pain.
The last impeachment of Epaphras is, that the class and band meetings held by the Methodists are unscriptural. Our author vainly thinks to get over this by evidencing a few texts, which turn out to be quite foreign to the purpose. He cites only one that at first sight would seem to help him on the point which he is endeavouring to establish. “ Confess your faults one to another,
and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."* Bishop Tomline, in his own words, shall elucidate this text. “ The penance of the church of Rome is totally different from the gospel doctrine of repentance, which consists in an inward sorrow for past sins, and a firm resolution of future amendment. This pretended sacrament has no foundation whatever in Scripture : we are not commanded to confess our sins to priests, nor are they empowered to dispense absolution upon their own judgment. St. James, indeed, says, “ Confess your faults one to another;" but no mention is here made of priests; and the word “ faults" seems to confine the precept to a mutual confession among Christians, by which they may have injured each other; but certainly the necessity of auricular confession, and the power of priestly absolution, cannot be inferred from this passage. But though there is not the slightest ground for considering penance as a sacrament, nor any authority for requiring auricular confession to priests; yet confession of sins to God is an indispensable duty, and confession to priests may sometimes be useful, by leading to effectual repentance; and therefore our Church, in her Communion Service, encourages her members to use confidential confession to their parochial minister; but this is very different from its being an essential part of a sacrament, instituted by Christ. A contrite sinner may feel relief in unburdening his mind to his spiritual pastor, and may receive advice and consolation which may soften the pangs of a wounded conscience: his scruples may be removed; his good resolutions may be confirmed; and, instead of falling a victim to religious melancholy, he may be enabled to work out his salvation by a life of active virtue, through a humble faith in the merits of the blessed Jesus, who, as he himself assures us, came into the world " to call sinners to repentance."
We would now address ourselves to the Wesleyan Methodists in particular. We hold them dearer to us than, perhaps, they would
suppose, from what we have written. We entreat them to examine for themselves the cause they have taken to heart. Let them deem it not impossible for them to err; and let them reflect that it may not be the force of reason which hath bred these erratic opinions in them. They are human, and liable to lose themselves, both through prejudice and ignorance.
* These words are generally understood of confessing private injuries one to another, that so the sick person may reconcile himself to his neighbour, as well as to God. The papists absurdly ground their practice of auricular confession upon this text : for there is nothing here said of confessing to the priests; and if there were, it would be as much the priest's duty to confess to the people, as the people's to the priest, for the duty required is mutual. Si Confess one to another.”Burkett.
May God forgive us all! And let us not, in the vehemency of affection for the noblest and most comforting of all creeds, lose sight of CHARITY.
CHURCH PASTORAL AID SOCIETY. WE are so sure that the members of this Society are governed by the most humane and christian motives, that it is painful to us to have to advise our readers, that, despite the remonstrance of their best friends, they have persisted in retaining lay agency. Having come to this resolution, we cannot give them God speed; for, alas! we fear that the teaching of unordained irresponsible individuals will not be instrumental to the propagation of his holy will. We ask again, where is the preventive check on these lay agents? What on earth is to hinder them, after having been introduced, so to speak, by the officiating clergyman into the porch of the temple, from forming their own notions of scriptural truth, and promulgating them accordingly. It is to cherish and foment, under the auspices of the Church, that spirit of opinionative fancy, inclination and conceit, which is already the bane of the community. The half-educated—the men who cannot read the Scriptures in the original, are the very class who, for the most part, “cause divisions,” by attaching an undue importance to some single text or passage of Scripture, and viewing it apart from verses in other books of the Old and New Testament, which elucidate its meaning. Owing to their superficial knowingness, they fancy they have struck out some wonderful discovery, when the marvel is solely to be imputed to their comparative ignorance.
To what purpose, according to the injunction given to Timothy, “ be cautious" of admitting into the ministry unqualified persons, when these uninstructed guerillas of the church-militant, if not enrolled within her ranks, are meant to form at least a sort of complement to her regiment? But as yet the end is not. We shall have a strict eye on this Society; and will merely remark, en passant, that the principle of lay agency goes,-not in the intention of the members undoubtedly, but in its certain, and in our opinion not very remote effect, --home to the utter destruction of ministerial discipline. If Wesley had the honour of leading up the death-dance of schism and disobedience, the clergy connected with this association may, if they do not start back in time, find themselves following in the wake. Again let us implore the members of this anomalous Society to reconsider the single vicious principle of their plan, in many respects so admirable. Let them not be ashamed to confess themselves in the wrong, but remember the genuine philosophy of the man who thus expressed himself: “ Behold I will lay my hand on my mouth: I have spoken once, yet will I not therefore maintain argument: yea twice; howbeit for that cause further I will not proceed.” Job xi. 4, 5.
THE THEOLOGICAL NOAH'S ARK OF EARL FITZWILLIAM.
One night, towards the close of February, Earl Fitzwilliam, on presenting a petition, in the hereditary great council of the empire, for the abolition of Church Rates, took occasion to observe, that he “ should rejoice, as a member of the church of England, to see the day come in which churchmen and dissenters, to whatever congregation they might belong, should agree together to worship their God within the same walls."
His Lordship presently subjoined, “ that he should hail the day as one of the utmost glory to the Church, when the Anglican, the Independent, and the Baptist, should meet to worship within the same walls."
The Archbishop of Canterbury animadverted upon this declaration of the noble earl, by delicately calling it" a most extraordinary idea ;" and the Bishop of London afterwards remarked, " that if the same person could hear in the very same church a Trinitarian clergyman in the morning, and an Unitarian preacher in the evening, a clergyman of the church of England in the morning, and a Pedo-Baptist in the evening, it would be attended, he was convinced, with the worst practical results."
Now, we deem it our bounden duty to draw the attention of our readers to this singular proposal of Earl Fitzwilliam, and to the mild tone of the rejoinder of the Right Rev. Prelates, as a sign not to be mistaken of the times in which we live. When a proposition, which in practice must go to the subversion of our apostolic and episcopal Establishment, is broached in a legislative assembly, we humbly conceive, a little more of that indignation, which the earnestness of virtuous surprise ought naturally to excite, so far from being unbecoming the urgency of the case, was due to the character and dignity of the august assembly in which such dangerous sentiments were promulgated. Should such a principle, which goes the length of affirming that Socinians and Freethinkers and Papists shall alike and alternately desecrate the pulpits and altars of our pure and holy sanctuaries, fail to startle where they sit, the mitred pillars of the Establishment? We should have thought that those reverend forms would have risen in their places, and, with a mild parental reprehension, have explained to Earl Fitzwilliam, that Scripture directs us to aim at unity in faith, not by weak and treacherous compromise with parties who cause divisions, but by marking