« PreviousContinue »
up and composed of, two parts, one of which is an inward spiritual grace.' - p. 414.
Here is a curious discovery. 'Church principles'do no wrong to the Presbyterian, though they deny his church to be a church and his ministers to be true ministers of Christ; and that because he himself would not wish that his church should be called a church in the sense of the Church of England, or his ministers, ministers after theorderepiscopal. He would reply, why truly I do not complain that you represent my church as not like yours, for I should be very sorry if there were any close resemblance; or my ministers as not like yours, for I hope they never will 'be; but it happens that these words church and ministers' are
terms employed in the New Testament, and do designate something ' (whatever it be) important to the interests of every Christian ; the grand dispute between us is as to which of us puts the right interpretation upon the words, or whether we need either of us include in our definitions of them anything which should absolutely exclude the rights of the church and ministry of 'the other. Now by boldly assuming that yours is the right
and the only right interpretation, you deny my church the title 'to be called a church in the New Testament sense of that
word, and my ministers to be called ministers in the like sense; all which I affirm; so that your principles do deprive 'me (though I quite agree with you that they do not do it
* logically) of something I claim to possess. I am quite * ready to acknowledge that my church is not the Church of 'England, and in denying it to be so, you 'deprive me of
nothing I claim to possess;' but I do affirm, that it is, though 'not exclusively (God forbid !), a true church of Christ,-and you in denying it to be so, deprive me of something I claim to possess.' So much for this rotten argument.
But in his eagerness to defend his cherished principles from the charge of uncharitableness, Mr. Gladstone goes further, and concedes so much that, as he himself says, it may seem to many that under the explanations suggested the essence of 'church principles is allowed to escape. Truly it would seem 80 to us if it were not that Mr. Gladstone himself appears to be in very great doubt how far or how much he shall concede; he is mighty coy and reluctant to come to the point; and appears continually struggling between the opposite claims of a little remaining charity and a great deal of remaining bigotry: 'It does not appear,' he afterwards says, when defending himself from the charge of having allowed the essence of church principles to escape,' 'it does not appear that we can either categorically assert, or absolutely and without qualification deny (Mr. Gladstone is almost as formal and wordy as Sir Robert
Hazlewood, of Hazlewood, himself) “true church essence of a ' religious society not chargeable with heresy in doctrine, simply ' because it has not the apostolical succession.'. A truly cautious conclusion. But he is not so sparing of his categorical • assertions' on the other side. It does appear,' he says, that * the assertion may be absolutely made where the apostolical succession is found.'
But we must not leave the last citation without reminding the reader that Mr. Gladstone, in the eagerness of his unusual fit of charity, once and again concedes principles which are absolutely fatal to his theory of the 'one visible church. If this visible unity can be predicated of the various bodies he mentions of the different parts of Christendom, for instance, during the great schism of the middle age of the communities who have mutually excommunicated one another; of England and Rome, who have done the same; it might fairly be asserted that it may be predicated of the various communities who hold the fundamental principles of Christianity. It is now convenient to Mr. Gladstone to find that union in the church by
no means requires as one of its essential conditions the .con'sciousness' (we know not what to make of the word here, but Mr. Gladstone often seems to choose his words by lot,] “and ' actual or possible communication of the persons united! It must be a curious union—that of two rival parties who hated each other far worse than they hated sin ; a curious communion that of the mutually excommunicated! But, in truth, the word
church' is taken just as Mr. Gladstone wishes it—it is now of larger, now of more restricted signification ; a mere nose of wax, which may be moulded just as he pleases.
But we cannot afford space to pursue the eccentric reasonings of our author any further. The remainder of his book is equally amusing with those parts on which we have commented. We cannot,
however, withhold one or two short characteristic extracts more. Our author protests against his high Church principles being called opinions. No-they are far too sacred for that. What are they, then ? it may be asked: matters of demonstration ? Not exactly, says Mr. Gladstone, they are ' matters of belief.' 'Aye,' says the objector, 'matters of belief 'to those who believe them; to me, who do not believe them, they are matters of no belief at all, but of opinion only! Let us hear our author himself.
• I think that justice would entitle, nay, perhaps that principle may require those, who are considered by some men peculiar, because they receive the doctrines of visibility and authority in the church, of grace in the sacraments, of succession in the ministry, of the anti-rationistic handling of Christian truths at large, to protest altogether and in limine against applying to these religious principles the hazardous and seductive name of opinion. Opinion,' properly designates something partaking of what is merely human and arbitrary in its formation, something which seems to testify of itself that it is not clearly revealed, that its reception is a matter of indifference, that it has a subjective existence alone, and therefore has no claim to reception ex. cept where it is actually received. Every sound Christian (for example) would be shocked at saying, it is my opinion that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world : would feel that there is a real though not always a palpable distinction between matters of opinion and of belief, as well as between matters of opinion and of demonstration : a distinction bearing in the first case mainly upon a moral, in the second principally upon an intellectual difference, in the relation between the thing perceived and the percipient mind. He would confess, that a real dishonour is done to matters of belief when they are treated as matters of opinion. Belief seems to be something of which the law and standard are external to ourselves : opinion, something depending on what is within us for its form and colour, and therefore essentially far more liable to be affected in its formation by the unchecked irregularities of the single mind.'--pp$17.318.
This is a fine specimen of Mr. Gladstone's usual art of obfuscation. His laboured account of opinion, that it properly designates 'a something partaking, &c.' and 'a something which seems to testify of itself that it is not clearly revealed, &c.' is most entertaining. The import of the whole of it seems to be simply this, that what we fully believe we do not usually call matter of opinion, inasmuch as that word would imply some uncertainty as to whether we are right, which by the very supposition is excluded; but unless we pretend to be infallible we must surely allow that it is matter of opinion to others who do not believe it. Now if the advocates of 'high church principles' merely contended that such principles were no matters of opinion to them, it would be all very reasonable. They believe them as devoutly as they believe the Bible, of which indeed they believe that the said principles constitute a part. But this is not enough for them. Mr. Gladstone protests against the application of the word opinions' to them at all, and by the example which he has so discreetly chosen would seem modestly to suggest the idea that these principles stand on the same footing with regard to certainty with the proposition that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world. 'Mr. Gladstone may depend upon it, that however high church principles may be matters of devout belief with him and with those who think with him, they will never be to the rest of the world anything better than opinions, and very erroneous opinions too.
It is in the same spirit of assumption, which as we have already said, characterizes Mr. Gladstone all the way through, that our author tells us it seems an injustice that the Church of
· England should ever be counted merely as one of a number ‘of competing sects; and yet it must be admitted that, con“sidering the mental habits of the day, there is an appearance, 'though an appearance alone, both of arrogance and of paradox, in the claim that another and a higher footing should be “ assigned her.' Truly we are of the same opinion, and though our author endeavours to show the contrary by very long and laboured arguments, we cannot help thinking that he has left the matter just where he found it. •
We have now done. We have spoken our opinion of Mr. Gladstone pretty plainly, as we were in duty bound to do. While we thank him for the calm and even tone which he has generally maintained, we are not the less disgusted with the very cool way in which he continually assumes the very points in dispute between him and those who oppose him; though not dictated, we believe, by a spirit of arrogance, it is scarcely less offensive. To his general talents and acquirements we would wish to do justice, though we must confess that a more illogical reasoner it has seldom, if ever, been our lot to deal with.
One more remark and we conclude. It is lamentable to find a layman, one belonging to a class generally considered the great bulwark against the encroachments of priestcraft, servilely following wherever the clergy lead, and acting as the champion of their most pernicious assumptions. Mr. Gladstone indeed seems to think that the fact of his being a laic will serve to recommend the principles he teaches; we heartily hope it will but excite wonder and contempt. He says,
* In this labour there is less that bears a strictly professional charac. ter : it is conversant with theology indeed, but in the philosophical aspect of the science, upon the side and at the points where it comes into contact with man : and any results of the investigation may possibly be liable to less suspicion, when they have been wrought out by persons who came to their task under no official obligations or prepossessions, and who viewed their subject from a position occupied by them in common with every member of the church, who has in any degree given his mind to moral speculations.'--pp. 31, 32.
We will tell him, on the other hand, what a highly intelligent clergyman remarked, after the perusal of his book, to an acquaintance of ours. That the clergy,' said he, 'with all their prepossessions and prejudices, partly of education, partly of selfinterest, should favour doctrines, however monstrous, which so palpably make for their order, is nothing surprising. But that an intelligent layman should prostitute his talents and acquirements to their defence is most lamentable.'
Art. II. Letters illustrative of the Reign of William III., from 1696
to 1708, addressed to the Duke of Shrewsbury, by James Vernon, Esq., Secretary of State. Nov first published from the Originals. Edited by G. P. Ř. JAMES, Esq. 3 vols. 8vo. London: Henry Colburn.
quis of Halifax, as speaker of the Lords, presented to the Prince of Orange, from the two houses of the English parliament, their memorable Declaration of Rights. That instrument set forth the arbitrary and illegal proceedings of the late king, and the consequent vote by which the parliament had declared the throne abdicated. Having further described the proceedings enumerated as contrary to law, it provided that the throne, which had thus become vacant, should be filled by the Prince and Princess of Orange, according to certain limitations aforesaid. More especially this document declared, that the pretended power to suspend the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of parliament, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal :—that the commission for creating the late court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes, and all other commissions and courts of the like nature, are illegal and pernicious :--that it is the right of the subject to petition the king, and that all commitments or prosecutions for such petitioning, are illegal :~that the raising or keeping within the kingdom a standing army in time of peace, unless by consent of parliament, is illegal :-that the subjects of the crown who are Protestants, may have arms for their defence, suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law :-that election of members of parliament ought to be free :that freedom of speech and proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any place or court out of parliament :
-that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted :that juries ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and that jurors in all cases of high treason ought to be freeholders :that all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons, before conviction, are illegal and void :-and that for the redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving the laws, parliaments ought to be convened frequently
In other words, the forms of security and liberty, for which the patriotic men of England have been contending, from the day when the throne of these realms was ascended by the first of the Stuart princes, to that in which it was abdicated by the last of them, was this day required to be recognized as good—not as so much of novelty introduced, but as so much ancient statute