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of Scripture, as short as is consistent with perspicuity, will answer these questions.
Before proceeding with this investigation, we must, however, remind our readers, that we are not at present discussing the questions at issue between ourselves and those from whom we differ; nor are we examining the causes of our comparatively small numbers or isolated position; we are simply contending that neither of these circumstances invalidate or diminish our claim to be the true Church; we are contending, on the contrary, that they are presumptions in our favour. Far be it, however, from us to assert that these characteristics are absolutely essential to truth. There will come a time, we trust, when the whole earth shall be of one speech and one language; when there will be no more wars or contentions, either political or spiritual, and when all shall be gathered into one fold with one Shepherd. But this must be brought about, not by our rejection but by their reception of the truth; not by our apostacy, but by their conversion. Peace, and order, and good-will, must be restored, not by the surrender of those fortresses which still hold out for their lawful sovereign, but by the submission of the rebel host which bears his standard and shouts his war-cry whilst breaking his laws, insulting his authority, and endeavouring to demolish the ramparts which protect his faithful few.
Let us, then, examine the sacred history. Passing over early times, let us consider those of Noah.
Our limits prevent us from transcribing the words of Scripture, suffice it to observe, that all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth, with the exception of that patriarch; that he was commanded to construct the ark, and instructed how to do it; and in it, and it alone, he and his family were saved when the rest of mankind were destroyed. The number of the chosen was few, and their position one of isolation; whilst the children of this world were many.
Doubtless, there were scoffers in those days, who made light of the impending deluge ; there were sceptics, who declared the ark valueless ; there were rationalists, who constructed others which they asserted to be of equal value. There were shrines, too, where the ancient religion, corrupted but not destroyed, was still celebrated with gorgeous rites by the sons of the first-born of Adam; and boldly did the priests of that august succession denounce from their lofty altars the impious arrogance, the daring rebellion, the uncharitable exclusiveness of him who alone was found just upon earth.
Narrow were the limits of the favoured church in the days of Abraham and Isaac; and within the bounds of the chosen family of Jacob, ten of the elder sons conspired against their holier though younger brother.
It was to one people, and one alone, that God vouchsafed his especial covenant, and the regulations of the Lawgiver were adapted to fulfil the declaration of the prophet—"The people shall dwell alone.” Yes, the people hath dwelt alone the people shall dwell alone—the chosen of God have ever done so, and ever shall continue so to do till the earth
shall abound with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Yet it is not her pride, but their wilfulness--not her exclusiveness, but their errors, which separate the true church of God from those without her pale.
There were, indeed, in the dreary wilderness, many who, feeling their position to be insupportable, were desirous of returning to Egypt, that, by sacrificing their freedom and their faith, they might obtain peace
and plenty, whilst others railed at the lawful authority of the priests of the Lord.
There were many within and without the pale of the Israelitish covenant who deemed its regulations irksome and its safeguards unnecessary —who despised or detested the Mosaic ritual—or who looked with longing eyes on the gorgeous rites of neighbouring people.
We do not, however, find any of these persons praised in Holy Writ; the enlightenment and liberality which distinguished the one, the attachment to antiquity which characterised the other, do not appear to have called forth any commendation; but the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, were their portion; for God is a jealous God.
We continually perceive, in the history of Israel, that, whenever the people either rejected the Mosaic ordinances or corrupted the faith— either deserted their own altars or betook themselves to others, whether those altars were merely unauthorised, like the high places, or the idolatrous, like those of Canaan—that they were visited with Divine vengeance. It
may have been extremely uncharitable ; it may have shown a sad want of spirituality to object to the simple service of the groves where the one God was worshipped alone; it may have shown an equal want of charity and a greater deficiency of discernment not to distinguish amidst the abominations of Syrian and Phænician polytheism the pre-eminent worship of the one true God. Uzziah may have been far more spiritually minded than Hezekiah, and Ahab a prince of truly Catholic views; but if these things are so, the Bible is not the word of God. It is open to us, either to receive it with all its principles and doctrines to our own salvation, or to reject it and them to our own destruction. But there is no middle course; we must either believe the tree good, and its fruit good, or else the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt.
Let us descend to details once more. Of the chosen Israel of God but three entered Canaan, the rest being kept out for their sins-a proof that superior numbers is not always accompanied by superior virtue; and passing over the intermediate space, but seven thousand were there who had not bowed the knee to Baal; and, lest any one should fancy that the priestly office preserved its possessors from error, we read-fearful antitype of Romish crime" The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so, and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
How small was the number, how great the isolation of Daniel and his three associates; yet neither the one nor the other circumstance appears to have diminished the validity of their excellence or the value of their testimony
As we enter on the Gospel history, these points assume an awful prominence. We there behold vast multitudes rejecting, and small minorities receiving, the truth; until, at length, the hour arrives when all the disciples forsook him and fled.
Truly may our Church, in her loneliness and isolation, be said to occupy the position of her Saviour. The Pharisees of Rome and the Sadducees of Geneva have united their forces against her, and the fickle multitude raises the cry of execration against one whom they all but deified a short while since. Her teachers deny her-her friends betray her-her children forsake her; and well may she exclaim, in the words of her Lord, “ And now am I alone, and yet I am not alone, BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME.”
A POPULAR HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.
THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF PAPAL USURPATION.
[Concluded from the February Part.]
DUNSTAN, or as he is called by the Romanists, Saint Dunstan, was born in the year 925. He received his early education in Glastonbury Monastery, and was subsequently introduced at the court of Athelstan, by his uncle, Aldhelm, Archbishop of Canterbury. Disgusted with the manners of the court, however, he returned to Glastonbury; and having in early youth received the tonsure, he built for himself a cell or hermitage, with an oratory. In this hermitage he employed his time, partly in devotional austerities, and partly in making crosses, censers, vestments, &c., for the service of the Church; a mode of living which gained for him the favour of Edmund, the successor of Athelstan, who appointed him Abbot of Glastonbury, and gave him full powers to draw funds from the royal treasury for its restoration.
Chalmers supposes that Dunstan's mind became deranged at Glastonbury. There is no proof of this; but he indulged in chimeras, which, being announced to the credulous multitude, established for him a universal character of sanctity. Thus he is said to have fancied that the devil, who was reported to have been in the habit of visiting him, was one day more earnest than usual in his temptations, till, provoked by his importunity, Dunstan seized him by the nose with a pair of red-hot pincers as he put his head into the cell, and held him there till the malignant spirit roused the whole neighbourhood with his infernal howlings. Unfortunately, however, for the credit of this story, before the people
could arrive at the spot, Dunstan let his Satanic majesty free; and he himself, therefore, was the only witness of this notable achievement. And yet historians record that the credulous people so extolled this exploit, that it was the means of his being recalled into the world by Edred, the successor of Edmund.
His thoughts, his dreams,
Taking advantage of the implicit confidence which Edred reposed in him, Dunstan introduced a new order of monks into England, called the Benedictines; an order who, by changing the state of ecclesiastical affairs, excited the most violent commotions on their first establishment. As his austerity also had given him popularity, he professed himself a partisan of the rigid monastic rules, and he introduced those rules' into the monasteries of Glastonbury and Abingdon. But this created him many enemies; and these, having an eye over his conduct, accused and convicted him of malversation in his office, and he was deprived of his abbacy and banished the kingdom. This was in the reign of Edwy, A.D. 955 ; but he was recalled by Edgar the next year, who not only restored him to Glastonbury, but promoted him in rapid succession to the sees of Worcester, London, and Canterbury. On receiving this last preferment, Dunstan went to Rome to obtain the papal sanction to his appointment, in which he succeeded; and the Pope likewise appointed him to be the papal legate in England.
Dunstan now ruled so absolutely in England, that he was enabled to give the Romish see an authority and jurisdiction over the clergy before unknown. In order to effect this object, the secular clergy were excluded from their livings, and the monks were appointed to supply their places. His plea for this was the scandalous lives of the ejected, which was not untrue; but the principal motive was that of rendering the papal power absolute in the English Church. In this attempt Dunstan was supported by Edgar, and he overpowered the resistance which the country had long maintained against papal dominion; and gave to the monks an influence, the baneful effects of which were experienced till the Reformation. In him verily the might of spiritual sway was presignified !
Dunstan maintained his interest at the court of Edgar till his death, and he was mainly instrumental in raising Edward, his son, to the throne. During the reign of Edward he ruled with absolute sway
both in Church and State; but when that prince was murdered, and Ethelred succeeded, his credit and influence declined. But in order to raise himself in the estimation of the people, and to carry out his views, Dunstan used craft as well as power. In A.D. 969, he convened a council to consider the question of clerical celibacy, of which he was the staunch advocate. The question was not settled either in this or in many succeeding councils; but Dunstan in the course of these committed the first of those fraudulent tricks for which the Romish Church became afterwards so celebrated. In order to gain supporters of his views, it was reported that, during a debate on the subject in a synod at Winchester, A.D. 975, a crucifix spoke in favour of clerical celibacy. The monks sedulously spread this legend among the people, and it was received with gross credulity. To this hour, indeed, Romish writers profess to believe the ridiculous story, and adduce it in favour of the celibacy of their priests. But the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry." How truly do these characteristics apply to the Papacy ! !
Dunstan is said to have died of grief from the neglect shown towards him by Ethelred. But that he had wrought effectually for the Romish Church is manifested by the pages of ecclesiastical history. From his time “the man of sin ” swayed the English Church with a high hand. But as Le Bas observes, the works of even this architect of evil were not to last; the Danes renewed their incursions, and the religious establishments fell, as usual, before their ferocity. The barbarians, indeed, conformed to the religion at that time prevailing in England, but their conformity was marked with insolence and profanity. The clergy were converted almost into menial slaves. Often did the haughty and savage conquerors compel them to celebrate the services of the altar, not only in their private houses, but in their very chambers, where their wives or concubines were reposing by their sides. Happy was it for them, and for the nation at large, that the Norman Conqueror, William, swept these barbarians away from the shores of England! The Norman Conquest may indeed be regarded as a monument at once of the goodness and severity of God. The clergy, however, bowed down as they had been by the tyranny of their late masters, retained sufficient spirit to embarrass and provoke the Conqueror by their inflexible opposition to his rule. But William was not to be borne down by ecclesiastics; he had power, and he resolved to use it in proportion to their haughtiness. The native clergy were accordingly expelled from their dignities, and foreigners introduced into their places. The most illustrious of these was Lanfranc, who was made Primate of all England. But while Lanfranc brought with him to his office the most eminent attainments which Italy could supply, and became the restorer and patron of letters, he was no less devoted to the supremacy of Rome than Dunstan himself
. He laboured urgently to inflict celibacy upon the clergy; he advocated the doctrine of the corporeal presence in the sacrament, a dogma scarcely heard of in the Anglo-Saxon Church; and he was by no means scrupulous in the use of that machinery by which superstition can maintain its ascendency. Lofty as the mind of Lanfranc was, however, it was not powerful enough to rebuke the genius of William: his crown never obeyed a cowl.