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Sixth Edition, 632 pages, post fro, 38.,
An Appeal to the Reflecting of all De
nominations in behalf of the views of the Eternal World and State, and the Doctrines of Faith and Life, held by the Body of Christians called the New Jerusalem Church; embracing Answers to all Principal Objections. By the Rev. S. NOBLE.
TO THE CLERGY AND CHRISTIAN MINISTERS OP ALL DENOMINATIONS. There is an extensive yearning for fixed and clear views of the life after death; agitation, too, on doctrinal subjects are affecting the Christian world on all sides. In order to assist ministers fully
to supply the wants of their people, a member of the Church of England, believing that the above work is admirably adapted for the purpose, hereby offers to give 500 copies of the work. Any minister may obtain a copy from Mr. Alvey, on application, either personally or through his bookseller, on giving his name and address. If required to be sent by post, the applicant's card and seven stamps must be enclosed.
London: Alvey, 36, Bloomsbury-street, W.C.
THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH.
IT is a part of the creed
of Christendom that there is a Holy Catholic Church. To a large number of persons who are supposed to hold this belief, these words must of necessity convey a very vague and ill-defined meaning. They are probably not connected in the mind of many churchmen with any definite ideas, and when used by them express only a sort of half belief. The explanations of preachers and of writers on the Creed effect very little in the way of giving precision or substance to the dogma. Few persons ever ask themselves what is meant by a corporation that is holy, or how a church which is localised in space, and limited in the number of its members, can be said to be universal. If we might venture to put into words the actual belief of the average churchman, it would be something like this: I believe in the Holy Catholic Church. He means to say that the church to which he belongs is a very venerable and august institution, that in some sense it is divine, more so than any of the institutions of civil society: that it had a divine origin, and is sustained by a divine power; that it is intended to be universal, and is called Catholic, partly from that cause, and
partly because it is open for all to enter; and, that in all probability the time is not far distant when Jews, Turks, Infidels, Romanists, Dissenters, and all the Heathen will acknowledge its supremacy, enter its fold, and partake of its blessings.
A modified form of this belief is held also by many persons who are not members of the Established Church. Those Nonconformists, who are not much given to examine the foundations on which their churches rest, have a notion that they are exact copies in every particular of the societies that met in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Apostolic age. They could not say that the church is the incarnation of the Holy Ghost, but they feel that the church as a church, and because it is a church possesses, and can confer advantages which are not to be gained outside its pale. They look with peculiar reverence on their ecclesiastical institutions and customs, and would not hesitate to say that they are in a very special sense divine and sacred; and that they are so, not because the purposes for which they exist are divine, not because of the quality of their aims, but because they were divinely instituted, and are divinely sustained,
When beliefs such as these are at all sharply interrogated it is usually found that they have not much to say for themselves by way of historical evidence. To those who hold them there seems a natural fitness in them; and others, who do not hold them may admit there are advantages connected with them. They supply the mind with an object of reverence, and they excite anticipations, which are themselves not without happiness, of a happy future. Halfbeliefs are proverbially tolerant, and these are for the most part opposed to extreme views; a mild and tolerant churchman refuses from the charity he feels towards his neighbour to share the audacious demands of the Anglican Sacerdotalists, and the Nonconformist is disqualified by his education from accepting the fictions of Episcopal succession. To both alike, looking at the present condition of the Establishment, and considering what has been the course of affairs for the last two hundred years, the pretension of the clergy to Catholic unity is simply preposterous. One effect which may be anticipated from the pertinacity with which this and other pretensions are set forth
is that religious people generally will be led to inquire what is the nature of a church, and what are the clainis of any and all of the existing churches to the respect which they demand. A weekly newspaper, one of the organs of the High Church party, a short while since contributed to our knowledge of ecclesiastical opinion by a series of very ably written articles on this and other subjects. In one of these articles we find the whole argument in favour of the Holy and Catholic Church, very clearly set forth. It will facilitate our enquiry if we allow this writer to speak on his own behalf, and to state in his own words a doctrine which needs care in its expression. Very properly he tells us, that the doctrine of the incarnation is the corner-stone of Christian theology ; and with practical aim he asks: How is the incarnation made available for our wants? Is there an appointed channel through which the blessings of the Incarnation flow down to men ?
These questions find their answer in “The Church, which is, as it were, a second incarnation, an incarnation of the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Holy Trinity, even as Jesus Christ was an incarnation of the eternal Word, the second Person.” We are told that, “when our blessed Lord, by His ascension into heaven, withdrew His natural body from the earth, He did, almost immediately after, by the Holy Ghost, establish and constitute the Church as His mystical body-a living temple in which He should dwell by the Holy Ghost, and by means of which he could give His grace to those who, as living stones, were builded into its walls." The sum of the matter is, that the Church is the channel through which, according to divine ordinance, the blessings of the Incarnation are conveyed to mankind; and that by union to this mystical body, or divine organism, individuals become partakers of the blessings of the Incarnation. There is no doubt in our minds that these words contain a very important truth, but they also involve some most pernicious errors. We believe that there is a church which is actually holy and catholic; that it is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that it is greater than all the visible churches which exist now, or ever have existed. In the New Testament it is spoken of as “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, an innumerable company of angels,