Page images
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE.

The position occupied by the Church of England bids fair to furnish a theme for this brief chronicle of events during many a successive balf-yearly'epoch, if it please the Lord to continue us so long in the field of labour, Assailed from without, and to a Jamentable extent betrayed by those who still remain within its pale, this church continues not only to be the safe depository of God's word, and a faithful witness against opposing errors, but is actually lengthening its cords, and strengthening its stakes, and breaking forth on the right hand and on the left, as the church of Israel shall do when the Lord healeth the breach of his peculiar people.

When we speak of the church of England, we, course, mean the church as restored at the blessed Reformation, of which the doctrine and discipline are set forth in the articles, homilies and liturgy. This church we conceive to be prospering, through the outpouring of the Spirit on a vast number of its ministering clergy, who are taught of God to cherish the precious truths embodied in the formularies be

of

a

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

fore mentioned, and to rally round the barriers which some are attempting to batter down, and others to undermine. The number of such enemies rapidly increases ; both of those who desire to raze the fabric and of those who would fain take possession of it, to plant their own rebellious standard on its towers, and to turn its batteries against its rightful King. Thus the church every day becomes more militant, and therefore more secure; for the peril to be apprehended in a state of open warfare is nothing compared with that of a slumbering state of imagined security.

The principle which we bold on this subject is that of the unity of the faith ; or in other words, the oneness of that confession which distinguishes the church of Christ from all counterfeits; excluding alike the doctrine that would undeify the Lord Jesus, as promulgated by Arius, Socinus, &c., and the doctrine that admits created things to share his glory, as do the Eastern communities, and far more the Roman apostacy. We believe Episcopacy to be the scriptural form of Church government, and that in possessing it England enjoys an advantage ; but at the same time we cheerfully and cordially recognize every foreign Protestant church as an equally living branch of the true Vine, though perhaps not trained so correctly after the model provided by the Husbandman. Protestation against idolatry on the one hand, as against rationalism on the other, we hold to

be the essential mark of this universal church ; therefore, we do not number among the real members of our church the men who are attempting to accomplish a re-union with Rome, or to re-instate among us any of Rome's multifarious abominations; on the contrary, we regard them as the miners who are endeavouring to blow up our bulwarks, and so to destroy our church.

The struggle is great and will be increasingly so; externally our hands would be much strengthened by drawing closer the existing tie between us and the various Protestant churches of other lands, and therefore it is that our pioneering brethren so loudly denounce the bond, encouraging us to hug ourselves on the Episcopacy wbich, say they, we derive from Rome, and which links us to that system far more than unity of faith can join us to a pon-episcopal church. Weak minds are staggered by this ; forgetting that the church at Rome existed in Paul's days, a duly constituted ecclesiastical body, however small; and that Rome, when she flung away the kernel of her nut, kept the shell. Misled by her bad example, the no less Apostolical and originally independent, co-existent Church of Britain did the same: but at the Reformation the kernel was again recovered, and for better security and comeliness replaced in its own shell. The point of resemblance exists no farther than this; and it is a thing to be admired at that any man should possess both wit enough and bronze enough to ground upon such a basis, an argument of identity between our nutricious fruit and the empty nutshell of Rome!

To watch the manoeuvres of this sapping and mining corps, and the evolutions of those who more openly encamp against us, is a matter of duty. We shall do so, with a special reference to the exact position of what is properly called the national church, concerning which we hope great and good things, so long as she remains, as now, by God's grace, she is-in full opposition to Rome, and in conspicuous conjunction with JERUSALEM.

June 1842.

« PreviousContinue »