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“Show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the comings-in
thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the
laws thereof, and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form
thereof and do them."--Ezekiel xliii. 11.

LONDON:
N. H. COTES, 139, CHEAPSIDE.
EDINBURGH: JOHN JOHNSTONE. GLASGOW: J. D. BRYCE.

DUBLIN: WM. LECKIE. BELFAST: WM. M'COMB.

MDCCCXLVIII.

BELFAST: PRINTED AT THE BANNER OF ULSTER OFFICE.

PREFACE.

NEAR to the beginning of the following pages the reader will find a few remarks on the importance which their Author attaches to the external government of the Church, and close upon their termination there will also be found his estimation of the effective powers for good of the Presbyterial polity

With regard to the former, believing that from the days in which the early Christian Churches were organised it has, with propriety, occupied the attention of all sections of the catholic Church, an attempt to reconsider its claims cannot be wrong or out of date now; and, being persuaded that on no account should the peculiarities of Presbytery be kept in abeyance, it is only deemed necessary to add here, that as the Author has no desire to defend Presbytery farther than it can be found in the Bible, he is, therefore, impressed with the conviction that its defence, though it may vary in degree, may not vary in kind from the sacred maintenance of the most vital doctrinal point.

Who perceives not, for instance, the intimate alliance which subsists between the intrinsic power of ecclesiastical superintendence, and the internal purity-spiritual as well as doctrinal—of the Church? And who convinced, moreover, of this, could well refrain from crying out, in the same moral earnestness sustained by Paul on Mars' Hill, on behalf of the free Spouse of God-No KING BUT JESUS ?

Still farther, Who that has received settled convictions as

to the Scripturalness of a Divine and permanent ministerial institute, and considered from the light of daily experience the evils incident from a denial of this doctrine by innumerable and motley bands, composed of the direst ignorance and most dangerous dogmas, can be, in any measure, insensible to the good certain—because designed—to issue from an orderly officered Church? But to the evidence adduced on these subjects we direct attention.

From these necessarily primary topics, the reader will have brought before his notice their consecutive corollaries, which, as regards the external goverument of the Church, have assumed the respective appellations of Presbytery, Prelacy, and Independency. And it is hoped it will be borne in mind that, while their abstract differences have not been overlooked, there are points in the practical development of these systems of ecclesiastical polity exclusively applicable to this country. We would have remembered the practical details of the Prelatic Church in AmericaChurch, says the Chevalier Bunsen, “ Without doubt the most remarkable phenomenon in the history of ecclesiastica) polity during this and the last century.” And, truly, when it is considered that the voice of her members calls into existence her Prelatic life, and infuses into it, and it only, apostolic descent, and that, by the same authority, this Prelatic, or Prelate's life, has been dissolved as unworthy of such being—it is a phenomenon, though not remarkable either for its antiquity or the respect due to it.

It were much desired by us to have dwelt upon some of the sentiments adduced in the “ Church of the Future,” especially upon those which refer to the Prelatic Church of America ; but, perhaps, when it is stated as Chevalier Bunsen's opinion that this Church in America has “ preserved, by means of bishops, the principle of a personal conscience in the wider spheres of Church life,” our readers will not be extreme losers though they have not been furnished with any observations on our Prussian ambassador's American disquisitions, which smack, after all, of his evident predilection for a priestly aristocracy in the Church.

Though as believers out and out in the clergy-parity of the New Testament Church-a circumstance necessarily rendering any homage of ours to a ranked ministry an impossibility—it is with the utmost pleasurable emotions we are permitted to recognise in the United States Prelacy an inborn and self-sustained principle of more or less liberty and order, free both to her pastorate and people.

On this side of the Atlantic, Prelacy has never as yet been able to lay hold of this principle. The rod of selfgovernment would be an entirely new weapon, even in the apostolic hands of the Anglican Church. Whether from necessity or choice, she has slavishly submitted to a wholesale monopoly by the State both of her legislative and administrative rights. In doing so, she has, we think, undeniably deprived herself of the sole source of ecclesiastical life; and, in the recollection of this conviction, our readers will approach and ponder what we have adjudged concerning her.

Leaving a Church whese governmental existence owes its origin to a power extrinsic to herself, we have turned to behold another, which, though in many respects the extreme of the former, and retaining the power as well as the right to an internal and externally uncontrolled discipline, is, nevertheless, encompassed with a dictatorship as really Erastian in its tendencies, democratical though it be, as any control proceeding from a civil source. But Independency claiming to be governed apart from all outward legislation, our controversy with her has of necessity assumed another form ; and it is hoped that no point bearing on her essential peculiarities has been wilfully overlooked.

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