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THE TWO RELIGIONS.
The extreme diversity of opinion in the Established Church has led a writer in the Contemporary Review for March to discuss its internal condition under the above title. Dismissing the Broad Church, which "rules over very small numbers in the nation, though filled with men of superior ability, high culture, and expansive charity," he dwells particularly on the two most numerous and most influential parties into which the Church is at present divided. These are the "High Church" and the "Low Church." They are so unlike in doctrine and theory, that they may be designated two distinct religions. "Nominally, they are two varieties of Christianity; but Christianity is conceived by each under an aspect so radically different, the cast of religious thought, the temper of the religious spirit, are so mutually contradictory, that the belief and the religious observances of each, in a most real sense, constitute, specifically a distinct religion." One is described as the religion of the Bible, the other as the religion of the church. Both, indeed, acknowledge the authority of the Bible, and both believe in the Divine institution of the Church. But with the one the Bible is supreme, and as an authority in the formation of opinion, absolute; with the other, the appeal is made to catholic teaching and the authority of the Church; and this authority is not unfrequently appealed to quite apart from the teaching of the Bible, which is supposed, however, to be the ground on which it rests.
The conflicting opinions of these schools expose the Church to manifest danger. "A large part of this danger consists in the feeling produced on the public mind by the sight of the confusion, the collisions, the seething and fermenting state of this ancient body.
Contradictory systems of theology are struggling for pre-eminence within her bosom. Each party denounces the other in the fiercest language of the odium theologicum. series of events has practically brought home to the minds of the clergy that
this Church was the child of compromise, that various and often conflicting elements exist in her formularies, that her liturgy was not framed upon any consistent and logical system of thought or theology, and that, consequently, schools of the most direct antagonism can find in her services grounds for justifying their co-existence within the same communion. In an age of indifference, when all faith and earnestness was banished from the Church, this state of contradiction did not manifest itself. The whole Church was at rest, but it was the quietude of spiritual death. The clergy, occupied only by the things of the world, the pleasures of sense, or the dreams of ambition, cared for none of these things. The state in which the Church now finds herself, is the result of the increased mental activity of the age on which we have entered; and is, to some, bright with hope, and, to others, dark with threatened danger.
The tendency of the age to push principles to extremes aggravates the evil. Men refuse to acquiesce in an illogical and unsymmetrical body of opinion, even though viewing it as a practical society, the existence of diverse elements in the Church offers great advantages for its covering the whole people. There is an immense earnestness of intellectual life now at work in the world; we sincerely believe, also, that the same may be asserted of religious life."
With this earnestness of life there arises controversy, mental heat, exploration of first principles, efforts to reject what is irreconcilable with the side espoused." And the effect of all this on the people is becoming apparent. "The nation is becoming puzzled, and people are asking what the Church of England really is, not only in respect of its constitution, but in the much more important matter of the religion which it professes." The Church of Scotland, in this respect, has a marked advantage over the Church of England. There are numerous sects, and intense religious activity; but, omitting small fractions of the population, the religion of Scotland is essentially one. This arises
from the greater completeness of the Reformation in Scotland, and the intenser Protestantism of both the clergy and people. In the Church of England, on the contrary, "from its very origin, the seeds of prodigious diversities of opinion and practice were implanted in its essence; and as time rolled on they shot up into very substantive divergencies of religious feeling. Large and powerful elements of the old religion were left to acquire fresh vitality in the lapse of ages; whilst the absence of a fixed and unchangeable standard furnished an open field, which has been largely occupied by numerous varieties of the Broad Church type." Hence it follows that "the present condition of the Church of England is the direct result of the great primitive act of the Reformation. Such as institutions are at their origin, such are they in their subsequent development. This is true of scientific systems, and it is equally true of social, and, most of all, religious institutions. The Church of England is a composite body, because diverse, and on some fundamental points, discordant principles were inserted into its very
The Church is thus a house divided against itself. The bond which keeps together these discordant elements is their connection with the State. This is merely external, and neither manifests the spirit nor secures the ends of a religious institution. The true unity of the Church is a oneness of love, and an essential agreement in doctrine. Of this we have no example in the present condition of religious thought in the Establishment, and not much prospect in the future. Each party has its strong and its weak points, and the present tendency is rather to magnify the points of diversity than of agreement. in the meantime, there is growing up a power in their midst with which neither of these great parties are prepared to contend. The progress of biblical criticism and inquiry has of late years been far more successful in raising difficulties than in supplying expositions of the Bible. Objections have been raised against the very root of the matter, and have assailed the Bible itself as the inspired word of God. The High Church, occupied with the most trivial matters of external ceremony and outward adornment, offers the feeblest possible resistance to
this power. She disdains to reason, and proudly insists upon her own supremacy as the authorized interpreter of Scripture." "The Tractarians had a theology, a body of ably reasoned and argumentative divinity; the modern High Churchmen have none. Their followers are satisfied with the bare assertion of their clergy, and the clergy feel supreme contempt for criticism and argument." Nor is the Low Church better prepared to meet the enemy at her gates. She relies upon the Bible, but interprets it by narrow and decaying systems of religious belief. neglects also the scholarship which is essential to a correct interpretation of the letter, and thus loses her hold on the minds of cultured intelligence. "The advantage they thus give their opponents is incredible; for at a period when intellectual life is so powerful, to alienate the sympathy of the general body of thinking and educated men is to thrust one's self into the background, and to lose the lead in the world. a position is full of danger to religion itself; for what can be more disastrous than to create an impression that Christianity is at variance with knowledge, and thought, and intellect?"
The meetings of Convocation of the two provinces of Canterbury and York have been held, as usual, on the assembling of the new Parliament. These assemblies of the bishops and clergy have no legislative power, but the opportunities they afford for the popular discussion of ecclesiastical subjects, furnish an indication of what is passing in the mind of the Church. Quite a number of subjects are introduced for discussion, and notwithstanding the several schools into which the clergy are divided, most of the discussions manifest growing attention to the spiritual wants of the people. There is upon some subjects, particularly those relating to the social position and worldly circumstances of the bishops, a sensitiveness which shows how unwillingly the holders of episcopal positions will consent to any change in their worldly position. The condition of several of the dioceses which are nearly, if not entirely, deprived of episcopal superintendence by advanced
age and other bodily infirmities, has compelled attention to the best means of supplying this lack of service. For some time the principal portions of the south and west of England have been without the active superintendence of bishops. The means of remedying this state of things led to lengthened debates, but to no practical result. The only approach to such a result was the passing of a resolution, in accordance with the recommendations of the Cathedral Commission of 1854, "That in case of the bishop's inability to discharge the duties of his office, from age or continued bodily infirmity, he may, subject to the approval of the archbishop, pray Her Majesty to appoint a coadjutor, cum jure successionis, with such proportion of the income of the see, and in such manner as may be hereafter determined.
The question which most seriously occupies the attention of the clergy at the present time, is the proposal to disestablish the Irish branch of the Established Church. This question was introduced, and determined the elections of many of the proctors to the convocations. Men of ability, like Dr. Vaughan, Mr. Bramston, and others, were set aside, on the ground of their sympathy with the Government measure, and efforts were made, in the Lower House of the province of Canterbury, to import into the address to the Queen a prayer that Her Majesty would not assent to any measure which would disestablish the Irish Church, or alienate to secular purposes any portion of the property or revenues which have been dedicated to the maintenance of the worship of Almighty God, and the support of His ministers. This prayer was too strong for the bishops, who constitute the Upper House. Bishop of Oxford regarded it as constitutional," and a modified and milder resolution was in the end agreed upon by both Houses.
Change is at present the law of all public institutions. The changes in progress are, in the majority of cases, undoubted improvements. But whether evidences of progress or decline, there is everywhere movement. The most conservative institutions cannot stand still. The petitions presented to the Convocation of Canterbury, and the various subjects introduced and in
quiries instituted, all indicate an eager desire to adapt the Church to the changes that are going on in society. These questions include the improvement of the condition of the clergy, the retirement of incapacitated ministers, the establishment of diocesan synods, a larger introduction of the lay element into the ordinary working of the Church, the reform of cathedral establishments, and many other subjects.
The Convocation of the province of York last year passed a resolution expressing the feeling that "this Convocation would cordially welcome any practical attempt to effect a brotherly reconciliation between the Wesleyan body and the Church of England." This resolution was coldly received by the Wesleyans in this country, and led to no practical results. In America, where there are three millions of Episcopal Methodists, it seems to have been more cordially welcomed, and some action taken towards union. This encouraged the leader of this movement to again introduce the subject by proposing a resolution to send to these bodies in America a copy of this resolution. The experience of the past disinclined the heads of the Convocation to undertake this correspondence, and the conversation ended by simply reaffirming the resolution of last year.
A more difficult question in this province is the question of heresy. Rev. Charles Voysey, a beneficed clergyman in the diocese of York, has given expression to sentiments, in a publication entitled The Sling and the Stone, which are generally acknowledged to have exceeded the bounds the Church can possibly tolerate. The Archbishop stated that he had used and exhausted the means of private expostulation, and, though most reluctantly, had instituted legal proceedings. The question will, therefore, come before the Church tribunals, and add another to the perplexities arising out of her doctrinal diversities.
The Boston New Jerusalem Magazine for March has an article on "Practical writing and teaching in the New Church," in which the writer indicates some of the changes which have taken place, or are in progress, in the external and social relations of the New Church
The Church has had a period of intellectual growth, which has been of the greatest importance in establishing the heavenly doctrines in the minds of men. "Those of us,' says this writer, "who, as children, were brought up under its influence must carry with us through our lives a recollection of its delightful effect upon all social relations. And it was strengthened by the feeling of our proscription by those to whom the New Church appeared an outburst of falsity and error, —a feeling which was then so strong as to turn us in upon one another for that sympathy which, under such, circumstances, was so strongly developed."
The Church has now entered on a new phase of her existence, and this condition of things has become extensively altered. "All, or nearly all, who then became members of the Church were constant readers and students of its doctrines. But within my own short existence,' says this writer, there has been a great change. very large number of those who now come into it have but little behind a general knowledge of the leading points of difference between the New Church and the Old; and some faint, glimmering ideas of the necessity of a better life.
Our young people, educated in the Church, either do not become members, or do so from the force of example or home influence, with but little personal love for the life of religion. And this is where our religious instruction has failed to do its work. There has
been a great fear of impairing freedom through the leading of natural affections; and almost all teaching in the Sabbath school has been doctrinal, and in as nearly the original language of Swedenborg as was possible. This suited our fathers and mothers, and why not their children? But they were prepared for it by an already acquired love for a religious life, and consequently a strong desire and longing for religious truth.
The altered condition of things necessitates change in the modes of popular instruction. The Church must adapt herself to the wants of her members, and of those outside her pale which she desires to influence for good. "If we wish to do good to our children, and to the mass of mankind, who as regards knowledge of the truth are but as chil
dren, we must first seek to know the truth ourselves . . . . and to clothe it in such simple forms of language and expression as the simple-minded, whether young or old, can understand. It is the duty of every one who becomes a member of the Church to try to develop in himself a true knowledge of its doctrines, based upon his own efforts to live a good life, and then to 'give to every one that asketh' what he asketh, and in such a way that he can receive it. There are many asking, though their appeals may not be audible to the ear of the natural man."
The New Church is the Church of the future, and to fulfil its mission must adapt itself to the religious requirements of the present. "Can it be thought," says this writer in conclusion, "that these doctrines which appeal so strongly to the rational mind of man are not for that very reason the better adapted to the needs of those whose understandings are but little developed? I feel sure that they are; and I think that one who could hope that he might fill such a place in the service of the Lord, as there is now an earnest call for men to fill, should be glad to give up every other hope, and enter upon this work joyfully. No higher use could be desired by the heart of man.
Dedication of a New House of Worship at Brooklyn.-We extract the following account of this dedication from the New Jerusalem Messenger of Feb. 24:"The new house of worship of the Brooklyn New Church Society was dedicated on Sunday afternoon last. The house was crowded to its utmost capacity, a large number of friends from New York, and other places in the vicinity, being present. The services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Ager, pastor of the Society, assisted by the Rev, Mr. Giles, pastor of the New York Society. At a little after halfpast three the two ministers passed up the centre aisle to the chancel, Mr. Ager bearing a copy of the Word, which he deposited in the repository provided for it. Then, turning to the congregation, he briefly explained the reason why New Church societies give this prominence to the sacred volume in their places of worship, and recited tho formula of dedication as follows, the people standing
We now set apart and consecrate
this house to the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only God of heaven and earth; to the administration of His divinely ordained sacraments; to instruction from His holy Word, according to the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem, as made known in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg; and to all heavenly and spiritual uses and offices and duties. And may it henceforth be set apart and kept free from all secular and worldly uses, from all false teaching and all unholy practices; and may it ever be to us truly a house of God, in which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be truly and manifestly present with His people. The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make His face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up His countenance upon us and give us peace. Amen."
Then followed singing, a response service, and a lesson from the Word, after which Mr. Ager read a brief statement by the trustees, showing that the total outlay had been 46,500 dollars, of which 29,000 had been paid, and 17,000 remains as a debt to be provided for. The Rev. Mr. Giles then preached a discourse, showing that the New Church worshipped one God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the unity of His Church was to be built upon this cardinal doctrine. The singing of an anthem concluded the service.
The building, which was purchased of the Universalists, is of brown stone, in somewhat of the Gothic style of architecture. Inside it has a nave and side aisles, separated from the nave by quatrefoil pillars, and the roof is formed of groined arches, with clerestory. The dimensions of the auditorum are 55 feet in width, by 65 feet in length, and it 'seats 400 comfortably. At the western end, over the vestibule, is an organ gallery, in which is a fine organ, of - ample power for the church. Since the purchase, the church has been thoroughly repaired and renovated. The most important change has been in the eastern or chancel end. This was formerly occupied by an immense pulpit, which has been removed, and in its place a very rich and tasteful repository for the Word has been erected. In front of the repository stands the desk from which the lessons from the Word are read. To the left is the prayer-desk, and to the right is the
pulpit, both of very elaborately carved wood. On the pulpit is the inscription Nunc Licet, with a crown. Under the auditorum is a large, high, and well lighted basement, containing a large Sunday schoolroom, two other large rooms, and other conveniences. On the whole, the Brooklyn Society thus feel that they have a very complete, beautiful, and convenient place of worship.
SABBATH EVENING LECTURES.
The winter lectures to which we alluded in our January number have been continued in several of our societies up to the present time, in most cases with marked success. Particulars of some of these courses have reached us and will doubtless interest our readers.
Heywood. The subjects discussed by the minister in this society have been a continuation of those previously introduced, but have dwelt more fully on the relation of the New Church to other Christian communities, on the distinctions and diversities of Christian doctrine, and on the duties of members of the New Church in their relation to the age and to the changes of religious thought and feeling at present manifesting themselves in other Christian communities. The attendance at these lectures has been good, though not marked by any large influx of strangers. The society itself has attained a good position and somewhat settled character, and its neat and commodious church is usually well-attended.
Preston.-At this town a course of six lectures, extending from November 29 to February 15, were announced by Rev. Mr. Rendell. The subjects of these lectures embraced, Conscience, its true nature, and how it is acquired, "The Ark of the Covenant, and why miracles were performed by its presence, "The Mystery of Godliness; God manifest in the flesh," "The Ladder of which Jacob dreamed, and the phenomena which appeared upon it," The Holy Spirit, and its operations in promoting the regeneration of mankind,' "The digging of wells by the patriarchs, and its spiritual teaching. The ability of the lecturer is sufficient security for the interest which would attach to the discussion of these
important subjects. We regret, however, to learn that the delivery of