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say, 'I hold my office immediately from God and Christ, I possess a divine right that is superior to all law and all liberty of conscience on your part'-and you are little aware of the mischief that will result. His doctrines may be pure, but you will be giving to selfish interest their dispensation, and its wizard power will immediately transform their benignant purity into the vilest means by which to establish its own supremacy. The infant sacrifices and other cruelties of poor, ignorant, Pagans are fearful enough, but they sink to child's play when compared with the elaborate cruelties inflicted by a selfish hierarchy on all who dare to question their absolute authority. But we look a little more deeply at this. Granting for a moment that Laud's argument for his priestly authority was sound, his
course of action is not to be condemned. At least I cannot find it in my mind to condemn him. If one man is selected from his fellows, commissioned invisibly by God to stand always near to the invisible altar, having authority committed to him, power to forgive sins and to retain sins, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine, to correct and punish all that are “unquiet, disobedient, and criminous,' and all this by direct authority from Heaven, then I say you must be prepared to submit without murmur to everything determined upon by such a man for the accomplishment of these ends. If a man is placed in such a position, you have no check upon him, if you admit as valid the reasons given for the occupancy of that position. After having read carefully the offices for the consecration of priests and bishops of the Church of England, I say, calmly, that Laud was, in a sense, fully justified in the course he pursued. Have you examined those offices! You will find that the position occupied by Moses himself was more circumscribed, and in narrower limits, than that marked out by the language to which I have referred. If there be truth or justice in the allowed and authorized assumption of the priesthood of the Church of England, then Laud did no more than it was just or right of him to do.
Then our work is not so much with the man Laud as with the priestism embodied in him. I need not enter into an argument as to the fact that priestism, literally, is unknown to Christianity. Wherever the sacrifice ceases, there the man remains and the priest disappears. Protestants admit this, but there yet remains too much of that assumption of authority which becomes only men who offered sacrifices. I imagine that I see much of the evil in the present day, and that needs only circumstances favourable thereto to show itself in a laudable form, You go into your garden and pluck up a great weed, -small particles of the root still remain, and in the midst of your flowers you find a number of little weeds. And so has it been with this monster evil of priestism. You see it—in the manner in which a man is tabooed for holding an opinion that is not orthodox-he must not preach to your people because on some point of the received orthodoxy he differs from you; he cannot pronounce Shibboleth ; he subscribes not to your articles ; he believes not in your ism, and therefore he must stand down.' My soul verily sickens within me at the assumptions of greater knowledge, purer doctrine, and spiritual domination that meet the eye. I look on the one hand at the Divine Master, his countenance beaming with the soft effulgence of heavenly love, every utterance of his lips a God-proclaimed truth, walking the earth in the glory of charity, rich in blessing, sublime in instruction, beautiful in holiness. I look again at the weatherbeaten countenances of the fishermen of Galilee, and the hard every-day workinghood of the apostles of the Lamb. In the one I see the incarnation of heaven's brightest light and God's dearest love; in the others, the types of true men who do God's work in the world, instruments for the regeneration of humanity and the rebinding of the soul to God; and then I look at a strange phantasmagoria of tiara, mitre, rotchet and lawn sleeves, at surplice and gown, ordination and sacrament, at creeds, catechisms, and systems of divinity, at ministerial garb, assumption, and authority, at doings of convocation and tyrannies of conference, and all surrounded by a sickly halo of professionalism, that attracts whilst it repels, and excites scorn whilsť it commands. And when I remember that all this, and much more of the same kind, is but as a remnant of the one-time hideous usurpation of authority over men's consciences and souls--stones of the dungeon in which free thought have been immured, I view them all with
that feeling of deep intense aversion which a true love of spiritual liberty alone can excite. It may not be expected that, in the present day, we have to fear atrocities similar to those we have related. But the present is a time when we should be prepared to sift every pretension of spiritual power and authority, and be ready as Nonconformists with clean hands to do battle for God and his truth. The spirit of priestism is not yet extinct; it must be watched carefully. Just look back a little and see signs of its vitality. Begin with 1850. That was a most remarkable year. We had the Gorham case at the beginning, and Cardinal Wiseman at the end. Mr. Shore let out of jail, the Pope brought back to the Vatican, Guy Faux incensing the cardinal, and Mr. Horsman twitting the bishops. In obedience to defunct Judaism, a widower was forbidden to marry his deceased wife's sister; in defiance to the spirit of Christianity, the Jew was debarred his civil rights. At the commencement of the year candles were lit in churches ; at the close, they were put out, candlesticks and all. And now ecclesiastical matters are ever and anon thrust forward, and the thorns and thistles of theological controversy are growing thick and fast; and it is my firm belief that the great conflict approaches of priestism and spiritual individualism. The people have much to do. So long as they surrender the guardianship of their spiritual rights to others ; so long as they revere the principle for the person, and not the person for the principle he holds ; so long as they reverence the man who conducts the worship of God as a part of that worship; so long as they allow temporal power and civil authority to be used for spiritual purposes and ends, must they be prepared to yield to assumptions that have no fixed limits. Therefore, I say, have clean hands. Cherish that independence of thought and action with which Heaven has gifted you ; guide yourselves by the truth which you know, rather than by that which authority wills. There is now but one vast brotherhood of man in the sight of God—the only Priest is within the veil-and if on earth one man is nearer the invisible altar than another, it is the man whose heart is fullest of love to God and his creatures, and whose life is replete with holiness and truth. Stand out in the might of your own personal and spiritual individuality, and you will be prepared for contest with priestism and despotism of every kind. The knell of all political and spiritual class-work is now being rung, and its booming sound may be heard far and wide. The gigantic edifice of oppression and wrong is being shaken to its very foundations, the plaster is falling off, its worm-eaten joists and rotten beams are exposed to view, and anon it shall fall, and the rubbish be swept away by a joyous people, free in all respects. It is my prayer that the consummation may be in our day, and whilst we labour and wait, I ask all praying hearts to join in the language of England's noblest mind :
Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth, put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty, take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee, for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.'
For the Vanug. .
"STRIVE TO ENTER IN.'
* EDITH! Edith! where are you?' exclaimed a merry-hearted, lively girl, as she hastily opened the door of a cheerful little sitting-room, and saw her elder sister quietly reading. 'Edith, dear, do put that dry book down, I have something so pleasant to tell you;' and she fondly leaned over her sister and put an open letter in place of the volume. . Ah! I knew you would be glad,' she said, as she observed the smile of pleasure on her sister's cheek. • What a happy Christmas we shall have with dear Margaret here. Do you remember our visit to her, and how delightful it was? She will have the next room to ours, and with the door open we shall be always together. I am so glad mamma has given us this pretty boudoir for our own. Oh dear, how happy I am! Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; how I wish it was come now!'
"Why, my Ellen ! how fast you are talking. Edith cannot say one word,' interrupted her mamma, who had come to share with her children the pleasure the announcement of their visitor had occasioned.
Margaret was the only child of a beloved brother of Mrs. Thompson's, who resided in a distant part of the country, which prevented the cousins from frequently meeting, especially as Margaret's parents did not often like to part with their child, and Edith and Ellen were still busy with a governess at home. But now it was the merry time of Christmas, when families gather round their cheerful fire-sides, and hearts are gladdened by sweet intercourse with friends from whom they have been long parted. Christmas! what pleasant memories does that dear old name recall, with the shout of happy children's voices, giving the merry welcome and the happy new year! But we must return to our story, and seek a better acquaintance with the family to whom we have been already introduced.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson resided in one of those pleasant and commodious villas to be found so frequently in the suburbs of our great metropolis. They were pious and intelligent people, who earnestly desired to use their talents and energies for the welfare and happiness of others, and who had carefully trained up their beloved children to consider the service of God as the chief end of their existence. Edith was their eldest child, and at the time of our story had just reached her fifteenth year. Always thoughtful, studious, and quietly loving, she formed a striking contrast to her merry, light-hearted sister. Ellen, who was nearly two years younger, was the life of the household: she had scarcely known a sorrow, and wore always such a happy face, that she obtained the name of Sunflower' from her father, whose cheerful character she seemed to share. Different as these sisters were, they had grown up together in the closest love and inter
Edith was ever the guardian and guide of her beloved Ellen, whilst Ellen was concerned in every wish of Edith's, looking up to her with fond admiration, and yet often helping her to immediate decision and action by her more hopeful spirit. Several years had passed since this happy family had been visited by the dreadful scourge of fever, when two interesting boys were taken away, leaving a dreary vacancy in the hitherto unbroken circle. Little Ronald and Annie completed the group; but they had not yet left the nursery department. Edith had missed her brothers very much; from that sad time she had been more serious than before, more thoughtful of her mother's comfort, and more fondly loving to her precious sister.
And now, my young readers, that you know the family, we will
hasten with our impatient friend Ellen to the much wished-for Thursday when the traveller was expected.
Dear mamma, it is all ready; Edith and I have been so busy. She has chosen her favourite books for the shelves, and I have arranged the ornaments in first-rate style, and now the fire is burning so brightly; I wish dear Margaret would come.' Edith was watching at the window.
* You will not have long to wait, Nellie; I think I hear the carriage in the drive; let us run to open the door.'
Mutual congratulations escaped the lips of the cousins, as Margaret sprung from the carriage into their embraces, and received the affectionate welcome of her aunt, who had followed them to the door.
Come, come in girls, let us away to the fire this cold day; Margery is nearly frozen after her long journey; and now, Edith, stand by your cousin, and let me take notes of you both,' said the cheerful Mr. Thompson. They were remarkably alike; only a few weeks differing in age. Margaret had the same soft auburn hair, the same open thoughtful brow, and the same happy seriousness in her manner, only a little of Ellen's mirthfulness in her laughing eye.
The first evening passed happily away. Margaret made acquaintance with the little ones, and observed the changes since her last visit ; she had also brought the good news of her papa's and mamma's intended arrival before Christmas-day, and they began to talk of the expected pleasures of the season. At last they retired to their own room, the Bible was opened, and they read together the happy meeting of Jesus and his two disciples at Emmaus. Margaret had lately become a follower of that gracious Saviour ; Edith thought it a pleasant way, but she had not yet tried to enter in ; and Ellen trod in such a sunny path, she hardly fancied that she could be happier. Edith, however, was not at rest, she lay awake long that night thinking of her cousin's words. Margaret had said, 'How many pleasant times she hoped to enjoy conversing together of the Saviour's love as the disciples had done.' She saw that her cousin was changed since their last meeting, and she felt that it was a happy change ; but she could not share in it, she could not become a Christian ; many times she had resolved to ‘arise, and go unto her Father, but something always hindered ; she wished to become a child of God, and feeling this desire she was sometimes almost ready to complain that her prayer was not heard, and that she was not converted. Edith made a very common mistake; she expected to have the work done for her, and failed to seek the help of the Holy Spirit, without whose convincing power we never can possess the broken heart and contrite spirit which God alone accepts.
It was at the breakfast-table the next morning that Mr. Thompson reminded them of a meeting to be held that evening for the spread of the gospel on the continent. • Oh, mamma,' exclaimed the eager Ellen, 'may we not go? I do want to hear what the Protestants are doing against the Roman Catholics ; I hate them with all my heart, and I wish
• Nellie, my wild little Nellie, stop, stop,' said her papa, 'you are running away too fast. It is not like the lowly Jesus, to speak of hating people because of the opinions they hold. We may pity them, and wish to do them good by leading them right, but we must not hate.'
Oh, no, papa, I did not quite mean that, but I could not pray to the saints and the Virgin, and I would not give up my Bible and confess my sins to the priest.'
No, my dear child, but the way to keep out error is to receive the truth in the love of it; has my Ellen done that?'
Ellen lifted up her eyes to her father. They were filled with tears ; he understood this silent answer to his question, and kindly diverted attention from his child by asking who would be of his party in the evening. “All, all,' was the unanimous answer; and Mrs. Thompson willingly gave her consent. When breakfast was over, Ellen followed her father to his room, and putting her arms around his neck, said, • Papa, I know what you wish, and I will try.'
God bless and help you, my child,' was her father's reply. There was a bond of sympathy between these two, and his tender words sunk deeply into her heart.
But let us follow the two cousins, and draw our chairs with theirs to the fireside, that we may listen to their conversation. Edith, why are you so silent? You did not use to be so grave when you were at Leaside. I want to know what you are thinking about ?'
• Do you think I am grave, Margaret? I am sure I cannot tell you why, but I think that you are altered, dear; you are so cheerful, and seem merrier than you were last year. I cannot quite make it out.'
Her cousin smiled. Suppose we try to discover the secret of these changes; and, first, Edith, what are your grave thoughts about?' She was silent; this was the very question she found it so difficult to answer. At last she hesitatingly replied, “You have left me behind, Margaret.' It was the first time the cousins had spoken of this change, and to Edith it was a painful subject; united as they had always been, she could not bear to feel that there was one point now on which they were not agreed. Margaret's eyes filled with tears, as she took her cousin's hand, and persuasively said, ' You will not stay behind, dear, you will come with us, and we will do you good. I want you to listen to my story, and when I tell you how happy this change has made me, I think you will choose the same path.'
* You know when you were staying with me last year we sometimes talked about being religious, and we intended then to wait till we were older. After you returned home, I often had serious thoughts, which I did not tell to any one, because I had not made up my mind, and I was afraid of being obliged to be religious too soon; so I drove away the better thoughts, and often put on an indifference which I did not feel. In the autumn, good Mr. Taylor came to stay with us. I did not think that I should like him, because he was so pious ; and I felt so conscious of my resistance of convictions, that I avoided him, lest he should speak to me, and I should be unable to maintain my careless