Page images

not only greater discretion, but often greater courage, than the attack.”-Quarterly Review. No. lxviii. p. 485.

Unquestionably, it requires greatercourage to defend, than to attack the church of England, at the present crisis. The divine origin of her authority; the scriptural soundness of her doctrines; the spirituality and chastened fervor of her liturgy; the calm and dignified sobriety of her worship; and the barrier which, by this admirable combination, she has ever presented, against the overflowings of ungodlinessand fanaticism;-these are themes which provoke the sneer, and the shrug, and the self-complacent, but ignorant, exclamations of bigotry,' “priesteraft,' mental slavery,' from the flippant, half-educated disciples of the new school. These persons, each of whom is wiser in his own eyes, than seven men who can give a reason, seem to identify true progress in wisdom and knowledge, with utter contempt of every thing which bears an earlier date than the reform bill. They have

before their mind's eye, a sort of beau ideal of the “perfection of society," to be attained by the removal of all establishments of human government. As if the materiel" of the human race were essentially good, and only required to be relieved from the pressure of crowns and mitres, to manifest its inherent excellence, and multiply, ad infinitum, its resources of rational happiness.

set up

Do they forget, or do they deny, that the race is fallen; that its genuine character is 6 hateful and hating one another ;” that the materiel has become evil in itself and in its tendencies, and absolutely demands the merciful coercion of establishments, to keep it from inflicting upon itself universal misery ? Are they utterly impenetrable to the voice of experience, which proclaims, with reiterated clearness, that in ages and nations now no more, every opening which promised a clear course to perfection, such as they now anticipate, when seized upon by the sanguine, and for a time successful, led only, through the successive stages of civil war, to the establishment of a military monarchy ? Are they short-sighted enough not to see, that the union which at present prevails among their various bands, is kept up by the existence of establishments which they are united against: and that, if what they now deem their common enemy, were removed, they would turn and rend one another, in their pursuit of pre-eminence? Are they absurd enough to imagine, that there is, or ever can be, any real union between infidel radicalism and superstitious popery? Perfection! It is not a little remarkable, that the far end of all this boasted philosophy should thus identify itself with the vainest dream of enthusiasm-Utopia. In the general effect upon society, however, lightness is, in some degree, compensated by numbers. Herrings can choke a whale. Hornets can sting an ox to death. The instruction mania (for it does not deserve the name of education) has multiplied the buzzing tribe into shoals innumerable, and they rule the movement, in which fashion, interest and power, are now combined to make experiments.

That practical abuses, of a disgraceful character, have found their way into the administration of the church of England, abuses which ought, long since, to have been corrected, no well-informed and honest man will deny, and every true friend of that noble institution, will unfeignedly deplore. These abuses, however, are wilfully confounded, in one common censure with the institution itself; and because, there is good reason for the cry to correct, we hear on every side a growing, indiscriminating, and therein unreasonable cry, to destroy.

This cry is not confined to those who have long been without. It is now re-echoed by some, who till very lately have been within.

Among those who have recently seceded from the church, and are now, however unintentionally, adding the weight of their influence and example to the radical clamour against all constituted authority; there are men, whose constraining motive is not sectarian hostility, but conscientious zeal ; not party politics, but perverted religion. Some of them, uninstructed in the aggregate aspect of the visible church, and making the sum total of religion to consist in individual feeling, of which they presume to be judges, not only in themselves, but in their neighbours ; can, by no means, enter into the principle of enlarged charity upon which our church formularies are constructed, and, let me add, upon which the apostolical epistles are writ: ten. Others, filled with admiration of the predicted holiness and beauty of the perfected church of Christ, at the second advent of her Lord, and looking at this truth alone, to the neglect of present duties arising out of other portions of holy scripture; have become impatient of human infirmity, and determined to have a holy company even now. Forgetful of what manner of spirit they are themselves, they have hastily seceded from the militant and imperfect church in which they were baptized, gone into diverse excesses of extravagant excitement, and denounce all who will not go with them.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »