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men and Bishops who consented to penal enactments were utterly and entirely to blame. If we would try for a few moments to put ourselves in their places, and obscuring our greater light could see with their eyes, we should find much, I believe, that might be advanced in the way of apology for them. It is not as a general rule a wise course for persons who are taking a step into the future to fling mercilessly away from them all the traditions of the past. Nor would it seem to savour of prudence that men should refuse to adopt any part of a Church polity because some portion thereof had been demonstrated to be defective. Few men have the courage to commence a great undertaking de novo, and fewer still have been able to succeed in such a course. We cannot therefore wonder that the early Reformers clung to what they found of soundness in the older order, both because they found it sound, and because it came before those to whom they addressed themselves with the recommendation of familiarity.
Nor should we ever forget that they were eye-witnesses of the results of that intemperate zeal which even Puritan writers now deplore. Can we wonder that they shrank from trusting the fortunes of the Early Church to the care of men to whom a reverent posture in divine service was repugnant simply because it had been used by the Church of Rome? Can we wonder that they doubted the consistency of men who in most things magnified the precedents of the Old Testament with a superstition bordering on madness, yet who would banish all music, though much used in the Jewish Church which they so revered, because it had formed an adjunct of the Romish services ? It may have been a bad thing that Archbishop Whitgift was able to urge on measures of severity against those whom his arguments did not win, but of a surety a similar power entrusted to the hands of his greatest opponent would have been used, to say the least, with as small mercy. If example be needed to prove what I have said, I would refer you to the history of the New England settlements of the Puritans. There if anywhere we might hope to see the development of their principles and practice in perfection. And what do we find ? Instead · of having learnt a lesson of forbearance from the intolerance of which they had reason to complain at home, they exhibit a desire even to go beyond their former oppressors in per
secution. Banishments, scourgings and executions deface the early pages of the records of those settlements.
It is no excuse, nor do I intend to offer it as one, that other persons placed in the same position as were the prelates and rulers of the Reformed Church, would have acted as severely or even worse than they did. But it becomes somewhat of an apology when we look on their acts as what they deemed the best, nay the only means of rescuing their newly-organized Church from becoming a chaotic mass of inconsistencies. This and no less did they feel they had to dread. Whether they cast their eyes to the continent or towards the sister kingdom in their own island, Anabaptist outrages on the one hand and Presbyterian demolition on the other were sights which might well inspire them with terror and make them ready to court the strong hand of the civil power to avert such calamities from themselves.
Leaving for future consideration the feelings towards the Church which must have been developed in the minds of dissenters by the events we have passed in review, I would only now insist on two points of instruction for ourselves drawn from the history of this period. The first is the importance of conciliation. Extreme measures taken by one side are sure to be met by measures equally extreme on the other. It may be that some timely enlargement of liberty on the questions which first provoked bitter feelings in the Reformed Church would have prevented much of the misery which followed. And where liberty could have been allowed without danger of its degenerating into licence, we see now that it would assuredly have been the part of wise men to grant it. If any great principle were at stake the last advice which it would be right to give is the advice for a compromise. But the questions first in debate were, we may fairly say, such as involved no sacrifice of principle. And such are many of the points which are unhappily subjects of dissension and bitterness in the Church of today. Let it therefore be our wisdom, while fighting to the uttermost for what we know to be right in principle, to school ourselves to discriminate between what is matter of principle and what is extraneous thereto. If this were remembered and practised more, we should have less of the unseemly discord that exists both within the Church and without it. Periodical publications advocating the partial views of one or other section of the Church abound in these times. Regardless of the fate of the Church as a whole, these papers make it their sole business to keep alive points of debate which were much better suffered to die out. Too often an attitude of war is at once and without consideration assumed upon such points, and afterwards stubborn selfwill forbids the retracing of hasty steps, though they are seen by thoughtful minds to be utterly unjustifiable.
Another evil, whose deadening influence we cannot but have noticed throughout this period, is the entanglement of religion with matters of state policy. In a Church established as ours, this must be a danger ever impending, and there could hardly be a time when it is more imminent than at present. The rulers of our nation have lately interfered so largely and so much more than usual in the administration of the temporalities over which they have control, that to many minds it may seem as though the Church depended for her life on State Establishment. No doubt in former days men had such thoughts, and they naturally gave tone to their words and actions. And we say it with sorrow, but yet it must be said,