« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
likely to bring about, will in time do away with much bitterness of feeling, and promote a closer communion on the points on which we are all agreed.
Let us now endeavour to set forth briefly from this study of history what nonconforming Christians may be expected to feel towards us. And let me preface my remarks with this observation. In what I shall say I am merely trying to express what these several dissentients most probably feel. The conclusions at which I have arrived for myself doubtless differ in many points from theirs, and I would fain bring them to see these matters in the same light as I do. But to attain this result I must first realize their situation, and endeavour in some degree to make their standpoint my own.
First we will consider those who were earlier separated from us, the three older denominations. And here it should be borne in mind both by us and our opponents how vain it is to expect that evil traditions will ever die down while determined and obstinate disunion is perpetuated. Generation may succeed generation, but the sad memories perish not with the men who saw them in their birth. In the
feeling of Englishmen towards Rome at the present day how forcibly the truth of this statement may be seen! To numbers of our countrymen the prejudice sprung from circumstances of birth and education is so great that to apply the word Catholic to our Church of England is to set it in a light which to them is most repulsive. They think everything called Catholic must necessarily be in close alliance with that church which their prejudiced training has taught them to detest. For not only do individuals but even large sections of Christians ignore persistently all the good which the Church of Rome has done, because they have been reared in an atmosphere which breathed nothing but dislike towards her, but they even seem by their actions to deny the possibility of any true Christianity belonging to her communion. The constant question with them is like that of the Jews of old, and we may say with as much reason: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?” This is a fault arising from perverse education. Having had their views narrowed to one period of history wherein the evil deeds of Rome were enormously prominent, and ignoring the rest of the world's records, they maintain that she who did all this evil can never be expected to do any good.
We cannot afford to neglect this consideration when we reflect that at the present day most of those who are Dissenters are so because their parents were, and most Churchmen were reared in the communion to which they belong. Their early associations have given them a preference which their after-education has served to intensify. The same is the case with Churchmen in respect of Dissenters as with Dissenters in respect of Churchmen. How few on either side ever think upon, nay, ever have much opportunity of considering, anything but an ex parte statement. And so it comes to pass that what was received in one age and was perhaps true and blameable is reproduced as equally applicable to succeeding times. And to a great portion of the Churchmen of to-day Dissent is the revolutionary fanaticism of the days of Cartwright and Martin Marprelate, and the Establishment wears to Dissenters the same aspect it presented to their forefathers in the days of Laud and the Star Chamber. The older sections of Dissenters have been encouraged and trained to judge of us as a Church which has far too great a tendency to Romanizing. This was the prejudice which took root in the minds of those men who came back from · Frankfort and Geneva, and agitated against
the surplice and the Prayer-book as objects which linked us too closely with their adversaries. We know that their objection is without ground, and they might have learnt the same lesson had the treatment shewn to them been milder than it was. Their descendants ought to be satisfied with a separation which we have maintained for nearly three hundred years. They might reflect that there could be no union with Rome while Rome remains as she is, and we protest against Purgatory, against Pardons, against Images and Reliques, as well as the Invocation of Saints; while we abjure the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and condemn the Romish practice of worshipping the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; while we insist on Communion in both kinds; while we allow the liberty of marriage to our Bishops, Priests, and Deacons; when we contend for the right of every particular or National Church to ordain, change, or abolish those ceremonies and rites of the Church which have been appointed only by man's authority; when we declare that the Bishop of Rome has no authority in this realm of England. But the mischief has continued ever since the first estrangement, and the impression has been deepened rather than effaced by other portions of the conduct which was seen long years ago in the supporters of the English Establishment.
For Dissenters have further been taught to think of us as willing to abet the curtailment of civil liberty. They read of the grievous encroachments on the rights of the people which were made and long successfully upheld more than two hundred years ago, and in that record they find that Churchmen were not ashamed to lend their voices to support whatever the monarchs desired. These features in history their traditions have too faithfully reproduced. The literature on which the minds of our opponents are mainly fed repeats to them the story without any chance of their hearing a word in defence of much which is made to appear to them utterly indefensible. It matters not that civil liberty is now founded on such a basis as to be secure against all danger of overthrow. It weighs not with them that the Church of England is in a totally different position from that which she occupied in the times from which their prejudices date: that there is no