« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
nineteenth Article to be “a congregation of faithfull men,” and so a portion of the visible Church of Christ, “ in which the pure word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.” Now we have seen, that it is of necessity to the Sacrament of Baptism, according to Christ's ordinance, that spiritual regeneration should effectually accompany the outward and bodily washing. It follows then that whosoever directly or indirectly consents to the separation of these essential parts, directly by his own continuance in open sin, or indirectly by allowing the ignorance and sin of others,—does in so far virtually withdraw himself from the visible Church, and add another to the many schisms which in these unhappy days are rending the body of Christ. And again: since the Sacraments are the visible signs and badges of the Catholick Communion, which by these schisms is so grievously dismembered, are we not constrained by the love of Christ to strive, by the promotion of religious truth, to restore the several members of his body to the agreement of the faith ? " By one Spirit,” says St. Paul, “ are we all baptized into one body: the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. And
whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
It needs only a slight reference to history and experience to convince us, that all these deplorable departures from sound doctrine, which have not had their origin in scepticism and determined vice, have sprung from want of information. And this is a consideration that appeals with an especial force to all dutiful members of the Church of England, established as it is on the national recognition of the sound scriptural principle, that all are to be instructed in the truth; and which has therefore well been called, “ The Poor Man's Church.” In any Church, or with no permanent Church at all, the affluent might procure the means of Baptism, and of instruction in their baptismal engagements. But the sound wisdom and piety of our ancestors were led, by God's mercy, to provide the opportunity of Baptism for all alike within the “land which the Lord their Godhad given them.” And we, if we have their zeal for Christ's honour, and their love to the poor, shall be ready to follow up their designs. In spite of all that we can say or do, there will still be parents and godfathers unwilling or unable to impart the necessary instruction ; and persons of every age will thus be found, who have been
r 1 Cor. xii. 13. et seq.
baptized into the Church without the means of learning to fulfil their engagements. These can only be taught in the Churches and publick Schools, which must be supplied by those whom God in the gift of greater possessions has appointed his stewards for that very purpose. They must not be left in their ignorance, under whatever pretence of liberality such a selfish and intolerant purpose may be cloked. Whatever vain and unscriptural theories may be propounded;—with whatever clamour it may be insisted, that “every man,” as it is phrased, “ should pay his own spiritual adviser;" we dare not overlook the fact, that it has pleased God to make those who most need instruction absolutely dependent on others for its supply. If we then would show our gratitude for the evangelical piety and liberality which have endowed our Church, and our attachment to its fundamental principle, we must be ready with a self-denying zeal to enlarge her means of instruction, and so to extend and consolidate that brotherly communion, of which her Sacraments are the visible badges. If we would dispel errour and banish schism, we must aid her in her apostolical work of preaching CHRIST's holy Word,“casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christa.”
a 2 Cor. x. 5.
We have seen, that the Sacrament of Baptism, properly considered, binds us to the duty of Christian instruction; as necessary, in the first place, to the proper imparting of its spiritual blessings; secondly, to its preservation from prophanation ; and, thirdly, to the unity of the Church into which it is the way of admission.
It remains to consider the nature and the blessing of the duty thus enjoined upon us by the very profession of Christianity.
Our inquiry here need not be long. “ Teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” It is not by any partial views of religionmagnifying a point here, and diminishing or overlooking a precept there—that Christianity can be truly taught. It is not by banding ourselves together in conflicting sects, teaching men to call themselves by this or that Pharisaical name, and to insult their brethren by this or that scornfull appellation, that the noblest work of love can be carried on. We must teach them all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. His universal word it is which claims our reverence and affection; not the doctrines, however authoritatively delivered, of one or another man or set of men. On this broad foundation we are to build :--neither narrowing it, on the one hand, by sectarian intolerance, or slipping, on the other, into the pathless ocean of sceptical indifference. And precisely on this foundation it is that our scriptural Church rests her religious education. Repudiating all human assumptions which only tend to fetter the grace of God, and narrow the pale of safety, she declares, that“ holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation;" yet at the same time, eschewing the cry of "peace where there is no peace,” she faithfully testifies that they are to be had accursed that presume to say, that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.” While she protests against the usurped oppression of the see of Rome, and claims her scriptural liberty, undismayed by the false imputation of heresy, she yet,“ as free and not using her liberty for a cloke of maliciousness",” ceases not to uphold the just authority of the Catholick Church, and her own claim as a national Branch of the same, to the affection and obedience of all the subjects of this realm. It is by departures from this golden rule that schisms and strifes have crept in, and it is only by a stricter adherence to it that these divisions can be healed. It is by obscuring the light of this candle of the pure word of God that the misnamed system of education has prevailed so far, which teaches that it is not our business as a people to instruct