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gitimate logical result of the great political doctrine, that government derives its just powers from the assent of the governed, and the kindred doctrine of the supremacy of the individual reason in matters of faith. The right of private interpretation and government by consent of the governed once granted, no logical mind can stop short of Come-outerism ; and if you add the Quaker doctrine of individual inspiration, of the “light within,” you not only legitimate Come-outerism, but establish it on a divine foundation, and clothe it with divine authority.
But, after all, we will not suffer ourselves to despair either of the country or of humanity. We do, in the profound darkness which envelopes the land and the age, behold a gleam of light. One ray, at least, breaks through the gloom, and reveals to us the glorious truth, that there lies a bright heaven beyond, in which rides in his majesty the Sun of Righteousness. The reaction, we have elsewhere pointed out, in favor of religion and the Church, the deep and absorbing interest which many are beginning to feel on the great question of the Church, unsteady and uncertain as all may be as yet, is a favorable indication that we may possibly have reached the lowest deep, and that the upward tendency is commencing ; that Providence has not wholly abandoned us, nor given us up to a reprobate mind; and that the great and conservative spirit of the Gospel is still powerful, and will ultimately overcome the world, and subdue all things to the Lord and his Christ. We call upon the religious-minded, the lovers of the Lord, and the true friends of humanity, to hope and work, to pray without ceasing, and continue in well-doing. Let our trust be not in man, nor on an arm of flesh, but in God; let us submit ourselves to him, lay aside human vanity and human pride, and walk in the way he has ordained, and the evil will be arrested, and the good retained.
VOL I. NO. III.
Art. VI. — Letters on the Ministry, Ritual, and Doc
trines of the Protestant Episcopal Church, addressed to Rev. Wm. E. Wyatt, D. D., Associate Minister of St. Paul's Parish, Baltimore, and Professor of Theology in the University of Maryland, in Reply to a Sermon exhibiting some of the principal Doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. By JARED SPARKS, formerly Minister of the First Independent Church of Baltimore. Second Edition. Boston: James Munroe & Co., 1844. 12mo.
Our own general estimate of the Protestant Episcopal Church, when viewed in relation to unity and catholicity, may be easily collected from a foregoing article. We are compelled to regard it as a Protestant communion; and we are unable to find any ground on which Protestantism, taken as a separation in doctrine or communion from the Holy See, can be defended, without rejecting all notions of the Church as an organic body. We know not what new light may break in upon our minds, but, so far as at present informed, we are compelled, by what seems to us to be the force of truth, to look upon the separation of the reformers from the Roman communion, in the sixteenth century, as irregular, unnecessary, and, we must add, as a serious calamity to Christendom. We deny not that there was a necessity for a thorough reform of manners; but we cannot but think and believe, that, if the reformers had confined themselves to such reforms, and to such modes of eflecting them, as were authorized or permitted by the canons of the Church, they would have much more successfully corrected the real abuses of which they complained, and done infinitely more service to the cause of religion and social progress. Their separation, if not a terrible sin, was at best a terrible mistake, which all sincere lovers of the Lord and his Spouse should deeply lament, and over which no one should permit himself to exult.
Taking this view of the Protestant Reformation, we
are compelled to regard all Protestant communions as schismatic in their origin, at least, as irregular and censurable. From the charge here implied, we can find no special grounds for excepting the Protestant Episcopal Church. Her pretensions to Catholicity we do not find supported; and although she retains much of the old Catholic faith, and many Catholic elements rejected by her sister communions, yet she cannot, and even dares not, call herself the Catholic Church. We have no wish to disguise the fact, - nor could we, if we would, that our ecclesiastical, theological, and philosophical studies have brought us to the full conviction, that, either the Church in communion with the See of Rome is the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, or the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church does not exist. We have tried every possible way to escape this conclusion, but escape it we cannot. We must accept it, or go back to the No-church doctrine we put forth in our somewhat famous, or rather, notorious, Essay on the Laboring Classes. Our logic allows us no alternative between Catholicism and Come-outerism. But we have tried Come-outerism to our full satisfaction. We are thoroughly convinced in mind, heart, and soul, that Christ did institute a visible Church ; that he founded it upon a rock ; that the gates of hell have not prevailed, and cannot prevail, against it; and that it is the duty of us all to submit to it, as the representative of the Son of God on earth.
But, notwithstanding this, we have felt that the primary question for us, who have been born and brought up in Protestant communions, is not so much, Which is the true apostolic Church ? as, What is the apostolic model ? and that our first work should be, to bring our respective communions, in their constitution, doctrine, discipline, and usage, into strict conformity with that model. This may, perhaps, be disputed ; but certainly we must believe that to ascertain, from our own standpoints, what is the apostolic model, and to labor to conform our respective communions to it, cannot be a work unprofitable, nor unacceptable to the Great Head of the Church.
We take it for granted that no serious Protestant can be satisfied with the present state of our Protestant world. The foundation of all moral and social wellbeing is in religion ; and religion cannot coexist, at least, not in its efficacy, with our sectarian divisions, dissensions, and animosities. Union is loudly demanded. We hear the cry for it from all quarters. But union in error is out of the question. We can unite only on the truth, and, as Christians, only by conforming in all things to the apostolic model. Then, what is this model ? This question necessarily opens up the whole question of the Church, - the great question of what it really is, of its place and necessity in the economy of Providence, and its means and method of recovering sinners and aiding the growth and sanctity of believers. This question is to be answered only by a philosophic appeal to the Apostles and Fathers, to the Bible interpreted by the light of ecclesiastical antiquity.
The Church is the divinely instituted body for the recovery of sinners, and the growth and sanctification of believers. It is not an anomaly in God's universe, .
, but contemplated by the original plan of creation, and essential to its complete realization. All the works of the Creator, and all the events of Providence, presuppose it, and point to it, as that in which they are to receive their fulfilment. It is necessary, on the same ground and for the same reason that the Incarnation was necessary, that is to say, because man can commune with God only by virtue of some medium through which he is revealed. No man hath seen God at any time; no man can see him and live ; and no man knoweth the
: Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son reveals him. We behold the glory of the Father only in the face of Jesus Christ, who is the revelation of God. We see nothing without a medium. I can behold no object but through the medium of that which is distinguishable from both myself who behold, and the object beheld ; namely, the light. Light is neither myself nor that which I see, but the simple medium of sight, without which there would be no sight. So the only begot
ten Son of God is the light by which I behold the Father, by which the invisible becomes visible, the inapproachable becomes accessible. The Gospel is all here in the mystery of the Incarnation, -"the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.”
We are obliged here to separate from our Unitarian brethren, with whom we have for many years been in some degree associated, among whom we have so many friends, and to the learning, ability, singleness of purpose, and great moral worth of many of whom we can bear full and willing testimony. Yet we owe it to them and to ourselves to say, frankly, that we cannot reconcile the denial of the Incarnation, the proper divinity and proper humanity of Christ, “the mystery of godliness, with faith in Christianity at all. The Gospel, according to our Unitarian friends, appears to us to be another Gospel, and wholly incompatible with the Gospel of our Lord, and wholly incompatible with any sound doctrine of life. Whoso denies that the Word, consubstantial with the Father, was made flesh and dwelt among us, denies the faith once delivered to the saints; and whoso perceives not the reason and necessity, in the economy of Providence, of the doctrine of the Incarnation, and of the union, without confusion, of the two natures, the human and the divine, in the one person of Jesus, it seems to us, must needs perceive nothing of the reason and necessity of the Gospel, nor of the profound significance of Christian redemption.
But for the same reason that it was originally necessary that the WORD, which is God, should be incarnated, that is, embodied in space and time, so that we, who are creatures of space and time, might have a medium of communion with that which transcends space and time, a medium of access to the Father, is it still necessary that the Word should continue to be embodied and dwell among us.
The incarnation of the Word two thousand years ago would not avail us, if there were no present incarnation. Jesus, independent of all present embodiment in space and time, would be to us precisely what he was before he was born of the Bles