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10. That the words, “ He that believeth not shall be damned,” need not necessarily refer to every Christian, and, if so, perhaps not to the doctrine of the Trinity,—therefore they certainly do not refer to that doctrine.
11. In like manner it has been urged that Abraham may not have known the heinousness of human sacrifice, and that therefore we may talk as if we were sure he did not.
2. The Erastians.
The recognition of Civil Government, as the pri. mary source of Church authority, was among the first steps adopted by the Reformers both in England and on the Continent. Luther, Zuinglius, and Cranmer all considered themselves as dependent on their respective Rulers, and to this circumstance they owed that large share of secular patronage which enabled them to shake off the Papal Power : nor does the principle on which they acted appear to have been ever questioned by their followers, till Calvin erected his Genevan platform, and claimed for it the Power of the Keys in the full extent in which it had been asserted by the Church of Rome.
It was in opposition to this claim that Thomas Leiber, commonly known by the name of Erastus, wrote his famous Treatise de Excommunicatione, in which he systematized the crude notions of the first Reformers respecting the dependence of Church on State, and maintained them so ably, that his
successors have been unable to devise any new argument in addition to his. The Pastoral Office, according to him, was only persuasive, like that of a Professor of Sciences in relation to his voluntary students, without any Power of the Keys annexed. The Lord's Supper, and other ordinances of the Gospel, were to be free and open to all. The Minister might dissuade the vicious and unqualified from communicating, but might not reject them, nor inflict any kind of censures ; the punishment of all offences whether of a civil or religious nature being reserved to the Civil Magistrate. Thus his system entirely removed all that spiritual jurisdiction and coercive power over the consciences of men which had been claimed by Popes, Prelates, and Presbyteries ; and reduced the Church to a mere creature of the State. It may be amusing to know that among the many topics now in vogue on this subject, which originated with him, the plausible phrase imperium in imperio is one. At what time he composed this treatise is not precisely known; its publication, however, which was delayed till six years after his death, was so timed as to add very materially to its celebrity in England.
In this country the source of Ecclesiastical authority did not come under discussion till after it had been long agitated on the Continent : a fear on the one hand of offending the Queen by questioning her supremacy, and on the other of unchurching the foreign Protestants, had made our Bishops especially cautious of advancing any claim to a
Divine right. Nor was it till after the constitution of the Primitive Church had been thoroughly examined, and till a length of time had allowed men's minds to recover from the unsettling effects of the Reformation, that our Divines seem to have opened their eyes to the nature and extent of the Apostolical Commission. The first person who seems to have arrived at just views on this subject, was Hooker's intimate friend, the learned Saravia. Hooker himself, at the time when he composed the seventh Book of his Ecclesiastical Polity, informs us that his own mind had undergone a gradual change respecting it; and that having formerly thought Episcopacy one (perhaps the best) among the many admissible forms of Church Government, he now began to think it essential to the very being of a Church. But the first public occasion on which the Divine right of the Successors of the Apostles was brought prominently forward, was in the year 1588, when Richard Bancroft, at the suggestion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, preached his famous sermon at Paul's Cross. At this crisis Erastus's work was first published, as if reserved for the occasion, and his opinions and arguments were gladly adopted by political Churchmen and lukewarm Calvinists, who from this time have gone by the name Erastians.
A curious account of the proceedings of this party in the Assembly of Divines, and in the Parliament of 1645, is given at length in Neal's History of the Puritans, where it is amusing to observe
how much they were able to perplex the Presbyterians with questions which an Apostolical Christian would have had no difficulty in answering.
Among the reasons which have contributed to the spread of Erastianism in this country, one is the confusion of thought which has been caused by the Union of Church and State. The complicated interweaving of Ecclesiastical and Civil Offices which is effected by the English Law, renders it difficult to distinguish clearly between them. Excommunication is followed by civil punishments; Baptism by civil rights; Marriage within the pale of the Church is necessary to legitimatize children; Property cannot be bequeathed except through the intervention of Ecclesiastical Courts : and on the other hand, the consent of the civil authorities is rendered necessary for the exercise of every part of Ecclesiastical Discipline. Thus, almost every act of every Ecclesiastical officer has in it something of a civil character, arising, not out of the nature of his office, but from the Law of the Land.
Every Clergyman who baptizes or marries, conveys privileges which, as a Clergyman, he is in no way commissioned to convey; and every Bishop who should venture to excommunicate, would by that act take away privileges with which, as a Bishop, he could have no right to interfere. Now, so far forth as our Bishops and Clergy are empowered to do this, they are creatures of the State,simple magistrates acting under the Civil Government; and since almost all their ministerial acts have this effect in some degree or other, it is natural that half-thinking people should regard their whole ministry as civil, and dependent on the State. This confusion, however, may appear to be in some respects cleared up by the following observations of Dupin, who points out a very broad and intelligible distinction between powers essentially Ecclesiastical, and essentially Civil.
“ There are,” says that able writer, “two most noble and excellent societies among men, the Civil and Ecclesiastical; of which, though the same persons are members of both, and for that reason they may seem to vulgar eyes confused and intermixed with one another, yet in reality they are powers of a different kind and nature, and tend by different means to different ends.
“ The end of the Ecclesiastical society is eternal life, but of the Civil, peace and tranquillity to the commonwealth ; and since these ends are sundry, and wholly separate from one another, it is no wonder that the means which conduce to them are plainly different from each other. For no man can attain to eternal life but by those actions which flow from the freest motions of his will, proceeding from the love of God; from whence it is the business of religion to dispose and cultivate the minds of men by Faith and Piety, that they may willingly and freely obey the commandments of Christ. But on the other hand, it makes no difference as to the tranquillity of the commonwealth, whether its laws be observed willingly or otherwise, so they be ob