« ZurückWeiter »
One great step to insure efficiency, is the subdivision of the diocese of Calcutta, and the appointment in each presidency of the chief pastors and overseers which the constitution of our Church requires, and by whose superintendence and counsels and prayers the Divine grace will, we trust, be in some measure conveyed, as it was in the early ages of the church, in proportion to the more adequate number of ministers, to the flocks under their care. Nor is it a small advantage that our Established Church, when complete in its .orders of ministers, and enlarged to the demands of our christian population in each diocese, will present, for the first time, to the eyes of the observant heathens and Mohammedans, Christianity in its becoming beauty. We shall show that we have a religion. We shall convince them that we are not the atheistical, irreligious race which they have long suspected us to be. We shall demonstrate that we indeed believe in that Divine revelation for the direction of our faith and worship, and act upon those divine commands, which we profess to have received from the one living and true God. The heathen and Mussulmans are well known to despise those who have no religious institutions themselves, just in proportion as they are jealous of interference in their own superstitions. Their respect for the British nation has naturally, therefore, already increased from the decided happy, though yet very partial approaches to a due ecclesiastical establishment which we have made ; and it will be yet further augmented, as we proceed in this consistent and reasonable, and only reasonable, course. - (Pp. 12, 13.)
With respect to the discharge of all the offices of religion, in strict accordance with the rubrics and canons of the Church, I need not add any thing to what I stated in my former Charge. In a new diocese, especially, there is but one course for all of us—consistency. If every clergy man is to act in things indifferent on his private judgment, we are all afloat; the principle of a church establishment is given up; we become independent one of another, and our ordination vows are abandoned. There can be but one rule, one canon, one order, that of our reformed apostolical Church, as laid down in her book of Common Prayer. And allow me to say, that if we once begin to yield to this and that temporary inconvenience, the vagrancy of the human mind will know no limit. Happy the clergyman and flock, who enter the most cordially into the adequate and edifying and spiritual means of grace already provided for them; and who bestow their undivided attention on the great commanding concerns of faith and holiness. -(Pp. 15, 16.)
VISIT TO THE SYRIAN CAURCHES. -I found many things, undoubt. edly, amongst them, which a better education of the clergy, and advances in scriptural knowledge and real primitive antiquity, will remove. On the subject of the sacraments, and in their liturgical offices, many expressions and usages occur, which Protestants account, and justly account, erroneous and superstitious. When I was present at the celebration of their public worship, I was much distressed; and was ready to conclude they differed little in fact from the Church of Rome. But, so far as I can judge, the case is not so: they are far, very far, from symbolizing with the Church of Rome. They still reject, after three centuries of chicane and persecution, the supremacy of the Pope. They still acknowledge the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures. They hold no traditions as of co-ordinate rank with the Scriptures, and necessary to their just interpretation. They allow them to be translated without notes, and read freely by the people. They object not to prayers in a known tongue. They do not receive the decrees of the Council of Trent. They do not hold, as a church, transubstantiation, or the doctrine of the real presence, or purgatory, in the sense of the Church of Rome, whatever individuals may do.* They do not deny the cup to the laity. They enforce not the celibacy of the clergy. They allow not the use of images in churches. They admit all orthodox churches to be branches of Christ's holy catholic church, and within the pale of salvation. The numerous errors and superstitions which have crept into their liturgies and services, are not drawn up into articles of faith, and fixed immovably by general councils. They still hold, as a church, the canons of the first Council of Nice only, which at their ordination their presbyters engage to observe. I trust we may, therefore, say of them, that, however large may be the admixture of superstitions, they have, as a church, “kept Christ's word, and not denied bis name."
It is only wonderful, indeed, considering their long total exclusion from more enlightened christian communities; the subjugation of the larger part of their brethren, under Archbishop Menézes, to the Roman yoke, from which they themselves escaped only by miracle, as it were, after a struggle of sixty years ;t the destruction of their libraries, and consequent want of an educated clergy; and the short time they have been in communication with the British power,-it is only wonderful that they have retained so much of scriptural truth, and present so striking and favourable a contrast, as they confessedly do, not only to the heathen, but to the Roman-catholic Syrians around them.
I confess I was greatly affected with all I saw. I could not avoid comparing their doctrine, discipline, and usages with the first histories of the christian church. The subject seemed to me full of instruction, consolation, warning, in various ways; and it is for these ends I have thought myself at liberty to give you this account of my visit, though it has compelled me to speak so much of my individual proceedings, for which I crave your forgiveness.
(1.) Here, reverend brethren, is an ancient church, from the days of the apostles, preserved for sixteen or seventeen centuries, amidst surrounding idolatry; knowing nothing of the pretended supremacy of Rome, nor of her peculiar dogmas; but standing a witness, in addition to the primitive churches in Haute Dauphiné I and the valleys of Piedmont, to the pure gospel of Christ, and thus demonstrating the comparative novelty of the superstitious doctrines and usages, and indeed of all the assumptions of the church and court of Rome; a testimony, in a day like the present, of no little value.
• There are many opinions and practices afloat tending to superstition, both concerning the Eucharist and prayers for the departed. Possibly further inquiries, and a better acquaintance with their language and their numerous liturgies, may cast more light on the subject. It was in November, 1835, that I made my visit.
On the conquest of Cochin by the Dutch, in 1663.
For the accounts of which we are so much indebted to Mr. Prebendary Gilly. Is it improper in me to solicit his attention next to the history of the Christians of St. Thomas ?
(2.) Nor is it a point of small moment, that these ancient churches confirm us in our belief of the apostolical origin of our episcopal platform of church-government; and display the wisdom of our reformers in retaining, as no other protestant communion has retained, that beautiful system of order and edification as it existed in the apostolical age. We may be assured that the polity of our National Church, after an example of such extraordinary success, is not ill adapted to the feeble, prostrate mind of India.
(3.) The value of liturgies in securing some knowledge of the great doctrines of the fall, the Holy Trinity, redemption, the atonement of Christ, his Deity of very God of very God ;* the person and operations of the Holy Spirit, love to God and man, the obligation of the ten commandments, &c., in the darkest times, is again apparent.
(4.) Nor, on the other hand, is the danger less obvious of a church losing sight of the holy Scriptures, of its allowing that blessed book, the only rule of faith, to become rare, to remain in a language gradually unfamiliar to the people, and no longer capable of being appealed to as the standard of all doctrine and worship. We see in these ancient churches, that when their copies of Scripture and other books were once burnt, and an unlearned clergy followed, ignorance of the mighty truths of the gospel came on, changes were made in the liturgies and customs, and much superstition and error crept in.
(5.) We further learn, however, from the few Syriac manuscripts of the holy Scriptures which have been collated, the capital fact, of the integrity of our Western copies, agreeing, as they do, in all main particulars, with those independent and most ancient Eastern ones of the Syriac versions made by apostolical men, and retaining the very dialect which our blessed Lord spake when on earth.
(6.) To which points when I add the assurance these churches afford us of the possibility of forming permanent christian communities, retaining their faith from age to age, from amongst the nations of India; of training and fixing them in a discipline resembling our own, and guiding them by a native ministry, maintained in primitive simplicity, and yet surrounded with the respect and reverence of the people; I trust you will allow that the points of instruction to be gathered from their past and present circumstances are not unimportant.
(7.) Nor is it uninteresting to trace those vestiges of antiquity in many of their customs; some of which we might profitably perhaps follow, though others are less adapted to our modern habits. Their respect for antiquity and the usages of their fathers; their synods, consisting of bishops, clergy, and laity; the consent of parishioners obtained to the appointment of their pastors; bishops sometimes chosen by the clergy and laity, when not sent to them from Syria ; candidates continued for a series of years in the preparatory office of deacon, before they are admitted and ordained presbyters ; excommunication, admonition, &c., administered by a court held in the porch of each church,
• The Nestorian doctrine of “ two natures and two persons" in our Lord, was succeeded by the Jacobite doctrine of “one nature and one person,” probably about the year 1663. The Chalcedonian or orthodox doctrine, i need not say, is that there are ** two natures," the Divine and human, united in the one person of our Lord.
and consisting of the priest and four lay elders ; another species of punishment not less solemn, administered by the priest omitting to bless the offender, when the rest of the congregation pass to receive that blessing; the erection of churches in every parish, with contiguous rooms for the constant residence of the clergy, separate houses being seldom built for them, but the priest living in the church itself.-(Pp. 25—30.)
REFORMATION SOCIETY. MR. EDITOR,- In the Number for July of your excellent Magazine, you have spoken a word in favour of the Reformation Society, which I am glad of; for although I am not enrolled among its members, it does appear to me that the general tendency of this Society is good, and favourable to the welfare of that Church to which I am so deeply and fervently attached. I know that this Society has been considered in some respects objectionable; but then it should always be borne in mind that nothing in this world is perfect, and that there is no society on earth absolutely unobjectionable in all respects. Many churchmen withhold their support from the Reformation Society, because members of the established church of Scotland and Dissenters are admitted into it; but I believe it is not in this respect like the British and Foreign Bible Society, which admits Socinians; I believe it excludes those who deny the fundamental doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement: and those who make the above objection should remember, that the very same may be made against the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge; for although all its members are nominally churchmen, I could point out to you several names on its lists of persons who are more than suspected of heterodoxy in fundamentals; nay, who have actually promulgated, in their writings, sentiments tending to undermine the foundations of our faith; or, what is nearly as bad, have treated them with contempt as matters of indifference. You will know to whom I allude ; and you will also observe, that I do not make this an objection to the Christian Knowledge Society, of which I am, and have long been a member, but only to show that with every association some fault may be found; and that we must therefore always regard the general design and tendency. Now, I believe it will be found that an overwhelming majority of the members of the Reformation Society are hearty Conservatives, both in Church and State, and that its general design is good: and encouraged by these considerations, as well as by your approval, I shall contribute my mite to its support.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
“ It hath done much mischief in the world, I fear, the looking more into the life than to the doctrine of our teachers ; but both life and doctrine should be looked to, lest one destroy and pull down more than the other buildeth.
“But the worst life cannot disparage the verity of solid doctrine, nor the most plausible life admit the insinuations of false doctrine."-Dr. Sparke on the Festivals.
PSALMS AND HYMNS BY THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER. We beg to submit to those Clergy, who have introduced our volume of Psalms and Hymns into their Churches, the alterations which now appear necessary to be made in the following Hymns, and which are expressed in italics. Our aim has been to make as little change as possible.
Conscientious Obedience to Rulers. (Rom. xiii. 1.)
The Powers on earth that be ;
Subject alone to thee :
The guardian of our land;
And bless her mild command.
The benefit divine:
The glory, Lord, be thine.
“Defend her, Lord, defend :
And save her to the end.”
128. For a Blessing on the Queen. (1 Pet. ii. 13–17.)