With collateral points. In reply to the Rev. R. P. Carey’s “Remarks.”
(Published 1863, CBA/JRL/MU5597(8).)
The Rector of St. Saviour’s renews the controversy opened by the Curate of St. John’s. I thank him for his general courtesy, and for the opportunity of confronting another line of argument with Scripture; but I enter on the task with not the less pain, because I believe every point raised by Mr. Carey can be satisfactorily decided against him. For experience teaches that party-spirit is strong, and that, where one fails to convince, some at least are sure to be alienated. He who cleaves to nothing but God’s Word and Spirit, stands on vantage-ground, from which he should not descend to questions of self; and a sorry advocate he must be, if he cannot disprove the title of a politico-religious institution adequately to represent the Church of God. Conscious, on the one hand, of no feeling inconsistent with esteem and love for adversaries on either side, I will not, on the other, compromise the truth by seeking to please men, nor withhold a warning voice, where, in my judgment, the devices of our great common enemy menace the unwary.
The Church Of God
The nature of its membership, with its discipline as a consequence, is the first and very grave question mooted. Here, strange to say, Mr. Dobrée agreed with me in the grand essential point, that union of the saints,* separate from the world, is God’s will; while I agree with Mr. Carey in the comparatively little point, that every well-conducted man, converted or not, may communicate in the Establishment, as far as its will is concerned. He tells us, that the Rubric enjoining communication “is a simple direction given by the Church to her members.” This is certainly a mild way of reading it; but I must insist, that her members expressly comprise “every parishioner” (scandalous offenders excepted.) The recognition of the world as God’s Church, with or without saints intermixed, is the groundwork of the Anglican body, and fatal to its claim of accordance with God’s will, if Mr. Dobrée’s principles and mine be true.
* Mr. Carey (pp. 7, 8) actually reasons from the undoubtedly lower sense in which the Jews are called “a holy people” in the Old Testament to “the saints in Christ Jesus” in the New testament! Does he not know that the Jew was only typically and carnally what the Christian is really and in the Spirit? To the Corinthian assembly, where appearances were as bad, if not worse than anywhere else, the Apostle writes, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son.” “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God! Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, etc. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” If all this is attenuated to the unworthy idea that they were merely “set apart from the heathen world and dedicated to God’s service in Holy Baptism” and that they were not saints personally, I need not say that here I discern a controversialist, but not “a sound exponent of Scripture.” The object is as much as possible to lower the Apostolic churches and to veil the real features of the Establishment, so as to make out as near a case of equal guilt, if not of equal beauty of holiness, as may quiet disturbed consciences. There seem traces of compunction, in pp. 5, 8 and elsewhere, as if the author shrank from the unlovely task, still, it was the sole hope of excusing his own system; and all the sad catalogue of the iniquities which the Spirit then discerned, denounced and called on the saints to hate and judge, is made, in clerical hands, to serve the end of a party. No statement of privileges, set down by man, even approaches the bright roll of blessing which the Apostles treat as the common possession of “all saints,” in the ordinary New Testament meaning of that term. How could any but those “believed to be saints,” in the fullest sense, be honestly addressed, as saved by grace, rejoicing in Christ, quickened and raised with Him, accepted in the Beloved, sealed of the Spirit, sons, kings and priests unto God? Could this, and very much more, he truthfully said of men who were merely separate from heathenism and baptized? Saintship is a real, living relationship with God by the Holy Ghost’s power, who reveals Christ to the soul, and is not a question either of a certain attainment or of a mere external dedication to God’s service. A clergyman’s difficulty is due chiefly to his own ecclesiastical atmosphere. If Mr. Carey would not predicate of “every parishioner” what St. Paul applies to all the saints in Ephesus or Rome, it is enough to show that the Apostle uses “saint,” in one sense, while he understands it in another sense, which was common in Judaism, but is foreign to the Church.
But Mr. Carey questions the truth of these principles, and endeavours (in pp. 5-8) to prove, not that the Apostles received into Christian fellowship any decent man of the world, but that sins of uncleanness prevailed then, offences against unity and peace and order, and even false teachers and heretics. No doubt, the germs of these evils were there, in some cases the development too, on all sides danger and the need of urgent expostulation and warning. But the argument has no force for the purpose in view. For the evil ways, into which some or many professors of Christ fell after they were received, cannot prove that, these professors were not “believed to be saints” when first received. And, secondly, the instruction which the Holy Ghost furnishes for the judgment of these evils, far from helping mixed communion, is its emphatic refutation, and confirms in the strongest way the truth that none but “saints” are contemplated as fit and proper members of God’s Church, though, we all admit, deceivers and self-deceived may slip in.
Let us take that epistle which most of all displays moral, doctrinal, social, domestic and ecclesiastical disorder. (1 Corinthians.) Surely, the reader may bless God, that however sorrowful and humbling the picture may be as regards the saints, He has converted it, in His grace, into an occasion not only of correcting the then evils, desperate and various as they were, but of affording permanent and perfect canons for the guidance of the faithful at all times. Oh how sad, that well-meaning men should pervert His mercy into the error that those grievous evils were tolerated! (p. 9.) The precise contrary is the truth: the Apostle enforces their judgment with all his authority in his first letter; and, in his second, he gives no obscure hint to any who remained impenitent, of that which the might expect when he came again. (2 Cor. 12:20, 21; 2 Cor. 13:2, 10.)
It is not enough borne in mind that the Corinthians were an infant church, highly endowed though they were with signal powers and gifts. They had been delivered by the knowledge of Christ from a corruption of morals which was a proverb even in the universally corrupt Pagan world. But these circumstances all conspired to leave them peculiarly exposed to the snares and temptations of the evil one, when St. Paul left them for other work. Divine wisdom and goodness, without excusing their sin, turned it in result to their good and ours; in no case tolerated evils great or small; but for the lesser forms furnished reproof and correction, and in the darkest shades made excommunication a matter of bounden duty-yea, on peril of becoming a leavened lump. The known guilt which was unjudged would attach to the whole body.
Mr. Carey will, I trust, pardon my thinking that his statements on the subject of discipline in pp. 9, 10, (and indeed wherever it occurs,) show undeniable want of familiarity with Scripture facts. Far from me be the thought that he suppressed evidence which he knew; but if he did not, what can the “Brethren” conclude? I say the “Brethren;” because he specially invites their attention to note the fact “that the evils then existing in the Church, many and grievous as they were, were tolerated and the offending members not cut off. To St. Paul and the other Apostles was confided the power of the keys. To them it belonged with the concurrence of the assembly, and perhaps without it, (and perhaps to the assembly alone,) to deliver over unto Satan unworthy members of the body. How did they execute the power? They saw the grievous evils with which they were surrounded, and they loudly bewailed them. They warned offenders, they rebuked, they entreated them, but there it would seem they stopped — they did not proceed to excommunicate them. There are but two instances recorded in which recourse was had to this measure; one the case of the incestuous man, the other the case of Hymeneus and Alexander.” I have given what I presume the author would desire to reach some eyes which may not glance over his tract; but I venture to say that there is perhaps not one among the “Brethren” who will not read or hear these words with astonishment. For they will see how inconsiderately a grave subject can be handled by an educated man, and what neglect of Scripture characterises most of those who seek to convert “Brethren” from the error of their ways.
The “Brethren” see as clear as light in God’s Word, that what the mass of men desire to reduce the Church to, is the state of things which subsisted in Israel — a national body, which, in principle, embraced all the people who found their bond of religious union in the ordinances which attached to them as Abraham’s seed after the flesh, with individual believers hidden among them. They see, just as clearly, that, according to the Scriptures, this state of things received its death-warrant in the death of Christ, whose resurrection was the dawn of a new day, in which comes to view Christianity properly so called, the Church of God. Hence, we read, from the day of Pentecost, “the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” — not “well-conducted men” merely, but saints in the New Testament sense of the word, i.e., persons separated to God from the world by the Holy Ghost, not Jews from Gentiles by the rite of circumcision. In fact, one of the salient features of the Church, which it was St. Paul’s line above all to bring out, was the union of the believing Jew and Gentile in one body: a thing impossible under the Old Testament, and in direct opposition to the law. But we are under grace, and not law, and are dead and risen with Christ, and hence enter, even while we are on earth, on wholly new ground, where God is now “gathering together in one His children that were scattered abroad.” Children of God there were before our Saviour died; but one of the revealed objects of His death was to gather them in one (John 11:52) to form the Church. Need I transfer to these pages the plain, reiterated, unvarying testimony of the Acts of the Apostles? The Holy Ghost’s character of the constituents of the Church, in Acts 4, ought to preclude mere argument. — “great grace was upon them all.” Yet, even then, in that one city of Jerusalem, there were no less than five thousand men, not to speak of women, who, in Scripture as in experience, are usually at least as numerous. If an Ananias and Sapphira conspired in a religious lie, was it not at once sternly judged as an insult not merely to the Church, but to the Divine Indweller who constituted them, who constitutes us, God’s habitation? If a Simon Magus, spite of his baptism, betrayed by his words his unregenerate heart, he is then and there denounced as having neither part nor lot in the matter, and still in the bond of iniquity. These facts do not look like tolerance of evil; nor had the Church in those days a door almost as wide as that of a market. On the contrary, it was holy ground in the richest and deepest sense.
We might pursue that which “Brethren” read in this and other books of the New Testament. But St. Peter’s plea for the recognition of the Gentile converts may suffice to show that here, as with the Jews, not good human conduct but divine faith was looked for. “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I that I could withstand God? When they heard these things they held their peace and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Cornelius was a “well-conducted man,” nay, was one that “feared God with all his house,” before the visit of the great Jewish Apostle. But no servant of Christ, in those days, dreamt of a soul entering the Church unless on the ground of possessing the Holy Ghost. And this is the position of the “Brethren” now — by Mr. Carey’s confession, not that of the Establishment, which must needs be content with outward decency.
But then the gross corruptions in doctrine and practice which crept into some of the assemblies! Fully, sorrowfully, is it granted. Nevertheless there were with them, there are with us, these essential differences from the religion as by law established: 1st, none received as components of the assembly save those believed to have passed from death unto life, and indwelt of the Holy Ghost; and 2nd, holy discipline maintained by the Spirit in the assembly according to the Word of God. It is a fallacy of the first magnitude to think that, if an assembly consisted of none but real saints, grave disorders and sins might not arise through the craft of Satan; how much more, as we freely confess, we, like those of old, must be content to receive those who on sufficient evidence, as it is judged, are believed to be such! On the other hand, to plead the record of the evils which appeared in the early Churches, as a licence for tolerating these evils then or now, will seem to “Brethren” equally weak in logic, lax in ethics, and unintelligent in Scripture.
Further, the record of the case is not at all given in its entirety; though I think the picture unwittingly overdrawn. Thus, there is no ground to believe that those of whom the Apostle speaks with tears to the Philippians, were then in their assembly or in any other. They had probably gone wholly outside the Church. It may prove terrible declension, but not the allowance of evil. Again, 2 Peter and Jude are decidedly prophetic of evil in its darkest dyes, though Apostles could then descry men who displayed evil enough to suggest the worst forebodings.
But the point most of all to be noted is, that if there were men found causing divisions and scandals, the saints are enjoined not to tolerate but avoid them. (Rom. 16) If others were forming cliques round their favourites, they are of course not to be put away, but yet they are reproved as carnal: (1 Cor. 3:) not, observe, as “natural men,” which the mere “well-conducted” are, but as “carnal.” If, through mixing the agape, or primitive love-feast, with the Lord’s Supper, Satan had tempted some to cover this holy feast with the scandal of their own grossness, the Holy Ghost for ever separates the Eucharist from the accompaniment of an ordinary meal, and expounds its spiritual significance. But even so, the thing pressed is not, as with moderns, “worthy partakers,” but the partaking worthily, which every believer, and only the believer, can do, if he come in a spirit of self judgment. A more heinous blunder can hardly be than the threat of “damnation” in the Communion Service, borrowed from the unhappy translation of 1 Cor. 11:29, which may be natural in a scheme that invites “every parishioner” to “a means of grace,” but is refuted by its own context; for even in the worst case, where the Lord judges and chastens careless Christians, it is expressly that they should not be damned or condemned with the world. It is as sure as can be, then, that the very Corinthians, who had been cut off for their gross failure by the Lord’s judgments, were so dealt with that they should not be condemned with the world. That is, even they were saints in the real Christian sense, and not merely according to a shadowy, Jewish sanctity. Nay, more, the man who fell so horribly (1 Cor. 5) turned out, as we know from 2 Cor. 2, 7, to be much more than one dedicated in baptism; for if the first epistle commands the saints to put him out, the second calls for his public restoration, without a hint that he was first brought to God, though of course thoroughly broken down, in the interval. Mr. Carey’s inference from the evils at Corinth is, therefore, most peremptorily set aside by the epistles themselves. And so it is elsewhere. If a man preached “another Gospel,” Paul does not say, “you must listen, because he is your parish priest,” (for in truth both parishes and priests were novelties unheard of in professing Christendom for centuries after,) but “let him be accursed.” “He that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whose ever he be.” “I would they were even cut off that trouble you.” (Gal. 1, Gal. 5.) From every brother, walking disorderly, the saints are commanded to withdraw themselves — the very reverse of bearing with it. (2 Thess. 3) Granted that the early Christians, like ourselves, might discern a heretic in their midst; but then, the rule is, not warning, rebuking, entreating and there stopping, but “after the first and second admonition reject.” (Titus, 3) Doubtless, every case of discipline does not call for rejection: but the necessary principle of God’s Church, as a true witness on earth of Christ in heaven, is intolerance of evil in the power of the Spirit, instead of the pitiable imbecility which some commend and try, in vain, to justify. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear,” (1 Tim. 5) is well known and acted on where Scripture rules, but cannot be in the Anglican body; which undeniably consists for the most part of men, (and not always “well-conducted men,”) having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: “from such,” mark it well, the man of God, instructed in the perils of the last days, is charged to “TURN AWAY.” (2 Tim. 3)
Moreover, the Holy Ghost does give us, in 1 Cor. 5, not merely one instance, nor ten thousand instances, of excommunication, but what is far better — the positive obligation laid on the assembly of God to exercise discipline, and to the last degree, if needed; the ground on which it is based; the object in view; and the sort of sins which demands rigour. And it is of the utmost moment to observe that, though the Apostle, in urging their responsibility, puts himself with them in spirit, yet would it not have been in any wise the same thing, had even he been present in body and done it all for them. The assembly must judge those within; they must have conscience and heart exercised for it was not a question of a mere court of law, dealing coldly with somebody’s affairs, but a most afflicting thing that they, the saints of God, should have in their midst a deep dishonour done to their Lord. If it were only their families, how would they not grieve; how much more for such a scandal in God’s family! Hence they were called on to put away from among themselves the wicked person - to approve themselves clear in the matter. The action of a mere clerk would not suffice; for that would be on the principle of a kind of religious police. What God looks for in His assembly — what was effected even in the poor despised Corinthian saints, was sorrow after a godly sort: “What carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves; yea, what indignation; yea, what fear; yea, what vehement desire; yea, what zeal; yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” And all this wrought in the body of the saints, chiefly through or in reference to one case of distressing discipline, as is plain from 2 Cor. 7:12! The principle assumes that the Church is a holy company; (“ye are unleavened;”) and on this basis practical purity is insisted on (“that ye may be a new lump.”) For the foundation of the Church being God’s most holy judgment and blotting out of sin in Christ’s cross, who suffered as the true Paschal Lamb, we are called, as saints of God, individually and corporately, always and everywhere, to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; and this, not in personal godliness only, but in refusing communion with any one called a brother who is of unclean life, covetous, or a railer, etc. What would become of a clergyman who would dare to cut off a covetous person or a railer! Assuredly the issue would be, not the excommunication of these offenders, common as they are, but the censure, at the least, of the innovating ecclesiastic. Scripture, therefore, is not the directory of their discipline. Besides, it is the Church, and not a minister only, that the Holy Ghost calls on to act; and this never was nor can be in Anglicanism. Thus, a minister’s rights, or a society’s rules, are not in question, but the assembly of God doing His will.
Indeed, the Lord had Himself shown, in Matt. 18, another principle which never seems to cross the minds of those who would lower and fritter away to their own level the holy order of the Church. For case which began in a trespass against a brother might elicit such heady self-will, that when all loving overtures closed in the offender’s refusal to “hear the church,” he is to be treated “as an heathen man and a publican.” It is most striking also to note that the gracious Lord, providing, it would seem, for all contingencies in the break-up of the Church’s external unity, was pleased to promise heavenly ratification to the discipline of but “two or three,” if gathered in the true power of His name. What an encouragement to faith, were we ever so few and feeble! What disallowance of all evil! Will any clergyman venture to say that this is the mode or measure of Anglican discipline? “Tell it to the church!” “Hear the church!” Such directions are inapplicable and practically unheard of there; but they are the living words of Christ, where Scripture is the sole standard. Others may tell the Curate; they may hear the Curate; but, alas! there is with them no church either to tell or to hear.*
* I have read many erroneous notions on the Church and its discipline; but I remember few more painful than Mr. Carey’s central paragraph in page 13: “Whether it be permitted to the Church at any time to enforce a sterner discipline that St. Paul thought fit himself to enforce, - whether it would be advisable,” etc, The words are quiet and calm and amiable; the sentiment is, in my opinion, pernicious and irreverent, as well as contrary to fact. We have just seen how comprehensive and holy the discipline was that “St. Paul thought fit himself to enforce,” which some would reduce to more isolated points, so as to cover the unfaithfulness of themselves and their system. What is most of all to be reprobated is the light way in which it is even made a question, whether the Church should adopt another discipline. But this guilty bearing toward Scripture is the natural result of the presumption which dares to make a Church after man’s own pleasure, and to form Services or Articles for a past day or the present. What trifling with the revelation of God! And what a degradation for the Church, whose real dignity lies in lowly, unqualified subjection to the Lord, above “these times of free inquiry,” no less than those of blind medieval superstition!
It is a question, primarily, of what the Church of God is, and secondarily, of Scriptural discipline. I am at a loss to understand how a believing man can read the epistles attentively without the conviction that the character of the assemblies there described differs not only in degree, but in kind, from the promiscuous congregations of nationalism. Take Col. 1 as a sample; and what can be clearer than that the holiness of the Christian body is of another sort altogether from that of Israel as a people? Did Jews give, thanks to the Father who had made them meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light? Could Jews say that He had delivered them from the power of darkness and had translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love? Had they individually redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins? I take this, without any particular choice, to show the sense Scripture attaches to “the saints” of the New Testament. Mr. Carey is quite mistaken, not only in his own retrogression to the Old Testament measure in Israel, but in fancying that I contend for “the mere ground” (!) that they (Christians) “have not reached a particular standard of personal holiness.” Far from it — I hold what the New Testament teaches, that every true believer, conformist or not, is a saint of God; that he has eternal life and the Holy Ghost dwelling in him; and this through faith, before the question of his walk begins, and, therefore, before reaching a particular standard of personal holiness. The difference which separates my views from Mr. Carey’s is deeper than a question of Church or discipline; we differ radically as to “what is a Christian?” There, Mr. Dobrée agrees with me; but it is passing strange that, agreeing with me in principle, he is united with Mr. Carey in practice.
It is utterly inconsistent with Scripture and fact, then, to describe the Anglican body as “a Church that follows the Apostles’ guidance, that does what the Apostles did and abstains from doing what they abstained from.” (p. 11.) For I have shown at considerable length, that it never was a church at all, if the Church of God means, as Scripture everywhere teaches, the assembly of such as were believed to be sanctified in Christ Jesus, subject to the Word and Spirit of God, and in known manifest separation from the world. No doubt, if Anglicanism were the Church of God in this country, it would be, “on my principles,” a sin to separate; but so it would be yet more a sin to have separated from Romanism, which beyond a doubt had possession of the land before Henry VIII, if Romanism had been a church of God. But while I allow both systems to be parts of the wheat-and-tare-field of Christendom, it is evident that the Word of God, which is infinitely more important than Mr. Carey’s principles or mine, convicts the English and Romish bodies of palpable, habitual, systematic departure from all the special features of the Church. It is no difficulty for me to give Scriptural reasons for disowning either one or other; but it is hard to see how a Protestant, who admits Rome to be a real church of God, can justify secession from it three hundred years ago, or at this moment; for no lapse of time can consecrate an error or a sin. So long as a body is recognised as a church of God at all, it is a sin to abandon it: but when you have the certainty from God’s Word, that a body either never possessed that title or has forfeited it by such a departure in principle and practice as forbids all return, the way is clear; it is no sin, but a duty, to be separate.
It is instructive to observe that, when comparing Romanism with “the true Church of Christ,” the Homilies abandon their own system and fall back on a very tolerable anticipation of the ground taken by the “Brethren.” “The true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship of Gods faithful and elect people,” [“the saints, or those believed to be such,” is a rather more guarded statement,] built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. [not on the Jewish system of a holy people under the law,] Jesus Christ Himself being the head corner-stone [not a word about the Sovereign’s supremacy in ecclesiastical estates, any more than the Pope’s]. And it hath always three notes or marks, whereby it is known: pure and sound doctrine, the sacraments ministered according to Christ’s holy institution, and the right use of ecclesiastical discipline.” (Homily for Whitsunday, second part.)* Let the Anglican Christian weigh these words. They do not mean that singular invention of Augustine’s, a Church invisible, but what I, with Scripture, call “the assembly,” and what my critic calls “the visible Church.” for they speak of that universal congregation which has the notes of sound doctrine, due ministration of the sacraments, and right discipline, all of which things belong to the Church as a known body on earth, not in heaven or invisible. Reference to Art. 19 puts the matter beyond doubt. But if this must be conceded, it is evident that, when testing Rome by the Scriptures, the force of truth led the Homilist from his own position to ours. Let Mr. Carey consider it; for, in truth, his argument is against the Acts and Epistles, and even the Homily, when defining the true Church, quite as much as against my view. (pp. 13, 14.) How strange to command or invite “every parishioner” to communicate; and then, after warning publicly and privately too, to call the act of coming to the Lord’s table, on the part of any decent worldly man, a public profession of his faith in Christ! How miserably short of the faith of God’s elect and faithful people! It is the faith of a creed, not of God’s operation; and the result is the Church of England, in marked contrast with the Church of God.
* For my part, I cannot but think that the Homily on the Holy Ghost (written probably by Jewell) contains not a little that is “godly and wholesome, and necessary for these times,” and that it would not he amiss if read “diligently and distinctly, that it might be understanded of the people.” Probably, however, the Christians who ponder and pray might be startled, after being taught by the Homily that the right use of ecclesiastical discipline is a mark of the true church, to hear in Lent the painful admission, that, (until the restoration of the old godly discipline which is much to be wished, but as yet in vain,) they are obliged to content themselves with reading the curses of Deut. 27, and other places of Scripture.
Mr. Carey thinks “it is satisfactory to observe, that with all the desire to bring forward whatever he considers condemnatory of the Church [i.e., the English Establishment], Mr. Kelly can only attack six articles out of the thirty-nine.” Now he ought to have known, without a word of further explanation, that, on my principles, there are at least four more articles (8, 20, 21, 24) to which I must take exception, no less than to the six explicitly named. For he is well aware that I object to the imposition of a humanly framed symbol of faith, and this for reasons which may appear by and by, though with the greatest respect for the so-called Athanasian creed, as a doctrinal statement. And that which is laid down as to the authority of the Church, general councils, and traditions, he could still less expect me to receive. This may satisfy him that he mistook both the fact and my spirit in the “desire” he imputed so hastily.
Besides, were it true that six articles only were considered to be unscriptural, because these alone were specified, what can be thought of the moral condition which treats even the smaller number as involving anything “satisfactory?” Thousands of Christians in our country, to speak of no other, whose orthodoxy and godliness no unprejudiced judge doubts, share my convictions fully. The solidity of their grounds of objection is not the question now. The fact is past doubt that very many Christians who would be welcome as members or ministers in the best of existing religious bodies, could not righteously abide in the national system, if it were only for this, that such membership in all honesty implies the uniform profession of all the articles, to the disallowance of the least difference. I should have thought one faulty article the reverse of “satisfactory.” Had it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and the Apostles to lay down ninety-nine articles, absolute submission to which, express or implied, was bound on the conscience of every person who entered the Church, God forbid that any of us should raise the shade of a difficulty. But it is obvious to the reader of the New Testament, that the Apostles, etc., simply required from converts, repentance toward God and faith in Christ. Where there was living faith, the assembly of God became the scene of growth and knowledge; where there was not, such error or evil, sooner or later, manifested itself that in extreme cases excision or apostacy ensued. I leave the reader to judge, if this account of the Apostolic Church be true, how far the imposition of 39 Articles resembles the earliest and only authoritative practice. Is it not clear and certain, that if the Church was intended to comprehend all the faithful within its bosom, this divine object would be necessarily defeated by binding, as formularies of faith on all its members, statements which many of the faithful reject! To do so is to become a sect; it is not the Church; for every intelligent Christian will admit that a sect, as contrasted with God’s assembly, is a society which upsets the scriptural terms of communion, by an unwarranted widening or narrowing of the basis which God sanctions. Were one expected to receive a single statement, which he believed, on scriptural grounds, to be erroneous, it would and ought to hinder a true man from joining those that exacted it. The sectarian character of the Establishment in this respect is as evident, as the defence set up is weak morally and in reasoning.
The next paragraph, (and indeed the rest of the section, pp. 15-20,) may well surprise, because of the inattention or insubmission to Scripture it discloses. As the point is of real doctrinal moment, I will state it as clearly and in as few words as possible. The objection was raised by me to Art. 2, that it represents our Lord as suffering and dying, in order to reconcile His Father to us: whereas the truth is, that God was in Christ reconciling (not Himself to the world, but) the world to Himself. Now Mr. Carey does not deny that I have given fairly the sense both of 2 Cor. 5 on the one hand, and of the Article on the other. I had also confirmed my opposition to the Anglican doctrine by a reference to Rom. 5 and Col. 1; and he does not question the sense I have given to these texts, as indeed he could not legitimately. And yet, in the face of three plain Scriptures, he seems to marvel:- “This is positively all he says. Not one word is added in proof.” Now I should have judged that a Christian man, who trembled at the Word of God, would have thought that the fullest and most decisive proof lay in such unquestioned passages of Holy Writ, which expressly stated a view of reconciliation that differs from, and is the exact converse of, the Article. Mr. Carey thinks I ought to have maintained “so grave an accusation by cogent and convincing argument.” Will he permit me to tell him plainly, that I know of no argument so cogent and convincing as a plain, direct Scripture, the meaning of which is accepted by both sides? He whose cause requires him to escape from the force of these Scriptures, may have recourse to “argument;” (whether “cogent and convincing,” will soon appear;) but I am entitled to stand, without other support, on texts which teach a totally different doctrine from that of the Article, until other texts are produced which seem to contain the incriminated doctrine. Mr. Carey has done nothing of the kind, and what is more, he cannot. Let him cite one passage of Scripture which asserts the same thing as Article 2, nay, which resembles it, or could be conceived to be its source, and I will allow him the highest “credit as a controversialist and as a sound exponent of Scripture.” He says, “I will not controvert the sense Mr. Kelly puts upon the passages he cites” (p. 16): why, then, does he not cite other passages, if such there be, which favour the doctrine of the Article?
Instead of this, he first of all betakes himself to an argument which is anything but cogent and convincing. “Reconciliation necessarily implies two parties” (p. 15:) nobody disputes it; but the question is, If man became the enemy of God, was God the enemy of man? This is precisely what I deny, and what the erroneous doctrine insinuates. In human things, even, it is not always true that where a breach exists, both are at enmity, or at variance as it is here put. In our case, it is the mere unbelief of man who, being himself an enemy to God, infers to his ruin that God is his enemy. If the word of God taught that He entertained the hostile feelings toward man which man undoubtedly has toward God, Article 2 might be argued out, and my assertion would seem unfounded and false. But as no such counter-proof appears, and such enmity is allowed to be hardly possible, (p. 18,) the Article remains under the unrefuted and irrefutable charge of false doctrine. “The passages,” he says, “treat of reconciliation under one aspect, with reference to man. The Article treats of reconciliation under the other aspect, with reference to God.” (p. 16.) Exactly so. but inasmuch as the Bible never treats of reconciliation with reference to God but only to man, I am greatly deceived if the Article is not thereby convicted of an unscriptural character. Scripture speaks of reconciling us to God, the Article speaks of reconciling the Father to us. They are absolutely distinct statements; and sound reasoning will never confound them. Imagination may cry, “Can they not be, are they not both true?” but faith says in reply, Where is your Scripture for reconciling the Father to us? How does the Article, enquires Mr. Carey, militate against the words of the Apostle? Doubly, I answer; because treating of reconciliation, it wholly omits what Scripture does say, and it only affirms what Scripture never says. The Article is not — indeed, it is not — the Apostle. There is some difference, after all, in the weight of their authority. The Article gives us the opinion of an English Bishop or Archbishop in the name of the Crown; the Apostle gives us perfect truth in the name of God. The clergy (unfortunately, as I humbly think,) subscribe the former; the “Brethren” unhesitatingly prefer the latter. Were there no Article 2, there is no reason to doubt that Scripture would suffice for the believer, and be all the better too, without the incubus of guesses at truth.
“Besides, is not our reconciliation to the Father implied in His reconciliation to us.” (p. 16.) Now, I can understand reasoning from an admitted, indisputable truth in the Bible, and deducing consequences which may be considered fairly derivable, if not necessarily flowing, from it. But here the process is reversed, and the plea is set up, that an undoubted truth, expressed over and over in Scripture, is implied in the unproved statement of the Article. Assuredly this view of a “cogent” argument differs widely from mine; for I am satisfied that the framers of the formulary meant what they said, and that they fell into the same blunder which occurs in the works of old and modern divines; and this, because the tendency to darken the grace of God is natural to the heart, whereas the truth, being supernatural, demands very simple faith for receiving it. Of course, to find oneself bound solemnly to an error is painful; and in some cases, at least, God may use the circumstance to awaken consciences to examine, not only this Article, but the entire system, in the light of His Word only. And unfeignedly shall I rejoice, if my reply to the attacks of Low Church or High Church is blessed to that end. Meanwhile, who can wonder, that one who is thoroughly attached to the Anglican body, should do his best to soften down, and explain, and reconcile statements which, if believed to be untrue, must damage the character of formularies so important! But I ask any upright, unprejudiced person, whether it is a reasonable demand that a Christian should give in his adhesion to the notion that Christ suffered and died to reconcile His Father to us, when the doctrine revealed on this head is that God has reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son?
Had the Article taught that Christ died that we might be reconciled to God; or were it said that He suffered to atone for us, i.e., to expiate our sins, either statement would be sound and scriptural. But, as it stands, it turns things upside down, and displays error and carelessness, to say the least. The object of an Article is to furnish a precise formula, avoiding all ambiguity; and the question is, whether it tells the truth of God, not what it may imply through the lips of an advocate. No frequency of repeating the phrase, “reconciling the Father to us,” will stamp it with the superscription of the Great King. I thank God that the second Article is as far as possible from Socinian error, and that those who framed it were, doubtless, as opposed as the “Brethren” are to that destructive form of Antichrist, which basely abuses divine love to the denial of divine holiness. Still, it has been evident to me for some years, that the statements of many men, orthodox in the main, and notably of Art. 2, do very unintentionally expose the truth to assaults from those misguided enemies of the Lord, who derive their only semblance of strength from a mixture of error with truth on the part of His friends. This always weakens a cause, let it be ever so good in a general way; and justly so, in the righteous government of God, who has magnified His Word above all His name and claims for it, from His children, an absolute and hearty submission.
Mr. Carey thinks, mistakenly enough, that I confound the Father’s love and His reconciliation with man. How often must one repeat that the Bible knows nothing of the Father’s reconciliation with man? Till they can show Scripture for it, I take the liberty of treating it as a myth of the theologians. But it is quite certain, as will appear presently, that reconciliation has been confounded with propitiation or atonement. What I affirm is, that God’s love, which sought to reconcile men, was not caused by the Saviour’s death, as the Article to me implies, but rather manifested itself in sending His Son and triumphed over man’s enmity in the cross, which became, by grace, an unfailing basis for slaying the enmity and reconciling His enemies to Himself. If 2 Cor. 5:18-21 be weighed, it will be seen not only that God has reconciled His saints to Himself by Jesus Christ, but that He was in Christ when personally in the world, meeting sinners, not in the severity and distance of law, but with full and free reconciling love, not imputing trespasses but forgiving; for as He said Himself, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” But they refused all and rejected Him; and by Him, made sin on the cross, atonement has been wrought eternal redemption. Evidently then God’s reconciling love, though only complete and effectual in the cross, displayed itself in Christ before His death, which is not the impression that one could gather from Article 2, even by implication, if I may be allowed to form an opinion.
But Mr. Carey grows bolder in p. 17, and ventures to ask if it is not strictly true that Christ died to reconcile His Father to us! And what is the alleged proof from Scripture? 1 John, 2:2, and Rom. 3:25; that is, passages which do not so much as allude to reconciliation, but express the wholly distinct, though of course connected, truth of propitiation. “Rendering the Father propitious unto us,” is not the true meaning, but expiating our sins for God sent and set forth His Son to be, in the one case: an expiatory victim or sacrifice, and in the other, a propitiatory, or mercy-seat, by faith in His blood. “It may be difficult,” Mr. Carey justly remarks, “and no doubt it is infinitely difficult, to explain.” But the more incapable we are of measuring the unfathomable depths of the cross, the less it becomes us to teach for doctrines the conjectures or the illative reasonings of men. A singular proof of the danger of slipping on the topic before us may be seen in comparing Rom. 5:11 with Heb. 2:17, as given in our own admirable Authorised Version. No competent scholar would now deny that the translation of both texts is faulty; for in Rom. 5 the true sense is “reconciliation” (as the margin supplies) and not “atonement,” which last is the proper rendering in Heb. 2, and not “reconciliation.” It is superfluous, perhaps, to add, that I would rather confirm than enfeeble by one word the solemn truth of God’s wrath and judgment of sin, and the inevitable, endless doom of all that despise the Saviour. Entirely do I agree that there was a barrier in man’s way to God, and a barrier insuperable save to Him who appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. But such is the force of the truth which I am seeking to clear from the shade, which, in my judgment, Article 2 casts over it, that even our ardent defender of that Article “can hardly conceive it possible, that this bar consisted in any feeling of enmity in the Divine mind towards man” (p. 18). Now, the distinction between “reconciliation” and “atonement,” which is plain and positive in Scripture, but lost because confounded in Article 2, accounts for and harmonizes that which otherwise seems at variance. For if God simply displayed His infinite love in reconciling His enemies to Himself, where were His holy hatred and abhorrence of their sins? And if He only poured out His wrath in the judgment of their iniquity, where were His love? In Christ, and above all in His cross, all is fully and for ever established to God’s glory. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” We are reconciled to God; and God rests in the everlasting efficacy for us of His atoning sacrifice, who sums up the scope of all the offerings — yea, infinitely more — in His one offering.
From this precious theme, however, I must turn to notice passingly the argument (pp. 18, 19) founded on the term “reconciling” in Rom. 11:15. Nobody contends that it means “the renouncing on the world’s part of previous enmity to God;” but Mr. Carey goes much too far in his alternative that it plainly means “God’s being reconciled to the world.” There is not such an idea in the Bible as “God’s being reconciled to the world.” The Church, or the saints, are said to be reconciled to God, never the world. This is the first mistake. Next, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. This was His aspect or attitude to the world in His incarnate Son. But it is nowhere the intimation of Scripture - that the world is reconciled to God; and still less do we hear of “God’s being reconciled to the world.” It is evident that it is the unfortunate doctrine of Article 2 which hangs like a millstone round the neck, and seems to render the right understanding and expression of reconciliation impossible to one who is under its influence. The true meaning of the phrase in Romans 11 I take to be, that God is now turning the fall of Israel to the blessing of the Gentiles, and instead of winking at the times of heathen ignorance, He is now dealing with the world by the word of reconciliation. He is sending the gospel of His grace to all, and commanding all men everywhere to repent.
Now it seems to me that the pith of what I have just enlarged on was expressed in plain terms in the little sentence of which Mr. Carey speaks with such unusual asperity — “written in so dogmatic a tone that it would appear to be, in Mr. Kelly’s mind, conclusive.” (p. 19.) And yet reading it over and over again, with all the judicial sternness one is bound to muster against the accused, I am really unable to pronounce it guilty, either on the count of dogmatism in page 19, or of obscurity in page 20. Let the reader judge; for here it is: “God needed the atoning sacrifice, we (not He) needed reconciliation.” If the sentence had been understood, the dogmatic tone might have disappeared in the solution of the enigma. Surprise is more my feeling than any other — a surprise increased by the temerity of interpolating my text by a gratuitous parenthesis, which falsifies the first clause. If he did not understand my words, and of course, therefore, could not reply, it was singular, under such circumstances, that the sentence was not left as I wrote it, without an addition from Mr. Carey — God (not we), etc. — which mars the sense and suggests a ridiculous and fatal error. Let neither the author nor his friends misunderstand me. The fact is as I have stated it; but I do not believe that there was any wrong meant, or that the inability to understand was affected. The whole misapprehension sprang from his really not comprehending what is to my mind as clear as it is brief. By God’s needing the atonement, was meant the necessity that His majesty and moral nature should be vindicated by the full punishment of sin in the cross of Christ, the aspect of expiation for our sins, being Godward; just as, in the Jewish type answering to it, the blood was put upon and before the mercy-seat, presented to God, not to the people, though most surely on their behalf. So, in the Passover, God says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Hence, I consider, that in Rom. 5 “we have received the atonement,” (instead of reconciliation, as it should be,) is prejudicial to the truth, and might play a dangerous part in the hands of a God-dishonouring, sin-slighting Socinian, who teaches that the propitiation of Christ was towards man, not God, and that He was only the victim of man’s wickedness, instead of being also, and in atonement exclusively, the Lamb of God. On the other hand, I hold it to be incalculably important to press, that the love being God’s, who was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, it is not God but we, who, in Scripture, are described as receiving “the reconciliation.” The sinner wants reconciliation for himself - not for his sins, which last, being a mistranslation of Heb. 2, I hope I am not presumptuous in stigmatizing as an absurdity, no matter what the number or the weight of human authorities which may have endorsed it.
But it will be satisfactory, instead of arguing, to see the entire testimony of Scripture on the question of reconciliation; lest the thought might rest on any soul that one view of reconciliation need not exclude another. It will be apparent, however, that no part of God’s Word gives the remotest hint that Christ died to reconcile His Father to us. Many passages treat of the subject, and all of them speak of our reconciliation to God, not one of God’s being reconciled to us. The passages are these:*
*Though I doubted about saying a word on the note to page 19, yet as the omission might encourage a thoughtless mind to impute to me the evasion of any portion of the counter-evidence, I must notice it. — The first thing, which it requires no great learning to see, is the very uncritical manner in which
διαλλάσσω is impressed into the service of
καταλλάσσω, contrary to the standing rule that, in all exact writing, (and I claim exactness in the most absolute way for the choice of terms in Scripture,) every difference of word implies a difference of meaning. I am aware the Rector of St. Saviour’s may excuse himself that he is only in this following the learned Bishop Pearson. The canon I have laid down, however is too firmly established in the minds of accurate scholars generally, to be set aside even by his name. Indeed, the use of
διά in composition for the sense of one with another is notorious, and of course recognised by all lexicographers of value. A few examples must suffice.
Καταγγέλλω means to announce;
διαγγ. to inform one another;
καταγιγνώσκω to judge against a person;
διαγιγ. to distinguish;
καταδέχ. to receive back;
διαδέχ. to receive one from another;
κατᾳδω to sing to a person;
δ. to contend in singing;
καταλέγ. to recount,
διαλέγ. to converse. The confusion of these forms is, perhaps, a relic of the old Dutch school (
ἐν=εἰς, ἐκ=ἀπό, κ. τ. λ.), which never deserved the acceptance of a reflecting person. Thus, if we take Matt. 5:24, and compare it with 1 Cor. 7:11, it is clear that
διαλλάγηθι has a delicate propriety in the former, and
καταλλαγήτω in the latter. For
δ. admits of a mutuality in the reconciliation, which it is not the object of
κ. to imply. Hence
κ. would have failed to convey what our Lord intended in Matt. 5; for the object here was not only to rectify my own part, but to meet what the brother had against me. It is not so in 1 Cor. 7, where the wife has done wrong, and it is a question of her getting back in peace to her husband who may have had no feeling but of love towards her throughout her separation. The same principle applies to the quotation from the Septuagint version of 1 Sam. 29:4. This, if the criticism be well-founded (and I do not fear, if it be sifted by competent and candid scholars), turns the argument into the opposite direction and utterly routs that baseless phrase — reconciling the Father to us and us to the Father — which occurs in the Bishop of London’s last Charge as well as in Mr. Carey’s “Remarks.” Had
δ. been used in the matter of our reconciliation to God, there would have been reason; as it is, there is not only none for it, but the choice of the word
κ. rather than
δ. is against the notion, as well as the context in every instance. Besides, whoever may do it, there is no more glaring sign of weakness than neglecting the body of positive evidence, which runs one way, and trying to extract something different to set all this aside, by the help of texts which allude to an offended brother or an offending wife. In the case before us, I believe that a more thorough acquaintance with Greek would have shown that the comparison of
δ. strengthens my view against Mr. Carey’s. Further, the fallacy of the reasoning on such texts against direct doctrinal statements is the same as that which argues on the Sonship of the Lord Jesus to deny His co-eternity with the Father.
“For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God [not God to us] by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled [not he but] we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [not God but] we have now received the reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:10, 11.)
“For if the casting away of them [the Jews] be the reconciling [not of God, but] of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” Rom. 11:15.
“And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to himself [not himself to us] by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself [not himself to the world], not imputing their trespasses unto them - and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God [not God to you].” 2 Cor. 5:18-20.
The word occurs also in a form somewhat modified by another preposition which enters into its composition; but this, too, confirms the case.
“And that he might reconcile both unto God [not God to both].” Eph. 2:16.
“And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself [not himself to all things] . . . . And you . . . hath he reconciled [not, him have ye reconciled].” Col. 1:20, 21.
The reader has now before him a complete view of every Scripture which bears on this important side of Gospel truth. After such an induction, Mr. Carey may perhaps feel that, knowing the case before he wrote with as much certainty as now, on a ground which is incomparably stronger than any argument can be, I might be allowed to speak with decision and brevity. I greatly deceive myself if unbiassed Christians, be they where they may, who weigh in the sanctuary the evidence here given, will not agree with me that the Word of God is clear, full and overwhelming against the doctrine of Article 2 on reconciliation.
The Ministry Of Christ
Mr. Carey considers my language, in repudiating Article 23, “unmeasured.” But it is going too far to insinuate that adequate Scripture was not given. There was no citation of texts, it is true, and only two chapters were formally named; but those who know the Bible will hardly deny that a larger amount of direct Scriptural evidence was compressed into one sentence (Matt. 9:38; Matt. 25:14 and seq,; Mark, 3:14; Luke, 10:1, 2; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Cor. 12: and 1 Peter, 4:10), than he has spread, by the help of argument, over seven or eight pages of the “Remarks.” 1 Cor. 14 was appealed to solely as proving the free exercise of spiritual gift within the assembly: as to free preaching without, other passages clearly demonstrate it, and none but the most ignorant would dispute it. “But I rather wonder,” continues the writer, “that reference is made to the chapter at all, for it is nothing but a rebuke to the Corinthians for using their spiritual gifts in a disorderly way - and one verse  seems to imply that some believed themselves prophets and spiritual who were not so.” (p. 21.) It is my turn now to impeach my critic’s language as “unmeasured;” but there is this grave difference that, while my statement seemed to him unguarded, in speaking of a human document which I believe to be erroneous and sinful, I maintain Mr. Carey’s statement, in speaking of God’s Word, to be not only unmeasured, but contrary to fact. For 1 Cor. 14 rebukes abuse, as does almost every other chapter; and if it would be a libel to pronounce the whole epistle “nothing but a rebuke,” so it is in the particular case before us. In truth, this chapter is the richest vein of instruction which the Word of God contains on ministering in the congregation. It is not surprising that Mr. Carey does not see it; for the Article, professedly treating of the same subject, passes all by in dead silence; and it would seem presumptuous for a dutiful son to allow for a moment that God’s Word contains one line of regulation, and that the fathers of Anglicanism maintain another not only different but opposed and irreconcileable. And yet so decisive is the testimony to the original practice, that even Mr. Carey cannot but “readily admit that the Corinthians had spiritual gifts,” and that they exercised them “within the assembly,” though all confess that the way was such as to incur reproof.
The true question, evidently, is not whether the Corinthians were reprimanded, but what the order is on which the Holy Ghost insists. And I am bold to affirm, that disorderly as those saints may have been, and childish as their vanity was in setting such store on showy gifts, like speaking in a tongue, etc., their faults, bad and inexcusable as they might be, were a trifle compared with the deliberate dishonour, now alas! habitually done to God, in wholly ignoring His system of the assembly with the Holy Ghost present and operating according to His will by the various members of Christ’s body. The Corinthians, through an unspiritual abuse of their newly tasted liberty, exposed the Lord’s name to grievous reproach, and - were in danger of bringing the powers of the Holy Ghost into contempt. Never was there a more fitting occasion to assert the clerical or, as some style it, the one-man principle, if it were of God. The very contrary is done by the Apostle. He blames their love of display, their anxiety each to do something, their disparagement of the most precious gifts for those of louder appeal to the senses. He lays down the true principle as to speaking and thanksgiving. He regulates when and how tongues might be spoken, and when not; he gives equally definite guidance for the ministry of the prophets: all being under the comprehensive rules of common edification, and of comely order. But so far from closing the door on the right of the Holy Ghost to use any brother, if it pleased the Lord to open his mouth, he distinctly lets the Corinthians know that they could all prophesy one by one, that all might learn and all might be comforted. And he who has never experienced the privilege may be assured by those who have, that it is a good and wholesome thing for any man, let him be ever so gifted of God, sometimes to be a learner in the midst of his brethren; and that the trial of grace and patience, to which upright walking in this divine path must call the believer, is abundantly owned of God and blessed on all sides. Further, I may add that St. Paul does not question the reality of the gifts at Corinth, as Mr. Carey seems to imagine. The evil lay not in the unfounded pretension of the ungifted, or
ἰδιῶται, but in the fleshly display of the gifted. The only class forbidden to speak in the assemblies are “women” — the strongest possible proof that there was no barrier in the way of the men, always remembering that the question is not power of the Spirit to minister, but title if there be power. And I confess it is wonderful to my mind that a clergyman who hardly acts on a single direction of this chapter (save silencing women), nor even thinks of it, because he is in a system where it is all absolutely excluded, should quote, above all others, that verse which rebukes his own body with infinitely greater severity than it touches any individual at Corinth. For the real bearing of 1 Cor. 14:37 is an appeal to those who claimed a high place there, that as surely as their claim was just, they would recognise what Paul wrote to be the commandments of the Lord. The Word of God has come out from Anglicans at least as little as from the Corinthian prophets; it comes to the Christian, wherever and whenever he may be. The question for our consciences is, how far we are acting it out in our church relations, and in an individual way. To treat 1 Cor. 14 as “nothing but a rebuke” to the Corinthians and practically as obsolete to Christians now as the rites of our Druid ancestors, would be a strange proof that a man is “spiritual,” and that his exposition is sound. Liberty of ministry, regulated by God’s Word through the Apostle, is the undoubted standing order for God’s assembly — not, I freely allow, for the Anglican body. How can Christian men quote the last verse of 1 Cor. 14 and cast to the winds the obligation of bowing to the rest? Or will it be maintained, either, that we have no spiritual gifts for ministry yet remaining; or, if we have, that their exercise is not to be regulated by the Word that comes from God, but by the Canons and Articles which emanate from themselves? This were Corinthian, that incredulity.
Before entering on details, let me say that apostolic or quasi-apostolic appointment to the charge of elders in an assembly is fully allowed. The practical question that remains is, How, or whether, Scripture guarantees the continuance of this appointing power? There is, above all, the far larger question, which Mr. Carey has not even attempted to face: — Does not Scripture demonstrate, that beside the local charges which required a competent power of appointment, the Holy Ghost maintained, both without and within the assembly, the fullest right to work as He saw fit by the various members of Christ’s body? If ever there was a time when the Church, generally, was in order, it was in the Apostolic days; if ever there was, in those days, a special case of disorder, it was among the Corinthians; and yet, in those days of order and in dealing with that very disorder, the principle of the free action of the Holy Ghost is not withdrawn but insisted on in 1 Cor. 12). and this principle, and no other, strengthened and regulated by the exquisite episode on love in 1 Corinthians 13, is applied practically in 1 Cor. 14: all in perfect accordance not only with what we read in Rom. 12; Eph. 4; Col. 2 19; 1 Thess. 5:14, 19, 20; and 1 Peter, 4:10, 11, but also with the Acts of the Apostles, where chiefly we see the working of the principle toward those “without” (Acts 8:1-4, 5-12, 35, 40; Acts 11:19-21; Acts 18:24-28). If the Holy Ghost abides for ever with us, according to the Saviour’s Word, if He still raises up men of God to preach to the world, or to teach and otherwise build up believers, is it to be owned practically now as then? If He works in Christ’s members as of old, in every way which the need of souls and the glory of the Lord demand, has He abandoned the principle and the practice which these Scriptures intimate, for the traditions of yesterday, or the inventions of today? Are 1 Cor. 12, 14 and the other passages no longer applicable? At first, no doubt, there were those who laid down the foundation of the Church, and there were also gifts in the way of signs to unbelievers, which no longer appear. But has Christ ceased to act as Head of the Church in giving the gifts of evangelists, pastors and teachers? And if Scripture never speaks of a human appointment of these, any more than of apostles and prophets (Eph. 4), are we to give up the Word for the commandments of men, who would shut the door which the Lord has opened? Or are we to confess that He abides faithful, spite of the faithlessness of men, and that He graciously continues the supply of men endowed from on high for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ? If so, the ground of Article 23 is renounced; for it supposes that the free action of the Spirit no longer subsists, that immediate gifts from Christ are not to be found, and that now, contrary to the practice of the Apostolic Church, a human call must be the rightful prelude to ministering in the congregation.
Mr. Carey, however, cites Hey for the so-called Apostolic Fathers, Clement and Polycarp. But the question is not, whether there were men duly ordained as presbyters, which I admit fully, but whether the divine plan was not to leave the assembly open to the direct guidance of the Spirit, subject only to the Word. The same Paul who ordained elders, has legislated by inspiration for God’s assembly. What Clement, or the early church of Rome, says to the Corinthians, has no such authority nor stamp of perfectness, as that which Paul wrote to the same Church. Is it not singular that the word of men seems to some more weighty, clear and decisive than the Word of God? And yet it is consistent if the object be to find an excuse for departing from Scripture. Next, it is more than doubtful that Clemens R means the laity, (1 Cor. 11) among Christians; for he has been just speaking of the Jewish High-priest, Priests and Levites. Professor Gieseler will not be accused of a Party object; yet he distinctly maintains that the passage refers entirely to the Old Testament, not to that class of thought which soon began to trace a close correspondence between the Levitical priesthood and Christian ministers. Clement of Alexandria seems to be really the first who uses the word clergy in the ecclesiastical sense; but this was a century after; and he is as loose a Christian writer as one could well conceive. Are these the men for whom we are to leave the commandments of the Lord through His holy apostles? Besides, Clement of Rome is an awkward witness for Mr. Carey for, in chapter 42 of the genuine epistle, he not only ignores the distinction, essential to Anglicanism, between the bishop and the presbyter, but identifies them as descriptive of the same person and office. In this, he follows the New Testament (Acts 20:17, 28; Phil. 1:1; Titus, 1:5, 7; and 1 Peter, 5:1, 2), which “the Consecration of Bishops” contradicts. Candid Episcopalians, like Deans Alford and Waddington, own the common mistake and allow that in Scripture the terms bishop and elder, or presbyter, were used synonymously and indiscriminately.
But Mr. Carey professes his readiness to meet me on what I must thank him for calling “my own ground” — Holy Writ only. My “assertions rest (says he) on the transparent fallacy, that because it is the Lord who calls, sends and gives gifts, therefore He does so immediately, and not through men empowered to that effect.” But here we are again doomed to disappointment; for, instead of a Scriptural testimony, there is first an argument from human government to the Spirit’s sovereignty in the Church! (pp. 22, 23.)
When Scripture is at length ventured on, these are the texts adduced: 2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14; Acts, 8:18, 19. But Timothy’s case was not one of mere ordination, and there is not a tittle of evidence to show that he was an elder or bishop, though an “evangelist” we know he was. The Apostle, according to prophecies, and associating the presbytery with himself, laid hands on Timothy and communicated a positive gift (
χάρισμα), and not a mere local office of eldership. Is it pretended that there is the faintest analogy between this and modern “orders?” If it be, the pretension is false, and the ceremony an imposture, unless there is the conveyance then and there of a proper gift; if it be not (as most churchmen allow), the argument is a sophism. The writer knew well that I never denied, in an extraordinary case such as this, that a gift might be conferred by an apostle. The true point is, whether, when the Lord gave an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher, man’s appointment was also requisite in order to the lawful exercise of ministry. I denied this, which Mr Carey was bound to prove; but he does not seem to understand the question before us. Timothy’s case has nothing to do with it, and comes under another category. Still less happy is the appeal to the gift of the Spirit in Acts 8, unless the argument is that every Christian was then of the clergy, as the Apostle Peter calls the flock. The matter in debate is not a special conveyance of gift, nor the common gift of the Spirit to all Christians, but the necessity of ordination for one who is already gifted of God before he can duly minister in the congregation.
As for the case of Matthias (pp. 23, 24), it has not one feature in common with ordination or appointment by men, though dissenters, and some churchmen, it seems, claim it for their respective ceremonies. Perhaps they are both misled by the words “ordained to be” (Acts, 1:22) for which the English version has no authority whatever, as every scholar ought to know. A passage from another tract of mine is cited as “a curious commentary.” because it drew attention to the casting of lots, and to the time of filling up the vacant apostolate, i.e., before the Holy Ghost was given:- facts, which distinguish the whole case from all those which can be fairly reasoned on as a precedent for ordinary appointment. This, I should have thought, must have commended itself to every intelligent Christian, and the more, as it is evident neither Churchman, Independent, nor Presbyterian casts lots for their ministers. Mr. Carey is inexcusably wrong in every point of view, and especially in implying that I think the Apostles were wrong. It is my critic only who is wrong, not they. For the Lord chose Matthias, and he was not appointed by man; and there was no mistake whatever, but God’s solemn sanction. These confident statements are a mere tissue of error. The leading thought is that I regard ordination as an arbitrary usurpation of Christ’s function; but this is the most complete misapprehension of my view. For I admit ordination, as an undeniable truth and a grave and godly distinction, in the elders or bishops appointed by Apostles or their envoys. As to Matthias, I have therefore neither “shift” nor “theory and if there was the least trace of ordination in the case, I should accept and repeat it with all simplicity, as one ought. But it is only the “theory” of men (chiefly dissenters) who have never properly investigated the circumstances. Was it too much to expect that Mr. Carey should be tolerably acquainted with his own best divines, not to speak of the early ecclesiastical writers? He sneers at a comment which I had held for years before I knew it was the judgment of Chrysostom, and adopted in the learned Bingham’s “Antiquities of the Christian Church,” book iv, ch. i. § l., from which I proceed to quote: “St. Chrysostom (Hom. v. in 1 Tim.) says ‘they used this method [i.e. lots], because as yet the Holy Ghost was not descended on them, and they had not at this time the power of choosing by inspiration [Chrysostom thus lays himself far more open, than any word of mine is, to the offensive imputations of Mr. Carey]; and therefore they committed the business to prayer, and left the determination to God.”‘ Is this like appointment by man? Bingham adds that “interpreters generally agree that there was something extraordinary in it.” Am I not, then, justified in regarding the argument of pp. 23-25 as a “curious commentary” on Mr. Carey’s judgment of Matthias’ case, and on the fact that interpreters generally, including the ablest and staunchest Anglicans, agree with my conviction of its exceptional character against his perversion of it to appointment by men? I abhor the thought that either Jewish prejudice or usurpation characterised the blessed Apostles in the matter - but I must insist that, far from choosing, they left the decision between Matthias and Joseph exclusively to the Lord. “Thou, Lord, which knowest the heart of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen.” They did not vote, but after the solemn Jewish style, Prov. 16: 33, they left the whole disposal to the Lord; so that any peculiar or etymological stress laid on
συγκατεψίσθη (which I presume is meant by printing the Greek) is fanciful and fallacious. If taken strictly for voting, it would point to election by the 120, and not by the eleven, as Dean Alford interprets verse 23 in opposition to Mr. Carey. But I am satisfied that the prayer and the lots prove “numbered with” to be the true rendering, as in the common Bible, and that interpretation, criticism, and argument are thus alike unsound.
Again, there is no difficulty to my mind in the Apostles ordaining elders (p. 25). But along with this fact, I have pressed other facts, which are often forgotten: first, that there were whole classes of gifted men, not elders, who actively exercised their ministry in and out of the assembly, the Holy Ghost maintaining the fullest opening to speak, by whom He would, even on the most solemn public occasions, when all came together into one place (1 Cor. 14); and, secondly, that though it was required for a bishop that he should be apt to teach, rule was the great object in the office, and public teaching only an accessory, however precious, which depended on a gift never demanded, and therefore might be or not in an elder. Mr. Carey cites 1 Tim. 5:17, and gives us a version which he calls “more literal;” but I confess the aim of the one and the advantage of the other are beyond my comprehension. It is quite incorrect to speak of “two kinds of elders.” (which is a Presbyterian notion, not an Anglican one). Those labouring in the word and doctrine are only special individuals among the elders who take the lead or preside well; just as in verse 8, “two kinds” of persons to be cared for are not meant, but among one’s own, special heed is claimed for the members of one’s household. It is mere oversight that I assume that among any group of elders you please, there was none that laboured in the Word. But it is pure imagination that “teaching elders” were one class distinct from “ruling elders.” The truth is precisely what I have already stated; not that all rulers were elders, but that all elders were appointed to rule, and that some of these might labour in the Word and teaching, if they had a gift of this character in addition to their necessary capacity for ruling. All must be “apt to teach;” but not one was necessarily a “teacher.”* In short, ministering in the congregation was open to every one whom the Holy Ghost so led; and an “elder” might never so minister in his life. Elders are never confounded with teachers. The former was a local charge to which competent authority appointed such as had the due qualifications; the latter is a gift in the unity of the body at large, and consequently entirely independent of that appointment which the former demanded. Many a man might be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers, who could not unfold the word consecutively in public, like a teacher; and yet he might possess other qualities moral and circumstantial which fit a man for eldership, and which many teachers have not, I appeal, as the proof, to all the Scriptures which treat of the subject. Elders are nowhere in the lists of gifts. Teachers, evangelists, etc., are never on the footing of appointment by men.
* Listen again to the same Dr. Gieseler, who will not be suspected of the slightest affinity for the “Brethren,” save by those equally strangers to his views and theirs. “it was by no, means any part of the duty of the elders to teach, although the Apostle wishes that they may he apt to teach (
διδακτικοί) (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:23, [which last text is clearly inapposite]). The power of speaking and exhortation was considered rather the free gift of the Spirit (
χάρισμα πνευματικόν) and was possessed by many of the Christians, though exercised in different ways (prophets, — teachers, — speaking with tongues, 1 Cor. 12:28-31; 1 Cor. 14.) There was as yet no distinct order of clergy,” etc. Text-book of Eccles. Hist. vol. i. p. 58. This witness is true, and may serve to show some that the existence of elders, even if ordained by the Apostles, has nothing to do with the question of a clergy; which last only sprang up in dark days, when the appointed local officers (irregularly appointed too, I believe) contrived to put down all exercise of gift in the assembly, save through themselves.
Hence, 1 Cor. 12:28 is manifestly and wholly against Mr. Carey’s object (p. 27); for it classes teachers with prophets, etc., whom nobody pretends to have been appointed by men but only by God. And as to the assumption that “governments” mean “ruling elders” or “elders,” I ask him for his proof; or rather, I tell him calmly, he has none. At best,” government” may have been a gift which ought to be in him who might desire to be an elder, as “helps” may have been for deacons. But it is against the context and the verse to import local charges here. Were gifts of healing or diversities of tongues ordained? The idea is absurd evidently, but not more really so than ordaining “helps” and “governments,” which clearly mean gifts,
χαρίσματα, and not persons nor offices either. It is false, then, that 1 Cor. 12:28, “speaks of God’s setting up in the Church ‘ruling elders,”‘ and quite clear that the verse corroborates the general testimony of Scripture, that “teachers,” who are never in the same class-list with “elders,” were independent of human appointment like “apostles” and “prophets,” with whom they are linked. Possibly Mr. Carey may, as I am sure others will, see his error on this head, when it is considered that, though “the seven” in Acts 6 were appointed only to serve tables, we find one of them teaching, in Acts 7, and another preaching in Acts 8, both with amazing power from God. Assuredly, though only ordained to an external or, as some would say, a secular work, they too were worthy of double honour; but who would endure the argument that there were “two kinds” of deacons, one preaching and teaching, and the other simply serving? The truth is, that the office of governing, or of service, was that for which the elder, or the deacon, was appointed by men, though of course on the perception in them, by proper judges, of suitable qualities from God. But whether elders and deacons taught or preached depended not on their offices but on the question, whether, beside these, they had received a gift to that end from the Lord. Every one so gifted was bound to exercise it — the elders no more than the rest; and the Church is equally bound, in Scripture, to receive all that comes from God. Accordingly, in Acts 21:8, we read “of Philip, the evangelist, which was one of the seven.” Human appointment gave him, no doubt very rightly, the latter office; gift from God constituted him an “evangelist,” or messenger of glad tidings. For this is the true application of the term, not a writer of Christ’s life, as Eusebius interprets it, and perhaps most men to this day. So little, indeed, are these early writers to be trusted for nice points of church-government, that they misstate the commonest facts of Scripture. For instance, the “father of Ecclesiastical history” (iii. 31; v. 24) actually confounds Philip, the evangelist, with the Apostle of the same name. The Latin interpreter tries to cover the blunder in both places, and translates
Φ. τὸν τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, Ph. unum ex septem diaconis! but what will not men do or say? Others before Eusebius, it seems, had fallen into the same error.
In the footnote to page 27, Mr. Carey considers it very fallacious to infer, as I have done, from the silence of Scripture, which shows an apostle, or his delegate, with an express and inspired letter of credentials ordaining elders, but no successor nor provision for one. As God arranged all, my argument is that the omission is not accidental but left thus by His intention. Mr. Carey thinks that the silence of Scripture as fairly implies the contrary. Now, the only fallacy here is his own. Does he not know that the burden of proof invariably falls on him who affirms? He who asserts that adequate ordaining power was meant to abide, is bound to prove it; whereas no such obligation lies on him who denies it. The silence of Scripture, therefore, if real, is valid and fatal to a positive claim.
The sum, then, of what has been shown is, that Scripture presents the assembly of God, under the active guidance of the Holy Ghost, and maintains His right to use any or all the members of Christ, if it so please Him, in the various departments of public worship and ministry within (1 Cor. 12 — subject, of course, to His own regulations in 1 Cor. 14), and in preaching, etc., without (Acts of the Apostles passim); that these gifts from the Lord never needed nor admitted of human sanction, choice, call or ordination, in order to their lawful exercise, though an Apostle might be the channel of a gift; and that, over and above, there were, in Apostolic times, local charges or officers formally ordained or appointed by Apostles or their delegates commissioned for that purpose. The divine system of gifts is perfectly consistent with that of the local functionaries, who became elders or deacons, not by possessing a gift simply, but by virtue of due investiture. Man soon began to confound these two distinct but consistent things, by enlarging the sphere of ordination and excluding the exercise of gift without that form. On this error, and daring rebellion against the title of the Lord and the free operations of the Holy Ghost in the Church, rests the fabric of the clergy. As long as there was liberty (not for the flesh, which I need hardly say is not contended for, but) for the Holy Ghost to work by whom He would, the idea of a clergy is impossible: the elders or deacons, where they existed, fulfilled their office, of course, and if they had gifts for public ministry, they were like others to use them; but God was still owned as ever present, and present to employ the various members according to His own will. By degrees the truth on this subject faded and was lost in practice, and at last even in theory, when the officials, no longer even duly appointed, absorbed into their hands all ministry in the congregation; and this is the doctrine of Article 23, and the sole practice of Anglicanism, both in direct antagonism to God’s Word.
Article 26, though it prescribes enquiry into evil ministers, has for its main object their official maintenance if the enquiry be neglected or fail. It employs the name of Christ, by whom they are supposed to act, as a justification for hearing the Word and receiving the sacraments from them. Does the Christian want proof that the recognition of such men, when their evil doctrine or conduct is certain, is a dishonour to the Holy Ghost? Here all is consistent error. By baptismal regeneration “every parishioner” is fictitiously made a member of Christ, faith being lowered in the Catechism to a stedfast belief of God’s promises made to them (not in Christ, but) in baptism. So now, the only lawful call to the ministry being limited to those chosen and called “by men,” the natural result is the exclusion of godly persons who are satisfied that ordination to preach or teach is unscriptural, and the acceptance of many who would sign any form and submit to any “orders” to hold a living. Spiritual instinct might preserve the simplest from owning as Christ’s servant an unconverted person, who manifested no gift, and preached another gospel which is not another. But this Article does its best to hush all to sleep and to establish the unworthy equally with the true minister. The Apostle anathematizes such; but the Article says we may use their ministry. He tells Titus that deceivers’ mouths must be stopped; but it declares that such do minister by Christ’s commission. He warns the man of God to withdraw from such as consent not to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; but the Establishment binds its members to cleave to them, if ordained, as lawful ministers. Christians must choose between God’s will and man’s — above all, let them beware of their own.
Passing by Article 35 let me observe that Articles 36, 37 bind on the consciences of Anglicans a headship, and a ministry no less foreign to the Word than the wholesale process of christianizing a population by baptism. The Ordinal says, there have been from the Apostles’ time Bishops, Priests and Deacons. If it be meant in apostolic days, it is false; if afterwards, doubtless it soon crept in, but that it had divine or apostolic sanction is another matter. In Scripture, it is perfectly clear that bishops and presbyters are one and the same class. Deacons too did not constitute the unmeaning noviciate we see now-a-days. The office was a grave and useful one, with a definite and peculiar object, and requiring special qualifications, not a temporary stepping-stone for every clerical aspirant of three or four-and-twenty. In Scripture, even where the assembly might be small, we always read of a plurality of these officers — never of a bishop, or an elder or deacon; still less do we find a diocesan bishop governing a large district with all its assemblies. Philippi, for instance, had its bishops and deacons. Plainly, therefore, the Establishment does not even outwardly resemble the original in Scripture. Add to this the Sovereign’s chief government in Estates Ecclesiastical, with the congé d’élire to the dean and chapter for electing a bishop designate, and the discordant picture is complete. Far be it from me, however, to enlarge on a subject so dismal: what has been exposed is the system on its own showing, without attention to a single page in the black book of abuses.
But another and more serious remark is needed. Much is said of the Apostolic and early Fathers, especially by those who are not very familiar with their remains. Now I do not envy those who despise such men as Athanasius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Hilary, Augustine and Jerome, nor even Origen and Tertullian, spite of many wild views. Had the best of these followed close after the Apostles, the difference of inspired and non-inspired would have been obvious to a spiritual man. But in the providence of God no writer followed for a century, save of the feeblest calibre — none but men singularly deficient in power of the Spirit and intelligence in Scripture, or even in commanding human qualities, if we except Clement of Rome. To whom are we to turn from the Word of God for light and guidance? Is it to the Pseudo-Barnabas with his cabalistic trifles? Is it to the Shepherd of Hermas, with his worse than puerile visions? Clement adheres most to Scripture, and speaks of bishops and deacons, his sobriety contrasting favourably with the incessant exaltation of the three orders, particularly his own, in the letters of Ignatius. I do not wonder that some attribute Episcopacy, as distinct from the elders, to the president of Antioch: for his zeal in putting forward that new thing would be not unnatural in its inventor. What would be thought of an Archbishop or a Pope who urged the faithful to regard the Bishop in the place of God, the Presbyters as the Apostles, and the, Deacons as the command of God? What, if he gave such a voucher as this, “the Spirit declared to me these words, Do ye nothing without the Bishop?” His piety might be incontestible, his subsequent martyrdom always claiming our respect; but a new revelation from the Spirit in support of a dogma about the bishop, unheard of in Scripture and incompatible with teaching really inspired, can only have been at best a delusion, naturally in keeping with his one idea. Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians is Christian in its tone, but it contains no decisive evidence on the point.
But we may go a step farther. There is no ancient ecclesiastical writer more worthy of credit in his place than Irenaeus. Yet thus he writes in his third book against heresies (chap. xiv. 2): “In Mileto enim convocatis episcopis et presbyteris, qui erant ab Epheso et a reliquis proximis civitatibus,” etc. Now here we have the same inspired document (Acts 20) which was — before the Bishop of Lyons; and we know beyond controversy that he fell into a twofold error. For, 1st, the comparison of verses 17 and 28 proves, not that bishops and presbyters assembled at Miletum, but that the elders were bishops; and, 2nd, they were the elders or bishops of the Church in Ephesus, and not a conclave of bishops from Ephesus and the cities near it, each city yielding its own bishop. Is it insinuated that so true a saint deliberately warped the Word of God and falsified the facts? I think nothing of the sort; but that, on the most charitable supposition, the ecclesiastical government then existing blunted the writer’s vision to such an extent that he was unconscious of his own distortion of the Scriptural account. Does any Anglican tax me with a theory that leads me to misjudge Irenaeus? They will forgive me for thinking that I have incomparably less to influence my judgment than a professional divine, dissenting or nationalist; but if they doubt still, let them hear their own Dean Alford’s comment on the discrepancy between Acts 20 and Irenaeus. “This circumstance began very early to contradict the growing views of the apostolical institution and necessity of prelatical episcopacy.” Then, after pointing out the double misrepresentation substantially as I have done, he adds, “so early did interested and disingenuous interpretations begin to cloud the light which Scripture might have thrown on ecclesiastical questions. The E. V. has hardly dealt fairly in this case with the sacred text, in rendering
ἐπισκόπους, ver. 28, ‘overseers,’ whereas it ought there, as in all other places, to have been ‘bishops,’ that the fact of elders and bishops having been originally and apostolically synonymous might be apparent to the ordinary English reader, which now it is not.”
In fact, after the canon of Scripture closes, so far is the primitive Church from being a safe guide, that its best lights contradict Scripture, one another and even themselves, and on this topic perhaps more than most others. Thus, Clement of Alexandria (Paed. iii. 12) regards the three orders as distinguished in Scripture; and so do Origen (in Matt. 19) and Tertullian (De Monog. 11, 12). On the other hand, the weightier names of Theodoret, Chrysostom, etc., expressly affirm that in Scripture bishops and elders are identical, and strive to make the bishop of their day answer to the apostle or apostolic deputy of Scripture. But even here all is confusion, and no wonder. For the association of the presbytery with the apostle in the so-called ordination of Timothy is no trifling difficulty to the Fathers, as it is still to Episcopalians; and the same ancient writers, who elsewhere identify the bishops and elders of Scripture, insist, in commenting on 1 Tim. 4:14, that here the elders mean officials of apostolic dignity or bishops in the later sense! Theodoret also falls into an error which Chrysostom, as far as I observe, seems to have avoided the error of making a prelate of Epaphroditus, because he is called the messenger or apostle of the Philippians. But this is evidently unfounded; for he, and the brethren who are similarly styled messengers or apostles of the churches in 2 Cor. 8:23, were in this the mere channels and representatives of the church’s bounty — a slender basis for the episcopacy of any epoch. — I here conclude this part of my task. It is for others to judge whether the evidence does not prove, not only that Anglicanism, in its bishops, priests and deacons, has no real claim to Scriptural support, but that the Article, relative to this subject, insists on orders which thoroughly differ from the offices of Scripture, and render impossible, within its own range, the operations of the Spirit by the various joints and bands of Christ’s body, according to the just freedom of Scripture. Reference to the Fathers will not justify the Establishment; but it does prove how early, and wide, and growing was the declension, not only from apostolic principles and practice, but even from the knowledge of what they were.
The silence of the Articles, as to certain weighty truths, while temporary points of controversy occupy no small space, is substantially acknowledged and unsatisfactorily explained. Nobody expects a full compendium of divinity; but, on the other hand, the Articles are orderly, and rise evidently from the foundations of the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, the Scriptures, etc., to the lighter matters with which they close, so as to indicate the design of an adequate confession. My charge is that they signally fail in this respect. Mr. Carey pleads that the Services, etc, may teach what is here omitted. Granted; but what of the truths omitted everywhere? The “dead and ominous silence” he has totally misunderstood. Far from insinuating that which he fancies, I agree with him that regeneration, for instance, is not defined in the more formal standard, because the view of the Establishment is expressed unmistakeably in the Baptismal Services. The sole regeneration of the Spirit they know is in and through that initiatory rite. If this was not “ominous” in my critic’s eyes, it was probably because his doctrine is the same; but that a large section of the worthiest Anglicans, lay and clerical, pronounce that doctrine heretical, and resort to eccentric interpretations or practical indifference, so as to remain there with some colour of consistency, is too well known to need proof. What a relief it would have been to their consciences, had there only been an Article, or a clause in one, attributing regeneration, as Scripture does, to the Spirit’s use of the Word! The dead silence of the Articles is ominous, precisely because the Baptismal Services are so explicit against the truth.
The citations from the Services prove what was not denied; but the truth comes out in page 29: “The reason why the 39 Articles do not dwell more on the Holy Spirit’s operations, is, as I apprehend, simply this: that on this point there was no difference of opinion between the Churches of England and of Rome.” Here we fully concur; but what an admission! Had I said that Anglicanism and Romanism differ in nothing as to the Spirit’s operations, what an outcry on my bad spirit! I believe that it is true, however, and of most “ominous” import. The Establishment joins hands with Rome in the guilty recognition of an ordinance substituted for the quickening power of the Spirit, who acts on souls through the Word which reveals Christ, — joins with Rome in the guilty non-recognition of the Spirit’s abiding presence in God’s assembly, there to maintain the Headship of Christ (not of a Pope or a Sovereign), and there to distribute His manifestations to each member of the body as He will.
From my specimen of slighted truths, the promised kingdom, Israel’s restoration and the blessing of the earth under Christ’s reign are singled out, as to which silence is thought better than words. Now I do not contend for imposing these or other Articles; but I cannot sympathize with the feeling or the judgment which sees wisdom in omitting these and the other truths I had pointed out, and in insisting on such “doubtful disputations” as are found e.g. in Articles 34-38. Is the Queen’s ecclesiastical supremacy so sure and momentous that it should be embodied there? Or is the Lord’s assumption of the kingdom so questionable in Scripture and so insignificant in itself, that it should be thrust out privily if not beat openly uncondemned? The early Fathers, who differ more or less about episcopacy, are here unanimous till Origen; but what of that, if it does not fall in with things as they are? What a pity a still “wiser silence” did not prevail in 1661-2, not to speak of the London synod of 1552, with its 42 Articles, or that of 1562, with the 39 still extant! The Act of Uniformity (was it “wise?”) drove out near 2000 devoted clergymen and created an enormous schism till this day, by forcing conscience on things indifferent, which no truth of God is. But, with too many, whatever is, is right.
On Baptismal Regeneration no more need be said, as Mr. Carey declines to enter on the subject (page 30) — no doubt for sufficient reasons. But he also fails to notice the strong charges laid against the priestly absolution and other parts of the Liturgy. The prayers for forgiveness he seeks to vindicate by the Lord’s Prayer in Matt. 6 and Luke 11.* But the difference is, that the disciples, for whose closet-use the Lord gave this prayer, were God’s children; whereas Mr. Carey will not deny that the Anglican Service, (as not I say merely, but Wheatly proves,) contemplates condemned penitent criminals who have not the Spirit of adoption. Were the disciples “tied and bound with the chain of their sins,” as is said of worshippers in the Establishment? I cannot acquit pp. 30-32 of want of candour: for Mr. Carey had my words before him, that “I cordially allow the value to God’s children of confessing their sins,” etc. Why, then, should he reason at length as if I denied it? The true question is: Does God’s Word authorize His Church to unite with the world in confessing sin in order to pardon? Of course, the Christian may sin, and if so, is bound to confess it — yet even here always as a child of God; whereas the true service for the world is to have the Gospel preached to them, instead of presuming to join in Christian worship. All this is huddled together in the Services of the Establishment, and it is evident that Mr. Carey does not feel the confusion. John 13:10 maintains the believer’s peculiar standing, while it also prescribes for his failures; but neither pertains to “every parishioner.”
*The argument founded on the special design of Luke’s gospel for Gentile converts, as compared with Matthew’s gospel for Jews, is a total fallacy. For though it is clear that the Gentiles only came in after the descent of the Holy Ghost, it does not follow that it was meant for them to use the Lord’s prayer formally. That gospel would equally instruct them, if it simply revealed how the Lord taught His Jewish disciples to pray. The same gospel shows that the Twelve and the Seventy, when sent out by Christ, were forbidden to take purse or scrip. Does it follow that the converts, whether from Jews or Gentiles, after Pentecost, were to take neither on their missions? If it be said that Luke 22:32 gives new directions in the one cue, I answer that John 16:23-26 does as much in the other case. The accomplishment of redemption, and the gift of the Spirit to dwell in us, create new wants, and lead into a new ground and character of prayer; though all the Lord gave His disciples abides for the eternal profit of the Church.
The answer to the second and closing part need not be long. Mr. Carey, not being at home in the subject, makes an apology (page 34) for possible inaccuracy, and complains that my former tract does not furnish enough information about “Brethren’s” principles and their practical working but, strange to say, he does not even now indicate by a single question the particulars on which chiefly he desires to be informed. With every wish to gratify him, it is difficult to anticipate such vague wants within the ordinary limits of a pamphlet. These strictures, I own, are opened with every kindliness. Indeed, the author avows that, far from blaming the “Brethren,” he shares the feelings in which their movement began, but laments that due heed was not paid to the prophetic parables of our Lord! Such a remark is a plain proof how little they, or their ordinary teaching, can be known to him who made it. Had he accused them of being carried away by overmuch attention to prophecy in general, including these parables, it might have seemed less strange. But those who are ever so moderately acquainted with spiritual workings in Christendom, and among the rest with the history of the “Brethren,” or with their writings, will not say that any community has been so remarkable for diligent study of these very subjects, and, I may add, of the Word as a whole — it is not for me to say with what measure of success.
But curiously enough, the remark is as wrong in itself, as in its application. For we are told that our Lord has given us in these parables (the Tares, Drag-net, Virgins, etc.) “the picture of His Church” (p. 33). This I must flatly deny. They are expressly representations of “the kingdom of heaven.” It is easy for any man who has never pondered the matter deeply, to call mine “a strange assertion” (p. 49); but it is the merest assumption to say that the kingdom is the Church, and an assumption which at the first step contradicts our Lord’s own interpretation. How often must one repeat that the field is (not the Church but) the world? It is the world since it has been the sowing-ground of good seed and bad; the vast sphere of Christendom, comprising nationalism and dissent, in all their varieties, Popery, etc., as well as the intermingled believers, of course. But there is no reference to the assembly, or church, as such, in any one of these parables: let them who so say, attempt the proof, or rather let them enquire, and they may learn that they have none. These beautiful prefigurations of the Christian profession here below would be true, if the doctrine of the Church, as announced by our Lord, and the corporate development brought out by the Holy Ghost through the Apostle Paul, had never been revealed. The two things, therefore, are in themselves distinct. Indeed, we need not go so far; for Matt. 16:18, 19 may suffice to convince a simple mind, that connected as they no doubt are, the Church and the kingdom are thoroughly distinct, and that all reasoning built on their assumed identity wants a foundation. “Upon this rock,” says our Lord, “I will build my church . . . . . . And I will give unto thee the keys (not of the Church, which is a gross delusion, nor of heaven, which would be as bad or worse, but) of the kingdom of heaven,” etc. Our Lord in the same context distinguishes His Church from that kingdom of which He had already said so much. It is contrary to every principle of sound interpretation to say, without evidence, that such different terms are equivalent. And this is yet more confirmed by Matt. 18 where we have “the kingdom” fully spoken of at the beginning and the close; and in the midst of it, “the church” is so introduced that you could not substitute “the kingdom” without ruining the sense. To tell a thing to “the assembly,” and to hear “the assembly,” Is very intelligible; but how tell “the kingdom?” The things differ no less than the names; and nothing can be less reasonable than this habit of taking for granted what ought to be proved from Scripture.
The next charge is only serious as evincing sad unbelief. Tradition is insisted on “as being subciliary (sic) to Scripture, and as fixing the true sense of Scripture. ‘The Brethren,’ I believe, reject Universal Tradition altogether. Have they ever considered that in so doing they leave us without a New Testament? Why do we receive the New Testament as the Word of God except upon the authority of this Universal Tradition?” (pp. 34, 35.) Now I can honestly say that I have sought to spare my clerical opponents, and that had any brethren in communion with us committed the errors which fill their pages, I could not have made allowances for them, because they enjoy incomparably better means of scriptural instruction. But I happen to know as a fact, that unpretending Christians have read this passage with horror, and I assuredly reject the reasoning as equally hollow and mischievous. For it quietly assumes that God is incompetent to make men responsible by His own testimony — the root of all scepticism, superstitions or rationalist. Now I take the bull by the horns and affirm that, whatever may be the value of testimony, from friends or foes during eighteen centuries, for silencing cavils, there is no living faith but that which is wrought through God’s Word, received on His direct authority without any external warrant whatever. If received on the authority of Universal Tradition, it is not believing God but man. The Word of God proves itself to the conscience and puts man by itself under the responsibility of crediting it, because God cannot speak without morally binding man to know and hear Him, for none speaks like Him. And as to fixing the true sense of Scripture, it is the work of the Holy Ghost, not of tradition, which has produced nothing but ignorance, doubt and incredulity. I challenge any priest of Rome or England to show a single instance where Universal Tradition has fixed the true sense of Scripture. “Brethren” do indeed abjure a principle which, forgetting the essentially divine character of the Word, sets aside its sufficiency, no less than the Holy Ghost’s faithful presence and power to use that Word. Tradition, as a necessary witness to prove the one and the agent of the other, I denounce as a rebel. None denies the transmission of the Old Testament through the Jews, nor of the New and Old through the various and opposed channels of Christendom; but it is as absurd to think that we receive the Bible on their authority, as to imagine that a letter to A. B. from the Queen is only received on the authority of the postman, who delivers it. The links of the postal chain may be honest or not; but the royal letter retains its own independent and inalienable authority. The consequence of the argument is, not that we are left without the New Testament, but that Mr. Carey is misled by his error of Universal Tradition to abandon a divine and accept a human ground for his faith, if faith in Christendom can be called faith at all. There is no error more characteristic of Rome or more perilous.
The third charge is a mixture of unsoundness and misunderstanding. Far from viewing human appointment as erroneous in itself, I hold, as strongly as our censor, that regular eldership required not only certain prescribed qualifications, but the seal of an apostle or of his duly commissioned delegate. Why does not a clergyman produce some such guarantee for his ordination? He cannot; he has no more than the peculiar ceremony and testimonial of his own sect. Why then pretend to what they have not! If you insist on the desirableness of rightly ordained elders, is it not at least as desirable to have apostles who might ordain elders, or authenticate a competent substitute to do the work? Neither Anglicans nor Papists have apostles or charges that depend on them, one whit more than the “Brethren.” The difference is, that we are content, in the present distracted state of things, to walk as brethren, gladly and in love using any and every gift for mutual edification; whereas our opponents set up, without scriptural authority, to imitate apostles and ordain elders, because they or their envoys did. Which course is most comely, humble and obedient? We act according to what we are, they according to what they assuredly are not.
The Word of God furnishes ample guidance for godly order, where there were or could be no elders. The Patristic tradition, “no Church without a Bishop,” is a flagrant unequivocal contradiction of God’s Word. For, on the contrary, the Acts of the Apostles prove as a rule, that it was only after a lapse of time, and in general on a repeated visit, that the Apostles appointed bishops; as indeed the very requisites (1 Tim. 3) for the office imply time to acquire a known character for godliness, gravity and ruling power. Yet were the churches as truly owned by God and men before these officers were installed, as afterwards. So, in Romans (Rom. 12), we find exhortations which suppose the members in full activity, and among the rest that of the ruler; but not a word about elders or bishops. Indeed they could have had none; for neither apostles nor apostolic men had up to the date of the epistle ever reached the imperial city. Again, 1 Cor. imply just the same thing. Rich gifts were there, and plenty of ministry — too much, it would seem; but elders nowhere appear. The household of Stephanas devoted themselves in an orderly way (
ἔταξαν ἑαυτούς) to the ministry of the saints, though all the evidence clearly shows they were not appointed by men; and yet the apostle commends it in an inspired letter, and even beseeches the saints to submit themselves to such and to every one associated in the work and labouring. This is precisely what “Brethren” do, and what is now unknown to “the universal language of Christendom.” The Galatians were exhorted that he who is taught in the word should communicate to him that teacheth in all good things. This may be and ought to be, elders or no elders; and in fact, none are named here. We have seen already the bright light cast on the subject in Eph. 4, whence bishops are necessarily excluded, though we know that in the church in that city there were several. In Philippi, too, there were expressly bishops and deacons; but this does not hinder the apostle from exhorting his true yoke-fellow (certainly not his wife, as Clemens A., Eusebius, etc., say, but probably Epaphroditus) to help (not “those women which,” but) Euodia and Syntyche, seeing that they contended along with him in the gospel (not that they preached of course, but they unobtrusively laboured and shared the apostle’s trials in its spread) with Clement also and his other fellow-labourers, etc. The ordination of some, even where it was most valid, in no way hindered the free circulation of spiritual gift in the service of the faithful or in the gospel. The Colossian epistle is equally plain and instructive in another way; for the apostle had not personal knowledge of the assembly there, and there is no intimation of local charges - yet, Archippus, far from being repressed, is enjoined to take heed and fulfil the ministry he had received in the Lord, without one word of sanction from man. Still more evident is the inference from 1 Thess. 5, where the saints were in the freshness of youth (as it was too the apostle’s earliest writing) and no officials are hinted at. Does this preclude godly order and oversight? In no wise. “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” They had no appointment of men; but valuable as this was, where super-added by proper authority and according to God’s Word, they had what always and intrinsically claimed respect, even where apostolic recognition could not be had.
I might add other testimonies, perhaps; but surely these may convince the most prejudiced mind, if willing to probe all to the bottom, that the provident wisdom of God, who dealt thus with the Church in early days, has not forgotten the difficulties of those whose desire is above all things to please Him by intelligent and lowly-minded obedience, now that self-will runs riot not only in the smaller parties, but in the larger and more ancient bodies in Christendom. Even where apostolically chosen elders were, there was no hindrance to the spiritual ministry of any brother in the assembly, subject only to the divine regulations. But God took take that the fullest account of church-economy, discipline, the Lord’s Supper, the worship and ministry of the assembly, should be in an epistle (1 Cor.) where elders are ignored. Important as these charges were, they are in no way essential. If there, elders render their help; if not there, the loss may be felt surely, but they are not so indispensable that the Church cannot have discipline, the Eucharist, gifts, etc., without elders. On this ground plain, solid and scripturally certain, “the Brethren” act; and their very trials, without and within, confirm their conviction, that, few and feeble as they are, they are doing His will in the present ruin-state of Christendom. Real gift manifests itself, just as a real Christian does, though in both cases all admit there may be doubtful instances in which the ready and sure resource is prayer to a God who never fails. The true credentials are from the Lord and King of kings, not from the lady who sits as a queen nor from her daughters. The Church in Scripture is never the source of ministry; Christ is, and He gives gifts unto men, who win confidence by their reality and fruits.*
*Mr. Carey repeats the mistake (p. 36) that I am bound to prove that “appointment by men” is forbidden! Not so: it is his business to prove it, if he can, inasmuch as he maintains it. No one is bound to prove a negative. Suppose a R. Cath. said The baptism of bells is not forbidden, a Protestant would be entitled to reply, You mistake the nature of proof and of reasoning: if you affirm, you must prove, or own that you have no proof. At the same time, I have given the amplest evidence from God’s Word, that the exercise of gift, without official nomination, in the congregation and outside, is an undeniable Scriptural truth. On the other hand my objection is not in proper cases, to “appointment by men,” but to improper appointment by men not duly authorised.
The mission of Paul and Barnabas, in Acts 13, is dwelt on in page 36; but no sooner is there recourse to this forlorn hope, than page 37 warns, that the case must not be pressed “too far,” and that even Mr. Carey does not maintain that it was “equivalent to what we understand by Ordination!” Why then throw dust in the eyes of the ignorant by such a reference? It is pressing it too far, if it is confessedly not ordination. I must, however, draw a stricter attention to the facts and words than my critic has done. For, 1, it was the Holy Ghost who directed and called. 2. Those called are said to be Apostles. Hear, ye men of order: what think you of prophets and teachers “appointing” their ecclesiastical superiors? 3. The inference that Paul was an apostle “by man” (which he must have been, if this was his appointment to that office by the teachers of Antioch,) is directly contradicted in Gal. 1: 1, 4. Commenting on “they sent him away,” Mr. Carey has committed himself to the unpardonable offence of saying: “I need hardly point out that the word ‘sent’ is emphatic.” I appeal to every scholar, Anglican or not: is it so? In verse 3, it is the general non-emphatic word
ἀπέλυσαν, “they let them go,” or “dismissed them. “I need hardly point out that it is the same word in Acts 4:21; Acts 5:40. If emphatic, Peter and John were “sent” by the Jewish rulers, elders and scribes. and Jason, etc, had their mission from the heathen rulers of Thessalonica! (Acts 17:9.) The truth is, that it is a glaring mistake; for the word never has the emphatic force which is here assumed. On the other hand, in ver. 4 where the Holy Ghost (not man) is in question, the emphatic word
ἐκπεμφθέντες is used. Their “mission,” then, is said to be from the Spirit only; their “dismission,” if you will, was from their “brethren just as in Acts 15:33. What, then, was the meaning of this transaction? Mr. Carey will be surprised to hear that, while it is never in the slightest degree approached either in Nationalism or Dissent, the “Brethren” have acted on its spirit, and would doubtless act from time to time, where they believed it really to apply. It is generally forgotten that Barnabas and Paul had both ministered in the highest rank (Paul, certainly, being an Apostle by divine call) for years before. What the Spirit here called them to, was a special mission among the heathen; and the imposition of hands with prayer and fasting by their fellow-labourers was not in the faintest degree an act of derivative authority as proper ordination is, but — what the Holy Ghost describes it in Acts 14:26 — a recommendation to the grace of God for this work. Acts 15:40 shows that the recommendation was repeated on a subsequent mission of the Apostle, and not improbably also the same godly order of prayer and fasting with laying on of hands. “Brethren” have done the same thing, when God made an honoured servant’s path plain for a peculiar work, some of his fellow-labourers commending him to God’s grace, precisely as in Acts 13.* But nobody dreamt of conferring either gift or authority.
* 2 Tim. 2:2 (p. 39) is constantly acted on amongst us by those, who are competent, which it is very easy to discern. Just as Timothy communicated the truth he had gathered from the Apostle, so a servant now, who proves himself to be enlightened in these same truths, commits them to faithful but less taught men, that they may spread them to others also. But it is the effect of prepossession to call this appointment.” It has not one feature peculiar to ordination.
As to the imaginary case put in pp. 37, 38, there is one grand omission in the account; it is forgotten that the “Brethren” believe, as did the early Christians, in the real presence of the Holy Ghost to control, restrain, guide and bless; while all admit that there may be failure, as in the individual saint, so in the assembly. But even in comparatively large assemblies of 200 or 300 communicants, so deep and general is the fear of going before the Lord, that they have far more reason to think there is too much shrinking back, rather than the too great eagerness to speak which strangers to us might imagine. Besides, we know the goodness and faithful care of God, who surely raises up and brings in men of weight, proved godliness, spiritual power, and profound acquaintance with His Word; the effect of which qualities He means to be felt wherever they exist. That an assembly of Christians thus acting being open to the sovereign action. of the Holy Ghost, is liable now as of old, to be tried by forward men, high or low, poor or rich, learned or unlearned, is quite true; but then there are scriptural ways for rectifying every disorder. And God is trusted, not the assembly’s concurrence or pleasure, nor a clergy either.
With us, if a man mistakes his place and ministers without power, it is soon found out by others and generally by himself. But in Anglicanism the mistake is fixed and irreparable; the misguided man goes on maintained in the error by the system, spite of every body and himself too. Which is most right?
The fourth point of objection is the “Brethren’s” cleaving to Scripture, not Creeds or Articles of faith which Mr. Carey tries to find in 1 Tim. 6:29; 2 Tim. 1:13, 14; Jude 3: need I overthrow a conclusion so preposterous? No doubt, the truth — the faith — is a most holy deposit to be kept at all cost, and in the form furnished in God’s Word; and so an Apostle enjoins on one and all. But is this a human Creed or Article? One reason why I object to Creeds is precisely because they are almost always inaccurate. Another is, because singling out certain truths, which are taken out of their living fulness in Christ, they give me mangled limbs, not the truth as in the Word. But the best reason of all is that with us it is a settled thing that God knows best how to provide for the wants of His Church; and if He gave them His Word and Spirit, not Creeds and Articles, we at least are not going to turn from His wisdom as displayed in the inspired Apostles and supplement it with the additions of the fourth and fifth centuries, not to speak of the sixteenth.
Mr. Carey suggests a practical view of the matter in pp. 40, 41. Be it so. The doctrine of Christ is assailed. Let him produce his Art. II.; I fall back “on my own ground” — Holy Writ only: which is safest and strongest? “The Son, which is the Word of the Father:” where do you find such language in Scripture? The feeble framework of man betrays itself here, as in the spurious clause of 1 John 5. The Holy Ghost always makes the Word and God, the Son and Father proper correlatives. Why should I sign an unscriptural error? What can a mistaken Article be if not a dead weight? Am I to trifle with conscience and sign, in the things of God, as an expression of my faith, that which I believe to be a blunder of the Reformers? Or are you to fence with bold words before people less instructed than yourself, and pretend that it is all one and the same thing? or, bolder still perhaps, are you to blot out this obnoxious expression in some new edition of the Articles, as the Guernsey clergy seem to have done with the other clause on reconciliation, on which so much has been already said? Thus, in the French version of the English Liturgy (H. Brouard, 1833), they say, “pour réconcilier nous avec le Père;” and so it is in that of De La Rue, 1815. The Latin is the same as the English, “ut Patrem nobis reconciliaret.” Who authorised the change?
“Brethren” do not contend for unwritten Articles, but for the Written Word and its sufficiency by the power of the Spirit. Articles may fluctuate, as well as minds; they have done so already in Anglicanism, and they may again. but does God’s Word change? This, I repeat, is our ground, our only and our perfect standard. Not a single use can be assigned mistakenly to the Articles or Creeds, which is not true, without a mistake, of God’s Word. Have we not reason to be supremely thankful that, He has taught us to trust Himself and it? Strange to say, the unhappy person to whom Mr. Carey alludes (long repudiated by us as a blasphemer, p. 41), is the strongest instance we could furnish of the worthlessness of these formularies; for this individual, highly distinguished at Oxford and received by “Brethren” unsuspectingly, was a more diligent student of Confessions of Faith and a more strenuous maintainer of their value, than any man amongst us before or since. And I believe that his ardour for Creeds has grown since the detection of his fundamental unsoundness as to Christ’s person and relation to God. Moreover, error, as in this case, assumes new shapes; so that the bulwarks reared by the doctors of the fifth century would be vain to defend the truth against the innovations of the nineteenth. The true question is, whether we have not in the Word an infinitely better armoury already provided for all emergencies? This, at any rate, is the thesis of “Brethren:” let those who will, betake themselves to the feeble, faltering, spasmodic efforts of human wit or strength. As to what is said of a regular ministry, and of creeds, allow me to say that “Brethren” contend for a ministry more regular, because more Scriptural, and for the sole creed which requires no remodelling, even Scripture; and as to safeguards for preserving the truth, I wonder conscience is not ashamed. With heaps of clergy teaching the dregs of Popery, and Rationalism worse than Socinus ever did, without the semblance of a real check, is it possible a quiet clergyman can breathe such a sound? It is certain that among no Christians is there such care in maintaining sound doctrine as among “Brethren,” Vagaries are rebuked habitually among us, which in many a sect around us would be accepted as beautiful and good and true. Not one principle distinctive of “Brethren” was adopted by Socinus. The Word and the Spirit of God, as the authoritative directory and the living power of the Church gathered round the person of Christ — on these foundations we stand. How great the contrast! The ignorance as to both us and Socinus is complete. The very essence of his ecclesiastical system (to say nothing of dogma) was the right of man to change what the Lord instituted; and this right, or wrong, Anglicanism has freely used, not the “Brethren,” among whom baptism, and the Lord’s supper are observed with the utmost solemnity, as free from Socinian laxity as from Anglican superstition.
What principle of “Brethren,” I demand, did Socinus ever adopt? The perfect sufficiency of the Word? The personal presence and power of the Spirit? The fact is, he opened his career by writing in defence of the Polish Unitarians, and he closed it by reducing their anti-trinitarian opinions to a system, and their scattered parties to a pretty compact body, with a clergy like their neighbours. His views of sin, justification, baptism, the Lord’s supper, and ministry, not to speak of the denial of the proper Deity of Christ and the personality of the Holy Ghost, were always and in every respect opposed to those held by the “Brethren.” All flowed from his fundamental error of making reason both the standard of truth and the power of apprehending it. So, again, the reference to the Quakers can only be from unacquaintance with the subject. For in every normal meeting of “Friends,” they have a bench of elders, and distinct and appointed ministers, among whom women figure not a little. Had Mr. Carey said, that there were a few points of coincidence between the old Waldenses and the “Brethren,” he would not have been so wide of the mark. The reader can judge by the following extract from Gieseler (vol. ii., pp. 376 and seq.) “Like Peter de Bruis and Henry, the Waldenses were free from all heresies of opinion, and sought only to restore an apostolic purity of practice. About the year 1170, their founder, Peter Waldensis of Lyons, with a number of followers (Pauperes de Lugduno, Sabatati) began to preach the gospel after the manner of the primitive apostles. So far were they at first from any intention of separating from the church, that having been forbidden to preach by the Archbishop of Lyons, they applied to Pope Alexander III for permission (A.D. 1179). But having afterwards been excommunicated by Lucius III. (A.D. 1184), they thought it their duty to obey God rather than man, and separate from a church which prohibited that which they felt themselves called to do. At first they differed from the church only as to the exclusive right of the clergy to preach . . . . . Even where their name was not openly adopted, the influence of their example is seen in the newly-awakened zeal of the people to read the Scriptures for themselves.”
The fifth and last of these objections (42-44) is a return to the first starting-point — the Church of God defined as the assembly of saints, or those believed to be such, separate from the world: a definition, be it observed, which in substance was accepted from Mr. Dobrée, and which, we saw, agrees in the main with the Homilies against Mr. Carey. But evil is surmised here: the “saints” and “the world” are to him in a mist. I do not wonder at it. The system, of which he is a minister, confounds them in principle and forbids discrimination in practice. But why should the discerning of either be a difficulty to Christians, acting in the Spirit by the Word which insists on a “within” and a “without?” Little did the author think, in penning these remarks, that he was the unconscious witness of the errors of his own body and the hindrances therein to practising, or even understanding, the Scriptures about the saints and the world! As to “Brethren,” however, he is quite mistaken. If a person has been for years known as a true and faithful disciple of the Lord, all they seek, or ought to seek, is adequate testimony; and for this they would accept the word of spiritual men, clerical or lay, Anglican, Wesleyan, Congregational, Presbyterian, as really as from among themselves. If any teacher or ruler in the midst of “Brethren” spoke from personal knowledge, it would carry no more than the measure of the assembly’s confidence in his judgement and opportunities. Similar deference would be due and paid to testimony of equal weight from whatever quarter it might come. If an untried person, professing to be just converted to God, sought fellowship, the assembly is entitled to be satisfied as a whole, directly or indirectly, that Christ has received him, as the ground for their receiving him. As to deciding about “the world,” nothing is more simple to the believer who is not darkened and fettered by an evil human system: where Christ ends, the world begins. There may be the world, where there is much religiousness and orthodoxy.
To many it is repulsive to draw the line between the world and brethren in Christ. And some have not feared to indulge their dislike by denouncing it as despotic, inquisitional, disguised Popery, etc. Let me warn all such persons to beware of resisting and even insulting God’s will as revealed in His Word. Not only is it part of our Christian holiness to be thus united in separation from unbelievers, but there can be no full flow of Christian love, where that line is not practically drawn. For how can we love as brethren those whom we do not duly accept as brethren? In the family, all is gone if I do not know who are my near of kin: and the love which is interchanged on the ground of known relationships, could not rightly exist beyond them. So, spiritually, the notion that we are not to judge in this case, fair as it may sound to the speculative, is mere want of faith, which directly opposes our Father’s will, effaces the bright badge of Christian discipleship, and destroys the very love which it falsely claims to spring from and represent. All the self-styled love, which is not founded on judging, according to Scripture, who are and who are not our brethren, is but sentiment, party-feeling, or cosmopolitanism, and not divine affection. We must know the brotherhood on sufficient grounds before we can love them as such.
The “Brethren” are only safe and sure, as long as they walk in the Spirit, subject to God’s Word: if those who are so called abandon the truth, let the true men purge themselves from such vessels to dishonour, as decidedly as from all others. “The foundation of God standeth sure.”
The Parable Of The Tares
remains to claim a few words. With this the Donatist controversy has been mixed up for party purposes. Now I have not the smallest sympathy with either of the combatants. They were both violent, they both resorted to finesse as well is force, they both invoked the civil authority to judge of an ecclesiastical question; and blood was shed intentionally on one side as well as the other. The “Brethren,” therefore, as to the main, are entirely apart from the Catholics and the Donatists alike; and so, I doubt not, would every intelligent godly Christian be, who may now talk about one or other without knowing the state of the case. But if it were allowed, which would be far from the truth, that the Catholics were thoroughly right and the Donatists thoroughly wrong as to all else, I must maintain, as the truth of God, that the application of the wheat-and-tare-field to the Church, and not to the kingdom, is false, and even an express departure from the Lord’s plain words. Had the Catholics admitted the true and divinely given sense of the parable, they would have been all the stronger spiritually, and might have been saved from much which disgraced their side of the quarrel. Nothing is more common in controversy than for a bad cause to derive a show of strength from an assertion of truth which the good cause has misunderstood. This would be true if none but Donatists had rightly discerned the parable. But the case is stronger. I had already stated that the greatest of the Greek ecclesiastical writers, (who had not the smallest sympathy with Donatists, any more than the “Brethren,”) not only explains the parable as we do, but, what is better, gives the strongest scriptural reason for that meaning and no other. Was Chillingworth too a Donatist? Really I can hardly conceive a more petty artifice of controversy.
But Dean Trench convicts his own view of plain error. He not only assumes, as they all do, without proof, that the Church and the kingdom are one, but he says the field is the world, “because the Church is contemplated as ultimately embracing the whole world!!” (p. 16.) I answer that, in its own nature, as an elect body out of all nations, the Church NEVER can embrace the world. One error always leads to more, and a false interpretation clashes with other plain Scriptures. This is to confound the present time, when God is gathering out a people, with one wholly different, when all people, nations and languages shall serve Him, and the parable of the tares will not apply. For the harvest is the end of this age; the period of universal blessedness for the world is the new age (not yet the eternal state), when the Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals, and them which do iniquity. The mingled state is now; the world-kingdom of Christ (Rev. 11:15) will be another dispensation.
Those who raise or re-echo the cry of Donatists, do not know, probably, that the best of their forefathers had to bear the same reproach at the Reformation; as Owen and his friends had also at a later day. The pride and uncharitableness, not very humbly nor lovingly attributed to us now, were alleged against the Reformers when they seceded from what themselves had previously owned as “the Church Catholic.” I defy these gentlemen to justify that great and righteous act of separation, if tares and wheat are bound to grow together in the visible Church. But the explanation is proved to be false by Mr. Carey’s test — its inconsistency with other Scriptures (p. 49). For if, as they assume, without the least reason, the subject of the parable is church-fellowship, our Lord’s word would preclude the separating a single wicked person under any circumstances. They might be incestuous, heretics, blasphemers, which are included in the tares of course; but “let both grow together till the harvest.” The unholiness of the results, in the teeth of all Scripture which really speaks of church-communion and discipline, demonstrates that such an interpretation must be erroneous.
But Dr. Trench’s notion is that “it needed not a special teaching to acquaint the disciples that in the world there would be a mixture of good and bad (p. 46).” Now every Jew who was not infidel looked for a state under the Messiah’s reign here below, when His people shall be all righteous, and when the nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish. It was of deep moment, therefore, that the disciples should learn, that now, while Christ is at God’s right hand, the wholly different order of grace, not earthly righteousness (as in prophecy), takes effect, and tares must be left quietly to grow together in the world with the wheat, instead of being destroyed as they will be another day. James and John show the need then (Luke 9:54); and so does the history of Popery and even Protestantism since. Which of them has not employed, as long as they could, the pains and penalties at which Mr. Carey smiles? It was, however, a grim and cruel reality once and long; though the error would have been avoided by a due heed to this parable, which forbids the discipline of the Inquisition and the Dragonade, the discipline of the dungeon and the sword, of the fire and fagot. Was this not needed? Let those answer it who boast of being the lineal successors of priests, whose “acts of faith,” bloody as the rites of Moloch, yet await the unsparing vengeance of God. Answer it, Oxford, Smithfield, — aye, Tower-hill! This, then, is the true import: the disciples in the kingdom of heaven were to exercise patient grace towards wicked professors, not judicial severity, which is reserved for the angels by and by. To apply the parable as the Dean of Westminster does, is wholly to miss this intended and most needed truth, to consecrate an error fraught with unholy consequences, and to silence the clear peremptory voice of the Holy Ghost in 1 Cor. 5, and elsewhere. In fact, too, the Donatists* seem to have been as deaf as the Catholics to the Lord’s teaching in this parable, though they saw better what it does not teach. And as to applying Isa. 52:1 to “the Church,” both parties were unite wrong, if the strict sense is adhered to; for the passage speaks of the future blessing of Jerusalem. If the principle only was meant, Gal. 4, which applies Isa. 54 to the actual facts of Christianity, justifies the Donatists much more than their enemies. Certain it is, to my mind, that no great and good man more thoroughly lost his way than did Augustine in that controversy. Can people be aware that he who popularised the perversion of Matt. 13:30 to screen evil in the Church, argued on such Scriptures as Luke 14:23 (“compel them to come in”) etc. to warrant religious persecution? They had better retire from the slippery path, while there is yet time and a warning from God’s Word.
* If we are to believe Optatus, it was a mere quarrel begun by an angry turbulent lady, nourished by episcopal ambition, and strengthened by the avarice of those who had stolen the ecclesiastical treasures. And from a Donatist writer, quoted by Augustine, it seems that, except the point of baptism, there was really no difference worth naming between the contending parties. People who apply such a case to the present question betray great want of knowledge if not of conscience.
The truth is that the early Protestants, and the later Roundheads, were somewhat obnoxious to the charge of Donatism: not because they withdrew from a corrupt body which was not God’s Church, but because, as in Africa so in England, the separatists contended in carnal warfare with those they abandoned. Neither the old party nor the new scrupled to avail themselves of the world’s power, political intrigue, and even physical force to gain the upper hand: all of which things involve utter forgetfulness or rather ignorance of the prophetic parables. With “Brethren,” all has been and is different. We repudiate all rivalry, all reference to the civil power about the things of God, and still more, all appeal in such matters to the arbitrament of the sword. We have ceased to do the evil, individual and corporate, of which we were consciously guilty; and we do not fear to trust God and the Word of His grace for the future. If we are now doing any thing wrong, we can heartily thank any one, be he Catholic or Donatist, who will show the error from Scripture;* for we, at any rate, are quite free and feel bound to correct all that may be amiss, and to follow the Lord more fully, being happily delivered from human systems where all is fixed by erring rules, and which ought to be left by those whose consciences judge them to be wrong. Mr. Carey considers the passing away of the Donatists to be full of warning; but it is lost, I fear, on those who believe them and their adversaries to have been almost equally mistaken. Still their disappearance was not wonderful after a merciless persecution, from about Dioclesian’s close till the seventh century. If it proves anything, the argument goes much too far. True Christianity passed away from Rome in perhaps less time, unless Mr. Carey so regards the “abominable idolatry” (I speak with the Homilies) which, for more than a thousand years, has reigned there, and is but too vigorous still. Where is the Church of Corinth now? Where that of Philippi, of Antioch, etc.? Error is pertinacious enough and progressive too. It is the very consequence of the truth, that “Brethren “ can only go right, as long as grace reigns in their midst; but this, according to Scripture, is sufficient for us: if it is not enough for our adversary, it is because his is a system of religious forms, so constructed as to look and sound well if there were no living power of the Spirit at work. As for “Brethren,” their faults are great and manifold, and they do well to be humbled for them, because they are all their own: for their position, they cannot be too thankful and confident, because it is of God; and those who speak evil of it, will remember their sin another day.
*Only let, it not be such a sample of misinterpretation as satisfies Mr. Carey on 2 Tim. 2: 21 (pp. 50, 51), who fortifies himself with an unintelligent quotation from Augustine. “Go ye out from thence” (Isa. 53:11) means from Babylon, not Jerusalem; and the present application would be departure from every such system of confusion. Equally unfounded is the remark on the “purging” which the Apostle enjoins, as a distinct thing from the inward, personal purity which he also urges in the verse that follows. Why confound these, but because the truth taught in verse 21 is unpalatable and involves bitter and costly consequences? But his objection to the only and obviously true sense is without an attempt at a reason. Is it not certain that “if a man purge himself from these” refers not to what follows but to what immediately preceded, that is, the vessels to dishonour in the great house? If so, what can purging himself “from these” mean but separation from ungodly professors? Exactly so Bengel “purgando sese, exierit de numero horum vasorum in dedecus;” and Dean Alford accepts the same view expressly. There was no need, in the Apostles’ days, for the true-hearted to “form themselves into a separate community,” because as yet they were able to purge the wicked out. But the principle is a large one and divinely provides for a time when the wicked might be too numerous and strong; and then if we cannot purge them out, we must purge ourselves from them, and follow the Christian path “with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”