« AnkstesnisTęsti »
tively and infallibly that he is right,-not only to show that the Reformers were possibly excusable, but that they were positively and infallibly right and justifiable, and that the churches they founded are the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which our blessed Saviour said he would build on a rock, and against which the gates of hell should not prevail.
In proceeding to remark on these Lectures, we shall consider them solely in their bearing on this question of schism. The Church of which the author is a high dignatary lies, and has lain from its origin, under the charge of schism, and these Lectures concern us only so far as they are designed to free it of that charge. We ask, then, has the author succeeded in vindicating the British Reformers, and in proving that the Anglican Church is not rightfully regarded as a schismatic church? This is the question before us, and to this question we shall confine ourselves as strictly as possible.
Now, it is evident, at first sight, that, before proceeding to answer this question, the Bishop should allege some principle or ground of defence, on which he relies, to show that the secession of the Reformers was not schism. He himself professes to believe in the unity and catholicity of the Church, and must then, of course, admit that separation from the Church is schism. Now, the body from which the Reformers separated had been regarded by the whole Christian world, condemned schismatics and heretics excepted, from time immemorial, and was still regarded by the great majority of the Christian world, as the Church of Christ. The Reformers themselves had so regarded it, had received from it their Christian birth, and their mission, so far as they had any. Their secession was, then, primâ facie, schism, and must be taken and deemed to be such, till they show good and sufficient reasons why it should not be. The Church stands on the olim possideo, the prior possessio; and cannot be ousted from her inheritance, nor summoned even to plead, till good and sufficient reasons, in case they are sustained, are adduced to invalidate her title. These reasons must be adduced as the grounds of the Reformers' defence, and, till they are adduced, we cannot argue the question, whether the Reformed Churches are schismatics, for till then the simple fact of secession convicts them of schism.
We have looked through these Lectures to ascertain the ground on which the Bishop rests the defence of the Reformers, but very nearly in vain. He does not meet the question manfully; he does not proceed in an orderly and logical manner; and, we are sorry to see, nowhere states clearly and dis
tinctly the principles from which he obtains his premises. He lays down no rules for the admission of testimony, and none for testing the value of the testimony admitted. All is loose, confused; and, whether true or false, so adduced, that one cannot say what it proves or does not prove to his purpose. Yet, by much searching, by much guessing, and borrowing largely from the general arguments of Protestants elsewhere, we conjecture that he means to contend that the Church is composed of all who maintain the orthodox faith, and that, since the Reformers, in separating from the communion of Rome, retained the orthodox faith, they did not separate from the Catholic Church, and therefore were not schismatics. He reasons, then, in this way.
1. The Catholic Church is composed of all who maintain the orthodox faith.
But the Reformers maintained the orthodox faith; therefore, the Reformers were members of the Catholic Church.
2. They only are schismatics who separate from the orthodox faith.
But the Reformers did not separate from the orthodox faith; therefore the Reformers were not schismatics.
But this definition of the Church is defective, for it does not embrace the idea of the Church as a teaching and governing body, asserted by the Bishop's own Church, and in fact contended for by the Bishop himself. It also destroys all intelligible distinction between schism and heresy. Heresy is a wilful departure from the orthodox faith; schism is a wilful separation from the ministry or authority of the Church. All heresy is schism, and all schism may conceal heresy at the bottom; but all schism, as such, is not necessarily heresy. Consequently, if the Church be defined so as to embrace all who maintain the orthodox faith, schism, as a distinct sin from heresy, is denied. Consequently, separation from the legitimate ministry of the Church, the formation of new and distinct congregations, with a new ministry, not deriving from the Apostles, would not be schism, would not break the unity of the body, in case the seceders maintained the orthodox faith. Nay, these new congregations would be integral members of the Catholic Church, although they should have no ministry, no sacraments, no worship; for nothing is essential to the Church but the orthodox faith. This would be giving to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone a very convenient latitude. But congregations without a ministry, without the sacraments and worship, cannot be called members of the Church; for the Bishop's own
Church defines the Church to be "a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." Art. XIX. Here something beside the orthodox faith is made essential to the Church,-namely, the sacraments duly administered. The Bishop is therefore precluded by his own Church from insisting on his definition. But if the due administration of the sacraments be, as here declared, necessary to the very being of the Church, then is necessary to the being of the Church a ministry authorized to administer them; and separation from this authorized ministry must be separation from the Church, and therefore schism, as much as separation from the orthodox faith itself. The Reformers, as is well known, did separate from the ministry authorized to administer the sacraments; therefore were schismatics, even admitting they did not cease to be orthodox believers.
But even conceding that all orthodox believers are members of the Church, we must still ask, Who or what keeps, propounds, and defines the orthodox faith? This faith does not keep, propound, or define itself. It must have a depositary, a propounder, and a definer, or else we can never know what it is, who embrace it, and therefore who are or are not of the Church. "I do indeed," says the Bishop, "profess myself a believer in the one Catholic or Universal Church of the Redeemer, which forms a distinct article in the primitive creed; but I have long cherished the opinion, that all orthodox believers are members of that Church, whatever may be the diversities of their particular communion."-p. 2. But who are orthodox believers? What is the orthodox faith? There must be a standard of orthodoxy, and somewhere an authority competent to say what does or does not conform to it. What is this standard? What is this authority?
According to the Bishop, the standard is the word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible he holds to be the depositary of the word of God; belief of which is the orthodox faith. But it is essential to the orthodox faith that it be belief of the whole word of God; for God reveals nothing superfluous, and he who refuses to believe any portion of God's word, refuses to believe God just as much as he who refuses to believe the whole. Before the Bible is assumed to be the standard of orthodoxy, it must, then, be proved to contain the whole word of God. But how is this to be proved? It cannot be proved by natural reason;
because the question, how much or how little is revealed, is not a question of natural reason, but must be determined by a supernatural authority. It cannot be proved from the Bible, for the Bible nowhere professes to contain the whole word of God; nay, it does not even profess that the whole word of God has been written, but contains several passages which indicate very clearly to the contrary. How, then, will the Bishop. prove that the Bible contains the whole word of God? But if he cannot prove that the Bible contains the whole word of God, how can he prove that he who believes it, or conforms to all that it teaches, is an orthodox believer?
Will it be said, that the orthordox faith is that faith which is necessary to salvation; that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation; and, therefore, he who believes what it contains is an orthodox believer? We grant that he who believes all that is necessary for salvation is an orthodox believer; but how know we that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation? The Bible itself nowhere says so, and by an authority below that of the Bible the fact cannot be established. The whole question lies out of the jurisdiction of natural reason. Reason by its own light can never know that a supernatural faith is at all necessary to salvation. The necessity of such faith we know only by supernatural revelation; consequently, supernatural revelation is as necessary to determine the extent as the subject-matter of the faith itself. With nothing but the Bible and natural reason, no man can say that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation. Consequently, the conclusion, that he who believes all the Bible contains is an orthodox believer, is not proved. But, according to the state of the argument, the presumption is against the Bishop; therefore, he is bound to prove that the Bible positively does contain the whole word of God, at least, all that is necessary to be believed for salvation, before he can assume it as the standard of the orthodox faith.
But, waiving this question, conceding for the moment that the Bible contains the whole word of God, one must believe that word in its genuine sense, or he is not an orthodox believer. The Bible does not interpret itself. It must be interpreted, and its genuine sense determined. But who or what is the interpreter? According to the Bishop, the interpreter, save exceptions in favor of private reason, hereafter to be noticed, is the Church. This he is bound to hold; because the twentieth article of his Church expressly declares the Church to
have "authority in controversies of faith," and therefore must have authority to declare what the faith is. He also insists (p. 18) that the Church is the court for expounding and applying the law. The court expounds and applies the law authoritatively. So also must the Church, if the analogy is to hold good. Then the Church must be an authoritative body, — not to make the law, for that nobody ever pretended, but to expound and apply it.
This is a point gained. It is no longer sufficient to define the Church to be simply the great body of believers in the orthodox faith; for we must now add that it is an authoritative body, having the authority to declare what the orthodox faith is. Now, this authority is either legitimate or it is not. If the latter, it is usurped, and therefore really no authority at all, for nobody is bound to regard it. If the former, then it is from Christ, the source of all legitimate authority in the Church; then it is obligatory on all, and can be resisted by no one without sin, without rebellion against Christ, which is schism. If, then, the Reformers resisted this authority, as it is well known they did, or separated from it, they were schismatics, and the Churches they founded are out of the communion of Christ.
The Bishop concedes the Church to be an authoritative body. But the Church is not many, but one. Therefore the authority is one. The court to expound and apply the law, then, is the universal Church, not a particular Church. The authority that declares the law must be the authority of the whole, and not of a part. This is evident from the fact, that, if the authority of the Church be a unitary authority, the authority of a part, or of some particular portion of the Church, must be inferior and subordinate to the whole, on the principle that the whole is greater than a part. The decision of a part can never be final, and the case may be carried up and argued before the full bench.
The Bishop professes to believe in the one Catholic Church. He then must admit the unity of the Church. This unity must extend to all that is embraced within the definition of the Church. This we now see, from the Bishop himself, is not only the orthodox faith, but the authority competent to declare what that faith is. The Church, then, must be one in its faith, and one in its authority. That is, its unity is not only the unity of faith, but the unity of authority. Now, whoever breaks the unity of this authority breaks the unity of the Church, as much as he who breaks the unity of the faith. But the Reformers did break this authority, and therefore were schismatics.