« السابقةمتابعة »
given to any of their revivals of obsolete practices, excuseable only on the ground of the cowardly caution practised by Elizabeth's Bishops, when changing the national establishment from Popery to Protestantism ; and on that of the violent party re-action which took place at the Restoration, under a latent popish infuence. A year ago, men were looking forward to the triennial charge of the most eminently influential bishop in the land, who would, it was hoped, put an extinguisher on the rising flame. Now, a Christian man walks into his parish church, and sees two great candlesticks with candles to match, encumbering the table provided for the accommodation of those who partake of the Lord's supper, and on which, as that supper is not among us celebrated in the evening, no candles can possibly be wanted ; nor can be connect them with any thing save the idolatrous respect shown to images and to the pix on a Popish altar. “Take away these baubles,” is bis natural desire. Oh, but, the bishop has recommended their being placed there ; and there, under ecelesiastical sanction, they will remain. Presently, he sees the clergyman enter. and profoundly bow towards the spot where these candles stand. Who does he bow to ? Nobody is there: what does he bow to? Oh, the bishop thinks it very proper that he should, on entering and retreating, make obeisance towards the east! or towards the table ; for in some of our churches the table does not stand due east-an architectural sin of which the parties must repent, if alive; or if not, their representatives must do so, and the guilty parishes must speedily see to it that they add to their attrition and contrition due reparation, by fixing the bowing-point according to the compass.
God forgive me, If I speak too scornfully : but it ferments my blood to see the church of my fathers, the church of Latimer, Hooper, Ridley, thus defaced and disguised by such ecclesiastical fooleries.'
* But, dear uncle, these are only externals, they are but the shell
And that shell holds the kernel. Bore it fall of holes, notch it into filagree work with the point of your penknife, and see how long the kernel will remain unrotted within it. Well, I do trust that all is not to be surrendered thus : that men will be found who love Christ and bis Church too well to see them both driven out of the National Establishment, as at this rate they surely will be. The Bishop of London has denounced the doctrines while lauding the characters and enforcing the practical innovations of these men : some other Bishop will next stand up to pass an unreserved encomium, and then begins the work of desolation in our goodly heritage. I say we have descended fearfully from the position that we stood in twelve months ago.'
* Have you and I descended ??
• No, thank God, we have not; but many of our friends have, and we form part of a minority daily decreasing. We stand by faith : pray hourly that this faith fail not!'
• Now, uncle, as to the Episcopal Church in Scotland'
· Humph! I confess they are in advance of us here, and likely to get to the foot of the ladder before us. Wby, here's a pamphlet in defence of the Communion Office in that Church, which, instead of attempting to reconcile it with Scripture (an impossibility I admit) takes upon itself to justify the thing, by proving that the Communion Service of our Church, yea, and of the kirk also, is even more popish!'
• But they are not so.'
• Most certainly not. Here it is avowed that the term Oblations' in the prayer which we use for the Church militant, applies to the bread and wine. Did you ever use it with that intent?'
« God forbid ! I'always considered it as a repetition of the word alms,' and ever shall. Do you think I would come before the Lord with Cain's offering of the fruits of the earth? I come to receive, not to give : to commemorate my Redeemer's oblation of Himself, once offered, not to make an offer. ing of my own. I offer, indeed, to the Lord what I give to his poor, because He graciously says that he regards it as lent unto Him; and in that sense I consent to call it an oblation ; though I should not have chosen the word. I likewise offer to him myself, as the Apostle commands, not only then, nor with any special reference to that time, but always. I offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, as He directs, in express contradistinction to any other sacrifice that I could bring. Beyond these I know of no oblation; and I would not willingly be in the congregation of any minister who used such unscriptural perversion of a divinely appointed ordinance.'
• We sball soon see wbo does and who does not assume the character of a sacrificing priest when breaking bread for his flock. Here, too, we stand in a marvellously new position, immeasurably in advance of last year. The persecution of Mr. Drummond in Edinburgh led to this developement of systems and opinions. A great crisis, such as no modern times have seen, impends also over the National
Church of Scotland. The next session of Parliament will decide so far as man is concerned, whether four hundred zealous ministers shall or shall not be numbered among the pastors of that establishment.'
"And what do you think the government will do?
* Just what carnal expediency points out. not tell what that may be : but I entertain no doubt of the firm adherence of those ministers to their purpose.'
• And what of Ireland ? Is not her aspect greatly altered too?'
Yes, in some things. There is a sober population in Ireland, and that bodes good, though I verily believe the projectors meant it for evil. As to the Church of Ireland, her position is enviable indeed. At peace within herself, save where the poison of Puseyism has contrived to creep in, and, as usual, covertly persecuted by the English Government, which opposes the Scriptural plan of Diocesan Schools, and gives its undivided help to the pernicious National Education plan ; the true Bishops of that Church are at their posts, not regulating the toilet of their clergy, but providing for the spiritual necessities of their flocks, and resisting the encroachments of Popery. Ireland is fast emerging, to the eye of faith, from the darkness into which other lands are sinking. Help her as you find occasion ; and without ceasing, pray for her.'
If we do not now live in prayer, it is not for lack of most urgent calls to the duty, and abundant matter too. When I look round me, all appears in so chaotic a state that the eye really bas no point to rest on; and it forcibly impresses on my mind the intent of our Lord's words, “ When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads." Nothing would raise my head or my heart from the attitude of despondency, save the invitation to look up for the redemption that draweth nigh. Satan is making such havoc in detail, where at a general view all appears so marvellously placid and composed, that nothing can right the crooked course of the world short of His coming whose right it is. Oh that upon Him alone our regards may be fixed ! Taken as the signs of His coming, all things wear a new aspect. Impenitent transgressors excite deep commiseration ; erring brethren the most affectionate solicitude; and the few who not only call Jesus their King but are also enabled to take up their cross and to follow Him through evil report and good report, constant unto the end, are . precious indeed to our souls ! We may mourn together for a while, but very soon shall we rejoice, with a joy that none can take from us.'
* And if, as is very probable, we are called to suffer with Christ, let this be our consolation, we shall also reign with Him. The aspect of our church portends an approaching crisis, that most men perceive, though few care to say much about it. When it arrives, we must, like Drummond's flock, rally round our faithful pastors, and follow them as they follow Christ.'