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REV. M. F. SADLER, M.A.
LATE PREBENDARY OF WELLS, AND RECTOR OF HONITON
“I am the Vine, ye are the branches."
“Holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having
"Exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be par-
GEORGE BELL & SONS
First Published, April, 1865. Second Edition, 1866.
Reprinted 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1881, 1883, 1886, 1888, 1890, 1893, 1897, 1900, 1903.
In the following treatise, I have first endeavoured to set forth what God, in His Holy Word, teaches us respecting Church principles, and then I have turned to the Prayerbook, in order to ascertain how far it reflects the teaching of the Scriptures.
This book is not intended to be a treatise on the Prayer-book, or on the Church and Sacraments in their relations to the rest of Christianity, much less is it intended to embrace the whole circle of Christian doctrine and practice.
My one purpose in writing it has been to show that all distinctive Church doctrine is found in the Bible, and that the particular statements of that doctrine in the Prayer-book, which a large number of religious Englishmen affect to treat as unscriptural, are the mere echo of certain Scripture statements; so that, so far as the matters treated of in this book are concerned, there is no difficulty whatsoever attaching to any assertion contained in the Prayer-book; all difficulties of this kind resolving themselves into mysteries inherent in certain assertions of God in His Holy Word.
The Prayer-book has too often been assumed to need apology, on account of what it teaches respecting the effects of the Sacraments and the functions of the ministry, whereas if it did not contain the doctrine in question it would be indefensible, because it would not, so far, embody the teaching of Scripture.
The Prayer-book most assuredly does not add to the force of any statement contained in the Bible respecting the Sacraments or the ministry of the Church; and I trust that it does not take away from the force of any such statement.
From what we know of their history and theological leanings, it is not at all likely that our Reformers would have handed down to us the Church truth which we possess, unless they had felt that the Scripture evidence for it was too decisive to be either explained away or ignored.
Much less would they have been likely to overstate any Sacramental or Church truth, and they certainly have not.
With respect to the chapter on the Baptismal Offices (chap. iii.), a word of explanation is due to those who may be already in possession of my published treatise on the subject of Regeneration in Baptism.
In a chapter in which I aim at showing that our Baptismal Services embody Scripture truth, I have, of course, been obliged to use the same arguments as in the former treatise.
I trust, however, that the reader will find them put, as far as possible, into a new shape, expressed in different words, and so arranged as best to bear upon the illustration of our Baptismal Offices.
I had, at first, intended to have done little more than refer the reader to my other book. I was, however, very strongly advised to write independently on the matter of Baptism, so that the purchasers of this present work might have in it a sort of hand-book on the Scripture grounds of all Church doctrine.
This it could hardly pretend to be if such a subject as Baptism were not treated in it with that fulness which its importance demands.
If the Sacramental statements in the Prayer-book are in accordance with God's word, it follows
1. That a very large number of religious persons are holding aloof from, or actively opposing, the Church of this country, simply because it strictly adheres to Scripture truth in its formularies of faith and worship.
Every bitter word shot against certain unpopular truths is, in fact, shot against Christ; for the first and fullest teaching of these truths is in the very words of Christ Himself.
2. That a very large number of religious persons who profess to adhere to the Church of England, are habitually explaining away these Church truths and the Scripture statements on which they are founded, on precisely the same rationalistic grounds on which others are making void every assertion of God's word which involves a miracle, or the existence of an angel.
If men treat the Scriptures as virtually uninspired when they reveal the Sacramental, how can they judge those who set the same Scriptures aside when they reveal the miraculous ?