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deep regret, that it should have been touched upon at all under present circumstances. The reference to a particular case of recent occurrence is too manifest to be misunderstood by any one: for nothing else has occurred to force' the subject upon the Bishop's attention and that of his clergy. And it is deeply to be regretted, that he should from any cause have been tempted to give a judgment where he has no jurisdiction, and that too in opposition to the wise and judicious decision of the proper judge. If to be touched upon, we could earnestly have wished that it had been done with less ex parte pleading, and in a manner more consistent with the practice of the Church. It is one of the greatest misfortunes of the Scottish Church, that her southern bishops and clergy do not know those traditional usages, which from immemorial custom have acquired the force of law; and are of precious value to the real Scottish Churchman. They consequently decide and act often on principles unknown to her-principles borrowed from a foreign source, with which, unfortunately, they are more allied in feeling. We say this without disparagement; for we consider it the foundation of the mistaken position taken up by some of our best men, and in other respects soundest Churchmen.
To pass over what the Bishop of Edinburgh says as to the scriptural authority for excommunication, which we cannot help feeling to be very imperfect, we would at once come to his exposition of the Canon of our own Church, bearing on the subject. The Bishop says that this law refers to those who, having been members of a Scotch Episcopal congregation, seek to be admitted to communion in a congregation where they are personally unknown.' This is indeed a sad exposition of the law of the Church, and we must respectfully express a decided difference of opinion. The word Scotch is not used in the Canon. Her object is far more catholic and real; and in practice the Church has always (except, perhaps, in the two southern dioceses) required a certificate of communion from all strangers, who seek admission to her altars, whether they come from England or Ireland, or from other congregations of our own Church. She undoubtedly considers that to none but the members of an Episcopal Church (for she recognizes none other) belong the right and the privilege of communion. We conceive, therefore, that the following sentence is, in every way, contrary both to the spirit and the law of the Church. 'But I can see nothing in it' (the Canon) 'commanding the rejection of those who, not having been members of a Scotch Episcopal congregation, have no minister to whom they can
apply for a certificate.' What can this mean but that the Church is very strict with her own members, and requires evidence of their being entitled to the privilege of communion, by the correctness of their lives and their avoiding schismatical practices, but that with regard to those who do not belong to her communion; who are schismatics belonging either to the Established Kirk, the Free Kirk, the United Presbyterian Kirk, the little Drummondite sect, or the older qualified communion, she has another and a milder law which admits them on easier terms! The very nature of communion implies that it is a privilege belonging only to members of the Church, and that schismatics of whatever kind or degree are excluded by their own act. They have no right to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of Man,' and cannot but eat and drink unworthily to their own condemnation. It is, therefore, essentially the duty of the Stewards of the Divine Mysteries' to guard the approaches to the altar, not more for the sake of its own hallowed nature, than for the sake of those who would thus come without a title, and so bring guilt upon their own heads.
We now gladly turn to the last practical topic touched upon in the Charge, the remarks on which filled us with sincere gratification. Had the whole Charge been on this subject, and contained a tolerably full illustration of it, it would have been eminently practical and useful. It would then have strengthened the hands of Churchmen, and furthered the great object for which Christ instituted his Holy Church, by convincing men, that the Spirit was dwelling in her, and carrying on her work according to the Divine will. If unhappily there were any Romeward tendencies in the Church (which God avert), it would have helped to remove them. We now proceed with the more satisfactory observations of the Bishop. Now, my Reverend Brethren, a conviction has long been growing up with increasing force in my mind, that these topics' (the topics appropriate to the visitation of the sick) ought to occupy a more prominent place in our own thoughts and in all our ministerial discourses, than they actually occupy.' When we kneel by the bedside of one who, to all appearance, is about to appear before God, we do not maintain our own opinions, but we deliver the message which we know He has delivered to us. And I am convinced, my brethren, that the nearer we can approach to the same tone of feeling, and the same line of conduct, in our ordinary ministrations, the more effectively shall we carry out the work of our ministry, and the more reason shall we have to believe that God will grant a blessing to our labours.' This is a conviction which
an increase of experience cannot fail to force more and more, we should think, upon the attention of every zealous clergyman. It is the very end for which the Church of the Redeemer was instituted, and a ministry appointed by him. It is to work out this end more effectively than was done in the bygone age, that a revival has been produced in the Church's practice. The system of the Church, it was always felt, was sufficient for the purpose of bringing men to heaven, but still the fact was forcing itself upon the attention of men, that, through some deficiency in the working, it was not producing the desired amount of fruit. The daily prayer and the weekly communion, which she had appointed, were neglected both by clergy and people, and the pulpit ministrations were often cold and heartless, and in keeping with this neglect of the means of grace. The object of the revival, therefore, was to force upon men more continually their daily duties, and their future prospects as the heirs of immortality. The near approach to God in the higher mysteries of religion is eminently calculated to keep the conscience tender, to make men afraid to offend, and to induce them by faith, repentance, and amendment of life, to seek in all things a conformity to His blessed will. They, then, who are carrying out most entirely the Church system, can realize, in the fullest degree, the truth and the value of Bishop of Edinburgh's concluding remarks and suggestions. They feel that here they have no continuing city, and seek one to come; that vain and unimportant by comparison are all the good things of this world, and that the only real ground of consolation, is to abide faithfully in that state of salvation, into which their heavenly Father hath brought them through Jesus Christ their Lord.
HERESIES OF THE EARLY AGES.
'WERE we to expect that so considerable a number of men as those who embraced Christianity in the first century, would be actuated exactly by the same opinions, we should form an expectation not warranted by our own experience, or the conduct of mankind in all ages. The doctrines and precepts of Christianity, so easily to be comprehended and understood, were, indeed, at a very early period, blended with the most fantastical opinions. The pure stream of re
ligious truth was polluted by error even during the lives of the apostles.' *
Notwithstanding that the Jewish converts to Christianity had given evidence, by the very act of conversion, of their belief that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah, yet it is probable that, in some of them, the carnal expectations which they had formerly entertained of the Messiah, as a temporal prince, would in after times recur to their minds, weakening their faith, and suggesting erroneous theories; and in matters of practice, long-cherished adherence to the forms and ceremonies of the Levitical law might also interfere with the more simple and spiritualized observances of Christianity, by disposing its professors to stray into ritual as well as doctrinal errors.
In the Gentile converts also, the tenets of Oriental philosophy exhibited a fruitful source of heresy, from which the wildest doctrines were derived, and blended in the strangest confusion with the pure precepts of the Gospel.
Simon Magus, whose impious offer of money to St Peter and St John, to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit, is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles,t may be considered the first notorious heretic on record. He is said, by many early writers, to have been the founder of the Gnostics, a new sect of philosophers, who were now rising into notice, and who had their name from laying claim to a more full and perfect knowledge of God. These opinions seem to have been most prevalent in Alexandria; and to have been a compound of heathen philosophy, the corrupted religion of the Jews, and the Eastern notion of two principles, one of good, the other of evil. They believed matter to have existed from all eternity; and they accounted for the origin of evil, without making God the author of it, by supposing it to reside in matter. They also imagined, that several generations of beings had proceeded, in regular succession, from God, and that one of the latest of them created the world, without the knowledge of God. This explained why the world contained such a mass of misery and evil; and the Gnostics boasted that they were able to escape from this evil by their superior knowledge of God. But when it is said, that Simon Magus was the founder of the Gnostics, it is meant that he was the first person
*Gregory's History of the Christian Church.
Chap. viii. 9-24.
who introduced the name of Christ into this absurd and irrational system.'
These heretics were divided into several sects, the more rigid whereof rejected all gratifications, lest the body might be so indulged as to degrade the soul: others, more lax in principle, considered the soul as altogether unconnected with bodily actions, and therefore allowed the gratification of every passion without restraint. One sect of the Gnostics bore the name of Docetæ (from the Greek word "Soxsw,' to seem, or appear), and maintained that our Lord's body was not real, but a mere phantom; that he suffered only in appearance, and did not die on the cross. Gnosticism flourished in Asia Minor, particularly in Ephesus, and penetrated also into Corinth. It was popular wherever the Jews abounded, as many Jews became Gnostics, and that heresy had borrowed largely from the religious opinions of Judaism. The errors and impieties of Gnosticism were subsequently exposed in a learned work, by Irenæus, in the second century. Carpocrates, a Greek, and Cerinthus, supposed to be a Jew, were eminent leaders of parties in this heretical sect during the first century. They were men of scandalously profligate lives; and Cerinthus, not content with encouraging his followers in every vice, put forth the doctrine of a millenium at the end of the world, when Christ was to re-appear upon earth, and his followers were to revel in a thousand years of every sensual enjoyment.
The Ebionites were a branch of the Gnostics, whose religion consisted of a mixture of Christian and Jewish tenets: but although their religious notions were wild and extravagant, their moral conduct was rigidly correct, and formed a strong contrast with that of the sect before-mentioned.
In the second century, Menander succeeded Simon Magus as chief of the Gnostics at Antioch; and he again was followed by Saturninus and Basilides, who became leaders of two sects of those heretics. The Gnostics had previously denied the doctrine of the atonement, by the supposition that the crucifixion was a mere unreal appearance; but Basilides, unable to gainsay the evidence that a real body had suffered on the cross, invented the extravagant doctrine, that Simon of Cyrene was crucified instead of our Lord.
The Encratites, disciples of Tatian, an Assyrian, and pupil of Justin Martyr, were a sect professing rigid abstinence. They held matter to be the source of all evil, and therefore condemned all the * Burton's History of the Christian Church.