Project Canterbury




















Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

[Attributed to Charles Dickinson, Bishop of Meath.]


THE Translator of the following Epistle feels that no apology is required for laying before the Public so interesting a document. Nor will he occupy the reader with a detail of the series of circumstances by which the original came into his hands. The genuineness of the Epistle he is content to refer to the internal evidence of the Epistle itself. The names of the individuals to whom it was addressed he has not deemed it necessary to make public, any further than by reference to their published Tracts, from which so many quotations have been made in the Pastoral. The utmost care has been bestowed on the fidelity of the translation; and the quotations have all been diligently verified by inspection of the original Tracts.

It is hoped that the Authors of these Tracts will feel no displeasure at a publication which tends to give to their sentiments a more extended circulation.


THE Rev. Dr. Pusey, Canon of Christ Church, has published a pamphlet, in which he takes it for granted that the following letter is not authentic. But as he has not ventured to give the grounds of his conviction, the Editor cannot, of course, even attempt to refute them. As for the accordance or non-accordance of the Tracts referred to with the principles of the Church of Rome, every reader must judge for himself by the internal evidence which those tracts afford. Whether Dr. Pusey is himself one of the class of persons to whom the Pope has addressed himself it is not for the Editor to decide. Dr. Pusey has, indeed, in the pamphlet alluded to, supported his own views by an appeal both to the Fathers, and also to about twenty Bishops of the Established Church. The reader will judge for himself whether the Church of Rome will be disposed to pardon this reference to bishops not within her pale, in consideration of the countenance thus afforded to an important principle--the principle of appealing for the decision of religious questions to what Protestants are in the habit of calling human authority.



WE do not conceive it necessary to occupy your time by any declaration, on our part, of the anxiety with which we contemplate every matter which concerns the advancement and support of true religion. To the uncandid indeed, who have been long opposed to us, it would be useless to present such a statement; we could not expect to be believed by those who have shown no respect for the authority and commands of the very Apostles, whose representatives we are.

Living at a distance from you, however, it may seem to you a matter of astonishment that we should be enabled to form a very different estimate of the character of your minds. But we have never been inattentive to the welfare even of those states which have trampled inconsiderately upon our apostolic authority. We have watched with close attention whatever could hold out to a distracted world the prospects of a religious unity; and, as a tender [5/6] father, we can discern even at a distance, and shall be ever found ready to welcome the returning steps of our repentant children. We have accordingly taken care that our faithful brethren in every country should transmit to us, from time to time, such writings as appeared to be worthy of our regard. It was with the liveliest pleasure, therefore, that we received lately a collection of Tracts, emanating from our ancient and well-beloved University of Oxford. We do not, of course, mean to imply that every opinion in these tracts is such as the Church can wholly approve,--but we do discern that light is beginning to pervade your minds, and that, as far as circumstances permit, you have not hesitated to declare your convictions. We make allowance for those difficulties which impede your perception or your avowal of the truth; we pardon, therefore, some expressions towards us,--compelled, no doubt, partly by the unhappy circumstances of your country; but we can discern the progress you have made in the paths of truth and peace, and we trust that you will continue to advance in those paths, till the light which has dawned on you shall have burst forth into perfect day.

That you may not only be encouraged in your progress, but assisted by us with such help as we can bestow, we shall point out to you some portions of your writings which have created lively pleasure in our parental feelings. You have indeed sometimes employed terms which we well know our adversaries use in derision of us; but, we repeat, we can pardon these, whether they are the result of [6/7] prejudices still entertained by you, or are employed for some other reason; for while we perceive you speak with deserved acrimony of all the sects which swarm in your distracted country, you honestly state that you are "unwilling to speak harshly of us." [* Tracts for the Times, Vol. II. (Records of the Church, No. XXV. p. 6.)]

But how could our hearts be steeled against the real tenderness of the affections which you breathe towards us?

"Now the Papists have retained it," (namely, a visible Church--the keeper of the Sacraments,) "and so they have the advantage of possessing an instrument which is, in the first place, suited to the needs of human nature; and next, is a special gift of Christ, and so has a blessing with it. Accordingly we see that in its measure success follows their zealous use of it. They act with great force upon the imaginations of men. The vaunted antiquity, the universality, the unanimity of their church, puts them above the varying fashions of the world, and the religious novelties of the day. And truly, when one surveys the grandeur of their system, a sigh arises in the thoughtful mind, to think that we should be separate from them; Cum talis sis, utinam noster esses!" [* Tracts for the Times, No. XX. p. 3.] That sigh, beloved friends, has found an echo in our bosom. Never, from the first moment of separation, has it been unfelt by the Catholic Church. But, in truth, we are not separate. We are united in spirit though not in name. Yes, we [7/8] are yours and you are ours. You are looking towards our Zion, with your face thitherwards; and we long to open our arms and to receive you into the peaceful haven, where ye would be.

You, brethren, assuredly are not blamable for the painful divisions which seem to have removed England from our immediate care. We see, indeed, how little you sympathize with those wretched men, who, to their own destruction, caused the separation which you deplore. For what was the principle upon which they pressed their pretended reformation? They deceived their brethren by loud declamations concerning the necessity of improvement. Some weak brethren would have had the Church yield to their importunity, and consent to some alterations for the sake of pacifying excitement. But the Church formed a different estimate of duty, and it gives us the sincerest pleasure to discern that you maintain the propriety of its decision. You have justly remarked, according to the wisdom of the one true Church,--"Once begin altering, and there will be no reason or justice in stopping, till the criticisms of all parties are satisfied. Thus, will not the Liturgy be in the evil case described in the well-known story of the picture subjected by the artist to the observations of passers-by?" [* Tract No. III. pp. 1, 2.]

And again, you truly observe: "A taste for criticism grows upon the mind. When we begin to examine and take to pieces, our judgment becomes perplexed, and our feelings unsettled. I do not know," you add, "whether others feel [8/9] this to the same extent, but for myself, I confess there are few parts of the service that I could not disturb myself about, and feel fastidious at, if I allowed my mind in this abuse of reason." [* Tract, No. III. pp. 1, 2.] Would that a wisdom similar to yours had been possessed by those wretched and ambitious men who plagued Christendom, and excited the minds of so many into a desire of vain innovation! The Church was fully sensible of the impropriety of indulging such vain desires. It asked itself, as you have now asked, "What are the concessions which would conciliate such men? Would immaterial alterations? Do you really think they care one jot about the verbal or other changes which some recommend, and others are disposed to grant? But even were the alterations, which would please them, small, are they the persons whom it is of use--whom it is becoming to conciliate by going out of our way?" [* Ibid. pp. 3, 4.] Such was the judgment of the one true Church. We felt like you, that it is not becoming to conciliate, that it is useless to make the attempt, and is full of peril. "For," as you remark, "by altering immaterials, we merely raise without gratifying the desire of correcting; we excite the craving, but withhold the food. And the changes called immaterial often contain in themselves the germ of some principle of which they are thus the introduction." [* Ibid.] Upon these principles we resisted every concession, and you look back with admiration upon our wisdom. We [9/10] would not allow ourselves to be enticed into argument; we opposed every change because it was change; and when we were apparently urged into an opposite course by our Erasmus, who seemed at one time like a faithless brother, we resisted his importunity, because we formed of him the opinion which you have expressed concerning your own bishops, when you say, in an address to your brethren, "Should you see that our fathers the bishops seem to countenance alterations, petition still. Petition them; they will thank you for such a proceeding. They do not wish these alterations." [* Tract No. III.] We formed the same estimate of the insincerity and weakness of our Erasmus; but by not yielding to his infirmities, we rescued him from himself and the band of innovators.

"This unsettling of the mind," as you assert, "is a frightful thing, both to ourselves, and more so to our flocks. They have long regarded the Prayer-Book with reverence, as the stay of their faith and devotion. The weaker sort it will make sceptical, the better it will offend and pain." [* Ibid.] Yes, beloved friends, such were the fruits produced; and such must always be the result when vain men conceive themselves to be wise above the Church, and presume to judge for themselves of the rituals and observances which the Church has provided for them, "as the stay of their faith and devotion."

There are two circumstances, brethren, which lead us to discern how highly we should appreciate your wisdom and firmness in discountenancing [10/11] every innovation. In the first place, your conduct in this respect evinces a sobriety superior to what you could have imbibed from that communion, of which the present circumstances of your country have made you, almost unavoidably, members. We have read in one of the documents of that communion a statement which has always excited our surprise.--"It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England ever since the first compiling of her public Liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it." [* Preface to the Book of Common Prayer.] Assuredly this was not advisedly written. This imaginary mean can never be discovered. Again, the same document asserts, that "it is but reasonable that, upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of authority should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient." You deserve the more credit for not giving in to this; because you manifestly had this very document and the practice of your communion in view, when you introduced an opponent of your better principles, as observing, "that changes have formerly been made in the services without leading to the issue predicted, and now, therefore, they may be safely made again." Your reply, however, is triumphant, that--"waiving all other remarks in answer to this argument, is not this [11/12] enough, viz. that there is peril?" [* Tract No. III. p. 4.] Assuredly there is; and you were right on this occasion to waive the other arguments which we perceive were in your mind, namely, that the changes referred to were decidedly for the worse; for they removed the services still more from the ancient and Catholic ritual.

Your dissatisfaction indeed with this result, and consequently with the present condition of your services, is the second circumstance to which we alluded, when we said that we could not adequately appreciate your wisdom in resisting the principle of innovation. You perceive how little selfish we are, when we admit that changes should not be risked, even for the purpose of producing a greater conformity to ourselves. You cannot be certain that those in authority would consent to those alterations which you would regard as improvements; and you must not be hasty in urging them too far. Your intimations, however, are deeply important, and we fully sympathize with your feelings. Hard-hearted indeed should we be if we did not feel for you, when you lament, concerning "the Absolution" of your service, "that it is not strong enough; that it is a mere declaration, not an announcement of pardon to those who have confessed." [* Ibid. p. 2.] Oh what cruelty was there in extinguishing the lights which could catch the eye of death,--in removing from you the authorised announcements which alone can give the certainty of pardon! The infidel will disregard this, [12/13] but you can distinguish and value the fulness of the comfort. You have described it with the ardour which can belong to the deepest sincerity alone:--"When he lieth sick upon his bed, does not his Saviour make all his bed in his sickness, when his minister comes to him, to receive the confession of his sins, and to relieve his conscience of the weighty things which press it down?" [* Tract No. XVII. p. 4.] From the inmost recesses of our heart, beloved brother, we return the sacred sigh you have breathed towards us--"Cum talis sis, utinam foster esses."

But why should we be surprised at your just estimation of the blessings of absolution, and of all the several benefits which a duly ordained ministry can bestow? In no respect are you far from the perception of the truth which the Church has always maintained in reference to such a ministry. Thus you almost feel with us, that ordination is sacramental. "Ordination," you declare, "though it does not precisely come within our definition of a sacrament, is nevertheless a rite partaking, in a high degree, of the sacramental character, and it is by reference to the proper sacraments that its nature can be most satisfactorily illustrated." [* Tract No. V. p. 10.] We do not blame you, beloved brethren, for its not coming perfectly within your Church's definition of a sacrament; but we feel convinced that, when opportunity may serve, you will so alter the definition as to increase the number of your sacraments.

We cannot but remark how closely all truths [13/14] are connected together. A just perception of one always leads the mind onwards to the perception of others. Thus your view of ordination has advanced you into a proper intelligence of the powers which have been committed to the apostolical ministry; of the reverence and prostration of soul with which all are bound to receive them. You have expressed this in language of which our purest Fathers need not be ashamed. Thus you say, "The christian congregations of the present day, who sit at the feet of ministers duly ordained, have the same reason for reverencing in them the successors of the Apostles as the primitive churches of Ephesus and of Crete had for honouring in Timothy and in Titus the apostolical authority of him who had appointed them." As this is a claim involving interests not confined to time, but extending themselves to all eternity, it was right not to leave it to a mere assertion, but to draw out the proofs which, having satisfied your own minds, must satisfy the minds of others. The argument has indeed been luminously stated by you; we trust it will be successful.--"The Apostles, indeed, are dead . . . . in one sense they are alive; I mean they did not leave the world without appointing persons to take their place; and these persons represent them, and may be considered, with reference to us (of the present day), as if they were apostles. When a man dies his son takes his property, and represents him; that is, in a manner, he still lives in the person of his son. Well, this explains how the Apostles may be said to be still among us; they [14/15] did not indeed leave their sons to succeed them as Apostles, but they left spiritual sons. But, it may be asked, are these spiritual sons of the Apostles still alive? No; all this took place many hundred years ago. These sons and heirs of the Apostles died long since. But then they in turn did not leave the world without committing their sacred office to a fresh set of ministers, and they in turn to another, and so on even to this day. Thus the Apostles had, first, spiritual sons; then spiritual grandsons; then great grandsons; and so on from one age to another down to the present time." [* Tract No. X. p. 2.] Assuredly this train of argument will be felt by all, who are not determined upon the total dislocation of society. If the inheritance of any possessions is to be preserved, this inheritance will be properly respected. But you go on to observe,--"Again, it may be asked, who are at this time the successors and spiritual descendants of the Apostles? I shall surprise some people by the answer I shall give, though it is very clear, and there is no doubt about it--THE BISHOPS. They stand in the place of the Apostles. He that despises them despises the Apostles. If we knew them well we should love them for the many excellent graces they possess,--for their piety, loving-kindness, and other virtues. But we do not know them; yet still, for all this, we may honour them as the ministers of Christ, without going so far as to consider their private worth; and we may keep to their fellowship, [15/16] as we should to that of the Apostles. I say we may all thus honour them, even without knowing them in private, because of their high office; for they have the mark of CHRIST'S presence upon them, in that they witness for Christ, and suffer for him." We have cited this passage for the purpose of marking, more strongly, our perfect approval. You were right in carefully excluding the notion of "private worth" as an element of the reverence with which they should be received; because this might be confounded with ordinary respect to merely individual merit, and would not imply a deference to the authority of the Church as such. You have expressed yourselves, indeed, in this respect with all the fulness and perspicuity which we could possibly desire.

While we commend you, however, beloved children, for the clearness with which you have discovered truth to a certain extent, and the manliness with which you have avowed it amidst the scoffs of the infidels who surround you, we feel at the same time that you yourselves would despise us if we did not plainly set before you some points of truth which, as yet, you have not as clearly distinguished. Bear with us, beloved friends, for we mean not to censure, but to instruct; not to upbraid you for your ignorance of just principles, but to point out to you more fully the wholesome and legitimate consequences of those very principles which you yourselves have already embraced.

It would be impossible to extract from any Fathers of the Catholic Church more precise and forcible [16/17] statements, than you have furnished, of the necessity and the advantages of the Apostolical succession. We shall direct, indeed, that your numerous tracts, on this essential topic of faith, shall be translated into the several languages of the nations still faithful to our authority, and that they shall be used as "Homilies," for the edification of our people. But consider the subject a little more closely. We cannot sufficiently commend the firmness with which you maintain an act of faith towards the Church, in language, not merely clear, but happily expressive: "This," you say, "is Faith, to look at things not as seen, but as unseen; to be as sure that the Bishop is Christ's appointed representative, as if we actually saw upon his head a cloven tongue, like as of fire." [* Tracts for the Times, No. X. p. 3.]

And again: "The Bishops witness Christ in their very name, for he is the true Bishop of our souls, as St. Peter says. They witness Christ in their station;--there is but one LORD to save us, and there is but one Bishop in 'each place.'"

Now set distinctly before your own view the important and guiding principle which you have thus luminously established. Wherever the Church of Christ exists, a Bishop will be found there, deriving his authority from the Apostles by distinct and undisputed succession; and there can be but one Bishop in each place. The importance of this principle cannot be too highly estimated, especially in any country abounding, like England, with contending [17/18] sects; for, as you have well observed to your countrymen, "it greatly simplifies the difficulty of deciding between parties; indeed it reduces our choice to an alternative between two--the Church established among us, and the Latin or Roman Catholic communion." [* Tracts for the Times. (Records of the Church, No. XXIV.)]

It is something for your country that the question should be thus far simplified. But you go on to observe--"And when we attain to this point, we shall soon see our way quite clear." We hope so most truly; because, till you have seen your way quite clear, you cannot be in the enjoyment of a perfect peace. Now we conceive that we can greatly assist you, beloved brethren, in this stage of your argument. The cause of your perplexity, as we glean it from your writings, is this.--You have been led to think, that the Church established by law amongst you possesses duly consecrated Bishops, and that the Roman communion does not. In both points, however, we anticipate but little difficulty in our anxious endeavours to set you right. For on what grounds do you maintain that your Established Church possesses Bishops? Because you think--"As to the fact of apostolical succession, every link in the chain is known, from St. Peter to our present metropolitans." [* Tract No. VII. p. 2.] But surely you are aware of all the circumstances of the Nag's-head consecration. This must, at least, diminish confidence as to the continuity of your links, and compel every reasonable [18/19] mind to doubt respecting the reality of your succession. Now even a doubt on such a point is fatal to all the claims of your Church.

But, in the next place, what reason have you to doubt that the Roman communion does possess Bishops in England? You know and admit that we had Bishops there formerly; and, we would ask you, when did we withdraw them? Was the Church dependent for its existence upon the passions of a tyrant, or the caprices of a woman? No; you have clearly and distinctly raised your voice against so absurd and blasphemous a supposition. "Are we content to be accounted the mere creation of the State, as schoolmasters and teachers may be, or soldiers, or magistrates, or other public officers? Did the State make us? Can it unmake us? Can it send out missionaries? Can it arrange dioceses? Surely all these are spiritual functions; and laymen may as well set about preaching and consecrating the bread and wine, as assume these." [* Tract No. II.] You admit--"No one can say the British legislature is Christian." [* Ibid.] And you, therefore, indignantly reject the notion of its interference! But, we would ask of you, was Henry VIII. Christian? What gave him any power over the Church? Was he enrolled in the apostolical succession? Be consistent, brethren; you justly make it a matter of complaint that your "legislature has lately taken upon itself to remodel the dioceses of Ireland;--a proceeding which involves the appointment of [19/20] certain Bishops over certain clergy, and of certain clergy under certain Bishops," [* Tract No. II.] and you strongly recommend that the Irish Church should meet in synod, and protest herself against what has been done" [* Tract No. II.] We shall feel it our pleasing duty to receive her protest; but, in the mean time, consider that if the State have no right, according to your own confession, even to remodel dioceses, much less can it have a right totally to extinguish them, and to put an end to the jurisdiction which the Church exercised within them.

We feel, therefore, that we are entitled, upon your own principles, to assert that our Bishops have never lost their authority in England; and that we are at full liberty, when we please it, to send over to you faithful men, deriving apostolical authority from ourselves. If you still hesitate, however, (and we know not how you can,) we shall terminate all your hesitation by the following appeal to your own consciences and good sense.

You admit that we are a Bishop in our city of Rome. You have no doubt concerning our apostolical succession; and have no doubt, consequently, that we are to be "reverenced as Christ's representative," as decidedly as if you "actually saw upon our head a cloven tongue like as of fire." We invite you, therefore, into our presence; and while we exercise our apostolic functions towards you, you will, as in duty bound, submit implicitly to our instructions. That, therefore, which we teach in [20/21] Rome must be true, and our children will not, by questioning its truth, make shipwreck of their own faith and of a good conscience. Now, dear children, we appeal to yourselves. Is truth divided? Can that be false in England which is true in Rome? Is not the Catholic Church more extended than that of which you profess to be members? Is not that which is true at Rome true in every quarter of the Catholic world; for have we not Bishops in every clime? Is it not far more probable that those whom you call Bishops in England have failed in the point of apostolical succession, than that there should be two truths? We speak as unto wise men; judge ye what we say. The Apostles did not differ in doctrine from each other, neither can those who are to be received undoubtingly as the representatives of the Apostles. You do not doubt that we and the Catholic Bishops are "successors of the Apostles;" and that all "have the same reason for reverencing us as the primitive churches of Ephesus and of Crete had for honouring in Timothy and in Titus the apostolical authority of him who had appointed them." Would those primitive churches have reverenced Titus or Timothy, if, leaning to their own understanding, they had rejected their instruction? No, beloved children; you will not act worse than the infidel;--he rejects our instruction because he presumptuously denies our authority. You will not be so inconsistent as, while you discard his principles, to adopt his practice!

We would urge you, dear children, to weigh this argument well: and it will convince you that the [21/22] views which the Catholic Church has taken of your Nag's-head ordination must be true. From the very fact which you admit,--that we are the successors of the Apostles, to be reverenced like them, you might conclude that those who have assumed the office of Bishops in England can have no claim to this authority, because you cannot reverence us and them; but lest you might be perplexed, it was wisely ordered that the falsehood of their consecration should have been made known to all men by the mode in which it took place.

Dear brethren, you have well and truly described the source of all the evils which in later years have perplexed the Church, and brought ruin upon so many who might otherwise have remained undoubtingly in her peaceful bosom.--"At the Reformation the authority of the Church was discarded by the spirit then predominant among Protestants, and Scripture was considered as the sole document both for ascertaining and improving our faith. The question immediately arose,-- 'Is this or that doctrine in Scripture?' and, in consequence, various intellectual gifts, such as argumentative subtilty, critical acumen, knowledge of the languages, rose into importance, and became the interpreters of Christian truth. '" [* Tract No. XLV. p. 1.]

Never have we seen the causes of all our evils more clearly developed. You have traced the miseries which have flowed in upon the world through the flood-gates of the Reformation, from their first origin through all their successive stages. 1st, The [22/23] authority of the Church was discarded;--2d, It was thought, as a necessary consequence, that men were to learn the doctrines of Christianity from the Bible; and, 3dly, This led to the study of Hebrew and of Greek, and raised into an undue and dangerous importance those intellectual gifts which are the bane of well-ordered society; but for these vain studies you might still have been included in the unity of the faith; but for these, men would not have looked upon you with suspicion, as you pathetically complain in various passages of your tracts; they would have had no "misgivings, lest the doctrines you have been advocating should lead to Popery;" [* Tract No. XX. p. 1.] for that which they call Popery would have been universally acknowledged and unhesitatingly received as the Catholic truth. Popery indeed! O, how corrupted are the hearts and imaginations of men when, contrary to the just principles of apostolical succession, which you have advocated, a term of reproach is borrowed from adhesion to us, the representative of the greatest of the Apostles,--as if to maintain the unity of the Church was matter of reproach! And what advantages have been gained by discarding the authority of the Church? What has "critical acumen and the knowledge of the languages," conferred upon the natives of Christendom? The explanation perhaps of some "ambiguous word,"--as, for instance, the word "Hell" in the Apostles' Creed;--yet, after all, as you have justly remarked, "is it any great harm if it is misunderstood, and is it [23/24] not very difficult to find any substitute for it in harmony with the composition of the Creed?" [* Tract No. III. p. 2.] Truly the tastes of these men are as perverted as their judgments. To their fancied acquirements, in truth, they would even sacrifice all the graces of antiquity. They conceived that no word should be used unless it be understood of the people. And yet, if faith be retained, what great harm is there if words be misunderstood? Thus for the sake of securing merely imaginary advantages,--for the sake of indulging the pride of intellect,--"the idea of united worship, with a view to which identity of time and language had been maintained in different nations, was forgotten;" [* Tract No. IX. p. 2.] and your misguided Reformers, "conscious of the incongruity of primitive forms and modern feelings, undertook to construct a service more in accordance with the spirit of their age; they adopted the English language; they curtailed the already compressed ritual of the early Christians."

Deeply do we sympathise with the regret which our beloved children have expressed for this proceeding. Your words are not the cold calculating expressions of truth and soberness; they have evidently burst from the hearts of men who are alive to all the sensibilities of poetry. "The Catholic ritual was a precious possession; and if we who have escaped from Popery have lost not only the possession, but the sense of its value, it is a serious question whether we are not like men who recover from some grievous illness with the loss [24/25] or injury of their sight or hearing;--whether we are not like the Jews returned from captivity, who could never find the rod of Aaron, or the ark of the covenant, which, indeed, had ever been hid from the world, but then was removed from the Temple itself." [* Tract No. XXXIV.] It is true the world, by whom you are surrounded, have lost their sight and hearing; but you, beloved children, retain both. Oh! when you have returned to the temple, with what joy will you behold the rod of Aaron and the ark of the covenant still preserved in its mystic depositaries. With what delight will you behold the splendour of our ritual! What new sensations of piety will throb within your bosoms as you prostrate yourselves with reverence before our holy altar! The ark of the covenant will be presented to your view; the real cross will offer itself to your vision; the relics of holy martyrs will animate your devotions; nor will you be pained by the absence of the prayer (which you say has been excluded from the English ritual) "for the rest and peace of all those who have departed this life in God's faith and fear." You have justly remarked, that "prayers for the dead" formed a portion of those liturgies which have emanated from St. Peter, St. James, St. Mark, and St. John; [* Tract No. LXIII.] and when you join with us in these devotions, you will feel a new proof within you that the Church which has retained this office is alone worthy of your regard.

We anticipate that you will feel this joy from the pleasure with which you have cited, for the [25/26] benefit of your readers, a description of such services as we have retained, but which have been abandoned by your Church.

"To begin with baptism--we are plunged in the water, &c. &c. After coming out of it, we taste a mixture of milk and honey, and for a whole week from that day we abstain from our daily bath. We sign our forehead with the cross whenever we set out and walk, go in or out, dress, gird on our sandals, bathe, eat, light our lamps, sit or lie down to rest--whatever we do. If you demand a scriptural rule for these and such like observances, we can give you none; all we say to you is, that tradition directs, usage sanctions, faith obeys." [* Tract No. XXXIV.] And again, "Of those articles of doctrine and preaching which are in the custody of the Church, some come to us in Scripture itself, some are conveyed to us by a continuous tradition in mystical depositaries. Both have equal claims on our devotion, and are received by all--at least by all who are in any respect Churchmen; for, should we attempt to supersede the usages which are not enjoined in Scripture, as important, we should do most serious injury to evangelical truth; nay, reduce it to a bare name. To take an obvious instance . . . . Where does Scripture teach us to turn to the east in prayer? . . . . Moreover we bless the water of baptism, and the oil for anointing . . . . After the example of Moses, the Apostles and Fathers who modelled the Churches were accustomed to lodge [26/27] their sacred doctrine in mystic forms, as being secretly and silently conveyed. . . . This is the reason why there is a tradition of observances independent of Scripture, lest doctrines, being exposed to the world, should be so familiar as to be despised." [* Tract No. XXXIV.] You have doubtless placed before your own view distinctly the solemn statements of this luminous quotation: 1st, traditionary observances and the truths of Scripture are of equal authority; 2dly, if these traditionary observances were laid aside, evangelical truth would be reduced to a mere name; and 3dly, it is dangerous to expose doctrines to the world, lest, by being made familiar, they should be despised. These are the principles which have ever guided the Catholic Church; by deviating from these, the nations of Europe have fallen into anarchy and confusion; and it is only by zealous efforts, such as our children of the University are now making for the restoration of those principles, that peace and harmony and unity can be reproduced.

We can perceive by various passages in your tracts, as, indeed, we might have anticipated of ourselves, that you are surrounded by persons who are terrified by the notions of popery and priestcraft. Under such circumstances, the most perfect prudence is essential. On the whole, we greatly commend your course of proceeding; but we must take the liberty of pointing out to our children some points in which our parental and anxious observation have discovered defects. We shall cite a paragraph for the purpose of offering some remarks upon it.

[28] "And now I would ask, in conclusion, where is the essential difference between the apostolic age and our own, as to the relation in which God's ministers and his people stand to each other? I do not say that the ministers of his word in these days can feel so sure as the Apostles could, that in the commandments which they give they have the Spirit of God; very far from it. But I do say, that neither can the people feel so sure as in those days of miraculous gifts that they have the Spirit of God with them, and thus the relation between the two parties remains unaltered."

Now, it will be said in reply by your adversaries, that if the clergy and people were sure that no divine influence accompanied ministerial labours, the relation between them would be, not altered merely, but annihilated. And in proportion as either party doubts that there is such an influence vouchsafed, he doubts the existence of the relation for which you are contending. It is very true that the relation between a tutor and his pupil may be continued, even if it be supposed that the knowledge of both parties were diminished, because the requisite superiority in point of knowledge may be still possessed by the tutor; but the relation between the duly ordained minister and his flock, is wholly of a different kind; it is built, not only on the fact that the minister is assisted by divine cooperation, but on the full confidence in this fact by both the parties.

You will consequently be taunted with having said, that even in case the whole foundation of [28/29] the relation between the minister and his people is suspected, or believed to have little reality in it, still the idea of the relation should be maintained. And this will be denominated priestcraft--a device for the benefit of the clergy. You should carefully guard against awakening such a suspicion, for you will be denominated "blind leaders of the blind."

There is another feature in the paragraph just quoted, which we lament, but can scarcely blame. You imply a doubt concerning the important principle which, at other times, you have maintained as firmly as we could desire, namely, that duly ordained ministers of the present day are to be received with the same reverence as was due to Titus or Timothy. This doubt is intimated in your admission, that you are far from being sure that they have similar divine aid to that which was conferred on the Apostles. This manifests weakness of faith and inconsistency. But we do not pronounce censure on this account: considering the circumstances of your country, we are more disposed to praise you for what you have attained, than to judge you concerning your deficiencies. But our beloved children will suffer the word of exhortation, while we shall point out, that you have been, both here and in other places, on the verge of departure from that truth which in many respects you have zealously maintained.

We noticed that in one sentence you incidentally introduced, without the necessary qualifying clauses, "purity of doctrine," as constituting one mark of the Catholic Church. It is very true that it is so. [29/30] But you should have expressed this by saying, the Catholic Church has truth on its side. We must first point out what the Catholic Church is, and then maintain that what it teaches is true. You have referred to that remarkable passage of the Apostle, in which he states, that "the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth," and you have most properly passed over the heretical punctuation of this passage as unworthy of notice. [* Tract No. XI. p. 4. Note by the Translator.--The following is the heretical punctuation alluded to "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God. The pillar and ground of the truth and without controversy "great, is the mystery of godliness."--1 Tim. iii. 15.] This was right. But you act inconsistently with all this, when you make "purity of doctrine" a mark by which the Church is to be discerned, for this is to suppose that individuals are to decide what is pure doctrine. Now manifestly it is the Church which is to decide this; your mode of statement would let in all the evils of private judgment. That which the Church, under the government of men deriving their authority from the Apostles, declares to be true, all are bound to receive as truth. If the doctrines of the Church are received, only because they are judged to be true by individual examination, this is to follow merely the guidance of your own mind as heathens may do. Faith in the Church, on the other hand, is manifested by receiving what it teaches as truth, because it teaches it. And consider, brethren, what perplexity attends your principle. Suppose an [30/31] individual commences an examination of truth, with the vain hope that he is capable of discerning it, he will, as you must be aware, fall into most unwarranted opinions. These, however, he will regard as true, and he will consider the adoption of these opinions by any sect as so far a mark that that sect constitutes the true Church. But, again, he must see that the ministry of that Church have not, and in most cases do not pretend to have, an apostolic ministry. On the other hand, this essential mark of the true Church will be found by him in us: while the pride of reason, which led him unhappily into the examination of truth, unbiassed by our authority, has terminated in his adopting opinions at variance with our teaching. Observe instantly what perplexity arises; his views of doctrine will lead him into communion with one body; the fact of apostolical succession again should compel him to join another. Such is the unhappy result of your inconsistent principles. But what would you yourselves say to him in such a case? Surely this:--Unhappy man! your views of doctrine are the unauthorised results of your own imagination. In these you may be mistaken; while apostolical succession is a fact about which there can be no mistake. You are bound, therefore, to adhere to that communion which furnishes this incontrovertible test; and when you have once joined this communion and adopted its instructions, your perplexities will be ended, and peace be restored to your now wretched mind. But why not adopt with simplicity from the very first that [31/32] criterion to which you are ultimately driven? No brethren, you cannot adhere to apostolical succession, if, at the same time, you make private judgment a co-equal authority.

It is astonishing, indeed, how much heretics mistake or misrepresent our teaching in this particular. They imagine that we point out many marks of a true church. We do no such thing. We inculcate that the true Catholic Church is that which acknowledges the successor of St. Peter, the chief Apostle, as its head and guide. And the other points which heretics represent us as stating to be marks of the Church, are merely regarded by us as characteristics which belong to it, and to it alone, and not as guides by which it is to be discovered.

We think however, brethren, that your error is not wilful, but merely the result of the prejudices by which you are surrounded. Nor has this error imprinted itself deeply on your minds; on the contrary, we feel confident that it will speedily disappear; for we cannot but observe with the liveliest pleasure that there are but a few passages in your writings in which purity of doctrine is stated to be a guide to the discovery of the Catholic Church; while, on the other hand, you have above twenty long tracts to prove that Apostolical succession is its essential and most important test.

And now, brethren, suffer from us once more the word of exhortation. We regard you as missionaries in a still benighted land. You have difficulties to combat, and you will have need to exert the utmost caution and prudence in your proceedings. [32/33] We would urge you, therefore, to study attentively, and to adopt for your own guidance the instructions which we have ever given to those faithful men whom we have employed to win over others to the one true faith.

At present we shall only specify two points of our instruction:--

In the first place, we have always urged them not to expose their doctrines too openly to the public view; to be satisfied in the first instance that much ignorance should remain, and only to press truth gradually as the minds of men seemed prepared for its reception. These precautions we would urge upon your attention, because we perceive, from many portions of your tracts, that those around you have some misgivings that you are attached to what they call Popery. Do not awaken any such suspicions by avoidable imprudence. Rather be satisfied with a slow progress than run the risk of injuring the work in which you are engaged. Let it be yours to sow the seed, and those who shall be raised up after you will water the plant. Knowing, for instance, the feeling which exists amongst your heretical countrymen, we cannot but think it imprudent that you should have used language so open as that which you have adopted, when you speak of duly ordained ministers "as intrusted with the keys of heaven and hell, and with the awful and mysterious gift of making the bread and wine Christ's body and blood." [* Tract No. X. p. 4.] Again, you will awaken suspicion prematurely by your intimating, "that to administer the [33/34] Lords Supper to the dying and insensible is not superstitious;" as well as by your complaint, that "a superstitious apprehension of resting in the sacraments, has alas, infected a large mass of men in your communion." [* Advertisement to the Second Volume of Tracts.] This is a bad state of things; but you must be prudent in your censures. Avoid plainness of declaration; it will produce suspicion and distrust of your teaching. In some respects, indeed, you have acted with prudence as far as this doctrine is concerned. Thus, while we perceive with delight that you have always spoken in your own persons in accordance with our sentiments on this head; you have, at the same time, selected some tracts from early writers of your communion, in which our sentiments are impugned. These old tracts will not be read with much attention compared at least with your own more lively productions; they can too be readily withdrawn when it is expedient, for they are not a pledge of your opinions as strong as your own writing. In the meantime you may appeal to your republication of them as a proof that you have not leagued your selves with us.

Another piece of advice which we shall give to you, (as we give it to all our Missionaries) is that you should adopt every means to undermine the influence of those, whose writings hold out no hope that they may be won over to the true Church. They are in truth dangerous men, and you should represent them as such. Be not deceived by their apparent amiability, by their virtuous conduct, or by [34/35] their extent of learning. These very circumstances render them the more to be dreaded. Suffer not such men to be the instructors of youth. Do not permit them to occupy those places which public spirit alone ought to make you anxious to occupy, even independently of any desire for your individual advancement. If from having imbibed the spirit of the Reformers they discard the authority of the Church, and ask on every occasion, with prying curiosity, "Is this or that doctrine in Scripture?"--if they conceive that argumentative subtilty, and critical acumen, and a "knowledge of the languages," are the interpreters of Christian truth, and not the Church--denounce them at once as unsound in the faith, as heretics, as Socinians. Should they reply to you that their interpretation of Scripture agrees with your own, and that they have explained the Scriptures so as to prove they are not Socinians; still, if they require that every doctrine should be proved by Scripture;--if they hesitate to receive what the Church has adopted, if they examine with scrupulosity the meaning of expressions, which, as you have justly stated, there can be no great harm in misunderstanding,--on this account denounce them as Socinians, no matter how they may interpret Scripture. And if you are called upon to defend yourselves from the charge of calumny, you have provided a defence in a noble passage of your Tracts, which we can never sufficiently admire;--you can triumphantly appeal to your own writings to prove, that you have always maintained, on abstract grounds, even when you were not assailing individuals, that the doctrine of [35/36] the Trinity is not explicitly revealed in Scripture; and therefore, that to rely on Scripture as the depository of truth, must at least be an overt act to Socinianism. We shall cite the passage we allude to, because we delight in transcribing truth, and because we would recommend our beloved children to have it engraven on the doors of their houses as a public announcement of the orthodoxy of their faith, and the righteousness of their conduct.

"What shall we say, when we consider that a case of doctrine, necessary doctrine, doctrine the very highest and most sacred, may be produced, where the argument lies as little on the surface of Scripture--where the proof, though most conclusive, is as indirect and circuitous as that for Episcopacy; viz, the doctrine of the Trinity? Where is this solemn and comfortable mystery formally stated in Scripture, as we find it in the creeds? Why is it not? Let a man consider whether all the objections which he urges against the Scripture argument for Episcopacy may not be turned against his own belief in the Trinity. It is a happy thing for themselves that men are inconsistent; yet it is miserable to advocate and establish a principle, which, not in their own case indeed, but in the case of others who learn it of them, leads to Socinianism." [* Tract No. XLV. p. 5.]

We cannot conclude without suggesting an important caution with reference to our adversaries, to which you do not appear to have been sufficiently [36/37] attentive. You have intimated your agreement with them as to a matter which has served to render them unpopular. This was unnecessary. You should neither mix yourselves with their unpopularity, nor so speak as to relieve them in any degree from it. The passages of your Tracts to which we allude are these. "In like manner, the words in Genesis ii. and the practice of the Apostles in the Acts, are quite warrant enough for the sanctification of the Lord's Day, even though the fourth commandment were not binding on us." [* Tract No. VIII.] And another passage:--"Again, while the observance of the Lord's Day was grounded upon the practice of the Apostles, it was somehow felt, that this proof was not strong enough to bind the mass of Protestants and so the chief argument now in use is one drawn from the Jewish law, viz. the direct Scripture command, contained in the fourth commandment." [* Tract No. XLV.] We are aware that this doctrine has been put forward by the very men whom we have least hope of conciliating, inasmuch as they constantly declare that it is a duty to ask in every point--"Is this doctrine to be found in Scripture?" Now, if you intimate even indirectly, as in the passages cited, that you suspect them to be right with regard to the foundation upon which the observance of Sunday rests, you may awaken a suspicion that they may be right in other respects also. This will not only bring these men into a repute especially dangerous to the good cause, but is likely also to be attended [37/38] with the danger of exciting a general spirit of inquiry; for if men begin to think that they have been wrong on a single point, they will become inclined to examine all other particulars of their system. You have constantly spoken of "the bad tendencies of Protestantism;" you should be cautious not to rouse them into a greater activity. Rather seek to produce a quietness of mind, an absence of investigation, by such passages as the following, which indeed we ourselves might have written.--"Surely I am more safe, more likely to come in for a share of these blessings, if, while in other things, I strive to do my duty without troubling myself to decide things which, in truth, are too hard for me, I continue a member of the (established) Church. By so doing, I follow the example of my forefathers, of my country, of holy martyrs before me, and rest my faith on the authority of those who are, by virtue of their office, successors of the Apostles; whereas, in the other case, I must, on my own judgment, set aside all this weight of authority, and do that, which is as much as to say, that till within the last three hundred years the whole world has been in darkness, and that I can see clearer than all those great, and good, and pious, and learned persons, who have lived and died before me in this faith." [* Tract No. LI. p. 14.] This is perfect unexceptionable wisdom.

And now, beloved brethren, farewell. May you long continue burning and shining lights amidst a perverse generation, and be ye comforted amidst the [38/39] troubles which may surround you; for, persevere in the righteous course you have adopted, and we promise faithfully that, hereafter, when you come to lie on the bed of sickness, we shall send to you a minister of the One true Church "to receive the confession of your sins, and to relieve your conscience of the weighty things which shall press it down."




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