of the Human Mind, &c., and a Presbyter of the Episcopal Church.
primum mbile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government."--Bacon.
The arrival of number ninety, the last in the series of the Oxford Tracts, has removed the obscurity which hitherto hung over the sentiments of their authors, completely unveiled their ultimate views and purposes, and justified all the animadversions which have been levelled against them by their adversaries. They who, after this disclosure, shall persist in denying their papistical character, import and tendency, must be so deeply imbued with prepossessions and prejudices in their favor, and firmly resolved to countenance and support them at all events, as to be absolutely pre-determined against a change of sentiments, and inaccessible to the clearest light of evidence. And yet, strange to say! when the popish complexion and tendencies of these productions, and their utter incompatibility with the reformed faith have been so glaringly displayed, that the series of publications have been suspended by the authorities in that University, whose venerable name and presumed sanction gave them currency; and when the leading Bishops and Clergy of England have not only openly promulgated their condemnation of them, but have at length aroused from their supineness, and are exerting their influence for their suppression; their advocates in this country are beginning to exhibit more unequivocal and determined predilections in their favor. Whether learned men among us will consider these symptoms as auguring well or ill towards the taste, intelligence, and enlightened divinity of our country, I shall not undertake to decide; but, certainly, they awake very rational apprehensions concerning the future fortunes of our venerable Church and most holy faith. Can it be that there is any bishop or clergyman in our communion who desires that our ministry should henceforth commence the promulgation from their pulpits of the doctrines, indirectly indeed, but certainly inculcated and recommended in this last Tract? Does any one of them intend, in future, to broach anew to his flock the tenet of a real presence in the Eucharist, or to teach them that the Scriptures are not the rule of faith upon Episcopalian principles? Are we, in our churches, to listen to the doctrines that we are not [3/4] justified by faith; that ecclesiastical councils are infallible; that there is a purgatory, or purifying fire, through which the faithful must pass at the last day to expiate their sins; that there are seven sacraments; that the priesthood are authorized by Christ to grant reliefs from the penalties of sin, by penances, pardons, indulgences and absolutions; that there should be invocations of saints, angels, and the Virgin Mary; that veneration should be paid to images and relics; that prayers should be offered for the dead; that the celebration of the mass is lawful; and that the supremacy of the Pope, should his jurisdiction be allowed among us, would be an ordinance of God, and ought to be recognized and obeyed? These are tenets, shocking as they must be to the feelings of Protestants, which are distinctly and unequivocally held in this last Tract. And yet, is it not a surprising and unaccountable fact, that there are both bishops and clergy in our country who openly join with the Romish priests in recommending their perusal to our congregations and dioceses? If it were not that, at the same time they thus openly afford these writers their countenance and encouragement, they, I think rather unfairly and disingenuously, disclaim a concurrence with them in opinions, I should feel myself constrained to conclude that their partiality for them had so dimmed their discernment, that they have failed in comprehending the full significance and evident purport of these productions. Surely, they cannot intend to unite their influence with that of the Tractists, in an attempt stealthily and insidiously to vitiate the pure system of our faith with heretical doctrines, and defile our sanctuary with foul superstitions.
It would not be difficult, by unanswerable arguments, to demonstrate the truth of the foregoing allegations, by taking up each point separately as arranged in this Tract. But, inasmuch as in a series of numbers formerly published in the Episcopal Recorder of Philadelphia, under the signature of Warburton, I have already accomplished this task, and traced the distinct features of this last number of the Oxford Tracts in the ambiguous shadowings of this fraternity's previous disquisitions, every opinion of which they were there accused being clearly maintained in this Essay, it appears to me unadvisable again to weary my readers, and exhaust my own patience, by undergoing the toil of repeating the same arguments, or recurring to the same or similar topics. I propose, therefore, in this brief examination, to proceed by a more summary process. Instead of wearying the attention and exhausting the patience of my readers by a distinct consideration of the several topics, I shall endeavour, by a searching scrutiny of the principal doctrine, this new modification of the real presence, and a complete exposure of the fallacies by which it is [4/5] attempted to be supported, to throw such discredit upon the whole performance as to supersede the necessity of a critical examination of its minute parts, or separate propositions.
At once, then, to bring to the trial of argument this writer's metaphysical acumen and theological pretensions, let us hasten to this new and singular form of the real presence which he essays to obtrude upon the Church, and which, indeed, amounts to a more refined transubstantiation than that of Rome, but not less objectionable, irrational and absurd. Dr. Pusey, his colleague, with some more discretion and circumspection at least, if not with greater intellectual power, disclaimed all attempts to explain the manner of the real presence, maintained by his party, reproved Papists for so bold an undertaking, and more successfully eluded the chase of his pursuers, by hiding his doctrine under the veil of an impenetrable mystery, which it is impiety in human reason to attempt to remove. But this more daring champion of the new catholicity, conceiving himself better equipped for metaphysical warfare, ventures upon the rationalistic task of explaining and vindicating his tenet; and since his opponents are presumptuous enough to press him with hard questions relative to his "subtilty and refinement," his "scholastic trifling, his contradictions in terms," and even assertion of "absolute impossibilities," to cover them with shame, confusion and discomfiture, by "hard answers." Let us proceed, without delay, to test the validity of these answers.
Our Article declares that, "Transubstantiation, or the change of the substances of bread and wine, in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions." Upon this declaration, our Tractist remarks: ''What is here opposed as transubstantiation is the shocking doctrine, that the body of Christ, as the Article goes on to express it, is not given, taken and eaten after an heavenly and spiritual manner, but is carnally pressed with the teeth; that it is a body or substance of a certain extension and bulk in space, and a certain figure and due disposition of parts; whereas we hold that the only substance such, is the bread which we see." When an interpreter of his Church's language commences his commentary with an obvious misconstruction of her true meaning, we may reasonably calculate upon a wide departure from her principles before we arrive at its conclusion. Our Church, in the passage above quoted, simply denounces the doctrine of Transubstantiation, or the change of the substances of bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ, or the real presence in the Supper; while this writer chooses to consider her as implying that [5/6] the "body of Christ" is not given, taken and eaten, after an heavenly and spiritual manner, but is carnally pressed with the teeth, and is a substance having extension, figure and bulk, and of course occupying space. Was this statement the result of artifice in the writer, or mistake of the judgment by one whose imagination naturally spreads the colorings of his own previous opinions over every sentence which he peruses? The reader, by a slight degree of attention, will be able to perceive, that there is a wide distinction between asserting, as does this Article expressly, that there is no change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, or, in other words, no body of Christ in the elements; and asserting, as this writer construes the language, that the body of Christ, which is partaken in the Supper, is not such a body as has the properties of extension, bulk and figure, and which may be carnally pressed with the teeth. This last representation opens a door for the entrance into the Church and Sacrament of our Author's body and blood, which are not material but spiritual, whereas, we wore ready to say, the Church had excluded them; but the truth is, such substances as spiritual body and blood were never dreamt of by her, and most certainly were never known to the schools, nor ever attained a name or residence in nature.
In a similar strain we find him misconstruing the further illustration of this tenet in his next Article, which is this: "The wicked, and such as are void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ; but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing." Would not every person conclude from this declaration, that both the Church and St. Austin meant to assert, that the wicked might take the outward sign as well as the truly pious, but as it was not spiritually received, instead of deriving from it the benefits of redemption, they would only increase their condemnation by this additional impiety? See, nevertheless, how this writer warps these expressions to suit his own theory. "This is plain from Article twenty-nine, which quotes St. Augustine as speaking of the wicked, as carnally and visibly pressing with their teeth 'the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ,' not the real substances, a statement which even the Breviary introduces into the service for Corpus-Christi day." Let the reader observe how adroitly the words 'not the real substance,' are shuffled into this place, after those of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ;" as if the Church meant to assert that the loss which the wicked sustain in the Eucharist is not that of the spiritual advantages which they forfeit from the want of the requisite qualifications, but a participation of the "real substance," which is also in the [6/7] Sacrament, but cannot be discerned except with the eye of faith. In this manner of interpretation he constrains our Article to bear a signification, correspondent to that of the Romish Breviary, which undoubtedly, may assert, conformably to the doctrine of Transubstantia-tion, that the wicked cannot receive the real body, but simply the bread and wine, its outward coverings, although if there be a change of substances it is difficult to conceive how the unworthy communicants can fail in partaking the real body, the only one subsisting after consecration. Do we believe that there is any thing outward or inward in the bread and wine, which the wicked do not participate as well as believers, and that their deficiency is not found solely in faith and the spiritual advantages derived from it? Thus we perceive how this real substance is foisted into our communion.
From this early specimen of this writer's talent at interpretation, or rather misinterpretation, we may form a correct estimate of the whole Treatise. We will now advance to the enunciation of his capital problem, or theorem, or both, at the reader's discretion, the intelligent reader must have already perceived that our Oxford scholar considers the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation as shocking, because it supposes that the body of Christ, in the communion, is a body or substance,--having extension, bulk or size, which occupies space, together with a certain figure and disposition of parts, whereas he holds that these properties belong only to the bread and wine. The problem he, on the contrary, proposes to demonstrate, to couch it in his own words, is, that the body and blood of Christ, a body without extension, figure, or parts, may be "really and literally" present in the holy Eucharist without occupying space or bearing any relation to it, insomuch that it may at the same time be at the altar and in heaven sitting at the right hand of God. He further explains his proposition. "The true determination of all such questions may be this: that Christ's body and blood may be locally at God's right hand, yet really present here--present here, but not here in place, because they are spirit." Could these assumptions be stated or read in the presence of Locke, Bishop Butler and Dr. Samuel Clarke, they would excite in those great men that kind of smile which is not the most flattering to the propounder of a new theory. This theory supposes body or matter without extension, figure, size or parts; portions of space not separable by distance, however remote; and finally, body and blood which are not matter but spirit! This must be a system very recently broached at Oxford, for its name has not yet been sounded in the schools. Can it be, that this writer has ever looked into the pages of Aristotle, Locke, Des Cartes, Malebranche, Dr. Reid, or any of those philosophers who have indulged metaphysical [7/8] speculations? If he has, I am afraid the cultivators of that science would refuse him the credit of having fathomed its profound depths; otherwise we should not have found him thus floating upon the surface in pursuit of the airy bubbles of subtlety, so like those blown up by the schoolmen, and the flimsy cobwebs of speculation spun in their brains. The extreme fallacy of this theological hypothesis, for it is such in the highest degree, being sustained by not a solitary fact, or a passage of Scripture collected totidem literis, will be readily demonstrated without the aid of high logical powers, or remarkable skill in reasoning. I beg leave to premise my attempt at its refutation with the single reflection, that I do not feel any concern about the numerous tales to which he has referred, which were circulated through the Romish Church by knaves and enthusiasts, in order to prove the doctrine of a real presence of Christ in the Communion. As the doctrine is against all common sense and sets argument at defiance, if the Church was so superstitious and stupid as to resolve upon its retention in her Creed, I know of no other mode by which it could be maintained, but that its votaries should be comforted in their credulity, by immediate revelations. Its best evidences were visions of "lambs and infants, appearing upon the altar; of angels cutting and hacking children with a knife, and receiving their blood in a chalice; of Roman matrons by the second sight, perceiving the sacramental bread changed into bloody fingers, or into a lamb in the hands of the priest, and blood flowing in the sacrifice; and of angels kissing children whose forms were assumed by Christ, and afterwards most barbarously devouring them in the shape of wafers." These are delectable legends, which we have lost the pleasure of perusing by the naughty reformation, but which we may recover, perchance, if we should be successful in taking a long leap backwards into the dark ages, upon the recent plan of restoration into "this sublime catholicity" of Oxford. In the meantime, however, and until we are quite relieved from our old Protestant prejudices, and have imbibed a relish for this rancid or mouldy divinity, I presume our author commenced his disquisition, with a detail of these consummate fooleries, in order to set off the beauties of his own system, by way of contrast or foil. I can assure him, however, that if this was the purpose, and no other appears upon the scene, it failed of its effect upon my mind, since I regard his fire-new doctrine, as not only burthened with all the errors and absurdities of popish transubstantiation, but with supplementary impossibilities of its own, relative to distance, presence, place and time. I trust, these things will clearly appear in the sequel of this disquisition.
After attempting, as we have seen, to evade our article against [8/9] transubstantiation, by discovering a body without extension, figure or parts, he has next an arduous task to perform in contending with this explanation of our doctrine, appended to the communion service: "Whereas it is ordained in this office for the administration of the Lord's Supper, that the communicants should receive the same kneeling; yet, lest the same kneeling should by any persons, either out of ignorance and infirmity, or out of malice and obstinacy, be misconstrued and depraved, it is hereby declared that thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either to the Sacrament of bread and wine, there bodily received, or unto any corporal presence of Christ's natural flesh and blood. For the sacramental bread and wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored, for that were idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians; and the natural body and blood of our Saviour are in heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be at one time in more places than one." "We should imagine Unit the Church, by this precise definition and unambiguous phraseology, had succeeded in her obvious intent, and forever precluded any misapprehension of her meaning, or perversion of her doctrine. But sophistry and mysticism are subtile powers, that can enter through keyholes into her sacred precincts. Attend to the writhings, evolutions, and artificial manoeuvres with which our Oxford logician endeavors to evade and obscure the doctrine of his Church--"But to heaven is added and not here. Now, though it be allowed that there is no corporal presence (that is carnal) of Christ's natural flesh and blood here, it is another point to allow that Christ's natural flesh and blood are not here. And the question is, how on there he any presence at all of his body find blood, yet a presence such as not to be here? How can there be any presence, yet not local?" Admirable logic! Sublime metaphysical inquiry! The wonderful conclusion, then, to which he is now to conduct us is, that. Christ's body and blood may be present, in the elements, or at the table, in some unsearchable manner, without being locally present, or while He is locally in heaven. "We know that the subtile schoolmen were greatly embarrassed in their attempts to discover residences for spirits in space, and warmly contested the point whether or not they existed in place; but we could scarcely have conceived that an Oxford scholar could be so much at fault in modern science as to maintain, at this late day, that body or matter--whose very essence Des Cartes makes to be extension, and all others a property--can have presence any where without being in place. Mr. Newman's body, then, is without extension, figure, size, parts, local habitation, or a place in which to repose its weary nothingness. It is in a more hapless [9/10] condition than was the materia prima of the ancient philosophers; for this substance, although supposed to be unclothed of properties, and naked as it came out of the womb of chaos and old night, its mother, was yet accommodated with a place of large and comfortable abode in infinite space or immensity. Hear him advance his proof of the existence of this unheard of substance, this matter-spirit, or spirit-matter: "Now, first, let it be observed that the question to be solved is the truth of a certain philosophical deduction, not of a certain doctrine of scripture. That there is a real presence Scripture asserts, and the homilies, catechism and communion service confess." This is a bold declaration, after he has just quoted a passage appended to die communion service, which unequivocally denies the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist, affirming that his "bodily presence is only in heaven," and before he has adduced a single passage from Scripture, from the homilies, catechism, or communion service, to confirm its truth. Not one of those formularies contains a single glimpse of his heresy, or allows any other presence of Christ in the Eucharist but that of his Divine Spirit as God. All the great divines of his establishment, who have appeared since the reformation, he ought to know, have regarded the worship of our altar as entirely spiritual, and have universally repudiated the doctrine of the real presence--that is, the corporal presence of Christ in our Sacrament,--ever considering the very terms as equivalent to transubstantiation.
Leaving him to mollify his wounds of conscience as well as he can, for subscribing to our prayer book in which this real presence is denied, and allowing him as many mental reservations as a Jesuit might desire to assuage its pains, by resolving the Church's tenet into a philosophical deduction, and not scripture doctrine, let us attend to his very singular and nondescript argument to demonstrate that Christ's body and blood may be present in the Sacrament de facto, while they are not present in loco; that is, maybe present and absent at the same time. This spirit-body of his is a more convenient contrivance than any epic or dramatic writer ever conceived, in constructing the machinery of his poem. For, although it be deemed a refinement of matter, it is at the same time so wondrously propertied like a spirit, resembling Milton's angels, in whose pure and uncompounded form was to be traced no material lineament in tendon, joint, or limb; that he makes it outstrip in its movements all the whole host of that poet's angels and archangels, seraphim and cherubim. Whereas, they were compelled to pass and repass from heaven to hell, from the sun to the earth, and not unfrequently with weary step and arduous marches and countermarches; he can transport his magical presence the most incomputable distances, not only [10/11] without fatigue or difficulty, but wonderful to relate! and an exploit beyond what fiction has essayed amidst its greatest darings without moving from its place! Listen to this extraordinary story, and decide whether it be fact or fiction:
"Next, the philosophical position itself is capable of a very specious defence. The truth is, we do not at all know what is meant by distance or intervals absolutely, any more than we know what is meant by absolute time. Late discoveries in geology have tended to make it probable that time may, under circumstances, go indefinitely faster or slower than it does at present; or, in other words, that indefinitely more maybe accomplished in a given portion of it. What Moses calls a day, geologists wish to prove to be a thousand years, if we measure time by the operations at present effected in it. It is equally difficult to determine what we mean by distance, or why we should not be at this moment, close to the throne of God, though we seem far from it. Our measure of distance is our hand or foot; but as an object, a foot off is not called distant, though the interval is indefinitely divisible, neither need it be distant either, after it has been multiplied indefinitely. Why should any conventional measure of ours--why should the perception of our eyes or our ears be the standard of presence or distance? Christ may really be close to us, though in heaven; and his presence in the sacrament, may but be a manifestation to the worshipper of that nearness, not a change of place, which maybe unnecessary." From this reasoning he comes to the conclusion, that the "body and blood of Christ may be really, literally present in the holy Eucharist, yet, not having become present by local passage, may still literally and really be on God's right hand; so that though they be present in deed and truth, it may be impossible, it may be untrue to say, that they are literally in the elements, or about them, or in the soul of the receiver. These may be useful modes of speech, according to the occasion; but the true determination of all such questions maybe this, that Christ's body and blood are locally at God's right hand, yet really present here--present here, but not here in place--because they are spirit." I have now been a close student for almost half a century, and during that time, have read all the greatest productions of the human mind, in the Greek, Latin, English and French languages, and this passage, considered as the product of a Professor in, perhaps, the most renowned University in the world, and published in the middle of the nineteenth century, a period which enjoys the lights that have been shining in science for many generations, is the most extraordinary that I ever perused. Surely there is in it a sufficiency of mystery, mysticism, and smoky speculation, to have sated the appetite [11/12] for that kind of aliment in the darkest periods of the middle ages. To what do the propositions here stated amount in this short paragraph we hear it declared, we may say, in the ears of Bacon, Newton, Locke, and all the illustrious cultivators of modern learning; "that we do not know what is meant by presence, space, distance, time and place; that time or duration may accelerate or retard its natural course, without reference to our perceptions or any artificial measurements; that is to say, that portion of it which has elapsed during the last twenty-four hours might be stretched out so as to include a year or century; that the same body may occupy two places at the same time; that the days mentioned by Moses, each comprising twenty-four hours, may have severally embraced a thousand years; that we may be close to the throne of God, though at a great distance from it; that Christ, although in heaven, which is far distant, may be present to us in his glorified form as man; that m the Eucharist, Christ's presence may consist in a manifestation of his nearness; and to attain that nearness or presence, no change of place may be necessary; that the body and blood of Christ may be really and literally present in the Communion, while locally in heaven at the right hand of God; that He may transfer his presence, from heaven to earth in his human form, without local passage; that although in deed and truth his body be at the altar and manifested in the elements, it may be impossible and untrue to say, that He is in the elements, or about them, or in the soul of believers; and, finally, that although Christ's body and blood are locally at God's right hand, and really present at the altar, yet they are not there in place, because this body and blood are not body and blood but--spirit!! Thomas Aquinas, Peter Lombard, Duns Scotus, and all the irrefragable, invincible, angelical and seraphic doctors of the subtile school, no longer stand unrivalled. And when to these exploits of metaphysical genius we shall add the next which shall be related in due time, the annihilations of space, at the conversion of St. Paul and ascension of Christ, we shall complete a monument of philosophical renown, upon the contemplation of which any of the above named worthies might shed tears of emulation, not unmingled with envy, to behold their fair fames eclipsed.
We regret that the task devolves upon us, hi the discharge of the duties which we owe to our good mother church, and to our common Christianity, to make an attempt, at least, to lower these high pretensions, and expose the fallacy of these strange doctrines. We commence our answer, with his assumption, without any pretence to proof; that Christ's body and blood are present locally in heaven, but really and mysteriously in the elements, and that this body and blood, moreover [12/13] are spirit. There must be great difficulty in conveying to the reader the precise and perspicuous views of an author who, instead of aiming at perspicuity and precision of style, the best properties of philosophical writing, seems sedulously to aim at that rambling and confused mode of thinking and speaking which are the usual characteristics either of an accomplished or incompetent mystic. To endeavour, however, to supply his deficiency, as far as I am able, and out of his desultory and confused disquisition to collect the general principles he means to sustain, I shall first state the representation he gives of our Saviour, as he exists in heaven at God's right, hand; secondly, that modification of the real presence, which he supposes Him to exhibit at the altar; and lastly, the manner in which he imagines that presence to be conveyed to the Eucharist. First, what does he broach in regard to the form <>r figure under which Christ has existed in Heaven ever since his ascension \ The Church maintains, that he exists in his human nature, or the same form in which he lived on earth, but exalted and glorified; or, as St. Paul expresses it, spiritualized, that is purified and refined; so that the material substance in it makes a near approximation to spirit. Our doctrine does not, however, divest the Saviour of the properties of matter, but supposes Him to have the same figure, dimensions, and proportions, as during his residence on earth; winch is the only rational and intelligible conception about it. Hence in the explanation appended to the communion service, it is asserted, "that the natural body and blood of our Saviour are in heaven, and not here," adding, that "it cannot at one time be in more places than one." This is that corporal presence which is confined by the Church to heaven, and denied to be in the Sacrament. Such, is our tenet; and next, let us examine our author's opinion upon this point. Here we find that usual obscurity, indistinctness and confusion of ideas, which characterize this performance. At no time, in enumerating the propositions which are comprised in the appendix to our communion service, he reduces them to five, and gives an unqualified assent to four, one of which is the following: "That the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven;" and, at another time, in drawing a distinction between Christ's presence in heaven and at the altar, he allows the first to be local, and the latter not local but real, literal and mysterious. This language would surely imply, that he considers Christ's body in heaven, as material and occupying space, as does his Church. But behold his expressions at another time, and see if the two representations can be reconciled. "Such seems to be the mystery attending our Lord and Saviour; He was a body, and that spiritual. He is in place, and yet as being a spirit, his mode of approach," &c. "While beings simply [13/14] spiritual seem not to exist in place, the incarnate Son does; according to our Church's statement already alluded to, the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven and not here, it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be at one time in more places than one." This last sentence, while it makes a spirit of Christ's natural body and blood, implies a double contradiction. He maintains throughout this part of the tract, that spiritual beings do not exist in space; yet the incarnate Son, who is a spiritual being; does. Again: he allows that Christ exists locally in heaven, though not at the Eucharist; and that spirits have no local residence, yet Christ, a spiritual being, has local habitation in heaven. Finally, to show that he maintains Christ in heaven to be spirit, although he had before with the Church considered Him a form of exalted matter, let us recur to a single sentence out of many that might be adduced. "But the true determination of all such questions may be this, that Christ's body and blood are locally at God's right hand, yet really present here--present here but not in place, because they are spirit." Body and blood are spirit!
We see, then, that at one time our author holds the orthodox doctrine, that Christ exists in heaven under his glorified human form, united to the divinity; at another, broaches a heresy, and regards Him as simply a spiritual being. Throughout the Treatise, he fluctuates between these two conceptions of Him, and now considers him as a spiritual, and then a material being, as suits his purpose, utterly unconscious of the gross metaphysical absurdity implied in speaking of body and blood as a spirit.
In this demi-spiritual form, in the next place, he exhibits a real presence at the altar, which we proposed to consider under our second division of the subject. This presence, which is always locally at God's right hand, is transferred to the altar, without local passage, and exhibits itself in his body and blood, so that though it be "really and literally, in deed, and in truth, at the Eucharist, yet it may be untrue and impossible to say, that it is in the elements, or about them, or in the soul of the receiver." I should blush for a friend, whom I heard speak in this style, and become apprehensive, that his understanding, was losing its balance from the intemperate excitement of enthusiasm. It is much to be regretted, that such a young clergyman (I suppose him young from his style) as the one with whom I am constrained to enter into controversy, did not study and thoroughly comprehend the writings of such illustrious Divines as Archbishop Tillotson, and especially his sermon upon Transubstantiation. In that masterly discourse which would do honor to Cicero, he would find a conclusive argument against transubstantiation, that monstrous heresy of the Romish [14/15] Church, and it would apply with equal force against this new fangled modification of the real presence. Here our Church is to be agitated and disquieted with resisting an attempt to usher into her most sacred scene a visionary form, of whose existence there is not the slightest proof either from reason or Holy Writ, and in opposition to which there is the irresistible evidence of our very senses. I cannot longer detain the reader by such a frivolous discussion, as must be undertaken to expel a shadow or questionable shape from our holy table, and shall hasten to my last topic, to show the manner in which our author transfers this real presence from heaven to earth. This, if not a masterpiece, is, at any rate, a most curious fabric of mystical divinity.
Having to convey the Saviour from his local residence in heaven, to the place of real presence at the Eucharist, he thus endeavours to remove the difficulties arrisinif out of distance and time. Upon this point I find his metaphysics, theology, and geology equally unsound. His first position, in the passage before quoted, is, that "we do not at all know what is meant by absolute distance or intervals, anymore than we know what is meant by absolute time." Pray, where did he meet with this item of intelligence in metaphysical science? He certainly did not derive it from the sound school of Locke and Aristotle, and it could be traced to no paternity so likely to impress upon it its characteristic, features as German transcendentalism, whose smoky speculations would be more aptly designated as transcendant crudity and folly. We have no ideas more clear, distinct and adequate, than those of space, distance, time and duration. Upon these are oftentimes founded mathematical calculations, and the noble demonstrations of natural philosophy. There can be no doubt, that in forming our estimates of the parts or divisions of time or distance, we must be influenced by the laws of our nature, and the slowness or rapidity of our perceptions, and that to beings of different orders, the succession of moments, hours and days, and the degrees of distance will appear greater or less, according to the laws of their several constitutions. A year or century which appears long to us, may appear but days or moments to angels and archangels. What we are told in Scripture in regard to the Deity's estimation of time, is readily conceived by philosophy, that one day is to Him as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. This, no doubt, is literally true, and as He also contemplates infinite space at a single glance of his eye, a thousand miles or diameters of the earth, may be to him as a thousand inches or feet to us. But will these considerations affect the real progress of time, or remoteness in distances between places? Will it make an inch or foot equal to a mile, or a day or hour equal to a [15/16] year or century? Will it bring two places together that, are a thousand miles asunder, or transfer 1841 to the first year of the Christian era? Such sophistry is unworthy of the illumination of the nineteenth century, and should be consigned to the dark night of the middle ages. If heaven, therefore, be regarded as remote from the earth as the sun or moon, and Christ be conceived as there in place, seated at the right hand of God, in his human form exalted and glorified, he can no more, at the same: time, be present at the altar in the same shape, than one hundred millions of miles can be made equal to six feet. And to say, that at the altar He is only really but not locally present, is merely under cover of an equivocal term, to seek refuse from the pursuit of sound sense and right understanding. By precisely the same mode of sophistry, for I will not call it reasoning, we might maintain, that the man in the moon is hid under the holy elements.
I find our author's knowledge of ecology no better than his metaphysics. "Late discoveries in geology," he continues, "have tended to make it probable that time may, under circumstances, go indefinitely faster or slower than it does at present. What Moses calls a day, geologists wish to prove to be a thousand years, if we measure time by the operations effected in it." He should have consulted Dr. Buckland, the geologist, who, I believe, lives in the same college as himself, before he penned this passage, and he would have been prevented from this misapprehension of the subject. Have geologists, amidst their recent conjectures, conjectures without their host, when acting the part of cosmogonists, ever supposed that in one of Moses' days, considered as twenty-four hours, or comprising a single revolution of the earth upon its axis, were included a thousand years? Have they attempted to interfere with the natural progress of time, which is duration marked off by the planetary phenomena? It is here presumed not, in the slightest degree. They simply suppose that the time which elapsed between the Creation of the world and the formation of Adam, which Moses designates as days, may have comprised in it thousands of years, instead of those divisions of time designated as days of twenty-four hours, according to the vulgar interpretation of the Bible. Geologists, in their late dissertations, have advanced no principles which need provoke quarrels with metaphysicians or theologians; but I consider all attempts at cosmogony as travelling out of that legitimate sphere within which the Creator has confined the faculties of man, and constructing romances, but not systems of science.
But let us remark, in the passage just quoted from our author, how clearly he has discovered his total misconception of the metaphysics [16/17] implied in it, by his equivalent expressions in the concluding member of the sentence. "Late discoveries in geology have tended to make it probable that time may, under circumstances, go indefinitely faster or slower than it does at present; or, in other words, that indefinitely more may be accomplished in a given portion of it." To accomplish more or less then, in a day or twenty-four hours, is to lengthen or shorten the time, or make it more or less than twenty-four hours! Wonderful metaphysics! We must refer him to Shakspeare, to give him better lessons in this branch of science. That inimitable poet had too just an insight into truth and nature to suppose that our perceptions of time could in any degree alter its real progress; while, with a keen discrimination, he delineated the various accelerations and retardations in its apparent flight, according to the several states of mind, whether of joy or sorrow, of expectation or apprehension, of hope or despair, in the agent or person concerned. He justly represents time as travelling in divers paces with divers persons; as trotting hard with the maid, between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnized; as ambling with the priest that lacks Latin, and the rich man that hath not the gout, because the last sleeps easily, being without pain, and the first lives merrily, without being incommoded with lean and wasteful learning; as galloping with the thief to the gallows, because, although he proceed as softly as foot can fall, he brings him too soon to his fate; and finally, as standing still with lawyers in the vacation, because they sleep from term to term, and mark not his race; but this illustrious poet never so far lost sight of the philosopher in his pictures of fancy as to suppose for a moment that the real course of time is affected by our modifications of feeling, or that this stern charioteer can ever relax or accelerate his speed in his steady and uniform progress through the tracts of duration and eternity.
But, exclaims our Oxford metaphysician, "Why should any conventional measure of ours--why should the perception of our eyes or our ears be the standard of presence or distance?" In our original perceptions our eyes and ears are no standards at all; for it is well known to metaphysics, that when a blind man has his sight restored by the oculist, all objects appear to him equally to touch his eye, and it requires time and attention to learn justly to discriminate magnitudes and distances. Even in the most improved state of these outward senses, they are liable to endless delusions and egregious mistakes; but who is there that assumes his eyes and ears as the standards by which he takes accurate measurement of distances? I think no one trusts to them alone in practical affairs, in surveys of land or astronomical calculations. But, because our hearing and sight may [17/18] sometimes mislead us, can we not determine distances by the chain, square and compass? Are we not able so far to trust even our sight as to know that the sun and moon are remote objects, and the table and desk in our room near ones? Our author is here exhibiting a strange union of the subtilty of the sceptic, with the credulity of the Roman Catholic. Hume and Bellarmine are made up of jarring ingredients, and cannot be well compounded or pounded into the same man. Really and locally, as well as in deed and verity, I could scarcely believe that the page spoke the sentiment of the author, when I read the example he gives of his doctrine: "Christ may really be close to us, though in heaven." It is evident, from passages in this essay, that the writer considers heaven as very remote from the earth, and, of consequence, means by this declaration that Christ, although at an immense distance from us, may nevertheless be present at the Eucharist, in his human form exalted. Now, if any two objects, at a remote distance from each other, may by any mysterious process be brought into immediate contact without a change of place, or made present to one another, it is an inference as undeniable as any truth in mathematics, that all objects may, and that distance, however great, no longer forms a ground of separation between the most remote portions of nature. Upon this presumption, men might not only figuratively, but literally, shake hands over a "vast," and embrace from opposite banks of a great ocean. Nay, if the principle be carried out to its extremest results, the fancy of some whimsical speculators about the compressibility of matter, might be realized, that the universe itself may be condensed into a nut shell. Moreover, if the account just given of duration by the same pen be correct, an eternity might be compressed within the time taken up in cracking the nut shell. A system leading to such strange results must be founded upon some late discoveries at Oxford, for it is certainly not decipherable in the volume of nature, and has not yet been published to the learned world.
But let us listen to the more extraordinary argument which leads to this extraordinary conclusion: "That He (Christ,) should be present, though millions of miles away, is not more inconceivable than the influence of eyesight upon us to a blind man. The stars are millions of miles off, yet they impress ideas upon our souls through our sight. We know nothing to negative the notion that the soul may be capable of having Christ present to it by the stimulating of dormant, or the development of possible energies." The presences and distances of objects, in reference to each other, upon this plan of calculation, are made to consist in the power of exciting impressions, and stimulating dormant energies in one another. It is a [18/19] somewhat novel mode of computing presences and distances; but admitting its accuracy, and certainly in this sense the sun and stars are present to us, for they communicate perceptions of themselves by the rays of light they emit, that act upon our organs of sight, and through their intermediation upon our minds. This, however, will be allowed to be a perfectly new and unauthorized definition of presence: since, in vulgar parlance, no one would affirm that he was present to the sun or stars, simply because he perceived them. And certainly a lover would not consider himself as brought into the presence of his mistress by receiving from her a letter which awoke strong emotions. This would, among scholars, be deemed a. great abuse of language, if literally construed. But even in this extended sense, the analogy fails, in a most essential feature, between the situation of an observer of the heavenly body, and the communicant at the altar in his contemplation of the Saviour in his character and offices. The first is made acquainted with the distant object through the medium of light, the second discerns the Being he adores only with the mental eye. There would be some aptness and beauty in the similitude if rightly conceived, and that is if Christ in heaven be regarded as the object viewed with the eye of faith, as is the sun or star with the outward organ. But what connection is there between this intercourse of the communicant with the Saviour, as He sits at the right hand of God, and his converse with objects presented to him at the holy table? Is there any power or faculty of the mind, or any medium resembling light disclosing the sun or star, which gives him the slightest evidence that the Saviour, in his exalted form, is present at the altar? To say that the excitement of impressions, emotions, or the dormant energies, of that devotion which is awakened in the mind of the believer is a method of exhibiting that real presence of which these Oxford writers speak, may be satisfactory to mystics, but surely by all rational men must be deemed a language without meaning. We perceive the sun and stars; therefore, they are present to us! This doctrine would again bring all the system of nature within the nut shell--for our sight would extend to all the stars in view, the sight of the inhabitants of those regions to others within their sphere of vision, and so on to infinity.
This mode of reasoning, whimsical as it is, is too great a favorite with our author, to be deserted on a sudden, and, in consequence, we find it reproduced from a pamphlet before published in the Tracts, by himself, we presume, or by some coadjutor as much like himself as egg is to egg. As we have not been smitten with the same partiality for that precious morsel, we could very willingly have left the subject to the reflections of the reader, without any further [19/20] discussion upon our part; but as we have assumed the office of a critic upon this performance, we do not feel at liberty to leave our work half finished. Retracing the same track he had before pursued and intending a more full exposition of his new theory of presences, and distances, he proceeds thus--"In a note at the end of the Communion service, it is argued, that a body cannot be in two places at once, (a sound philosophy at least,) and that, therefore, the body of Christ is not locally present, in the sense in which we speak of the bread as being locally present. On the other hand, in the Communion service itself, catechism, articles and homilies, it is plainly declared, that the body of Christ is, in a mysterious way, if not locally yet really present, so that we are able, after some ineffable manner to receive it." This same allegation has now been twice repeated, and it must be a wilful misrepresentation. The writer must know that none of our formulas allow of the real presence, or contain any sentiments that countenance the belief of it in the Eucharist. He cannot but be aware that all the ablest divines of his Church represent the whole service of our Altar as spiritual, and that the body and blood of Christ are held to be partaken in our Sacrament only by faith, or in a heavenly and spiritual manner. By the eye of faith, we "discern the Lord's body," which was crucified upon Calvary. There must be something more than mere misconception and delusion here.
He next runs through the same train of subtilty which we have just refuted, and cannot bring ourselves to repeat. He and the other Tractists, like all enthusiasts, whether in favor of external rites or internal revelations, have an excessive fondness, or rather a keen appetite for mystery, obscure language, figures, allegory and mysticism, and are never contented with plain language, intelligible propositions, and natural solutions of phenomena in grace or nature. His assertions in regard to what is meant by presence, as applied to body and spirit, show an utter misapprehension of the whole subject. "But it may be asked, says he, what is the meaning of saying that Christ is really present, yet not locally? I will make a suggestion on the subject: What do we mean by being present? How do we define and measure it? To a blind and deaf man that only is present which he touches." We see he recurs to the same doctrine, attempting only to enforce it by new illustrations. Yet, methinks, this blind and deaf man, although he would be unable to discover the presence of objects by his sight and hearing, would be deprived of some advantages, if he refused to avail himself of the informations of his smell. The magnolia in his room, and a well-seasoned dinner upon the table, would feelingly convince him of other agreeable presences besides [20/21] those which were perceptible to his touch. Our author proceeds--"Give him (the blind man) hearing, and the range of things present enlarges; every thing is present to him which he hears." Can we really believe, that Mr. N. is in earnest, is deluding himself or endeavoring to confuse the minds of others? I hear, at the distance of fifteen miles, the cannons which are fired in New-York upon days of rejoicing and festivity; should I say, they are present to me, or I to them? Would any one who thus expressed himself be understood? We should certainly find a most essential difference between feeling the shocks of an earthquake, or hearing the roar of a volcano, and being present at them. Our author is not yet satisfied with the range he has given to our personal presence; but, as before, like the widening circle in water, makes it take the immense compass of Armstrong's "planets, suns, and adamantine spheres."--"Give him at length sight, and the sun may be said to be present to him in the daytime, and myriads of stars at night. The presence, then, of a thing is a relative word, depending in a popular sense of it, upon the channel of communication between it and him to whom it is present; and thus it is a word of degree." I believe every reader, after the perusal of this passage, will agree with me, that the author, with all his evident toil, has not succeeded in hitting upon one single popular meaning of the word presence. He has striven hard to obscure its obvious signification, in order to prepare the minds of his readers for the reception of that phantom in divinity, the Real Presence; but the web of subtlety he has spun and woven is too flimsy to detain a spider in its meshes. There is no doubt, that the term present, like all others, is significant of various shades of thought which have been annexed to it during the progress of language, and that it is relative and sometimes figurative; and in its original application must have stood in opposition or correlation to distant. It must have at first referred simply to space, and when one thing was said to be present to another, it implied that it was in the same place. Afterwards, the idea of place, which was originally limited, would be enlarged, and a letter directed to a citizen in a town would be marked present, as denoting his residence in that town at the time. A foreign minister is said to be present in a whole country, while he retains his official station near its government, and the sun is said to be present to us in the day-time and absent from us at night. Amidst all these various significations, which the usage of mankind annexes to the term, no ambiguity or obscurity is occasioned, save to those who wilfully abuse it. In the most extended sense, Christ as God and man may be said to be always present to us, inasmuch as his divinity is omnipresent and omniscient, and He ever liveth to make [21/22] intercession for us. In this sense, He is present to us, through the intermediation of his divinity. But when we speak of his real presence in the Sacrament, it is a technical expression, denoting his presence either in his glorified body, as it is in heaven, or in his body as it appeared upon earth, and was crucified in Jerusalem. In the first of these forms, the Tractists maintain his real presence at the Eucharist; and in the last, the papists in their doctrine of Transubstantiation. Both tenets are equally absurd and monstrous.
It is not readily conceivable why this writer should have discovered so much solicitude, in extending our ideas of the modes in which material substances may accomplish a real presence from the greatest distances, since it turns out, after all, that he does not maintain, that the person of Christ, either in heaven or at the Eucharist, is a refined material form, but pure Spirit in both cases. Why, then, all these labored illustrations derived from the sun, stars, the man deficient, and the man perfect in his sensual organs of hearing and sight. "Such, says he, is the meaning of presence, when used of material objects; very different from this is the conception we form of the presence of spirit with spirit." He then asserts, "that the most intimate presence we can fancy is a spiritual presence in the soul--it is nearer than any material object can possibly be--is more perfect and simple than any we call local--is either present or not present, at pleasure--has nothing to do with nearness or distance--can approach without a transit through space--approach with a condition unknown, and seems not to exist in space." This is his idea of a spirit, in which he makes of it the most wonderful magician that ever was imagined in romance. Spirits are not in space, bear no relation to place, and without any transition from place to place, can be in each other's company throughout immensity. He must have taken large draughts from the gaseous fountains of the schoolmen, ere he could have distributed among the literary public such vapory streams of subtilty as these. But what thinks he of Christ? I have said, he supposed Him, as He now exists in heaven to be pure spirit; but it is difficult to arrive at certainty upon the point, as an attempt to ascertain his principles is like an endeavor to lay hold of quicksilver. In one place, he says, "He was a body and that spiritual. He is in place, and yet as being a spirit, his mode of approach is different from the mode in which material bodies approach." Here, we see, He is represented as a spirit, and endowed with all the properties of pure spirit, as contradistinguished from body. Hear him, however, in other places, and behold quite a different picture. "Now it may be admitted, without difficulty, that the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven." ... "While [22/23] beings simply spiritual seem not to exist in place, the incarnate Son does. . . The body and blood of Christ may be really and literally present in the holy Eucharist." Thus we see, that under the strokes of this chisel, Christ is pure spirit, a spiritual body, a compound of body and blood, locally in heaven and not locally in heaven, really at the altar, and not really at the altar, existing in space and not existing in space. I trust able divines at home and abroad, will agree with me that we must have clearer and more satisfactory authors than this, as our instructors and guides in divinity, and as the restorers of lost catholicity, before we will listen to them.
He makes summary work in deciding that controversy, which so long divided the opinions of the schoolmen, whether spirits subsist and move in space. And what is the only circumstance worthy of observation is, that he should feel himself licensed, without any investigation of the subject, to decide so peremptorily in contradiction to sentiments of the modern school. Nothing would seem more certain, if we do not endow them with ubiquity, a perfection of God only, than that they cannot appear and act in different portions of space, without passing over the intermediate points. The capital distinctions between matter and mind, if not the essences as Des Cartes supposed, are that the one is an extended, and the other a thinking substance; but if both be real substances, according to the prevailing philosophy, no good reason can be assigned, why the thinking substance should not pass through space in the performance of its functions, as well as the extended. The great difficulty which tries the understanding, is to conceive of a substance which occupies no space, and not that it should move through space.
To follow our author through the remainder of his singular disquisition--"While beings simply spiritual seem not to exist in place, the in-incarnate Son does." If spirits are not in place, where are they, and what becomes of the omnipresence of God? Is He not in every place, beholding the evil and the good? I suppose a mystic would tell me of his existence and agency really and not locally, but the sacred writers are no mystics. "According to our Church's statement, the natural body and blood of Christ are in heaven and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be in more places than one at the same time." This passage stands as an insurmountable obstacle in his way, and as gravel stones in his mouth. He knows not how to reconcile it with his whimsy. After some tossing and floundering in the dark, he at length imagines he has discovered a clue to lead him through the labarynth. Christ's natural body, in his hands, is transformed into a spiritual body, and by a great perversion of the Apostle's beautiful representation of the risen bodies of men in the last day, as purified, refined, and, by a strong figure spiritualized, though [23/24] still a refinement of matter; he finally transmutes it into a spirit. Now, Mr. N., as you have transfigured Christ's body and blood into pure spirit, a most egregious contradiction in the very terms, and of course released it from all the properties of matter; let us see to what your new tenet inevitably leads us. You seem to think, that being now freed from the incumbrance of matter, without wings it may fly through space with sufficient velocity to suit your purpose, can be, like Hamlet's ghost, here, there and every where in an instant; but allow me seriously to remind you, that by this course of reasoning, or rather theorizing, you have entangled Christianity in difficulties from which neither you, nor any other advocate, could extricate her by any expedient. You say, that upon Christ's ascent, he assumed a spiritual body, which you, not St. Paul, affirm to be a spirit. Now, tell me; at Christ's assent, was He not, as in life, compounded of a human spirit or soul, as well as body? No doubt, you must answer yes, and of a divine mind also. Behold, then, the inevitable consequences deducible from your premises. When Christ ascended into heaven, and ever since, He was and has ever been compounded of a spirit, which you say a spiritual body means, and a human spirit or soul; that is, He consisted of a double spirit; and if we add to this his Divinity, or Deity, a triple or threefold spirit! Is not your doctrine refuted, by a fair reductio ad absurdum? Surely, the doctrine of the Church is, that in his state of exaltation, he has a human soul enclosed in an ethereal or spiritualized body, and in this compound form He is united to the Divinity.
When a philosopher finds you speaking of "sight as annihilating space for some purposes," and other "capacities, bodily or spiritual, annihilating it for other purposes," he can only raise his eyes and hands towards heaven in amazement, and exclaim, what idea does this author annex to the term annihilation? Does he mean to say, according to the authorized singification of the word, that space is actually destroyed, which every sciolist now knows to be an utter impossibility; or do mystics invent a new language for themselves, and in this language does he denote some hidden and isoteric meaning by this word? In either event, he must mean by it, either the utter destruction of space, so that two bodies before separated from each other by pure distance, would be brought in contact, or such an operation of two agents upon each other, that the distance which separated them had no influence upon the effect which was produced. The first would be the literal meaning of the word, and the last the figurative, implying that the space between them, though still subsisting, was inoperative. I should have concluded that this author, by the term annihilation of space, must have intended to express the last of these ideas, [24/25] had I not met with the following sentences in a part of his subsequent disquisition: "What must have been the rapidity of that motion, by which, within ten days, He (Christ) placed our human nature at the right hand of God?" Such a practical annihilation was involved in the appearance of Christ to St. Paid on his conversion." Such a practical annihilation was involved in the doctrine of Christ's ascension." Then, to convey his meaning with such precision that it could not be misunderstood, he declares it not more wonderful that he should have "dispensed with time and space at his ascension," than that he should daily dispense with them in the sun's warming us at the distance of a hundred thousand miles." As in this last instance, the sun and his rays of light are modifications of matter, no mystical or figurative dispensation with time and space or distance can possibly be implied; and, of consequence, when we hoar this writer speak of annihilations of time and space, he means their utter destruction for that occasion, or as far as the subject in hand is concerned. I have premised my answer to this portion of his essay, with these brief explanations, because I had great difficulty in allowing myself to believe that these principles were assumed by the author, and was fully aware of the danger of attributing them to him without proof, lest the reader should feel disposed to accuse me of wilful misrepresentation, and intentional wrong. It is presumed, he will now perceive, that the author, however incredible it may appear, does really and truly intend to use the term annihilation in its natural and settled signification. With this allowance, let us now proceed in our examination of his doctrines.
"As sight for certain purposes annihilates space, so other unknown capacities, bodily or spiritual, annihilate it for other purposes." To imagine any part of space to be removed, says Newton, is to suppose a thing to be taken from itself. It is an evident impossibility. You can imagine any thing annihilated except space and duration. God is omnipresent, and in the language of the great philosophical poet of England, "extends through all extent;" and, therefore, to suppose Him to annihilate any portion of space is to suppose that He destroys so much of himself, and to that degree limits his own being, and abridges the sphere of his providential agency. Space and duration are two subsistences or objects of thought, whether substances or qualities, or distinct from both, which are immutable and eternal: and instead of being destructable even by divine power, form a strong foundation upon which to erect the dogma of a God, since, unless there he such a real existence as a Deity, these two great properties, infinite space and infinite duration, would stand without a subject in which they inhere. This last argument was considered valid by Dr. Samuel Clarke, and it has never appeared to me that its evidence has been [25/26] in any degree weakened by the exceptions made to it by more recent authors, who are insensible of its value from the want of that metaphysical discernment, and thorough mastery of the subject, by which he was most eminently distinguished.
The view of space and duration, which we have above exhibited, will enable us to detect the fallacy of the following observations upon that subject: "Such a practical annihilation was involved in the appearance of Christ to St. Paul on his conversion." What are we to think of such an assertion as this? Had the annihilation of space any thing to do with this remarkable transaction, any more than the appearance of a meteor would have had--the only difference between them consisting in the circumstance, that the one was supernatural, and the other would have been natural? The miracles implied in this case were the appearance of a light above the brightness of the sun, and the sound of a voice addressing the Apostle, and announcing the presence of that Jesus whom he was persecuting, in the persons of his followers. But does any one suppose, that all these phenomena could not have been exhibited by the Saviour as God, as was the burning bush to Moses, in any part of space, and at any time he chose, without the necessity of his leaving the throne of heaven in his exalted human form, and meeting the Apostle on his journey from Jerusalem to Damascus? And why in regard to such an event suggest an annihilation of space! Sight, for certain purposes, annihilates space! At the conversion of St. Paul, such an annihilation is implied! In what way? What is implied in such a phrase? the beautiful organ of vision performs wonders by bringing distant objects within our sphere of perception or knowledge, and may justly be said to surmount the obstacle which distance presents to our correspondence with remote objects enables us at a glance to traverse wastes and wildernesses, to scale mountains, and even span the heavens. Without the use of this noble sense, our converse with Nature's works would be extremely limited and arduous. But, who ever heard before of its annihilating space, except by strong figures of poetry? And in the present case, the author cannot intend any figurative application of the term, for this would not suit the purpose of his argument. He obviously intends to say, that Christ upon this occasion actually and literally opened heaven, destroyed the distance between himself and earth, and thereby brought himself in a flood of glory into the immediate presence of the Apostle. Should we imagine, that a writer, in the slightest degree skilled in science, could have broached such an absnrdity and impossibility? And what renders this attempt to vitiate the divinity of our church, in order to pollute our altar with this nondescript figure of a real presence, sometimes a spirit, and at others a material [26/27] body and blood, still more ill-advised and exceptionable in this Oxford fraternity, is, that no such absurdity as this with which we are now contending is at all necessary, even to the attainment of their own end. There are more rational methods by which to introduce this phantom presence to the holy table than that of supposing an annihilation of space. Were they acquainted with the maxims of science, they would know, that although the identical form in which He sits at the right hand of God cannot occupy two places at the same time, yet by virtue of his omnipotence. He could transfer at his pleasure as efficacious a form of himself as is requisite to all pious purposes, and as should be suitable to his wisdom. This is the train of thought, not of argument, by which the Papist supports his transubstantiation; and it is more natural and plausible than that by which the Tractists uphold their doctrine. He supposes that by miraculous power, the substances of bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ: and had our author maintained, that by the same exertion of omnipotence, the glorified body of Christ is produced at the altar, he might not have improved his theory in any of its leading principles, or relieved it from monstrous absurdity; but, at all events, he would have relieved himself from all that obscure reasoning and mystical speculation, relative to time and space. While he was feeding his readers with the diet of miracles and mysteries, he should have recollected that no dramas of that name are now represented upon the stage, and that the public taste for them has declined; and in consequence, he should have been as solicitous as possible not to overload their stomachs with that indigestible kind of provisions. It is a good old rule of Horace, Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus inciderit; the substance of which is, do not unnecessarily multiply miracles in your poems. Surely, then, this should not be done in prose productions. He did not, therefore, act well the part of the philosopher, when he undertook the annihilation of space. It was a work of pure supererogation, and he might have conducted his drama from the beginning to the end without it; besides that, its practical performance would occasion the most tremendous convulsion that nature ever sustained. But he seems never to have thought of the fearful disorganization of the World which is implied in the process of his annihilation of space.
Before I dismiss this topic, allow me, Mr. Newman, in order fully to unfold and illustrate your scheme, to state the whole miraculous operation, which it presupposes at every celebration of the holy communion. You imagine the body and blood of Christ to be present at the Eucharist really, though not locally. Now, at what moment are we to suppose this presence to take place? You mean, I [27/28] presume, that Christ makes his supernatural appearance after the consecration of the elements by the clergyman; for previous to that period, the bread and wine are in no respects different from other substances of the same kinds. The act of consecration, then, "opens the heavens," and brings down Christ from thence, or induces Him to annihilate the space between heaven and earth, and make a mysterious appearance under the form of bread and wine. What prodigious effects must be produced by the simple act of consecration by a priest? No such tremendous power can be exerted elsewhere upon this earth. Well might it, as the Romanists affirmed of their priests who had the prerogative of transubstantiation, elevate the clerical order above emperors, kings, presidents, and all the highest civil potentates of this earth. Upon this plan, if the clergyman does not form his god, as was the boast of popes, he is supposed, by a sort of magical incantation, to summon Him to the altar; and ought, indubitably, to fall upon his knees and worship Him. Should there not be adoration where there is a peculiar and miraculous presence of its object? Upon this scheme, I would venture to predict that the worship of the mass, Corpus-Christi days, elevations of the host, and all that ecclesiastical trumpery, abomination and idolatry, which follow in their train, would soon return upon us in full circle. Can it be, that the writer of this last tract does not foresee these results? If he does not, he is a most dangerous friend to our Church; if he does, a most insidious enemy.
But upon this point, Mr. N., allow me, in sober sadness, to address to you an argumentum ad judicium. What advantage would be gained to morals or religion, to virtue or piety, by the change you are attempting in the doctrine of our Church, relative to the holy communion? All Protestants believe that Christ, as God, is present at the altar, and that the bread and wine which are partaken at the supper, by the act of consecration, are taken out of their natural condition, and converted into lively symbols, representatives or memorials of his body and blood. They believe, moreover, that through them, as the signs of sacred objects, they hold pious converse with God, while through them, as the channel or ordinance of his own appointment, the Saviour conveys to them all the benefits of redemption. What more would, or could be obtained by the conception and belief that under cover of the elements there is a real bodily presence of the Saviour? It is certain, that none can be conceived that are honorable to our nature, and not besmeared with superstition; and after mature reflection, I am constrained to apprehend that the only possible motive which could have induced you and your fraternity to labor so strenuously towards the adulteration of [28/29] our doctrines and corruption of our worship, is the same that led in the Romish Church to the introduction of transubstantiation, auricular confession, the refusal of the cup to the laity, plenary absolution, purgatory, and the supremacy and infallibility of the pope: or of the pope and his councils; and that motive is, the undue aggrandizement of the priesthood. It would so elevate the clerical office in he estimation of the ignorant and credulous, to have it believed that the priesthood can still perform miracles, form their God at the altar, as Romanists maintain--or what is tantamount to that, bring him down in person to the very senses of his people; grant them full remission of their sins, and save them from penances imposed upon them here, and their eternal penalties hereafter; become the infallible interpreters to them of the word of God; and finally, subject both the souls and bodies of men to ecclesiastical control. I should greatly regret entertaining against any man an unjust suspicion, and feel the utmost abhorrence at uttering an unfounded accusation; but upon a careful perusal of this last production, after having examined, with no little solicitude, the previous numbers, from their obvious connection with the best interests of my Church, I must be excused for the avowal, that I find in this whole plan of pretended revival of ancient catholicity, not only popish tendencies, but popish tendencies arising not out of pious but worldly motives. But even admitting that the sole motive which operates upon the mind of this writer and his associates be the revival of a more fervent devotion and active piety in the Church, they may be assured that by soiling their new doctrines with the tincture, and, I may say, a deep infusion of popish heresies, they have defeated their purpose, and blighted their enterprise in the bud. They have come too late into the world to succeed in spreading the shades of ignorance over the human mind with which it was so long obscured, besotted and debased, and mankind will not be again compelled to bond their necks under the galling yoke of superstition. To the living and true God I have always found them disposed to yield a rational homage, the more they were enlightened by science and humanized by refinement; and this tendency will always secure to an honest and intelligent clergy all the attentions, influence, respect and veneration, they ought to desire. A blind reverence and superstitious devotion to the mere character and offices of the priesthood, separate from its virtues, its utility, and its beneficial influence, and an irrational confidence of salvation, derived from the efficacy of mere external rites and ceremonies, which is to supply the place of the moral virtues, and of those pious affections which form the bond of charities that adorn and sweeten human life, and enliven the [29/30] intercourses of mankind, have been tried, and found baneful through many centuries; and we trust in heaven their gloomy reign will never be again restored. We protestant clergymen covet no influence among mankind but that which tends to their peace and happiness in this world and the next.
We return to our strictures, and find that we have still to prevent our author's practical annihilations of space; achievements which we have shown to be impossible even to omnipotence, since the very definition of omnipotence is, that it can perform all things possible. "Such a practical annihilation was involved in the doctrine of Christ's ascension. To speak according to the ideas of space and time commonly received, what must have been the rapidity of that motion by which, within ten days, he placed our human nature at the right hand of God? Is it more mysterious that he should "open the heavens," to use the scripture phrase, in the sacramental rite; that he should then dispense with time and space, in the sense in which they are daily dispensed with in the sun's warming us at the distance of a hundred thousand miles, than that he should have dispensed with them on occasion of his ascending on high? He who showed what was the passage of an incorruptible body ere it had reached God's throne, thereby suggests to us what maybe its coming back and presence with us now, when at length glorified and become spirit." In a series of numbers, published under circumstances before stated, I formerly animadverted upon this representation of that annihilation of space which is supposed to have taken place at the ascension of Christ. We here see the same event recurred to in a similar strain, and the same errors and absurdities are repealed. The theology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy, comprised in the passage are equally erroneous. First, as to his theology, he is strangely deficient: He discovers great difficulty in conceiving that Christ, at his ascension, could have passed from earth to heaven in ten days; and in order to solve it, concludes that he must have annihilated the space between them. Let us reflect upon this sage solution. The apostles, while "gazing up into heaven," saw their Lord ascend and a cloud receive him out of their sight. We are no where told that he was ten days on his passage, but this writer assumes it as fact; and supposes that, to make good his ascent in that short lime was impossible, and he must have annihilated the space between heaven and earth. But if the space was annihilated, surely there was none to traverse, not even as far as from the apostles to the clouds. If there was no distance or space to be traversed, there was no ascent. Therefore, our author, by his attempt to magnify and render more miraculous this great event, has actually [30/31] destroyed it. The plain theologian, who judges of the transaction by the dictates of common sense and sound understanding, presumes that Christ's ascent, under the immediate vision of his chosen witnesses, was not so much from the necessity of mounting in the air in order to reach heaven--for to the Saviour that could be found every where, as in accommodation to our limited nature and perceptions. It was to finish the evidence of his divine mission. We are no where informed in Scripture, whether heaven be near or remote from us; and as God is omnipresent, and wherever He resides a heaven may be disclosed to any creature at his pleasure, surely there can be no need of imagining a long distance to be crossed by Christ before he could reach it. And if we suppose, as the holy word intimates and seems to imply, and what science deems probable, that there is one peculiar place within infinite space in which Divine Majesty chooses to reside and display his highest glories, who is to determine whether that be remote from our planet or in its immediate vicinity? Our author, then, perplexes himself and readers with most frivolous difficulties with regard to this great event, then resolves them all by supposing an annihilation of space, which is impossible; and which, could it be accomplished, would annihilate the ascension itself. Thus we see the profundity of his theology.
Let us attend, for a moment, to his metaphysics: He cannot imagine Christ to pass from earth to heaven in ten days, and concludes that he must have annihilated the distance between them. Now, had he comprehended the maxims of that deep and noble science, he would have seen, that while his annihilation is impossible, it is perfectly certain, that an all-perfect being may transport any body to any distance in immensity, not only within ten days, but within any time conceivable by the human imagination. There are no limits to infinite power, when exerted upon objects included within its legitimate sphere of action. And this is what, doubtless, is meant, when, in that blessed volume, which we find more replete with wisdom the more we dive into the depths of sound science, it is declared, that to God all things are possible; that is to say, all things that are objects upon which power can be exerted. He cannot make two and two equal to five, or the three angles of a triangle equal to three right angles, or annihilate space and duration; but He can move bodies with infinite velocity from one place to another in immensity. The inconceivable velocity of light may serve, in some degree, as an illustration of this proposition, and a proof of it from analogy. Were heaven, therefore, as remote as this author conceives, beyond the fixed stars or the remotest regions we can [31/32] fancy, the true metaphysician would find no difficulty at all in the ascension of Christ, on account of any velocity presupposed in his motion. He might be present in heaven and at the altar in the same instant if he chose; but during the time, say the infinitely limited time he remained below, he certainly could not also occupy his seat at the right hand of God; for our Article speaks as sound philosophy as divinity when it asserts, that his natural body, cannot occupy two places at the same time, however instantaneous that time may be.
Finally, we must not omit a passing notice of our author's natural philosophy: "That he should then dispense with time and space, iu the sense in which they are daily dispensed with in the sun's warming us, at the distance of an hundred millions of miles." Does any one understand this? Does natural philosophy or common sense teach us, that time and space are dispensed with in the passage of the sun's rays from his own orb to the earth? Is not the velocity of the rays of light ascertained by exact calculations, as well as the time in which they pass to the earth from the great luminary that emits them? If our mere perception of the sun's light and warmth annihilates the distance between him and us, the labors of Newton and his colleagues would have been superseded, in calculating the magnitudes and distances of the heavenly bodies, and ascertaining the laws of the planetary system. Does not the planetary system itself exist in space, and would it not be included in its annihilation?
Having now, we trust, sufficiently sifted the proofs which are offered by this writer in support of his capital doctrine, and exposed their fallacy to the inspection of the least discerning among my readers, I cannot but feel assured, that any further toil upon my part is superseded, and that a more detailed examination of the remaining doctrines cannot be necessary to shake his credit in the Church, and check the progress of his dangerous innovations. It is with extreme regret and disappointment that I have seen such a spurious and offensive divinity, issued from a quarter which has been hitherto celebrated for its sound orthodoxy, and its devoted attachment to the Protestant faith, as well as the number of divines whom it has sent forth from its retreats to enlighten and adorn the Church. It is difficult to form an adequate conception of the motives which could have led to this most unexpected and anomalous movement at Oxford, and it seems to have poured so rapid a tide of publications upon the community in England as to have perplexed and amazed their understandings, and confused their minds with a mixture of conflicting emotions. Scarcely knowing whether they [32/33] should approve or condemn, applaud or execrate, yet anxious about the issue, this uncertainty and perturbation of feeling have held them in a state of suspense and inaction, awaiting the recurrence of some decisive event or incident, which should change their doubts into certainty, and enable them from a full survey and comprehension of the case, to adopt such measures us would furnish a remedy for the evils brought upon the Church, and check the progress of those opinions which menaced its future tranquillity, and tended to the corruption of its faith and worship. This is the only satisfactory solution which I am able to furnish for the long continued supine-ness and singular inactivity of the bishops, clergy and leading laymen, during the protracted operation of these heretical and dangerous publications.
It appears from a recent publication of one of the contributors to the Tracts, that the whole of these operations, which have been extended through several years, originated in a studied and regularly adjusted plan, which some persons denominated a conspiracy; the purpose of which was to produce a revolution in the Church, in regard to its principles and practices. And if we are to credit the author of the last number, in his letter to Dr. Jelf, this change was intended to promote, as he avers, "that progress of the religious mind in the community which, he thinks, has been perceptible, towards something deeper and truer in religion than satisfied the last century; something which should give free scope to the feelings of awe, mystery, tenderness, reverence, devotedness, and other feelings which may especially be termed catholic." And astonishing to relate! he descries the witnesses or evidences of this tendency in the writings of Scott, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Irving, and recognizes this complex spirit of piety only in the Church of Rome!! Placidis coëant immitia; serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni. After this frank declaration, like a beam of light springing out of the darkness in which these writers have so long enveloped themselves and their purposes, is there anyone, whose understanding is not utterly impenetrable to the force of light, that can deny their popish tendencies? Are they not at length proclaimed by this writer upon the house tops? Is not the banner of Rome fairly unfurled? Will any one tell me, that a clergyman of our Church, whose attachment to her is not cooling, and whose affections towards her distinctive principles are not verging in another direction, will dare to accuse her simple, beautiful and sublime formulas of worship, of a deficiency in genuine devotion and deep and vital piety; and discover a preference in these respects to the cold, heartless and sensual worship of the Church of Rome? Men may labor as earnestly as [33/34] they please, to save themselves from the consequences of an open avowal of popery, and their countenancers and abettors may endeavor to shelter themselves from the same charge by the simulated pretexts, that they are no champions of the Oxford Tractists; that those Tracts contain many passages which they do not approve that they are not pledged to support all that they have promulged, and other like equivocations, which might have passed as valid pleas in the outset; but, if since the publication of the ninetieth number those authors do not immediately tender an explicit and unequivocal retractation of their errors, and their apologists persist in the same estimation of their works, in palliating their faults and blemishes, their errors, heresies and absurdities, and recommending them to the approbation, confidence and pious perusal of others; whatever either party may allege to the contrary, they are in heart, soul and inward principle and purpose, in favor of a modified popery. They secretly desire that our doctrines should imbibe a tincture from the corrupt fountain of Trent; that our rites and formulas of worship, should receive an infusion through popish strainers; and that our ecclesiastical government should have its colors reflected from the triple diadem. Such persons would gladly behold the priesthood aggrandized by the new dignity which would be conferred upon them, through the doctrines of transubstantiation, of purgatory, of auricular confession, of plenary absolution, by an infallible church, and an overshadowing hierarchy. Let the patriots of our country, philanthropists, and the votaries of liberty and equal laws, beware of clergymen, who are in the slightest degree infected with the plague of popery. Lafayette, the good and great, and the greatest in his goodness, is said to have declared, that if ever the United States lost their liberty, it would be through the influence and agency of the Romish priests. By repeating this declaration, supposing it well authenticated, and I presume it is, it is far from my intention to awaken any unreasonable prejudices against that order of men. They have had, in all ages, a proportion of divines and pulpit orators, who have approved themselves ornaments to their holy profession, and among the most illustrious in talents, learning and zeal. No doubt they have them still; and in our country, many of them are highly and deservedly esteemed and venerated. But their position in their Church is unfavorable to the growth of those principles and virtues which fit them to become citizens of a free republic, while they retain their connection with the papal throne, and are compelled to execute the mandates of a despot. Freemen as they are, and able at their pleasure to dissolve the ties that bind them to this foreign potentate, how can they endure their present [34/35] bondage? Let the many excellent men who are found among then! resolve to claim their unalienable rights, and enjoy the freedom which the Saviour bestowed, and form an ecclesiastical establishment of their own, and they will no longer be compelled to submit to the nod and toil in the aggrandizement of a foreign sovereign the spirit of whose hierarchy is in deadly enimity to that of the government under which they live. Until they separate from Rome, and become detached from despotic sway, they cannot feel a genuine and ardent attachment to our free institutions; and should those Tractists succeed in circulating their works, and introducing their principles among our clergy and people, the prediction of La Fayette, who must have known them well, might hasten towards its fulfilment. Certain it is, that tyranny may as stealthily and as rapidly creep upon a nation slumbering in a confidence of its safety, through the portals of the Church, as through the avenues of the state. Heaven guard my country against its approaches and invasions, from whatever quarter it may come!
There is something absolutely ludicrous in Mr. N.'s reference to his philosophers and poets, as witnesses to the aspirations of the public after this deeper and truer religion, which during the past century has been discoverable in no communion but the Romish! Sir Walter Scott, we presume, were he living, would find himself rather awkwardly situated with an assembly of grave divines; but if they desired a large supply of smoke to season their mystical divinity, Coleridge has collected in his prose writings an immense importation from Germany, which, added to his ample stock on hand, might cover their most enormous demands. Should the resources of poetry be put in requisition, to promote this Romish devotion, Words-worth could furnish them an abundance, or even a superabundance, of that species of song which gives striking evidence by its lispings, that the "child was father of this man," and this man never grew to maturity of understanding; and as to Mr. Irving, they would obtain in him a powerful auxiliary, if they were in pursuit of a divinity which had caught a nervous fever, was in a state of delirium or absolutely mad. But, after all that can be said, however, I rather think it would be an ill-advised step to restore the poets to their ancient profession of modelling a religion for mankind, so long after the term of their commission has expired; more especially when we reflect, that they then approved themselves such wretched bunglers at the trade, and were authoritatively excluded by Plato from his imaginary republic, in resentment against those very propensities, which still adhere to their nature and form the leading characteristics in their handy work; their excessive fondness for fiction, [35/36] which one of the fathers denominates the wine of devils, and their proneness to foster and promote superstition, which might as aptly be called the meat and bread of those devils. I should as soon look to Carlyle for a model of writing in prose, as to Coleridge for any lessons in philosophy, Wordsworth for specimens of poetry, or to Irving for eloquence in the pulpit. Our principles of religion would be vastly more safe in the hands of Barrow, Clarke, Stillingfleet, Tillotson, Butler, Warburton, Paley, and a long list of names, the most venerable and illustrious, and who have a right to high authority in the republic of Letters. Did these Oxford co-mates and brothers in theology expect to improve the divinity and piety of their establishment by a larger infusion into them of popish errors, heresies and corruptions? Did they expect, that an age which enjoyed the lights shed from the works of that long list of divines who succeeded our Reformers would tolerate such a declension and degeneracy in doctrines, practices and formulas of worship? If they did, they are certainly most egregiously mistaken, as much so as was Charles the Tenth of France and his infatuated minister, when they attempted to revive, in that renovated country, the obsolete despotism of Louis the Fourteenth. The very attempt in both cases was the extreme of folly, or madness, or both. They may depend upon it, that Protestants will never again allow Lord Peter to play his old pranks among them, to bend their necks under his galling yoke, or delude them with his artifices of pious fraud, legerdemain and wonder-working. They will not a second time be so duped and besotted, as to behold him, with patience, locking up their father's will in his private chest, imposing upon them his brown loaf for beef, veal, plum-pudding, and partridge; sending forth his prancing and roaring bulls to terrify and filch them; or palming upon them as arable land, and a productive soil, that great southern continent of his, which they know to exist only upon paper, and to be no bettor than a South-Sea bubble, to empty their pockets of their gold, and wring their hearts with disappointed hopes. At this late day, they are too well versed in the tricks of this great impostor, to be again caught in his snares, or deceived by his glozing pretensions.
But, to resume that seriousness and solemnity which the subject imperiously demands, and my spontaneous feelings dictate. I do regard this movement at Oxford, whatever may have been its origin and intent, as one of the most disastrous events that could have befallen, not only the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in this country, but the interests of the whole protestant world, which are the interests of Christianity and the human race. Will anyone who [36/37] has a particle of discernment deny, that this very attempt, fail as it soon will and must, is calculated to inspire with new hopes and augmented presumption that domineering power at Rome, which is the deadly enemy of human liberty, and which is ever actively engaged in subverting all that is great and good, and most valuable among the nations? Can any one fail to perceive, in the late transactions relative to these tracts, the vigilance, alertness, and persevering diligence of that gloomy potentate at Rome, and his restless minions, in guarding his dominions from attack and invasion, and extending their limits by new conquests? The Papacy is now, and has been for many centuries, the evil genius of the world, and its perpetual tormentor, the malignant demon, who incessantly goeth about seeking whom he may destroy, who will compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he has gained him, will be sure to bind him in the bonds of a superstition and delusion which render him a fit instrument to accomplish the purposes of that twofold despotism, which alike fastens its fatal grasp both upon the bodies and souls of men. Ever since the era of the glorious reformation, when the world was delivered from worse than Egyptian slavery, Protestantism has been gradually advancing, like a bright and shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; but alas! these mistaken sons of this renovated Church have exerted their utmost endeavours to dim and intercept the rays of this heavenly luminary, that was bearing on its beams the selectest influences, to enlighten, heal, and fructify the nations. How could educated men, a number of students, and students of divinity, whose province it was to become conversant with the history of man, and more especially of the Church of Christ; who had traced the rise, progress, and final consummation of the papal power; who had become familiar with all its abominations, excesses, atrocities, murders, assassinations, with its excommunication of kingdoms, its dethronement of sovereigns, its interdicts fulminated against whole nations, its inquisitions and holy brotherhoods, the butchers of their brethren, bearing on their commissions the seal and signature of the Prince of peace and Saviour of the world; how could men of sense and virtue, with all these horrid objects crowding on their memories, and firine; their souls with sacred indignation, ever consent, I will not say to become the instruments of increase to such a scourge of their race, but to take any measures which, by the greatest indirection and remotest consequences, could give it countenance or augment its strength? I could pour out my soul in tears of regret and bitterness at this lamentable infatuation, if they would obliterate this stain from the sacred sanctuary of my Church. I have now lived many years, amidst stirring times and remarkable changes and [37/38] revolutions, in the affairs of men; old dynasties have fallen, and new ones risen from their ruins; long established hierarchies have been crumbled into dust, and events followed events that have touched every nerve of sensibility in the heart, and alternately roused them to rage, or melted them to tenderness; but never have I been witness to an event that I more sincerely and deeply deplore, and could more cordially wish had never transpired, or that its ill effects could be speedily and effectually corrected. If during my life, now drawing towards its close, events have occurred which were most disastrous and saddening to the bosom, one alleviation at least has hitherto attended them, and assuaged the misery they occasioned; which was the reflection, that they accelerated the progress of mankind towards an amelioration of their condition, towards liberality of thought and sentiment, civil and religious freedom, and advancement in the arts and sciences, and promoted every object that can exalt and humanize our race. This recent religious movement, however, is a retreat from light into darkness, a step towards the desertion of the true God and a contamination of ourselves with idolatries, the commencement of an apostacy from the pure faith, an attempt to soil our holy altar with foul superstitions, a preference of bondage to liberty, and a return from a vision of the promised land and prelibations of its enjoyment, to the humiliations, debasements, and sufferings of Egypt. May heaven itself interpose its mighty arm, and save us from the effects of our own folly and fatuity!
From considerations which have been already stated, and innumerable others that crowd upon the memory, I must be allowed to express, however reluctantly, the sincere regret, awakened in my mind, by the perusal of the address delivered by the Bishop of New York to the late convention of that diocese. I cannot but be of opinion, whatever may be his abstract right, that upon that occasion he very inopportunely and ill-advisedly broke the silence he had hitherto maintained upon the subject of these Oxford Tracts; inasmuch as this is done, at the very moment in which the bishops and clergy of England are awakened to a just estimation of their character and tendency, and taking all measures they can devise to discourage their circulation and check their injurious influence. But what is as surprising as unexpected, this bishop does not content himself with the mere public expression of his approbation of these writings, a privilege refused him by no one, although a high honor to be conferred upon performances against which capital charges have been brought and well sustained, and which are, at this moment, repeated by the ablest clergymen in England; but seriously and earnestly recommends them to the careful perusal of both clergy and laity; and not [38/39] only so, but broadly declares, that "there is a loud, imperious, and extensive call among serious and reflecting minds in both branches of the Church, that a patient and unbiassed hearing should be given those good men." In the name of all that is venerable in theology, and interesting and impressive in our religious worship, from what source is derived this imperious call among clergymen and laymen, to peruse these Oxford writings? Have these writers broached any new and important truths, or strengthened and confirmed old ones by more cogent arguments and apt illustrations? Have they unfolded any unknown evidences of our holy faith, thrown additional lights upon the sacred volume, or more ably vindicated divine revelation from the assaults of infidelity, and the cavils of a sceptical erudition? Is there a single doctrine or truth of Christianity which their researches have rendered more luminous than before, or any topic discussed with any thing like the ability and skill which had been displayed by their predecessors upon the same point? Will any one so far hazard his own reputation for taste and learning as to assert, that they will stand in competition, or rather will not sink into diminution, when compared with the works of those divines who, for centuries past, have supplied the Church with an abundance of sound and approved divinity? The fact is, there is not a single disquisition in the Tracts from the hands of these writers which has not been superseded by a better upon the same subject, already in possession of the learned and pious of our communion. All these interrogatories and observations are founded upon the most favorable views of these Oxford writings, and supposing the principles inculcated in them innocent and unobjectionable, surcharged as they are with a crude and spurious divinity. Let us next contemplate them under the offensive aspect, and as liable to the exceptions of error, heresy and superstition, and we shall see what proper objects they are of warm recommendation and high panegyrics. Does the Bishop of New York desire to have our people believe, and our clergy promulge from their pulpits, the doctrines, that there is a real presence, a presence of Christ's natural body and blood in the Eucharist; that the bishop or priest forms his God at the holy table, or what is equivalent to that tenet, brings him down to it, and presents Him under shadow of the outward elements, and, of course, ought to adore that present deity? Does he wish that Episcopalian clergymen should commence the inculcation of a purgatory, or purifying fire, through which Christians must pass at the last day to cleanse them from their sins, prior to their entrance into their heavenly rest? Would he have them proclaim, that priests are invested with the prerogatives of imposing upon the faithful penances for their sins, and at their [39/40] pleasure grant them pardons, indulgences and plenary absolutions? Does he wish to hear our venerable reformers calumniated, and the great work which they accomplished undervalued and disparaged, while high encomiums are bestowed upon the unity, universality, and claims to infallibility of the Romish Church? In fine, would this worthy bishop take pleasure in offering prayers for the dead, in the invocation of saints and angels, adoration of the virgin Mary, in paying veneration to images and relics, celebrating masses; and, in a word, translating our Church to a condition, from which she would speedily and inevitably be borne, by an irresistible current of sentiment, into all the superstitions, idolatries and abominations of papal Rome?
But the Bishop may reply, and in fact has done so, either explicitly or implicitly, that these tenets are not justly attributed to the Tractists; and that, at any rate, he has qualified his approbation of them by the caveat, "that he is not the pledged and indiscriminating approver or advocate of their works." As to the first plea I answer, that I am prepared to show, by what I deem incontestable evidence, the validity of all these charges; but at the same time hold myself ready to lend a willing ear to any defences he may put forth in their behalf. It is earnestly to be desired, that if these works are to be read at his recommendation, by the members of our communion, and as sound and standard productions upon divinity to be piously digested, that part of our clergy and laity who have imbibed impressions of their papistical character, should be undeceived and convinced that their prepossessions are unfounded, and that when rightly interpreted, no valid exceptions can be raised against them. This is a course of proceeding which would be more suited to the nature of the conjuncture, and more consonant to the dignity of the Episcopal chair, than simply to remain contented with verbal disclaimers of their popery, and taking these authors at their words, in direct contrariety to their doctrines, issue forth ex cathedra, earnest appeals and recommendations to the whole flock of Christ in their behalf. Not a single advocate of these writings has ever yet uttered a solitary argument, worthy a moment's consideration, tending to exculpate them from the charge of popery; and all their attempts at vindication of them have been confined to the humble task of quoting and repeating their own denials of the accusations, together with the feeble efforts they have made to show that our Church, for centuries past, and in the hands of the ablest divines who ever lived to enlighten her divinity, and animate her piety with genuine fervors, has been deviating from the catholic faith, and that their principles, forsooth, amount to true catholicity. Let us see that their tenets may be fairly vindicated and sustained, and we have [40/41] every inclination to receive them; for truth, from whatever source it may flow, is as delightful to the mind as light is to the eye.
As to the second plea of our worthy Bishop, that he is not the "pledged and indiscriminating approver or advocate of these Oxford writers," the answer is very obvious, and, in my estimation, very important; why then recommend their works to the serious perusal of Church people? Would he have them read and digest productions, portions of which are tinged, and I venture to affirm, deeply infected with the leprosy of papistical principles? What! recommend them to drink a cup which contains poisonous ingredients? Is it necessary that the whole compound should be poison to produce fatal effects] Besides, are there not works in abundance, upon divinity and practical piety, and those infinitely better composed, of which a chief pastor of our Church might become the unqualified advocate and ardent panegyrist? Our clergy and laity have no superfluous time to devote to the perusal of pious treatises and performances in sacred literature, and why not strive to induce them, when occupied in this task, to confine their reading to those unexceptionable productions which shall cultivate a correct taste, enlighten their minds with solid knowledge, and infuse into their hearts an unadulterated and rational piety; none of which things are done by these recent publications. I certainly should not envy that taste and intelligence, nor even the piety, which would allure a student to spend his time in poring over these pieces, when he was thereby deprived of the satisfaction, and of that high exercise of his noblest faculties, which he would find in digesting the works of Barrow, Taylor, Clarke, Stillingfleet, Tillotson, Butler, and Warburton. Prom such fountains as these last, our young divines will derive that nourishment of their intellects and moral feelings which will render them masters of reason, ornaments of their sacred profession, and able expounders of the word of God. I have seen encomiums pronounced upon these Oxford writers, both in England and in this country, which have excited great surprise in my mind, who have formed my taste almost solely upon the great models of Greece, Rome, England and France; the two last in the ages of Anne and of Louis Fourteenth. Either these writers are false models, or the Tractists do not merit the praises which have been lavished upon them. Can that be properly honored with the name of learning which is confined to the most meagre and barren portion of it, lately denominated patristical literature, to the exclusion of those richer supplies of thought derived from modern philosophers and our standard writers? I think it has been clearly shown, that the author of this last Tract is entirely unskilled in modern science, and [41/42] without that, all other learning would not only be valueless, but might egregiously mislead us. If we return to the fathers of the Church to seek instructors and guides in divinity, we surely ought also to fall back into the philosophy of the peripatetics and the metaphysics of Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus, for all these must hang or fall together. These gentlemen of Oxford are welcome to their choice of works, upon which they are to model their taste, principles and habits of thinking. I claim only the privilege of following my own taste, and exerting myself to the utmost to induce my whole Church to think with me.
There are other positions in this Episcopal address to the New-York Convention, to which I feel myself impelled to reply, by the strongest motives that ought to operate upon the human mind, no less than the duties which I owe to God and man. The account given by the Bishop of the comparative situation and growth of Protestantism and Popery, at the present day, I regard as not only fallacious and entirely mistaken, but as calculated to produce an effect highly discreditable and injurious to the former. He is speaking of some mysterious agency, not very perspicuously displayed, which "in the present aspect of things in the spiritual world, calls us, with especial emphasis, to diligence and assiduity," and which I should imagine denotes the influence which produced the late movement at Oxford, had he not in the next and following sentences characterized it as a "spirit of inquiry, which has been roused, set in extensive action, and brought seriously home to the consciences of some of the wisest and holiest men of the Church in our day; which will not admit of being disregarded or lightly met, and which cannot be averted." There must be a great scarcity of wisdom in the Church, if these Oxford writers are entitled to the praise of being her wisest men; and as to the encomium bestowed upon them of being some of her holiest, I should be sorry to detract from any one an iota of his real worth; but I must be allowed to declare, that neither my understanding nor moral feelings lead me to entertain much respect for that kind of piety which permits the writer of number ninety to subscribe our articles of faith, or under the solemnity of an oath or affirmation, openly avow his belief in them, when so much evasion, subterfuge, equivocation, prevarication and perversion, are required to harmonize them with his real sentiments. And, moreover, in regard to the other sentiments conveyed in this address, never could there be a more egregious misnomer than to designate this Oxford movement as exhibiting a spirit of inquiry. It would be more aptly denominated a spirit of disinquiry, an attempt to unravel the whole web of [42/43] sound divinity and of solid science, which it cost the labors of ages, and that by the ablest hands, to weave; an effort to unlearn what the prosecutors of knowledge had attained, or to make a retrograde march from light to darkness. Tillotson and his illustrious predecessors, contemporaries and successors, aroused a true spirit of inquiry, made large advances towards enlightening the age in which he lived, improving the theology and morality of the Church, and cleansing her holy sanctuary from the rubbish which had been accumulated into it during the dark ages. But these Oxonians have pursued a directly opposite course. They have disparaged the efforts of reason, though legitimately exorcised, in matters of revelation; deprecated an application to science to assist in solving the mysteries of faith, and discovered a decided preference of the wild and crude divinity of the fathers, as well as their blind and implicit belief without examination, and their fondness for the marvellous, the miraculous and incredible. Do such writers deserve the credit of having awakened a spirit of inquiry? This spirit arose at the time of the Reformation, and its illapses wore imbibed in larger effusions in the days of Barrow, Tillotson, and that bright constellation of divines to whom we have so repeatedly referred. In their times, that voice of inquiry was heard which made the incumbent of the triple crown tremble upon his throne, and fearfully admonished him, that his days of greatness and spiritual domination were numbered, he and his iniquitous hierarchy, with its fulminations of wrath, its interdicts, its inquisitions, its infernal brood of holy brotherhoods, had been weighed in the balances of heaven and found wanting. Among Protestants, and Protestants only, is found the spirit of inquiry and unrestrained liberty of virtuous thought and moral action; while the efforts of the Tractists tend again to smother it, and bring about the former stupid and dreary reign of silence and stagnation.
But, says our Bishop of this spirit of inquiry or disinquiry: "it must go on." I trust in Providence it will not, lest it should carry us back to the slumberings, dreamings and debasing vices of monks and hermits in the dark ages. "For good or ill, it will exert a most controlling influence." In this prediction, I cannot acquiesce, as I am confident it will soon be checked and quelled by the taste, intelligence and rational piety of the age, and the wholesome influence of Protestantism. "It seems to have been started by what forced itself upon good and reflecting men as evidently a failure of tremendous import in the Protestant enterprise." He asserts afterwards, "That the papal apostacy, in the estimation of many sound, intelligent and good minds, becoming even stronger in its [43/44] consolation, and putting forth renewed energies, and displaying increased success, is spreading its cause." The Protestant cause, then, has been recently declining, and even "met a tremendous failure," while the papal has been gaining strength, and advancing in its prosperity! This intelligence, too, is communicated to an enlightened assemblage of clergymen and laymen! It must have been strange and unexpected news to them; and if they had, as I am sure some had, adequate conceptions of its important bearings and portentous aspects towards the civil and religious liberties and advantages of their country and their race, most melancholy and afflictive. Is it, however, well authenticated information? Is the representation justified by the real facts? Certainly, I do not think so, but directly the reverse is the true picture of the ecclesiastical world. From what source has the learned Bishop derived this intelligence? I presume, only from the Tractists, and they confined the observation, when I read it, only to their own country and their immediate vicinity, not extending it to the continent of Europe, and having no reference to America. When reading their Tracts, I found them lamenting the progress of Romanism around them, acknowledging their inability to contend with the arguments of the champions that support it, and proposing a singular expedient to check its course; that of embracing the same or a similar faith, with a policy like that of the lady who marries her suiter to rid herself of his importunity. When reading the accounts given in these Tracts from which the Bishop has received this unfortunate impression, it appeared to me, that these writers were hazarding predictions about the growth of Romanism which they were resolved to do their best to fulfil. Wise men have remarked, in regard to the ancient pagan oracles, that their credit was partly sustained by the circumstance, that their predictions worked their own fulfilment, from the influence of superstition upon the minds of the people. Look at the late visit of Dr. Pusey to Dublin, and see whether he is not laboring hard towards the accomplishment of the prophecies he promulged in the Tracts, relative to the growth of popery, and the tendency of the age towards its deep, spiritual and reverential religion! Would we imagine, that a clergyman of the Church of England, who has been so long complaining that he was bespattered with false accusations of a tendency to popery, and who has received no small credit from his friends for the unmurmuring patience and imperturbable equanimity with which he sustained the grossest calumnies; would, with a reputation thus questioned and assailed, during his late stay in that Irish city, have so far given color to the imputations of his adversaries as to have spent a portion of his time in visiting [44/45] monasteries, nunneries, sisters of charity, and in a devout attendance upon Romish worship, and even joining with great cordiality and reverential awe in the sublime celebration of the mass 'i True, in his late defence of his conduct he alleges, that he could not unite with them in all the particulars of their sentiments and modes of worship, and by many apologies to his church, with his usual dexterity, he keeps on the windy side of ecclesiastical discipline, and saves his revenue from dilapidation. But the ecclesiastical functionaries in England will not discover their usual penetration, if they do not see through so thin a covering as this his popish propensities, and do not recognize in such men the most dangerous enemies in the disguise of friends. The Church of Rome will derive more advantages from such an amphibious catholic, than from hundreds of her most firm and zealous votaries. And in taking leave of the Doctor, he will allow me, in a spirit of perfect charity, to whisper in his ear the admonition, that there are some silent virtues and graces, upon which the Saviour sets a higher value than upon the most diligent and reverential attendance on the pompous solemnities of that external worship he witnessed in Dublin, Important as are these last, when rightly celebrated and improved, they are a body without a soul, if unattended by the former, which are their most inestimable fruits. The highest effort of Christianity is to form in the soul of man a delicate and scrupulous virtue, which shrinks from displays of vanity, and all obtrusive endeavors to gain notoriety; and, more especially, when that notoriety is purchased at the expense of casting a shade of doubt and "ominous conjecture" over our Christian character.
But to return to the subject immediately before us. It may be, that Romanism has gained some victories in England; and if so, I am heartily sorry for it, for it would be a decisive proof that she is declining in science, taste and literature, as well as religion; but heaven grant her better defenders against this barbarous inroad than her Oxford champions! But if there be any foundation for this Tractarian report, which its authors seem willing to verify, I have never, in all my reading, seen it confirmed by any other authority, even as relates to England; and most certain am I, that in regard to the Continents of Europe and America, directly the reverse is the fact. Protestantism is not on the wane in these countries, nor is popery in the ascendant. What! are Protestants losing ground, or have they lost ground, because, while at perfect unity in fundamental doctrines and objects of worship, they have separated into various sects or denominations upon minor points of faith and practice? This circumstance, however in some regards to be lamented, [45/46] may sometimes be a means of increase, as a variety of seeds cast into the soil produces a more abundant harvest. the Protestant faith, in this manner, accommodates itself to the diversity in the degrees of intelligence, in the prevailing opinions, prejudices, habits and manners of the people. The great mass of Protestants has had continual and vast accessions made to it at every age since the Reformation; and that these enlightened sons of the true Church have not wrought more extensive encroachments upon the papal dominions is to be ascribed, in part, to a culpable neglect and false policy in themselves, and, in a still greater degree, to the fierce intolerance, narrow bigotry and persecuting spirit of that detestable hierarchy which stickles at no expedients of injustice, cruelty and inhumanity to uphold its usurped authority, closes the door for ever against innovation and improvement, and silences the voice of inquiry by the terrors of excommunication, the tortures of the inquisition, and the fires of the stake. That Rome, however, instead of enjoying the good fortune of an ascendant star, was cast into a disastrous and fatal eclipse by the hands of the Reformers, has ever since been waning in her orb and sinking into the darkness of eternal night, is as certain as that France, during the past half century, has undergone a total change in the spirit of her monarchy, destroyed the papal supremacy within her dominions, and subverted its ecclesiastical tyranny; that Spain, Germany, Prussia, Portugal, and those nations formerly most submissive to the yoke of superstition, have been aroused from their lethargy of ages, and are making steady advances in liberal opinions and the principles of freedom. How long time is it, since we saw the pope humbled and subdued by Bonaparte, his power subverted, and the ecclesiastical fabric he had reared in France, shattered and destroyed; from which ruins it is impossible it should ever be restored to its former vigor? Look at the recent resistance made to his mandate by the Spanish Regency, and you will at once discover his lofty claims to temporal dominion, and a firm resolve in rulers to resist them. He may, indeed, be still nominally acknowledged in many countries, and enjoy the pageantry of authority, the shadow of supremacy, but his real and vital power has been palsied, and received most deadly wounds, or is confined solely to the priesthood, his sacred soldiers. All coercive influence of the Tiara, in many countries, is removed from the shoulders of the faithful at this time, and without this so weighty a fabric cannot be long upheld. Nothing but the unfaithfulness of Protestants to the interests of Christianity and mankind can preserve the papacy from speedy and irretrievable destruction! As to our country, there is no reason to believe that Romanism is advancing more [46/47] rapidly than is the result of its natural increase, and of those numerous emigrations from Europe which are crowding all churches with a foreign population; unless, indeed, there be grounds for the reports in circulation, of atrocious conspiracies engendered in Germany, against the liberties of this Republic, to be accomplished through the instrumentality of Romish missionaries. Such an enterprise, however, if detected, as it surely will be if its execution be attempted, will not only be defeated in its purpose, but lead to the utter subversion of their influence and character in this country.
From these and many other considerations, therefore, T strenuously maintain, that it is Protestantism, and not Popery, which is advancing by a steady, uniform and triumphant progress in this country and the world. What numbers are annually added to the various denominations of Protestants, who take their places in our ranks without noise or display, while a single convert, to Popery, with true Jesuitical cunning, is blazoned abroad, and turned adroitly to the benefit of a communion which stands in need of such artificial props to sustain its tottering structure. It is impossible that our rational faith should not, maintain a decided predominance among our intelligent and reflecting people. I perceive the Tractists lavishing encomiums upon the Romish Church for its unity, its universality, its intractable uniformity in faith, and its inflexible adherence to the same rules of discipline; but I have never yet been able to relish the beauty, or appreciate the benefits of hugging errors, fooleries and absurdities, with inextinguishable fondness, or guarding against the approaches of truth and expediency, with sleepless vigilance and unwearied perseverance. Protestantism rejoices in freedom of thought and action, and welcomes, with warm salutations, the visitations of truth, but she cannot be held responsible for the diversified sects into which her household has been divided. Was Christianity itself answerable for the errors and heresies which arose in the early Church? These differences of opinion have arisen out of that inestimable blessing of liberty which Protestants have purchased by their sufferings and much blood; and it would be as good reasoning to impeach the wisdom of the Creator, in bestowing freedom of choice upon mankind, on account of the abuses to which it has led, as lay to the charge of the reformation the variety of fanatical sects and absurd tenets which were its consequences, though not natural fruits. All Protestant denominations, however faulty in some features or details of their systems, are infinitely preferable to the Romish, because they not only embrace the leading doctrines of the Gospel, and enjoy a more rational worship, confining their adoration to the living God, but they leave mankind more liberty in the [47/48] cultivation of their faculties and the pursuit of happiness. But, in order that we may institute a fair comparison between Romanism and Protestantism, let us not limit our views to the evils that have appeared even under the benign influence of the latter, which perhaps are inseparable from the frailty and fallibility of man; but contemplate the present condition of the world, compared with what it was under the gloomy sway of that Potentate at Rome who so long held the nations besotted with superstition, decided by his nod the destinies of kings, princes, and whole empires, and trampled under his feet the rights, liberties, and lives of men. Which of these conditions is preferable to mankind? Is there any member, even of the Romish communion in this country, conversant with history, who would wish those days restored, and the pope reinstated in his full dominion? And can any one deny, that all those happy changes which have since regenerated the nations have been effected by the growth of Protestantism and the progress of knowledge, the last being indebted to the first for that freedom which has nourished and sustained it? Considering all these things, it is strange and unaccountable to me, that the clergy and laity of the Romish communion do not at once break their bond of connection with the papacy, and form an independent establishment of their own. Heaven grant them the will and power to do it! and it would be one of the happiest events that ever transpired for our young and beautiful Republic, which has hitherto been so peculiarly favored by an overruling providence, and held under the immediate guardianship of heaven. We should then all feel ourselves like brothers, participating similar sentiments, enjoying the same privileges, sympathizing in the same or similar objects, breathing a like spirit of patriotism, and united in the bonds of a common interest. Never can there be so intimate a connection between the citizens of this Republic, or, at any rate, between members of the clerical order, while some retain their allegiance to a foreign Potentate; and were my Church in this condition, I should regard it as a signal for departure from its communion. For my part, I delight in breathing the free and salubrious air of Protestantism, to behold its clear and serene sky, and bask in its sweet and refulgent light; although I may sometimes experience inconveniences from clouds that overspread its hemisphere, and storms that are engendered in its elements. I delight in the worship of my own Church, and have an ardent preference of its principles, its creed, its formulas, its fervent but cheerful piety, as genuine as any to be found upon earth, and its whole inward and outward organization; but I take a like satisfaction in knowing, that others enjoy an equal delight and preference of theirs. God forbid! that [48/49] I should wish, in the slightest degree to abridge their liberty of worship, or interfere with their sacred and inviolable rights of conscience. There is one aspect, too, in which I can view even the diversity of sects among us, much to be regretted as their great number is on some accounts, with decided gratification. The wise authors of the Federalist have traced a security and safeguard to the liberties of my country, in the multiplicity of religious denominations; since they will serve as checks upon each other, and prevent the accumulation of that exorbitant power in any single Church which, in all ages, has been directed to the most vexatious domination and atrocious persecutions of all who venture upon opposition to its decrees. I cannot, therefore, allow my preferences as a divine, to extinguish the pleasure I feel as a patriot, in the security of my Country's liberties.
It appears to me, that our respectable Bishop has allowed himself to be led into another mistake, by his unsuspecting confidence in the learning and capacity of these Oxford Tractists. He repeats after them, that we "must remember that Protestant is but a negative term; it implies no principle but that of dissent." This is a mistake. The principles that constitute fundamental articles in the faith adopted by the Reformers, and the whole plan upon which the reform should be conducted, were well ascertained and settled before that protest was issued from which they derive their appellation In its very origin, it did not imply the meaning which the Tractists have attributed to it; having been not a protest against popery or the doctrines of the Romish Church, but a protest which was issued against the insidious terms of accommodation between the parties, proposed by that second Council assembled at Spires, through papal influence. These terms of accommodation, as they were artfully designated, were intended as a snare to the Reformers' feet, and had they acquiesced in them, they would have discovered to their sorrow, that they had betrayed their own cause, and put a sword into the hands of their enemies, which would have been used for their destruction. The word Protestant, therefore, in its original signification, did not imply mere dissent from popish errors. Afterwards, indeed, it came to denote all the denominations who formed systems which discarded the authority of the pope, and repudiated the errors and abuses of his church. But did the application to them all of this general term denote that they had no specific tenets and settled principles of their own, and no common standard to which they appealed in the decision of controversies? It was conveniently applied at that time, and has been ever since, to distinguish those members of the Church of Christ who joined the Reformation, [49/50] from the other party who were called Papists: but did tat imply tint they had no established maxims of divinity, adopted by those who were included within this category? Did it imply that the two parties of Jesuits and Jansenists in Paris had no fixed maxims of their own, because they might both be justly called Romanists, from the Church to which they both belonged? If Protestants have different creeds and modes of worship, so have the Romanists differences of opinion, as in the case of Jesuits and Jansenists, to whom we have just referred; and these differences would have been much widened had liberty of thinking been allowed, as was sadly proved in the instance of the learned and amiable Fenelon, who was compelled by power to abandon his reason. The Romanists are the dissenters and schismatics, for they depart from the doctrines of Christ and his Apostles, and exact unlawful terms of communion. Protestants are the only true Catholics, for they alone adhere to primitive catholicity. If we dissent from Rome, which is our pride and glory, we do not dissent from Christ, his Apostles and primitive Christians; and surely these had definite and established principles, and were not merely dissenters from the Pope.
And this reflection loads to another point, in which I must take leave to differ from the learned Bishop of New-York. Speaking of the plan pursued by the Reformers, he says, "The great source of this difficulty appeared to them, and I think must, upon reflection, be acknowledged to be, the adoption of a wrong principle, in opposing papal error, and a wrong ground of union among those who are opposed to it, of mere Protestantism, instead of scriptural and primitive catholicity. A sentiment, a doctrine, a practice, may be far removed from popery, may be connected with the firmest protestations against popery, and yet be void of the truth. Mere Protestantism, then, is no efficient bond of' union." I wish our respectable Bishop had taken the precaution before he penned this address, to refresh his memory in these affairs by a recurrence to the works of the great English reformers and writers who succeeded them, and more especially to that of the immortal Chillingworth; and then he would not have allowed these Tractators so egregiously to mislead him. The reformers adopted a wrong ground of union, that of mere protestantism, or opposition to the papacy, instead of scriptural and primitive catholicity! This assertion was to be found only in the Tracts, until here reproduced, and those writers had the full merit of inventing it, for the conception existed nowhere but in their own brains at the time it was expressed. If Luther, Crnnmer, Ridley, Calvin, and all the leading reformers, be consulted, it will be discovered in almost every page of their writings, that they did exactly what they are here accused of not [50/51] doing. They thought not of Protestantism, or any protests, in their efforts at improving and renovating the Church of Christ; but assumed, as their only ground of proceeding, "scriptural and primitive catholicity." Their incessant appeal is to scripture and the early Church; and with this maxim in hand, as their sword of the Spirit, they aimed at lopping off all popish excrescences and extravasations from the sacred body of Christ. They showed by triumphant evidence, that their principles were those of the Apostolic and primitive Church. How could they have done otherwise, when their fundamental maxim was, scripture is the rule of faith? They tell us, again and again, that they look to scripture for all doctrines and precepts, and leading instructions in the organization of the Church, and to the early Church as in general an honest and faithful expositor of scripture, as far as its capacity extended, though by no means an able or infallible guide. Made Protestantism or dissent from the papacy their general ground of union! It would have been a broad ground, and have included Infidels, Atheists, Jews and Mahometans. I think the reformers could not have been so silly as this charge would make then, and its very extravagance ought to have led a reflecting man to doubt its truth, and to hesitate a long time before he adopted the imputation upon any authority. The reformers have not afforded a shadow of foundation for this charge. But to show the reader what ground they did actually assume, and manfully maintain, until they gained over Romanists one of the most splendid victories ever recorded in the history of intellectual warfare, I beg leave to present to him a passage from that admirable work of the learned Chillingworth, entitled, too modestly entitled, "The Religion of Protestants a safe way to Salvation." It should have been the safest way to salvation, it may be worth while to premise the extract with the reflection, that these very sentiments so eloquently expressed by Chillingworth, are censured in the Oxford Tracts. He begins as if answering the Bishop of New York.
"By the religion of Protestants, I do not understand the doctrine of Luther, or Calvin, or Melancthon, nor the confession of Augusta, or Geneva, nor the Catechism of Heidelberg, nor the Articles of the Church of England--no, nor the harmony of Protestant confessions; but that wherein they all agree, and which they all subscribe with a greater harmony, as a perfect rule of their faith and their actions; that is, the Bible. The Bible, I say, the Bible only, (not opposition to popery,) is the religion of Protestants. [Here is their bond of union.] What soever they believe beside it, and the plain, irrefragable, indubitable consequences of it, well may they hold it as a matter of opinion; but as mailer of faith and religion, neither can they with coherence to their own grounds believe it themselves, nor require the belief of it [51/52] of others, without most high and most schismatical presumption. I, for my part, after a long, and as I verily believe and hope, impartial search of the true way to eternal happiness, do profess plainly, that I cannot find any rest for the sole of my foot but upon this rock only. I see plainly, and with mine own eyes, that there are Popes against Popes, Councils against Councils, some Fathers against others, the same Fathers against themselves, a consent of Fathers of one age against a consent of Fathers of another age, the Church of one ago against the Church of another age. Traditive interpretations of Scripture are pretended, but there are few or none to be found: no tradition, but only of Scripture, can derive itself from the fountain, but may be plainly proved either to have been brought in, in such an age after Christ, or that in such an age it was not in. In a word, there is no sufficient certainty, but of Scripture only, for any considering man to build upon. This, therefore, and this only I have reason to believe; this I will profess; according to this I will live; and for this, if there be occasion, I will not only willingly, but even gladly, lose my life, though I should be sorry that Christians should take it from me. Propose me any thing out of this book, and require whether I believe it or no, and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe it with hand and heart, as knowing no demonstration can be stronger than this; God has said so, therefore it is true. In other things, I will take no man's liberty of judgment from him, neither shall any man take mine from me. I will think no man the worse man, nor the worse Christian; I will love no man the less for differing in opinion from me. And what measure I mete to others, I expect from them again. I am fully assured, that God does not, and therefore men ought not, to require of any man any more than this: to believe the Scripture to be God's Word, to endeavor to find the true sense of it, and to live according to it."
These sentiments of Chillingworth deserve to be written in letters of gold, and preserved as a precious relic of that great mind whose name is embalmed at once in the temple of science, and sanctuary of his God. Every maxim here propounded is drawn from the deepest fountains of theology, and from the vital merits of that controversy which has arisen between Protestants and Romanists; and, at the same time, breathes the mild, liberal and amiable spirit of genuine Christianity. These were the large and comprehensive views which were entertained by the ablest and best men of that enlightened age, and of the generations which succeeded; and we do fervently trust in Heaven they will gain universal prevalence, both among clergymen and laymen in this country. The ecclesiastical system of the Episcopal Church is a complex and noble structure, which was commenced, continued, and consummated by the hands of the ablest divines and laymen that ever adorned a Church-and at every step in its progress hitherto has been purified and refined from error and superstition, not only by the efforts of an enlightened clergy, but by passing through the fiery ordeal of [51/52] advancing science and literature. Why has the Church of England remained unshaken, amidst the storms of that political revolution, in its principles, though not its practical excesses, the legitimate offspring of the reformation and revival of learning in Europe, which shook to dissolution the hierarchy of France? For no other reason which can be conceived, but that the Church of England had instituted a rational worship, and throughout all its details of polity, doctrine, discipline, rites and ceremonies, had kept pace, with the increasing illumination of the times. On the contrary, the hierarchy of France, imbibing through every avenue corruption from Rome, had been moulded into a frame of ecclesiastical absurdity, tyranny and oppression, which, when combined with despotism in the State, the two fabrics mutually communicating and receiving venality and a persecuting spirit from each other, imposed a bondage both upon the bodies and minds of men, which by an enlightened and magnanimous people, could not longer be endured. And shall this beautiful and sublime system of faith and practice, which has been reared in England, and improved among us, be allowed to be. soiled, corrupted and debased, by this vitiating alloy imported from Rome, instead of being purified, refined, and carried forward toward perfection? May the great Head of the Church forbid the unholy alliance!
I know not what others may think and feel upon this subject, but there is no evil short of an utter subversion of all religious institutions, which I should more fervently deprecate, than that of having the Holy Mother, in whose pure bosom I have been nurtured in the rudiments of the faith, and under whose sacred ministrations I have, I trust, been led into the path of salvation, polluted by any slightest touch of the papal hand, much less any admixture of the sublime doctrines she inculcates, and pure and efficacious rites she solemnizes, with the errors and foul abuses of popery. According to the enlarged sentiment of Chillingworth, I wish not, in the slightest degree, to interfere with the opinions, privileges, or habits of those who embrace that system, nor would I allow my antipathy to that faith to diminish my respect, Christian sympathy, and brotherly affection for the meritorious members of that communion. Nor would I, if I could--and thank heaven I cannot--abridge their rights of worship, or molest them in the full enjoyment of their liberties as American citizens, and sincere votaries of our holy religion. I abhor their doctrines and modes of worship, as much and not more than they do mine, and hold myself licensed to resort to any freedom of argument and boldness of invective, against tenets which I deem not only erroneous in theory, but moat mischievous in their operation upon civil society, and more [53/54] especially a free Commonwealth. We may think and act as we please; and I doubt not, that the Romish Church in this country has her due proportion of excellent men, true republicans and exemplary Christians; hut no truth is more incontrovertible to my mind, than that the papal power cannot subsist in full efficiency under free institutions; that if it finds a republic free, and gains predominance within her, it will not long permit her to remain so, unless by some miracle it should be mitigated in its spirit, and radically changed in its genius and characteristic features; and, of consequence, that a republic, or free Commonwealth, should guard against all attempts to give it nurture, sustentation and predominance or ascendancy, with as much solicitude and anxiety as against the approach of the most formidable political despotisms that ever subsisted upon earth. Has it not been, for many centuries, one of the most abominable despotisms that ever scourged the nations? And have we the slightest reason to believe that its virulent spirit has been changed or abated in malignity, its plans of domination relinquished, its hostility to freedom of opinion mitigated, or its instruments of ruin for those whom it brands as heretics destroyed? Has it ceased to fulminate its sentences of extermination when opportunities are presented, razed its inquisition with its infernal tortures, or extinguished those coals which are readily blown into fires of the stake by an infuriated priesthood? In answer to these questions I need not refer the reader to the traces of Rome's missionaries, under whose pious labors; inquisitions have sprung up in the neighbourhood of churches, where human victims have been offered to the Prince of peace; but simply direct his attention to the recent attempt made by the pope in Spain to control that monarchy, and force upon that people and their patriotic Regent an absolute despot, in spite of their predilections in favor of a more liberal and equal government. In this case we see verified the maxim of Lord Bacon, which forms our motto, that "superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile that ravishes all the spheres of government." We hear it incessantly repeated by the adherents of the pope in this country, that he claims nothing more out of Italy than ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and that his pontifical authority has no influence upon the temporal affairs of nations, or their political and civil institutions; but how does this declaration accord, omitting all appeals to past history, to this recent and palpable transaction in the Spanish monarchy, or to his little less recent and atrocious expulsion from their homes of a colony of Tyrolese Protestants, who were compelled to take refuge from his persecutions in the territories of the more humane and tolerant king of Prussia? Were these unhappy families subjected only [54/55] to ecclesiastical authority? Did their supreme spiritual father consult, only the welfare of their souls, when he drove them like cattle from the lands in which reposed the ashes of their parents, kindred and friends, and exposed them to the worst miseries of exile? These recent events incontestably prove, that whatever maybe the professions made, and the specious appearances exhibited to the eyes of mankind, the incumbent of the papal office at Home, when put to the trial, will always be found indulging the same dreams of ambition, actuated by the same lust of domination, and ready to display his ruling passion by the same means of cruelty, inhumanity and direful malignity towards all the modifications of freedom in thought and action. I know that the enlightened lay gentlemen of that communion in our country would repudiate all these suggestions as unfounded, and, perhaps, smile at them as visionary apprehensions, and that, liberty would nowhere find more bold and able champions than they are; but so thought many of the nations of Europe, and unhappily for our race, so thought Kings and Princes, who gave countenance and support to this glozing and deceptive authority, professing to be merely ecclesiastical, not temporal; until by gradual advances it undermined their thrones and gained the mastery of them; and they awoke not from their slumbers of confidence and security, until these kings found themselves" bound fast with chains, and their nobles with links of iron." In confirmation of these views, hear the language of a great English writer and philosopher. Speaking of this very subject, he says, "they discovered as well as other princes and states, but they all discovered it too late, how dangerous it is to protect, enrich, fortify, or even to suffer any order of men, who, having a distinct interest, and owing a distinct allegiance, must of course become a distinct society in the state, and especially when this order has the means of turning the conscience, and influencing the passions of men by religion against the state, and the legal government of it." And again the same writer: "By this hypocritical behaviour, and by that silly distinction between spiritual and temporal power, government of the Church, and government of the State, they hindered men from taking an alarm that should have been taken sooner, and their tyranny was established almost before it was perceived." Espartero, the Spanish Regent, and his legitimate Queen Isabella, are at this moment writhing under the griping influence of this spiritual bondage, and that minister deserves the highest honors of a statesman, for the noble resistance he has opposed to the late allocution of a pontiff, who is willing to shelter under the shadow of St. Peter's chair, his myrmidons, those priests who, in violation of all the rules, functions, and decorums of their peaceful profession, have been enlisted as chieftains in a bloody war; a war kindled by their own artifices, which have led the deluded people to rebel against [55/56] a government laboring to support their rights, or at least to soften the rigors of their servitude. Under the banners of his holiness (what an abuse of words!) these ecclesiastical rebels have been long occupied in carrying havoc, devastation and butchery into their own parishes and dioceses. Such is the genius of popery, and such has it revealed its features in every age, and such it must be forever, if its departments remain in the connection of branches with its great trunk at Rome. And here, although I may be considered by the lay gentlemen of that communion, as having promulgated sentiments too hostile to it to entitle my counsel to any share of their attention or respect, yet I would urge them, from a regard to their situation in this Republic, to weigh well one single consideration, which probably has never occurred to their minds, or even to those of their bitterest opponents. They, no doubt, are in the habit of considering their denomination of Christians as standing on the same footing with all others, simply indulging their privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and resorting to the usual expedients to extend their distinctive principles, and promote their growth and prosperity. They cannot, therefore, conceive why mankind should discover more violent hostility against them than against other denominations, whose creeds and practices are discordant from each, other, and resolve this effect into Protestant prejudice, as the cause. Now, upon this point, I beg them to give a moment's serious attention to one most essential and infinitely important distinction between their system and that of all other religions upon the face of the earth. Their whole system is, in its nature and constitution, a despotism, and a despotism of the most formidable kind, having a head or sovereign deemed not only invested with supremacy, or uncontrollable authority, but also with infallibility. Every Bishop, therefore, every clergyman, every missionary, every layman, who toils in the service of this Church, is toiling to augment the power of a despot, or tyrant, if he chooses to become one. His clergy are an immense army of sacred soldiers, ever actively employed in extending his dominions. Is not such an empire extremely formidable to mankind? This is not the case with other churches. The east, west, north and south of the whole world, might be converted to Christianity by English and American missionaries, and not a scruple would be added to the power or emoluments of the Archbishop of Canterbury, much less to any other bishop or clergyman abroad or at home. Is not this a subject of serious reflection to every patriot and philanthropist? Shall Republicans give encouragement and support to a despot? Will not an homage paid to a government of this kind, insensibly to themselves, vitiate their attachment to free institutions?
 But to resume the thread of our dissertation. I know that in our happy country, at this time, whatever may be the propensities of the papacy, it is compelled by absolute necessity to excrcise its Protean faculties, and assume the semblance of the lamb, since it would meet with no adversaries more resolved against tyranny than its own laymen; but let a chance occur in which it is released from its restraints, and assure as that law of nature by which the same cause invariably produces the same effect, the lion would soon be exhibited in all his terrors; and in this event, our gentle government at Washington would become a spider's web in his paws. He who once had strength to terrify princes, dethrone monarchs, and convulse and shatter the mightiest empires, would find it but sport, could his faculties be redintegrated, to overrule and master our mild Republic. An act of Congress would wage a most unequal war with a Pope's bull, among those who regard the one as the decision of fallible men, and the other as the infallible decree of God's vicegerent upon earth. A nation must be insane or strangely infatuated which will allow a power, either ecclesiastical or civil, to gain predominance within its jurisdiction, which is regarded by its adherents supreme and infallible. Resistance to such an authority becomes rebellion against God. There is, therefore, no mathematical proposition more incontestable to my mind, than that a Republic, situated as is ours, ought to be incessantly upon the watch against the encroachments of Romanism; and while we hold in the deepest detestation all bigotry and intolerance, direct and indirect persecution, stand upon the alert to check its progress, and meet its advocates in the fair field of discussion, and, with the spiritual weapons of solid arguments, renew those decisive and glorious victories which were gained over Papists by our forefathers, at the time of the reformation. Our country is a land of equal rights, in which justice holds her scales of righteousness, and injured innocence never fails to find an advocate; but here, too, thank Heaven! free scope is given to the investigation of truth, and error may expect to be encountered with the whole panoply of reason. To the issue of this intellectual warfare we are willing to trust the sacred interests of our religion. Protestantism delights in truth and righteousness, and is assured that her cause is safe, if her future fortunes are made to depend upon the purity of her motives, the divine symmetry and beauty of her structure of faith and worship, or the evidences she can furnish in vindication of her claims. The offspring of light, and latest born of time, and that truth which cometh from above, if she do not glow into brighter effulgence as she advances in her career, like the sun towering towards his meridian, and finally overspread the earth with [57/58] her radiance, it must be because she is intercepted by a gross darkness covering the nations that cannot comprehend her light. Her cause is the cause of truth, righteousness, peace, knowledge, liberty, morality, purity in divine worship, the elevation of our race to its highest dignity and glory, the greatest perfection of the social state in intellectual attainments and moral refinement and civilization; and we cannot bring ourselves to doubt, that an interest so precious to mankind, so pregnant with benefits and conservative against evils, will not continue to prosper, and advance triumphantly in its course, until its benign influence shall overspread the earth as the waters cover the sea.