MORTON AND GRISWOLD, PRINTERS.
FOR more than fifty years after the independent existence of this country, the members of what had once been the Established Church of the mother country were so few, and the estimation in which they were held so humble, that they were almost literally overlooked by their fellow Christians. But of late years a variety of circumstances have conspired to direct that attention towards them, though not always in the most gratifying or favorable manner; such as, the uncommonly rapid growth of the Episcopal Church; the large number of accessions to its ministry, from the ranks of other denominations; and more particularly the exciting, it might almost be said, the absorbing nature of recent controversies; controversies which are bringing under review many of the important principles to which it had been supposed, that, amongst Protestants, the Reformation had for ever given their quietus; especially certain points of order, and certain views of the Sacraments, from which attention for some ages had been comparatively withdrawn, by reason of the direction which the Protestant mind early took in the line of metaphysical distinctions and abstruse doctrinal discussions. Only very lately has the almost united gaze of the religious community in Louisville been directed towards the Episcopal Church, in consequence of the delivery of Sermons in two of its Pulpits, afterwards reduced to a pamphlet form, and made the subject of repeated and elaborate reviews in the religious press, and [3/4] the occasion of a series of letters in one of these papers, addressed to the Bishop of this Diocese.
Whilst the Bishop himself has very little cause of complaint as to the manner in which he, and his well known views of Divine truth have been spoken of, having, on the other hand, abundant cause of gratitude to his Lord and Saviour, that one of the chief aims of his long ministry has not failed, but that to a certain extent he has succeeded in conciliating to himself, as he has ever endeavored to extend to others, the confidence and kindly regards due from one to the other, on the part of all those who hold the truth as it is in Jesus, and who love Him in sincerity; yet it were in vain to attempt to disguise the fact, that much has been written which he must esteem as unjustly (however unintentionally) injurious to the Episcopal Church; and that very little can be thought of the depth and sincerity of his allegiance to that Church, if he can be gratified by compliments paid to him at the expense of his Church.
And here a word or two may not be out of place, upon a subject upon which we all naturally feel very acutely--the imputation upon any cause to which our whole soul is devoted, of blame which we feel and know to be unjust. And yet this feeling is continually harrowed up, in the hearts of Episcopalians in all their intercourse with their religious friends of other denominations, and by nearly every article in any of their religious papers, in which any notice is taken of our Church affairs. True, it does not sound well to be everlastingly complaining that we are not understood; and it looks very ill when a person, or a branch of the Church feels often called upon to make apologies, and to define their position. But if they and their position, in point of fact, really are not understood--if Episcopalians are actually subjected to unjust imputations, if their Christian heart is indeed wounded and grieved by such imputations, a time will come when it will not only be proper to speak out, but when plainness of speech will be so imperatively called for, that silence would be a grave offence.
It is thought that time has come. It is very important, if [4/5] Christians, dwelling together in the same city, are really essentially agreed in the great cardinal doctrines of our holy religion, that they should know it; if there are differences which in themselves ought to be tolerated, but which have been exaggerated, perhaps unintentionally misrepresented, but yet really misunderstood so as to occasion a suspension of religious intercourse, and a violation of Christian charity, that an effort, at least, should be made to obviate the sad effects of such a state of things. The united Protestant interest in Louisville is feeble enough, God knows, for the purpose of accomplishing the great work entrusted to it by the Divine Redeemer. They have no time, no means, no energies, which they can innocently spare for the injurious purpose of "biting and devouring one another."
The necessity is daily increasing of their standing more firmly than ever, shoulder to shoulder, in the advance of that illustrious phalanx, which is doing battle for God's truth against worldliness, infidelity, and irreligion, by their combined efforts for the wider dissemination of the pure word of God, and of sound, orthodox, and evangelical tracts fitted for the times, and adapted to the sinful and lost nature of man at all times. The banner borne highest and most gloriously emblazoned above this sacramental host of God's elect, is that of the Bible Society. And sadly deserted would that seem to be, if there were withdrawn from it all the Bishops, Clergy, and members of the Established Church of England, and of her daughter in these United States. It is with feelings of no ordinary emotion, that an Episcopalian reads over the list of illustrious names of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society--when he remembers that the venerable Bishop White was the first President of the first Bible Society in these United States--and when he points to the conspicuous part which the excellent Dr. Milner bore in the early and mature counsels of the American Bible Society. No great rival institution divides the efforts of Episcopalians in this work, as, alas! is the case with our Baptist brethren. And yet because a few of our [5/6] clergy hang back, or raise captious objections, we are denounced as being hostile to united action for the great central societies of the age; whilst the Baptists, who are verily guilty in this matter, are suffered to escape with comparative impunity!
Partially separated as we are, if we really fully understood one another, how delightful our intercourse might be. Almost perfectly agreed in the great doctrines essential to the glory of God and the salvation of men; still more nearly agreed as to all the exercises, struggles, and conflicts which signalize the true life, the inner life of the really converted child of God, and which ought to form the main staple of our personal intercourse; and more perfectly agreed still in the word of God to be read, the sacred hymns to be sung, and the substance of the prayers to be offered together, to our common Redeemer and Lord; how profitable, how delightful might the interviews of the clergy be with each other in their studies, and of truly Christian people with their fellow Christians of other names, in their families, and by their fire-sides; if all would agree to dismiss, at such times, from their thoughts the points upon which they differ, and to allow none to be introduced but those in which they agree, or can differ, in love. A slight diversity imparts a certain spice to such intercourse. Who has not felt his soul refreshed by a conversation based, or a supplication breathed, upon ideas and in forms of expression a little different from those long stereotyped and in familiar use? Who has not felt, whilst giving hospitality to a truly pious clergyman of a denomination different from his own, that he has been "entertaining an angel unawares?" Oh! when will the day come when cases of this kind will be as general, as the exceptions are now rare?
But to return from this long digression, or rather introduction, to the main subject which we have in hand. This will be disposed of when we have treated, at some length, upon the doctrines, the worship, and the genius or spirit of the Episcopal Church.
 DOCTRINES OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
To the learned in such matters it would be entirely superfluous to affirm, that they are emphatically the doctrines of Grace; that our Thirty-Nine Articles are as truly scriptural, orthodox, and evangelical as the Augsburg Confession, or the Confession of the Protestant Churches of France, Holland, or even Scotland itself; and to attempt to prove it by long quotations, in parallel columns, for the benefit of the unlearned, would be as tedious as it would be aside from our present purpose. It is well known that the doctrinal formularies of the Methodist Church are, as far as they go, literally identical with those of the Episcopal Church; and that the Westminster Confession of Faith differs from and transcends them, only in those points of extreme Calvinism in which one Presbyterian differs from another; it being probably true that there are many more Presbyterian ministers of mild and moderate Calvinistic opinions, whilst yet they profess allegiance to what others look upon as rather extreme formulas, than there are extreme Calvinists amongst Episcopalians, whose Thirty-Nine Articles are not as rigid, certainly, as the Westminster Confession, or else that Confession had never existed. This line of remark can hardly be preserved free from what the over sensitive may deem invidious; since, to a certain extent, for brevity's sake, it is the argumentum ad hominem. But the writer would gladly, if he could, have saved even this implication, whilst he affectionately pleaded with his orthodox and evangelical brethren of all religious denominations, not only to be received upon the same broad platform with them, but to a place not a whit behind the very chiefest of them. In what sense other than this, or at any rate, more emphatic, has it been admitted, that the Church of England has long been the bulwark of the Protestant Reformation? How else do you account for the fact that largely more than one half of the volumes in a well selected library of English Theology, in the study of any Protestant minister, has emanated from the pens of the Divines of the Church of England?
 I feel as if I could not let this point go, until it is freely and cordially admitted, that by every standard of judgment by which we judge of the doctrinal soundness of any branch of the Church--by printed formulas, by doctrinal publications, by laborious and popular commentaries, by works upon practical and experimental religion, by the utterances of the living pulpit, by efforts for evangelizing the world, by the pious, holy, and useful lives of living and departed saints; by each and every one of these tests, the Episcopal Church is proved to be a sound, true, fruit-bearing branch of the Church of the living God. This being frankly and freely granted, and no disposition betrayed to fly off from the conclusions to which it would legitimately lead, I might well consider my remonstrance as closed; by admitting that all this may be true, and yet many defects, if not in doctrine, yet in the way in which it is put or explained, and many deficiencies in administration and discipline, might be allowed to exist, without any greater disparagement of the Episcopal Church, than similar matters imply with regard to other denominations. The Episcopal Church is not perfect, that is all. Who, in his sober senses, ever claimed that any branch of that Church at any time, even in the Apostles' times, was ever absolutely perfect? But the very point I have to meet, is, that the exceptions in the case of the Episcopal Church, are much more considerable and grave than in other cases! Ah, that is the very point of unjust blame, under which we complained as smarting!
To take up some of these points--Baptismal Regeneration--the Efficacy of the Sacraments--Apostolical Succession.
BAPTISMAL REGENERATION.--The truly learned will here again be ready to admit that the language of the English Church, so far from being stronger or more exaggerated than that of the other branches of the Reformed Church, in several particulars, is decidedly more guarded. To this, however, it may, with truth, be replied that, with the exception of Dr. Nevin and a few others of his school, this language and these ideas have been virtually abandoned by all American Protestants, with the exception of certain [8/9] Episcopalians. But the true question is, do the great body of Episcopalians, with the language of ancient formulas unaltered, really differ from other American Christians, whose language (not that of their standards) is altered? This is the only true issue. And the present writer is decidedly of the opinion, that no material difference of this kind generally prevails. The words Baptismal Regeneration grate as harshly upon his ears, and as he verily believes, upon the ears of the great body of Episcopalians, as they do upon the ears of' other Christians, in the sense in which they are very improperly used by a very few. All who believe in Infant Baptism at all, believe that in baptism we are born into a new, or covenant state or relation, the original inner sinful nature remaining the same--we all believe that this regeneration of state is not, but is in order to a regeneration of nature--the one we call being received into the outward and visible Church, the other the being truly born of God--the one being regeneration, the other renovation, agreeably to that divine word, "the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost," (Titus iii. 5.)
If any man in the Episcopal Church believes otherwise, it is by putting a forced and violent construction upon the language of her formularies, by leaning to medieval and erroneous teaching, by indulging foolish and dangerous theories, and by departing widely from the whole consent of the great body of the wisest and best divines of the Church of England, as well in her purest and palmiest, as in her earliest days. And nothing can be more ungenerous than to impute to an entire body, the peculiar, or extreme, or indefensible opinion of one or two writers, or even of a very restricted class of writers. By such a mode of procedure, we should never be able to arrive at the true doctrines of any class of religionists; and the most scriptural denomination upon earth might be involved in indiscriminate censure and abuse, by a single unguarded expression, of a solitary misguided individual. The writer appeals to the authoritative standards of the Episcopal Church; to the [9/10] consent of the great body of her celebrated divines; and to the well known views of the rank and file of her most distinguished living ministers and members, from the imputations cast upon her, in consequence of the pernicious theories and speculations of the few.
EFFICACY OF THE SACRAMENTS.--In one point of view it is almost impossible to exaggerate the blessedness of the Holy Sacraments in the estimation of truly devout persons; provided their efficacy be ascribed, on man's part, wholly to faith, and upon God's, as entirely to the Holy Ghost; for then the idea of their possessing any efficacy in themselves is utterly excluded. That this was the case with all the Reformers equally, whether insular or continental, no well read divine would presume to deny. If there were unguarded views and expressions any where, they were unquestionably on the part of Luther, and riot of Cranmer or Calvin. That there were such unguarded expressions, is rendered highly probable from the difficulty which exists of perfectly disinthralling the loftiest intellects, if they be equally devout, from the insensible influence of previous reverence or habits carried to excess--from the fact that the Reformers are actually quoted for and against, the same opinions; and in some instances come rather too near a seeming contradiction of themselves and of each other. To me it is evident, that these unguarded expressions are explicable upon one simple principle--that they often speak of the sacraments as the seal of the gift, when the correct view is, that they are only seals of the promise of the gift; or, in other words, that they do not keep wide enough apart, in order, in time, and in importance, receiving or affixing the seal of the covenant, and inwardly complying with the true conditions of the covenant. Further than this, if any thing of importance should be found, I am inclined to think that it will include in part, one of those propositions to be debated, controverted, and settled over again, as in the days of the Reformation.
Should such a debate arise, and such a decision be had, the surmise is adventured that the line it will draw in the [10/11] Protestant ranks, will not be, as all but Episcopalians seem to suppose, with that Church on the one side, and all other American Protestant Christians on the other; but almost equally between certain of the clergy and laity of all denominations, leaning to the conservative and the ancient on the one hand, and certain others of the clergy and laity imbued with irreverent and radical tendencies, on the other.
APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION.--Much to be said upon this subject is reserved to another and more appropriate head. All that is proper here, is, what relates to principle and to doctrine. It is fearlessly affirmed, then, that every daughter of the Reformation held and taught that the Ministry is a Divine, and not a human institution--that it consists of a separate order of men duly called, set apart and ordained by imposition of hands by men, going before them, and having authority (of their own office, and not from the people as the original source of power) to call, appoint, and ordain, and that of divine right. If any reader doubts it, let him turn to any Confession of any one of the Reformed Churches, or even to a somewhat more recent document, the Westminster Confession of Faith.
In doctrinal matters, it is believed that here the great body of Episcopalians do really differ more widely from their brethren of other names, than upon any other point of equal magnitude; and here they hold steadfastly to the Reformer's doctrine and fellowship, whilst they would respectfully inquire whether others have not fnrsahen their own land marks? Do not Lutherans and Presbyterians join in the outcry raised against the Episcopal Church for holding this ancient and undeniable truth; and yet do not their own doctrinal standards affirm it?
FORMULARIES OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
There are certain exponents, more or less tangible, of the differences which exist amongst orthodox Christians, which simply, because they are tangible, make a deeper impression upon the common mind, than any principle involved could really justify--such is immersion amongst Baptists, [11/12] and a form of prayer amongst Episcopalians. This latter peculiarity, inseparably associated in most minds with the pomp and circumstance of the Romish ceremonial, and with the days of spiritual coldness and deadness which marked the period of the rise of Methodism, and peculiarly obnoxious, as it is, to the shafts of ridicule, as praying out of book, and repeating prayers like a parrot, is the occasion of a wider separation, in point of ready sympathy, from their fellow Christians, than any thing of the kind existing, respectively, between themselves. If it were true that all prayer offered out of book were, necessarily, formal, lifeless, and unavailing prayer; and all prayer, without book, were necessarily sincere, appropriate, and acceptable, abundant cause would exist for this prejudice. But no body believes this. No one doubts but spirituality may often animate the form and render it availing, or that formality may poison the impromptu supplication, and deprive it of all its efficacy. The injury done to the Episcopal Church in this direction, is almost wholly done for want of reflection. It is, however, none the less real or serious on that account. And it is often increased by the disadvantage under which the sublime Liturgy of our Church is made to suffer by not being cordially participated in. Its services never were designed for the listless or critical spectator, but exclusively for the sincere and hearty worshipper. And thousands have confessed the change that has come over them, the moment they themselves have been persuaded to employ the words and attitudes of prayer, as actual participants. Another well known principle of our nature is forgotten, when we rebel against the Liturgy as tasteless and wearisome from a few repetitions. A thousand such repetitions would soon interweave its sacred words and sentiments with the most pleasing and hallowed memories of our lives. At any rate, the sober and reflecting student will pause before fixing the seal of his reprobation upon forms of prayer, when he reflects that in accents such as these the servants and martyrs of our God, Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley--the most eminently pious ministers who ever fell [12/13] peacefully to sleep--Luther, Calvin, Leighton, Wesley, awl' Fletcher, so worshipped the God of their fathers. "A Popish Liturgy," forsooth! how then could such men as Robert Hall, Richard Watson, and Adam Clarke, exhaust the language of eulogy, when commenting upon the scriptural truth, the sublime simplicity, the chastened pathos, of this most perfect of all merely human compositions?
GENIUS AND SPIRIT OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
In controversy, nothing is more unfair than to attribute to an adversary sentiments which he not only does not hold, but deliberately rejects and abhors, unless, indeed, it be to draw from his premises conclusions, which, to your mind, seem legitimate, but against which, he is specially anxious to set a guard. These, however, are faults which even generous antagonists sometimes unconsciously contest, owing to the difficulty which the members of every denomination know to exist, as to being precisely understood by those who differ from them. The most honest mind is subject to a certain kind of bias, in consequence of long looking too exclusively at a certain class of truths, or truth, from a certain limited stand point. The Arminian seldom listens to a controversial Calvinistic sermon, without, at some point or other, becoming conscious of a slight internal wound or irritation, on account of not being represented with exact fairness. The same may be said, the circumstance being reversed, of the Calvinist. The Paedobaptist feels this even more sensitively, when the lusty sledge-hammer of some unlettered immersionist is made to fall upon his system. But none have half the cause of sensitiveness, which honestly belongs to the Episcopalians, when other denominations fall foul of his principles, or animadvert, however casually, upon his peculiarities. He is painfully conscious that he is not understood. And it takes long years of self-control, and large measures of divine grace, for him to become quietly reconciled to this his unavoidable misfortune, in the midst of many most wise and excellent men, who, from education, reading, habit, and [13/14] peculiarity of views, can never be made to comprehend the true position of a large-hearted, Catholic, evangelical Episcopalian.
A glimpse of what is meant may be derived, perhaps, from the following remarks upon a comprehensive church, and the following answer to the charge of ecclesiastical exclusiveness.
A COMPREHENSIVE CHURCH.--It is a necessity of a National Church, if it would not fail of its object, that it must be comprehensive--to be too much so, would, of course, be a vice. And it is an equal necessity of dissent, or of a sectarian church (if the term be admissible), that it must be exclusive--too much so for its purpose it cannot be. Of these broad propositions, history furnishes abundance of examples. Till the Council of Trent, no Church was more comprehensive than the Romish. It became sectarian when it became exclusive. The NATIONAL CHURCHES of GERMANY are complained of as being only too comprehensive and latitudinarian. So is the CHURCH of ENGLAND. The number of Presbyterian Sects in SCOTLAND, and the late more central division of that NATIONAL CHURCH, are simply the natural result of the first and only attempt at an exclusive national church. To unfold the same sentiment a little more in detail. If all the pulpits of a country are to be furnished from the same store-house, he who caters for the whole must supply a reasonable variety within safe limits, or the human mind and infirmities are such, that they will he sure to look out for a supply for themselves, not exactly within those limits. The re-action from over rigidness, is over licentiousness. Too little liberty soon leaps into too great license. A creed, which is as a bed of Procrustes, upon which every unlucky candidate for orders is to be stretched, in order, at whatever cost of mental agony, to be cut off or extended precisely to the specified length, may be required of the few, when there is somewhere else to flee to, but never of the helpless and hopeless many, who must remain where they are or starve.
It is simply affirming an historical fact, when I say, that [14/15] Episcopalians have received the creed, the practice, and the spirit, of a comprehensive church; and all other surrounding Christians, the creeds, the ideas, and the tone, of exclusive denominations. To the ear of an Episcopalian, this sounds like high commendation. But I should not be surprised if others looked upon it as an infatuated boast of belonging to an erastian and latitudinarian church. At any rate, Episcopalians are every day heard to thank God that they belong to a comprehensive church--and other Christians to rejoice that they belong to a denomination, where certain slight deviations from the established creed would not be tolerated for a moment.
Whether Episcopalians have just cause for this self-gratulation and thankfulness to Heaven--or whether other Christians are right in considering this the very blight upon their crown of glory, depends altogether upon the facts of the case, and not upon the prepossessions, or prejudices of either party. Some little measure of comprehensiveness and freedom there must undoubtedly be. That is admitted on all hands. It exists in the smallest, most dogmatic, and most unflinching sect. Take, for example, the Calvinistic, or exclusive Baptists. No man in his senses, is foolish enough to dream that their ministers and members are better agreed amongst themselves than the ministers and members of larger bodies. So far is this from being the case, that the amount of hair-splitting and heartburning amongst them, is well known to be in exact proportion to their dogmatic exclusiveness. The same rule applies as you mount upwards. There have been more splits amongst the Baptists than amongst the Presbyterians, very nearly in the proportion, as when they began they were more exclusive--and more amongst the Presbyterians than the Methodists, in the like proportion--and none amongst Episcopalians, for the same reason.
I am aware that I could not utter, in the ears of our brethren, more equivocal praise. That is just what I am saying. We are not understood, and cannot expect to be understood, by them. We view things either with such [15/16] different eyes, or from such different points of view, that our boast, in their estimation, is our shame.
It is on this account that they cannot comprehend the reception which the Rev. Dr. Barnes met with, when he appealed to the Evangelical Clergy to come out from a Church, which, if not corrupt to the very core, was verging towards Romanism with a proclivity, which they, from within, were more vainly endeavoring to arrest, than our good, loving brethren from without. I do not believe that any two such clergymen ever seriously exchanged such a suggestion, even in the hours of their utmost privacy. To a true-hearted Churchman, nothing seems so preposterous.
In England, even if the Gorham case had been decided against them, and they had felt the iron hand of the Government stretched forth to crush them, it is not believed that a single man of the tone and temper of Simeon or Bickersteth, would have dreamt of leaving the establishment. How much less, in this country, where, uncursed with the cruel domination of the state, men are free as the air they breathe, and as the citizens of that kingdom in which the blessed Redeemer rules as Lord alone.
But to return to the point under consideration. Even the most exclusive sect, must allow some little measure of comprehension. The only question is, how large can it be, and yet conserve the truth; how narrow must it be, without excluding even one whom the Lord has received? I suppose that human sagacity could never decide. I suppose that the Lord settled that, when he founded his Church upon the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. I believe that long experience has proved that the just limit has been more nicely arrived at, in the experience of the Church of England, during the long period of fifteen hundred years, than in any other branch of the Church upon earth. Partly owing to its ancient liberties--partly to the traits of the Saxon character, and partly to the long and arduous struggle for civil and religious life and freedom which proclaimed our fore-fathers more worthy than others to enjoy them in their largest measures.
 But how, it may be asked, how do you account for the existence of such a pestilent evil amongst you, as we take Puseyism to be, for so long a time, and to so great an extent, if the comprehension of which you boast is not too large, and does not amount to latitudinarianism? Of the magnitude and enormity of that evil, there is but one opinion amongst us. It is Romanism scarcely disguised. And the grand soul-destroying device of Romanism, we take to he the setting up of the greatest number of most seductive places of refuge, between an awakened sinner and the only real place of refuge, the true cross. Some there are, indeed, like Thomas a Kempis, Madam Guyon, and the admirable Fenelon, who, by no means can be kept back from the sure refuge. But as to the multitude, what would become of them, if many were not better than their creed, and were not saved in spite of their religion instead of by it? And as it is, alas, how many must be deceived in their hope, who, under a plainer Gospel, had never made shipwreck of their souls.
As to the extent of the evil, it is almost certain, that all but Episcopalians are extravagant in their estimates. In England, only twelve or fifteen hundred signatures, out of eighteen thousand clergy, can be found to petitions sympathizing with the Bishop of Exeter, whilst most of these are known to be upon the old High Church ground, a very wide remove from rampant Puseyism. In this country, the number of perverts and sympathizers is still less in proportion--far less than the number of Unitarians and Universalists, who were once Congregationalists, or of Reformers who were once Baptists, or of Perfectionists and other visionaries, who were once Presbyterians. This argumentum ad hominem is brought forward with great reluctance, and solely in self-defence. It is not even intimated that, compared with the Baptists and the Presbyterians, the Reformers and the Perfectionists are as bad as the Puseyites, compared with the Episcopalians, but merely with all humility and kindliness to suggest that where there are so many deficiencies and imperfections on all sides, the judgment of charity is always timely.
 As to the tangibility of the evil, that does not result so much from the genius of our Church or of its institutions, as from its own subtle, insidious, and we fear too often insincere essence. Where the livings are large, and the conscience pliant, ejection is a difficult process. And if some of the class should prove to have been Jesuits in disguise, it is no more a reproach upon our Church than it was to the Puritans to have such amongst them, before the time of Cromwell, as can easily be proved to have been the case. In England, the voice of most of the Bishops, the strong arm of the Government, and the almost unanimous voice of the country, have borne upon the system with resistless force. In this country, many cases of discipline (compared with the whole number, which, after all, is exceedingly small), have been prompt and effective. And what is better, by deserting the Churches where such fooleries have been perpetrated, and by witholding the supplies, the people have effectually frowned upon them, and the evil has sooner been eliminated by the native sanative power of the Church, perhaps, than it could safely have been by the strong hand of power. If the virus remains, it is in a diluted and diffused form, threatening no greater evil in our body, than something very much like it does in many of those denominations who feel most secure from its devastations. There is a young America as well as a young England. And a portion of it craves the poetic, the imaginative, the refined, the tasteful, the gorgeous, and the ceremonial, quite as much as is healthy. Oxford, at the start, was some stages nearer to Rome than Andover or Cambridge--and these, perhaps, somewhat nearer than the Baptists and the Methodists as a mass. If the wave there is flowing back, elsewhere it is setting forward towards whatever is grand and beautiful in architecture, solemn and imposing it musical expression, and dignified and impressive in costume and ceremonial; and it is a moot question whether the remoter part of the tide is not moving even more rapidly towards Oxford, than Oxford now is towards Rome. Nay, very likely the top of the wave having tossed the froth over, [18/19] may already be receding, and the height of tide in this country turn out to be, where people least expected it, in high Church Lutheranism, and high Church Presbyterianism; or mayhap, in displaying to the gaze of an admiring world, a highly respectable class of genteel Baptists and fashionable Methodists!
These thoughts are thrown out playfully for the benefit of the reflecting, and to afford us, under cover of the smile raised at other people's expense, a chance to retreat to our last position.
THE EXCLUSIVENESS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
It might at first appear, that a spirit of extreme unfairness must have dictated such opposite objections, as that the Episcopal Church is both too comprehensive and too exclusive. It would seem that the one allegation must nullify the other allegation. But if it can be shown that the Episcopal Church has exhibited such singular moderation as to be comprehensive where comprehension is called for, and yet not too largely, whilst at the same time she evinces such firmness as to be exclusive where truth and duty require exclusiveness at her hands, notwithstanding the most violent outcries against her arrogant assumptions, as some whose opposing claims are prejudiced, will call them; no mean proof will be furnished that she is holding her way with dignity and calmness where it safest lies--between two extremes.
What is exclusiveness? In reference to facts and to truth, it is simply the opposite of error. In reference to the spirit and manner in which the truth is held or enforced, it is simply dogmatism, intolerance, and uncharitableness. All truth is necessarily exclusive of all error. The most gentle and loving of all Christ's disciples has uttered one of the most exclusive sentiments ever expressed. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." 1 John. v. 19. If the Episcopal Church holds any part or portion of divine truth either denied, neglected, or even overlooked, by others, compared with them, and in [19/20] their estimation, we are, and must be, exclusive. Obliged to be so in fact, if we are so unfortunate and criminal as to be so in spirit, woe be unto us, for we have lost sight of the spirit of Christ!
In the mode of Baptism, our Baptist brethren are exclusive. In the matter of mere Apostolic succession, we Episcopalians are not, since all the Reformed Churches hold, or at least did hold it, quite as strongly as we. But in the matter of Episcopal Apostolic succession, we are exclusive. Now if the Baptists are right, and immersion was the Scriptural, Apostolic, and Primitive mode, no man ought to be offended by this exclusiveness--they cannot help it. But when they go on to affirm that there is no other valid mode of Baptism, we think they begin to betray the exclusive spirit. So also, if Episcopalians are right, and Bishops alone have a Scriptural, Apostolic, and Primitive right to ordain, no one has a right to complain of such exclusiveness--it cannot be helped. But when any of them affirm that no other ordination is valid, you have a perfect right to cry out against such exclusiveness. But if the Baptists, consistent within their own bounds, with their own sentiments, make it an invariable rule to re-baptize all whom they receive from other denominations, there is no just ground of complaint. Neither is there, if Episcopalians insist upon re-ordaining. But for either to say that no distinction is to be drawn between validity and regularity, that the least irregularity entails the worst evils of invalidity, that not to he immersed is not to be baptized at all, and therefore to be excluded from the covenants of promise; and not to be ordained by a Bishop is not to be ordained at all, but wilfully to incur the curse which fell upon Korah and all his company; this, indeed, is to drink deep into the spirit of exclusiveness, which is gall and bitterness. Immersion, I think, is necessary to the regularity of Baptism; nay, immersion through a line of immersers--nay, more, through the line of Episcopal, ministerial immersers. Ordination, in the line of Bishops, I believe to be absolutely necessary to its regularity, and to the perfection of a Church. But to [20/21] suppose that no other Baptism is Baptism, and no other Church is a Church, without such a baptism and such a ministry, is to suppose what makes humanity shudder. For does not humanity, or at any rate sanctified humanity, shudder, at the inference that God was without a Church in Europe during the long ages that adult immersion was almost entirely unknown; and at the idea that the Churches of Germany and Scotland, for nearly three hundred years, have beer, without a ministry and without the sacraments?
Having drawn out this parallel between Baptist and Episcopal exclusiveness to so great an extent, an opportunity is fairly presented for bringing forward the only plea for fraternal regards from our fellow Christians around us. which I have ever been disposed to set up. It is this. The Baptists virtually deny you the nave of Christians by repudiating your Baptism--they will neither commune with you, nor, if rigidly consistent, allow you to commune with them--nor even unite with you in circulating the Bible without note or comment; yet you give them the right hand of fellowship, and fu r from turning to them the cold shoulder, you welcome them with almost the same cordiality as you do your own brethren.
Episcopalians do not go nearly as far in their exclusiveness as the Baptists--they do not reject your baptism, or cast you out upon the uncovenanted mercies of God--they do not refuse to receive you to their communion, nor de they refuse cordially to co-operate with you in the dissemination of the word of God; but they simply doubt the regularity of your ministerial commission, and consequently doubt whether it would be right for them to receive the Lord's Supper at your hands. Yet all we ask is, to be treated as kindly as you treat your Baptist brethren. And why not? Why, because I doubt whether you are a regular minister, am I to be denounced, when another, who is clear that you are not even in lay-communion with the Church, is received kindly and cordially? We by no means wish you to accord to them less, but why not to us at least half as much?
 I am aware that the remark is purely incidental, but it is here hardly unavoidable, how, in the course of years, an extreme position is sure to work itself into a false position. The extreme position of the old Baptists was, there is no other baptism but immersion. Reckless of its excommunication of the whole world of other Christians, which at that time was literally the whole world, they tried to carry out the principle of close communion. Such whole-souled men as Robert Hall could not brook it! There are now open-communion Baptists. How false their position! Yet far better so, than to be cruelly exclusive and consistent! Again, modern Baptists who will not commune with Presbyterians and Methodists, will yet exchange pulpits with them. They are not Christians, in that they are not even baptized, and yet they are Christian ministers! Was ever position more egregiously false! And yet again, better so than to be cruelly exclusive and consistent! They thus virtually declare, that, whereas once they considered IMMERSION as more important than UNITY, they now consider UNITY more important than IMMERSION.
The age in which we live, is an age of large and eager aspirations. Utopias in politics, and utopias of faultless Church organizations are the productions, every day, of many ardent hearts and heated brains. As an unavoidable consequence, dissatisfaction with their own and other existing organizations, a spirit of fault-finding and hypercriticism, are almost universal. Not a little censoriousness is the natural result. One good, however, is sure to follow. The pride, self-confidence, and boasting of sectarianism, are materially abated. And great and profound are the yearnings of Christian hearts, for that which is more orderly, more conservative, more permanent, more productive of abiding good fruit, than much of which we are conscious within our own bounds. A perfect Church is indeed an impossible utopia. Yet the writer feels bound here thus to testify, that he has conversed freely with multitudes of the wisest and best of the wise and good of all the [22/23] religious denominations in our country, and he has heard sighs from Episcopalians, that some of their clergy did not exhibit the Church in the true beauty of holiness which really belongs to her; and sighs and groans from others at the acknowledged deficiencies of their systems; but he has rarely heard the voice of thanksgiving that they were born within any particular branch of the Church, or had providentially been led to seek its privileges, except on the part of the members and ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
In the estimation of their fellow Christians of other denominations, the Baptists and Episcopalians are obnoxious to very similar objections, and they (the Baptists) at least will be able to sympathize with us, in the complaint that our position is not rightly understood, and that we are subjected to no small measure of unjust blame. In thus placing ourselves, and endeavoring to make it appear, that, in the eyes of others we ought to be esteemed as minor instead of more grievous offenders, we wish it to be distinctly understood that we have no wish to render their position more uncomfortable. In truth there is no danger of it. Time has softened asperities in the one case, and we must be content to abide our time, till they are softened in the other. Meantime, we are more than ready to meet all our Protestant brethren who hold the doctrines of grace, more than half way, and to extend to them the right hand of fellowship, under the sole condition, which they would be first to specify, as far as we conscientiously can. We wish that our friendly regards were of greater value than they are; we devoutly wish that we were more wise, and above all, more holy, so as to be more capable of receiving and imparting some good gift. But with all our imperfections upon our heads, we hope that our good Lord has not altogether withholden from our branch of his Church the tokens of his undeserved and infinitely precious regard. And the only claim we prefer, is, that as our Lord has not scorned or rejected us, neither, unless they are wiser and holier [23/24] than He, should our brethren. We do not them! God forbid! As He will doubtless adorn his crown with ten thousand jewels, polished, in part, by their care and ministry, so may we and ours be counted worthy to occupy the humblest place, by their side, in the same eternal and glorious diadem!