THE CHURCH OF ROME.
BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF VERMONT.
HARPER AND BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
RESPECTED AND BELOVED BRETHREN,
IN no spirit of improper interference or dictation, but under a solemn sense of duty to Christ and His Church, I respectfully, humbly, yet earnestly beg your attention to the subject of this communication.
By the Seventh Article of our ecclesiastical Constitution, it is enacted, that no man shall be ordained until he shall have subscribed the following declaration:
"I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the DOCTRINES and WORSHIP of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States."
The DOCTRINES here mentioned are contained not only in our liturgy and offices, but they are precisely and specifically set forth in the "ARTICLES OF RELIGION, as established by the bishops, the clergy, and the laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in convention, on the twelfth day of September, A.D. 1801." With few and trifling exceptions, these are the same with the Thirty-nine Articles of our Mother Church of England, which every clergyman in that Church is obliged to subscribe, so that in both Churches the Articles are necessarily held to be the great exponents of the doctrines which the clergy are "solemnly engaged" to maintain.
Some six years ago, however, the learned and accomplished party of priests connected with the great English University of Oxford, and known as the writers of the celebrated "Tracts for the Times," began to promulgate the notion that those Articles of our religion might be subscribed in what they called a non-natural sense, so as to allow a man to hold all the doctrines of the Roman Council of Trent, and continue, nevertheless, a clergyman of the Church of England, provided only that he disclaimed the anathemas of that Council against all who differ from it, and received the decrees of Rome, not as points of obligatory faith, but only as matters of individual opinion. This novel and alarming hypothesis was broached in one of the Oxford Tracts, No. 90, by the distinguished Mr. Newman, who has lately apostatized to the Church of Rome, with nearly forty other priests of our Mother Church of England. And it was well known that the writings of this remarkable man and his associates had exerted a considerable influence upon a certain portion of our own clergy long before his secession. The Oxford Tract party had been warmly espoused by "The Churchman," the leading periodical of our most important diocese; and not a little strife and commotion in every quarter of our communion bore testimony to the fact, that the principles of Romanism, under this new disguise, were regarded with indulgence and favor by many, and were beginning to wage a serious war with the doctrines of the Church and the spirit of the Reformation.
It was thought, however, by a large proportion of our clergy, that the discussions of our General Convention in A.D. 1844 had checked and discouraged the progress of this insidious foe and that the pastoral letter of the House of Bishops had distinctly declared the utter abhorrence with which our Church regarded the slightest approximation toward the corruptions of Popery. And the open secession of Mr. Newman and his followers in the succeeding year gave strong hope to the friends of "truth and order" that the climax of the peril had been passed, and that every mind which had been warped by the sophistry of this Romanizing party would recoil in disgust and dread from any farther dalliance with the system of abomination. But although we have every reason to believe that the great body of the ministry on both sides of the Atlantic are sound and faithful, and feel a sure trust in the Providence of God that He will not permit the enemy to do serious violence to the Church of our Redeemer, nor suffer His truth to fail, yet we have had lately some afflicting proofs that the infection continues actively at work among us, and that the watchmen on the towers of Zion are still far from being allowed to hold their peace.
"The Churchman" of the 14th of March, 1846, just on the eve of announcing an enlargement of his paper, and a fixed resolve to make new efforts, assisted by a committee of laymen, to obtain accessions to his subscription list, hangs out the banner of Tract No. 90 as his avowed principle, in the following language, to which I request my reader's best attention. After some introductory remarks which it is not necessary to quote, the editor proceeds as follows:
"After a while came the famous (tract) No. 90; and then and thenceforward two questions, which had from thc first been dimly, became clearly distinguished: the first respected the principle of the Tract; the second respected the views of those whom the Tract was intended to shield. The principle of the Tract was the concession of the right of subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles to those who embraced the doctrinal matter of the Trent decrees; the views of those whom it was intended to shield were such as were not repugnant to the doctrine of these decrees. In other words, the principle of the Tract was the toleration in our communion of those who were not opposed to the opinions propounded in the doctrinal decrees of Trent; and the views of those for whom toleration was claimed were such as were reconcilable with these opinions.
"The principle of this Tract we did not hesitate to adopt, and we can not look back on the intemperate Opposition which it has received without a sense of shame, not for the Church, for it is no growth of hers, but for humanity. Then, as now, we considered the intolerance and proscription of good men and sound in the faith for matters of opinion to be the fruit of a narrow-minded policy, a cowardly distrust of truth, and an ignorance of the true genius of the Church both before and since the Reformation; or, to sum up all in a word, we took it to be a working of the leaven of Puritanism. Nothing, in the course of our editorial labors, has gratified us more than the support which we have received on this point from that portion of the Church whose good opinion we especially desire. This steadfast denial of the decrees of Trent as points of faith and terms of communion, and tolerance of them as matters of opinion, is, not in our judgment alone, true Catholic ground, and ground which the Church in the United States, owing to her independence on the State, is peculiarly qualified to maintain. And when the violence of the reaction from Puritanism has ceased, and the love of new theories has subsided, and Catholic principles are better understood, this, we believe, is the ground on which Churchmen will rally; the only ground on which to uphold that unity in essential verities which the sects can not keep, and that liberty in things indifferent which Rome denies, with that charity which both Rome and the sects perpetually violate."
Now here we have a distinct statement and a public avowal of a principle, repeatedly condemned by every bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland whose Judgment has been published, and by a majority of the bishops in our own Church, while we are not aware of one who has ventured to defend it in terms, although there are some in both Churches who have not openly declared themselves on either side of the question. The editor boldly asserts that the principle has been, in his opinion, "acknowledged in the English Church from the Reformation to the present time." And we allege, on the contrary, that no writer of any authority in that Church has presumed to break down the standards of sound doctrine so far as to tolerate the admission of a man to her ministry who was known to prefer the decrees of Rome to the Thirty-nine Articles of his own reformed communion. That a large latitude has been allowed in subscribing to the Articles, and a variety of interpretations admitted in expounding them, we are far from denying. But that they have ever been thought so perfectly nugatory that they could be subscribed conscientiously by an adherent to the doctrines of Trent, is a statement which we should find it as difficult to reconcile with truth, as to reconcile the principle of Tract No. 90 with common sense or common honesty. The whole hypothesis is a perfectly modern discovery, not yet six years old, and the inventor of it has furnished its best practical commentary by seceding to the Church of Rome, four years after he had resolved upon the measure; thus demonstrating that, although his principles could endure a tedious conflict between Popish opinions on the one side, and the ordination vows of a Protestant Church on the other, yet, at last, the opinions proved victorious, and carried him where he ought to have gone long before.
And this is far from being the worst result of the Romish feeling which, to the astonishment and grief of the whole Church, has sprung up so lately and increased so fast among us. If those who have become infatuated with the corrupt religion of the Middle Ages, and are determined to think with Rome, while they promise to preach and labor with us, would only resign at once a ministry which they can not honestly fulfil, it would be a very small and unimportant matter. We can easily spare any man whose heart is not in his work, and are incomparably better off without him. Indeed, we prefer that Rome should have her own, rather than be obliged to hold any one in partnership with her. But the principle of the Tract is chiefly to be dreaded because it encourages the rankest mockery of all truth and fair dealing. It was professedly written for the very purpose of showing men who were beginning to be Romanists in sentiment, how they might nevertheless remain in the ministry of the English Church, just as before, all that was necessary being simply to persuade themselves that the Thirty-nine Articles might be taken in a non-natural sense, that is, a sense quite opposed to the plain and literal meaning; and then they might continue in their places, think Romanism, talk Romanism, preach Romanism, write up the Council of Trent, and write down the Reformation, and still have no qualm of conscience, no uneasiness on account of their broken vows, no sense of their treachery toward their own Church, no solicitude about their moral obliquity. The broad mantle of Catholicity covered all the sin, or, rather, converted the sin into positive holiness; and if they experienced any trouble or ecclesiastical opposition in their course, they had only to receive it with the most innocent air of surprise, and set it down as so much contributed toward a crown of martyrdom.
Precisely in the same light does "The Churchman" present the result of his work in the service of this new kind of clerical morality. "Not only has the Church not suffered," saith he, "by secessions from the ranks of her clergy and candidates for orders, but we have the satisfaction of knowing that the influence of our journal has been a means of retaining and steadying in the sound principles of the Church many whom intolerance and bigotry would have driven from her bosom." From this we can only infer, that many had become so impressed by the doctrinal beauties of the Romish system, and so convinced of their discrepancy with the theology of our Articles, that they would have left the Church and gone over to Rome, like men of candor and principle, if "The Churchman" had not commended Mr. Newman's famous Tract No. 90, and thus persuaded them that they could enjoy their Romish predilections very comfortably where they were, by merely giving our Articles a totally opposite sense from their true and natural meaning, and calling their Romanism, not a matter of faith, but only a matter of opinion. And this, he gravely assures us, was "steadying them in the sound principles of the Church," since it must be quite obvious that the Church meant nothing at all by her Articles of Religion, or, if she did, that she contrived most ingeniously to make her words express the very reverse of what she designed them to signify!
But we shall proceed to show a few of the contrarieties between our Articles and the Roman Council of Trent, before we examine any farther this principle of "The Churchman," and then our readers will have a more distinct idea of the extent and operation of his doctrine.
Our 19th Article asserts, in plain terms, that the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith. But the Tractarian evades this by saying that he thinks just as Rome does, with respect to the matters themselves; and he reconciles himself with the Article, as he supposes, by telling us that in his mind they are not held as matters of faith, but only as matters of opinion.
Our 6th Article sets forth the correct canon of the Old and New Testaments, asserts that these Scriptures contain among all things necessary to salvation, and denies that any thing not contained therein shall be required as an article of faith. Whereas, the Council of Trent demands an equal reverence for the Apocryphal writings and for all her traditions, considering the Scriptures as the written, and the traditions as the unwritten Word of God. Here, again, the Tractarian has no difficulty. He thinks Rome is in the right, and receives her traditions along with the Apocrypha; but as this is only his opinion, and not an article of faith, he supposes himself quite exempt from the doctrine of the Article.
Our 11th Article asserts the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith only, in plain contrariety to the Council of Trent, which confounds justification with sanctification, makes baptism the instrumental cause of our first justification, our good works the instrumental cause of its subsequent increase, and our inherent righteousness the ground of our final acceptance. The Tractarian here agrees with Rome most fully, and satisfies his conscience with thinking that the Article was put into its present shape by the unhappy influence of the Lutheran divines upon the minds of our Reformers, ingeniously concluding that, under those circumstances, he is free from all obligation of doctrinal conformity.
The 12th Article places good works in their true light, "as the fruits of faith, and pleasant and acceptable to God, although they can not put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgment." Here is a plain contrariety to the Council of Trent, which declares that the justified are in no respect deficient, but may be considered as fully satisfying the divine law (as far as is compatible with their present condition) by their works which are wrought in God, and as really deserving eternal life to be bestowed in due time; for this is called our righteousness, because we are justified thereby, through its indwelling in us. In a point of such manifest opposition as this, the Tractarian argues, as before, about the influence of what he calls the "Lutheran heresy," and thinking the Church of Rome right, and the Article wrong, he has recourse to his non-natural sense, for the purpose of putting down the doctrine of his own Church, and enjoying his agreement of opinion with her fearful adversary.
The 22d Article is directed against the Romish dogmas concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also the Invocation of Saints, calling their whole doctrine on these subjects "a fond" (that is, a foolish or silly) "thing, vainly invented, and grounded on no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God." Now all those dogmas are inculcated, more or less extensively, by the Council of Trent. But the Tractarian who chooses to think with Rome on these points has only to persuade himself that our Church did not mean to condemn the doctrine, so much as the practical abuses which had grown out of it, and thus contrives to set aside the whole language of the Article.
The 24th Article condemns the Church of Rome for holding her religious services in Latin, notwithstanding it is nowhere understood by the body of the people. But here again, the Tractarian is prepared to defend the Council of Trent, and is a warm admirer of the Roman Breviary.
The 26th Article denies that five out of the seven Roman Sacraments ought to be accounted as such, in which list that most important subject of Penance occurs, and the doctrine of Rome concerning it is said to have "grown out of a corrupt following of the apostles." But here, too, the Tractarian claims a right to think with the Council of Trent, praises Auricular Confession, asserts the power of the priesthood to forgive sins in the sense of Rome, and has a clear opinion in favor of the vast superiority of her corrupt and despotic system. As to the Article of his own Church, he disposes of it in the manner already mentioned, which we need not again repeat, because it is equally effectual in every case of plain and palpable contradiction.
The 28th Article expressly condemns the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and defines the spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist so as to limit it to the faithful receiver. Here, too, our Church is in direct conflict with the Council of Trent, and yet, as in all the other cases, the Tractarian claims the right to have his opinions in favor of Rome, so long as his practice accords with the order of our Liturgy.
The 30th Article condemns the Roman doctrine of withholding the cup from the laity. But the Council of Trent asserts that Christ is whole and entire under the species of the bread or the wine, and in every particle of the same; and the Tractarian demands the perfect liberty of opinion in thinking Rome right, and his own Church wrong, in this point also.
The 31st Article rejects the sacrifice of propitiatory masses, "in which it was said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain and guilt," as being "a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit." The Council of Trent fully sustains the doctrine which this Article so strongly condemns, and therefore the Tractarian again claims the right of opinion in favor of the Roman corruption.
The 32d Article condemns the popish doctrine of priestly celibacy, in which, likewise, we stand opposed to the Trentine Council. And here, too, the Tractarian demands the privilege of being a Romanist in theory, whatever he may choose be in practice.
The foregoing presents but a very brief sketch of the leading points of difference between the Articles of our Church and the Council of Trent. The papal supremacy was not touched upon by the Council, neither is it mentioned in the Articles, but all the other doctrines in which the Churches differ so decidedly are plainly stated in both, so as to make it utterly impossible to reconcile the office of our priesthood with the doctrines of that Council, unless by the total subversion of our "Articles of Religion," and along with this, the absolute destruction of every established rule of ecclesiastical truth and obligation. And yet "The Churchman" maintains that this monstrous coalition of Romish opinions with the solemn engagements of our clergy to conform to the doctrines of our Church, ought to be "tolerated and allowed." He insists that the resistance to the nefarious principle of Tract No. 90 is only "a working of the leaven of Puritanism." And he presumes to tell us that "when the reaction from Puritanism has ceased, and Catholic principles are better understood, this is the ground on which Churchmen will rally."
Now, in order to bring this most momentous question to a plain and simple issue, let us ask the attention of our readers to the promise made by every priest in his ordination, and see how the theory so confidently put forth by "The Churchman" will work in the practical performance of his solemn duty.
The bishop is obliged, according to the Ordinal, to put the following interrogatory to every man before he is ordained to the priesthood, viz.:
"Will you give your faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same; so that you may teach the people committed to your charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?"
And to this the candidate is bound to answer: "I will so do, by the help of the Lord."
The next question put by the bishop is as follows:
"Will you be ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word, and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within your cure, as need shall require and occasion shall be given?"
And to this, also, the answer is: "I will, the Lord being my helper."
Here, then, we find that every priest is under a solemn vow, always to teach and minister the doctrine of Christ as our Church hath received it, and to banish and drive away from the people all that our Church condemns as erroneous and strange. The written engagement demanded by our Constitution is thus seen to be only a brief condensation of a duty, much more fully set forth in the ordination service itself, under every circumstance which could add weight to a promise made in the presence of the Church, in the sight of God, and with a measure of awful responsibility before the tribunal of Christ far beyond any other. For the ordained minister goes forth among his fellow-men as the commissioned ambassador of the Almighty King of kings, and tenfold must be the condemnation which awaits him if he violates his sacred trust, or deals deceitfully and falsely with the immortal souls committed to his care.
Before we proceed, however, to examine the position of that class of clergymen for which "The Churchman" claims a toleration to hold all the doctrines of Rome (with the single exception of the papal supremacy), we must first notice his distinction between opinion and faith, since he is willing to deny the decrees of Trent as points of faith or terms of communion, and only contends for liberty to hold them as matters of opinion. And here we think the editor, notwithstanding his usual astuteness, has fallen into a manifest inconsistency; for when he claims the right to hold all these doctrinal decrees, so long as he receives them as matters of opinion merely, he seems to have forgotten that a large proportion of them are expressly declared by that Council to be matters of faith, so that the holding of the doctrines of Trent includes the question, How they shall be holden? and therefore he who only holds them as opinions, and not as points of faith, places himself in the novel position of an adversary to his own Church on the one hand, and to the Council of Trent on the other. It is certainly a strange choice for men to make who are so fond of "Catholic unity," that they should withdraw their confidence from their own Church, and yet place it in no other--give up the Articles for the sake of Trent, and yet not accept the decrees of Trent in the only form in which they are propounded to them.
But the main question of ministerial fidelity is in no respect affected by this vain and preposterous attempt to separate the fixed and settled DOCTRINES of our Articles into matters of faith and matters of opinion. The language of the ordination service is "DOCTRINE." This word is defined to mean "whatever is taught, or laid down as true, by any instructor or master." The doctrine of the Church, therefore, is what the Church lays down as true, and requires her clergy to teach as truth to those intrusted to their care, as well as to the world around them. This is what every ordained minister has solemnly vowed to do, "the Lord being his helper;" and if he willfully violates that vow, the sin of the deepest perjury lies upon his soul.
Now let us inquire how it is possible such an obligation can be discharged by one who stands in the position defended by "The Churchman," namely, holding the doctrines of the Council of Trent while he continues to bear the commission of our ministry. In the fulfilment of his sacred office, he is bound to treat, from time to time, upon all the topics belonging to the Gospel of Christ, as they have been committed to him. Repentance, Faith, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Justification, Sanctification, Good Works, the Church, the Ministry, Absolution, the Power of the Keys, the Canon of the Scriptures, the Rule of Faith, the principles of the Reformation, the corruptions of the Roman Church, which made that Reformation necessary--in a word, the whole range of subjects properly included within his official character, and useful for the edification and instruction of his people--all are expected to be discussed by him from the sacred desk, in public, as occasion may require, and explained, in private, from house to house, as opportunity may offer; and in almost every one of them, the doctrine of the Church, and the doctrine of Rome, stand more or less opposed to each other. So long as he holds the doctrine of the Church, his path is open and his course is clear. But if he should be deluded into holding the doctrine of her adversary, mark what a position he must occupy. And, if he still continues to speak, or preach, or write, as the minister of that Church in which he has been ordained, reflect, we beseech you, on the moral obliquities which on every side await him.
And here we shall be careful to remember that the Tractarian holds the doctrines of Rome, not as points of faith, but as matters of opinion merely. With respect to our present inquiry, we consider this to be a vain and sophistical distinction. For, not to repeat what we have already said on the subject, we would only ask, What is opinion? Is it not that which we think to be the truth? And do we not adopt our opinions precisely for the very reason that we believe them to be true? Grant, then, that our Tractarian holds the doctrines of Rome only as opinions, yet he believes them to be true, or he could not hold them so. And that is all that our argument requires.
Now, then, how is he to discharge his office as a commissioned, ordained, and authorized instructor? If he preaches according to Rome, he is false to the Church. If he preaches according to the Church, he is false to his conscience, for his own opinion is, that Rome is right and the Church is wrong. If he undertakes to reconcile them by putting a non-natural interpretation on the Articles, which he knows the Church never intended, he is false to all the rules of human confidence, false to the teaching of his theological instructors, false to the laws of language, false to the common sense and reason of mankind. And if, to avoid all these difficulties, he shuns every topic of instruction which could involve the points in controversy, and reduces his teaching to a circle which might be trodden in the same manner by either a Romish priest or a Protestant clergyman, he is false to that SAVIOR who is "the way, the truth, and the life;" false to the example of St. Paul, who "shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God," and "kept back nothing that was profitable;" false to the admonition of St. Jude, that we should "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints;" and false to that solemn vow which binds him to proclaim and defend the WHOLE DOCTRINE of his own Church, and not a part of it only.
With a mind so warped from its allegiance, and yet fully aware that a frank and candid statement of his Trentine opinions would utterly alienate his brethren and disgust his flock, such a man would be constantly tempted to a course of prevarication. He would feel his way, calculate how much he might venture, draw back a little when he found that he had gone too far, advance again as soon as he dared, and infuse his Romish doctrines just as fast and as openly as he thought politic, hoping to find himself strong enough by-and-by to throw off the mask, and boldly avow his darling project of unity with Rome, the loss of which he gently insinuates, from time to time, to be a mournful dispensation. And mean while he would naturally indulge his predilections by gazing on the phantom of Catholicity, and exaggerating the efficacy of sacramental grace, and magnifying the authority of councils, and recommending the lives of the Roman saints, and speaking contemptuously of the character and work of the Reformers, and making an idol of the Church of the Middle Ages, and trying to revive the exploded custom of prayers for the dead, and enlarging the importance of tradition, and bringing the external forms of worship as near as possible to the Roman standard. In all this, his views of expediency would be the only counteracting influence against the internal force of his opinions; for the true and dutiful attachment once felt for the doctrine of his own Church would be no longer his ruling principle of action. And hence his whole soul would become more and more infected with the poison of Romanism. Reserve and mystification would grow into a habit. Candor and frankness would be abjured. Preaching and conversation would be less and less marked by the honest ardor of sincerity. The warm and cordial confidence of those around him would be exchanged for the chilling atmosphere of doubt and suspicion. No blessing from heaven could cheer his ministerial course. And, after years spent in this apostasy of the heart, without being able to make any decisive impression upon the Church which he had been vainly attempting to unprotestantize, he would find himself compelled to go where his opinions had gone before, and exhibit, in the sight of man, the treachery which had long been displayed in the sight of God.
Such, we are grieved to say, seems to have been the course of the eminently gifted, but most unhappy, Mr. Newman, and, to a greater or a less extent, of his misguided associates. And, in the very nature of the case, it could not be otherwise; for it is obviously impossible for any man to form his opinions upon the decrees of the Council of Trent, and yet not long to be united with Rome. It is impossible for him to think that all doctrinal truth is with that Church, and yet approve the English Reformation. It is impossible for him to adopt the theology of Trent, and yet not desire that his own Church should yield him her sympathy. To create and enlarge that sympathy must necessarily become the favorite object of his life. Beguiled by the phantom of Catholic unity, and devoted to his ideal of the Church of the Middle Ages, he can not avoid making it the central point of his prayers and his exertions. So long as he hopes that any reasonable measure of success will attend his efforts, he may indeed remain among us, under the fond delusion that he is winning our Church back to her first love. But when he is convinced that success is impossible, and that every fresh development of his purpose only raises still higher the tide of accusation and reproach, he must resolve to seek abroad the sympathy which he can not find at home, and betake himself to those who will welcome him as a Romanist in fact as well as in theory.
And most melancholy of all, perhaps, is the reflection that this dreadful obliquity of principle and purpose has a power of strange fascination upon men of superior intellect and devotional habits, and amiable temper, and refined taste, and pure moral character, and every other lovely social quality. We willingly apply this remark to Mr. Newman himself, and we doubt not that it might be applied with equal justice to many of his companions in apostasy. But in this there is nothing new or extraordinary. The heretic Montanus, in the second century, was a superior model of all the higher virtues. Tertullian, his follower, was distinguished for his intellectual vigor, and his austere and self-denying holiness. Origen, in the third century, was the most accomplished scholar of his age, and personally pre-eminent in all zeal and piety, while yet he was the author of many false doctrines, which the Church condemned as dangerous heresies after their celebrated advocate had passed away. Arius, who set all Christendom on fire in the fourth century, was learned, eloquent, and perfectly unimpeachable in the moral relations of life. In a word, nearly all the leaders of heresy and schism have been persons of peculiar talent, energy, and external purity and holiness of character. And this was even necessary to their success, for no argument is so prevailing with mankind at large as the influence created by the charm of personal sanctity, especially when it is united with amiable manners and insinuating address. And Satan understands this well, for he has practiced upon the same policy from the beginning; and his subtlest and most dangerous triumphs have been achieved in all ages by a similar instrumentality. But it was an inspired apostle that said (Gal., i., 8), "Though WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." And not satisfied with one declaration of this solemn warning, he repeats it immediately, "As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." With such an awful admonition before our eyes in the word of God, we dare not withhold our denunciation of this nefarious principle on account of the amiable personal character of those who maintain it. They are not quite up to the mark of St. Paul in their individual sanctity. They are not quite as pure as an angel from heaven. And yet, if they were, we may not suffer them to set aside, pollute, or trifle with the sacred doctrines of the Gospel.
Such, nevertheless, is the bold and public demand of "The Churchman." He tells us that we must "tolerate" the men who adopt the doctrines of the Council of Trent, in utter contempt of our own reformed, and Scriptural, and truly apostolic system. He tells us that our refusal to tolerate them is a "shame to humanity." He declares that the absurd and dishonest principle of Tract No. 90 is the only ground on which Churchmen will rally when the reaction of what he calls Puritanism shall have passed away, and Catholic principles are better understood; as if the blessed martyrs of the Reformation knew nothing about Catholic principles, and the ground on which the Church has stood and flourished for three hundred years was not the rock of Christ's eternal truth, but only a false and sandy foundation. And this is the flag which he unfurls at the commencement of his new effort to enlarge his paper and extend its circulation. This is the sign under which he hopes to conquer, in the face of the great body of the bishops in England, in Ireland, and in the United States; in the face of the last General Convention, in the face of the open apostasy of Mr. Newman and his forty associates, and in defiance of every rule of ministerial consistency, fidelity, and solemn obligation.
To our bishops and our clergy, and to every intelligent member of our communion, therefore, we address our humble and earnest entreaty, that this presumptuous claim in behalf of the Council of Trent may be denounced as distinctly as it has been advocated. We have believed it our solemn duty to present our views upon the subject, because we are quite sure that few, comparatively, have deemed it of sufficient importance to give it much attention, and that the majority are disposed to pass it over as an evil which will cure itself, if it be let alone. But this spirit of indulgence toward doctrinal error is not easily reconciled with the true theory of Christian fidelity. It is while men sleep that the enemy soweth tares; and constant vigilance is the only means, under God, by which either the Church or the State can secure its safety. Nor have we been deterred from our task by the fear of being charged with "meddling in other men's matters;" for every member of the Church--the visible body of Christ--is directly bound up with the whole, and is unavoidably interested in the soundness of every part. The editor of "The Churchman," moreover, though, as a clergyman, he is only amenable to the authority of New York, is equally open, as editor, to the observation, and, if need be, to the rebuke of every other bishop, because books, and especially periodicals, are universal public property. They find their way into every quarter with equal ease, and are constantly operative in each section of the Church, either for good or evil. We call upon our brethren, therefore, with all respect and affection, and in the full consciousness of duty, to reflect seriously before they encourage, either actively or passively, the monstrous principle which this editor announces as the leading characteristic of his paper. For if the clergy hold their peace, and the laity sustain him, and the fountain of this perilous delusion continues to flow on, until we too have our band of apostates following the track of Mr. Newman, after having convulsed and torn the Church through years of bitter dissension, we know not on what plea they can acquit themselves, before Christ, of being accessories to an awful error.
For ourselves, we have no other feelings toward the editor and his clerical associates, whoever they may be, than those of personal kindness and fraternal solicitude. We consider them, emphatically, as men under a strong delusion; and we would fervently pray for them, as for those who "know not what they do." May God, of his infinite mercy, reclaim them from every Romish tendency, lead them back to the pure doctrines which they held when they were ordained, and enable them to repair the evil of their present course by a zealous devotion of their talents and their powers to the fulfilment of those solemn vows, which are registered in heaven, and will be fearfully required of all that have assumed them, in the judgment of the great day.
JOHN H. HOPKINS,
Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont.