In this fallen, but not God-forsaken, world, two principles are struggling for the mastery--truth and error. Where there is only error, there is quiet. When the truth comes, it is as a disturbing force, and conflict follows. We are not, therefore, to be surprised at the contentions that have characterized the Church in all ages. The Church holds truth. It is a setter-forth of truth. But error is active. It is ever thrusting at the truth, and seeking to supplant it. Hence, endless strifes in the Church. From whence comes this error? It is the offspring of the corrupted, fallen heart of man, that fancies itself wiser than God. The overflowing errors that have driven truth from the Roman and Greek Churches, are, as has been well shown by Archbishop Whately, the natural growth of the human heart.
It was the effort of the fifteenth century to shake off this error, and to restore to the Church the simple truth of Scripture. The effort, as far as it went, was a success, although error was not wholly extirpated. It is a question whether it ever can be, or will be, during this dispensation. Still it is none the less the duty of those who love the truth to be contending against the error. The struggle awakened in the Church of England by the Reformation is still going on, and the Episcopal Church in this country finds itself agitated by the same questions. It is not our purpose to trace the history and results of this conflict. We simply allude to it as a fact, designing to state what an increasing number in this Church believe to be the cause, and what must therefore be the remedy.
 Never before, in the history of our Church, have these contending elements been so determinately arrayed against each other. Disruption threatens most seriously, as the result of this conflict; and the question suggests itself, how is it that a Church, with a liturgical worship, and articles of faith, and canons, and ecclesiastical courts, and other safeguards for the prevention of error--how is it that such a Church can harbor in its bosom two systems of doctrine that are so diametrically opposed, that if one is right, the other must be wrong?
The answer is, that its reformation is incomplete--that its formularies were yet in a transition state, when work upon them, owing to the death of Edward VI, was suspended. The Service Book of the Church of England could be made Scriptural, only as the minds of the Reformers were first enlightened. As they were enabled to see the superstitions of the past, and to divest themselves of their influences, so were they enabled to amend, and make Scriptural their Service Book. That the mind of the Reformers was still developing towards Protestantism, when their work was cut short by the accession of Mary, we have abundant evidence. They left us a Prayer Book, not fully amended, and which, had they been permitted, would, beyond a doubt, have received further erasures and additions. What emendations have taken place since, have been of a retrograde character; and we charge it upon the Prayer Book, that the false doctrine that is now disturbing our peace, derives its support from words, and expressions, and usages, to be found within its covers. In other words, that the Book of Common Prayer is inconsistent with, if not contradictory to, itself. That while its Articles, and, for the most part, its offices, set forth the great fundamental truths of Scripture; yet it retains some things that may be, and are, so used as to make it contradictory in itself, and a handle for those amongst us who sympathize with the errors of the Roman and Greek Churches.
We have already said that, the contradictory views held in the Church, and claiming the authority of the Prayer Book, are calculated to awaken suspicion, and to send us to the book with inquiry.
There are men, learned and of unimpeachable character, who claim this book as the standard of their belief; and yet, on the all-important question, What must we do to be saved?--they are as far apart as the poles. The time was, when the so-called middle-men would have pooh-poohed such a statement, and would have said: "bring brethren together, and it will be found they all mean the same thing." The time has passed for such assertions. Honest and [4/5] fearless men on both sides have not only spoken, but have gone into print. The ordinary reader can take up, e. g., the "Manual for Confirmation Classes," by the Rev. Morgan Dix, and the little volume on "Justification by Faith," by Bishop McIlvaine, and see that there is a great difference--that the one contradicts the other--that if one is true the other must be false. Among the numerous memorials prepared for presentation to the late General Convention, we have one that begins in this way:--
"Your petitioners, clergymen and laymen of this Church, respectfully represent unto your Venerable Body, that it is a well-known fact that there exists in this Church two distinct types of belief, called by their adherents respectively the 'Sacramental' and the 'Evangelical' systems.
"According to the former system, spiritual regeneration invariably takes place in baptism, and constitutes, indeed, a part of it. According to the latter, baptism has no agency whatever in producing spiritual regeneration, and is very seldom, if ever, coetaneous with it. According to the former, the Lord's Supper includes a sacrifice, and requires the presence of a sacrificing priest, and a sacrificial victim. According to the latter, there is neither priest, sacrifice, nor corporeal presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but a memorial of a past and finished sacrifice, and a spiritual communion of true Christians with Christ and with each other. According to the former, there is no Church or branch of the Church among all the Protestant bodies of this land, except our own, and no recognition of any other Protestant bodies as Churches, nor of their ministers as clergymen, nor inter-communion or church-fellowship is allowable. According to the latter, every organized body of Christians holding and practicing the pure truths of the Gospel, and blessed by the Holy Spirit, is a true Church, or a branch of the true Church of Christ, and to excommunicate and withdraw from such is not only schism, but an offense against the first principles of our holy religion."
These, it will be said, are the extreme views of extreme parties. True; but extreme parties are only the van-guards. Give the main body time, and it will come up. This has been clearly exemplified in the advance of the sacramental party. Until the last two years, the Evangelical party has been stationary and strictly conservative. Holding the views of such eminent men as Bishops White, Moore and Griswold, it has been content with standing on the defensive; and it is only recently that some of this party have felt the importance of acting out their Church principles. The [5/6] views ascribed to them in the above quotation, will be repudiated by a large portion of those who consider themselves Evangelical men. But there are many who do hold them. This is evidenced by the fact that this memorial has received a number of signatures, and there were many more ready to give their names, had the last two clauses been left out, and a few verbal changes made. Here, then, are two systems directly opposite in their tendencies. Both claim the Prayer Book. Both are taught as the teachings of the Prayer Book. Then, we ask, can this book be consistent with itself, and yet the mother of such inconsistency? Can all its doctrinal statements and its offices be in accord, and yet allow conscientious and learned men to hang such diametrically opposite systems upon them? The facts are calculated to awaken suspicion, and to send us to an examination of the different parts of the Prayer Book with trembling apprehension.
Let it be distinctly understood, that our object is not to consider the Scriptural correctness or incorrectness of either the Sacramental or Evangelical systems, nor is it to discuss the merits of these systems in any manner. The fact is admitted that these two systems do exist in the Church, that they are antagonistic to each other, and that they are growing more and more so every day; and the question is, how can these things be? How can two systems so diametrically opposed, find a home under the same roof, draw their inspiration from the same source, and strengthen and establish themselves by citations from the same book? This being the inquiry, we go to the book for an answer. Our attention is called to it, because its authority is unquestioned in this body in which it is received. It is appealed to by each party, and therefore it must give support to each. This being so, we have every reason to anticipate that the antagonism existing between these two systems, must be found in the Prayer Book also.
Opening this book, we find that it contains, aside from its Scriptural citations, a liturgy, prayers, offices, a catechism, and articles. To all of these, appeals are made, and we propose examining them in connection with certain leading doctrines.
We will consider this doctrine first. It is fundamental. It is the very beginning of the Christian religion. It has involved in it the greatest of all questions, viz., What must I do to be saved? How shall I obtain remission of sins? It is the doctrine upon which all others hinge. The diverging lines begin here. Just as you answer this question, you begin the shaping of your theological system. If the work of Jesus is perfect, and we are justified by faith in him, then there is no need of baptismal regeneration, and sacramental grace, and a sacerdotal priesthood, with its absolutions, and its altar, and its sacrifices. But if not, if Christ's work is not perfected, or if faith in it is not sufficient, then we want all these, and a great deal more.
Art. XI is entitled "Of the Justification of Man." It reads:--"We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith . . . we are justified by faith only."
We turn now to the baptismal offices. Faith and repentance are. required for the "worthy" receiving of this sacrament. So it is stated in the Catechism; and in the service for infants as well as adults, the exhortation is pressed upon the candidate: "Doubt ye not, but earnestly believe." Faith (by which the Article says we are justified only), being exercised, or being supposed to be exercised, the candidate for baptism is now ready to receive the rite. He presents himself, and the office introduces him to the congregation as one yet in his sins. They are then taught to pray for him that "he may receive remission of sin by spiritual regeneration;" and again, that he may receive the "Holy Spirit, may be born again, and be made an heir of everlasting salvation." The office then proceeds to address the parties themselves. In the case of an infant, the address is to the sponsor, and it thus sums up what has been prayed for: "Ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive, to release from sin, to sanctify with the Holy Ghost, and to give the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life." In the office for adults it is the same in substance. In the prayer that follows there is a petition for the sanctifying of the water "to the mystical washing away of sin." Let it be observed that up to this point in the service, the theory of the office is that the candidate is yet in his sins. Now comes the act of baptism, which is immediately followed by the announcement that the party so baptized [7/8] is "now regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church." And again: In the thanksgiving prayer, the people are taught to return thanks because it hath pleased Almighty God "to regenerate this infant with his Holy Spirit, to receive him for his own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into his holy Church." In the case of the adult, they are to say, "Give thy Holy Spirit to these persons, that being NOW born again, and made heirs of everlasting salvation," etc.
The result of this comparison of the Article with the baptismal offices is something more than inconsistency; the discrepancy amounts to positive contradiction. The Article affirms that the sinner is justified by faith, and by faith only. The office, to be consistent with this statement, should regard justification, or the forgiveness of sins, as linked with faith and dependent upon it. Going upon the charitable supposition that the candidate, either in himself, or his sponsor, was in the exercise of the requisite faith, it should 'be so framed as to recognize this previously existing state of grace, and it should point to the baptism about to be administered as its outward and visible sign. But no; the office teaches that regeneration, justification and adoption are not bestowed upon the believer until after baptism. In other words, that we are justified in or by baptism, which ever phase of doctrine we may choose to adopt. But the Article says it is by faith only.
This contradiction will appear more striking by considering it in connection with the office for adult baptism. Repentance and faith are required of the candidate. He has them, but is not baptized. He is ready to be, but circumstances have prevented, and still prevent. In the contingencies of this poor life, such a delay is not uncommon. It may continue for a month, a year. And all this time according to the office, he is still in a state of nature--in his sins. He is unregenerate, unjustified, unadopted, and therefore if sudden death should overtake him, he must die in this condition. His faith in the work of Christ, his repentance for sins past, avail him naught: he has not been baptized. The water, sanctified for the mystical washing away of sin, has not been poured upon him--the priest has not pronounced him regenerate, or called upon the congregation to give thanks because of his reception into the Church--and, is he lost? The inference is clear from the office, and also from the Catechism. Baptism is the only method they recognize by which he can be made "a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven," and without this making, he cannot be saved; therefore, without baptism, though faith is [8/9] exercised, and repentance is felt, there can be no salvation. Such is the inference from the office. But the Article teaches explicitly that, we are saved by faith, and by faith only. Out of this contradiction arises the question, how are we justified? Is it by faith, or by baptism? Which theory are we to take--that of the Article, or of the office? And in answering this question, we have the origin of the present strife and division that is agitating our Church. A man's views, if he looks exclusively to the Church for them, will depend upon where he has learned his theology. Is it from the Article? then he holds to the doctrine of justification by faith, and the system that grows out of it. Is it from the office and Catechism? Then he regards baptism as the agent in effecting regeneration, and in procuring justification, and his views upon other closely connected subjects will be shaped accordingly.
We will now proceed to a consideration of these two systems as they are held in the Church, and as they are developed from different standpoints in the Prayer Book.
Evangelical View.--The Evangelical Episcopalian believes that justification, or the forgiveness of sins, is the work of Christ; that the sinner obtains these benefits through faith; that the moment he believes, he is justified, is born again, is made a child of God, and has everlasting life. This faith is accompanied by repentance as its first fruit. Then follows a public confession, and baptism is the divinely appointed mode. Baptism thus becomes the outward and visible sign of the previously existing grace; it is also the introduction to membership with the visible Church; and it is a still further means of grace, i. e., a strengthening of our faith, and a quickening of our spiritual purposes and hopes, as it is associated with the Word of God and with prayer. So that, according to the teaching of the Evangelical portion of this Church, regeneration, justification and adoption are antecedent to baptism. They go before it, and are in no way dependent upon it.
Sacramental View.--The Sacramentarian, or High-Churchman, holds that the sinner is saved on account of the work of Christ; that he must exercise faith and repentance; that he must come to baptism; that in baptism he receives special grace--a grace that belongs [9/10] to this rite, and that consists in justification, in regeneration, in being made God's child and an heir of the kingdom of heaven; and this grace is conferred upon all, no matter what their age, provided they receive the sacrament worthily, i. e., with faith and repentance. A quotation or two from a work that is rapidly becoming a text-book in our Church, will establish the correctness of this statement. Reference is made to the "Manual for Confirmation Classes," by the Rev. Morgan Dix. Says this prominent teacher in the Church: "Forgiveness of sins is one chief gift in baptism, and every one, no matter what his age may be, does receive forgiveness of sin in that holy sacrament" (p. 24). "In holy baptism we have full forgiveness of original sin, for the past, the present, and the future" (p. 25). Ques. "Where do we first receive forgiveness?" Ans. "In Holy Baptism." (p. 85.)
PRAYER BOOK TEACHINGS.
The Articles.--We shall be obliged here to go over some of the ground already traversed. Art. XI teaches that we are accounted righteous before God only for the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith; . . . . that we are justified by faith only.
Art. XXV treats "of the sacraments." It speaks of them,
1. As rites of divine appointment.
2. As badges or tokens of profession.
3. As sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good-will toward us.
4. As means by which he worketh invisibly in us, quickening, strengthening, and confirming faith in himself.
According to this Article, the sacraments do not communicate anything to their recipients that they had not before. Nothing is said of the forgiveness of original sin in or by them. They are spoken of as signs of grace. This supposes the previous existence of grace. The thing must exist before that which signifies it. Abraham had and exercised his faith, before he received circumcision, the outward sign of it (Rom. iv, 11), and so the quickening, and strengthening, and confirming of faith, implies the previous existence of faith. With this agrees Art. XXVII. This Article relates to baptism. It teaches that baptism is,
1. A. sign of profession, of regeneration, or new birth.
 2. A mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from those who are not christened.
3. An instrument whereby they who receive it rightly are grafted into the Church.
4. By it the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed.
5. In its use faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer to God.
These articles harmonize perfectly, and from them the Evangelical has evidently derived his principles. Art. XI affirms that justification is by faith only. These Articles teach that baptism, a divine ordinance, is a sign of profession, and of new birth; that it is not the agent in obtaining remission of original sin and regeneration, but the visible sign and seal of the promise of the forgiveness and the adoption that have been previously acquired through faith: and that the faith and grace already existing are confirmed, not by any virtue in the baptismal waters, but by virtue of prayer to God, supposed to be offered at the time.
This is very different from the Sacramentarian view which has been already mentioned. The holder of it does not certainly find his system in these Articles, and yet he claims his as "the Church system"--as "the teachings of the Church." Where shall we look for them? Let us turn to the baptismal offices, and to the Catechism.
The baptismal office. Attention has already been called to the teachings of this office. We have shown that it regards the believing and repenting candidate, as still in his sins, as unforgiven, unregenerate, and unadopted, until the sanctified water is poured upon him, and then he is pronounced justified, regenerate and adopted. So much for the office. The Catechism defines a sacrament to be, not only an outward sign of grace, but also "a means whereby we receive the same," i. e., the sacrament imparts the grace of which it is the sign. That this is the meaning is clearly determined by the question and answer: "What is the inward and spiritual grace "(in baptism)? Answer: "A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness." This is regeneration. The answer ends with this statement: "We are hereby (the death unto sin, etc., obtained in baptism) made the children of grace." The expression, "children of grace," finds its full explication in the second question and answer: "Who gave you this name?"
Answer: "My sponsors in baptism: wherein I was made a member [11/12] of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."
The office and the Catechism are thus in harmony. What the office leaves somewhat uncertain, the Catechism determines. But how with the Articles? Can there be any reconciliation?
The Article says: We are justified by faith. Baptism is the visible sign of the invisible faith that has given us access into this grace.
The office says: Believe and repent, and you shall receive , this grace in baptism, and the Catechism asserts that it is not only received in, but by--"whereby we receive the same."
Can we reconcile the two? It is impossible. The one ascribes justification to faith, and places it before baptism. The other links justification with baptism. Justification is the grace, or at least a portion of the grace received in and by baptism, and there can be no reconciliation between two such contradictory statements. The diverging lines of the two parties begin here. The Evangelical takes the Articles with their teachings concerning justification and baptism, and goes his way; and the Sacramentarian takes the offices and Catechism with their teachings and goes his; and the two ways lead in very different directions. The one is Protestantism, the other Romanism.
This, then, is the starting-point from which the divergency begins between the two parties that are at the present time so earnestly opposed to each other, and that are threatening the unity of the Church. It is important to trace this divergency a little further. We have seen the foundation on which each party stands; let us look a little at the superstructure which each builds, and the source from whence the materials are derived.
THE RULE OF FAITH.
What is the standard of appeal in all controversies of faith? This is an important question. In considering theological truth in the abstract, it would take the precedence of all others. Is it the Bible alone, or is it the Bible and tradition, and the writings of the Fathers, and the decrees of General Councils? The answer will decide at once the character of our theological system. But we are not now arguing the abstract question. [12/13] We are considering the two parties in the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical and Sacramental, or High-Church. In the history of these controversies, the question of baptismal regeneration has been the prominent one. It has been the one out of which each system has developed itself, and as a general thing, it will be found that, a decision on the baptismal question has been arrived at, when this other question has not been determined, perhaps has not even been considered. We therefore follow the historical, rather than the logical, order in which these doctrines present themselves.
What is the rule of faith? The Evangelical says, "The Word of God, and the Word of God only." To it must we carry all our doubts, and fears, and disputes, and receive enlightenment for our consciences, and act accordingly. In this he is fully sustained by Art. VI. "Holy Scripture," says this Article, "containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." It also warns against the Romish error of using the apocryphal books "to establish any doctrine." Furthermore, Art. XX, on "the authority of the Church," says: "It is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, . . . as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so beside the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation."
The Sacramental party accepts the word of God as the rule of Faith; but it must be interpreted by the Church, and the Church in giving her interpretation is to be guided by tradition. The universal consent of the early Church, the interpretations of the Apostolic and early Fathers, and the decrees of General Councils, make up this tradition. Says the High-Church writer, already quoted, speaking of faith and the source from whence it is derived: "Divine, or, as it is called, Catholic Faith, is a gift of God and a light of the soul, illuminated by which, a man assents, fully and unreservedly, to all which Almighty God has revealed, and which he proposes to us by His Church to be believed, whether written or unwritten" (Manual, p. 30). Again, he says: "A General Council, lawfully assembled, freely deliberating, and guided by the Holy Ghost, is the only final authority on questions touching the faith "(p. 41). This language may not be adopted, perhaps, in the fullness of its meaning by all the party. Yet, there is unanimity in this, that, if the Scriptures contain the faith, the Church is the interpreter of that [13/14] faith, and her members must receive as she teaches. Hence, from their pulpits, and in their writings, we hear only of what "the Church teaches."
Upon this important matter we rejoice to believe that our Service Book is more consistent than upon some others. We have already had the very strong and decided language of our Church in reference to the authority of the Divine Word. To this she stands firm, and nowhere in her offices contradicts herself, and yet there are some things that look like inconsistency, and give some slight coloring, but it is very slight, to High-Church views on this subject. We find, e. g., that she requires the Apocrypha to be read on certain occasions in the stead of the word of God. In the offertory there are two sentences from the Apocryphal Book of Tobit to be used along with sentences from the Scriptures. We find that in her Ordinal, where she argues the authority of the three-fold order of her ministry, she places Holy Scriptures and ancient authors side by side, as though she esteemed them of like or co-ordinate authority. In Art. VI, already referred to, she quotes the authority of a Father, for the position she takes: "and the other Books, as Hierome sayeth," etc. Again, in the consecration of Bishops she says: "For as much as Holy Scripture and the Ancient Canons, command," etc.
We say that there is inconsistency in this. Having declared that Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation, then we find her mixing with it other writings, as though it did not contain all things necessary to salvation. Having pronounced it all authoritative in matters of faith, then we have her establishing her statements from it in connection with other authority, as though its authority were not sufficient by itself; and from these inconsistencies, from the example of the Church herself in her standards and offices, the High Church party find the ground on which to couple the authority of tradition, and tie Fathers, and Councils,--with the authority of the Word of God.
his is another point of great importance. Party lines are very clearly defined in reference to it. What is the Church? The XIXth Article says: "The visible Church of Christ is a company of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." In some particulars, this definition of a Church is clear and decided. In reference, however, to the question, "What is the Church?" as now discussed amongst us, it determines nothing. Both parties appeal to it, and claim it as on their side.
The Evangelical holds that Faith is the essential element, the very life, of the Church: the ministry is of its order. Wherever there is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a setting forth of His word, and a due observance of His sacraments, there, according to his belief, is a visible Church, and such the Evangelical claims to be the meaning of the Article, and the intention of those who put it forth. In support of his claim, he says, that Bucer, and Peter Martyr, and the Reformers of the Continent, viewed it, and gave their assent to it, and also to Article XXIII, and that they never would have approved of articles, whose expressed, or even designed, teachings were such as to exclude them from membership with the visible Church.
This may be true, and may satisfy some as to the meaning of the Articles referred to. But it does not satisfy all. The question, "what is the Church?" is answered by the assertion that it is "the ministry." And to meet and rebut this statement, the Articles in question are wholly inadequate. The fact that those who take the Evangelical view, are obliged to .resort to the history of these Articles for the confirmation of their interpretation, is evidence of their non-committal character, as touching the point now in controversy. To be sure, this is not the only argument that the Evangelical makes use of: e. g., to show the spirit and intention of our Church on this point, the preface to our American Book is referred to, in which Christian bodies about us are recognized as Churches--"The different religious denominations of Christians in these States were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective Churches." So again, from the use of the personal pronoun this in the Ordinal--"to the intent that these orders may be continued and reverently used and esteemed in this Church"--it is argued that, it is equivalent to admitting that there are other Churches where this threefold order in the [15/16] ministry is not received; but that in this Church it is. The necessity for resorting to such an argument as this, on so important a point, only confirms what has been already said, viz., That the Prayer Book is not as out-spoken upon this subject as we could wish it, and that consequently it leaves an open door for a very different theory.
The Sacramentarian regards the ministry as of the essence of the Church. Let a body of Christians have a ministry of Apostolical, tactual succession, and, whatever else they may not have, they are a Church. Without this ministry there .can be no Church, and therefore no sacraments. In the manual already referred to, we find the following questions and answers:--
Question: "What is necessary to make any particular Church a branch of the Catholic Church?"
Answer: "That it should hold to the Creed of the Church; that it should have the Apostolic ministry," etc. (p. 81).
What this "Apostolic ministry" is, we are told: "It is threefold, like that of the Ancient Church--Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The Bishops alone have power to perpetuate the ministry by ordination: there can be no valid ordination without a Bishop," etc. (p. 40). According to this theory, the religious bodies about us are in a lamentable condition. Notwithstanding the wonderful work that God the Holy Ghost is accomplishing through their instrumentality, they have no ministry, they enjoy no sacraments, and they are not Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ; and for this theory, the undecided language of the Articles, and the studied silence of the offices, give a sufficient warrant. It is true the preface speaks very decidedly. But found where it is, and belonging only to the American Book, it will be considered outside of the Prayer Book; or it will be said of it, as a rector in New York City is reported to have said, in reference to the word Protestant as a part of our title: it is "unwarrantable," having been introduced by "irresponsible persons."
The studied silence throughout our Service Book in reference to the Christian bodies about us; the very general language that is used, as in some of our prayers, when other than our own body is referred to; the changes that have been made in portions of our ritual, e. g., the substitution of the word Priests for Pastors in the prayer, "that it may please thee to illuminate all Bishops, Priests," etc.; the very positive language found in one of the prayers of the Institution office: "Co, Holy Jesus, who hast promised to be with the ministers of Apostolic succession to the end of the world," etc.; the position our Church takes in [16/17] reference to re-ordination (a Romish Priest seeking her ministry is admitted without ordination, but one coming from any of the Protestant bodies about us, can only be received by the laying on of the Bishop's hands), in all this we have the ground upon which is built that exclusive Churchism which makes the existence of the Church of Christ dependent upon an unbroken Apostolic, tactual succession, and which limits it to bodies of professing Christians, who are separated from each other, who are at bitter variance, and who, for the most part, have grievously departed from the truth in Jesus: and this is the view that is now most generally received, and applauded, and taught, in this Church. Those who hold it, openly, and defiantly, and shamelessly, proclaim it; while those who hold the opposite, are only tolerated, and if any of them should presume to carry their views into practice, they are made the subjects of Ecclesiastical courts and of Episcopal censures.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Here, again, the two parties are arrayed against each other, and the Prayer Book is the battle-ground. The Evangelical regards the Lord's Supper as a memorial rite. The consecration sets apart the bread and wine from ordinary uses, and gives them a memorial character--nothing more. He believes that in the reception of this sacrament, Christ is present in the heart of the believer, as in the reading of the Word and in prayer; that in proportion as the recipient grasps the great doctrine of the atonement, intended to be set forth in this sacrament, and applies it to his heart and conscience, so does he feed on Christ; and that like baptism, it is a means of grace by virtue of prayer to God. To sustain this view, the Evangelical appeals to the Articles.
The teachings of Article XXV, "Of the Sacraments," has been already considered.
Article XXVIII, treats of the Lord's Supper. It speaks of it,
1. As a sign of the love that Christians ought to have one to another.
2. As a Sacrament, i. e., a sign. (See conclusion of Article XXIX,) of our redemption by Christ's death.
3. As to the worthy recipient, a partaking of the body and blood of Christ.
4. It repudiates the Popish doctrine of transubstantiation.
5. It explains that the eating of the body of Christ is after au heavenly and spiritual manner.
 To the question in the Catechism, "Why was the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ordained?" we have the answer: "For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby." Similar teaching we have in the two warnings to the Communion, and throughout the service.
The Sacramentarian's theory differs very essentially from this. He agrees with the Articles so far as they go. But he holds to a great deal more in reference to this sacrament than they teach. In his estimation the Lord's Supper is not only memorial, but sacrificial. He regards the officiating minister as something more than a servant and teacher in the Church. He claims for him a priestly character, and a sacerdotal office. In administering the Communion, he considers him acting as a priest, and offering a sacrifice. By consecration, the bread and wine change not their proper substance, but by the power of the Holy Ghost, they become the body and blood of Christ, the forms under which his glorified body is present, is taken, and is eaten. This is admitted to be mysterious, inexplicable. The earthly priesthood thus offer the body and blood of Christ as an oblation to the Father: those who rightly partake of these consecrated elements, eat the body and drink the blood of Christ--his glorified humanity--and obtain thereby forgiveness of sin.
That this presentation of doctrinal views is not an exaggeration, let us consult the "Manual "already quoted. This remarkable production speaks of the "twofold character" of the Lord's Supper. It says of it: "It is called pre-eminently the Divine Liturgy, as including and comprehending all acts of worship and religion, and as being the first and chief of all rites and functions; and it is both a sacrifice and a sacrament.
"It is the great commemorative sacrifice of the Church, unbloody, mystical and spiritual; accompanying the perpetual oblation of Himself, which our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, makes in heaven, where he ever liveth and intercedes for us. In it the Passion of Christ is perpetually shown forth to the Almighty Father, and HIS PRIESTS ON EARTH UNITE IN THE OBLATION WHICH HE MAKES AT THE MERCY-SEAT "(p. 52).
Certain explanations are given:
1. "The sign: called Sacramentum. Bread and wine: simply elements of daily sustenance. These remain in their proper substance after consecration, retaining their proper nature; and yet they undergo a mystical change whereby they become the FORMS UNDER WHICH CHRIST IS PRESENT.
2. "The thing signified: called Res. The body and blood of [18/19] Christ; His glorified humanity, which after a manner inexplicable and without any parallel in the range of our knowledge, becomes present after consecration, not locally or physically, according to the laws of material and carnal bodies, but super-locally, hyperphysically, and spiritually, in some way believed on by the Church, but known only to God "(p. 53).
We have seen that there is nothing in the Articles to give the least coloring of approval to such views. How is it with the offices? Will they authorize it?
In the Communion Office there is a portion called "the Oblation." This word signifies primarily "an offering." It is so used in the prayer for the Church Militant--"Accept our alms and oblations." It is also used in the sense of "a sacrifice." This is its meaning in the prayer of consecration: "By his one oblation of himself once offered," and it is in this latter sense, according to the Sacramentarian, that the word oblation is attached to this part of the service as a title or designation. The Sacramentarian here plants himself upon "the teaching of the Church." As we look into this prayer, we find that it is an offering of bread and wine, not to the Triune God, but to the Heavenly Father. The prayer reads: "We thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial," etc. It is the people who make the offering, but through a divinely-appointed representative. And who is he? The Prayer Book calls him a Priest, and our Church has specially set him apart for certain specified duties that he only can perform. One of these duties is to consecrate the elements, and to make the oblation in behalf of the people, as set forth in this prayer. He and he only can consecrate. Without his presence there could not be a sacrament. Neither layman nor deacon could make it. Even the Evangelical would shrink from receiving elements that had not been consecrated by a "priest." As a part of this consecration, he offers these "holy gifts "in the behalf of the people, to the Heavenly Father. Here are two features of the priestly office distinctly brought out. A priest is one "taken from among men, . . . . ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins "(Heb. v, 1). Here is an officer taken from among men, and ordained to offer gifts to God for men. But does that gift partake of the nature of a sacrifice? Is it for sins? The Sacramentarian says, Yes. In a certain sense the Christian body is a priesthood, and there are certain prescribed gifts, which all Christians are required to offer. But here is a divinely-appointed officer, that supersedes them in their office, and who is appointed to offer a gift that they may not offer. This [19/20] offering must therefore be something more than a gift--it must be a sacrifice, and if a sacrifice, then it must be for sin. From this reasoning we have the Sacramental theory:
1. "The office of a priest is a pastoral and sacrificial one" (p. 40, Manual, etc.)
2. "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Great Commemorative Sacrifice of the Church, unbloody, mystical, and spiritual," etc. (p. 52, Ibid.
3. "Through the Holy Ghost, we receive the remission of sins, . . in the Holy Communion "(p. 39, Ibid). "Ques. When do we receive forgiveness of sin after Baptism? Ans. By Absolution and the Holy Communion" (p. 86).
And these deductions from this portion of the communion office are not strained. The Edwardian Reformers felt the force of them, and convinced of the dangerous tendency of this Oblation prayer, removed it from the communion office of the English Prayer-Book. Nor with all the High-Church tampering with that Book, has it ever been restored. Unfortunately, Bishop Seabury's influence placed it in our service from the Scottish Prayer Book.
Then, again, we have the "Invocation" prayer. It follows immediately after the Oblation. In this prayer the merciful Father is asked to bless and sanctify with his Word and Holy Spirit the bread and wine. The natural inference here is, that some miraculous operation is invoked upon "the bread and wine," through the agency of the "Word and Holy Spirit," and we are left in no doubt as to what this agency is: it is to make this "bread and wine "to the recipient, the body and blood of Christ. "Bless and sanctify with thy Word and Holy Spirit these thy creatures of bread and wine, that we, receiving them according to . . . Christ's holy institution . . may be partakers of his body and blood." And here again the Sacramentarian takes his stand, and feels himself authorized by this prayer to use such language as this: "The sacrament is complete in itself when, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and by the words of consecration, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ." "The body and blood of Christ; His glorified humanity" (Manual, p. 53).
And such teachings are not unnatural from the spirit and intent of the prayer. The Reformers saw the drift of it, and wisely omitted the words, "Of thy Almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine." They have never been restored to the English service. For their use in our Prayer Book, we are again indebted to Bishop Seabury.
Here, again, the line of separation is strongly drawn between the two parties. The Evangelical regards the ministry as an ambassadorship. The Sacramentarian as much more--as a sacerdotal officer. He takes the word Priest, so discriminately used in the rubrics, and applies to it its natural signification. The Christian ministry is a priesthood, and its function is to come between the people and God--to offer for the people--and to pronounce absolution for sins confessed. The Ordination Service for the Priesthood, the absolution forms, bear out this theory; and the "office of Institution of Ministers" fully sustains it.
But we have dwelt sufficiently upon these points of difference. Enough has been said to enable the candid reader to judge for himself in reference to the truth of the charges that have been made against the Prayer Book. Are there inconsistencies in it? Does it contradict itself? There are two parties in the Church teaching views that are irreconcilable with each other. We take no separate account of the views of what may be called "middle-men," who pride themselves upon being "Church-men"--"no-party-men." Perhaps these men are self-deceived, and are honest in believing that they have affiliation with neither party. But they cannot deceive others. Their whole spirit and bearing tells where they are, and when questions arise that call for decision, that compel men to show their colors, and to give expression to their feelings, they are all found marshaled on the Sacramentarian side. We speak, therefore, of the two parties, and their theological views are so diametrically opposed to each other, that if one is true, the other must be false. Yet both parties come to this Prayer Book, and claim it as on their side, and we say that this. is not possible unless the Prayer Book has two faces and looks two ways.
And this we believe to be the true state of the case. Our Service Book, taken as a whole, is Scriptural and Protestant. But it contains in it some things that may be, and have been, so interpreted and used, as to make them seeds of Romish error. Not only the Evangelical, but the Sacramentarian, finds such encouragement in it, that each can boldly take his stand upon it, and claim it as on his side. And so the Prayer Book sustains both the parties that are struggling for the mastery in the Church. How far we have succeeded in making this clear, must be determined by the reader. Those who can look at things from our stand-point, we ask to consider
It is REVISION. Nothing short of this will do. We must banish and drive from the Prayer Book, as far as possible, every thing that gives even a coloring to erroneous and false doctrines. We must not only take it back to where it was at the death of Edward VI, but we must complete the reformation that was interrupted by the accession of Mary.
Nothing short of this will give us a pure and united Church, and we ask Evangelical men how long it will be before they will open their eyes to this fact. We have been waging this struggle with Romish error during the past years from a false position. We have been contending with a foe that we have fancied to be without, and all our effort has been to keep him out. But we are yet to be convinced of the fact that the enemy is within--that he has possession of the citadel--and that it is only a breach in his stronghold, the Prayer Book, that will ever dislodge him. As a party, we are occupying the position that we do now, because we refuse to be convinced of this fact. The Romanizing party have been gaining ground steadily, and to-day we are paralyzed, and hopelessly in their power. Take such works as "The Priest's Prayer Book," "A Manual of Instruction for Confirmation Classes," etc. Evangelical men read them with horror. They ask themselves, has it come to this, that men dare teach such doctrines openly and defiantly in this Church? They write about them, they warn their people against them, and yet steps are not taken either by Bishops, Priests, or Deacons, to bring these Romanizers to trial, and to stamp the brand of falsehood upon their teachings. And why not? Those who feel thus are under solemn "vows to 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 why is not the attempt made? Where are their vows? Where are their consciences? Why are not these authors brought to trial? Because, is the universal admission, nothing will be gained by it. In most of the Dioceses they would be sustained, and if there are any Evangelical Dioceses left, it is a question whether, even in them, a court could be organized that would condemn. The fact is, that, these "erroneous and strange doctrines," have gained the ear and the heart of the Church, and are the prevailing sentiment in the Church. The men who hold and teach them are encouraged, and flattered, and pushed forward, and thrust into position. And to-clay, the man who is the author of [22/23] one of those Romish Catechisms in the "Manual" so often quoted in this pamphlet, stands before the Church as the Chairman of its Committee on Christian Education.
And, furthermore, not only is the Evangelical party so shorn of its greatness, that it dare not stand forth manfully and attempt to drive from the Church what it believes to be "erroneous and strange doctrine;" but its opponents are gaining such confidence, that, from a position of tolerance, they are now beginning to require adhesion, or to enforce submission, to their views. Already have they placed their construction upon Canon laws, and demanded that Evangelical men shall conform to their interpretation under pain of Ecclesiastical discipline. And it will not be long before the same intolerant spirit will be manifesting itself in reference to matters of faith and conscience.
There are two or three questions that just here will naturally suggest themselves.
I. How is it that the Romanizing party have gained such an ascendency?
II. How is it that some in the Evangelical ranks have so suddenly discovered that there are "Romanizing germs in the Prayer Book?"
III. Why is it that the great body of the party are so slow in discovering these germs? We will take the questions in their order.
Ques. I. How is it that the Romanizing party have gained such an ascendency? 1. Because the offices, in which the germs of this system are to be found, are the educating power in the Church. It is here that a large portion of the clergy, and nearly the whole body of the laity, learn their theology. For one layman who knows the teachings of our Church in her Articles, there are hundreds who have only heard her speak by her offices. If they depend upon the Prayer Book alone for guidance, they receive all their impressions from the offices, and therefore we need not be surprised if the great body of Episcopalians have a tendency towards sacramentarianism.
2. The natural heart loves a religion that gives it something to do on its own behalf, and that has a tendency to exalt it in its own estimation. To be a priest--to be entrusted with almost divine powers--to stand between the sinner and God--to be able to call down the Holy Ghost, and to sanctify water to the mystical washing away of sin--to be so gifted that, by words of your pronouncing, Christ becomes mysteriously united with bread and wine, so that the believer partakes of His body and blood, to his soul's health and salvation; all this is exceedingly gratifying to the pride of the heart, and the [23/24] many will be fascinated by the power with which such a theory clothes them.
It is true that as you thus exalt the ministry, you degrade the laity. But they seldom see it, or if they do, their degradation is compensated for by the comforting assurances derived from this system, and the trouble which it saves. It is so easy to receive regeneration in baptismal waters--to have assurance of forgiveness of sin by priestly absolution, and the reception of the Lord's Supper, and then to recognize in all this faith, and repentance, and obedience, and reception of Holy Communion, that we are doing something--that we are helping on the work of our salvation. All this is flattering and assuring, and therefore gratifying.
In these two influences we recognize much of the power that is giving success to the Romanizing movement in our Church.
Ques. II. How is it that some in the Evangelical ranks have so suddenly discovered that there are "Romanizing germs in the Prayer Book?"
We answer, that this discovery has not been sudden, nor is it of today. There are a great many in the evangelical ranks who have been aware all along that there are certain words, expressions, and usages in the offices that if taken in their natural and grammatical sense, would inculcate error. Impressed with this fact, they have never taken them in this sense. They have always explained them away. They were taught so to do at their Low-Church seminaries, and these explanations were necessary to bring these words and expressions in harmony with the Articles. Every Evangelical clergyman remembers how his Theological Professor labored at expositions, e. g., of the baptismal service for Infants, and to-day there is not one of them, who will take up that service, and use certain expressions in their literal and grammatical sense.
The consciousness of error, or of that which may lead to error, in the Prayer Book is no new discovery. But until lately these words, etc., have been regarded as harmless, because easily explained, and because those explanations have been readily and generally accepted. Now, however, it is different. Words, expressions, and ceremonies that, taken with explanations, were once harmless, are now laid hold upon. Their explanations are discarded as weak and untenable; and upon them is based a rapidly-developing, so-called "Church system," or "Catholic System," as it is now becoming fashionable to style it, a system which Evangelical men believe to be contrary to Scripture, and subversive of truth. Hence, certain among them, impressed with this fact, say, these words and expressions, either from [24/25] the connection in which they are found, or from their past history, or from their natural and grammatical use, do give a handle to those who are seeking to pervert the truth; therefore, let us remove all such doubtful things from our Service Book.
An illustration or two will bring this point out more clearly.
It, is contended by Low-Churchmen, that, the word "Priest," as used in the rubrics to designate the second order in our ministry, is nothing more than a contraction for the word Presbyter. Bishop White asserts this most positively. Ten or fifteen years ago this explanation was almost universally received. Evangelical men, entering the ministry of this Church, accepted it, and have always so taught. But a very great change has come over the teachings of our Church during these past years. The sacerdotal theory has been gaining ground. It is now publicly taught that the ministry of the Christian Church is a Priesthood, in the same sense, and with the same functions, as the Aaronic Priesthood. This is claimed to be "Church teaching," "Catholic Doctrine." And so very generally is this false dogma received, that when the Rt. Rev. preacher of the Triennial Sermon before the last General Convention took very decided grounds against such an assumption, it created such indignation, that it was debated on the floor of the House, whether the accustomed courtesy of printing the sermon should be awarded the preacher. And it was only personal friendship, and his Episcopal office, that saved him the mortification of seeing his sermon rejected by our Church in her representative body, as unsound in doctrine. And this word Priest, as found in our rubrics, and in other parts of the Book, is one of the handles that has been made use of in bringing in and establishing this false and dangerous doctrine. And this mischief has been done notwithstanding, and in the face of our explanations. Our explanations and arguments are laughed at. We are told that the Church means what she says--that when she speaks of her ministers as Priests, she means that they are Priests, and that she has given them priestly work to do. This doctrine has been long taught in the most of our leading seminaries, and is received by a large portion of our laity. It has indeed become "Church teaching," and what shall Evangelical men do under these circumstances? Some of them, aroused to the danger that now no longer threatens, but that has actually taken possession of the Church of their most ardent love; and seeing the word Priest brought forward, and rested upon, as one of the instruments for the introduction of this unscriptural and dangerous doctrine; and finding that their arguments and explanations have utterly failed in resisting the [25/26] influence of this word, taken in its natural and obvious signification, now feel constrained to regard its use in our rubrics, as a source of error--as a "Romanizing Germ" in our Prayer Book; and in their judgment the only remedy is--removal. It must be stricken out, and replaced by the word Presbyter, or Minister.
Take, again, for further illustration, the Absolutions. The rubric says that they are a declaration of absolution. The Evangelical so receives and uses them. While he holds that every believer has the right to declare God's promise of forgiveness of sin to the penitent; he at the same time regards the absolution as exceedingly appropriate in the portion of the service where it is found. And he furthermore feels, that for the sake of order, this declaration should be confined to the regularly appointed ministry, who, in this, as in other matters pertaining to Church order, are but the representatives of the Church, i. e., the congregation, and its mouth-piece. Such were the generally received views fifteen or twenty years ago. Not so now. The sacerdotal theory has made an entire revolution. It is now the prevailing theory. Its advocates claim that it is "Church teaching." First: They find it in her use of the word Priest to designate her ministry. Second: In the Absolutions. Here she gives her ministry a priestly work to perform, viz., the forgiving of sin; and none but her priests may do it. At their ordination they receive the Holy Ghost for this express purpose. They and they only may exercise this authority. Laymen, and even her deacons, are carefully excluded. The priest only may use the absolution.
And so the absolution is made another link in the chain of reasoning by which this soul-destroying system of sacerdotalism is being bound upon us. And what shall Evangelical men do? Some of them, in view of the change that has taken place in the generally received views of the Church, and in consideration of the important agency that the absolutions have had in bringing it about, feel constrained under the circumstances, to recognize them as sources of error, and to regard their use as dangerous to the purity and existence of the Church.
Thus may we go through the Prayer Book, and mention other things, which, used with the once generally received explanations, are harmless; but which have now become dangerous to the peace and Protestantism of the Church, by reason of the constructions that have been put upon them, and the readiness with which these constructions have been received. It is this state of things that some Evangelical men have been made to see and feel. They have therefore come to the conclusion that certain things in our Prayer Book that [26/27] were once harmless and admissible, by reason of their generally received explanations, have ceased to be so; and that, because of the inferences now drawn from them, and the doctrines they are made to uphold, they have become seeds for the propagation of error. They hold to the principle that things harmless in themselves, may by use become the vehicles of false teaching, and must therefore be discarded. On this principle the Reformers put away altars, chrism, pictures, etc. A picture is harmless in itself. It may even be so used as to be a help to the devotional feelings. But when its use tends to the cultivation of error, it becomes a duty to put it away. And so do these Evangelical brethren reason in reference to the language found in certain rubrics and offices. But as they are used now by the dominant party in the Church, and used, it must be admitted, in their natural and grammatical sense, and therefore, justly, they cease to be harmless, and are injurious. Therefore, these brethren feel it now their duty, to set aside their explanatory theories, however satisfactory they may be to themselves, and to regard these words and expressions as "Romanizing Germs;" and, furthermore, to demand that they be so altered that, in their natural., and grammatical, and obvious sense, the Prayer Book may be made to say what we believe it intended to say, and what by our explanations we have in vain endeavored to make it say.
Ques. III. Why is it that the great body of the Evangelical party are so slow to recognize these "Romanizing Germs in the Prayer Book?"
The answer is to be found, first, in the relation that, in the mind of the Evangelical, the offices bear to the Articles; secondly, in the strong hold that early training, and long-established theories, have upon him. To him the Articles are the rule of faith. Establish their teaching, and the offices must be made to conform. Everything must bend to the Articles. Hence, when an Evangelical speaks of what the Church teaches, he means what the Articles teach. This is the view taken at all our Low-Church seminaries. The student is given "Pearson on the Creed," and is taught the doctrines of the Church from the Articles. Of the offices he hears nothing, except that their language is devotional, and not intended to be interpreted with critical exactness. Neither their history, nor the changes that have been made in them during successive revisions, nor the unhappy tendency of all those changes, have been pointed out to him. At least this was the ease fifteen or twenty years ago. It is true there has been always more or less controversy on the subject of baptismal regeneration. And the student, startled by the meaning of some [27/28] of these expressions, taken in their natural and grammatical sense, has been taught to explain them away, and some three or four theories were given him by which he might frighten away his suspicions, and quiet his conscience. And so he goes forth to his ministry, and enters the arena of this strife that, in that day, was only beginning to agitate the Church, with the impression that the Prayer Book is as near perfection as any book not inspired can be; and that the so-called High-Churchmen are disloyal to their standards, and have no right within the fold of this Church.
Impressions so deeply made, and at such a time, are not easily erased. Going forth to his appointed field of labor, and becoming engrossed in parochial work, he has neither time nor inclination for a careful and candid revision of his former course of studies. Controversy thickens about him. Romanism is steadily on the increase, Men become more and more bold in asserting its doctrines, and in multiplying its practices, and he himself is not unconscious that he has become, either from prudential motives or from conviction, more conservative than he used to be. And yet all this while it does not occur to him that the Prayer Book may be the feeder of this rapidly-increasing error. His preconceived impressions of its perfection, and his long-cherished veneration for it, blind his judgment as to the possibility of such a thing, and he cannot be convinced that the offices, taken in their plain, natural and grammatical sense, are more powerful to inculcate error, than his numerous theories and explanations are to ward it off.
And this is no doubt the reason why Evangelical men are not only so slow to be convinced of the necessity for a revision of the Prayer Book; but why the most of them are so bitterly opposed to it.
And how long is this state of things to continue? The battle we are fighting is not concerning things indifferent in themselves. It is in reference to matters of the first importance. It is truth and error arrayed against each other. Our explanations and theories by which we have been wont' to make the language of the offices bend to the teachings of the Articles, answered very well in times gone by, when those explanations and theories were accepted by the Church at large. But opinions in the Church have changed. These explanations are no longer received. They are openly and defiantly set aside as absurdities. While we, a handful of Evangelical men, are teaching that the word Priest in the rubrics, stands for Presbyter, the great body of the clergy are teaching that it is to be taken in its natural sense. Both in theory and in practice they claim for it a sacerdotal signification, and the people accept their definition. While we [28/29] hold that the language of the Baptismal Service is hypothetical, or sacramental, or charitable, or whatever other theory we may adopt, the people are being taught that it means what it says--that when they are told that the person to be baptized is yet in his sins, the Church means that he is in a state of condemnation, and unjustified;--that when they are taught to pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive the person, to release him from sin, to sanctify him with the Holy Ghost, and to give him the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life, the Church means that these things have not yet been received;--that when she calls upon them to give thanks because the person has been regenerated and grafted in the body of Christ's Church, she means that then and there, at the time of the pouring on of the consecrated water, these benefits that had been prayed for, were bestowed; and the people accept the service in its plain, grammatical sense.
Is it not time, then, to set aside the explanations that we have adopted? They may satisfy us, but are they preventing the spread of error in our Church? This is the question. It is not enough that they satisfy us--that they enable us with a good conscience to use these words and expressions; but are they sufficient to guard the Church from error, and to keep it in the truth? We answer, no. Our explanations and theories, so far as this object is concerned, are Miserable failures. Then why cling to them? Certain words and expressions in rubrics and offices are made the vehicle of conveying false teachings to the members of this Church, and are effectively and rapidly accomplishing their work; and does it not become us as lovers of the truth to sacrifice our long-cherished and much-valued explanations, seeing their inefficiency for the present exigency? Our weapons, and our mode of conducting the conflict, have been a failure. Another General Convention, and as a party in the Church, we will be hopelessly crushed. We must make the most of the little time that is left us. Brethren must realize that it is a struggle between light and darkness, between truth and error. There can, and there will be no compromise. Shall the truth be crushed out of this Protestant Episcopal Church, or shall it not? The answer to the question will depend upon the position of the Evangelical party, and the unanimity and determination with which they maintain that position. There must be a setting aside of the long-cherished veneration for the Prayer Book, and a determination to re-examine all the bearings of this question in a candid spirit, and with an impartial judgment. The controversy centers in the Prayer Book. If the matter has been fairly put [29/30] in this pamphlet, the Prayer Book is the friend of both parties. It contains within its covers both systems--Protestantism and Sacerdotalism. And while the former is beyond doubt the doctrine that is most clearly and continuously set forth; yet the latter is found in those portions that are kept constantly before the people, and are, therefore, the educating power in the Church, and hence the growth of Sacerdotalism. Will brethren, in the light of present developments, give this subject the candid consideration that it deserves? We believe that this is all that is needed to bring the whole Evangelical party to the decision, that, revision is the only remedy for the evil that is overwhelming our beloved Church, and that, therefore, there must be a revision of the Prayer Book. The whole body, as one man, must rise up, and demand that words and expressions, and usages, that give a coloring to sarcerdotalism, or to any other error, must be expunged from the Service Book; and that Rubrics and Offices must be made to harmonize with the Articles, and to speak unmistakably the teachings of the Divine Word. Nothing less than this will save us, either as a party, or as a Church. If the Evangelical clergy, throwing aside their worn-out theories, will resolve to have these changes, and will stir up the hearts of the laity to unite in demanding them, the result may be effected: and with the Divine blessing, such changes may be made, that error shall be driven from our midst, and peace restored to our borders.