Page images
[ocr errors]

“To see what little good is to be expected in this way of wit and humour, one may go further, and observe, that even the ridicule of false virtue hath been sometimes attended with mischievous effects. The Spaniards have lamented, and I believe truly, that Cervantes's just and inimitable ridicule of knight-errantry rooted up, with that folly, a great deal of their real honour. And it was apparent that Butler's fine satire on fanaticism contributed not a little, during the licentious times of Charles II., to bring sober piety into disrepute. The reason is evident: there are many lines of resemblance between truth and its counterfeits; and it is the province of wit only to find out the likenesses in things, and not the talent of the common admirers of it to discover the differences.

But if these evils result from ridiculing religious error, what shall be said, if what you have ridiculed be after all the truth? And yet, because ultra-Protestants of the present day think any truth to approximate to Popery, it follows not that it is Popish, or if found in Popery, it follows not that it is untrue, else must all the Catholic verities be untrue also. Whenever you shall be pleased to abandon the ground of ridicule, and to treat questions of religious truth with seriousness, then will we also show, that the positions which you have ridiculed are neither Papistical nor untrue, but that you have been ridiculing the truth. Meanwhile we propose for your consideration a catalogue of writers (which might easily be swelled to any amount), who, upon the subject which you have chosen for

your chiefest ridicule, and which ultra-Protestants of this day are most ashamed of, have spoken as strongly as they, whom you on that ground decry as Papists : I mean, Apostolical Succession.

I would only observe by the way, since persons in these days dispense lightly with truths, the value whereof they do not understand, that in jesting at the doctrine of apostolical succession you despise a fact, wherein one of the acutest writers of any age or land saw an evidence for the truth of our holy faith. The apostolical succession of ministers is a fact which satisfies Leslie's criteria of the truth of the history wherewith it is connected; and the sceptical Middleton in vain attempted, during

1 See Appendix. Tracts for the Times, No. 74.

[ocr errors]

above ten years, to find any case, to which Leslie's criteria applied, and which yet was untrue.

I will extract such portion of Leslie's words, as may suffice to explain this. (Short and Easy Method with the Deists, iii. 2.)

· Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, were instituted as perpetual memorials of these things (the matters of fact recorded in the Gospel of our Blessed Saviour); and they were not instituted in after-ages, but at the very time when these things were said to be done, and have been observed without interruption in all ages through the whole Christian world, down all the way, from that time to this. And Christ Himself did ordain apostles, and other ministers of His Gospel, to preach and administer these sacraments, and to govern His Church, and that always, even unto the end of the world. Accordingly, they have continued by regular succession to this day; and no doubt ever shall, while the earth shall last. So that the Christian clergy are as notorious a matter of fact, as the tribe of Levi among the Jews. And the Gospel is as much a law to the Christians as the books of Moses to the Jews; and it being part of the matters of fact related in the Gospel, that such an order of men were appointed by Christ, and to continue to the end of the world, consequently, if the Gospel was a fiction, and invented (as it must be) in some age after Christ, then, at that time, when it was first invented, there could be no such order of clergy, as derived themselves from the institution of Christ; which must give the lie to the Gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false. And the matters of fact of Christ being pressed to be true, no otherwise than as there was at that time (whenever the Deists will suppose the Gospel to be forged) not only public sacraments of Christ's institution, but an order of clergy, likewise of His appointment, to administer them; and it being impossible there could be any such things before they were invented, it is as impossible that they should be received when invented.”

Of a truth, you know not wherewith you are trifling; and I would mention this rather as an unexpected benefit, derived from adherence to the truth, than as the use of that truth,—an instance how many hidden values every truth contains within it, though but gradually perhaps evolved to us, how much more than we are aware we lose, if we abandon truth.

The progress of error on this head is indeed a warning how men be ashamed of any, even though it seem to them the least portion of the truth committed to their trust; men first suppressed it as invidious, and an obstacle to charity, then were ashamed of it, then disbelieved it, lastly ridicule it. Those

of this generation must look to it, lest the fear of avowing their conviction lead to the same result with regard to the sacraments of their Lord; whether they have not already taken the

first steps.


This again I would regard as the inevitable result of the use of ridicule; and its ill tendency is the more illustrated by its having corrupted your natural love of fairness. It is part of the character which you have adopted, not of your own. For having once resolved on the fiction which was to be the vehicle of your satire, then the laws of composition required that the fiction should be in keeping, however at variance with the laws of truth. The laws of fiction are indeed stern laws, since they require the sacrifice of whatever is at variance with themselves. Having adopted the fiction of a letter from the Pope to certain members of your Church, as being his emissaries, it became necessary, by disguise, or omission, or perversion, to conceal whatever would have disturbed the unity of the drama. For instance, you play not unfrequently upon the words which one of these writers addresses to the Church of Rome,-“ Cum talis sis, utinam noster esses." And who would not echo the wish? Who,-bearing in mind the holy truths which Rome, amid her corruptions, yet holds, how much of the highest Christian truth, which many Protestant bodies have lost, or are in jeopardy of losing, on the mystery of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, and its consequences; or considering, again, the extent of her Communion,- would not wish, and long, and pray that she might be freed from her antiChristian servitude; that she, as ourselves have been, might be restored to her primeval purity, when she was once the guardian of Christian truth; that God would " break the yoke of her burden, the staff on her shoulder, and the rod of her oppressor ?” (Is. ix. 4.) Taken then in their obvious

the words are the expression of every Christian heart. Your fiction however, required that they should express a desire for union with Rome As She is; and in this -sense, accordingly, you quote them. The very next words of the writer contradict this. He proceeds (and to prevent the possibility of a mistake, he has printed these words in capitals),


“But, alas! AN UNION IS IMPOSSIBLE. Their communion is infected with heterodoxy: 'we are bound to flee it as a pestilence. They have established a lie in the place of God's truth ; and by their claim of immutability in doctrine, cannot undo the sin they have committed. They cannot repent. Popery must be destroyed; it cannot be reformed.”

Honesty required the insertion of these words; but they would have spoiled the jest, and so they are omitted.

Again, as a member, to all appearance, of our Church, and so having no prejudice against her, it is hardly probable that you should believe what a recent author' has well termed “ The fable of the Nag's Head consecration.” Bishop Bull calls it “a putid fable;" and even Lingard, who shrinks not from any plausible fable, discards it?. It suited, however, your assumed character, and so, in answer to the words

“As to the fact of Apostolical succession, every link in the chain is known, from St. Peter to our present metropolitans.”

You reply:

[ocr errors]

Short's History of the Church of England, chap. viii. $ 409.

Strype has been very particular in recording every thing which was done on this occasion, from the most authentic documents, in order to refute the fable of the Nag's Head consecration, which was promulgated by the Roman Catholics about forty years after the event had taken place, when it might have been supposed that all direct testimony had been lost. The story is, that the bishops met at a tavern which bore that sign, and that when Oglethorp refused to consecrate them, Scory laid a Bible on each of their heads, and bade them rise up bishops. The tale has been refuted as often as brought forward."

The following also is the statement of the Calvinist Professor, John Prideaux. “ The public acts are still extant in Mason and others, honestly brought forward, and they sufficiently annihilate this transparent lie of the calumniators. Archbishop Abbot caused them to be shown to certain priests, to convince them of the impudence of this fiction, that so they might at length cease from seducing so wickedly their credulous Proselytes." (Controv. de Disciplina Ecclesiæ, p. 248. The Italics are bis.)

2 Hist. of England, Vol. vii. Note I.

[ocr errors]


But surely you are aware of all the circumstances of the Nag's Head consecration. This must at least diminish confidence as to the continuity of your links, and compel every reasonable mind to doubt as to the reality of your succession. Even a doubt on such a point is fatal to all the claims of your Church.” Yet you, Sir, can have no “doubt upon this point;” and

, still you are raising a doubt in the minds of the ignorant and unwary; and countenancing the only pretext of the Church of Rome to deny us the character of a true Church. Your jest again imposed hard laws upon you. Again; a lay writer in the Tracts had said,

Ordination, or, as it is called in the case of bishops, consecration, though it does not precisely come within our definition of a sacrament, is nevertheless a rite partaking, in a high degree, of the sacramental character, and it is by reference to the proper sacraments that its nature can be most satisfactorily illustrated.”

Now this statement is made, not to exalt the priesthood, (although, if we duly “magnified our office,” it were to be hoped, that it would be exercised more earnestly,) but to meet the common-place objection to the transmission of orders by a regular unbroken succession from the Apostles, viz., that some of the bishops, through whom they were transmitted, may have been unholy men. Now the case of the “proper sacraments” does illustrate this; for since we hold that “the effect of Christ's ordinance is not taken away by the wickedness of evil men,” even though they “have chief authority in the minis

” tration of the word and sacraments,” forasmuch as “ the sacraments be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men,” (Art. xxvi.) we cannot consistently object, à priori, to the grace of ordination being conveyed down, by virtue of our Lord's institution, even through the hands of evil men. In the words of the layman, (shortly following your extract,) p. 10.

“He who receives unworthily, or in an improper state of mind, either ordination or consecration, may probably receive to his own soul no saving health from the hallowed rite; but while we admit, as we do, the validity of sacraments administered by a priest thus unworthily ordained, we cannot consistently deny that of ordination, in any of its grades, when be

« PreviousContinue »