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unaltered. We are neither a critical nor a controversial organ; it is rather by the tone of all we write, and by the sound doctrine and practical piety of our more directly religious papers, that we hope to serve the cause of real godliness. Yet the claims of truth are superior to those of external unity. Well satisfied that there is no real union where the great doctrines of the Gospel do not assume their true position, we really care little for any professed union, unless there be, as its foundation, a hearty agreement in the same great principles. We shall then have, almost as a matter of course, “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
We have been obliged, during the past year, to contend with Dissenters. We have merely stood on the defensive, and repelled their attacks. These attacks have been ungenerously made, and they have proved more injurious to themselves than to the Church of England; for whatever is of greatest weight amongst Non-conformists, either for piety or for rank in their body, and station in society, has viewed with displeasure, if not disgust, the violence of a few extravagant men. Their tercentenary, wherever they provoked a contest on historical grounds, proved disastrous. When they assailed us with bitterness, as recently did one of their most popular ministers, on the Baptismal question, it was shown, without the least difficulty, that they were really ignorant of the subject they discussed; that the Church of England teaches only the doctrine common to all the Churches of the Reformation, and that which is in perfect agreement, too, with the Westminster Confession, which has always been the recognised standard both of the Scotch Presbyterian Churches and of the orthodox Dissenters in England; while the English Baptists do, in fact, assign to adult immersion regenerating grace in a more absolute sense than any pædo-baptists, except only the Church of Rome.
But we have far more formidable dangers, and more painful to confront, within our own borders. Amongst those who should be our guides, we find some who would lead us into grievous error. Even amongst our Bishops, strange doctrines
are to be heard. One of them is not ashamed to impugn the veracity of Moses from the press, and to treat the Pentateuch as unworthy of respect even as an historical record. Another tells us, in a Charge delivered to his clergy, that it is the Church, and not the Bible, to which we owe our first acquaintance with the great doctrines of salvation. The Church teaches, then the Bible authenticates. The Church first makes known the doctrine; the Bible comes after, and bears witness to the truth; thus making, in fact, the Church the higher authority of the two. We might have known the doctrines of the Gospel without the Bible; we could not have known them without the Church. A third of our episcopal guides, in his Charge, mourns over our isolation, inasmuch as we are severed from the Church of Rome; and recommends that retreats should be formed within our own Church, into which our clergy might retire from time to time, for seclusion and devout exercises; placing themselves, for a while, under the guidance of some wise instructor well skilled in the management of cases of conscience. It was thus, in fact, that the monastic system originated; and should the Bishop's advice be followed, it is by these means that monkery will be restored. Amongst these perils, then, it is that we close our labours for the year.
Yet we are prepared to enter upon another year without the least misgiving. Our cause is that of Divine truth, as always maintained, in her worst days, by the Church of England, in the Articles and Homilies. We have the assistance of able men, some of whom have obtained a place amongst the first authors of our day; and who, amongst all their literary distinctions, are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. We are promised contributions for another year which will place our next volume at least upon a level with any that have gone before it. And thus, with thankfulness for the past, and humble confidence for the future, we rely upon the merciful guidance of God, and so resume our task.
Dec. 30th, 1864.