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confession, who with a spirit of love and peaceableness do join themselves to the communion of our churches in this kingdom, may be, without any abjuration at all made by them, admitted unto the Lord's table with us; and, as sureties, may present children unto baptism ; they promising the consistory, that they will never solicit them, either directly or indirectly, to transgress the doctrine believed and professed in our churches; but will be content to instruct and educate them in those points and articles which are in common between us and them, and wherein both the Luitherans and we are unanimously agreed."*
If from France we pass into Holland, we shall there find the same generous feeling toward all the parts of the church of God. Her early confession, the Belgic, already quoted, shows in what light she contemplated the privilege and duty of church-communion. That confession, as has been stated, received the unqualified approbation of the continental divines at the Synod of Dordt, in 1618; and it received also, with the exception of its articles upon church-government, the approbation of the Episcopal divines who were sent thither by JAMES VI.
The assembling of such a Synod, and their harmonious proceedings, are the best practical commentary upon the understood principle of Protestant communion. Here was a collection of representatives from the reformed churches of Europe, France excepted, whose deputies were stopped by a mandate of the king; various in their modifications of order and rites of worship, yet one in the common faith of the gospel. Dutch, German, Genevese, Swiss, all non-episcopal, joined by an English bishop and other Episcopal delegates, met together to discuss and decide one of the most serious and shaking controversies that ever agitated the church of God. Here they unite in the most solemn acts of ministerial communion. The public prayers are offered up by Presbyterians in their own manner. By way of showing their concord and confidence, they judge it expedient to have now and then sermons in Latin before the Synod. They begin with requesting the foreign divines to undertake this service in order.* And the very first man they place in the pulpit is Dr. Joseph Hall, a high-toned Episcopalian, then Dean of Worcester, and afterwards bishop of Norwich. He preached to them from Eccles. vii. 16. In his sermon he calls the Synod, thus composed, “a
* QUICK, Vol. II p. 297.
most holy assembly of the prophets.* The church of Holland, upon the supposition of her adhering to “ the faith which she had till then received, and to the confession common to her with the other churches ;" he salutes as the “pure spouse of Christ.” And then exclaims, “we are brethren, let us also be associates! What have we to do with the disgraceful titles of Remonstrants, Contra-Remonstrants, Calvinists, Arminians ?+ We are Christians, let us also be of one soul. We are one body, let us also be of one mind. By that tremendous name of the Almighty God --by the pious and gentle bosom of our common mother-by your own souls—by the most holy compassions of Jesus CHRIst our Saviour; aim at peace, brethren; enter into peace, that laying aside all prejudice, party-spirit, and evil affections, we may all come to a happy agreement in the same truth."*
* Sanctissima corona prophetarum. IB. Sess. XVI. p. 38.
+ These names were then recent, and had not settled down into fixed appellations, as some of them have done since. They have now become technical terms in theology and ecclesiastical history; and, like other technical terms, they convey very complex ideas with more brevity and precision than could easily be done by a periphrasis. Every organization of men, and every system of principles must have a name. This, in itself, is of no importance, but is useful for the purpose of discrimination. It would be amusing, if it were not mortifying, to see with what eagerness some men endeavour to fix a name upon others; and with what anxiety these again labour to shake it off. To call one a Calvinist or an Arminian, is to impute to him the doctrine maintained by Calvin or Arminius--but it proves nothing. To refuse the appellation is not to reject the doctrine—and so proves nothing.-It is all a petty squabble about words. While differences subsist, we must talk about them, and we may as well use the phraseology which marks them. If “Calvinist” and “ Arminian,” are to be banished, there is no reason why “ Lutheran” and “ Reformed," “ Protestant” and “ Papist,” “ Socinian,"" Arian," “ Universalist," " Episcopalian," “ Presbyterian,” and the whole series of party names should not go with them. Suppose it done, cui bono? what do you gain? You would have to replace them with another set; and there is the old contest over again. Yet it is not to be denied, that burtful prejudices are sometimes associated with them. There is no help for it. Such sinful human nature, and we must take it as we find it.
On these extracts, which are in the general strain of the sermon, it may not be unseasonable to remark:
1. That the reformed churches, Episcopal and non-episcopal, had no scruple, in those days, of joining with each other in acts of publick worship, according to their respective usages. Much less did any of them look upon any other as not being true churches, and upon their ministry and ordinances as unlawful and invalid. Such a notion concerning churches without Episcopal order and ordination, had not yet infected the church of England, and curdled in her breasts the milk of Christian kindness. Her representatives at Dordt, explicitly call the ministers of the Dutch church, “ beloved brethren and fellow-ministers."*
- Illud totis viribus urgere, illud unum inculcare, ut receptæ hactenus fidei communique et vestræ et aliarum ecclesiarum confessioni adhærere usque velitis omnes. Quod si feceritis, O felicem Belgicam! O intemeratam Christi sponsam! 0 Renipublicam florentissimam!
Illud vero ut jam tandem fiat, pinotipes17 de nou aceBuv. Fratres sumus; simus et collegæ. Quid nobis cum illo infami Remonstrantium, Contra-Remonstrantium, Calvinianorum, Arminianorum titulo? Christiani sumus, simus et crofuxas. Unum corpus sumus, simus et unanimes. Per treinendum illud omnipotentis Dei nomen-per pium blandumque communis matris nostræ gremium ; per vestras ipso. rum animas; perque sanctissima Jesu Christi Servatoris nostri viscera, pacem ambite fratres, pacem inite : et ita vos componite, ut, seposito omni præjudicio, partiumque studio ac malo affectu, in eadem onnes veritate feliciter conspiremus.
18. Seks, XVI.
2. The views and feelings expressed by Dr. Hall corresponded entirely with those of the whole Synod; for they call his discourse “most learned and accurate,” and gave him publick thanks for it. So that, considering how the Synod was constituted, it may be taken an official expression of the views and feelings of reformed Europe. And when this most venerable assembly, inferiour in learning, talent, holiness, and dignity, to none that had preceded it since the great council of Nice, was about breaking up; the members mutually gave each other the “right hand of brotherly communion,”I and parted with embracings and tears. Here was the most so
* IB. part 2. p. 224. + IB. part 1. p. 38.
I IB. part 2. p. 33%.