« 上一頁繼續 »
instrument of amassing wealth, or of exercising abominable tyranny.
One of the greatest sources of profit to that Church, ever greedy of filthy lucre, has been penances commutable for money; and certainly one of the most tyrannical of its acts of power, is the arbitrary assignment of penance for transgressions: and at the same time we may observe, that the soul of the sinner may easily apprehend peace to itself, where there is no peace; whilst the performance of a prescribed penance seems to compensate for the commission of actual sin. Practices like these our Church abhors. But whilst she retains not indulgences, nor imposes penances at will, she feels herself bound to maintain that degree of discipline, and to exercise those functions which she derives from the Supreme Head of the Church; powers which Scripture announces, and the consent of antiquity acknowledges. The Church observes the middle path between the excess of prerogative, and the giving up of all power ; between reigning in defiance of man,
and existing only at his pleasure; between the imperious haughtiness of the Romish usurpation, and the wretched time-serving system of those who minister 'as their master, the many, choose to dictate; and who, if they preach not, or pray not as their employers expect, are cashiered at will, or starved into compliance.—The Church feels that she has a degree of power given to her by God, for the good of his creatures; which wholesome
power she exercises discreetly and mildly, to the glory of the Almighty, and the temporal and eternal felicity of all her sons.
I know not how the minds of other men may be constituted ; but in order to ac
quire a rule of faith and practice, feeling my own weakness, and deeply sensible of my own blindness, I gladly avail myself of the wise decisions of the Church; nor could my mind be satisfied were it to have no better help than they afford, whose notions are but of yesterday—who are trying experiments merely—who afford me neither beacon, buoy, nor land-markwho have no harmony amongst themselves—whose principles of religion are no where avowedly set forth, as the Church's are in her Book of Common Prayer, in her Homilies, her Articles, her Canons.
When I look at the sectaries, I perceive every thing afloat, and nothing fixed; when I look at the Church, I perceive a secure harbour wherein I can fix the anchor of my soul, both sure and stedfast:-Observe the way in which our Lord affected the Jews, when he opened to them the things
concerning the kingdom of heaven ;-his word was with power, and no wonder, “ for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes”-not saying, so it may be;" or " so it seems to be,” but “ so it is.” I feel, therefore, certainty and safety whilst I bow to the authority of the Church; and I am satisfied that I cannot materially err, whilst I have Scripture for my guide, and the Church for my commentator.—Let us then, with affectionate reverence, and humble zeal, cleave unto it, and listen to its voice; and when, through the organ of its ministry, it pronounces pardon for our sins, and makes known to man the infinite mercy of God through Christ Jesus, let us “ rejoice with třembling,” and express the wishes of our penitent souls in a hearty “ Amen, so be it;" “ extend to us, O Lord, in very deed, that pardon which
has been declared unto us; remit those sins in heaven, which thy servants have pronounced remitted here on earth.”
The importance of the present subject, I believe, will satisfactorily account for dedicating an entire Discourse to it. Matters of less consequence, I trust, I shall be able hereafter to discuss more briefly: in the mean time I request your prayers, beloved, and commend you to God, through Jesus Christ. Amen.