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system is to be ascribed to the fact, that few of the laity, and not many even of the clergy, have had the means of procuring, or leisure to read, the numerous and somewhat miscellaneous volumes in which that system is developed. It is the object of the following pages to exhibit its prominent features, as contrasted with the great principles of the Reformation.
It cannot be necessary for the Author to disclaim hostility to the English Church. Differing as he does decidedly from that Establishment on some important points of ecclesiastical polity, he regards it with affectionate veneration as a Church of Christ. One object, indeed, of the following pages, is to show that, as a Body, the Church of England is not chargeable with holding the doctrines of the Oxford School. They are not sanctioned by her Articles. They are opposed to the spirit of her Reformers. And although they have been advocated by some of her private Doctors since the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Church is not responsible for them otherwise than by tolerating their promulgation within her pale. But should they now unfortunately acquire the ascendency, I am persuaded that every
faithful minister of Christ in Scotland will respond to the words of the Genevese Reformer, when, contemplating such a disastrous result, he exclaims,“Ah! we too, the Christians of the Continent, and of the whole world, shall clothe us in mourning, if this empire be brought low. We love her for the sake of Christ Jesus,—for His sake we pray for her. But if the apostacy already begun shall work itself out, we shall have nothing left for her but wailing, and sighs, and tears."
LETTERS TO AN ENGLISHMAN.
THE OCCASION AND IMMEDIATE OBJECT OF THE
MY DEAR SIR,
I can quite understand your present state of mind. It is by no means an uncommon one. You have long venerated the Church of England ; you have believed her Articles, you have loved her Liturgy, you have been proud of her learning, and rank, and power ;
have adhered to her as one of the oldest and best institutions of your country, with that strong hereditary attachment which may be called the “ vis inertiæ of the English mind. With all this regard for the Established Church, you were wont, in former times, to associate a liberal and indulgent feeling towards the peaceable and pious members of other denominations; you observed the intelligence, the industry, the moral worth, and the social usefulness, of multitudes, who, partly through conscientious scruples, and partly from their early education and hereditary predilections, refused to conform to the ritual which you preferred ; you felt that you might be a good Churchman without ceasing to be a Catholic Christian ; you could listen occasionally to their ministers with edification and comfort; you could associate with them in the circulation of the Scriptures, in missionary effort and other works of piety and mercy; and even aid them in building a chapel or a school, as became a liberal-minded and warm-hearted
Englishman. But you have been infected, in some measure, by the spirit of the Oxford school,—their Tracts and other writings have gradually wrought a great revolution, if not in the deliberate convictions of
understanding, yet in the bent and disposition of your feelings, towards Christians of other denominations; THE CHURCH has acquired a prominence and magnitude in your view which it did not formerly possess; and, although your better nature would still revolt against the decision which some recluses might dictate—that salvation is confined within the pale of the Establishment-yet practically you feel and act very much as if this were true; you feel estranged from
many who bear the image of Christ, for no other reason than that they worship Him in the meetinghouse; and your alms and efforts must now flow only in an Episcopal channel. Such is the practical effect of the Oxford doctrines in many cases where they have not obtained the full sanction of the deliberate judgment; they have a tendency to exalt the Church of England, and, in the same proportion, to disparage the other Churches of the Reformation; and, were they thoroughly embraced, they could leave no room for the question, whether it were safer to be a Papist or Dissenter. Perhaps you may be conscious that they have, imperceptibly, exerted some such influence over your own mind ; and if so, you will permit me to say, that much you
disclaim some of the doctrines that have been broached in the “ Tracts for the Times,” you are a living instance of their power, and that, in your case, they have been crowned with a measure of success of which their most sanguine authors may well be proud while they say in triumph, “ We know our place and our fortunes ; to give a witness and to be contemned ; to be ill used and to succeed.” *
For, consider the occasion which called forth their efforts, and the immediate object which they had in view, as these are declared by themselves. Great political changes had been attempted, and in part accom
* Adv. to vol, iv. p. 9.