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that appetite for esoteric knowledge so sure to accompany intellectual pride, -its levelling principle in regard to all that is merely for the individual's profit or pleasure,- and lastly, its courageous propounding of the sublimest mysteries, not as the heritage of a choice few, but of mankind at large,-peasants as well as philosophers—the hewer of wood and the drawer of water, no less than the meditative sage and the profound inquirer. It is this sublime comprehension within its grasp of our manifold and multiform humanity, which was the feature of the Gospel uppermost in the mind of the apostle, when he wrote his Epistle to the Ephesians; it was the thought of this which dictated its glowing words, and carried its track to loftier heights than have been reached by any other composition. As a living witness for this great feature of the Gospel stands forth the Holy Catholic Church, the only society of which the pale is universal,—the only society which, discarding conventional distinctions, deals with man simply as man, receives him as such, and requires no other title than that of man, to the very richest treasures of which she is the guardian and dispenser. If then the principle of reserve be hostile to this distinguishing glory of our most holy faith, let it be at once rejected.
But here an important distinction must be made and kept in mind. When we speak of humanity, and that which belongs to or is designed for it, we can only mean ideal humanity, that humanity which is each man's only potentially, and to which each man should, by God's grace, be gradually reaching. It follows from this, that a boon or a blessing may be the heritage, not of one favoured class of men to the exclusion of others, but of humanity at large; and yet there may be numbers of individuals altogether unworthy of it, and unfit to receive it in any way to their profit. For only in proportion as we are subject to the regenerate will, do we become really and properly, men; only so do we realize the true end, and reach the characteristic blessedness of humanity. Thus, baptism is any thing but an esoteric privilege, it is appointed for all men ; and it is the right of every man, simply as a man, who is willing to become such in the sense recognized by the Sovereign Maker, when he "created man in His own image, and pronounced him to be very good.” Yet, when we have to deal with adults, we do not admit indiscriminately to baptism; and one who looks at things only as they seem, and who judges on the principles of mere nominalism, counting men, as it were, by the head, might be apt to fancy we did consider baptism the privilege of a select class. Or turn to the other sacrament, which, in the present day, illustrates what I mean more obviously. If there be anything designed for universal humanity, it is the true bread which cometh down from heaven,-the flesh which was given for the life of the world. This heavenly manna is man's appointed food, whereby alone he receives spiritual sustenance and support. It is the rich banquet which is spread for the universal brotherhood of mankind ;-it is the ineffable communion, which does away with every distinction of rank, education, tribe, kindred and tongue, and ranges us in one holy and happy company around the eternal throne. Yet, if we turn away from the idea of man, and think simply of men as the individual units around us, nothing looks, nothing in this point of view is, more esoteric than the Holy Eucharist. Even in the present time of relaxed discipline, preachers are forward to proclaim, and their hearers most abundantly ready to believe, that none but the devoutly disposed are meet partakers of those holy mysteries. Three quarters of most congregations withdraw before their solemnization begins, the church doors are locked, and none permitted to see, who do not also participate in them. And it is worthy of remark, that few of any school of religious thought, but adopt more or less the principle of reserve in regard to them; few are forward, directly, to introduce the subject into conversation ; few would talk freely of the details of the ceremony, or of any peculiar occurrence that might have accompanied it; few, I think, allude to the subject in an unsubdued tone of voice. Lastly, as Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the common heritage of humanity, so is the heaven to which they conduct. It is remarked by St. Chrysostom," that the righteous are invited to enter into the kingdom prepared for them; but the wicked are not told to depart into everlasting fire prepared for them, but for the Devil and his angels." And the thought which his remark suggests is surely this, that the one realize the true idea, and therefore enter into the heritage and fulfil the end prepared for humanity ; while the other, having declined this, are robbed of their manhood, are excluded from its estate, and dismissed into that of devils. Thus, while heavenly glory is prepared, not for an elect few, but for mankind at large, and is therefore any thing but an esoteric privilege, in point of fact "few there be that find it.”
From what has been said, I think it sufficiently appears, that there are two points of view in which every spiritual privilege may be regarded, an ideal and an actual; an ideal, in which it is the common property of mankind; an actual, in which its reception must necessarily be limited, and in respect of which we may consider it esoteric. And therefore, while nothing is more certain, nothing more jealously to be maintained than the principle that the very highest truths of the Gospel are to be taught to mankind alike, that we are to believe and to act as believing in the poorest peasant's power of receiving and entertaining them as well as the profoundest philosopher, it may well be that sinful men may preclude themselves from profitably learning them, and that the truest friendship towards such, may be for a time to conceal them from their gaze.
Whether such a course be sanctioned by Scripture and apostolic example, - whether, and to what extent such sanction be applicable now,-whether, and to what extent it may be practicable to act on it now—these are the subjects of inquiry to which we must proceed to address ourselves.
Now, it is worthy of being noticed that religious teachers do, for the most part, adopt a portion of this principle. We admit children but gradually to the knowledge of christian doctrine; we exercise discretion as to what we shall in the meantime communicate and what keep back : that which we do impart, we in great measure impart economically. The reason for all this is so obvious, its prudence is so unimpeachable, to say nothing of its so commending itself to the common sense of mankind as not to be discussed or defined by exact rule, that no difficulty, as far as I know, has ever been made about the matter. Rather are men apt to carry it too far, to admit an unbelieving spirit into the education of children, which judges only by what it sees, and forgetting Holy Baptism and its accompanying gifts, denies a child's capability of receiving those christian mysteries which their Saviour has expressly declared to be their heritage.
And surely the mind of one in the darkness of heathenism is as delicate a subject to tamper with, requires as much discretion on the part of the teacher, and is as unfit to digest the whole creed at once, as that of a child. Our Saviour's own rule is not to give that which is holy to dogs, nor to cast pearls before swine. And though this rule refers not to the incapacity of the mind, but to the impurity and rebellion of the will; yet, how are we to make trial of this, how is the missionary to discriminate (as far as he may reckon on being able to discriminate) between the people to whom he addresses himself, unless he first commence with matter less distinctive and sacred than those mysteries to which he is to lead the worthy auditor ? And thus (in point of fact) was the early Church guided in her missionary labours, labours more abundantly prospered surely, than any corresponding ones at present; and therefore, we naturally argue, conducted on sounder principles.
But was this, the practice of the early ecclesiastical age, the practice of the apostolic age also ? I cannot see the force of J.'s arguments to prove that it was not. The allusions which he cites in 1 Pet., and in Epb., Col., and i Thess., are made to those who had already been baptized and illuminated, and who, therefore, however varying in spiritual capacity, were above the rank of any catechumen. And in regard to the preaching of " the cross" and of " Christ crucified" of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor., there must, no doubt, have been something of the Atonement implied in it from the very first; and yet, it does not follow that the fullest exposition (the fullest, I mean, that it is possible for mortals to receive) of that mystery was even attempted. For this strikes me as having darkened the question between disputants at present, that the Atonement is regarded as one simple element in the Creed, which, if apprehended at all, is apprehended entirely, and the whole of which the preacher is either to preach, or be silent about. Whereas, as revealed to us it is a complex and multiform truth, a many-sided whole, presenting a face to each approacher from whatever quarter; a ladder set up on the earth and reaching unto heaven, with a round for every stage of capacity, faith, and experience. We open with the affecting truth that Jesus Christ in infinite love died for our good and rose again. This surely was never kept back from any inquirer who recognised the elementary truths of Theism. We tell men desirous to return to God, that God has been before-hand with them, and in Christ has returned to them. We tell those who seek deliverance from their guilt that Christ's death has procured them deliverance. Then by degrees we unfold the propitiatory virtue of that death, -we exhibit it as the great antitype of all sacrifice and penalty, - we bring to view the divine Melchizedec, at once priest and victim, coming to do the will of God, and in infinite depths of self-renunciation, offering the body that was prepared for him ; we pass within the veil, and behold the great High Priest everlastingly presenting His unspotted sacrifice before the intellectual altar, and rendering creation fragrant with the incense of his unbounded merits ; we see heaven let down upon earth, and a mortal ministry empowered to represent the things within the veil, and to convey and apply the glorified body and the all-vivifying blood which are the principle of man's spiritual life. All this complex whole makes up the doctrine of the atonement. It spans the wide interval between the elementary proposition, “ Christ died for our sins," and the transcendent mystery set forth hy our Lord,* after he had shown himself the Lord of life, in that he fed a famishing multitude with bread in the wilderness. And who shall say that all this is to be, or can be propounded at once, and to all men alike? Who shall say, that a line is not to be drawn somewhere, (I do not say where), beyond which we must practise a temporary reserve ? Or why need we conclude that because St. Paul preached “ Christ crucified,” he therefore preached the doctrine of the Atonement in all its complex grandeur and transcendent mystery
? And as to J.'s argument from his preaching being “ foolishness” to the Greek, it does not appear to me that their scorn was directed, as far as we can now judge, against any thing in the doctrine, but against such a procedure as meeting the various schools of thought and their respective disputants, with no elaborate reasonings, no curious theory, nothing but a knpuyua-a proclamation, an assertion of an historical fact of which the scene lay among the despised inhabitants of an obscure province.
I need hardly add that the same answer will serve for the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, as cited by J.
It ihus appears, I think, that the reserve adopted by the early church in bringing the higher mysteries of the faith before the notice of those who were, as yet, without the pale of the Gospel, dictated as it was by the strongest considerations of prudence, and sanctioned by our Saviour's rule, (Matt. vii. 6.) is not proved to have been contrary to the example of his apostles. On the other hand, it might be easily shown, did time permit, and did the onus probandi in this state of the question rest on me, that St. Paul throws out a few hints which, as far as they go, are favourable to the principle.
All this, however, merely justifies the practice of the early church in regard to heathens and catechumens. Whether the principle be at all applicable to the religious education of those baptized in infancy, is a different question, on which, with your permission, I propose making a few remarks hereafter.
ON THE MEANING AND APPLICATION OF THE TERM
“ PROTESTANT.". A STRANGE distaste of the term Protestant has lately been exhibited by some members of our Church. At first it was kept within bounds, and expressed by the introduction of the word ultra; ultra-Protestants, and ultra-Protestantism only were put to the ban. But now, as is always the case under similar circumstances, the disciple gets beyond his master, and we are told, that Catholics of the Anglican Church should consider the term Protestant to be altogether objectionable, as applied to them, and injurious to their cause. We are assured that we ought not to appear to make common cause with the herd, designated the “ Protestant world.” Because Socinians, and Dissenters, and fanatics of all denominations call themselves by this name, we ought to eschew it, say some.
* John vi.
It is a politico-religious term, say others, and, strictly speaking, it is only applicable to those of the Lutheran persuasion, in reference to the German protests of 1529; or, if it be adopted by Anglicans, it is to be understood as a legal or parliamentary, and not as an ecclesiastical definition.
This may be all very well, as a piece of special pleading, but the plain fact is this: that some of us have delicate stomachs, and reject that, which the more vigorous theologians of old digested without any difficulty; we are daintily entertaining scruples, which the masculine sense of the fathers of the English Church would not permit them to harbour; and we are getting ashamed of principles and fellowship which they unhesitatingly avowed. It is thus that little men turn up their noses at that, which the giants of those days regarded with forbearance, if not complacency. The root of the word Protestant, and its original acceptation, have a religious bearing, and for that reason it was introduced into the political instrument, which formed the bond of union between certain princes, who, agreeing at a great religious crisis on spiritual points, resolved to constitute a temporal alliance for their mutual encouragement and protection.
An example of the early use of the word, in the sense in which we contend it is to be understood, is to be found in the works of Jerome. Rufinus, in justification of himself against suspicions of his orthodoxy, declared with great earnestness, “ In præfatiunculis tamen utriusque operis et maxime in Pamphili libello, quem primum transtuleram, exposui primum omnium fidem meam: protestatus sum, me quidem ita credere, sicut fides catholica est.” (Invec. Rufini, lib. i. Opera Hieron. vol. iv. p. 360.)
One of Wiclif's solemn declarations begins in this manner:-“Protestor publicè ut sæpe alias, quòd propono et volo esse ex integro Christianus, et quamdiu manserit in me halitus, profitens verbo et opere legem Christi." (See Lewis's History of Wiclif, p. 382.)
The political protestation of the German princes, in 1529, was against the imperial edict, which was intended to stifle the Reformation : but it was not signed by them, until they had solemnly borne witness to the truths of the Gospel, as they believed them to be set forth in Scripture, and had signified their protest against the errors of the Church of Rome. The public declaration of Cranmer, in 1533, in support of the Reformation of the Christian religion, and the liberties of the Church of England, against the usurped jurisdiction of the Pope, commenced thus :
" In Dei Nomine Amten. Coram vobis autentica persona et testibus fided ignis, hic presentibus, ego Thomas in Cant. Archiepiscopum electus VOL. XXII. NO. V.