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of circumstances, in self-defence, to speak as if boastingly, to “speak as a fool,” in commending the polity of the Church of England, and the marked increase of piety among her pastors and people; whilst he has not been called
upon, indeed it would have ill become him, to turn round as the sharp accuser of the still existing faults of his Church and his brethren.
As to qualifications for his undertaking, he is conscious of many and great defects. Then why, it may be asked, write at all? His motives are these. He believes that, as a nation, “we have sinned against the true Gospel of Christ, we have done wickedly" in the sight of God; to whose just displeasure it is owing that our course has been visibly accelerated towards an abyss. In such circumstances, a thoughtful word of reference to our dangers, and to the spiritual means of our deliverance, may not, under God, be in vain, though from the humblest quarter.
Again ; having been led from various causes for some time past to inquire into the nature of Church-councils, especially in this realm,-a subject very little attended to even among the Clergy themselves ;—and having collected facts and arguments respecting it for his own information, he may perhaps, by publishing what he has put together, assist some readers who wish to become better acquainted with these matters, and induce others, who are far his superiors, to investigate them more fully than himself.
An occasion will occur in these pages of insisting upon the often explained, but still too much disregarded fact, that those who pay tithes and church-rates are not really in the long run out of pocket in consequence. The author will just remark here, though somewhat out of place, that it may doubtless be argued,—“ let the government cut the matter short; let them transfer at once all such rent-charges, as well as all endowments,-including, of course, Dissenter's endowments,—to the public treasury; and the people would pay by capitation just so much less taxes.” Ay, and it may
“ Let the people take the matter into their own hands, so as to rid the nobility of the unnecessary surplus of their estates, and by the simple process of dividing it among themselves, they must needs be so much the richer !” It may be argued also, that a people and their government can be moral without religion, or that a demoralized people may be a cheaply governed people! But we
know who hath said, “ Them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed.”
The writer has all along kept Convocations more prominently in view than Provincial Assemblies, properly so called; because he wished to avoid confusion of ideas, because the pleas for the former will easily apply mutatis mutandis to the latter, and because, in the first instance at least, Convocations probably, and nothing farther, ought to be considered and sued for. He must, however, confess, that in his own mind inquiry has led to the impression, that the RESTORATION, IN AN AMENDED FORM, OF ANCIENT DIOCESAN AND PROVINCIAL Synods, –OF THE FORMER, STATEDLY, OF THE LATTER ON GREAT OCCASIONS,—would be the preferable course, and would ultimately be requisite ; in pursuance of the plan intended, after their suspension by Henry VIII., and conformably to the completion of that plan in Cranmer's code of Ecclesiastical Laws. But how such synods ought in our times to be conducted, and how far they should be assimilated to the views of Cranmer, and to primitive Christianity, are topics which would carry him beyond his limits and his powers,
and which he would gladly leave in the hands of those who are far better able to form a correct judgment. He would simply throw out the following queries :—whether, after some preliminary Convocations, Diocesan Synods of Clergy might not be assembled, and Lay-members be present from the Spiritual Courts, merely by Episcopal authority ; -- whether stated conventions, comprehending some eminent jurists, might not be holden annually in London at the Bounty Board, (as the most easy and unostentatious mode,) by the Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces, the Prelates agreeing together with the royal sanction to be assembled authoritatively by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in order to receive reports from the several Diocesan Synods, and to act definitively in pursuance of them ;-whether a similar plan might not be instituted in Ireland ;- lastly, whether something like a fairly co-operative union between the two great branches of the same United Church might not thus be attainable.
The author knows it is high time for him to watch as “they that watch for the morning," for his summons from this dark world; and his prayer to God is, that by his late and very imperfect endeavours, in the present crisis of our holy religion, the Saviour may be in some measure glorified, his Church vindicated, his truth exalted, and his professed disciples induced to love one another. “ But if He thus say, I have no delight” in so unworthy an instrument,“ let him do as seemeth good to him.”
As the ensuing discussion commences with the assumption of an important moral and religious proposition, a bare summary of the proof of it,—which is all that is here possible,—is subjoined.
1. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the only Divine Standard of religious truth.
2. All persons blessed with the Holy Scriptures, who rightly and prayerfully use them, as the only Divine Standard, and ordinarily none else, may expect to become acquainted with the doctrines divinely taught, as alone constituting collectively The Truth.
3. It is a known historical fact that those