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" This solemnity of ordination, partaking somewhat of a lingering superstition, has acquired of late years not a little of the ludicrous, from the frequency and facility with which, beyond former times, this supposed consecrated appointment and relation is dissolved—and off goes, or off is sent, the solemnly ordained minister and pastor, in quest of his fortune elsewhere.
“ In saying all this, I beg you not to take me as if I were making any very grave matter of the thing—as if I fancied this little rag of hierarchy infected with the plague, and capable of infusing some mighty mischief into our religious constitution. I merely think it would better comport with good sense, and with religious simplicity as the dissenters' profession, to abandon such a ceremonial. I have acted on this opinion-or taste. In two places where in former years I have sustained the settled’ ministerial office, I have declined, and with little difficulty or objection on the part of the people, all such formality of appointment. Several within my knowledge have done the same.
Mr. Hall was never ordained, nor, as I have heard, Mr. Jay of Bath.*
“But whether I be right or wrong in such an opinion or taste, or call it caprice or prejudice-it will be evident to you and Mr. Cross after such an explanation, that it would be quite inconsistent, almost ludricously so, in me to take any part whatever in an ordination, and to have it said that I even took a voyage,' 'went across the sea,' to officiate in such a transaction.
“I am glad to find you are likely to be agreeably united with a minister. . . . As to the affair of ordination, it may
* “ As to the report concerning myself which Mr. F. heard, it was groundless. I was ordained, and the service was published; I only deviated a little in the article of Confession,' substituting instead an address containing only some leading and general views of the gospel. As to Mr. Hall, he never was ordained; but one day, some years ago, when asked by a brother why he was not ?— Because, sir,' said he, ‘I was a fool.'”- From the Rev. W. Jay, to the Editor, August 23, 1845.
very probably be, that the settled state of opinions among your people may render such a ceremony indispensable to a satisfactory pastoral relation. I retain interest enough for the station in Swift's Alley (where I once so little did my duty in capacity of minister for a little while), to wish very cordially that it may at length be favoured with some religious prosperity.”
In the same letter, Foster adverts to the measure of Catholic emancipation, which had just been recommended in the king's speech at the opening of parliament (Feb. 5). “ All the friends of political improvement here," he says, “ are in sympathy with the exhilarated feelings you express in anticipation of the grand change of measures respecting Ireland. At the same time we are still in some fear lest the prodigious excitement in opposition throughout this country should have the effect of cribbing and narrowing the enactment in its passage through the legislature. The affair is now brought forward on its best and strongest ground of policy and imperious necessity-the bare, dry, abstract question of right, being reduced to a trifle in so portentous a crisis. The Catholic claim, as a matter of pure right, (under the name of liberty of conscience), has always appeared to me a little dubious, considering the treacherous, and in all ways detestable, quality of popery ; but it has constantly appeared to me most perverse and contemptible to stickle about this, as a competent ground of refusal, in the face of an infinitely urgent interest of national safety and improvement.”
To another friend, shortly after the Relief Bill had passed, he writes, “ It is a very grand thing that these people have been doing for the national welfare; and the more gratifying for having come with surprising suddenness, and contrary to all that had been expected from the predominant movers
* To John Purser, jun. Esq., Feb. 2), 1829.
of the exploit. It is a curious and memorable circumstance, that a measure which could not, in all probability, have been effected by a completely united ministry of whigs and liberals (had that been a possible composition of it), has been resolutely carried by a set of men avowedly opposed to liberalism, and opposed till lately to this very measure itself.
One cannot but deem this a very signal interposition of the Divine Providence in favour of the nation. It is a less worthy feeling, but a feeling which one cannot help thinking one's self tolerably right in indulging, to exult in the overwhelming mortification thus inflicted on the whole proud, bigoted tribe of opposers of all improvement and beneficial innovation. They are here in Bristol pre-eminently) amazed, and stunned, and astounded, almost out of their senses, to see the thing not only done, but done with a high hand by their own set,—the high tories, their very idols, the high church-and-state standard men, and done in direct and cool contempt of all their loud and general remonstrances. And it is such a dashing and prodigious kick at' the wisdom of our ancestors' as seems to threaten unmeasured hazard to everything else that has been under the sacred protection of that venerable and inviolable superstition. Those narrow-minded evangelicals in the Church have had their special share in the mortification by seeing among the bishops, those very men on whose acquisition to the bench they have been congratulating themselves and the Church, declaring for this wicked innovation-Ryder, the two Sumners, and Copleston. Within our time, and a much longer period, there has never been any thing comparable to this great red-coat Minister for hewing away the old venerable boundaries of prescription and exclusion. As to what he may do in the sequel, one dare not be sanguine. There are Portugal and the seat of Mahommedanism, and West India slavery, and the East India Monopoly, and the wretched class of abuses in law, and the corn-laws, and taxation. I am afraid there is no betting ou him for half of these, not to name such a thing as parliamentary reform, or any proceeding affecting the Church property in Ireland.
“ As to that same Church establishment, its superstitious adherents must be liable, one thinks, to some unwelcome intrusions of feeling, from the fact that now a decided, unquestionable majority of the people in the kingdom are recognized dissenters, in full possession of their civil and political rights and capacities,—the papist portion of them hating that establishment, and the protestant portion of them (such as are dissenters on principle) disapproving all secular religious establishments,—and with palpable evidence that practical dissent is progressive in a continually and rapidly augmenting ratio. This cannot but appear a bad and threatening predicament for the Church to have come into, with an absolute helplessness for getting out of it. This will continually lessen the value of the Church to the State as a political engine,-as a formerly powerful means of influence over the people. The state will come by degrees to consider whether the diminishing service which the Church can render it be worth the cost. And when that consideration comes to operate, it will be discovered that the State is no very religious animal.
“ At all events, it is inexpressibly gratifying, on the ground of religion, philanthropy, and all views of improvement, to observe the prominent characteristic of our times -a mobility, a tendency to alteration, a shaking, and cracking, and breaking up of the old condition of notions and things,—an exploding of the principle, that things are to be maintained because they are ancient and established. Even that venerable humbug, called ' our admirable Constitution," * has suffered woful assault and battery by this
* “Of one thing I am clear, that if ever this Constitution be destroyed, it will be only when it ought to be destroyed; when evils long neglected,
recent transaction. This thing, the Constitution,' has been commonly regarded and talked and written of (and was so talked of by the opposition in the late debates), as if it were something almost of divine origin, as if it had been delivered like the Law from the Mount, as a thing perfect, permanent, sacred, and inviolable. But now we have it practically shown that one of its corners may be demolished without ceremony–Holy Temple though it has been accounted—when the benefit of the community requires an innovation,-and, therefore, so may any other corner or portion of it, when the same cause shall demand. In this special view the late measure appears to me of incalculable importance. It now becomes a principle recognized that ANY innovation may be made when justice and policy require it. It is true that great pains were taken by some of the advocates to maintain that it was not a violation of said thing - Constitution. But I willingly accept Mr.
' Peel's description of it as ' a breaking in upon the constitu
To think of all the nauseous cant there has been about the constitution,' whenever any old established evil has been proposed to be corrected or abolished !" +
The introduction of the Reform. Bill (March 1, 1831) opened a prospect of political amelioration, which Foster
and good long omitted, will have brought things to such a state, that the Constitution must fall to save the Commonwealth, and the Church of England perish for the sake of the Church of Christ. Search and look whether you can find that any Constitution was ever destroyed from within by factions or discontent, without its destruction having been, either just penalty or necessary, because it could not any longer answer its proper purposes.”—DR. ARNOLD, Life and Correspondence, Vol. I., p. 409.
“Mr. Peel, who is rather remarkable for groundless and unlucky concessions, owned that the late Act broke in on the Constitution of 1688; whilst in 1689, a very imposing minority of the then House of Lords, with a decisive majority in the lower House of Convocation, denounced this very Constitution of 1688, as breaking in on the English Constitution."COLERIDGE, On the Constitution of the Church and Siate, according to th: idea of each, 3rd edition, p. 18.
+ To B. Stokes, Esq., April 30, 1829.