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Confession, or Declaration of principles, which, in fact, is its conservative nucleus; or the organ, and the conveying medium of its continued identity, as a body.

Especially are these means resorted to—and unavoidably so, in all instances in which the seisin of property—whether lands, funds, or rents, is connected with the profession of religious opinions, or the support of specific modes of worship ;-that is to say, in all cases of Religious Endowments, and Trusts. In such instances it is worse than idle " to kick against the pricks;" or, on the ground of abstract scruples, and of a theory, to refuse compliance with the inevitable condition of the civil institutions around us.

Few or none do so, when the practical question meets them, invested in its legal attributes; and when it is a point, not of theological science, but of the rightful or wrongful enjoyment or administration of funds.

So far, therefore, there seems an agreement of opinion, on all hands, virtually, if not formally pronounced, and it may be concluded-- That, where Church Formularies whether they be Articles of Religion, or Creeds, or Confessions, occupy the place of the Covenants of a Deed, securing the enjoyment of rents or privileges, they may be, and ought to be, appealed to, and enforced, for all the purposes contemplated by the grantor; and of which purposes Law may take cognizance.

Whether cognizance be taken of any alleged breach of such covenants, by ecclesiastical, or by civil courts, does not affect our present argument. The principle, in either case, is admitted, and is acted upon-That whatever opinion may be entertained concerning the propriety or utility of such provisions, in the abstract, yet where they do exist, they are to be made available for the purposes contemplated : and this, even when the risk be extreme of inducing men to make an insincere profession, or to compromise their inward convictions. The remedy in such cases is to be sought for on another ground.

There is no difficulty therefore, and no debate, concerning all those instances of which Law-ecclesiastical or civil, may properly take cognizance. But there are cases-not infrequent, and they are of the highest importance, which lie beyond the range of courts ;-unless indeed such courts were constituted on the most arbitrary principles, and were to act as irresponsible, and undefined judicatories, empowered to inquire concerning what they please, and to deal with the accused in what way they please!

But inasmuch as no such “ Holy Office " is tolerable in a free country-a country of Law, the cases we have now in view must be brought to another tribunal, namely—that of Public Opinion. At this tribunal they will, in the end, and in inost instances, be equitably, and even mildly considered; and will be disposed of, much to the advantage of the community, and in a manner so gradual and gently efficacious, as to inflict upon the offending party the smallest possible harm.

During the course of the last fifty years, it has been more by the silent pressure of public opinion, than by the direct application of law-ecclesiastical or civil, that the Trinitarian doctrine of the Established Church has been brought to bear upon the clerical body, so as to exclude from it—we might say to expel, Socinian and Arian opinions ; as well as that general temper of unbelief which had so extensively prevailed within it, during the last century. It was felt that a clergyman could not-must not screen himself in his position by a mere oral conformity, or a legal compliance with the terms of his occupation of emoluments, while he was known to treat the doctrine of the Trinity with levity, among his intimates. Such things had beentoo often ; but they could be endured no longer. Public opinion—the right feeling of the best portion of the community, set against this irreligious and disreputable inconsistency-and it gave way. Denied the liberty of unbelief, if they would enjoy the emoluments of the Church, men were induced to re-consider their too hastily adopted scepticism :—they informed themselves better of the grounds and reasons of the orthodoxy of the Church ; and, in innumerable instances, how indirect soever might have been their first impulse, they honestly convinced themselves of the Truth, and became- under this extraneous pressure, sincere, and perhaps serious, in their profession of the first principles of Christianity.

Now in this signal instance the Established Church was saved from heterodoxy--from doctrinal apostasy—as the instrumental means-by its Creeds, Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, operating, for the most part, not through the organs of ecclesiastical or civil Law; although these might have been applicable to particular cases ; but rather, and in a far more auspicious manner, by the firm and continued influence of public opinion.

And such, precisely, are the conditions of the case with which, at this moment, the Church of England—AND THE COUNTRY, has to do, in the instance of those who hold the opinions of the Oxford Tract Writers.

These parties are said, as Clergymen—and we do not question it, to be distinguished by their strict conformity with the directions of the Rubric.-It is their pride to officiate with a scrupulous regard to the letter of their instructions! They, of all men, are safe from the finger of law-ecclesiastical. Be it so: and although there were room for a question on this ground, it is one with which the writer of these pages would think it most unbecoming in him to meddle.

But there is another case supposable, and it is that with which, in fact, we have to do it is a case touching, not merely the preservation and prosperity of the Established Church; but the wellbeing of the country, and the maintenance of that high moral tone which has been the distinction of the British people among the nations.

With this case therefore every Englishman, every Chris

tian, every father of a family, is personally and deeply concerned; nor need any apology be offered by one whose feelings and solicitudes are those of an Englishman, a Christian, and a father, when he comes forward to challenge the attention of all who themselves respond to such emotions, to a case not less signal and critical than any which has ever affected the welfare of the British people.—

- A flagrant dissent from the mind, and tenor, and actual teaching of the Church, as expressed in its Formularies, conjoined with an over-punctilious conformity to the letter of its regulations, could not fail-if it prevailed through the country, to operate most perniciously in depraving the religious sentiments and moral principles of all classes; and especially so of the Clergy themselves.

Is there room then to affirm the fact of such a dissonance ? Public opinion has already, and very generally pronounced itself in the affirmative ; and this decision must become more general, and more authoritative, in proportion as all the facts bearing upon the question are set forth and understood.

When this preliminary shall have been completed, there is reason to believe that Oxford Tract Theologyincluding as it does all the principles, and almost every ingredient of the Romanism of the middle ages, will share the fate of the heterodoxy of the last century, and will be expelled—not by force, or the arm of authority; but by the irresistible pressure, on all sides, of PUBLIC OPINIONthat is to say, the right-minded resentments of the soundest and best informed portion of the community.

I need only add that as to promote this consummation has been the object, generally, of this work, so especially of the Number now published, and of the portion yet lo appear.


March 21, 1842.

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