Jared Sparks.

Letters on the ministry, ritual and doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church : addressed to the Rev. Wm. E. Wyatt, D.D. ... in reply to a sermon exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the P online

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Online LibraryJared SparksLetters on the ministry, ritual and doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church : addressed to the Rev. Wm. E. Wyatt, D.D. ... in reply to a sermon exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the P → online text (page 1 of 19)
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Associate Mioisterof St. Paul's Parish, Baltimore, and Protessor of Theology ia
the University of Maryland,

3In repl^ to a @)ermon










On the ministry of the episcopal church.

Reasons for discussing the subject — Our Saviour gave no instruc-
tions respecting any particular mode of church government —
Said nothing of three orders of ministry — The first church at
Jerusalem was governed by the apostles, elders, and brethren —

* Deacons — The ceremony of ordination was performed by any of-
ficers of regular standing in the church — Paul and Barnabas
were ordained by "prophets and teachers" — Opinions of Kui-
noel, Rosenmuller, Hammond, and Le Clerc — Episcopalians
fond of quoting the Fathers — Authority of the Fathers — Opi-
nions of Milton and Jeremy Taylor — Ignatius' epistles — Testi-
mony of the Fathers against episcopacy — Opinions of Paley,
f iocke, the bishop of Lincoln — Ecclesiastical government essen-
tially a government of the people. p. 5


On the ritual of the church.
Baptism — Church form not scriptural — Sign of tlie cross — Con-
firmation — These forms nearly the same as in the Catholic
church — Ordination service — Expediency and utility of forms
of prayer— Their disadvantages— Origin of Saints' days — Bos-
suet, p. 53


On the authority of the church in controversies of faith.
Our Saviour gave no authority to any man, or bod}' of men, to
judge others for their religious opinions — Christians have no
other rule of faith than the Bible-— Chillingworth — Athanasian
creed — Historical sketch of the first conventions of the Ame-
rican episcopal church after the revolution — Injurious ten-
dency of creeds and articles, both on the clergy and the people
—Many christians cannot conscientiously worship according to
the liturgy of the church — Inconsistency of holding to the au-
thority of tradition, and rejecting infallibility — How creeds
keep schism out of the church — Milton's opinion. p. 79



On the doctrinal character of the thirty-nine articles.
The fundamental doctrines of Calvinism fully set forth in the ar-
ticles and homilies — Ninth article — Homilies — Seventeenth ar-
ticle — ^Bishop Burnet's exposition — Opinions of the first re-
formers calvinistic — Nowel's catechism — Latimer's sermons —
Bishop's Bible — Oxford theses — Ridley's letter on election and
predestination— .Lambeth articles — Heylin — University of Cam-
bridge — Synod of Dort — English delegates were all calvinists—
Strange doctrine of the eighteenth article — Arminian mode
of interpreting the articles indefensible — Proposed summary of
faith. p. 109


Doctrine of the trinity as held by the episcopal church.
Litany — The worship it inculcates — Doctrine of the trinity
contained in the articles — Opinions of learned episcopalians
— There is one true God — The Lord Jesus Christ is not
this one true God, but a subordinate being — Doctrine of two
natures — The Holy Spirit is not the true God — Jews had no
conceptions of any threefold distinction in the Deity— Nor had
the disciples of Jesus — Nor did the apostles preach any such
doctrine after the ascension of Christ — The christians of the
first century were principally, if not entirely, unitarians — Origin
of the doctrine of the trinity. p. 14x:


Exposition of certain texts of scripture supposed to favour the
doctrine of the trinity.

Objections answered — Use of reason — Mysteries — Burgh's Reply
to Lindsey — Jones on the Trinity — His singular mode of inter-
preting the scriptures — All the texts considered in which
Christ is called, or supposed to be called God — None of these
prove him to be the Supreme Being — Texts, which are thought
to ascribe such properties or powers to Christ, as could belong
only to God — How Christ and the Father are one — Christ
possessed the attributes of God in a limited degree — God the
only object of religious homage — Form of baptism — Commu-
nion of th^ Holy Spirit — Concluding remarks. p. 195

i.is^^a:B St

Reverend and dear sir,

When your late discourse on the ministry and
doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church first ap-
peared, I engaged with ranch interest in its perusal.
The design you proposed of explaining at large the
principal doctrines, and distinguishing characteristics
of this church, led me to anticipate much pleasure
^nd improvement from the execution. If I have been
disappointed in some of my expectations, I could nofc
fail to be gratified with the spirit of candour and good
intention which pervades your discourse; and I hope
I have not read it without profit, if I have without

In the remarks I am about to make, I have no de-
sign to point out intentional misrepresentations, or to
question your motives. Nor is it so much your owa
private opinions with which I am concerned, as the
doctrines and principles you have attempted to ex-
plain and defend, and which you represent as form-
ing the most striking features of the church to which
you belong. Among these I cannot but think there
are many errors; and not a few, which can have no
other than an injurious tendency on the cause of truth


and a pure religion. As you liave thought it your
iluty to undertake a public explanation and defence
of these doctrines, you cannot be surprised, that 1
should think it mine, to adopt a similar mode of ex-
pressing my opinions, and of stating my objections.

I propose first to consider what you have said on
the MINISTRY of the Episcopal church; and afterwards
to examine its ritual and doctrines.

I confess I was not entirely prepared to find, at
this advanced period of moral and intellectual im-
provement, any member of a protestant religious so-
ciety, and especially in this country, who would se-
riously engage in the attempt to establish the divine
origin of any particular form of church government,
and claim its lineal descent from the apostles. I had
thought the long agitated controversy, about the du
vine right of episcopacy, was generally allowed to be
at rest, even in those countries where the civil, as well
as ecclesiastical interests are intimately concerned in
the result. In more scholastic times, when the world
w^as busied in visions and dreams as unprofitable as
they were imaginary, this was a theme sufficiently
obscure to interest the lovers of speculation, and suf-
ficiently pretending to engage the ambitious. Few at
this day, 1 supposed, could be found, who would not
at least consider it a doubtful cause; and still fewer,
who would think it of sufficient importance publicly
to engage in its defence. The termination of the con-
troversy, which was carried on a few years ago in
New- York on this subject, was not such, one would
think, as to warrant in the friends of episcopacy a
desire for its renewal.

In my estimation the subject in itself is of very little
importance, because I am convinced, that the grounds
which you and some others take are unscriptural,
and consequently untenable. Yet in its consequences
it is by no means unimportant. If any order of men
can prove to the satisfaction of the people, that, as an
order, they are lineal descendants from the apostles,
and inherit a right to their office by virtue of this de-
scent, they will almost necessarily possess an in-
fluence over the minds and opinions of the weak and
credulous, which, unless their pretensions are well
founded, they ought not to possess. In religion, if in
any thing, the mind should be left unshackled. The
right of private judgment should be held sacred, and
no improper means should be used to restrain inquiry,
or enlist credulity.

As we are all accountable beings, and accountable
only for ourselves, it is our duty to judge for our-
selves. But when we are made to believe, that any
man is endowed with a portion of the inspired intel-
ligence of the apostles, and is, from the nature of the
oflice he sustains, more holy than other men, shall we
not be in danger of forgetting our obligations to our-
selves, and be likely in our religious concerns to
yield up the highest prerogatives of our nature— those
of thinking, and reasoning, and judging? What merit
can we claim for thinking and acting right, if we do
not think and act from our own understanding and
freedom? To believe articles, because others have be-
lieved them, can scarcely be called a religious faith.
Tliat faith can be worth very little, and have little
efficacy on the life, which is not built on personal
knowledge and conviction.

Another evil consequonce of believinj; in a divine-
ly protected succession of officers in the church, is the
perpetuity of error. Among protestants 1 believe
there are no advocates for infallibility. In the chris-
tian church, as in every thing else, error has always
been mingled with truth, and it does not appear, that
the edicts of emperors, the decrees of councils, or the
mandates of popes have been able to preserve a pure,
a uniform, or consistent system of faith. If such a
system had been transmitted without change from the
primitive ages, and it were certain, that it is the one
now adopted by your church; then I should say, your
scheme of episcopacy is a good one, and the notion
of its divine origin would add to its value. It would
be the best means, that could be devised, for perpet-
uating such a form of faith, and fixing it in the minds
of the people.

But is it not obvious, that such a system would
have a tendency equally strong to perpetuate any
form of belief, whether false or true? And are not all
articles of faith, which are not expressed in the lan-
guage of scripture, subject to be more or less clouded
-with error? If episcopacy be of divine origin, why
has it not preserved a pure and consistent faith. The
Greek church is episcopal, and so is the Roman,
and still they differ in many essential points from
each other, as well as from the English church And
does not the episcopal church of the United States
reject some parts of the old bo

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Online LibraryJared SparksLetters on the ministry, ritual and doctrines of the Protestant Episcopal Church : addressed to the Rev. Wm. E. Wyatt, D.D. ... in reply to a sermon exhibiting some of the principal doctrines of the P → online text (page 1 of 19)