Charles Pettit McIlvaine.

Righteousness by faith : or, The nature and means of our justification before God ; illustrated by a comparison of the doctrine of the Oxford tracts with that of the Romish and Anglican churches. A ne online

. (page 1 of 53)
Online LibraryCharles Pettit McIlvaineRighteousness by faith : or, The nature and means of our justification before God ; illustrated by a comparison of the doctrine of the Oxford tracts with that of the Romish and Anglican churches. A ne → online text (page 1 of 53)
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PREFACE, - - - - - - 24

CONTENTS, ... . . 31



EPISCOPAL CHARGE IN 1843, .... 395




1863, 451


INDEX OF AUTHORS, - - - - - 493


It -will be seen by tbe Title-page that this volume is only a
revised and improved edition of what has heretofore been known
under the name of " Oxford Divinity." At this period in the
history of a controversy which that name suggests, it is not sup-
posed that, though the previous editions in this country and Eng-
land are exhausted, there is any such demand for another as would
justify the expense as a book-selling enterprise. There is a demand
however, which has induced many zealous advocates of the great
truths which the book maintains to desire its reprint, and which
has prevailed with one of them to provide the means of perpetuating
it in stereotype.

The author has been much more richly rewarded for his pains
than ever he had expected to be. Instances in England and at
home, in which God has graciously used it as the means of arrest-
ing a dangerous progress towards the full embracing of Komanisra,
under the teaching of the Oxford Tracts, or of kindred works ;
many more instances in which it has been honored in the promotion
of a greatly increased clearness, decision, and spiritual discrimination,
in the holding and teaching of those great central doctrines of the
way of salvation, the denial of which is the parent of all Romish
corruptions of Gospel truth, have come to his knowledge, and have
been subjects of great thankfulness on his part to Him who puts
his treasure " in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power
may be of God and not of us."

But is not the work of this volume finished ? Is not the con-
troversy which gave it birth ended, or so fast expiring, and so
nearly dead, that there need be no further fear of its influence ?
Has not its place been taken by a far more portentous evil, another
Oxford Divinity, and another school of Tractarians, of a perfectly
opposite character, and which, instead of promulgating only a cor-
ruption of Christianity, proclaims its virtual denial, even a vaunt-



ing and sceptical Eationalism, tliat stalks abroad on the Llgli
places of preferment in Church and university, a striking imitation
of those primitive adversaries of the Gospel, to whose philoso-
phic wisdom its central distinguishing facts and truths were
" foolishness ?"

We have not failed to take due notice of the rise and progress
of this new school — new in certain respects; but still nothing
more, in substance, that what the "evil heart of unbelief" has
often raised up before, and " the power and wisdom of God " in
Christ have often overcome. It is nothing more than a fresh,
aspiring shoot from the decayed stock of that German rationalism,
which having flourished at one time on the continent, in such pride,
is now fast yielding to the revival of the Gospel. It is but an
insidious form of that very Deism which, with more honest
avowal of its nature and aims, sought to uproot Christianity in the
times of Hobbes and Collins and Herbert and Tindal. We yield
to none in our estimate of the unmixed evil, and the great danger
of this new form of opposition to the Gospel ; especially its bare-
faced dishonesty, in having for its leaders men who profess to be
Christian ministers and occupy the places and enjoy the emolu-
ments of clergymen of the Church of England. We trust that our
venerable mother Church, by her righteous discipline, will cleanse
herself of such dishonor. Shall indeed infidelity be allowed to
speak from the pulpits of her Churches and the chairs of her uni-
versities ? Shall men be allowed to preside over her great schools
and venerable colleges, and live on endowments consecrated to the
education of her j'-outh in the ways of the Gospel, while they con-
spire together to bring into contempt and rejection all that she
holds most vital and precious in the scriptures ? Shall Unitarians
have cause to taunt us with the boast, not only that what they call
" eminent divines " of the Church of England, are avowing and
propagating just their worst doctrines, but that in doing so, they
have the sanction of Church -authorities and the patronage of their
great University, since no decree silences — nor discipline ejects
them ? For the honor of the Gospel — the honor of the Church
of England among whose children the Gospel is now having such


precious fruit — for tlie interests of true religion, wherever her in-
fluence is felt, we trust not.

But because this school of rationalistic scepticism has thus
arisen in the very halls where the Tractarian first appeared, and is
now attracting so much attention that the remaining representatives
of the latter are likely to be lost sight of, let it not be supposed
that Tractarianism has no representation which need be watched,
nor strength still to do great harm ; that its evil doctrines are not
by dangerous and zealous teachers still busily propagated; or
that there are not classes and conditions of mind, wherever we go,
in which its seed would find congenial soil and rapidly take root.

Because it has been signally defeated on the field of argument,
it is too much taken for granted that its powers of mischief have
been subdued. But had the Canaanites no power to trouble Israel
and lead the victorious people into idolatry, after their strong-
holds had been taken and their land was in possession of the
tribes? "The Canaanite was yet in the land;" defeated, but not
slain ; restrained, but not changed.

One thing is certain. The present advocates of the Tractarian
system, do not think it defunct or likely soon to be so. They
w^ork it and glory in it, as a leaven that is spreading its influence;
a tree that is multiplying its fruit. In a measure, we agree with
them. It may be perfectly true that it has lost its first positions ;
that in the defection of so many of its chief leaders to avowed
Popery, in spite of their strong anti-papal protestations, it has
suffered great disgrace ; that now we hear little of new converts
to it, or by it to Eome ; that the press has ceased to teem with its
publications, and the magazines to make battle, in its favor or
against it ; that what it does, is done far more noiselessly, and
secretly than formerly, far more as the sapper underground, than
as a combatant in open field. And yet it may be just as true that
it is still doing a very evil work ; leading many souls astray ;
spreading a vast deal of false religion ; preparing a great breadth
of ground for a future harvest of popery ; educating numbers of
aspirants for the ministry whose preaching will be that of '' another
Gospel ;" yea, and planting trees of which even Eationalism, just


sucli as we now deplore, will be the genuine fruit. The old Upas
tree may be standing no longer on its original roots ; the old trunk
may have perished ; but its branches have taken root and become
trees, and are sending out their branches to become, in their turn,
a spreading contamination. ,

In our estimate of the present condition of Tractarianism, we
must not mistake change of policy for decrease of zeal, or of in-
fluence. When at first the system had need to be strongly
inaugurated in the public view, it came forth with an array of high
pretending publications, bold in assumption, reckless in argument,
promising wonders. Volume followed volume. A great flourish
of trumpets announced the entrance of a great Reformation of the
Reformed, Controversy was challenged to give notoriety. Con-
troversy arose, at least as much as was desired. But now there is
a marked change in the bearing of the system so introduced. Of
a great deal that was first professed, we hear no more. It had its
day and its use. Of many denials of what it was charged with
and many strong professions of being the only safe ground of real
Protestantism in distinction from "?7Z^m Protestantism," we hear
no more. Of elaborate self- vindication the press now furnishes
exceeding little. The silence of the mine has succeeded to the
noise of the assault. The sower quietly sowing his seed, has
succeeded to the soldiery storming a fortress. The latter gained
a field and the former is now tilling it. Bustle had once its day.
Quietness has it now. It was once desirable to draw the public
gaze. It is better now to work away from it. The strategy has
changed — not the enemy ; the policy, not the cause.

The present plan is to promote a taste for a ceremonial sensuous
religion ; for Church ornament, pomp, symbolism, mystery and ritual,
multiplied into the details of Church furniture, ministerial vestments,
Clerical postures, and the like; under such fascinations, quietly to
introduce and make fast the whole Sacerdotal system of Priesthood,
Sacrifice, Altar, and the opus operatum of Baptismal efficacy. That
system teaclies the Church as the depository of saving grace ;
Sacraments as the only channels of that grace to the soul ; Ministers
of Sacraments as the only dispensers of that grace by those channels;


those "Nrinisters real Priests, offerers of real sacrifice — of sacrifice
by which comes remission of sins ; those Priests officiating at a
real altar, and in so doing, performing the office of mediators from
man to God — by whom the people, through Christ, draw nigh to
God, and without whose priestly mediation the approach of the
people is at least imperfect and doubtful. The Prii^t at the altar
offering sacrifice for the people, is represented as the prime and
essential aspect of the Gospel Minister. The Preacher in the
pulpit, teaching and preaching Jesus Christ to the people, is
studiously, though stealthily, represented as in a position and
work quite subordinate and incidental. All this, of course, is of
the verj essence of Popery. Against it, every nerve in the heart,
of tjue Protestantism is braced. Get it once inaugurated, and
Popery has all its way prepared. It will argue and prove and
branch out its whole array of doctrine and service from that
central instalment. It is a sort of thing that may grow up among
a people not preoccupied with decided and intelligent views of a
contrary sort, without any very observable effort to convince them
of it. It is insinuated, rather than enforced. It is asserted in the
habitual language as if a thing of course. The people lose sight
of the fact that any in our Church, of any just pretense to true
Churchmanship, ever think otherwise. All that their eyes see, in
the arrangement and furniture of the place of worship, and in the
ways of the officiating minister is intended to train their minds in
that one direction. In certain quarters, and under certain minis-
ters, the people hear no more of the communion table. It is now
" the A Itar^ One sees no more, in such quarters, of any thing for the
Lord's Supper that looks like a table, and that conveys the idea of
a feast ; but in place of it what is studiously fashioned to look like
an altar, that it may convey the idea of priesthood and sacrifice.
That this altar, as such, with its associated ideas, may be the one
object in the sight of the people, the pulpit is often placed in a very
inferior position, without reference to the convenience of speaking
or hearing. The reading-desk is put on one side — and the reader
is made to read side-ways, as regards the people, lest by facing
them he should turn his back to the chancel and to the eminent


sacredness of what has no right to be there, the altar. The minis-
ter's private prayer before beginning the service or sermon, which
lie used to offer in the desk and pulpit, is now offered at the chancel
before the altar. There is, in all such things, and in divers other
more minute things, a constant, silent, impressive and insinuating
teaching, under which the people are gradually educated to the
idea that in the chancel there is a presence of the Lord such as is
no where else in the Church or in the earth ; that grace is tbence
specially dispensed and thither the worshipper is specially to look,
because there stands the Priest at the Altar, offering sacrifice for the
sins of the people, (through the offering of the body of Jesus,) by
whose priestly mediation the sacrifice of Jesus becomes efficacious
for remission of their sins.

Keed we tell any careful observer, how much of all this is going
on among us in various parts ; how successfully it is advancing
from general impression to positive belief; how many have got so
far as to suppose it the very essence of Churchmanship, almost
regarding the rubrics of the communion office, which so pertina-
ciously adhere to the word table, and do not so much as indicate
the possibility of an altar in a Protestant Church, as behind the
age and of a Churchmanship decidedly too low ? It is no unimpor-
tant indication of the progress thus being made, that with so many
of the clergy of this country, when a new Church is built, or an
old one repaired, if in the latter there used to be a tahle^ (what
good Bishop Ridley in his Injunctions for the removal of altars
calls " an honest table,'^) it is seen no more, " Old things are passed
away," and the thing placed in the chancel is studiously made to
look as little like a table and as much like an altar as possible.
Nothing else would express their doctrine of the Sacrament or satisfy
their sacerdotal aspirations. Sometimes we would fain believe there
is no very special design in it, but only a sort of sentimentalisra
which pleads no excuse but that of architectural gratification.
But the direction is the same, and so the influence. We are told
that the form is of little account. Very well. But then why so eager
to change the old, time honored form, which certainly accords
with the reiterated name, table, in the rubrics of the communion


office, far better than its recently introduced and obnoxious substi-
tute ? "We are told that what is used as a table, is a table no
matter what its form, and why complain because it has not the form
of a table ?

Try the question upon a surplice. Any outer garment used as a
surplice is a surplice, no matter what the form or color. Why
then if some of our clergy should choose to wear some tastily con-
trived vestment, (tastily we mean in the tailor's eye) but as unlike
as possible what is meant when we speak of a surplice, why take
any exception ? The form is indifferent. The use makes the thing.
We venture to say there would be some sense of the value in some
things, of a certain form, among those who plead the above ex-
cuse, should they witness such a garment under the profession and
use of a surplice. But we have no hesitation in asserting that there
could be no wrong in the use of the most inappropriate form of
vestment for a surplice, in celebrating the Lord's Supper, compara-
ble with that of substituting the form of a Eomish altar for that of
a proper table. That outlandish surplice, however repulsive to all
right views of the fitness of things, would be only inappropriate.
It would teach symbolically no false doctrine. It would contra-
dict no great truth contained and taught in the Lord's Supper. It
would be an offense, but not a heresy. But to cast out the table
and substitute the shape of a Romish altar does teach symbolically
a most unscriptural and pernicious doctrine, directly contradicting
the true nature of the Lord's Supper and all the teaching of our
Church concerning it and the of&ce of the ministry connected with it.
Romanists well understand how iahh and altar represent respec-
tively the Protestant and Romish faith concerning the Lord's
Supper. One of their learned men, a chief hand in their Rhemish
translation of the New Testament (Grregory Martin) says : " The
name of altar, both in the Hebrew and Greek, and by the consent of
all peoples, both Jews and Pagans, implying and importing sacrifice^
therefore we, in respect of the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood,
say altar rather than tabic. But the Protestants because they make
it a sapper and no sacrifice therefore they call it a table only — to
takeaway the holy sacrifice of the mass, they take away both altar


aud priest ; because tliey know right well that these three, priest,
sacrifice and altar, are dependents and consequents, so that they cannot
he separated^*

Nothing can be more out of place, in this question, than to speak
of the indifference of the form ; especially when such speech comes
from those who are so zealous to get rid of the old form and, the
almost universal form till recently, in our Churches, and to substitute
that very form which in the English Church, after the reformation,
was by authority every where cast out, the very name of it being
erased from the Prayer Book. There is intended to be a symbolic
expression of important truth in the table which wholly depends
on its having a table-/orm. The form is the whole of it. Indif-
ference to that, is indifference to the truth. Put an altar-form in
its place, and you teach by a striking and well understood expres-
sion a most opposing and important error.

Now the extent to which that substitution is made in our Churches;
the zeal in many clergymen to have it done, not as a mere matter
of architectural taste, but of symbolical teaching ; the degree to
which it is regarded as the legitimate expression of a tnie Church
spirit, by those who favor it ; and the little notice now taken,
among those who object in principle to the whole system with
which it is connected, of a studied purpose to extend in our Church
the whole theory and practice of Priest, Sacrifice and Altar — so that
what a few years ago would have excited a general indignation
as evidence of tendencies to be sternly resisted, is now so familiar
that it passes without rebuke and almost without remark ; all this
should surely teach us that Tractarianism in its main evil and
tendency, whatever may have become of the Oxford Tracts, is living
yet; a leaven at work and too successful to be unheeded.

This Preface was begun with some remarks on the recent out-
break of Rationalism in the Church of England. The new school
of Oxford divines, seems to many not only to have no af&nity to
its immediate predecessor, but as its opposite extreme, just as
to such minds Italian Popery and German Neology seem antipodes,

* Fulke's Defence of tlie English Translation of tlie Bible. Park. Soc. Ed. pp.
515, &c.


the latter degrading reason into slavisli subjection to the authority
of Church decrees, the former exalting it above the authority of in-
spired scripture. In many respects, undoubtedly, the Tractarian
and the Rationalist are in opposition. But as extremes sometimes
meet; so have they sometimes the same beginning.

We are far from supposing that the offensive Rationalism of
the famous " Essays and Reviews," by seven Members of the
University of Oxford, is not strongly condemned by those who
have succeeded to the authors of the Oxford Tracts, as leaders in
the system they set up. We do not know, nor do we care to
enquire whether any of the seven Rationalist Captains, or any of
their recruits, were ever enlisted under the banner of Tractarianism.

But we maintain that there is ground common to the two schools
and so fundamental in each, that it is perfectly intelligible how
the teaching of the first Oxford school should have prepared the
way for, and laid the foundations of, the second. We maintain
that the former, in educating minds for its own conclusions, created
a state of opinion which, if it failed to mature into Tractarianism,
most naturally developed itself in Rationalism. We maintain
that the Tractarians are logically connected, as cause and effect,
with the seven Essayists — or rather with the preparedness of many
to adopt their views ; precisely as the Popery of Italy is accounta-
ble for the infidelity of Italy ; or as the infidel school of France, in
the last century, was a re-action from the whole dominion of ultra-
montane Romanism.

One thing is certain that when the Tract-school was in its first
years, there were not wanting those who so read its tendencies as
to predict a rise of Rationalism from the soil it would prepare.
The present author so predicted, from its depreciation of the In-
spiration of the Scriptures in its attempt, like the Church of Rome,
to elevate a so called inspiration, abiding in the Church, into equal
authority with that of the Bible ; especially from its dishonor-
ing the Scriptures as the only Rule of Faith by uniting with
them, as of equal inspiration and authority, the traditions of
the Church. It was not .difficult to see how minds might
easily be led so far by such teaching as to place the inspira-


tion and authority of the Scriptures upon the level of traditions
and councils, and yet deny that in the confusion and contradictions
of the latter there is any real inspiration or authority at all.

Sixteen years ago Archbishop Whately compared the Tractarian
system with the Rationalism of Germany, and wrote as follows :
" Among those who express the greatest dread and detestation of
'German Neology,' 'German Philosophy,' 'the daring speculations
of the German,' &c., are to be found some of that class of Anglican
Divines, whose doctrines apparently correspond the most closely
(as far as we can judge respecting two confessedly mystic schools,)
with those of that very Neology. The very circumstance itself
that both are schools of Mysticism ; that both parties have one
system for the mass of mankind, and another, whether expressed
in difierent language, or in the same words, understood in a dif-
ferent sense, for the initiated, affords a presumption when there
are some points of coincidence in the doctrine divulged, that a still
further agreement may be expected in the reserved doctrines.

" As the advocates of Reserve among us speak of not intending
to inculcate generally such conclusions as a logical reasoner will
correctly deduce by following out their principles, and speak of
an ordinary reader being likely ' to miss their real meaning by not
being aware of the peculiar sense in which they employ terms,' so
those German Transcendentalists whom I allude to, whose system
of Theology, or rather of Atheology, is little else than a new edi-
tion of the Pantheism of the ancient Heathen Philosophers, of
the Brahmans and the Buddhists, use similar double-meaning
language. They profess Christianity, and employ profusely such
terms as a 'God,' 'Faith,' 'Incarnation,' 'Miracle,' 'Immortality,'
&c., attaching to these words, a meaning quite remote from what
is commonly understood by them.

" Both parties, decry the historical evidence of Christianity, and
discourage all appeal to evidence ; and both disparage Miracles
considered as a proof of the divine origin of Christianity ; alleging
that every event that occurs is equally a miracle : meaning there-
fore exactly v/hat in ordinary language would be expressed by
saying that nothing is miraculous.


" Other coincidences may be observed ; sucb as the strong desire
manifested by both parties to explain away or soften down the line
of demarcation between what ordinary Christians call the scriptures,
and every thing subsequent ; between what we call the Christian
Revelation, considered as an historical transaction recorded in the
New Testament, and any pretended after- revelation or improve-
ment or completion or perfect development of 'the system of true
Religion.' To Christianity, as a Revelation completed in our
sacred boohs, both parties, more or less openly, according to cir-
cumstances, confess their objection. And it is remarkable that

Online LibraryCharles Pettit McIlvaineRighteousness by faith : or, The nature and means of our justification before God ; illustrated by a comparison of the doctrine of the Oxford tracts with that of the Romish and Anglican churches. A ne → online text (page 1 of 53)