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Calvin, who thought himself wiser than the Ancient Church, and fit to dictate religion to all countries in Christendom, had taken no small pains in this matter," . . . and, "being apprehensive he might not pass altogether for an oracle with the Council and Bishops, [he] tried his interest in other places, and pushed his design by his agents in the court, the country, and the Universities. Bucer was a strong second to Calvin, and what efforts he made has been seen already. Peter Martyr agreed to Bucer's amendments, as appears by his letter, in which there are some remarkable passages. For the purpose, 'he gives God thanks, for making himself and Bucer instrumental in putting the Bishops in mind of the exceptionable places in the Common Prayer. The Archbishop Cranmer told him they had met about this business, and concluded on a great many alterations, but what those corrections were, Cranmer did not acquaint him, neither durst he take the freedom to inquire. But that which pleases me not a little,' continues Martyr, 'Sir John Cheek acquaints me, that if the Bishops refuse to consent to the altering what is necessary, the King is resolved to do it himself, and recommend that affair at the next Session of Parliament.' These foreign divines had gained the esteem of some of the English Bishops so far, that in last year's Convocation, there was a contest in the upper house concerning some controverted passages in the Common Prayer Book."

As to the subject before us, Collier observes: "The custom" [of praying for the dead] "seems to have gone upon this principle, that supreme happiness is not to be expected till the resurrection; and that in the interval between death and the end of the world is a state of imperfect bliss. The Church might, therefore, believe her prayers for good people departed might improve their condition, and raise the satisfactions of this period." Bucer's objections to the usage were, according to Collier, as follows: "He urges, this text of St. John, 'He that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.' He likewise cites a passage from the Romans, where it is said, 'Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.'. . . . He argues from it thus, that nothing can be done in faith, without an express warrant from Scripture, or that stands upon a conclusion evidently inferred from some inspired text; but Prayer for the Dead stands upon neither of these grounds, and therefore ought to be waved. . . . . . . There is another text urged in favour of Bucer's opinion, 'Blessed are the Dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.'.


"To proceed, the Common Prayer Book was brought to a review, and altered to the same form in which it stands at pre

sent, some little variations for clearing ambiguities excepted... The Prayers for persons deceased, in the Communion Service and the Office of Burial, are expunged."

Such is the history of the present state of opinion in the English Church touching Prayers for the Dead. The chief reason against the usage is given by implication, in the third part of the Homily on Prayer, which proceeds on the ground that such Prayers are essentially connected with belief in Purgatory. This argument is well commented on by a recent writer in the following passage:

"In primitive times," says Mr. Palmer, "these Commemorations" [in the Holy Communion] "were accompanied by Prayers for the departed. When the custom of praying for the dead began in the Christian Church, has never been ascertained. We find traces of the practice in the second century, and either then, or shortly after, it appears to have been customary in all parts of the Church. The first person who objected to such prayers was Aerius, who lived in the fourth century, but his arguments were answered by various writers, and did not produce any effect in altering the immemorial practice of praying for those that rest. Accordingly, from that time all the Liturgies in the world contained such prayers. These facts being certain, it becomes a matter of some interest and importance to ascertain the reasons which justified the omission of these Prayers in the Liturgy of the English Church for the first time in the reign of King Edward VI. Some persons will perhaps say that this sort of prayer is unscriptural; that it infers either the Romish doctrine of Purgatory, or something else which is contrary to the revealed will of God, or the nature of things. But when we reflect that the great divines of the English Church have not taken this ground, and that the Church of England herself has never formally condemned Prayers for the Dead, but only omitted them in her Liturgy, we may perhaps think that there are some other reasons to justify that omission.

"The true justification of the Church of England is to be found in her zeal for the purity of the Christian faith, and for the welfare of all her members. It is too well known that the erroneous doctrine of Purgatory had crept into the Western Church, and was held by many of the clergy and people. Prayers for the departed were represented as an absolute proof that the Church had always held the doctrine of Purgatory. The deceitfulness of this argument can only be estimated by the fact, that many persons at this day, who deny the doctrine of Purgatory, assert positively that the custom of praying for the departed infers a belief in Purgatory. If persons of education are deceived by this argument, which has been a hundred times refuted, how is it possible that the uneducated classes could ever have got rid of the persuasion

that their Church held the doctrine of Purgatory, if prayers for the departed had been continued in the Liturgy? Would not this custom, in fact, have rooted the error of Purgatory in their minds ? If then the Church of England omitted public Prayer for the departed Saints, it was to remove the errors and superstitions of the people, and to preserve the purity of the Christian faith....

"It was therefore relinquished, and the happy consequence was, that all the people gradually became free from the error of Purgatory. Thenceforward the Catholic doctrine prevailed in England, that the righteous after death are immediately translated to a region of peace, refreshment, and joy; while the wicked are consigned to the place of torment from whence there is no escape. And, when the doctrine of Purgatory had been extirpated, the English Church restored the Commemoration of Saints departed in the Liturgy;" [viz. at the end of the prayer for the Church Militant;]" which had been omitted for many years, from the same cautious and pious regard to the souls of her children."*

* Chap. iv. § 10.



No. 73.

(Ad Scholas.)


It is not intended in the following pages to enter into any general view of so large a subject as Rationalism, nor to attempt any philosophical account of it; but, after defining it sufficiently for the purpose in hand, to direct attention to a very peculiar and subtle form of it existing covertly in the popular religion of this day. With this view two writers, not of our own Church, though of British origin, shall pass under review, Mr. Erskine and Mr. Jacob Abbott.

This is the first time that a discussion of (what may be called) a personal nature has appeared in these Tracts, which have been confined to the delineation and enforcement of principles and doctrines. However, in this case, while it was important to protest against certain views of the day, it was found that this could not be intelligibly done, without referring to the individuals who have inculcated them. Of these the two authors above mentioned seemed at once the most influential and the most original; and Mr. Abbott being a foreigner, and Mr. Erskine having written sixteen years since, there seemed a possibility of introducing their names without seriously encroaching on the province of a Review.

It will be my business first to explain what I mean by Rationalism, and then to illustrate the description given of it from the writings of the two authors in question.

1. The Rationalistic and the Catholic Spirit compared


To Rationalize is to ask for reasons out of place; to ask improperly how we are to account for certain things, to be unwilling to believe them unless they can be accounted for, i. e. referred to something else as a cause, to some existing system as harmoni

zing with them or taking them up into itself. Again, since whatever is assigned as the reason for the original fact canvassed, admits in turn of a like question being raised about itself, unless it be ascertainable by the senses, and be the subject of personal experience, Rationalism is bound properly to pursue onward its course of investigation on this principle, and not to stop till it can directly or ultimately refer to self as a witness, whatever is offered to its acceptance. Thus it is characterised by two peculiarities: its love of systematizing, and its basing its system upon personal experience, on the evidence of sense. In both respects it stands opposed to what is commonly understood by the word Faith, or belief in Testimony; for which it deliberately substitutes System (or what is popularly called Reason,) and Sight.

I have said that to act the Rationalist is to be unduly set upon accounting for what is offered for our acceptance; unduly, for to seek reasons for what is told us, is natural and innocent in itself. When we are informed that this or that event has happened, we are not satisfied to take it as an isolated fact; we are inquisitive about it; we are prompted to refer it, if possible, to something we already know, to incorporate it into the connected family of truths or facts which we have already received. We like to ascertain its position relatively to other things, to view it in connexion with them, to reduce it to a place in the series of what is called cause and effect. There is no harm in all this, until we insist upon receiving this satisfaction as a necessary condition of believing what is presented for our acceptance, until we set up our existing system of knowledge as a legitiinate test of the credibility of testimony, until we claim to be told the mode of reconciling alleged truths to other truths already known, the how they are, and why they are; and then we Rationalize.

When the rich lord in Samaria said, "Though God shall make windows in heaven, shall this thing be?" he rationalized, as professing his inability to discover how Elisha's prophecy was to be fulfilled, and thinking in this way to excuse his unbelief. When Naaman objected to bathe in Jordan, it was on the ground of his not seeing the means by which Jordan was to cure his leprosy above the rivers of Damascus. "How can these things be?" was the objection of Nicodemus to the doctrine of regeneration; and when the doctrine of the Holy Communion was first announced, "the Jews strove among themselves," in answer to their Divine Informant, "saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" When St. Thomas doubted of our Lord's resurrection, though his reason for so doing is not given, it plainly lay in the astonishing, unaccountable nature of such an event. A like desire of judging for oneself is discernible in

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