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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Is Anglo-Catholicism a Via Media? Charles Pettit McIlvaine

Rev. Charles Pettit McIlvaine, Born Again Episcopalian.
[The following quote is from Oxford Divinity Compared with that of the Romish and Anglican Churches, with a Special View to the Illustration of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, by Charles Pettit McIlvaine.  Click here to see the Google book:  Oxford Divinity Compared.]

"If any  man thirst let him come unto me and drink;" a mode of preaching Christ, that shall ever delight to proclaim to all people a full, perfect and ready salvation to the vilest sinner, whenever, in sickness or health, he turns unto God, truly repenting and believing in Jesus--a salvation which justifies perfectly, and immediately, on the act of a living faith, and which sanctifies perfectly, but progressively, as the necessary fruit of the same faith; a salvation so perfect and free, that, in the words of Hooker, "although in ourselves, we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even that man that is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin, him being found in Christ, through faith, and having his sins remitted through repentance, him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereto by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as pefectly righteous as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the Law."  --Charles Pettit McIlvaine.


Chapter II

STATEMENTS PREPARATORY TO THE RIGHT ESTIMATION OF THE OXFORD DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

Professions of Oxford Divines concerning the conformity of their doctrine with that of the Church of England--Their account of Ultra-Protestantism--Their identity of their system with that of Alexander Knox--The condemnation of the latter, as Romish and dangerous, by certain eminent divines, of diverse schools in the Church of England, before its development, at Oxford, had excited special interest.

Before proceeding any further, it is proper to state that the Divinity which we propose to examine, is loudly proclaimed by its advocates to be the middle path, the Via Media, of the Church of England, "distinct from the by-ways of Ultra-Protestantism on the one side, and neither verging towards, nor losing itself in, Romanism on the other."(1)  The formularies of the Church of England, and the writings of her standard Divines are often and confidently appealed to as exhibiting the precise doctrines of the system.  Now it is the simple question how far these pretensions are true, which we propose to institute.  But in order to estimate this Via Media aright, the first thing is to get a view of the opposing sides between which it proposes to pass.  Of the one side, viz. of Romanism, we are to speak particularly hereafter.  Of the other, ULTRA-PROTESTANTISM, a something which occurs with singular frequency in the works of these writers, what shall we say?  What is Ultra-Protestantism?  We have seen no definition.  But according to the use of Dr. Pusey, and others, the name seems to be applied to whatever is in religion, or relating to it, negatively, or positively, for, or against, only excepting Romanism or Oxfordism; embracing of cause and effect, doctrine and inference; from the case of those clergy of the Church of England, who are, "in the main, orthodox and sound, in spite of the natural tendency of their principles," through Lutheranism and Calvinism, and every grade of unromish dissent and heterodoxy, down to what is considered the result of the common tendency, an entire Rationalism, and Socinianism, ut nec pes, nec caput uni reddatur formae.  One would suppose that a coast so undefined would afford but little guidance in keeping the middle way, except when as mariners, under fear of hidden shoals and currents, on an unseen shore, keep as far away as possible.

Some specimens will help us judge how far the Via Media is really a middle way.

Dr. Pusey describes "a large portion" of the clergy of the Church of England as holding "Justification is not a gift of God through His sacraments, but the result of a certain frame of mind, of a going forth of themselves and resting themselves upon their Saviour; that this is the act whereby they think themselves to have been justified; and so as another would revert to his "baptism and engraffing into Christ, and thus his being in Christ, so do they this act whereby they were justified."  "They sever Justification from Baptism, and make it consist in the act of reliance upon the merits of Christ only; sin, according to them, is forgiven, at once, upon each renewal of this act: and in this they virtually substitute this act for Baptism; a man has no more to do with his past sins than he has with those remitted by baptism;" according to them "when men have been been once brought, in repentance to renounce their sins, and seek reconciliation through the free mercy of Christ--then their sins are done away, they are covered, they can appear no more; the handwriting is blotted out." This "apprehension of Christ's merits is to them a full remission of sins, completely effacing them."  "To revert to past sins is to doubt of Christ's mercy; to bear a painful recollection of it is to be under the bondage of the law; to seek to efface it by repentance is weakness of faith; to do acts of mercy or self-denial, or self-abasement, or to fast with reference to it, is to interfere with 'the freeness and the fulness of the Gospel:'  to insist upon them 'is place repentance in the stead of Christ.'" (2)

It is impossible not to see in this strange caricature, which really applies, in all respects, to no class of the clergy of England, that "the large portion" intended is that which is best known in this country by such names as Robinson, Scott, Venn, the two Milners, Simeon; of whose mode of exhibiting the way of salvation, the writings of such living divines as the present Bishop Wilson, of Calcutta, the two Bishops Sumner, the one of Winchester, the other of Chester, the Rev. G. S. Faber, &c. are fair examples.  True indeed the views of this most honourable and useful body of the English Clergy are very singularly overdrawn; one can hardly recognize them under the strained and warped features for which they are made to be accountable; but without doubt, the Ultra-Protestantism referred to in the above extracts, is intended to be understood as being displayed in the general mode which appears in that class of English divines, of representing "the nature and essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our disease, the manner of applying it, and the number and the power of the means."


Of such views, does Dr. Pusey write as follows:  "This abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith sears men's consciences now, as much as the indulgences of the Romish system did before.  It used to be said that 'the Romish was an easy religion to die in,' but even the Romish, in its corruptions, scarely offered terms so easy, at all events made not a boast of the easiness of its terms."  Then follows an evident preference of the Romish system, on the ground that if only "the stale dregs of the system of the ancient Church," it has the dregs--"something of the bitterness of the ancient medicine;" it still teaches men "to make sacrifices for the good of their souls; to accuse and condemn themselves, that so they might find mercy" through Christ--to be "punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the Day of the Lord."  We are given distinctly to understand that "a large portion" of the English Clergy, is worse than even these stale dregs of the medicine of the ancient Church; because it stifles continually the strong emotions of terror and amazement which God has wrought upon the soul, and by an artificial wrought-up peace, checks the deep and searching agony, whereby God, as in a furnace, purifies the whole man, by the spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning."  It is "a spurious system, misapplying the promises of the Gospel, usurping the privileges of baptism which it has not to confer, giving peace which it has not to bestow, and going counter to the whole tenor of Scripture, that every man shall be judged according to his works." (3)

The same singularly extravagant and most painful strain of condemnation is found everywhere in Mr. Newman's Lectures on Justification.  The following is a specimen.  He calls the righteousness of Christ imputed to us for Justification as held by the "large portion" of the English Clergy, above referred to, "an unreal righteousness and a real corruption," "bringing us in bondage to shadows"--"another gospel."  "Away then (he says) with this modern, this private, this arbitrary system, which promises liberty conspires against it; which abolishes sacraments; to introduce dead ordinances; and for the real participation of Christ, and justification through His Spirit, would at the very marriage  feast, feed us on shells and husks, who hunger and thirst after righteousness."(4)

It is not the purpose here to say a word, in argument, concerning all these wonderful and melancholy of morbid mind and spiritual discernment.  Whoever has paid any serious attention to the writings of the Clergy, thus professedly displayed, will need no help in estimating the justness of the condemnation.  But where there is no need of argument, there may be propriety in assertion; and sometimes there is a solemn duty in assertion, if only for the purpose of bearing our solemn testimony, whatever it may be worth, to some precious, but despised and reviled portion of the truth as it is in Jesus.  Such testimony, the present writer feels constrained to give, in this place,  after such an afflicting reprobation of what he most solemnly believes to be nothing else than "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God," our Saviour.  Denying entirely the justice of the draft of doctrine laid to the charge of the class of divines professedly described; but perceiving just enough of truth therein to mark distinctly who compose "the large portion" of Clergy whom our Oxford divines have thus represented as teaching for the way of salvation, "another gospel"--a spurious system--"an unreal righteousness and a real corruption,"--worse even than the system of indulgences in the Church of Rome; the author of these pages does earnestly hope that his name may be counted worthy to take part in their condemnation.  If the way here called another gospel, even that of Justification through the obedience and death of Christ, accounted unto us for righteousness, through the instrumental agency of a living faith, be not the only hope of the sinner, then he, for one, has no hope.  He has learned of no other "anchor of the soul sure and steadfast, which entereth to that within the veil."  He does hope that he may ever be identified with that divinity, that way of preaching Christ Jesus the Lord, which instead of a "reserve" in making known the precious doctrine of Atonement, instead of treating salvation by grace, through faith, as "a great secret," and keeping the secret out of the sight of the ungodly for fear of "an indelicate exposure of the sacred mystery," as these writers urge,(5) shall lift up the voice to the perishing and penitent, like the Master and Lord, when to the great multitudes, on the last day of the feast, He cried, "If any  man thirst let him come unto me and drink;" a mode of preaching Christ, that shall ever delight to proclaim to all people a full, perfect and ready salvation to the vilest sinner, whenever, in sickness or health, he turns unto God, truly repenting and believing in Jesus--a salvation which justifies perfectly, and immediately, on the act of a living faith, and which sanctifies perfectly, but progressively, as the necessary fruit of the same faith; a salvation so perfect and free, that, in the words of Hooker, "although in ourselves, we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even that man that is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin, him being found in Christ, through faith, and having his sins remitted through repentance, him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereto by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as pefectly righteous as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the Law.  Let it counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, whatsoever; it is our comfort and our wisdom." (6)  So testifies our admirable Hooker--most suredly an Ultra-Protestant, in the matter of Justification,  as branded, as others, with the hot denunication of these Oxford divines.

Click here to see Chapter II of Charles Pettit McIlvaine's book, Oxford Divinity Compared with that of the Romish and Anglican Churches....

[Addendum:  It would appear that the Lordship Salvation view as well as the view of the neo-legalists would be more in line with the Tractarians than with Canterbury or Geneva or Wittenberg on the issue of justification by faith alone.  The neo-legalists would appear to agree with the Tractarians that some sort of good works must be added to faith.  The Reformed view is that justifying faith is a living faith..   Charlie].




Footnotes:

1.  Pusey's Letter, page 14.
2.  Ibid., pp. 74, 8, 54, 5.
3.  Ibid., pp. 56-59.
4.  Lectures on Justification, p. 61.  Extremes meet.  Socinus calls the same doctrine, faeda, execranda, pernitiosa, detestanda.
5.  See No. 80, Tracts for the Times.
6.  Discourse of Justification, Paragraph 6.


--
Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

1 comment:

Charlie J. Ray said...

I had to type this by hand since the copy and paste didn't work with the Google book.

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