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Bishop Hopkins on Novelties

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1844

ART. IV. — The Novelties which disturb our Peace. Four Letters addressed to the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church. By JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont.  Philadelphia: Hooker, 1844. 12mo.

THE Anglican Church, from which the Protestant Episcopal Church in this country derives, appears to have been founded on compromise. In organizing it, and settling its articles, canons, homilies, and liturgy, there were two tendencies to be consulted and conciliated : One, the Catholic tendency, which would retain as much of the Catholic Church, and separate as little from Rome, as possible, with the rejection of the papal supremacy ; the other, the Protestant tendency, which would retain as little of Catholicism, and depart as far from Rome, as possible, without resigning the Christian name altogether.

The internal history of Anglicanism is the history of the struggles and alternate victories and defeats of these two tendencies. Henry the Eighth, the first to break with Rome, was a Catholic, saving so far as concerned the papal supremacy, and making the monarch the head of the Church. He wrote in defence of the Catholic faith against Luther, and made the profession of Protestantism a capital offence. Under his reign, the Catholic tendency was sustained in the Church, and very few changes were made at the demand of Protestantism or in accordance with its spirit.

Under Edward the Sixth, the son and successor of Henry, the Protestant spirit gained the ascendency, and the Church of England was made a Protestant Church, and conformed, substantially, save in outward organization, to the model of the Protestant and Reformed Churches of the continent. Important changes were introduced into its doctrines, discipline, and ceremonies. Severe denunciations of the doctrines, discipline, and usages of the Romish Church were pronounced, and the greater part of religious antiquity was disowned. Mary followed, reopened communion with Rome, and did what she could to restore the ancient Catholic order. The daughter of Katharine of Arragon inherited many of the better qualities of her mother, and deserves a more honorable mention in history than she receives. She was devout, sincerely attached to the Church, but her injudicious zeal weakened her own cause, and strengthened the Protestant tendency of the country.
Elizabeth, daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, had strong Catholic tendencies, and would, most likely, have continued the Anglican Church in communion with Rome, if she could, on Catholic principles, have maintained her right to the crown. But, in the eyes of the Holy See, and of all good Catholics, her birth was illegitimate. She was, therefore, obliged to be a Protestant, in order to secure her seat on the throne ; and, in return, compounded with her conscience by being in all other respects as Catholic as possible. Under her reign, the  Anglican Church received its definite form, and was finally settled. It was less Catholic than under Henry, and more so than under Edward. The Catholic tendency, in reality, predominated, though the Protestant tendency was strong, and powerfully resisted it. Neither, however, could entirely suppress the other ; and the principle seems to have been finally adopted, and acted upon, of making the basis of the Church so broad, and of expressing its faith in terms so general and indefinite, that the great body of those affected by either tendency might come within its pale. The Thirty-nine Articles have been said to be " articles of peace," and they seem to us to have been drawn up, not for the purpose of defining the faith of the Church, but of leaving it so equivocal that either of the two parties might conscientiously interpret it in its own favor.

The Catholic tendency, though powerfully resisted, maintained, however, under Elizabeth and the Stuarts, the predominance in the Church, if not in the kingdom ; and for a moment, under Archbishop Laud,—a much calumniated prelate, — it appeared not improbable that the Anglican Church herself might return to the communion of the Holy See. But in the Revolution of 16S8, Protestantism gained the victory, and, with the accession of the House of Hanover, was firmly, and, we fear, permanently, established. During the whole of the eighteenth century, the most inglorious period of the Anglican Church, it reigned without a rival; the Catholic tendency seemed to have wholly died out; and scarcely a sign of life was discernible, if we except the spasmodic twitches and contortions of the Evangelicals, till the recent movement of the Oxford divines.

After the revolutionary fanaticism, which marked the conclusion of the last century, had in some measure subsided, and men began to feel the impotence of the Naturalism which had been its concomitant, a reaction in favor of religion and the Church commenced throughout Christendom. This was seen in the movement of the Evangelical party in Germany, to revive the old forgotten symbols of the early Protestants ; but more especially among the Catholics of Germany and Prance.    The man who contributed, perhaps, more than any other to this reaction was the Abbe de la Mennais, then a genuine Catholic priest, and not unworthy of his high and sacred calling. His Essai sur I'Indifference en Ma-tiere de Religion was a clap of thunder from a cloudless sky. It startled the world from its sleep of death to the fatal consequences of the Protestantism, Philoso-phism, Deism, Atheism, and Indifferentism, which they had followed, and which could be averted only by a sincere and hearty return to the Church of God. That book sealed the doom of French infidelity, and, under Providence, has been a powerful means of preparing a religious future for the French people.

Oxford felt, no less than Paris, the reaction against the Rationalism and Infidelity which had been so madly fostered and so widely diffused. A devout spirit, a meek, humble, self-denying, Christian spirit, was reawakened, and, wilh this, the old Catholic tendency revived. Always, in the history of the x\nglican Church, do we observe, that, just in proportion as learning, piety, religious zeal and devotedness revive, as its members become more simple-minded, less worldly, more self-mortifying, more devout, more willing to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ, do the old Catholic tendency and party revive, and acquire new force and prominence. It is only as men grow fanatical, or cold, worldly, proud, arrogant, self-conceited, self-willed, rationalistic, turbulent, or disorderly, that the Protestant tendency and party predominate. The movement of the Oxford divines, though not in all respects unexceptionable, was yet, at bottom, a truly religious movement. Its exponents felt something of the old Christian spirit working in their hearts, — something of that spirit which had tamed the savage and barbarian, enriched the history of the race with myriads of saints and martyrs, covered Europe over with the monuments of zeal for God and of love for man, and made the whole earth hallowed ground, — and they felt that they, too, might be sons of the great Christian family, and heirs of its sacred traditions and precious memories.

This movement renewed, in the bosom of the Anglican Church, the old struggle between the Catholic and Protestant tendencies, which that Church had accepted in its origin, but which it had never reconciled. We have watched this movement with alternate hope and fear; but, alas ! at present, only the fear remains. For a moment, we ventured to hope that the Catholic tendency would carry the day, and the Anglican Church become, in very deed, a living branch of the Church Universal; but, unhappily, that Church is under the Erastian curse; completely subject to the slcular power ; bound hand and foot; and, what is worse, seems to love her chains, and to glory in her shame. The civil power in England is, and must be, Protestant. The crown swears to defend the Protestant religion, and to maintain the Protestant succession. The king, nay, the queen, is the spiritual head of the Church, and no good can come of it till it breaks its accursed thraldom, and reasserts and maintains religious liberty. We see no hope for the Anglican Church, till there is requick-ened in her bosom the old martyr spirit; till her sons come to feel that they are the descendants of those to whom rich livings, the pride, pomp, and power of kings and civil rulers, nay, bonds, imprisonments, and death, were but the veriest trifles, when in the way of Christian duty, and, above all, when in the way of Christian sanctity. Restore us, 0 God, this glorious martyr spirit! restore us the power to count all things but dung and dross, if we can but win Christ, and merit that crown of life which thou hast laid up for them that love thee, and which thou wilt give to all who fight the good fight, and finish with honor the work thou hast given them to do ! O, is it true that the race of English saints expired with the separation from Rome, and that no saint adorns the English calendar, born since that fatal epoch ?

In this country, the Episcopal Church is, providentially, free from all subjection to the state, and in possession of the most perfect religious liberty. Here there is no Protestant sovereign to repress her Catholic tendencies, and prevent her from developing the Catholic elements she has saved from the general wreck of the sixteenth century. With double interest, therefore, have we watched, and do we still watch, the struggle between the two hostile tendencies,— and the more so, because we ourselves, alas ! are without a home. Peeling our own sad condition, we naturally turn towards the Episcopal Church. It is professedly the Church of our ancestors; it speaks our own mother tongue ; and to enter it is not to go among strangers, to desert one's friends ancbkindred. In it, we have felt we might sit down with our own kith and kin, with our friends and neighbours. We have asked ourselves, What is to be the result of the present struggle ? Will the Church succumb to the Protestant tendency ? Will she shake off her Protestantism, and take her stand on truly Catholic ground ? Will she become a true mother to us, afford a home to us, AVIIO have been storm-tossed on the tumultuous sea of sectarianism, — poor shipwrecked mariners, cast naked and starving upon a foreign strand, waiting for the blessed angels of mercy and charity to come to our relief?
We have feared and hoped, and hoped and feared, and nothing has tended more to depress and dishearten us than these Letters by the able and accomplished Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont. We had felt, that, whatever might be said of the irregular origin of the present Anglican Church, she might, in her American branch, at least, so develope her Catholic elements as to be able to satisfy the Catholic faith and longings of a soul which has burned to abjure Protestantism. We had counted on Bishop Hopkins, a zealous Churchman, as one likely to stand forward in the contest, and to become a powerful champion of the Christian movement commenced by Proude, Newman, and Pusey. We are grieved and disappointed at finding him, on the contrary, taking the lead in the opposition, and contending, with all his zeal, wit, eloquence, learning, and ability, for views which we had supposed quite too ultra-Protestant for the great body of even the so-called Evangelical sects. We feel these Letters the more, for they seem to us to have some foundation in the articles and faith of the Episcopal Church, and because we are not able to refute them, without placing that Church, in some respects at least, in contradiction with herself. They show us that she does really contain a Protestant element, which is not reconcilable with her Catholicism.

Yet, on the other hand, these "Novelties," of which the Bishop speaks, are evidently no novelties. They are, and have been from the first, maintained by the greatest and most authoritative names in the Anglican Church, and. are supported by its liturgy, canons, and homilies. It cannot, we think, be denied, that the Episcopal Church is somewhat deficient in unity, and. that it is now suffering from the vague and indefinite terms originally adopted for the sake of peace. But what in these days should be the duty of a true Churchman ? Should he seek to enlarge the Protestant element, and to widen the breach, even at best too wide ? Or should he not rather seek to free his Church from the inconsistencies which, in troublous and unsettled times, were suffered to creep in, by bringing out its Catholic elements, and placing it as nearly in harmony with religious antiquity as the nature of the case will admit ?

We can make many allowances for Bishop Hopkins' Protestantism. He has been engaged in a controversy with the Roman Catholics, in defence of the Protestant Reformation, and that reformation is not defensible on Catholic principles. But is it necessary to defend it ? In point of fact, is it defensible on any principles compatible with established ecclesiastical order ? Our Oxford, divines are severe enough, in all conscience, against Rome; but they have not succeeded, and, so far as we are able to see, cannot succeed, in justifying the reformers in their separation from the Holy See. If we understand their church system, they hold that the Church is not an aggregate body, but a body corporate, and, therefore, that it can exist and act only in its corporate capacity.    The unity of the Church in their view, is not merely the unity of faith, the unity of spirit, of discipline, of usage, but also the unity of the body, that is, of the corporation.
They hold, indeed, as do all Catholics, that the Church is herself subject to the law communicated through Christ and the apostles, — the law given originally by the Great Head of the Church, from which she may not depart, and contrary to which she may decree nothing. But then she is the witness, the keeper, and the interpreter of the law. Though she does not make the law, she authoritatively declares what the law is, and from her decision there lies no appeal. She is, then, so far as concerns her members, supreme in all matters pertaining to faith and practice. Hence, whatever she decrees must, for them, be the law, the word of God, to which they may offer no resistance, and in no case refuse obedience.

Now, prior to the Reformation, the Church either did or did not exist. If it did not, then either Christ founded no Church, or the Church he founded had failed. If he founded no Church, he made no provision for our salvation, and therefore cannot be called our Saviour ; if he founded a Church and it has failed, then he himself has failed, and cannot be relied on, for he declared his Church should not fail.
If the Church did exist, it existed, according to our Oxford divines, as a corporation. Was the Church of England this corporation ? or only a member of it ? If it was it, its acts could bind all the faithful throughout the world. Will this be pretended ? But if she was not it, in its unity and integrity, she could not, of herself alone, speak and act in its name, and with its authority. She could speak only in the one voice of the whole. How, then, could she separate herself from the rest of the Church Universal, without resisting the authority and breaking the unity of the Church ? The act of separation could be orderly only on condition of being authorized by the Church in its corporate capacity. But it was authorized only by the Church of England, whose acts were not, and could not be, the acts of the Church, in its corporate capacity. On what ground, then, can it be pretended that the act was not disorderly and schismatic ?

When we define the Church to be a corporation, we necessarily assume it to have some visible centre, a visible head, and a visible order ; for otherwise it would have no unity, no individuality, and no corporate faculty.    There would be no intelligible distinction possible between the acts of the Church, and the acts of a disorderly assembly of individuals claiming to be it, and to speak with its authority.    Was this visible centre, this visible head, in England ?    Was England the centre and head of the ecclesiastical order ?    Was it from England that all circulated, as the blood from the heart to the extremities ?    Of course not.    Rome, it cannot be  denied, was  the  acknowledged centre of unity, and the Pope the acknowledged visible head of the ecclesiastical body.   Where was the authority competent to set this order aside ?    Could there be any authority competent to do it, but the Church herself acting  in  her corporate  capacity ?    But  the  Church could thus act, only when acting under and through the corporate head, that is to say, through the constituted authorities, as its legal organs.    The members of the Church, when acting without or against authority, are a  disorderly  or  revolutionary  body.    They  are   the Church, only when acting according to its order, under the  established  authority,  and  through  legal  forms. But the Church of England, in her act of separation, acted without and against the established order of the Church, against its legal authority.    How, then, could her separation be justified, save on mobocratic or revolutionary principles ?

It may be alleged that the Church of Rome had apostatized, that the Pope had transcended his powers, and exercised an authority which was illegal, oppressive, and demoralizing. Be it so. But where was the authority to take cognizance of the fact, and to institute measures for redress ? Only the Church in its corporate capacity, of course ; for in any other capacity the Church does not exist. Irregularities are never to be irregularly redressed ; for the redress itself would he an irregularity, requiring to be redressed. Now, the Church of England, not being the Church, but only a member of it, was not competent to sit in judgment on Rome and her Bishop, nor to undertake, on her own responsibility, to redress the abuses she might believe to exist; for a part can never erect itself into a tribunal for judging the whole; since, save in union with the whole, the part does not even exist.
All that England had a right to do, on Catholic principles, was, to exert herself, as a member of the Catholic Church, in a legal and constitutional way, in submission to the constituted authorities, to redress such abuses as she believed to exist. To attempt, in church or state, to redress abuses by rejecting the constituted authorities, and breaking up the established order, is to attempt revolution ; and the right of revolution, we all know, is incompatible with the right of government, for the one negatives the other. If you assert your right to revolutionize the Church, you deny the supremacy of the Church, which you began by asserting. We say, again, therefore, that we do not see how our Oxford divines can justify the proceedings of the English Church in separating from the corporation of which she was a member, if they assume the unity of the Church as a corporate body.

Shall we be told, as we have been, that the Church of England was originally a free and independent Church, possessing within herself all the rights and prerogatives of the Church of Christ, that she originally owed no allegiance to the Roman See, or the Roman Pontiff, and that in the sixteenth century she merely asserted her ancient freedom, and suppressed the errors and corruptions caused by the papal usurpations ? We reply, that this is not historically true, either in relation to the ancient order, or in relation to the Reformation ; and, moreover, if it were, it would falsify the whole church theory of the Oxford divines themselves. They hold the Church to be one body, and not a body aggregate, but a body corporate. To assert the independence of the Anglican Church is to assert her existence as a church polity complete in itself. Then she was either the Catholic Church in its unity and integrity, or the Catholic Church is not a single corporation, but an aggregate of several corporations. The first will not be pretended ; the second denies the unity of the Church as a corporation ; which we understand the Oxford divines to assert.
Here, we suspect, is the original fallacy in the reasoning of our Anglican divines. They assume, consciously or unconsciously, that each national Church is one independent church polity, complete in itself. That the temporal powers have always favored this doctrine, there is no question; and that their struggles to reduce it to practice have occasioned all the calamities which have befallen the Church since the days of Constantine, there is just as little question. But this doctrine is incompatible with the freedom and independence of the spiritual power, which demands a common centre of unity, unaffected by geographical lines, or national distinctions. This the temporal power saw clearly enough ; but the freedom and independence of the spiritual power was precisely what the temporal power did not want. It would have no power in the nation not subject to itself. It would itself be supreme in spirituals, as well as in temporals, and rule according to its own will. But this it felt was impossible, if the clergy or their superiors held their appointments, or investments, from a power independent of it, and if accountable to a tribunal it could neither constitute nor control. Here is the secret of the struggles of the temporal powers against the ecclesiastical. The haughtiest monarch dared not lay violent hands on the humblest parish priest, and the monk's COAVI symbolized a mightier power than the diadem. This was not to be endured ; it was too great a restriction on civil despotism ; and the temporal power, therefore, sought with all its force to maintain each national Church, independent of all foreign ecclesiastical authority, in order to be able to subject the Church in its own dominions to its own will, and make it the tool of its ambition, or the minister of its vices, corruptions, and oppressions. This is the secret of the long continued struggles of the ecclesiastical and civil powers, the one to maintain the unity, the other to break it up into separate and independent national establishments, on the principle of dividing to conquer.

The distinction of national Churches was not, in the original constitution of the Church, that of separate and independent church polities, — for this were pure Independency, — but merely a distinction for the necessities and convenience of local administration. The Church, in her true, normal constitution, knows no geographical lines or national distinctions ; and the apparent independence, or partial independence, of national Churches, which we sometimes meet in ecclesiastical history, is an anomaly, an irregularity, which the Church has not been able to bring within the rule against the resistance, and too often armed resistance, of the temporal powers.
But admitting that our Oxford divines cannot, on their church theory, and, we may add, on the true Catholic theory, defend the original separation of the Anglican Church from the rest of the Church Universal, does Bishop Hopkins succeed any better ? The Bishop is a sincere Protestant; he avows it, and glories in it. He reverences the men who labored in the sixteenth century to free the Church from the corruptions of Rome. He believes that their estimate of the Church of Rome was the true estimate, and he is not ashamed to say so. He is filled with their spirit, and would honor and continue their work. All this is manly, and honorable to him as a Protestant bishop. But has he been able to strike out a ground of defence more tenable than that of the Oxford divines ? He rejects their theory of the Church, and places the unity of the Church, not in the unity of the corporation, but in the unity of the faith. The Church is not a body corporate, but a body aggregate ; and all professedly Christian bodies or associations, which maintain the apostolic faith, are integrally portions of the Church of Christ, and together constitute the one holy Catholic Apostolic Church. This, if we understand him, is the Bishop's view.

Taking this view, the Bishop contends that separation from Rome was not only justifiable, but a high and imperative duty, because Rome had apostatized from the true faith, and had become so corrupt in doctrine, as well as idolatrous and superstitious in practice, that no one who valued his Christian character could longer continue in her communion. It is, he tells us, on this ground, and this alone, that Protestantism is to be justified, and in this we are unable to dispute him.

But, if we take this ground, we must admit, first, that there is a standard of orthodoxy; and, second, that there is also, somewhere, an authority competent to say what does and what does not conform to that standard. As to the standard, we will raise, at present, no difficulty. We will accept the Protestant doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and say, that the standard is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, rightly interpreted. But who, where, or what, is the authority competent to say what is, or what is not, their right interpretation ?

To this question one of three answers must be returned, for only three answers are possible, namely : 1. The Church ; 2. The State ; 3. The Individual Reason. If the Bishop adopts the first answer, and contends that the Church is the authoritative interpreter, as his own Church teaches, he must abandon his notion of the Church as a body aggregate, and concede it to be a corporation. For the Church cannot act, has no function, at all, unless it exist as a corporation, as an individual, a personality, with an official voice, and an official organ through which it may speak.

But, if the Bishop recoil from his aggregate church, and concede it to be, after all, a body corporate, he must also concede it to be either a one single corporation, or several distinct, separate, and independent corporations. If he assume it to be a single corporation, he exposes himself to all the objections we have just urged against what we have called the Oxford theory.   The Church of England was not this one single corporation, and therefore could not speak in its name, or with its authority. She, then, was not competent to receive the impeachment of Rome and her Bishop, or to convict them of heresy. But, on the Bishop's own principles, till she had convicted them of heresy, she had no right to separate from their communion; for the separation, he tells us, was justifiable only on the ground that Rome and her Bishop had apostatized from the orthodox faith, — corrupted the pure word of God.
Protestantism assumes that the Church herself, in her corporate existence, had become corrupt and heretical. The party to be tried for heresy was, then, the Church herself. Protestantism must impeach and convict the Church herself of heresy, before it can justify itself. But before what tribunal can it bring its charges against the Church, and demand conviction ? Before the written word of God ? But the Church is the authoritative interpreter of the word, and it is her very interpretation that is in question. She herself is the highest court for the trial of herself, and before what court can you try her ? By impeaching her you deny the authority of the only tribunal competent to take cognizance of the accusation you bring against her.

Granting, then, that Rome and her Bishop had corrupted the pure word of God, since she was the centre of unity and her Bishop the visible head of the corporation, there was no Church before which either could be summoned to answer to the charge of heresy, no legal tribunal that could, against their consent, or without their authority, take cognizance of the fact. For any number of Churchmen coming together without being convoked by their authority, however numerous or respectable, would not be the Church, any more than a political caucus is a legal convention ; and their acts would be no more the acts of the Church, than the resolutions of a mob, or a disorderly assembly, would be the enactments of the State.

If the Bishop abandon the notion of the Church as a single corporation, and assert the existence of distinct, separate, and independent church polities, he falls into Independency, of which, we doubt not, he has as much horror as we ourselves. Each of these polities must be complete in itself, and supreme over its own members. They must be equals. Then what is decreed by one stands on as high authority as what is decreed by another. What one decides to be orthodox is as orthodox as that which is decided by another. Rome is equal to England, and England is equal to Rome. Rome decrees one interpretation, England another. Which is right ? Which is wrong ? Where is the umpire to decide between them ? Why shall I assume the interpretation of Rome to be less orthodox than that of England ? or that of England more orthodox than that of Geneva ? Why shall I hold the decision of the Episcopal Church to be more authoritative than the decision of the Presbyterian Church, the Congregational Church, or the Unitarian Church ?

But only those Churches are authoritative in which the pure word of God is preached. Agreed. But what is the pure word of God? What the Church declares it to be. Agreed, again. But what Church ? The true Church. Agreed, once more. But which is the true Church ? That in which the pure word of God is preached. Here we are, turning for ever in a circle. Each Church, doubtless, declares its own doctrine to be the pure word of God ; all the Churches are equal; by what authority, then, is the doctrine of one declared to be orthodox, and that of another to be heterodox ?

Shall we say those Churches are to be regarded as true Churches, whose doctrines are accepted by a majority of the whole number of Churches ? This is to abandon the ground of the sufficiency of each Church for itself, and to make something beside the Church a competent interpreter of the word of God. It subjects each particular Church to the will of the majority, and makes the criterion of truth a plurality of voices. How was it when nearly all the particular Churches, except Rome and Alexandria, were Arian ? when, during the temporary lapse of the Pope, St. Athanasius was almost the only Catholic Bishop left ? If the majority are to decide,— then, if the majority establish Arianism or Socin-ianism, Arianism or Socinianism must be held to be orthodox, and all who adhere to the Nicene and Athana-sian creeds must be unchurched, and declared to be no portions of the body of Christ. The Bishop's argument presupposes that a Church may lapse into heresy. If one may, why not another ? And then what guaranty have we that the majority have not departed from the faith, and that, in point of fact, the pure word of God is preached now only in a feeble minority of the so-called Churches ?

This doctrine of separate and independent Churches, each a competent interpreter of the word of God, gives us as many competent, authoritative interpreters, as there are separate bodies calling themselves Churches. It lays the foundation for all the sectarianism which now desolates Christendom. The decision of one neutralizes the decision of another. Orthodoxy is one thing at Rome, another at Geneva, another at London, another at Edinburgh, and still another at Boston. We lose, on this ground, not only the unity of the body of Christ, but the unity of faith itself; that very unity, which Bishop Hopkins, and all who believe in the Church at all, hold to be essential to the very being of the Church.

Will the Bishop adopt the second answer, and seek an authoritative interpreter in the STATE? TO make the State the authoritative interpreter of the word of God would be to make it supreme in spirituals as well as in temporals, to destroy religious liberty, to deny conscience, to rekindle the flames of persecution, and to give the State the same right to burn for heresy, that it has to imprison for theft, or to hang for murder. Moreover, it would not answer the Bishop's purpose. The States must all be held to be mutually independent, and each, therefore, to be free to enact, within its own dominions, such reading of the word of God as it pleases. So we should have, under another form, all the evils of Independency. Italy may enact Catholicism ; Geneva, Calvinism; Prussia, Lutheranism j England, Episcopacy; Scotland, Presbyterianism ; France tolerate all religions, and the United States recognize none. One State may establish Trinitarian ism, another Unitarianism ; one decree justification by faith, another justification by works. The subjects of each nation must adopt the State religion, on pain of heresy, civil disability, punishment here, and damnation hereafter. Where would be the umpire between independent States ? What uniform standard of orthodoxy would be possible ? What means of maintaining unity of faith would be left us ? Nay, what right should we have to undertake to convert to the Gospel the subjects of even a heathen prince, against his consent ? Or what right would a subject of the Grand Turk, for instance, have to embrace Christianity ?

This answer cannot be accepted, at least so long as we remember Henry the Eighth. Then nothing remains but the third and last answer, namely, the Individual Reason. This constitutes each individual his own judge of what is the pure word of God. And the genuine orthodox faith must be held to be what each individual judges it to be. This sets up the individual above the Church, justifies dissent in all its forms, nay, the absolute Individualism and No-churchism of our modern Come-outers. The reason of one man must be held to be equal to the reason of another, and one man's views can no more be called orthodox or heterodox than another's ; heresy and schism become unmeaning terms. No established order in church or state can be maintained ; no reverence, respect, or subordination exacted. All falls into disorder, where each man is at liberty to do whatever is right in his own eyes.

The Bishop is too good a Churchman, at least too strenuous an advocate of Episcopal authority, to be able to' accept this answer. The proposition, the novel proposition, which he puts forth in his last Letter, for changing the constitution of his Church, and establishing a Central Board or Council, clothed with more than papal powers, proves very satisfactorily that he is no friend of undue individual liberty, and no enemy to the most plenary ecclesiastical authority. What, then, does he gain by rejecting the Catholic theory ? He wishes to maintain the Church, to maintain it as an authoritative body, supreme over faith and conscience, over words and deeds. And can it be necessary for us to tell him, that the Church is maintainable as an authoritative body only on the Catholic theory ? The legitimacy of Episcopal authority is defensible only on the ground of its divine institution, and, we will add, only on the ground, that the Church, as a corporate body, is founded by Christ himself, who miraculously preserves it from error in faith or practice, and that Episcopacy is absolutely necessary to the being of the Church, as well as to the order of the Church. Whoso is not prepared to take this ground is not prepared to be an Episcopalian,— except at the expense of his logic. When, therefore, Bishop Hopkins rejects this ground, —when, in order to keep clear of Rome, he lays down principles which place any Congregational minister in as high church relations as he himself holds, he but mocks our understandings by calling upon us to become Episcopalians. He has, he can have, no solid argument, drawn from the armory of the Gospel, to show why, by becoming Episcopalians, we should be any more in the Church than we are by remaining in the Congregational Church. But, we shall be told, if we adopt the Oxford theory, we must go to Rome. Well, if we must have a Church, and cannot have one without returning to the Roman communion, then, let us go to Rome. Either accept No-churchism and say no more about it, or have the courage to accept and avow principles on which a Church is defensible. It may be a great humiliation to return and submit to the Church which we have been for three hundred years warring against, and many of us may not yet be prepared to do so ; but it is far better to return and submit to Rome than it is to remain under the dominion of absolute Individualism, the real man of sin, the very anti-Christ, dragon, old serpent, the devil, who was to be let loose against the saints, and who would, if possible, deceive the very elect.   We own that wo arc waiting for our Episcopal friends to show us some ground on which we may defend the Reformation, or rather, the reformers, in separating from the Roman communion ; but we must tell Bishop Hopkins, and we do it with all becoming respect, that to Rome we certainly ought to go, if his is the only ground of defence his Church has to offer.