Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 1.djvu/431
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
"Richard," I replied, "you say true. As it is dangerous for an individual to take for his guidance any but a perfect pattern of Christian conduct, so is it dangerous for the Church to follow any but a perfect model of Christian worship, so far as perfection can be obtained. Her rules should be framed not according to what people are, but to what they ought to be: otherwise you must plainly see that a door will be at once opened for numberless errors as well in doctrine as in practice."
"Yes, Sir, I see it," he replied. "And, therefore, it seems to me, that when on such subjects popular opinion runs vehemently in a wrong direction, (or if not wrong, at least questionable,) that then it is not the best time, but the very worst possible, for yielding to its fancies. So that even if it should be, at any time, necessary or expedient (which I cannot think it ever will be) to shorten the Church Services, yet then is the very worst of all times to set about it, when there is the greatest demand for it."
"You are quite right," I said, "beyond all doubt. But I think it would be a great support to the good cause, that is, to the cause of God, and truth, the Church, and the Prayer Book; and also a great encouragement to such among us of the clergy as desire to stand in the old paths; if in every parish a few serious thinking persons would consider of drawing up and signing a solemn address to their respective Bishops, plainly saying that they utterly disapprove of all plans whatever for shortening the Church Service, unless some urgent cause should arise, stronger than they have ever yet heard; and that as churchmen they never can or will consent to any such plans of miscalled Church reform. For you know, Richard, laymen are quite as much part of the Church as the clergy; and it is your right and duty to stand up in its defence, as much as it is ours."
"Sir," he replied, "you may be sure I would gladly sign such a declaration as this you propose, and I think I know four or five more who would sign it also with all their hearts."That will be sufficient," I said, "for our parish, for no doubt the Bishops will estimate the value of such addresses, not by the quantity, but by the quality of those who sign them—not by the