The Doctrine Of The Protestant Episcopal Church -- By: George Burgess

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:80 (Oct 1863)
Article: The Doctrine Of The Protestant Episcopal Church
Author: George Burgess


The Doctrine Of The Protestant Episcopal Church

Rev. George Burgess

This Church Historically, Not Doctrinally Distinguished

The position of the Protestant Episcopal Church is not the result of any peculiarity of doctrine. It is simply historical. That church in the United States, as in the British provinces, is the continuance and expansion of the Church of England. The Church of England is, in its complete doctrine and symbols, the same body which it became at the Reformation under Edward the Sixth and Elizabeth. In its ritual, some small changes have since been introduced; but nothing, either in the British or in the American revisions, has at all varied the substance of its instructions or of its forms of worship.

Its Two Distinctive Features

The position of the Episcopal Church is not even that of a body which, after careful deliberation, has seen fit to adopt the episcopal regimen or order, and the use of a prescribed liturgy. Many of its members in our country have become such through an act of choice, resting on simple conviction that these features of its system are both strictly primitive and eminently expedient. But the church itself has not adopted these features, but only retained them from its earliest ages. The old Saxon Church and the older British Church were both Episcopal; the former, from its beginning with Austin, the latter from its first clear appearance in the third century. No period is known in the history of ancient British Christianity when its worship was not liturgical. It was only by continuance, not by any action, that the

English Church at the Reformation was what it still is in these two great principles, by which it is now distinguished from so many other Protestant communions — the principles of an episcopal government, transmitted by the imposition of hands, in unbroken succession, and of a fixed form of common prayer.

Its Doctrine That Of The Reformation

At the Reformation, the ancient ritual was revised, reformed, greatly modified in all respects, and, so far as any portions of the previous liturgies were retained, they were, as a first step, translated into the English language. The doctrine of the Church of England became, from necessity, the same in substance with that of all the other churches which shared in the Reformation, and which appealed to the supreme authority of the holy scriptures with entire submission. From these scriptures, thus consulted, only one doctrinal system could proceed; that which was thence transcribed into all the Protestant confessions. Where they differed, pious and learned men, obedient students of the word of God, could differ.

The doctrine of the C...

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