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fence, ten pounds; and for the third, shall suffer one whole year's imprisonment, without bail or main prize." This law was one of the fruits of schism; and there never was a law more severe and cruel. The king was then living, and the private worship of his family is not excepted. But these were days of religious madness; we know better now. So it is said; but I fear with very little truth. What would not that persecuting spirit do, if it had power, which is so conspicuous in the Syllabus of Mr. Robinson's Lectures, a dissenting teacher at Cambridge? How fresh is the remembrance (or ought to be) of the riots in London, which shook the kingdom, and brought us so nearly to ruin in a few days; all conducted by a fanatic Presbyterian, with a rout of forty thousand disorderly people at his heels? And if the principles of fanaticism can perform such wonders here, even in a man without learning, without parts, without morals, without sense; how dreadful may their effects be upon a future occasion! and who can tell how soon that occasion may happen? especially as Dr. Priestley, another dissenting teacher, is now threatening us with impending ruin, from himself and his party; who give us warning, that they have long been, and are now, conveying gunpowder under our foundation, to blow up the old rotten fabric of the Church of England? Neither is that zeal totally departed which produced the cruel edict of 1645, against the use of our Liturgy; a Dissenter (to my knowledge) having been lately heard to declare, that every Common Prayer Book in England ought to be burned! and this was from a person, who, abstracted from these paroxysms of religious bigotry, was of a peaceable and quiet temper! Add to this, that praçtice, which is almost universal with the Dissenters, of forcing their servants and dependants into the worship
of the Meeting-house, however strong their affections may be to the worship of the Church by birth and education. But our dissenting apologist assures us, Christians may still be united in heart and affection, though they worship God in different places: and that there may be separation without schism, as there was schism at Corinth without separation. But these smaller schisms of the Corinthians, which did not actually separate them into different communions, were yet, according to the Apostle, very reprehensible, and of bad tendency; therefore, actual separation, being schism in the extreme, must be more reprehensible. To suppose it less, is to contradict the reason of things; as if it should be argued, that, because we may hurt a man without killing him, therefore we may kill a man without hurting him.
6. However, if there should be any schism betwixt the Church of England and the Dissenters, they say the guilt of it is with the Church, who will not yield to weak brethren in things which are confessed to be indifferent and of small moment.
With what propriety can things of small moment be introduced, as objections to our communion, after it has been asserted, that the Church of England is no Church of Christ? If that objection be good, all things of small moment are superfluous. For who can be obliged, or who indeed will consent, to be a member of a Church, which is no Church of Christ; "Leave things indifferent (saith this reply) as they are in their own nature, and as Christ hath left them, and the separation is over." So then, if these indifferent things were removed, the Dissenters would communicate with a Church, which is no Church of Christ! Who can believe this? Is it not much more probable hat the Dissenters do not mean to throw up the se
paration for any concessions that can be made by a Church, which, in their opinion, is itself separated from the Communion of Jesus Christ? These objections are so inconsistent, that they leave small hopes of the possibility of a reconciliation. For if all these small things were removed, still there will remain the insuperable (and we trust, uncharitable and groundless) objection, that the Church of England is no Church of Christ; and that Dissenters cannot upon any principle communicate with a Church, which they think to be excommunicate. The case between us is very bad under this representation of it; but it becomes, if possible, more hopeless in what follows.
7. For the reply tells us, that the Dissenters do not stand out for the value of the things required, which are matters of indifference; but stand up in defence of that liberty, wherewith Christ hath made them free, and will not be brought into bondage.
Do they think then, that Christhath given them liberty to break the peace of the Church, for matters indifferent? That is, to destroy peace, essential to salvation; to save liberty, the creature of human pride? Another apologist of the Dissenters, the author of The Independent Whig, puts this matter out of question and affirms without reserve, that schism is so necessary to the preservation of liberty, that there can be no liberty without schism. What would the Christian world be, if this principle were universally followed? No two of us could consent together; because the one must lose his liberty, till he goes off into schism; so it would break all Christian societies into individuals. Liberty and bondage are words of strange significations in this land, which it would be tedious to display. Only let us distinguish, that there is no bondage in dutiful submission; for that is the service of
God which is perfect freedom: nor any liberty in unreasonable disobedience; for that is the bondage of Satan, who works in the children of disobedience, and puts them to a great deal of trouble; making them restless and impatient, and leading them such a wearisome life, that if it were not called liberty, they would wish themselves out of the world.
8. The Church of England is accused of taking away the Bread and the Cup, unless people will receive kneeling; and Christ hath not made kneeling a necessary term of Communion.
Nor is it necessary with us; because we administer the Sacrament to the sick or the infirm, either sitting, kneeling, or lying. Kneeling is proper to an act of devotion; such the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is now, and not a social act of eating, as at the Passover, when it was first instituted. Kneeling may admit of a bad construction, because the Papists kncel and worship the Host: but charity will give it a good construction, and then all the difficulty is over. However, let us call it an imposition: yet why should the enjoying of it be objected to by the very people, who imposed on all that took their solemn league and covenant the posture of standing, with the ceremony of lifting up the right hand bare? But, what is still more to the purpose, one of their apologists assures us, they make no scruple of giving their Sacrament to all those who chuse to kneel in a Meeting-house *. Therefore it is not the thing, (though that is sometimes highly exclaimed against) but the enjoining of the thing, that ren
* "In some of our Churches, there are some who receive standing, some kneeling. Nor is there, I believe, amongst our minis. ters, one in five hundred, who would refuse to give the Sacrament either standing or kneeling, to any one who thought either of these the fittest posture of receiving." Dissenting Gentlemen's Answer to the Rev. Mr. White's Three Letters. P. 21.
ders it offensive; and it appears from this case, that Dissenters will do that to please themselves which they will not do to please God; who hath enjoined us all to be at peace with one another, and to agree in his worship.
Sponsors in baptism, and the signature of the cross, are objected to. But the first is only a prudent provision, as a farther security for the child, if the parents should die, or be of such characters as renders them unfit for sponsors; which the child cannot help. The signature of the Cross can give no offence (as one should think) to any person who delights in the memory of the Cross itself. The purest ages of the Church used it on all occasions, particularly in exorcisms, which were anciently a part of baptism, and there are some pretty clear intimations in the Scripture for the use of some signature on the forehead: and the first of all signatures is that of the Cross. For motives of worldly traffic, the Dutch, instead of preferring it to a place in their foreheads, trample it under their feet: and our Dissenters reject it from an affection to their schism. If the Papists are superabundant and superstitious in the use of the Cross, what is that to us? If they repeat the Lord's Prayer twenty times in an hour, are we not to repeat it all *.
9. It is farther objected to our Church, that the people have a right, an unalienable right, to chuse their own ministers; which with us they are not permitted to do.
As for the patriotic term unalienable, it is applied to the rights of nature, which are unalienable because
* See the use of the Signature of the Cross in Baptism, fully and learnedly vindicated in Bennet's Abridgment of the London Cases, chap. vi.