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the time when Jehovah confined the revelation of his will to a small portion of the human race in the plains of Shinar or on the banks of Jordan to the present hour, when darkness rests over the fairest part of the habitable globe, and millions sit in the valley of the shadow of death, the ways of Providence present a mystery unfathomable by mortal intellect; but no whisper is heard that the duties of Christian charity oblige us to sanction and approve the idolatry and superstition of these unfortunate people, no murmur of disapprobation is heard at the attempt to turn them from the error of their ways to the worship of the true God. A similar mystery pervades the dealings of the same Great Being towards those highly favoured nations upon whom the sun of righteousness has risen with healing on her wings-heresies deform, and schisms distract the Christian Church. The same spirit which animates the missionary should excite us to bear witness of the truth, to reject as false and hollow the liberality of the present day, which would hold out the right hand of fellowship to every variety of error, every extravagance of opinion. Let it never be forgotten for a moment that the charity of the gospel cannot command what truth forbids, that it cannot believe against plain unquestionable evidence, that it scorns a league with error. In the words of an eminent victim to his love of the Church, - In this discourse I have no aim to displease
any, nor any hope to please all. If I can help on truth in the Church and the peace of the Church together, I shall be glad, be it in any measure, nor shall I spare to speak necessary truth out of too much love of peace, nor thrust on unnecessary truth to the breach of that peace, which, once broken, is not so easily soldered again. And if for necessary truth's sake only any man will be offended, nay take, nay snatch at that offence which was not given, I know no fence for that. 'Tis truth and I must tell it; 'tis the gospel and I must preach it.”
While the Christian is thus bound to speak the truth simply, plainly, openly, without fear of consequences, or dread of imputations; while he is bound to uncompromising hostility with falsehood in every disguise, he must bear no malice or hatred in his heart against those who are involved in error. He beholds them with sincere pity and unaffected love, his heart's desire is that they may be turned from their wandering paths and brought home to the fold of the true shepherd; he will address them in the language of love, of entreaty, of expostulation; his model will be the eloquent and energetic appeal of the pious and exemplary Bishop Hall, “ the God of the Church cannot abide either conventicles of separation, or pluralities of professions, or appropriations of catholicism. As this flourishing Church of Great Britain (after all the spiteful calumniations of malicious men) is one of the most conspicuous members of the Catholic upon earth ; so we in her communion do make up one body with the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, and faithful Christians of all ages and times; we succeed in their faith, we glory in their succession, we triumph in their glory. Whither go ye then, ye weak, ignorant, seduced souls, that run to seek this dove in a foreign cote? She is here if she have any nest under heaven.”
The other topic of declamation against the doctrine I have been advocating, and others which separate the reformed Church of England and Ireland from the countless sects of dissenters, is the cry of Popery. At this day every assertion of the existence of a Church, every claim to power lodged in the ministers of the Gospel, is branded with the appellation of a remnant of Popish superstition. The cry is not new, it was raised against some of the wisest, and some of the best of our Churchmen, when puritanism raised its head, and ceased not its clamour and its persecution till it had prostrated in wide spread ruin the throne and the altar. I cannot discuss the subject better than by quoting the answer of one of these maligned and insulted worthies: “I believe,” says Bishop Sanderson “, “ all those men will be found much mistaken, who either measure the Protestant religion by an opposition to Popery, or account all Popery that is taught or practised in the Church of Rome. Our godly forefathers, to whom under God we owe the purity of our religion, and some of which laid down their lives for the defence of the same, were sure of another mind, if we may, from what they did, judge what they thought: they had no purpose, neither had they any warrant to set up a new religion, but to reform the old by purging it from those innovations, which in tract of time, some sooner, some later, had mingled with it and corrupted it both in the doctrine and the worship. According to this purpose they produced without constraint or precipitancy, freely and advisedly as in peaceable times, and brought their intentions to a happy end, as by the result thereof, contained in the articles and liturgy of our Church, and the prefaces thereunto, doth fully appear. From hence chiefly, as I conceive, we are to take our best scantling whereby to judge what is and what is not to be esteemed Popery. The plain truth is this, the Church of England meant to make use of her liberty and the lawful power she had, as all the Churches of Christ have, or ought to have, of ordering ecclesiastical affairs here, yet to do it with so much prudence and moderation, that the world might see by what was laid aside that she acknowledged no subjection to the see of Rome, and by what was retained that she did not recede from the Church of Rome out of any spirit of contradiction."
a Preface to his Sermons.
Let these remarks of one of the wisest and best of our antient Prelates silence the cavillers of the present day. Far be from me the attempt to palliate the gross errors, the multiplied abominations of Po
pery; they are written in characters so legible, that he who runs may read. But I would remind you, my young brethren, that the Church of Rome preserves, amid the foul dross, much of the purest ore; that she holds in their integrity the antient creeds, however overlaid by human inventions ; and that she has ever been acknowledged by the most learned and the most pious of our Divines to be a true Church, although grievously corrupted, although lamentably fallen from her first love. Each of you can see the absurdity of the argument, once seriously and confidently brought forward against the doctrine of the Trinity; the doctrine of the Trinity is held by the Pope, but the Pope is Antichrist, therefore the doctrine cannot be true. Now equally untenable, however they may be concealed under more specious forms, are the arguments against the existence and powers of the Church, against the orders and apostolical succession of its ministers, because these doctrines are maintained by the See of Rome. · The question is, are these doctrines held by our Church ? If they are, then another question arises ; are they true or not? To answer this, we must have recourse to the law and the testimony; and if the inquirer cannot satisfy himself of their conformity with the word of God, if he cannot conscientiously execute the office reposed in him, let him lay it down, let him not, under the pretence of obeying the dictates of religion, set their authority at nought, and trample on his own solemn engagements, and the rights of