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should go about in every quarter threatening them with prosecutions (as the dissenters do) and using all means to compel them? 1. The Dissenter laments that your correspondent should have meddled with a topic, which he hoped had often and long ago been settled. No doubt, his lamentation is sincere : for I have heard, that within these few years, what with the importunities of the dissenters, and with their unexpected help from some bishops, they have been very successful in compelling the clergy to officiate at their graves. The desire of peace, and the aversion to all contention, I sincerely believe to be a leading virtue among both our bishops and - clergy: but I conjecture, that it has been sometimes paramount, when it ought not to have been so. I entertain an humble hope, that my “meddling,” may by God's affift·ance, have a tendency to put a stop to this success : a suc
cess, which is attended with consequences very seriously prejudicial to the interests of sound Christianity: for the question in point, is not that trivial, indifferent thing, that it is misrepresented to be, we are not at liberty to treat the faith. ful Christian within the church, and him who separates himself, (Jud. 19.) with the same respect, and to teach others to express the same hope for both.
. . . By your correspondent's expressing his hope, that the to· pic “had often and long ago been settled,” I presume must be understood an affirmation, that it has often and long ago been settled.. I do not write upon such a subject as this, without reading and enquiry ; but neither my reading nor
enquiry at present, afford me any information that this ques· tion has been settled as the Dissenter would have it, and per
haps it may have occurred to you, Sir, that that must needs · be very unsteady, which requires often settling. But the - case is this. The church, (particularly the Church of Eng
land), has indeed, settled it long ago; but different governors
in their respective districts, for reasons best known to them· selves, have at different times countenanced an unsettling of · it. This aberration from the church's order, the Dissenter · calls a settling of the question; and every new aberration, ex
cathedra, he calls, I suppose, another settling: I am curious · to know how he would express the act of those bishops who have never countenanced this deviation from the laws of the Established Church; but have been in the habit of respecting all her canons and rubricks, and the opinions of her sound and learned defenders. His idea of settling a “topic of discussion," as he calls it, appears to be this. Should the rulers of the church direct its ministers to proceed in a man. ner contrary to its laws, to please the difsenters, then the “ topic of discussion,” it seems, is settled. But when any one attempts to thew that her laws ought to be respected, then is that man said to “meddle with a topic of discussion very unseasonably for the peace of fociety, and to agitate that which has been often and long ago settled; but as it is managed, that is, “ the topic of discussion") it is to produce unpleasant effects to the clergy, and the dissenters too!"
But we now come to what the Dissenter considers, I sup. pose, as his proof, that our question has been often and long .ago settled. Let us examine them..
In the year 1748, the clergyman of Watersfield, duly rę. fpecting the laws of the church, considers dissenters as having - no right to the burial service of the church. The bishop of - Norwich writes to the clergyman, and expresses his hope,
that no occasion would be given for such complaints in · fature.-Does this settle the question ? Does it prove any
thing against the clergyman's opinion, that difsenters have no . right to church burial? I must confess, Sir, I see nothing of the fort. All I do fee is this: that the clergyman wished to abide by the settled laws of the church: the disenters wished the contrary: and the bishop of Norwich takes side with the dissenters, against his clergyman..
In 1769, ihe vicar of Marshfield refuses to bury a child, and in its that he has done right. Here, the bilhop of Llandaff, (Dr. Jonathan Shipley, I suppose) reprimands him ; and orders him to read the church service over the corpse of any dislenter which should be brought to him, without - asking any questions. There is something curious in this.
The bishop reprimands the vicar for acting according to the laws of the church, and as many, if not most of the clergy, . are in the constant habit of acting.--I mult declare, that Í
see no reason for any reprimand at all. But the bishop, it is reported, orders the minister to read the church service over every difsenter's corpse, &c. and ask no questions,--that is, as it were, blindfold, --with design of not seeing what might be seen, if a man were to open his eyes.--He was ordered, in short, to keep himself in ignorance of all circumstances respecting diflenters? corpses; he was not to know whether it was a Baptist corpse, or an Independent corpse, or a Quaker corpse, or a Socinian corpse, a baptized or an unbaptized i corpse, &c. &c.-any thing of this fort, the vicar of Marsh
field was not to know. He was ordered to pay no attention to the rubricks and canons, but to bury on, let the circum
stances be what they would. Here was a bishop indeed, exactly fitted for the purposes of the deputies and committees of the difsenters. He was a man of business, and did their work well. But it may be a question with some reflecting men, not in the dissenting intereft, not only whether the bilhop of Llandaff could be justified in his conduct, but whether the clergyman was jullified in implicitly obeying the bishop (I suppose the report means to hand down the fact of his compliance),—for since the clergy of all ranks are bound to observe the laws of the church, and since one of those laws explicitly enjoins, that the burial service shall not be used for any that die unbaptized, how can a bishop presume to enjoin his clergy to bury all promiscuously, and to remain in ignorance even of a distinction, which the disenters themselves admit? and how can a clergymnan conscien. tioully observe such an injunction, which commands him to tranfgress the written laws of the church ? If it was the vicar's duty to bury no unbaptized person, it was his duty to ascertain who were baptized, and who not: which was to be the result of asking questions. But the bishop orders, that no questions shall be asked: that is, that the vicar shall not ascertain who was unbaptized,--that is, that he should not observe the rubrick of the church. And has the bishop of Llandaff settled the question ? Is this question of the dissenters' right to church burial to be settled by an injunction to ask no queltions ? Does the Diflenier ever admit the bishop's “ Sic volo, fic jubeo; ftet pro ratione voluntas ?”—It is strange, Sir, that your correspondent and I should see things so very differently: for I profess, that I have not the least doubt, that the bishop was so far from having any intention of settling the question, that he made this remarkable injunction of asking no questions, in order to avoid settling it.
In 1784, the curate of Cheshunt, it seems, was recusant. The dissenting secretary writes to him. The curate apologizes, and promises to behave better for ihe future. It will be diffi. cult, I believe, to infer any thing from this anecdote, but that if it had not been for the diffenting secretary, the curate would have been innocent of any breach of church law: as it turned out, it seems, he not only transgressed, but promised that he would make no difficulty in transgrefling for the future. So the cúrate finned, and the secretary triumphed.
The last instance is dated 1792. The vicar of Margate would not permit the burial service to be read over the corpse of a person who had been baptized by a dissenting minister. The archbishop of Canterbury expressed disap
probation of the vicar's conduct, and said he should be reprimanded, and left to the course of the law, for any future misbehaviour of that kind. It is unfortunate, Sir, ihat the Dissenter should bring his fourth instance, and yet bring nothing that can possibly pass for a settling the question. What does the primate do ? He tells the complainant, that the vicar, shall be reprimanded, and left to the law; that is, he is pleased to shew his displeasure, and promises to shew more of it; but as to the settling of the question, he does nothing in that, but leaves it to be settled by law; if he had a power of feutling it, why did he not settle it at the time, and not leave it to the law ? This plainly tells us, that he had no power of settling it; and therefore the question of the difsenters' right to church burial, was no more settled in this example, by the prime authority of the church, than it had been by any of the other three examples. The three bishops and the diffenting secretary certainly did all they could to settle it as the diffenters would have it, they all manifested displeasure against the clergy who had not complied ; and it seems, they so far worked upon them as to extort a promise, that they would be governed in future by the dissenters; but there is no settling of the question; so far from it, that the archbishop himself, finding that the clergyman cannot be punished by bim, promises to leave him to the course of the law. But, it may be asked, could the primate have not left him to the course of the law ? Could he have snatched him from the paw of the secretary, if he had thought good to defend his clergy against the secretary, instead of taking part with the latter against the vicar? Perhaps, a man less alarmed than the poor vicar of Margate probably was, might have perceived more of terrific found than real sense in the threat of being turned over to the secular arm. But to proceed,
The Dissenter observes upon these four cases in the following words. “These are few cases out of many, which may serve to shew, that the bishops consider dissenting baprism as entitling them to the burial service, the church agreeing with the state, which considers it as valid in any court of judicature.” Here is confusion indeed! by the help of which, your correspondent jumps to his wilhed-for conclusion, and seems to go off in triumph. But he must permit me to shew him that he is a little too hally in his inferences. In the first in.. stance, it must be denied that his four cases shew any thing re. specting the bishops, but that three of that venerable body acted fo and fo: it cannot shew their judgment concerning
the validity of diffenting baptism; for the three bishops may have acted as they did, upon other mocives than their convica tion of the validity of dissenting baptism. I have been inform: ed of one of their present lordships who was heard to declare his opinion of the invalidity of it, and that difsenters were plainly not entitled to church burial; who nevertheless had advised a certain clergyman to comply with the dissenters' dea mands, merely for the sake of peace. Besides it never can be admitted thật the example of one bishop in 1748, of ano. ther in 1769, and of another in 1792, can possibly exhibit the judgment of the many other bishops living at those dates, and fince. But your correspondent not only will tell you the opinion of the bishops (that is of the bishops in general) from his three cases, but goes on to thew you from the said cases, the opinion of the church too! I should never have thought of ascertaining the judgment of the national church from the opinion of a few individual bishops, who, at the time they were supposed (though erroneously) to manifest an opinion, by directing the conduct of their clergy, it must be remembered were always opposed in that opinion by the minister in question, whole opinion, in point of soundness, might be just as good as the bishop's, although he could not support it by actual authority, as his superior might. The Basingstoke Dissenter, Sir, has so long quitted the church, that he forgets, I suppose, that her judgment is not to be collected from the opinions of individual bishops, which frequently clash one with the other, but from those public and authorised decla. rations, which are open to the world, in her articles, canons and liturgy. It is here that the judgment of the established church is to be learned; and by these, all her ruling as well as inferior clergy are bound and ought to be directed. These are the laws of the church: and there are always to be considered as the will of her governors, in the same manner, as. the fecular law of our land, is always considered as the royal will and pleasure. But the Dissenter further says, that dissenting baptisms are valid in a court of judicature; and that church and state agree upon this point. Here, I take it, we muft aslift your correspondent a little, with a clear idea upon the point; for he seems confused upon the word validity. Therefore let me remark, that when we speak of the validity of baptism, we speak of it as it is valid, or not valid, to falvation: it is purely a spiritual or ecclesiastical phrase. Whether the baptisms of Socinians, or Baptifts, &c. be valid to falva. tion, or not, is a question which I never knew had ever VOL. XIV.
come Chm. Mag. Jan. 1898.