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A LETTER to the
HE deplorable State of Christianity in those Parts of it which have reform'd from Popery in
Doctrine, is chiefly to be ascrib'd to the Contempt or Neglect of the Divine Institutions, relating to the Constitution and Oeconomy of the Church. This in particular hath brought all the Disorder and Confusion in Matters of Religion, for which England is scandalous above all other Christian Countries; having ever since the Great Rebellion, abounded with Religious Sects and Factions, which owe their Original, more or lefs, to the direful Change and Overthrow of that Government, which Christ ordain'd for his Church, and his Apostles left in it, and which throughout all Ages was continued without Interruption in the Christian World for isoo Years, as that very Form of Church-Government, which all Christians thought was ordain'd
to continue unto the End of the World. There never was in all that Timę any Church founded but in, and with EPIS. COPACY; nor did ever any Sect of Men assume the Title of a Church, till they could get a pretended Bishop, from whom they had their Priests, and their Priests their Million, till the Time of the Reformation; nor did any. Christian Priests, or People of an Episcopal Church, ever rise up against their Bishops as such, and reject the whole Order, but those of Great Britain, under the Pretence of farther Reformation ; by which they have brought such Confufions, and so expos’d Religion among us, that it is in a great Measure loft, so that we may say (as was long since said of Justice in the Iron Age of the World) that the hath taken her Flight from Earth to Heaven. Could any Church, or Father of the Catholick Church, in Antient Times, have imagin'd or believ'd without the Gift of Prophecy, that an Age would come, when the Presbyters of a National Church would take upon them to depose their BiJoops, and teach the People that their Or. der was contrary to God's Word, or grieyous and unnecessary to the Church! Could they have imagin'd, that in a flourishing Church, pure in Doctrine and Worship, consisting of Two Provinces, an Assembly
of several Presbyters should be held in Opposition to their Bishops, and their Lawful Sovereign Lord theExternalor CivilBishop of his Church, by the Command of Rebels in actual Arms against their King! Could they ever imagine, that in three famous National Churches reform'd after the Antient Pattern of Churches settled in the Primi. tive Times, and professing the same Holy Faith, a strong Party of Presbyters and People, should be so wicked, as by Force to depose the whole College of Bishops, and as much as they could, extirpate the whole Order as unlawful and needless, nay, as an Antichristian Constitution, and a Yoak which we nor our Fathers were able to bear! Yet, Sir, I am one of those surviving Men who liv'd in those Times and saw all those things done, and the direful Consequences of such Doings'; the first of which was the setting up a Government of the Church by Presbyters assuming Episcopal Authority, who with their Sečt were called Presbyterians.
But these did not long flourish; for as they had taught the People that Episcopal Ordinations or Missions were not necessary,
so others soon said the same of their Ordinations by Presbyters, asserting, that only Gifts, and the Call of Gifted Men by the Congregation was sufficient for the Mi.
nistry; and so from the Sect of Presbyteri sprang up that of the Independents among us, and from them again, others, who thought Gifts alone were a fufficient Call to the Ministry, and in this Abomination of Desolation, Laymen first invaded the Sá. cred Office of the Ministry among us.
When I was a Young School-Boy in a little Village near Helmsley in Yorkshire, I saw a Man in Gray Clothes step up into the Pulpit on the Lord's Day, where after a long Prayer lie preach'd to the People, as well as I can guess from what I now remember, after the Manner of the Fifth Monarchy Anabaptists. Being afterwards removed to School at North-Allerton, I saw an Officer of Cromwell's Army go up into the Pulpit, and there after a long Prayer, he made a long Sermon, of which, as I then understood little, so I remember nothing, but that he talk'd much of Dead Ordinances, and Gifts of the Spirit, and a Carnal Ministry, meaning no doubt the Ministry of the Church. By that time Quakerism, which began in Westmorland, was much increas'd in that Place, where I often faw not only Men, but Women Preach both in the Fields, and in Houses, without any other Call, but their pretended Moti. ons of the Spirit, when (you must, Sir, excuse my Impertinence to tell you, that)
a School-Fellow older than my self by three or four Years, though of a Lower Form in the School, who had been carefully bred up in Church Principles, and like another Ti. mothy instructed by his Parents from his Childhood in the Scriptures, so baffled their Speakers, by asking them who fent them to Preach, and urging the Places of Scripture against them, which speak of God the Father's sending our Saviour, and His fend. ing the Apostles, and They others; and by
requiring of them a Visible Proof of their pretended Call by the Spirit, that they came not of a long Time after to that Place, and as I remember, not till that Boy, so mighty in the Scriptures, was taken from the School.
Indeed, Sir, the Necessity of an Immediate, or Mediate Call and Mission from God to any Divine Ministry, is so plainly taught in the Scriptures as appears by the * Mar
* THE MISSION OF Moses, And the Lord said Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my People, &c. out of Egypt. Exod. iii. 10. Now therefore go, and I will be with thy houth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. Exod. iv. 12. He sent Moses his Servant, Psal. cv. 26.
The Mission OF THE JEWISH PRIESTs, Take thou unto thee Aaron thy Brother, and bis Sons with him, FROM AMONG THE CHILDREN OF Israel, that He may Minister unto me in the Priest's Office, even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar, Aaron's Sons. Exod. xxviii. 1. And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou and thy Sons with thee shall keep your