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“ dained by common authority, ought to be rew “ buked openly, (that others may fear to do the “ like,) as he that offendeth against the common “ order of the church, and hurteth the authority “ of the magistrate.” Private judgment, you see, is here forbidden to oppose the common order of the church, and the authority of the magistrate; and, when it presumes to do so, is to be censured and punished for it.
« The church of France, and the church of Rome, you acknowledge to be as much pos“sessed of this power as the church of England. " But it does not follow, that, because they have
a power to decree rites, they may therefore de“ cree fopperies and superstitions."* But by what mark, I pray, do you distinguish between rites and fopperies, between ceremonies and superstitionsThe consecration of earth in the church of England, is a rite; but the consecration of water, in the church of France, is a foppery. In the church of England, the priest's signing the. baptised infant with the sign of the cross, in token that it shall confess a crucified Christ, is a significant rite: but, in the church of Rome, his putting his finger into bis ear, in token that it shall hear the word of God; or, salt upon its tongạe, in token that its speech'shall be seasoned with salt, are intolerable fopperies. The bowings to the altar, bowing at the name of Jesus, kneeling at the communion, sponsors, surplice, hoods, lawn-sleeves, and every thing of this kind, used in the church of England, are edifying and de cent ceremonies,“ of clear signification and in-' “ disputable use.”+ But the slippers and staff, knocking on the breast, elevations, crossings, gesticulations, sprinklings with huly water, &c. practised in the church of Rome, are ridiculous superstitions. How happy, to have governors
• Defence, page 11.
thus spiritually gifted, thus able nicely to distinguish between things that differ!
“ My suggestion, that by the mere conces“sions of your XXth article, thousands of prose
lytes have been gained from you to the church “ of Rome, is rash (you say) and groundless. “ Nor do you believe I can name one who was “ever gained by it."* I will give you two instances almost equal to a thousand. The first shall be the renowned Chillingworth, who was gained to the church of Rome chiefly by this argument, viz. The necessity of an infallible living judge of controversies ; + which is but a different expression for the authority of the church in matters of faith. Now, if this argument was so plausible as to vanquish and lead captive so great a master of reasoning, multitudes of weaker minds have no doubt fallen by its force. The other shall be King James II. of whom bishop Burnet says, he gave me this account of the change of his religion. “ All due care was taken to form “ him to a strict adherence to the church. Among “ other things, much was said of the authority of “ the church, and of the tradition from the Apos“tles, in support of episcopacy. So when he
came to observe that there was more reason to “ submit to the catholic church, than to one par. “ ticular church, and that other traditions might “ be taken on her word, as well as episcopacy “ was received among us;" he thought the step was not great, but that it was “very reasonable to
go over to the church of Rome.". See how dangerous a weapon is this same church-authority, and how capable of being used to the infinite prejudice of the protestant cause !
But granting the authority of the church, “ (i. e. of its pastors and governors, its bishops
• Defence, page 15. + Vide Life of Chillingworth, page 7 Burnet's History of his own Times, octavo edition, vol. jan
" and clergy) how, you ask, would our reforma« tion be overthrown by it, which was not car"ried on in opposition to authority, but with the
concurrence of all the authority in the nation !** Strange, Sir, you should so soon forget! Did not I remind you that the reformation under Queen Elizabeth, and the present forms of worship, prescribed in the Common Prayer, were strongly opposed by every bishop in the kingdom ; and the convocation then sitting, were so far from having any hand in it, that they presented to the parliament several propositions in favour of popery, directly contrary to the proceedings of the parliament? The civil magistrate, you affirm, "has "no power at all nor authority in these matters:"+ it is with the pastors and governors of the church, in whom alone it is lodged. But behold, these pastors and governors were zealous for the old religion! They argued, voted, petitioned, strenuously for it, and against the reformation. The reformation, then, upon your principles, is built upon a wrong bottom; was carried on, not in concurrence with, but in avowed opposition to all the authority of the nation. How justly might I bere return your own ungenerous compliment: * It was great rashness, (too great in conscience,) ** if, indeed, it was not treachery and playing
booty, to set the protestant cause upon so sandy
a foundation !"# Your principles, if digested in proper form, will stand thus: “ The church “ hath power and authority to decree ceremonies " and rites: but, by the church, observe, I un*** derstand, not the king and parliament, not the
civil magistrate, who have no power at all re"lating to these matters, but the bishops only " and clergy, who are appointed and called of « God to be its pastors and governors. But re“member, my countrymen, the Common Prayer
• Defence, page 15.
Ibid. page 18
Ibido page is on
" and forms of worship, now established and used
among you, were introduced into this church; " not by the authority, no nor yet by the consent " of the pastors and governors whom God hath “ set over you, but in direct opposition to them. " It was a change brought about entirely by the “ civil magistrate, who had no authority to effect “it. It was, therefore, really no other than an « ecclesiastical rebellion, an unjustifiable revolt < from the only rightful rulers and governors of “ the church in its spiritual concerns.
This, Sir, is the plain language and tendency of your principles, though I know you have been so wise as to contradict them again, by allowing, “ That, if church governors will not come into “ such reformation, as is according to God's “ word, but obstinately persevere in maintaining “ their sinful errors and corruptions, the people may reform themselves.”*
But this concession overthrows your whole scheme of church' authority, makes the people the supreme and ultimate judges as to points of faith and rights of worship, brings down the decrees of the most numerous and most holy councils, convocations, and synods, to stand at the bar of every man's private judgment, and vests him with authority to receive or reject them, as to himself shall seem fit. So powerful is truth, which will prevail!
But your positions, as to the civil magistrate, deserve a more distinct and accurate consideration. “ He has no power at all to decree rites * in divine worship. This power is not in the
king and parliament; for, in this very article, *(XX.) which, together with the rest, is con“firmed by act of parliament, (13 Eliz. c. 12.) " and thereby made part of our ecclesiastical constitution, they have plainly owned it to be
Ibid. p. 18
in the church, and nobody imagines, that, by "the church, they meant themselves. The king “ and parliament then have plainly disowned.any "s such power in themselves, and have recognized
it to be in the church.”* This, Sir, is a doctrine of dangerous and important consequence, and quite contrary to fact. For,
1. As it was the queen and parliament alone, without, yea, in opposition to the bishops and convocation, which decreed the present form and worship of your church, so to their authority alone it owes its very being, birth, and support. By affirming that they had no power nor authority of this nature, you demolish the church of England at once, and lay it prostrate in the dust. And,
2. That the king and parliament, by acknowledging this power to be in the church, have not disclaimed it, nor put it out of their own hands, will appear from hence, that they have at the same time expressly told you what they mean by the church; not the bishops and clergy, but the congregation of the faithful, of which congregation theinselves are not only a part, but the principal and ruling part. And, accordingly, our laws and constitution have vested the supreme power of prescribing ceremonies and rites only in them. I ask you, by what authority do the rubrics of the Common Prayer bind the clergy to obedience? or, whence is it they are obliged to observe the rites and forms prescribed in that book? Is it not entirely by the authority of parliament? As for the pastors and governors to whom you appropriate this authority (the bishops and clergy,) they have no power, by our constitution, to make one single law, to decree one rite, or to prescribe one ceremony. When assembled in convocation, they are absolutely under the