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controul and direction of the civil power. “ Even “ the very subjects of their inquiry and debate,
as well as the extent of their ordinances in
point of obligation, are prescribed by statute“ law; that they cannot so much as attempt any
canons or constitutions without a royal licence, " and that none of their ordinances are binding,
even against the private customs of a single “ parish.•* How is it then you affirm, “The
king and parliament to have disowned any "such power in themselves, and to have recog
nised'it to be in the church :” But,
3. The point is, if possible, still rendered more clear from the XXXIVth article above cited : which says, “ If any man through his private “ judgment, openly breaks the ceremonies of the “ church, ordained by common authority, he “ shall be openly rebuked as one that offendeth " against the common order of the church, and “ hurteth the authority of the magistrate.” The authority of the magistrate then, is indisputably concerned in ordaining these ceremonies : and your church, Sir, however loath you are to hear it, is undoubtedly a parliamentary and civil constitution, made, formed, and supported, entirely by the civil magistrate; and by him alone is it capable of being thrown into a new form.
But you ask, “ Are not the dissenting churches “ in the same sense parliamentary? Do they not
depend entirely upon an act of parliament, the
act of Toleration ?" No, by no means! The dissenting churches were formed, subsisted, and grew, without and before any parliamentary authority. We are thankful to the excellent and good government under which we live, for the Act of Toleration ; but would humbly beg leave to say, we derive not our power to assemble for divine worship, nor our ministers theirs to officiate in such assemblies, from any human law, but from our natural right as men, and from the authority of Christ. The act of Toleration only protects us in the enjoyment of this right.
* Examination of the Codex, p. 114.
Defence, P, 23;)
“But, above all things, you marvel, that « whilst I was making this push at the church “ of England, I did not reflect how much I laid myself open; for if there was ever upon earth
church which could properly be called parli"amentary, it was the presbyterian, in the time “ of the grand rebellion."* What you call the grand rebellion, Sir, a British House of Commons, since the restoration, call a vindication of their just liberties; and brought one of their members, Lenthal, upon his knees at the bar, and there sharply reprimanded him for presuming to reflect upon it in the manner you have done.f Besides, if it were a grand rebellion, the shame and reproach of it falls chiefly upon the church of England; the parliament, who began it, consisting almost entirely of members of that communion, as Lord Clarendon himself owns. But, what if the presbyterian church, established afterward by them, were truly parliamentary, how have I laid myself open ? Had I said or suggested any thing at all relating to that church, or the proceedings of those times ? Not a single word! but, for aught I had said, it appears not but I as much condemn that establishment as yourself. How then have I laid myself open ! Are you, Sir, the man that reproves me for ramblings?
You put the case, “That any of our dissenting “ churches, or the church of Scotland, should,
by an act of the general assembly, ordain, that a decent bason, with clean water, should be provided, and placed near the pulpit, that so.
* Defence, p. 20.
* Journal of the 12th of May, 1660.
" the minister taking the child in his arms, may
conveniently pour, or,sprinkle water upon its "face, in the name of the Father, &c.-Here “ are several rites ordained, which Christ, in his “wisdom, did not think, proper to ordain, and “ one of them at least, as exceptionable as any
excepted against in our church, sprinkling. “ What will this gentleman say to such an ap
pointment:" I will say, Sir, that if compli. ance with this injunction be made a necessary term of receiving baptism in that church, (as the cross and sponsors are made necessary in yours) so as that no child shall be baptised that is not sprinkled from such bason; and the parent that desires to have his child dipt, (believing that to be the only way in which Christian baptism ought to be administered) shall not have it done; in that case, Sir, I will say the church acts a tyrannical, unjust, schismatical part; and, if I could have my child baptised in any other church, constituted upon a more catholic and scriptural plan, I should think it my duty to apply to it on that occasion. The spirit of ceremony-making, and church tyranny, is of a restless and incroaching nature, and ought by a timely effort to be crushed. It was from such little beginnings the mass of Romish fopperies grew up to its present enormous and oppressive height.
“ The natural rights you represent some of our “ fellow-subjects, as submitting to be deprived of “ by disqualifying laws, without going about to “ turn the world upside down for their repeal," are much too trivial to be compared with those of which dissenters are deprived: for the fellowsubjects you refer to are not disqualified as to these offices, upon the account of conscience and
* Defence, p. 24, 24. + Viz. That no attorney, or proctor, can act as a justice of the peace, &c. Defence, p.0, 7.
religion, (which is the hard case of the dissenters, for acting as they think they are indispensably obliged to do by the authority and laws of God;) nor, finally, can the persons you mention be properly said to have a natural right to sustain, at the same time, two different characters, and to execute two offices, which are not allowed to be united in the same person, because they are generally inconsistent, and interfere with each other. So that the cases are not parallel. Besides, why are we represented as turning the world upside down? Have we ever kindled tumults, raised mobs, demolished houses, threatened courts of law, (as you know, Sir, who have done,) under a seditious cry, that our churches were in danger! We appeal to the impartial world for the loyalty and peaceableness with which we behave.
You pass over, by your own confession, almost half my pamphlét* unremarked, in which the constitution of the church of England is compared with that of the church of Christ, and the societies shewn to be of a quite different, and even opposite nature; so that a person's separation from the one, does by no means imply his separation from the other. Your replying nothing to this, you will give me leave to impute to some other cause than “ your not observing any
thing in it which pretends to refute or contra“ dict any position advanced in your letter.” Is not the charge of schism your favourite and constant topicBut, if I prove the two societies so entirely different in their constitution and frame, as that my not communicating in the former, does in no wise break me off from, nor in the least interrupt my communion in the latter, is not this a refutation of one of the principal and
Defence, p. 87
most interesting parts of your letters and did not justice to your argument demand a proper reply, if it had been in your power to have given
“ It is growing mighty modish (you complain) " with our people to laugh at all notions of “ church communion, and to make nothing of “ the most unnecessary separations."
."* Yes, I thank God the loud appeals your were wont to ring us upon the head of schism, are generally treated with much neglect, not only among our people, but even among your own.
For when we see the clergy setting themselves up for rulers and governors, claiming power in the name of the Lord, to forgive sins, lo decree ceremonies, to make laws, and to determine points of faith; and then thundering out their anathemas upon such as refuse submission to their authority ;-you must not wonder if it provoke, in all sensible spectators, either contempt, indignation, or mirth!
Can these spiritual fathers, in their consciences believe our schism to be so horrid and damning, and yet have no solicitude to remove those stones of stumbling, at which we so grie, vously and wickedly fall? What! will they harden themselves against the cries of so many weak and perishing christians, and destroy the souls for which Christ died? Forgive me, Sir, I cannot-think that you believe schism to be really so damnable a sin as you represent it, but that it is only used as an ecclesiastical scare-crow to keep the simple in awe, and to establish a sacerdotal empire over weak and ductile minds.
“ All christians (you affirm) living within the "church of England, which is co-extended with " the kingdom, may be truly said to owe it obe“ dience and subinission; and are, de jure, whe
ther they will be or not de facto, true members
Pefence, p. 35.