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forms and rites of worship, and to authoritatively intrust and prescribe to the clergy what they are to believe-in what manner, and to whoin the sacraments are to be given,—what prayers they are to offer up,what doctrines to preach who are to be admitted to the episcopate, or priesthood, and who to be refused ;-by what ceremonies, and prayers, and exhortations, they are to be set apart, and consecrated to their of fice. These, with every other circumstance relating to religion, and the worship of God, which is authoritatively prescribed, or enjoined'in your church, you know, Sir, not the bishops and clergy, but the King with his Parliament are the only persons who have authoritatively enjoined and prescribed them.
“ The Clergy of the whole land, in convocaction assembled, cannot so much as attempt any * canons or constitutions withont the King's li* cence. If the King and Clergy make a canon, " though it binds the Clergy in re-ecclesiastica, " yet it does not bind laymen."*
Yea, so far, Sir, were the Bishops and Clergy from having any hand in the first forming our present established church, or in ordering its riles and articles of faith, that it was done not only without, but in actual opposition to them. i For, in the first of Queen Eliz, the parliament « alope established the Queen's supremacy and " the common prayer-book, in spite of all oppo“sition from the Bishops in the House of Lords ; " and the convocation, then sitting, were so far “ from having any hand in those church acts for “ reformation, that they presented to the parlia“ment several propositions in behalf of the " tenets of popery, directly contrary to the pro“ ceedings of the Parliament."*
Vide Examination of the Codex, &c. page 114, 148. - By the 25th of Henry VIII. chap. 19. it is a præmunire for “ the convocation to meet without the King's writ; and when “ they are met to do any thing without the King's licence; " and then no resolution of their's to have the force of a canon, * unless the King confirm it. Nor is it then valid if it be contrarient, or repugnant to the laws, statutes, and customs “ of this realm, or be to the damage or hurt of the King's
prerogative royal.-And of this the courts of Westminster“ hall must judge.” Hale, in his Analysis, p. 12, says, “ If " écclesiastical laws are not confirmed by Parliament, the “ King may revoke and annul them at his will and pleasure. Vide Notes on an Answer to the Examination of the Bishop of London's Codex.
Hence then, Sir, I think you must be compelled to own (what I know gentlemen of your robe do not care to hear), viz. That the church of England is really a parliamentary church; that it is not properly an ally, but a mere crealure of the state. It depends entirely upon the acts and authority of parliament for its very essence and frame. The qualifications of its ministers, their power to officiate, the manner in which they are to administer the sacraments, are all limited and prescribed by authority of parliament; and this authority, which at first made, can alone alter and new make it; can abolish or add to its articles or rites, according to its pleasure, even though the whole body of Bishops and Clergy should ever so much dislike or protest earnestly against it.
It is a point, therefore, incontestable, that the church, which your article declares to have this authority and power, is no other than the King and Parliament of these realms. But,
THIRDLY. The grand difficulty wbich yet remains, and which, without your assistance, I shall never get over, is how came the civil ma. gistrate by this authority in the church of CHRIST? Who gave him this power to decree rites in Christian worship, which Christ never decreed, and to make articles of faith which CHRIST never made? Neither Christ nor the
• Vide Priestcraft in Perfection, preface, p. 4.
Apostles ever gave him this authority : from
The subjection to higher powers, and obedience to magistrates, which the Scriptures enjoin upon Christians, relates only to civil, not at all to religious matters; for this obvious reason, that the magistrate at that time was every where Pagan. The apostles therefore, instead of paying, or exhorting Christians to pay, any subjection to him in religious affairs, strenuously exhorted them to renounce and disavow it-to come out from among them and be separate. They were every where, you know, Sir, Dissenters from the established Church.
Christianity is so far from enjoining, that it actually forbids obedience to civil governors in all things of a religious nature. It commands us to call no man upon earth father or master, * i. e. to acknowledge no authority or jurisdiction of any, in matters of religion; but to remember that one, one only is your master and lawgiver, even Christ; and all Christians are brethren, i. e. stand upon an equal footing, having no dominion over one another. Though the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they who are great exercise authority upon them, yet it shall not, our Lord says, be so amongst you.t Nay, your Church replies in this its XXth article, but it shall be so amongst us. There are some who have authority over others in matters of faith. There are other masters besides Christ.-Thus the article and the scriptures manifestly clash. Will you be so good, Sir, as to adjust the controversy between them, and tell me which I am to follow ?
The Church is Christ's kingdom: a kingdom, not of this world. For his voluntary humiliation and suffering of death he is advanced to the high: honour of being sole Lawgiver, Judge, and som
• Matt. xxiii. 8, 9.
* Matt. xx. 25.
tereign, in religious matters. He only hath aw.. thority to fix the terms of communion for his followers or church: and whoever shall presume to alter, or new make the terms of communion which he himself has fixed, is guilty of the greatest arrogance, as he thereby invades his authority and throne. But this, we apprehend, is what you have done. YOU will not now receive a person to public baptism, or the LORD's supper, upon the terms on which CHRIST and his apostles would have received him. Neither CHRIST nor his apostles ever made the sign of the cross or other sponsors besides the parents, necessary to a child's baptisın; nor did they ever make kneeling a necessary term of receiving the sacrament supper ; but both those YOU make necesBary. * Thus
you have taken upon you to new model the Church of CHRIST, to change and set aside his laws, and to make others in their room,
Now give me leave to ask you, Sir, by what authority do you presume to reject those from your Church, whom in your conscience, you believe Christ and bis apostles would have received into theirs ? Are you wiser than they? Or is your Church better framed, and more perfect than theirs ? If an honest and sincere Christian now brings bis child to you to be publicly baptised, desiring it may be done without the sign of the cross, and that himself may stand forth as surety for its education, would you not refuse him? Or, if he desired to be admitted to the communion of Christians, in the other sacrament of the Lord's supper, but that he might not take it kneeling, would you not reject him? But, if the same person had come to Jesus Christ or
• The XXVIIth canon requires the minister never wittingly to administer the communion to any but to such as kneel. The XXIXth canon requires that no parent shall be urged to be present at his child's baptism, nor be admitted to answer as gode father for his own child.
the apostles, offering himself and his child uport
. the same terms, would they not have received hini ? But, how is it Sir, that you také upon you to reject from Christ's family and church those whom you believe he himself would have receiva ed? Is not this lording it over God's heritage, and usurping CHRIST's throne? Is it not setting yourselves up for law-makers and rulers in his kingdom, claiming homage from his subjects? And are not bis faithful subjects, by the allegie ance they owe him, obliged to enter their protest against such usurpation, and to stand fast in the liberty wherewith CHRIST hath set them free?
Where then, let me appeal to your own sober judgment, does the guilt of schism lie? Upon you or upon us? Upon us, who offer ourselves to communion in your church upon the terms which Christ appointed, and are ready to do every thing which Christ has commanded? Or upon you, who absolutely reject us, unless, besides what Christ hath ordered, we will submit also to some orders and devices of your own? We come as the Lord's servants, and desire to eat at the LORD's table, with reverent submission to all his appointments. Nay, but say you, you shall not come to the LORD's table unless you will kneel; i. e. unless you will come iu that posa ture, which though CHRIST in his wisdom did not think proper, yet which we in our wisdom have thought proper to ordain ; in other words, unless besides being Christ's servants you will also be ours, and pay subjection to our institution and authority in this religious rite. 4. This, Sir, is the true state of the controversy between us. Judge now, I pray you with the impartiality of a christian, who makes the schism, and who has reason to fear being brought into judgment, by the great law-giver of the church; for the unhappy breach which subsists.