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" the pit of hell
, all who cannot receive the dark « and mysterious points set forth in the Athana< sian creed."* For, does not that creed most peremptorily pronounce this damnation on all such ! Are not you a zealous advocate for, and an admirer of that creed? Do you not yourself thirteen times a year, in the presence and church of God, and as his minister and ambassador, declare solemnly to the people, “ That whoever “ does not keep whole and undefiled the faith « therein delivered, he shall, without doubt, pe“rish everlastingly?” Is any apology then necessary for my asking,“ Whether you are among “ the weak and uncharitable persons ? &c.” For if you are sincere in the use of it, and do really believe what you solemnly declare to the people, when you read to them that creed, you must surely be' content to be reckoned in that number. For, how to reconcile a solemn declaration, that certain persons without doubt perish everlastingly, with hopes of their salvation, is what no wit of the subtilest jesuit is able to perforın.
The subscriptions of our ministers with the protestations they made against the damnatory clauses, can, with no truth, I apprehend, be called " a protestatio contra factum, nor a sub“ scribing assent to the truth of certain proposi* tions, at the same time declaring, they do not o assent to it.”—For it really amounted to no more than this :
" I believe the articles of this “ creed, and think it agreeable to the word of "God; but I here publicly declare, I do not “ consider the damnatory clauses as any part of “ the creed, nor give my assent to them.” As for the subscription of our present ministers, if it be not done under a claim of the benefit of this protestation made by their predecessors, or
Defence, p. 41.
with some such protestation made by themselves, I freely own, Sir, I shall not undertake to justify
Human creeds have, I apprehend, been of infinite disservice to the Christian church; have rent it into a variety of sects and parties, and filled it with innumerable strifes and debates. They are a fence, raised around the church, which can possibly keep none out of it but virtuous and honest persons, but can never prevent one hypocrite, heretic, or wicked man, from entering into it. I wish the case you mention may not be extremely conimon, viz. “ Fraudulent and insincere sub
scriptions, and the constant use of forms, which " they who use them do not approve of, whereby " the conscience is defiled.”
But the point of subscriptions, which is the subject of your Appendix, will be considered by an abler band,+ who will give you, I hope, ample satisfaction on this head. To his instructions I commend you, Sir, wishing you
Sir, wishing you with great sincerity, abundant peace and truth.
* The greatest part of our ministers, never subscribed the articles which the Act of Toleration required, notwithstanding the heavy fines and penalties to which they were exposed. But through the favour of Heaven, and sounder policy and good sense of the present times, these penalties are now removed; for, by an act of George Il. passed in 1979, all that is now required is, 1, A. B. do solemnly declare, in the presence of Almighty “ God, that I am a Christian and a Protestant, and, as such, that " I believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament,
as commonly received among Protestant churches, do con. “ tain the revealed will of God, and that I do receive the same as the rule of my doctrine and practice.”
+ The Case of Subscription to explanatory Articles of Faith, as a qualification for Admission into the Christian Ministry, &c. to which is added, The speech of the Rev. John Alphonso Turrentine, previous to the Abolition of all Subscriptions at Geneva. Translated from a Manuscript in French, 1748, by Samuel Chandler, D. D.
HAVE read carefully your two defences, and attentively weighed the reasons by which you farther press my conformity to your church; but I must still say, that though I feel the attraction of worldly interest strongly operating with your arguments, and giving them great force, yet there is something more forcible, which draws a contrary way.
Were I never to live but in the present world, I might soon become your convert; but, when I consider that the purity, simplicity, and liberty of the gospel are a sacred deposit, committed to my trust, and that there is an allegiance I owe to Christ, as the only Lawgiver of the church, for which I must hereafter be accountable before him, I cannot but think it my duty, and therefore, upon the whole, most certainly my interest also, to continue my separation, though attended with some worldly disadvantage and reproach,
The grounds of my dissent I have already laid before the world, to whose impartial consideration they are humbly subunitted. “ complain) I have left unnoticed and untouched
a great part of your letters.” This indeed, I have done, and shall also of your defence, a great part of both being futile, and of little moment to the merits of the cause before us. Debates of this kind, I know, insensibly swell. I remarked, therefore, but upon a few of the many obnoxious passages with which your letters abound, that greater liberty might be left to present you with several strong, and to me unan
66 But (you
swerable arguments for dissenting from your church, which you had artfully forborne to mention; and from which, though since held up before you, and peculiarly urged upon you, you turn gravely away, and will not be provoked to encounter their force.
I have pressed you with the constitution and frame of your church : and have shewn you various points in which its structure and form were not only quite different from, but actually repugnant to the church of Jesus Christ; consequently, that it was not, could not be, any dangerous and damnable schism for the servants of Jesus Christ, to separate and withdraw from it, as you had rashly affirmed. But to this grand and popular objection, you have not made the least reply; it stands before you in full strength.
This charge of schism is rendered still more completely ridiculous, if you will observe, that the very powers, which alone forined, and which alone govern your church, have given us leave to withdraw from it. The very authority, which made your church, and upon which alone it rests, haih allowed us to set up our separate churches for worship; and hath taken those churches, and the worship performed in them, under its inmediate protection and care.
Of Church-power, and in whom lodged. I HAVE frequently reminded you, and every attentive person must perceive, that the issue of the debate, between the church and the Dissenters, depends absolutely and entirely upon this single poin: Is there any other Lawgiver, or King, in the church of God, besides Jesus Christ;
or, is there not? Is there power and authority vested in any man, or in any body of men, to make and to enjoin new rites of Christian worship, and new terms of Christian fellowship, besides what Christ, the only lawgiver, has himself made and enjoined; or, is there not? Could you but be engaged to give a plain and direct answer to this one point, it would soon end the debate. But, for reasons well known to yourself, and very obvious to the world, you are deaf to my repeated solicitations on this head; and will not, cannot be either persuaded or provoked to speak your sentiments freely and openly upon
You strenuously contend that there is such a power, but are greatly at a loss, 1. Where to place it: and--2. How to limit and confine it: these are two things which it indispensably lies upon you to fix clearly and to ascertain, before you can, with any grace, censure our separation as unjustifiable and wrong. But, though, in multiplying words, your talent is not common, and you expatiate diffusely upon things. of little moment, yet here, where the point lies, and you saw, and even felt it, you artfully endeavour to evade it. However, with much difficulty, a few concessions are extorted from you, which, in part, shew the world your preposterous scheme, and which prove you to be really (as I shall presently shew) no advocate for, nor even a friend to the true church of England, as by law established; but to be a betrayer, an oppugner of it, a dangerous underminer of its very basis and foundation; and that if your principles were to be adopted, the church would be presently overthrown, and its hierarchy and frame be utterly destroyed.
For, with regard to the first of the above points, viz. In whom this power of making and enjoining new ceremonies and rites of worship, and new