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the ceremonies of the sweeping cloak, of kneeling at ordination, of the people's holding up their hands at that solemnity, of striking a covenant with their pastors, of giving the name at baptism, are most of them never used at all in the greater part of the dissenting churches, and the others not in the least imposed ; full liberty is given to use or to use them not: no stress is laid upon them; much less are they made indispensable terms of Christian communion, as sponsors, the cross, and kneeling are with you. They would moreover, have told you, what you seem not to know, that it is not the mere using ceremonies against which dissenters object, so much as the imposing them, the laying a stress upon them, the considering them as decorations and improvements of Christian worship, not only useful, but necessary institutions, (as you had the irreverence to your Divine Lawgiver to pronounce concerning sponsors,) and the making compliance with them terms of reception into the family and church of Christ. And, finally, they would have told you, that men's uncovering the head in prayer is by no means a mere ceremony, but a circumstance, or act of worship, which seems dictated by the light of nature, and is commanded by an apostle, 1 Cor. xi. 3, 4,7; and that, therefore, your placing this in the rank of ceremonies practised by dissenters was (toʻreturn your own compliment) most certainly a very heedless and wrongheaded thing,
“ The neglect of private fasting," is another charge you advance against us," and insist con“ fidently that you were right in saying it was “ very little, if at all practised among us."* Dissenters, Sir, I presume, have read that instruction of their Master, Matt. vi. 17. Thou, when thou
• II. Defence, page 47.
fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but to thy Father which is in heaven. Though they affect not to flourish with their Vigils and Lents, (which, with sorrow, they see turned into little else than a religious farce by too many around them,) nor, like the Pharisee, are ostentatious in telling God and the world how often they fast, yet this duty, I am persuaded, is practised with much seriousness among them. Besides the excellent discourse of Bennet, to which you were referred, you call for more tracts. See another on the same subject in the Morning-Exercises, by Barker; and from the lives of the two Henrys, Allen, Baxter, Tross, &c. particularly of the late most ingenious and pious Abernethy, you may learn what are their religious sentiments and practice as to this matter. In many of their churches, there are stated periodical fasts, besides the personal domestic ones, which, upon extraordinary occasions, are not unusual among them.
But was it possible you should so alertly attack us on this head when you know it to be in our power, with such advantage to retort! If «
" you to have met with no sermons or tracts of dissen“ ters recommending private fasts,”-pray, have you met with any which discouraged and forbid them? But, have you never met with
your own LXXIId Canon, which says, “ No minister “ shall, without licence of the bishop under his “ hand and seal, keep any solemn fasts, either
publicly, or in any private houses, other than “ such as are appointed by law, nor be present « at any of them, under pain of suspension for - the first fault, of excominunication for the se“cond, and of deposition from the ministry for “ the third." This Sir, is the exalted foot
upon which the duty of private fasting stands in your church! Could any thing then be more wise,
more pertinent, or more just, than the censures you deal us here?
As to the posture of standing at public prayer, for which also you had the sagacity sharply to reprehend us, besides the great variety of scripture examples which I produced in its justification, you have had since, from a learned hand,* indisputable proofs from Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Clemens of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, the Apostolical Constitutions, Jerome and Austin, that it was the posture in which the Christian churches universally offered up their public and most solemn addresses to God through all the priinitive times. So unlucky is your hand, that the bolts you fling at us, as debasers of the public worship, &c. alight directly upon the heads of some of the most sacred and venerable persons which either scripture or antiquity holds out to your view!
“ But the instances of Abraham, Moses, Sa“ muel, &c. standing in prayer serve (you say) to little
purpose, unless it were also shewn that they were instances of such simple mere stand
ing as is practised in our congregations.”+ Yes, they are full to our purpose, because it appears not from the sacred story, but they were instances of exactly such simple mere standing, as is used amongst us. As to ihe other gestures of devotion which your imagination would supply, the scriplures are wholly silent; and you will excuse us, Sir, from accepting your fertile imagination as a proper supplement to the word of God.
“ The primitive Christians (you observe) can"! not be imagined to do more than barely keep
upon their feet. No, they prayed with hands “ spread, and with eyes lift up towards heaven.”. Hence then, we infer, First, --That they did not
• Chandler's Case of Subscription, pages 11, 12.
read their prayers from a book : that there were no liturgies in those days: but the pastor, as Justin Martyr and Origen say, offered up prayers and praises to God, according to his power, or as he was able. But, secondly, by the account which both Cyprian and Tertullian give of their
gese ture and manner, the public prayers in dissenting churches much more nearly resemble it than those offered in yours.
“ Stamus ad orationem, cum modestia et humilitate adorantes, &c.* • We stand at prayer, adoring with modesty " and humility that we may the more effectually
commend our prayers to God; pot even lifting up our hands high, but moderately and de
cently, no, nor bodly elevating our faces. For, " the publican, whose countenance, as well as
prayers, was humbled and dejected, went away “ justified rather than the saucy Pharisee.”
When you have sedately considered the contents of this section, you will see cause, Sir, once more to resume your censorial rod, and to lay it smartly on yourself.; condemning heartily your own temerity in presuming to write so freely about persons and things you knew so little of, and to pronounce peremptorily upon matters which you bad so slightly examined.
Though this view of your misrepresentations might have been greatly enlarged, I shall con-, clude with mentioning only one fresh and flagrant instancet which shews your honour and justice in a very unfavourable light, and too plainly demonstrates that your zeal for the ehurch hath eaten them up. It is the “
case of a dissenting minister in Cambridge, whom you "kpew; and who, you affirm, declared from his
pulpit, that the Common Prayer-Book had “ damned more souls than the Bible had saved; for “ which he was indicted, and had his public trial
• Tort de Oort. Cap. 13.
# Defence, page 116.
as a depraver of it.” Here you stop short, and leave that injured gentleman, yea, you transmit him to posterity, under the scandal of the indictment, without having the hopesty and the virtue to inform the world of the issue, which
you could not but also know, viz.-That after a long and full hearing on both sides, he was, by the jury, honourably acquitted. This, Sir, is such an instance of partiality, injustice, and wilful misrepresentation, that every candid and virtuous. man must look on it with the utmost indignation; and you, Sir, I hope, will review, it with the deepest humiliation and contrition. The case of that injured minister, (Mr. Joseph Hussey,) has been since published, (printed at Colchester, in your neighbourhood, 1737,) which I cannot doubt of
your having known or seen. Thence it fully appears, that Mr. Hussey spake honourably, not reproachfully of the Common Prayer, in the sermon referred to; and that he deserved highly that acquittal and triumph over his enemies, which the justice of his country gave him, but which you injuriously endeavoured to blast and suppress.
He was shewing how utterly repugnant the Arminian prin. ciples are to several parts of the Common Prayer; and after several things said very respectfully of that book, concludes, “ I wish there was more of that Spirit of God breathing in the e souls of men now, which breathed in the souls
of those who « made the Common Prayer ; and, indeed, considering the in“ consistency of men's principles, with their gross hypocrisies « in practice, I fear that at the great day, when the books are “ opened, this book of Common Prayer, when it is opened, will “ come in a swift witness against them. And, if so, I fear that " that book they so much rely on, may be a means of sending “ more to hell, than the gospel converts in England.”