Obrazy na stronie

quently she has no authority to convey sacerdotal characters and offices in Christ's church : the characters and offices, therefore, which she pretends to convey, are spurious, and of no validity or efficacy therein.

But what completes the absurdity, and renders it quite astonishing is, that these very popish clergy, to whose orders you pay such extravagant complaisance, are so unpolite as not to return the compliment to yours : so far from it, they rudely pronounce you all, from the greatest archbishop to the meanest clerk in the land, a company of mere unconsecrated laymen; equally unqualified for performing any holy office in the christian church, as the most illiterate and contemptible dissenter. To return good for evil is, indeed, sometimes truly great. But, to see the venerable bench of bishops and governors of this church, with the whole body of its clergy, not only yielding to, but contending before the world for the validity and efficacy of the orders of popish priests, when, at the same time, these very priests are going up and down the kingdom undermining their authority, invalidating their ministrations, and representing their sacerdotal powers as a mere nullity and jest ;-10 see them publicly maintaining the ecclesiastical characters and office of these corrupters of christianity, these sworn enemies to our civil government and to our king, these crafty seducers, who are gone out spreading treason, idolatry, superstition,

and destructive error, through the land ;-this is such a strain of courtesy as no reason can justify; yea, it is such a strain of weakness and impolicy as ought not to be beheld without indignant concern. For, this gives these popish emissaries a most dangerous advantage over you. They artfully tell their proselytės, " That you acknowledge the “ truth and validity of their orders, whilst they

utterly deny the validity of yours. The only

your church.

e safe and sure way, therefore, is to adhere to as their ministrations; which, yourselves being

judges, are authentic and valid; whereas there “ is, at least, a risk, a danger, attending yours ;" and, “ that the people cannot (to use your own “ words) depend with so much assurance as is re“quisite to the peace and acquiescence of their

mind, that such ordinations will be blessed to " them, and that they are pleasing to God.” Thus they uncourteously turn against you the weapons which you put in their hands; and, whilst you are justifying their orders, they make use of those very orders to poison and pervert the people, and to craftily traduce, undermine, and destroy

You also assert, that “ the great blessing of episcopal ordination is wanting to the foreign “churches rather through necessity than choice."* How absurd and romantic is this assertion! Is it not well known, that in their public confessions and formularies of faith, bishops and priests are declared originally the same, and that the power of ordination belongs equally to both ?f Can any thing: be more manifest than that episcopal ordination, if chosen and desired by them, like other British manufactures, might, with all imaginable ease, be in a few days exported to them, and spread in a few months through all their provinces and towns ? Are there not in this kingdoin thousands of ecclesiastics, who, receiving it from our bishops, would most joyfully carry over this great blessing to foreign churches ? Or,

• II. Defence, p. 50. + Mr. Du Plesis (says Bishop Jer. Taylor) a man of honour and great learning, attests, that at the first reformation, there were many archbishops and cardinals in Ger. many, France, Italy, &c. who joined in the reformation, whom they might, but did not employ in their ordinations; and, therefore, says the bishop, what necessity can be pretended in this case I would fain learn. Episc, asserted, &c. page 191,


any of their divines come over to fetch it, would they not be received, think you, with the most cordial welcome, and return loaded with honours, perhaps with favours more 'solid and substantial than these? Has there been 'no management or address used, through a century past, to introduce into their churches this episcopal grace? And, as to its " suiting the cons slitution and frame of their civil governments," nothing, you know, can better fit those of the Lutheran profession, who have nominal bishops, though no ordination but presbyterian among them. To assert then, “ That the foreign churches “ do really prefer, desire, and some of them sigh " for episcopal ordination, and that it is not of “ choice, but of necessity, they want it," appears to me to be mere romance; an assertion which conveys the most severe reflection, either on the judgment or the credulity of the person who Inakes it.

There is one farther consideration upon this head of ordination which I beg leave to mention; the rather, because I think, that stress hath not been generally laid upon it which its importance deserves: which is,

5. Supposing the power of ordination to be, from scripture, ever so clearly proved to belong solely to bishops, yet all the bishops of this realm refusing to ordain but upon unjustifiable terms, ordination, in this case, may justly be sought from presbyters; and, when given by them, is of undoubted validity and regularity in the Christian church.

The bishops require, from all candidates for ordination, as an indispensable term of receiving it from them, “ That they subscribe willingly, “ and ex animo, to the XXXIX articles, that “ they are all and every one of them agreeable o to the word of God: and that they solemnly


** declare their unfeigned assent and consent to ^ all and every thing contained in and prescribed

by the book of Common Prayer.". This is a term of admission to the Christian ministry, which they have no -authority from Christ to insist upon, or to make; yea, a term, (if with humility I might say it,) which, by presuming to make, they offend greatly against the rights and liberty of the Christiao church, and against Jesus Christ, its only head; because, thousands may be duly qualified according to the will of Christ, to act as ministers in his church, who cannot with a good conscience comply with this term. By insisting therefore, on it, they reject those whom Christ receives, and unlawfully keep out numbers of worthy persons froin a part in the Christian mi. nistry, who, by the appointment and will of God, and by the constitution of the Christian church, have a right of admission to it, and whose ministry is greatly needed, and would be useful therein,

Even admitting, therefore, that the sole power of ordination was originally lodged in the bishops, yet, if at any time they should enter into a combination to abuse and pervert this power; to lay a yoke upon Christian ministers which Christ never laid upon then, and which they ought not to bear, and by this means, ordination cannot be had from them upon honourable and Christian terms, we may, under such circumstances, adopt our blessed Saviour's maxim, that God will have mercy and not sacrifice; that a mere ceremony is to give way to considerations of a nioral nature; and that men, in other respects well qualified, when their service is needed, (of which themselves and the people are to be judges,) may act as ministers in the church of Christ either without

any ordination when it cannot honourably be had, or with such only, whether presbyterian or popular, as can be obtained upon honourable terms.

These things, I recommend, Sir, to your dispassionate and sober thoughts, not doubting but they will dispose you to be less severe than you have formerly been upon presbyterian ordination, and more modest in your glorying in episcopal ordination : and, whether those who now claim the sole power of ordination, and consider it as a trust committed to them by Christ, can: justify their refusing it but upon compliance with such severe and unreasonable terms,-deserves maturely to be weighed; considering, that (as far as they bear any relation to Christ) they are not lords, but only servants in his house, and that to him they must be accountable for so important a trust.


Of the people's Rreht to Choose their own

Pastors. The next point to be considered is the right of the Christian laity to choose their own ministers. The charge given them in scripture, to try the spirits--to beware of false prophets to take heed of what they hear your own,“ incontesta“bly proves their right of judgment, or of exa“mining and proving doctrines; but the thing

you want to see is, how, from the right of judg

ment, the right of choice can be deduced;' But, can a person of any discernment want to be shewn this? Does not the right of judging in things of religion necessarily imply not only a right, but a duty also, of acting agreeably to that judgment; or in other words, a right of choice! Pray, why must a man 'examine?" What! that he may have peradventure, the guilt and morti

:15, Defence, p. 57.

« PoprzedniaDalej »