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But could you
« vided; but the king, bishops, lord-chancellor, “ gentry, &c. are more competent judges of the so goodness and orthodoxy of clergymen than the “ common people;"* therefore the people ought not to judge for themselves in these matters, but to submit meekly to the determination of the king, lord-chancellors, bishops, &c. A most excellent doctrine this! admirably fit to promote Popery in Spain, Mahomedanism in Turkey, Paganism in Japan. It would follow from this principle, as I have already urged, that the brave protestants in France have unwarrantably and wickedly withdrawn from the ministers which the king and bishops had set over them. “ Yes, (you
reply) undoubtedly they have, if their kings “ and bishops set over them, as they do here,. “good orthodox ministers." think, Şir, such an answer would be received without a smile Pray, who is lo judge of the goodness, ability, and orthodoxy of the minister Not ihe people, according to your scheine, but the king and bishops, who are more competent judges. Well
, then, the rulers in France are more competent judges of the goodness, ability, and orthodoxy of ministers, than their: Hugonot subjects; to their superior. judginent, therefore, they ought to submit. But are the Hugonots in France, I beseech you, more competent judges of the ability of the clergy on whom they ought to attend iban the people of England? Or, have the king and bishops here inore authority from God 10 judge for their subjects than the king and bishops there? It is strange that a gentleman of pour discernment should entangle himself in so inconsistent a scheme!
II. Letter, page 9. II. Defence, page 63.
The BURIAL-Office and ATHANASIAN CREED
most apparently inconsistent and repugnant to
each other. WITH what truth, Sir, and justice, you drew your own character, as a sorry advocate for the church,* the public will judge; but, that you have shewn no defect of courage, every one must admit. You proceed, in what you call your soldierly manner, t and, like a bold
and intrepid champion, undertake to defend what, I believe, few, except yourself, would not desert as a forlorn and untenable post, viz. your church's thirteen times a year pronouncing, concerning all Arians and Socinians, that they cannot be saved, that they do. without doubt perish everlastingly; and yet, with equal solemnity, pronouncing, concerning these self-same persons dying in their heresies, that God hath in his great mercy taken them to himself, and that you hope they rest in Christ. I must own I did not expect that you would seriously attempt to reconcile such a contradiction as this. But let us hear how you perform. “When we “ declare that Arians and Socinians perish ever
lastingly, our sense is, that their heresies are * damnable, and that they, upon the account of " them, are liable to damnation; notwithstand« ing which, there may be room for pardon in
particular cases; and that, when one of these
comes to die, it may be charitably hoped that “his is such a case, and we may lawfully declare “ that we do not quite despair concerning him.” That is to say, you damn the heresy, but save the heretic; a piece of spiritual,legerdemain, which, I own, I cannot comprehendi "But does not all
• II. Defence, page 128.
+ Dedic. p. 15 * II. Defence, p. 151.
the world see, Sir, that the creed plainly and incontestably refers to persons only, not to things; and absolutely pronounces upon their final circumstances, or state : Whoever will be saved, it is necessary, before all things, that he hold the faith there defined; which faith, except every one doth keep whole and undefiled, he shall without doubt, perish everlastingly. Will you say that this speaks only of the heresy, and that it does not expressly pronounce upon the condition, or state of the person who holds it? And that it only declares him to be liable to, or in some danger of damnation, but not that he shall without doubt, or most certainly be damned?
Again, does the creed leave any room to hope in particular cases, when, at five distinct places, it determines absolutely against all hope, and in such strong and express language, as most evidently reaches, and was intended to reach, to every particular case ?-Whosoever,-every one,
-which except a man believe he shall, without doubt, perish everlastingly. If, notwithstanding these decisive and most peremptory declarations, the creed still leaves room to hope for the salvation of the avowed deniers and oppugners of this faith, then the use of language is lost, there is no meaning in words, truth and falsehood are the same, and a man may honestly subscribe the Koran of Mahommed, and reconcile it with a profession of the gospel of Christ. Besides, what contemptible chicanery and trifling is it to talk “ of room for pardon, and of hope in particular cases
,” when you solemnly declare this hope universally, and in every case; and to say, “When
one of these comes to die;" whereas, you do it over all when they come to die: and, “ that
you do not quite despair concerning the man, when you assume the language of contidence, and in the most explicit terms, thank God that he hath in great mercy taken him to himself; and pray, that when you die, yourself may rest in Christ, as you hope this Arian or Socinian doth! Is this the language of a person who does not quite des pair concerning the state of a departed heretic? Such trifling only hurts a cause you had much better have done here as with the burial-office and absolution, have passed it over in silence, and not attempted to defend what every one sees to be incapable of defence.
But the unfeigned assent and consent which you have solemnly given, and wbich every clergyman is obliged most solemnly to give, sticks, no doubt greatly, and makes you strain every nerve in endeavouring to let it pass. Such potions, in deed, must be bitter: God grant they be not maJignant! To numbers in your own church it cannot but be difficult, in God's presence and before his church, to give their unfeigned assent und consent to alt and every thing contained in the Athanasian creed, with all it explications, limitations, and damnatory clauses;- creed whose liinitations they condemn, whose explications they deride, and whose damnatory clauses they heartily detest and abhor:-yet, in God's. presence, and before his church, I repeat it with astonishment! to declare their unfeigned assent and consent to thein all, is a potion, surely which, though sweetened with the noblest church preferments, a man might justly dread to swallow! You wonder, Sir, perhaps, to see deism, infidelity, popery, a corruption of manners, and contempt of holy things, prevail throughout the land: I acknowledge I do not. For, when those who are to be the great examples and teachers of righteousness too generally enter upon their sacred 'office with a dangerous violation of it, subscribing articles they do not believe, preaching contrary to their subscriptions, declaring solemnly their unfeigned assent to what they do not apa prove, but, perhaps, heartily detest, and prosti: tuting the holy rites and offices of their religion to political and sordid ends, why should it be thought strange if popery and infidelity greatly gain ground? And what wonder if they should still more fatally prevail ?*
The Scottish Presbyterian ESTABLISHMENT
F schism be so dangerous and damnable a thing as you represent it+ methinks your solemn warnings again.. it ought not to be confined merely to the sinners on this side the Tweed, but from the profusion of your charity to the English dissenters, I a little of it should extend also to your episcopal brethren, the dissenters from the church by law established in Scotland. But these, such is your partiality, instead of censuring, you endeavour to justify; yea, to justify upon such principles as certainly expose yourself to heavy cen
See a like manifest inconsistency between the XXVth arti cle and the office for confirmation. The article says “ Confira “ mation has not any visible sign, or ceremony, ordained of « God." But the office commands the bishop. to declare, * That he hath laid his hands on the confirmed (after the ex« ample of the holy Apostles) to certify them by this sign of “ God's favour."-Behold an evident contrariety ! but to both parts unfeigned assent and consent, is obsequiously given.
It is something (more than) odd, a learned bishop of your own church has lately observed, to have two creeds established in the same church, in one of which those are declared accursed who deny the Son to be of the same hypostasis with the Father : and, in the other, it is declared they cannot be saved, but perish. everlastingly, who do not assert that there is one hypostasis of the father, and another of the Son Essay on Spirit, Sect. 140.
fo II, Defence, page 63. Dedication, p. 15.