Obrazy na stronie

"that he could to preserve them (established,) "granting a full toleration to the presbyterians, "provided they concurred in the new settlement "of the kingdom: (i. e. in renouncing King James, and owning himself as their sovereign;) but the bishops and their followers resolved to adhere firmly to the interests of King James, "and so declaring in a body, with much zeal, in "opposition to the new settlement, it was not "possible for the king to preserve that (episcopal) government there, all those who expressed "their zeal for him being equally zealous against "that order."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This establishment of Presbytery was again, in the most solemn manner, enacted and confirmed by the Queen (Anne) and parliament of England, when the Union was made. You speak, therefore, of this affair, Sir, in more coarse and disrespectful language than is either decent or true, when you talk of insurrections, false musters, misrepresentations, &c. It was done upon. the most mature and grave deliberations both of King William and Queen Anne, and of the lords and commons of both kingdoms in parliament assembled; it has received the most sacred sanction a human law can receive; and is made as essential and fundamental a part of our constitution as the church of England itself. Take heed, therefore, that you are not preparing a rod for your own correction; and lest by teaching men to argue away the legality and reverence of the Presbyterian establishment in North Britain, you incautiously give a mortal stab to your favourite church, which is established here. You may please to observe also, that, when you call the episcopal dissenters there the church of Scotland, it is with just the same propriety, decency, and good sense, as if the dissenters should call themselves the church of England here.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Hence, also, it appears, that what you offer in

mitigation of the Jacobitism and rebellion of the Episcopalians in Scotland, (pages 16, 17) has one material flaw, which is, that it is not founded upon truth. For, you represent the loss of their establishment as being the cause of their disaffection; whereas, the very reverse is exactly the case; and they lost their establishment because they were disaffected, because they rejected the revolution, and firmly adhered to King James. King William would have preserved them if they would have acknowledged his government: this they obstinately refused, and therefore they fell a just sacrifice to their blind attachment to a tyrannical and popish prince.

As to the present loyalty of the two parties in that kingdom, the Presbyterians and Episcopalians, which you have drawn into comparison, you have done one of them great wrong in representing them both as having been, perhaps, alike deeply engaged in the late impious rebellion there. If, from the disposition of the clergy, that of the laity may be reasonably presumed, there are two important facts, to omit many others, which will dispose every impartial person, I believe, to view that affair in a very different light one is the letter of the royal commander, the Duke of Cumberland, to the general assembly at Edinburgh, in which he expresses a strong sense "of the very steady and laudable "conduct of the clergy of that church, through "the whole course of that wicked and unnatural "rebellion;" and says, "I owe it to them in jus"tice to testify, that upon all occasions, I have "received from them professions of the most "inviolable attachment to his majesty's person


* Defence, page 15.

+ This part of these Letters was first published two years after the rebellion in 1745.

"and government, and have always found them "ready and forward to act in their several sta"tions in all such affairs as they could be useful "in, though often to their own great hazard.” -Upon an impartial account, I believe, the ba lance will be found, by every disinterested person to stand thus:-of the PRESBYTERIAN ESTABLISHED CLERGY there was not one in fifty, in the whole body, but heartily wished success to the arms of his majesty King George: of the EPISCOPAL DISSENTING CLERGY, not one in fifty of the whole body but heartily wished success to the arms of those Frenchmen and Italians who came over to invade us, and to unite with the rebels in overthrowing our constitution, and establishing an abjured and popish pretender to the throne.

The other fact is, the necessity which the legislature have found themselves under, by new acts of parliament, in two different sessions, more narrowly to watch, and to lay under fresh restraints, the episcopal churches in Scotland. These are well known to be fruitful and fatal sources of jacobitism and disaffection; dangerous seminaries, where men are formed and nourished up in allegiance to a popish prince, and in avowed aversion and disloyalty to their rightful sovereign King George. Though it be too true, then, that there were some of the laity of the established church, by some occasional resentment or unhappy occurrence, hurried into that black affair, they herein departed from their settled and professed principles; where as the Episcopalians acted quite in character, agreeably to the fixed sentiments and affections of their party, when they prayed and fought heartily for the destruction of our happy government, and for the advancement of a popish pretender to the throne. To say then, "that the Scottish Presbyterians were, perhaps, as deeply engaged in the late

[ocr errors]

"odious rebellion, as the Episcopal Dissenters "there," is to scatter censures at random, to confront the plainest evidence, and to represent in a very partial and injurious manner, their conduct as you have repeatedly done that of your dissenting brethren in England.


Of the Church's AUTHORITY in controversies of Faith.

THIS is a claim, which to the grief of its real

friends, and to the triumphs of its foes, your church hath set up, and obliges all its clergy solemnly to subscribe. For, it is really no other than an invasion of the Divine prerogative; and in the language of the Holy Spirit, a sitting in the temple of God, shewing itself that it is God.* It is claiming an honour as due to a few frail and fallible men, which is, in fact, due only to the omniscient and infallible God, who has appointed Jesus Christ to be the sole lawgiver and King in the church. It is the very root of antichristianism, the prop upon which the whole system of popery rests: it came from the church of Rome, and thither it directly leads; nor can the reformation be ever justified, or the church of England supported, while this claim is admitted.

For if the church hath authority in controver sies of faith, the church of Rome, surely, had it before the church of England; yea, had it at the very time when the reformation was made. Cranmer, then, and Ridley, Luther and Calvin, were guilty of great petulancy and ecclesiastical rebellion in refusing to submit to the church's so

? Thess. ii. 4.

lemn determinations concerning image-worship, transubstantiation, &c. and in proudly setting up their own private opinion against the authoritative decisions of their ecclesiastical superiors, to whom they owed submission, and whom they ought to have obeyed! This claim of your church, Sir, (I must again assert it) is an unanswerable argument in favour of popery, which hath already drawn thousands, no doubt, and is continually perverting multitudes from your church to that of Rome. Nor can all the learning or wit of the whole clergy of the land withstand the force of a single Jesuit, let him be armed with and skilfully wield this dangerous weapon, the XXth article of your church.

It was the fatal influence of this article, I observed, that seduced King James II. and the great Chillingworth into the Romish tenets. These instances you contest with me. But, as to the first, you are guilty of an unhappy oversight, in confounding two things, in the quotation from Burnet's history, and considering them as one when they are most apparently distinct. The authority of the church, and the tradition from the apostles in support of episcopacy, are, in the bishop's account of King James's perversion, most manifestly two several and different things; whereas, you artfully endeavour to represent it, " that by the authority of the church, is meant only, "the authority of its traditions, or testimony,

[ocr errors]

concerning episcopacy." But do you not know, and did not the king know, that the authority of the church is one thing, and its tradition in support of episcopacy another? Does not the church besides this tradition, claim to itself also an authority in controversies of faith? And did not the king wisely and rightly judge," that there was more reason to submit to the catholic church


* II. Defence, p. 137.

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »