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" and leaning on his bosom, (John xiii. 25. xxi. 20;) not as some have pictured him, reposing ❝ himself, or lolling on the breast of Jesus, con" trary to all order and decency: whereas, the "manner of sitting together was only thus; Jesus 66 leaning on the table with his left elbow, and so "turning his face and breast away from the table on one side, John sat in the same posture next "before him, with his back towards Jesus; his "breast not so near as that John's back and Je"sus's breast did touch one another, but at such a distance as that there was a space for Jesus to
use his right hand upon the table to reach his "meat at pleasure; and so for all the rest, as they "sat in like manner: for, it is a strange fancy "that they lay upon the bed before the table, "one tumbling (or lolling) upon the breast of "another.'
I have now followed you Sir, much farther than I intended to have done. I hope it will not be expected that I remark upon all the weak and indefensible things your defences contain: there are, I believe, five times as many as those I have here noted, upon which it would tire the reader's patience, as well as greatly try my own, particularly to touch. As for the discipline of the church of England, its best friends, I am persuaded, wish, and common prudence would have advised, that you had been quite silent on that head, "Whoever thinks seriously, (says one of the 66 greatest of your present bishops) of the manner, "causes, or objects of our excommunications, generally speaking, should, methinks, in pity "forbear to mention the word."+ Your ecclesiastical courts, to whom this discipline is com
• Lightfoot's Temp. Serv. Chap. xiii. Vide also Raynold. Censura de Libris. Apoc. Prælect. 79. Altare Damascen. Cap. p. 552.
+ Hoadly's Answer to the Represent. pages 38, 39.
mitted, are justly not only reckoned, but spoken of, among yourselves, as THE VERY DREGS OF YOUR CONSTITUTION. And, upon your own honest confession of the scandalous and ruined state in which church discipline lies among you, (quoted in my second letter,) I am well content to let that matter rest.
As for the persecuting and dividing spirit the church of England has shewn, I think it the easiest of all points (and so, I believe does every one who knows its real history) to support with abundant evidence the charges on this head. But, as both churchmen and Dissenters, it is họped, are now growing into a better spirit, and their common interest as Britons, as Protestants, and as Christians, call loudly for a stricter union, I wave at present any farther prosecution of a point, which might rather tend to widen than heal the unhappy breach. Upon your own principles, as to persecution also, I forbear to remark, though most easy to be proved both unprotes tant and unchristian, the merits of the cause between us being therein little concerned.
If this review of the controversy, which your letters have called up, shall be a means of holding forth to both the contending parties, the several defects of their ecclesiastical constitution, and of rendering them more candid and benevolent to each other, and shall at all prepare the way for a coalition between them, I shall think it an auspicious and very happy event.
The readiness which (you say) my lords the "bishops have shewn, and will shew, to come to "a temper with their dissenting brethren," will, I doubt not, be very gratefully and readily accepted by them, and returned by a correspondent readiness to lay aside all prejudices, (for
• Dedication, p. 12.
prejudices, I am free to own there doubtless are among us,) and to comply with any just and reasonable proposal for the accomplishing so important and valuable an end.
I hear it with great pleasure, if what you speak is upon good authority, "That, if parting with "the ceremonies and taking away a few indif"ferent things, will close the breach, you are "satisfied that it will not long remain open:"* -And, in return, declare, I verily believe, that if such concessions as a great part of our governors, both in church and state, would, I presume, think not unreasonable to make, were made to the dissenters, there would be no unbecoming stiffness or aversion shewn by the most considerable part of them. May heaven dispose the minds of all who have power, to further and help on this desirable event! that with ONE mind, and with ONE mouth, we may glorify God, and unite our common zeal against a growing common enemy; and may receive one another, but NOT TO DOUBTFUL DISPUTATIONS! For if we still continue to worry and weaken one another, there is reason to fear lest we finally be destroyed, one of another. These things I recommend, Sir, to your consideration: and shall only farther say, that as I have not been able (and am persuaded never shall be) to get you to speak out, and openly and plainly tell us whom you mean by the church, "to which dissenters owe subjection, which hath "power to decree rites and authority in points of "faith; and by withdrawing from, and rejecting "the authority of which we are guilty of a DAN"GEROUS and DAMNABLE sin:"-Whether it is the Pope with his Cardinals, or the King with his Parliament, or the Archbishop with his Bishops, or the Bishop with every diocese with his Dean and Chapter attending :-Nor will you so
• Dedication p. 13, 14.
much as pretend to shew us the charter which has vested them with this high power,-nor will you say to what things, or how far it extends, though, these are essential points upon which the controversy between us entirely depends :-You must excuse me from paying any farther regard to your lucubrations on these things. I have neither time nor inclination to dispute about a scheme, which you affect to wrap in obscurity, and which you are afraid to lay open and avow before the world. I shall, therefore, take my leave of the present debate, unless any thing which you may farther offer on this subject, should render it ne cessary for me to renew it. But though I choose not to bear you company in the disagreeable employment of" groping in the dark,” you will, nevertheless, believe me to be,
THREE LETTERS TO MR. WHITE:
Containing some REMARKS on that Gentleman's APPENDIX.
THE extraordinary remark which introduces your Appendix,-That views of worldly interests encourage and support our dissent from the establishment, I shall leave to the universal laugh of your readers for a confutation, and pass on to points of greater moment in debate. To begin with your first:-Of church power, and in whom lodged.
The church of England claims it in her articles. and canons, to have power from God to decree other ceremonies and rites of worship, and to make other terms of christian communion, than either Christ or his apostles ever made or decreed, and to have authority in controversies of faith.
This high and important power she sovereignly exerts. You, as her zealous advocate, endeavour to support her in it; and charge all the dissenters as guilty of a very crying and dangerous sin, in not submitting to it. The dissenters, I have told you, will readily own the charge, and return immediately to your church, if you will gratify them in these two most reasonable requests: 1. Tell them plainly, who, and what it is you mean by the church. And, 2. Prove it to have this power vested in it by God.
*Art. XX, and Canons XXVII. XXIX. XXX.