« PoprzedniaDalej »
and rotten member, and not to be restored till he hath repented, and publicly revoked his wicked errors.
Doth not this savour, Sir, of an antichristian and persecuting spirit.
But you yourself seem not to have a just horror of the dreadful sin of persecution, and to be a little too deeply tinged with this fanatical spi rit; for, you call aloud for “ the church's sword "to fall upon heretics, as well as upon immoral
persons: and put me in mind, that, by that an“ cient discipline," (which you wish to see restored) open schismatics were treated almost as roughly as any sort of offenders whatso
By heretics, no doubt, you mean those whom you take to be such; and by open schismatics, those who are withdrawn from your church: these you wish to see roughly handled, and to have the church's sword drawn upon them. But Gud Almighty be praised! we live under so just a government as is not, we hope, likely to gratify
this cruel wish. Do not you remember, Sir, that the first reformers were counted heretics and open schismatics, by the high churchmen among whom they lived ? that Jesus Christ and his apostles endured the same reproach! that our dear brethren in
* the judge is to givé sentence; but every one is to take notice of ... the law at his peril, and to see that he be not overtaken by it. « And secondly, that there is no need of any sentence to be
pronounced which the canon itself hath passed; and which * is, by that means, already promulged upon every one as soon
as he comes within the obligation of it. In other cases, a man
may do things worthy of censure, and yet behave himself so “ warily in them, as to escape the punishment of the church " for want of legal evidence to convict him. But excommunisi catio canonis ligat etiam occulta delicta. Where the canon “ gives sentence, there is no escaping; but the conscience of
every man becomes obliged by it, as soon as ever he is sensi" ble that he has done that which was forbidden, under the “ pain of such an excommunication." Appeal in behalf of the King's Supremacy, page 22.
Letter III. pages 12, 21.
France, who are now bleeding under the church's sword, are most confidently reckoned such by their persecuting rulers and priests? But is it fit that these heretics should be thus roughly handled ? Or, is it those only, whom you are pleased to call by that name who merit these rough measures? Whenever, Sir, you shall produce your patent from heaven, constituting you judge of heresy, and shall be able, authoritatively, and infallibly, to pronounce what is, and what is not to be punished as such, then the church's sword may be put into your hands. But till then, Sir, it is much safer io let it remain sheathed, lest, under the notion of heretics, you fall upon and roughly handle men better than yourself. This has ever been the case since the days of the apostles, when ecclesiastics have presumed authoritatively to draw and to use the sword of the church.
But you add, “it is well we cannot say your “ church has shewn a dividing spirit, and ac
tually divided itself by an open schism, from a “ sound part of the catholic church; that indeed, 66 would have been an unanswerable reason for
your dissent.”+ Yes, this also, Sir, we can say, and therefore stand justified by your own concession. That misguided unhappy prince, Charles I. and his furious primate Laud, began this fatal schism in complaisance to the church of Rome, and actually divided the church of England from a sound part of the catholic church; and the same schismatical spirit has ever since too generally prevailed in it.
The Dutch, Walloon, and French churches, here in England, were established by charters from several of our princes; but lord Clarendon informs us ; “ that, as these foreign congregati" to the custom and constitution of those parts . " of which they had been natives, the bishops “ growing jealous, that the countenancing ano" ther discipline of the church here, by order of “ state, would at least diminish the reputation o and dignity of the episcopal government, got “ them suppressed. And, that this might be sure o to look like more than what was necessary to “ the civil poliey of the kingdom, whereas, in all “ former times, the ambassadors and all foreign “ ministers of state, employed from England into
ons were governed by a presbytery, according • This part of these Letters was first published in 1747.
+ Letter III. page 60.
any parts where the reformed religion was ex“ ercised, frequented their churches, and gave all
possible countenance to their profession; the contrary to this was now, with great industry
practised, and some advertisement, if not in“structions, given to our ambassadors (Le Clerc
says, they were ordered) to forbear any extraor
dinary commerce with men of that profession, " And lord Scudamore, the last ordinary ambas"sador at Paris, not only declined going to Cha“ renton, (the protestant church,) but furnished “ his own chapel with wax candles on the com“ munion table, &c. And, besides, was careful “ to publish, upon all occasions by himself, and “ those who had the nearest relation to him, thut
the church of England looked not upon the Hu
gonots of France, as a part of their communion, “ which was likewise too much, and too indus“ triously discoursed at home.”*
Behold here, Sir, the church of England actually dividing it self from a sound part of the catholic church! for, such surely, you will own the brave protestants in France, who have borne testimony to the faith by so great and so glorious a fight of afflictions, and sealed it with seas of blood.
I would also put you in mind of another fact, that seems to have escaped your reading or your
Clarend. Hist. Rebell. Vol. III. pages 96, 97,
memory. Upon the queen of Bohemia's earnest solicitation with the king, her brother, (Charles I. anno 1634,) a collection was ordered throughout England, for the poor persecuted ministers of the Palatinate, who were banished their country for their religion. In the brief, which was granted for this purpose, was this clause : whose cases are the more to be deplored, because this extremity is fallen upon them for their sincerity and constancy in the true religion, which we, together with them profess. Archbishop Laud excepted against this clause, and denied that the religion of the Palatine churches was the same with ours, because they were Calvinists, and their ministers had not episcopal ordination. Laud acquainted the King with his objections. The clause was ordered to be expunged, and the brave unhappy Palatines were thus publicly disowned by the governors of the church, who in all reasonable construction, must be supposed to know and speak its sense, and were not allowed to be professors of the same true religion.* How shamefully unchristian and schismatical was this conduct !
Of the like schism it was also guilty in the occasional conformity act, which took place in a late reign. For, it thereby forbid, under severe penalties, all its members, who had any places of profit or trust, to worship, or hold communion with any of the foreign churches Dutch, French, &c. in those kingdoms, in which its liturgy was not used. And, should any minister of any of the reformed churches of Scotland, France, Ger many, Holland, now come into England, would your church receive them as ministers, or admit them as such, to officiate in its public worship? I presume you know Sir, she would not. But is not this virtually renouncing their communion ? Nor will you admit even the lay-members of any
Neale's Hist. Purit. Vol. II. p. 277.
of these foreign churches to your communion at the Lord's supper, except, besides what Christ has ordered, they will submit also to some order and institution of your own.
Now your great Stillingfleet* hath thus determined: “ That which confines must also divide “ the church; for, by that confinement, a separa« tion is made betwixt the parties confined, and “ the other; which separation must be made by " the party so limiting christian communion." Upon the whole, then, it is most evident that your church has shewn, and does shew, a schis matical and dividing spirit, and has actually dia vided itself from sound parts of the universal church. This, therefore, you will please to take for another unanswerable reason for our dissent.
You must excuse me, Sir, if I think you treat a great deal too severely a worthy body of men, our ministers, when you represent them as “per« sons whom the faithful, far from being permite “ted to enter into any pastoral relation to them,
are not permitted to have any christian com “ munion with them; no, not so much as any in“timate unnecessary acquaintance, and familia rity with them in common life:t-and also,
they are not duly ordained to their office: that ( their administrations are most certainly irregu"lar, an annecessary and wanton, if not a face “ tious departure from the primitive order : and " that, therefore, I cannot depend, at least with “ so much assurance as is requisite to the peace " and acquiescence of my mind, that such ordi
nances will be blessed to me.”I I have weighed this matter with a good deal of attention, and, upon the whole, am fully satisfied, both from scripture and antiquity, that presbyters have a right to, and did from the apostles' times, actually
• Rational Account, p. 859.
+ Letter Ili piac #Letter I. p. 78.