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implicit submission to authority, it is necessary to discriminate in its application.


Subjects of speculation and experiment open to man a boundless field for enquiry and improvement, and were designed to exercise his faculties, and enlarge his understanding. Upon these subjects, may be expected to grow in wisdom, in consequence of its being in his power to profit by the experience of those who have gone before him. His knowledge, therefore, upon these subjects, becomes confirmed in proportion to its advancement.

But in matters of revelation and fact, the conviction of his understanding decreases in proportion as he is removed from the time in which that revelation and fact took place; and depends less upon the exertion of his rational powers, than upon the credibility of the testimony with which they are respectively accompanied. There is a reason, therefore, for deference to authority being paid in the one case, which does not exist in the other; and so long as that deference is paid with judgment, the cause of truth and knowledge cannot fail to be advanced by it. For the idea of a progressive faith and progressive history is attended with equal absurdity; because no exertion of the mental powers can produce an alteration in either case. Revelation being the declared, not the imagined, will of God, must, what misrepresentations soever it may be liable to, continue to be what it was at its original delivery; and facts which once actually took place, can never cease to be facts, whatever attempts may be made to misstate or suppress them.

The fact to which our attention is now directed, is the establishment of the Church by Christ, the founder of it. That such a fact did take place, is generally admitted. Indeed, to disallow it would be to renounce all faith in history. The difference of opinion that has unfortunately prevailed with respect to the form of its government, it is not my present purpose to reconcile, for I am now addressing myself to those who are supposed to entertain no difference of opinion on that subject. What is required of the clergy of the Church, therefore, is that their language and conduct should correspond with the judgment which they have formed. Persuaded as they must, or at least ought to be, that the Church, of which they are ministers, is built upon the foundation of the Apostles; that its ordinances are of Divine appointment; and that, consequently, it is that visible society to which Christians ought to be gathered, for the purpose of carrying on the work of salvation; it cannot be a matter of indifference to them, whether communion with this Church be preserved, or not. Whatever those who have unhappily separated from it may think, or persuade themselves upon the subject, they who have undertaken a commission in it, can, it is presumed, have but one opinion upon it; they must think with Ignatius, that "without the bishop, it is neither lawful to baptize, nor to consecrate the feast of love;" and that "that eucharist only was in the primitive Church accounted firm and good, which was consecrated by the bishop, or one whom he appointed."*

* IGNAT. Epist. ad Smyr. cap. 8.

Εκείνη βεβαια ευχαρισία

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In the liturgy of the Church we pray against schism. If, by their writing or conduct, the clergy at the same time give encouragement to it, will they not, in so doing, be thought to be acting in contradiction to the profession which they have made? But this, it is to be feared, is the case with all those, who, instead of pointing out to the laity the danger attendant upon their officiously meddling with the ministerial office, and the duty of their submitting to those teachers who by authority are set over them, by their loose writing or irregular practice lead them to the very opposite conclusion. And what reasonable hope can can be entertained, that the unity of the Church will be in any degree preserved, whilst those whose office it is to preserve it, become the instruments of its dissolution.

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Much charitable allowance" (a learned bishop of the present day has well observed)" is to be made for the errors of the laity, upon points to which it is hardly to be expected they should turn their attention of their own accord; and upon which, for some time past, they have been very imperfectly instructed. Dissenters are to be judged with much candour, and with every possible allowance for the prejudices of education. But for those who have been nurtured in the bosom of the Church, and have gained admission to the ministry; if, from a mean compliance with the humour of the age, or ambitious of the fame of liberality of sentiment, (for under that specious name a profane

AUTOS EWITPE↓N.—Ibid. βαπτίζειν, ότε αγαπην ποιειν.

ηγείσθω, η υπό τον επίσκοπον εσα, η ω αν Ουκ εξον εστιν χωρίς το επισκοπου στε


indifférence is made to pass for an accomplishment) they affect to in the disavowal of the authority which they share, or are silent when the validity of their Divine commission is called in question; for tion; for any, I hope the I hope they are few, who hide this weakness of faith, this poverty of religious principle, under the attire of a gown and cassock, they are, in my estimation, little better than infidels in masquerade."


It is not, indeed, to be wondered at, that the opinions of the modern clergy should become less settled upon Church matters than they have been; since the authority of a Hooker, a Hickes, and a Lesley, is by many considered to be


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that of a Hoadley, a manner

superseded by a Warburton, and a Paley. It is a very common thing for professors of the law to be feed for the support of what they know to be a wrong cause. Would charity allow us to suppose that ministers of the Church could ever act upon a similar plan, it ap pears to me, that the three writers above-mentioned would have deserved well of their supposed clients; for, were I a dissenter from the Church, I should seek for no argument to justify my separation, which might not be fairly drawn from their respective writings..

Bishop Hoadley, whilst he allowed that there was a Catholic visible Church, composed of particular visible Churches, which Churches ought to be regular societies; by his loose and unqualified positions in favour of religious liberty, so undermined the foundation of all ecclesiastical authority, as to

* Bishop Horsley's Charge to his Clergy, p. 36.

render null and void the concession, which, from a different view of the subject, he found himself constrained to make.* Bishop Warburton, in his Sermons before the Society of Lincoln's Inn, upon the authority of Church government and Church communion, appears to be throwing down his gauntlet, in the hope of calling forth some antagonist into the field, with the view of proving himself a more successful champion in favour of religious liberty, than Bishop Hoadley had been before him. For the principles of these two writers, though perhaps somewhat differently expressed, tend to the establishment of the same point,

Warburton acknowledges the Church to be a society; that "from the command of its Founder, obedience is due to it as such; and that authority without obedience and submission is but a mockery." At the same time he tells his readers, that this obedience and submission are to depend entirely upon the will and opinion of the party intended to be governed. Which is to say, that Christ made a law, which as such is obligatory upon the conscience; but which, according to this interpretation annexed to it, man is to obey or not, as he thinks proper. For (in the words of this learned writer)" all the jurisdiction which follows from the authority committed to the Church of Christ is this: that so long as any man continue a member of this society, called the Church, he is to

*To enter at large into a subject which has been so fully treated by a celebrated writer, as to leave nothing to be said upon it, would be to trespass on the reader.--See Law's Letters to the Bishop of Bangor.

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