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not that right of Christian liberty for which Bishop Warburton is here pleading: a right which Bishop Jewell never admitted; as may be seen from his sermon at St. Paul's cross, in which he learnedly defends the Church of England, and severely condemns the dissenters for their non-conformity to it; which he could not consistently have done, had he seen the Reformation in the light in which Bishops Hoadley and Warburton have here placed it.
In fact, this right, upon which the reformers did not act, because it was a right which they did not acknowledge, takes the Reformation off from that firm ground of reason and scripture upon which it will ever stand secure; and places it upon that uncertain ground of precarious opinion, upon which the Church, as a society, can no where exist.
For if Christian liberty gives every man a right to worship God according to his conscience, in other words, according to his own private opinion and persuasion, (for conscience, in the modern acceptation of the term, means nothing more) I would be glad to know what argument can be brought to promote the unity of the Christian Church, which this principle does not immediately set aside; a principle which justifies the extravagancies of the wildest sectary, and places religious persuasions of every kind upon the same dead level.
Bishop Warburton's notions of the Church communion, as it was to be expected, correspond with his notions of Church authority; and appear calculated rather to loosen and dissolve that bond of union, by which the Church of Christ was designed to be held together, than to answer any other
purpose. They are founded upon the following
Should the foregoing account of the distinction between Jew and Gentile have conveyed á satisfactory idea to the mind of the reader, it certainly has not to mine; for with a desire to pay all due respect to the authority from whence it proceeds, I have been unable to discover the least ground for it.
The Jewish Sanhedrim and Roman Senate, with respect to the terms of salvation under the Gospel, appear to have stood precisely upon the same footing: for to the members of neither of these bodies, in their collective character, were those terms addressed. In St. Peter's first sermon at Jerusalem, his address was not to the Jews as a nation, a Church, or a society; but to the men of Israel, who crucified the Lord Christ. And his answer to their question, when, upon their being pricked in their hearts, they said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
was thus addressed to
them as individuals-
Repent, and be bap for the remission le
name of Jesus Christ
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
*Acts ii. 36, et seg. Eph. ii. 14.
The distinction, then, here made between the Jew and Gentile, in their manner of receiving the
+ Mark xvi. 15.
Gospel, appears to be not less imaginary, than the
1. 107 103315 to be unfounded. For the spiritual kingdom of God has generally been understood, in scripture, language, to be descriptive of the Church of Christ, or of that community of which the author must be supposed to be here 10 999 1201 fi godi 6
speakingit tent, oldeding, ti,6
spiritual society, distinguished by the name of the kingdom or Church of Christ.
would be to trespass upon
the reader to enter upon a particular analysis of this learned author's mode of arguing upon the subject before him; or to point out the various contradictions that are to be met with in the pages alluded to. It may suf fice to observe, that the argument upon which much is built, by all advocates for religious liberty, and which ch has its force when confined to the corruptions of the Church of Rome, becomes weak and ineffectual in its general application to the Church of Christ.
But an author, who, though highly distinguished
for his sagacity and erudition, appears. from his writings, not to have formed a consistent idea of the nature and constitution of the Christian Church himself, cannot be expected to convey that idea to his readers. And in such case, great abilities serve rather to confound and perplex the truth, by rendering it a subject of more complex investigation, than to elucidate and confirm it.
What we lament in this case is, that bishops, whose sacred office it is to preside over and govern the Church of Christ committed to their charge, should use a language calculated, if generally acted upon, to leave no Church on earth for the exercise of the spiritual authority with which they have been entrusted.
There is still a third writer of great respectability, whose opinions upon Church subjects appear to differ widely from those of the old school. In his chapter on religious establishments, Archdeacon Paley informs his readers, "That it cannot be proved that any form of Church government was laid down in the Christian Church; that no command for that purpose was delivered by Christ himself; and upon the supposition that bishops and presbyters were appointed by the Apostles, that the true conclusion is, that such offices were at first erected in the Christian Church, as the good order, the instruction, and exigencies of the society at that time required; without any intention of regulating the appointment, authority, or the distinction of Christian ministers under future circumstances."
Such appears to be the Archdeacon's conclusion upon this subject; although such is not the conclu