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be obedient to such laws of his spiritual governors, as concern discipline; but when he chooses to withdraw himself from that society, the rights of conscience (as it is erroneously called) furnish him with a justifiable exemption from his former obligation." So that conscience, in such case, not being governed by the law laid down, but by the judgment from time to time formed upon it, enjoining obedience or justifying disobedience, according to the different disposition of the judging party; it follows, that Church communion, instead of being a matter of Christian obligation, dwindles down into a matter of mere private opinion.

The above mode of stating this subject might have force in it, provided the Church was a human society, of which men were left at liberty to become members, or not. But as the Church is a society of Christ's forming, with the intent that all men should be admitted into it, for the purpose of their being saved in it; and the government of it was established by Christ, with the view to the effectual promotion of that gracious object; every exertion of human liberty, in this case, must be at the peril of the party exerting it; it being exerted in opposition to a positive establishment, and in a matter in which it does not appear that God has left man at liberty to determine for himself. For if the establishment of the Church by Christ be true, the dissenter from it is in an error; if his error be unavoidable, we rejoice to think that he is in the hands of a merciful God; but should he deceive himself, should his separation from the Church be derived from evil causes, be it remembered, that that wise

Being who has established nothing in vain, is not to be mocked.

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But to render submission to ecclesiastical authority incompatible with the liberty of the rational Christian, recourse has generally been had to arguments drawn from the usurped tyranny of the Church of Rome; which, though well calculated to produce effect upon the mind of the Protestant, do not apply to the subject; unless we consider submission to an authority established by Divine wisdom, and to the corruption of it by human pride, to be the same thing. Widely different, however, as these cases are, the Protestant is not taught to discriminate between them, when he is told (as he is by the author here alluded to) that the principle upon which the Reformation pro ceeded, was not so much a right of separation from the errors of a corrupt Church, as "that Christian liberty which gives every man a right to worship God according to his conscience." But surely this is making the exertion of what is called Christian liberty, regarded merely as such, rather than the cause in which it is exerted, the object of consideration; upon which principle, separation from a false Church and separation from a true one, become modes of conduct entitled to equal justification. Yet such is the Protestant ground, upon which the Protestant Church of England has been placed by some modern Divines, by whom protestantism is made to consist in the right of separating from a Church, without regard to the cause. When we left the Popish doctrines, (says Bishop Hoadley) was it because they were actually

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corrupt? No; the reason was, because we thought them so." The same reason, therefore, founded in the private opinion of the party, justifies separation from any other Church whatever its actual state may be. The principle of the Reformation (says Bishops Warburton) was not so much a right of separation from the errors of a corrupt Church, as that Christian liberty, which gives every man a right to worship God according to his conscience;" in other words, to separate from a Church when he thinks proper totpu


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Bishop Jewell, however, who partook of the spirit of our reformers, thought very differently upon this subject. In his apology for the Church of England, he writes thus:..

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"The Church of Rome (says he) accuse us of heresy, of separation from the Church and communion of Christ. It is true, we separated, but not as heretics do from the Church of Christ, but as all good men ought to do, from the corrupt society of wicked and hypocritical persons. Neither should we have separated at all, but upon the utmost necessity; and even then it was with all the unwillingness imaginable." The corruption of the Church of Rome then, (in direct contradiction to what Bishop Hoadley says on this subject) was the ground upon which our separation from it was built;


• But supposing this conscience, according to which a man worships God, to be an erroneous one, what then? Should my reader have duly attended to a foregoing chapter on Conscience, he will, I flatter myself, have an answer ready for this question; because he will perceive, that the Bishop, in this case, does not appear to make that necessary distinction between conscience rightly so called, and strong opinion or persuasion,

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 distinction, which this celebrated writer has made between the Jewish and Christian Church. "The Gospel (says he) was first addressed to the Jews as a nation, a Church, a society. But when the Gentiles had in their turn the Gospel offered unto them, the address was only to particulars. For though the terms of salvation respected the Jewish Sanhedrim, yet the Roman Senate, as such, had no concern in them. And those particulars who received the word, became, not necessarily, from the simple nature and genius of the faith, members of any community, but of the spiritual kingdom of God."

Should the foregoing account of the distinction between Jew and Gentile have conveyed a 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 had 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?"

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