Imágenes de páginas

niters have renounced her dignities, receive none of her wages, and defire only to worship God according to their own consciences : notwithstading this, every one who ministers in our churches, without having firit subscribed publickly thirty-five of these dark, unscriptural, disputable articles, is liable by law to grievous and oppressive fines, and may be totally ruined by the laws of men, for not only innocently, but virtuously obeying what he thinks to be commanded by the laws of God. Surely in this liberal and enlightened age, and in Britain, the glory of all lands, for the freedom with which truth is allowed to display its charms, where the rights of humanity and the nature of religion are so well understood, this state of our case should awaken a generous indignation and promote an immediate relief; for the subscription enjoined by this act is a yoke to which many of the most virtuous and learned of our ministers dare not submit, and from which thousands of your own, we presume, groan for redemption, travelling in pain, longing to be delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

• The noble protest which the honourable members of the present House of Commons have entered against these unrighetous and intole. rant acts, by their almost unanimous vote for their repeal; and the truly Christian and patriotic spirit with which it was supported by many of the moft illustrious Lay-Peers in the House of Lords; we confider as an happy omen that the day of religious truth and liberty begins to dawn, and is cherishing the celestial fruits of righteousnels and peace, to plant and promote which the son of God came down from heaven, and preached his gospel amongst men.

• But-extremely unhappy is the fate of the church! that those who are called its pastors and overseers, should, initead of defending, betray its most facred rights: and not entering themselves into the doors of religious liberty which their great MASTER, at the price of his blood, hath set open, Tould exert their united force cruelly to shut it up; and to hinder those who would enter. But, how hard is it to drink deep into the spirit of this world, and at the same time to imbibe, and to act vigorously under the influence of the divine Spirit of JESUS Christ! His kingdom, he hath told us, is not of this world: its splendors and pomps are apt to dazzle and pervert the brightest understandings, and to corrupt the foundest hearts: the friendship of ibe world, is enmity to GOD, to righteousness and truth!

• But-in this we rejoice.- The cause must be reheard before an awful tribunal, in which Jesus, our once crucified Lori), will prefide: when their lordships, disrobed of all temporal distinctions, muft tand upon a level with such men as Doddridge, and Watts, and Leland, and Lardner-whom their Lordlhips have lain under a legal incapacity, and have thereby virtually forbidden them to preach the gospel to mankind. Alas! how dear bought, at the price of the least infringement of integrity, are these temporary bawbles, mitres, and thrones, and ample revenues, if they at all forfeit, or even diminish, the title to that crown of glory which the SUPREME PASTOR will then bestow? That crown, we know, will then be given to all who, like HIMSELF, have gone out to preach his gospel under great worldly discouragements; chufing rather affliction, with the teitimony of a good conscience, than to enjoy the pleasures and emoluments of a finful

Ee 4



I S.

Swan. 1772,

compliance; which will foon vanish as a dream ; and will at least degrade, if not exciude, from that everlasting kingdom of God, which is thenceforward to take place.To that righteous judge of mankind, and jupreme head of the church, we chearfully commit our cause ; not doubting but he will plead it before the impartial world; and with humble resignation wait the event.'

The Author has added an appendix, to Mew, that the Puritan or Preibyterian clerry were the only body of men, in the whole kingdom who had tie courage to oppose, and to proteft openly agaick the trial and condemnation of Charles the firit; and that the Preibyte rians had the principal hand, and were the chief agents in reforing King Charles the second to the throne. This account is given chiefly with a view to display the ingratitude and treachery of Charles tbe second and to set in its true light an historical fact, which seems to be forgotten in the reproaches occasionally thrown out againii the Disenters, as enemies to monarchical government: for otherwise, the Write: observes that it reflects no little disgrace npon the Presoyo terians, that they were seduced by the King's promises, and that they did not improve the glorious opportunity which his restoration asforded, of obtaining a real fecurity both to religious and civil lie Art. 19. A Letter to Sir William Meredith, upon the Subject of

Subscription to the Liturgy and Thirty nine Articles of the Claribif England. By an Englithman. 4to

There is an ingenuity and a novelty in this Author's manner of considering the subject of subscription, that could scarcely have beca expecied upon a question which most of our Readers will, perhaps, be disposed to regard as almost exhausted. In discuffing the point before him, our letter Writer adopts the opinion of the adverary; but endeavours to be more precifion in his terms.

· These words, tays he, the Chur h of England, properly figoify the colle rive bouy of that part of the people of these kingdoms, who, being k aptized in:o its communion, do not afterwards formally dito fent fuos its elablished doctrines, and outwardly conform to its edablified difcipine and worship.

Under ti is idea, it might cauly be proved, that the thirty-nine articles of the Church of England cannot form the bond or center of union to its members; as but an inconsiderable portion of the Englith people have ever subscribed, or in any way asiented to theie artices, and a ftill smaller portion can be said to understand them.

• The aforesaid words have been also used to denote the ejiabijbed clergy of these kingdoms. But in strict propriety of speech the etiablished clergy, either collectively or representatively taken, do not constitute the Church of England; but feparately conlidered they are either rulers, minifters, or teachers in that church.

• However, as our adversaries are frequently inclined to consider the church as a set of Christian ministers, associated for the purpose of diffufing the pure religion of the gospel, voluntary in its first formation, but at length on account of public utility, allied to and fupported by the fate, we will meet them on the ground which them, felves have occupied, and accede to the definition by which they Secm determined to abide,


• To the existence and continuance of such a society fome bond or center of union is required. This position of Dr. Tucker is allowed in its unlimited extent.

• But a question arises concerning the nature of this bond of union, In this point indeed we shall differ very widely.”

In order to preserve the mental sight as clear as poflible from the fuffufions of prejudice, the Author supposes the case of a philofor phical society, and considers its end or design, its bond of union, its measures, and its resolutions. He then transters the fuppofition to a fociety inflituted with a design of promoting and spreading sospel truth.

• Each individual, says he, who is a believer, certainly has it in his power by various ways to promote either the knowledge or the practice of the religion of Jesus. But it is very rationally concluded ihat he may do it with ftill greater efficacy, if he acts in concert with men who are similarly inclined with himself.

* An association is therefore formed with a professed intention of promoting the knowledge and praâice of Christianity, by the per, Jonal labours of the individuals who shall from time to time compose it.

• The information and improvement of our species in the genuine principles of christian knowledge, and the advancement of the cause of piery and virtue, constitute the proper end and design of this society.

The members of this association moreover bind themselves by a folemn engagement never to falsify or to desert their truit; but, on the contrary, to promote the laudable purpose of their institution to the utmost extent of their abilities and power,

• They engage, for instance, at the altar of Cod *, and in the hearing of his congregation, to be diligent in the ftudy of all sacred learning, in order that they may be able rightly to divide the word: of God, and with the strongest powers of persuasion to preach it to the people.

They profess that they will use both public and private moni. tions, as well to the fick as to the whole within their care, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given.

« They declare that they will be diligent to frame both themselves and families according to the doctrine of the gospel, and to make both themselves, and those, with whom they hall be in any way connected, as much as in them lieth, wholesome examples and pats terns to the flock of Christ.

This engagement, viz, an engagement tp be bonest and fincere, and zealous in the execution of their charge, may with the utmost propriety be said to constitute their facramentum, or their bond of union.

• Our next enquiry must be concerning the measures, which fach voluntary society embraces, in the various periods of its existence-concerning those maxims, and rules of conduci, by the help of which, it is enabled to effect its purpose.

• See the questions proposed to the candidates for the priefhood, in the office of erdination.

( These

. These measures and maxims must be various, according to the va. rious exigencies of the times.'

Among other measures,' an hint is fuggested by some individuals, that fubfeription to a set of doctrines, etpouled by men of acknowleged probity and learning, and by them maintained to be fcriptura do&trines, may greatly promote the end the society has in view, viz, the knowlege of the gospel in its primæval purity. And in support of this opinion it is urged, that, on account of the united wisdom of the fociety being employed in the fabrication of such articles or formularities of faith and dactrine, the knowlege of the gospel might be more promoted, by the submission of the preacher to fuch a directory, than if he were indulged in the unlimited power of declaring to the people, whatever do&rines himself fall be pere fuaded are contained in the books of holy writ.

A moment's consideration Mews that the question, as now stated, is merely a question of expediency. It does not immediately, but only in its confequences, affect the design of the society, nor does it in the semotest manner alter the nature of its bond.'

After fewing that the expediency of such a measure may be juftly questioned, the Writer proceeds to enquire what alterations would ensue, in case the King or Parliament nould be induced to 'Jend their awful name and fanctions, and thus afford to the society the accession of an external strength. Here our Author thinks it clear, in the first place, that the interference of parliament will not alter the nature of the society's defign; and secondly, that if the interference of parliament ought not to work an alteration on the fo. ciety's defign, not all the parliaments in Europe can affect an altera. tion in its bond.

What our letter-writer chiefly confines himself to, is the case of the ministers of the Church of England, so far as they are considered in the light of licensed preachers of the gospel, and the conclusions which he draws from his reflections are the following:

• First, The advancement of those doctrines, which are contained in articles and confessions framed by man's device, cannot with decency be supposed to be the avowed defign of any religious Pro: teftant Society, further than such articles agree with the written word of God. And therefore the promoting the knowlege and practice of that word, independent of its harmony with any fyftem of opinions whatsoever, is, or ought to be, the great, and indeed the only, aim of the established Clergy of this kingdom.

• Secondly, No artieles or confession of faith whatever, whether conceived in human or even fcriptural terms, can be the bond or center of union to a society of Christian ministers. Their only bond must be, an obligation, faithfully, resolutely, and zealously, to promote the knowlege of God's law to the best of their understanding and ability—to exert each faculty in the investigation of his will

, and every power of persuafion in recommending the practice of it to their hearers.

• And Thirdly, Although it is allowed, that in every fociety, whether supported by private contributions or parliamentary patronage, there is vefted somewhere a right of defining the conditions, upon the performance of which, its acting members shall become intitled to those emoluments, which are allowed as ftipendiary coni Aderations for its services ; yet, it must be both absurd and iniqui. tous in this society, to prescribe such measures of conduct, as tend to defeat the very end of its institution; and if its avowed purpose be to promote Christian knowlege and Christian practice ; that is to say, to promote the progress of a religion confessedly divine, nothing furely can be more impious, and more immediately subversive of its design, than to require from each candidate for admision an ex animo affent to a set of articles, expreflive of the sense of one particular fect or age: as such measure must unavoidably perpetuate those traditional errors, which the society was instituted to remove ; and instead of diffusing gospel light, may spread one uniform gloom of intellectual and moral darkness over every succeeding generation.'

intitled left

From the extracts we have given, it will appear with what ability the Author has supported his cause; and how much he has the ad. vantage of those who would make a subscription to human articles of faith the necessary bond of union, with regard to the Clergy of the Church of England. Art. 20. Free Thoughts on the late Application of some Disenting Minifters to Parliament ; in a Letter to the Rev.

Wherein is proved, that the Prayer of their Petition originated with Sentia ment. To which are added, Remarks on the new Teft; with a few Strictures on the different Pieces published in Defence of the said Application, By Edward Hitchin, B. D, 8vo. Is. Bell. 1772.

Mr. Hitchin acquaints his Readers that, while he writes, be feels a divine charity glowing in his breast towards all mankind.-What this pious man's ideas of divine charity are, we presume not to say, but we fee no marks of Christian charity in his pamphlet, nor indeed any thing that can recommend it to the perusal of a liberal-minded Reader.

He adduces several reasons against the above mentioned application to Parliament, one of which we shall give in his own words ; yiz. his being too well convinced in his own mind, that the matter was first started and sprang from a dilike to those articles the Toleration calls upon us to subscribe ; and I will add, says he, that whatever declarations have been made to the contrary, or however foLemn those declarations may have been, I am confirmed, from the strongest facts, that had it not been for the dislike to the doctrinal articles, the application to Parliament would never have been proposed.'

This, surely, is a fufficient specimen of Mr. Hitchin's divine che rity! If our Readers are desirous of seeing any more, they must have secourse to the pamphlet itself.

DR A MAT I C. Art. 21. Comus; a Masque. Altered from Milton. As pero

formed at the Theatre in Covent Garden, The Music composed by Dr. Arne. 8vo. is. Lowndes, &c. 1772.

Milton's Masque is one of the most beautiful, perhaps the most fpirited, of his poctical compofitions; but, in the form in which he

« AnteriorContinuar »