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ditable to it, yet there is one radical error in the inftitution, which from its nature admits not of a cure; and that is, it cannot defend itfelf or its property; but muft owe its very existence to thofe laws, and that power, of which the Church is the corner-ftone.
As you have fo candidly favoured me with Bevan's fentiments, I should not act fairly were I to be flent on the articles of our faith; I fhall touch only on the most prominent; not wishing to take up too much of your time, or to be thought defirous of fhaking the tenets in which you have been educated, and to which (I can fay, without lavishing empty praise) you are fo worthy and fo bright an
The Church of Chrift was meant to be " as a city founded on a bill;" and in this diftinguifhed point of view it was taught by the Difciples over various countries, and from them, extended over the world, in every direction: differences arofe however in procefs of time, but not till feveral ages had elapfed. The Papal Supremacy filled the earth with contention, and many threw off all fubordination, following the artful doctrine of defigning men, and forgetting, in their unhappy enthusiasm, the fpiritual authority of the real Chriftian rulers of the Church: for, whatever infallibility the Popes might have affumed, the bead of the Chriftian faith was in Heaven, and bis power was delegated to his apoftolic Ministry, and their defcendants or fucceffors alone, then preaching the Gospel in various kingdoms and nations. To know where this delegated power then refted, is no trivial matter; and we muft understand by what fucceffion or tranfmiffion it is come to us; and how it has been preferved. Nobody will deny that the Apoftls received their Divine miffion from Cbrift; then let us proceed to a little clofer examination of their powers.
The Church of Chrift was a regular fociety, with rules for its own prefervation and enlargement: man cannot claim authority over his fellow creature merely as a man; for all rule and order are from above (whether in Church or State,) and therefore, the power of appointing teachers and governors in Chrift's Church, having been delegated to the Apostles in the first instance, let us fee to whom it defcended after them; and I think, no reasonable perfon will be hardy enough to queftion the validity of authority thus derived; and if the authority is admitted, then the divine gifts which form the very fence and bofis of that apoftolic authority, follow of courfe.
The form of the Chriftian Church, hiftory declares to be after the plan laid down by the Apostles themfelves; there is a Biflep or Governor (anfwering to the High Prieft) there are Prefbyters or Priefts, Deacons, (correfponding to the Levites, under the law;) and fo from the bigbeft to the loweft office, each in his proper ftation; and fuch continues to be the conftitution of the Church, to this day. The Divine commiffion of its Minifters has been received from the Bishops, for many fucceffive generations; and they (the Bishops) received it from the Apofiles; fo that it is undeniably a branch of that commiffion which came from Heaven with our RedeemNn 2
er; which be left with the rulers of his Church; and which no hu man force can eradicate, nor human understanding fubvert: by virtue of which divine power, they are authorized to claim fpiritual fubmiffion from, and to teach the "word" to, all men; I fay they, and they only, who are Officers or Minifters of that Established Church.
This may feem a bold affertion, but it is nevertheless true; and I think it incumbent on me, having proceeded fo far, to fhew that it is much more bold (in this fenfe of the word) for men to depart from the original faith, and presume to preach God's word according to their vain and unauthorized doctrines. This brings me to the confideration of fchifm; a word, which (whatever confufed ideas may be annexed to it) I find to be clearly derived from an ancient expreffion, fignifying " to disjoin, to feparate;" of course it must allude to fome thing capable of being disjoined or feparated. Now, St. Paul ftyles the Church, "the Body of Chrift;" of course the term fchifm implies (with respect to it) a divifion frem, a want of obedience to, the establishment; a feparation from its communion; a departure from its divine inftitutes; which originally commanded a general union of worship as well as mind; (according to the model of the Apoftles) in doctrines, in form (fuch as breaking of bread) and in " prayer together." I therefore maintain, that to follow any other mode of worship than the Eftablished Religion, which is proved to be received from Chrift and bis Apoftles, is what conftitutes the fin of fchifm: in plain terms, "a violation of the order of Christianity," and a" direct difobedience to its beavenly founder."
Now, having afferted that our Established Church is the fame effentially that it was at firft in the Apoftle's time, I defy any perfon to prove when, or by what authority, it has undergone any change in its principles; and until that is proved to demonstration, all the fubterfuges in the world cannot diminish the fin of feceffion (or fchifm;) for it must be the fame fin now that it was then: and if fo much was faid by the Fathers of the Church against it, warning inferiors against departing from, or differing with their beads, or Bifbops; what would they have faid now, when many fects have arifen, who pretend to adminifter the doctrine of Chrift, with no other commission or authority refpecting holy things, than what they have fabricated in their own weak understandings. Sects which perfift in enticing the multitude after them, and in raising as many different opinions of the one only faith, as there are paffions to indulge, or designs to gratify.
I faid, I would examine how far the principles, profeffed by the Society of Friends, (and other Societies) are justifiable in the difference they have affumed on certain points of the doctrine of Christ aud his Established Church; but I fhall conclude for the prefent, with remarks on Diffenters of all defcriptions, for the difcuffion would-lead me into that which I wish to avoid-religious controverfy. I therefore leave the bard task of " juftification," to others who may discover more weight in the ravings of their first founders, (of men who were as ignorant at laft as at firft, notwithstanding their prefumed infpiration from the Lord; therefore I have faid "rav
ings,") than in that holy inftitution which had been fanctioned by fixteen centuries of existence before these men arose.
Doubtless, the infinite mercy of God will take compaffion on the erroneous thoughts of our hearts; nor condemn those who feek bim, (although by a different road from that he has pointed out to be the way.) In this hope I fincerely pray that ye may be justified! By what I have written, I have endeavoured to inftruct, not to offend; and fo I freely tender it to your confideration, having received much comfortable inftruction myself, from the enquiries into which this has led me; let not then, difference of opinion leffen the friendship that is between us.
From your friend and Well-wither.
19th March, 1800.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sa body the Calvinistic Dissenters have been proved deeply tinged with democracy in your respectable publication. The leading circumstances adduced against them were, if I recollect right," that they were only too generally the supporters of the democratic candidates at the last election; and that they have as generally united with the professed democrats in the divison which took place with respect to politics, in our circulating libraries:" and I consider as another striking proof of the fact, the opinion formed upon this subject, by the candid men, of principles opposite to those of democracy, wherever I go. Several collateral circumstances of a strong complexion have likewise been adduced to strengthen these leading traits in the evidence against them, to which many others might have been added. The liberty taken, upon one of their public mock solemnities, at Bingley, lately noticed in a provincial paper in the county of York, for which the culprit was with great propriety called to an account by a neighbouring Magistrate, whose ears were rudely assailed by an attack as virulent as it was illiberal and impertinent upon lawn sleeves; and the very reverend wearers of them have furnished us with another instance of this nature. Even the brethern themselves acknow❤ ledged that brother C.'s indiscretion in this instance merited the severest animadversions, not however, for the treason which lodged at the bottom of it; but because he launched out a little further than the limits prescribed by the weakness of the party and diffidence of some of their more pious abettors. It is too worthy of remark, that one of these chosen brothers (the epithet when seriously applied to such an object, savours of blasphemy) condescending upon some occasion, since the commencement of our present troubles, to attend divine service in the Established Church, had the opportunity, for once, of hearing what the principles of a truly pious and loyal Christian are. How might we expect this Dissenter to express his attachment to the House of Hanover, upon such an opportunity as this afforded? Why Sir, this candid charitable man elected, as his own
spiritual pride has repeatedly insinuated him to be, by omniscient wisdom unto eternal life, could not refrain from indulging himself in invectives against the intellect of a clergyman, who stands, if I recollect right, the sixth of his year upon the Cambridge list of honours, and who for the past, I pretend not to look into futurity, has "eyen unto grey hairs" supported the respectable character of a truly pious and judicious Minister of the Church of Christ. So much for the loyalty and modesty of one of the learned pillars of that copious magazine of elegant and truly classical literature, profanely termed evangelical. It is not impossible, Sir, but this dissenter so remarkable for his attachment to the House of Hanover, may some times figure away as a village preacher; and to recommend him in this capacity, has probably his charming visage stuck up as a frontispiece in the learned work alluded to: it may, too, according to the insinuations of some of your correspondents, occupy a snug corner in the elect ladies toilets: but Sir, I must honestly confess, that I esteem that man not an object of contempt, but pity, who can suffer his wife to indulge these coxcomical conceits of their ghostly fathers, at the expence of decency, if not of morality; and to the utter degradation of the religion they profess. Think not that this severity arises from petulance or asperity; no, Sir, I do assure you it is the venerable indignation of a sincere man, roused into exertion by the insult offered to the meek religion of our lowly Master, in attempting to make it the polluted vehicle of TREASON and REBELLION. Sorry am I, to corroborate from the northern counties, the accounts you have given us of the schismatics of the south; but it is certainly to be more than suspected, notwithstanding the assertions we have heard to the contrary, that village preaching had its origin amongst the abettors of democracy; for nothing can, to my mind, be more evident, than that the conspirators have actually changed their ground: they have found the tide of opinion setting in so strongly against infidelity, that they are deter mined to cover their future designs under the cant of hypocrisy : in consequence of which the destruction of the church is now, as parliamentary reform was in the original scheme, both the watchword and the mask to conceal their nefarious purposes, Several harangues amongst the Calvanistic Dissenters, and the Dissenting Methodists, as well as a few wolves in sheeps clothing, who have most insidiously crept into the Established Church, are, it appears from good authority, completely initiated into the scheme. consequence of this, the effects of village preaching have in the north, particularly in the neighbourhood of one of our quondam, or ci-devant watering places, been a shocking increase of democra tic principles; and a most unwarrantable aversion in the ignorant, and misled peasants to the church by law established. This last circumstance, I affirm to be an incontrovertible fact, from which every man acquainted with it is at liberty to draw his own conclu sions. I am happy, however, to assert, from my own knowledge, that amongst the description of Dissenters, upon which I have been the most severe, there are many noble instances of men, perfectly
exempt from the charges that have been adduced. I only insist upon it, that as a body they are tinged with the leaven of Antinomianism, Socinianism, and democracy; and I think it unseemly in their most respectable characters, especially as some of them acknowledge the charge to be too true, to endeavour to extenuate the guilt of the criminals. They had better far shew themselves to be real Christians, by uniting their endeavours with ours, to purge out the leaven before it mars the whole lump. It is one of the best proofs, that Christianity is genuine, that it spares the failings neither of its real nor pretended friends. How can the Dissenters presumptuously expect the blessings of Heaven upon their missions abroad, so long as they are encouraging Socinianism, Antinomianism, and rebellion at home? I have yet said nothing of their little low undermining arts, to ruin that church, which has borne itself so mildly, and with such Christian forbearance towards them; but through the mercy of God, I will do it, if further provoked, for I am also in possession of facts upon this subject, not more creditable than those which have been already produced; and if I find them daring enough to persist in the scheme which your other correspondents have had the honour to hint at; and which I have taken the liberty thus publicly to announce, we may venture to assure them, that the time is not far distant, when a solemn appeal shall be made against their infernal practices to that Government, which has already been more than once compelled to take strong measures in defence of the interests of society, against a set of miscreants, who, destitute of patriotism and religion, would sacrifice every thing to gratify their own ambition. We now, Sir, clearly discern, through the obloquy heaped upon the barriers of the church, the wisdom which directed our ancestors' to take those salutary measures which have so long secured to us the blessings of a tolerant religion; and the liberty of worshipping in the beauty of holiness. Fully am I now convinced, that Dissenters have to thank their own folly for every restriction that lies upon them; and I, for one, am not a little grateful to them, for not waiting till what they would call complete emancipation had enabled them to do more mischief than I think them likely to do now, either in my days, or the days of my children's children.
I remain, Sir, with inexpressible gratitude, for the activity displayed by the Anti-Jacobin, against traitors of every description. Your's most sincerely, C. W. A.
TO THE EDITOR,
'XCESS of business, and a delicate state of health, have prevented me from an earlier attention to your Number, for November. I concluded that your correspondent G. in defending villagepreaching, was likewise taking the opportunity to exculpate the