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were very corrupt, and the doctrines of God were rendered of none effect by the inventions of men: it is agreeable to the prophecies of the New Testament, that offences must come amongst us; that men must arise, out of the Church, speaking perverse things, to drazv away disciples after them: also that many will not endure sound doctrine, but heap up to themselves teachers (of their own appointing) having itching ears.
These and many other like passages give us notice, that there must be a falling off from the faith, with confusion and disagreement in the Christian society. If we look at our own Church, we have bat a melancholy prospect; and cannot help observing, that it approaches too near to the state of the Jewish Church before its destruction. As they had corrupted the doctrines of Moses and the Prophets, and in consequence of it were divided into sects (for as truth unites, error always divides men) so have we corrupted the doctrines of the Gospel, and are miserably divided in consequence of it. I could name some doctrines, which if our Saviour were now to deliver in the metropolis of London, with the same freedom and authority as he did at Jerusalem, I verily believe he would be persecuted and put to death by people called Chris
tiaiis, as he was of old by those who were called Jews. The Church of Jerusalem was infested with temporising and philosophising Jews, who were farthest of all others from the faith, while they affected to be wiser than all the rest of the people. The Sadducees believed neither Angel nor Spirit, and said there was no Resurrection. The Herodians were politicians and men of the world, who flattered Herod that he was the Messiah. The Pharisees were a proud sanctified sect, very godly in outward shew, but full of hypocrisy within. They justified themselves and despised others, as not good enough to stand near them, or belong to the same Church with them. Of the sect of the Essenes we have no particular account in the New Testament; but from all we can learn, I take them to have been the Quakers of that time, who had thrown off all external rights of worship, and affected a religion perfectly pure and philosophical. The Sadducees were the Socinians of Judaism; who had nothing spiritualbelonging to them, and had reduced their law to an empty form. The venality and avarice of the Jews of our Saviour's time, was notorious, and provoked his indignation. Their temple, filled with buyers and sellers, was turned into a den of thieves: and, God knows, there is too much of a worldly
traffic traffic amongst us; which is too far gone to be reformed, and too bold to be censured—venduntur omnia" / 4. But whatever abuses there may be in the Church, it is our duty to make the best of it. The Church is our spiritual mother; and we may apply those words of the wise man, despise not thy mother when she is old; not even if she should be in rags and dotage. The doctrine of the Church of England is, by profession, still, pure and apostolical; and, whatever faults it may have contracted, it cannot be worse than the Church which our Saviour found in Jerusalem: yet he still recommended to the congregation, the duty of obedience to their spiritual Rulers. The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat ; all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do. Bad as the Church then was, our Saviour never forsook it, but taught daily in the Temple: and his Apostles attended upon his worship at the hours of - prayer ; * “ CHURCH LIVING.
... “Two thousand pounds ready for the next Presentation “to a Rectoryof adequate value, with immediate resigna“tion.—The Advertiser is sixty-five years of age. Apply ** to Mr. , Attorney, Holborn.” Perjury, which is now in a very growing state, may, in time, come to market with as much boldness as her sister Sinew hath done for many years past.
prayer; and probably continued so to do, till they were dispersed. Neither Christ nor his disciples ever considered the doctrines of Church-authority, and Succession, and Conformity, as vain icords and idle dreams, as our Socinians have done of late years; and after what hath been said, their views want no explanation.
5. In our behaviour toward those who have departed from us, let not us, who honour the Church, fall into the error of those who despise it. Let us not betray any symptoms of pride in censuring with severity, but rather, with hearts full of sorrow and compassion, lament the dh> ferences and divisions which expose the Christian religion to the scorn of its enemies. Infidels are delighted to see that Christians cannot understand one another; for thence they are ready to report, that there is no sense amongst them all, nor any reason in their religion; for that, if there were, they would agree about it. In this also the Papists triumph; they boast of their advantage over the Reformed, in that they are preserved, in peace and unity *, while we are torn to pieces with factions and divisions.
* But see Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History: where he proves by incontrovertible evidence, that the Romish. Church has not always maintained her boasted unanimity. Hence they reflect upon the whole Reformation, as a natural source of confusion; that they belong to Jerasalem, and we to Babel; that whenwe leave their Church, the city upon the hill, we never know where to stop, till we get to the bottom: that is, till we have run either into the madness of enthusiasm, or the profaneness of infidelity. How shall we stop this wide mouth of scandal, while appearances are so much against us? However, this reproach doth not reach us of the Church of England; who, in doctrine and profession, are where we were two hundred years ago. Let those who have left us try if they can answer the Papists upon this head: it is their business to account for the confusion which they only have introduced*.
If the Clergy of this Church have any desire to preserve it, they must consider for what end the Church is appointed. A Christian Church is a candlestick, to hold forth the Light of the Gospel. When it ceases to answer that end, it
* It is too much the fashion of the times to divide the Christian Religion only into two classes, one including the Papists, and the other comprehending the motley herd who are disunited from the Church of Rome, and who are all distinguished by the general name of Protestants— Whereas the Sectarians are many of them as widely removed from us of the Church of England, as we are from, the Papists. •