« AnteriorContinuar »
without the least proof or foundation: they charged onr Liturgy with all the defects, with all the faults, improprieties, and corruptions, which had been suggested by Papists, Heretics, Enthusiasts, and the most inveterate enemies of our constitution. And for fear the . people should say, that an enemy had done this, they, by the most solemn and repeated insinuations, declared themselves to be true and dutiful sons of the established Church *." Jf, after such professions, these writers were Dissenters, their Disquisitions exhibit such a scene of treachery, prevarication, self-adulation, and ingratitude, to the government under which, and the established Church with which they live, as is scarcely to be paralleled in history.
On this supposition, all the fine things those authors thought fit to say of the Dissenters, and 'their virtues, and the nature and merits of their separation, are of no authority; for that Dissenters should praise Dissenters, is nothing wonderful; but, if Dissenters did this, under the name of true and dutiful sons of the Church, then such praise is against them in every word of it. What sort of principles they must be, which can reconcile men's consciences to such
* Case of the Royal Martyr considered with candour, P- 333. 334
Jesuitical frauds and disguises, they who practise them are bound to consider.
If the Dissenters think they can justify their separation by the praise of mens let them proceed fairly, and take it, such as it is, all toge'ther. They should remember and estimate properly, how much of it comes from the bench of our Bishops, and how much from the seat of the scornful: how universally they are befriended and admired by Deists, Free-thinkers, Socinian Philosophers, and loose-livers; who delighting to see the Church opposed, and Christian people divided, are exactly of the same opinion with some of those great ornaments of the establishment of whose testimony our apologist hath so loudly boasted. "/ heartily thank God," says the author of The Independent Whig, "that we have Dissenters, and I hope we shall never he without them*"
13. The last and the most general argument on which the Dissenters depend; and which, if it were just, would render all other arguments superfluous, is this; that all men have a right to judge andchusefor themselvss in matters of
This is an extensive principle, which justifies all sects, and supersedes all institutions and
sacraments * Vol. iii. p. 223.
sacraments whatsoever. It also shews thd Dissenters of this day* who have recourse to it,; to be quite a different class of men, from the Puritans in the days of Elizabeth; for here they extend their claims from schism up to heresy, and beyond it, even into the privileges and immunities of infidelity itself. The Puritans formerly judged against us in our discipline: buff the Dissenters, and their friends,- now judge' against us in our doctrines. For, thus saith the; author of the Independent Whig, another apologist of the Dissenters.—" No man ought to pay any submission to that doctrine or discipline, which he does not like:" and the war, which was once carried on against Prelacy and Ceremonies, is now turned against Articles and Creeds.
If .he Dissenters at large have this right of chusing what they like, and rejecting what they dislike: then the Quakers have it: and why not the Jews and the Mahometans? For, I desire to know, what there is betwixt us and them, but matters of religion.
As to this affair of chusing, especially in matters of religion, there are strange examples of human perverseness and wickedness. How often did the people chuse new Gods? Heresy it so called,' because it is a doctrine which a
mart man doth not receive but chuse for himself; and if his choice is of right, there can be no such thing as heresy in the world. But heresy is reckoned among the works of the fiesh; and they that heap up teachers to themselves, arc said to do it of their own lusts. Thus every case becomes desperate: for lust, being an irrational, brutal principle, hears no reason; and nothing but disorder and confusion can follow, when this principle takes the lead in religion. When men took wives of such as they chose, and had no rule but this rule of choice; the earth was soon filled with violence: and if men may take what they chuse in religion, sects and divisions, strife and envying, rebellion and sacrilege, without end, must be the consequence: and so it is already recorded in the annals of this kingdom.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST SEPARATION OF THE DISSENTERS FROM THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
HE preceding Short View of the Argument betwixt the Church and the Dissenters, having brought the authors of Free and Candid Disquisitions on the Liturgy of the Church of England, under our consideration; I cannot help mentioning on this occasion, that I have a manuscript in my possession of seventy-two sheets, containing Remarks on that work, written immediately after its publication, by one of the best scholars and best divines of this century.
The public never did, and probably never will, receive any information from these papers; but to me they have been very entertaining and instructive. In one of the author's notes upon a large quotation from the Epistles of St. Cyprian, I find the following account of the rise