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CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
SOME POPULAR ERRORS
OF BAD CONSEQUENCE.
AN OLD FRIEND AND SERVANT OF THE CHURCH.
“ I have a few things against thee.” Rev. ii. 14.
MEN, BRETHREN, AND FATHERS,
The Christian Church, at the first establishment of the gospel, had a perfect rule of faith and discipline, which it was commanded to preserve pure and entire, but was not expected to improve. In process of time, when Christian people found what corruptions had entered by means of that authority, which the Church of Rome had assumed, to teach and order all other churches, every church was under the necessity of restoring itself, as nearly as might be, to the primitive pattern; in doing which, not one amongst them all succeeded so well as the Church of England, whose articles contain a godly and wholesome doctrine; sufficient at that time to preserve the faith and keep out error. And if we were now where the Church of England was then, we might do well. But as the world is always changing, time hath lately brought up many new and strange things; Revolution hath succeeded Revolution ; every one worse than the former: but what is worst of all, there hath been a revolution in men's minds as well as in their fortunes. What was sense formerly, is not such now; and if a man starts up this day with something new and wonderful, the public are so divided about him, that while some think him wise and ingenious, others see that he is mad; not with that sort of madness which brings him into confinement, but which unfortunately leaves him at liberty to ruin other men, with an appearance of reason.
To this degree of depravity men could not arrive all at once; the evil must have been stealing upon us by degrees ; and it is now grown to such
a size, that we are warranted to say, some new security is wanting, beyond those articles which were sufficient at the Reformation, to keep out new errors, far more pernicious than the old. But how shall they be introduced, or who shall introduce them ? At the Reformation this Church knew itself to be wrong, and was ready to take advice; but our wrong opinions are now so generally thought to be right, that few men see them, and fewer still will dare to contradict them. A private person can only say what he would propose, if it lay upon him to purge the Church of England of those errors which modern times have produced; and which will inevitably bring us to ruin, if they continue to prevail. For error will not be stationary; the breach at which the waters enter will grow wider, and admit more of them continually, till the inundation is universal, and the breach irreparable.
The first and the most pressing of all popular mistakes, at this time, relates to government. We are now called upon,as Christian men, to protest against it, and declare, that God, who is the maker of the world, is the governor of it; and that there can be, as the Scripture expressly teaches, no power but of God. Force and violence there may be, by his permission, for a curse upon a wicked people; but power of authority, for the execution of legal justice, and the preservation of peace amongst men, there can be none. For there is but ane lawgiver, who can save and destroy. He makes the law, and he executes it; men act under him, and for him, in defence of the Tex Commandments; and woe be to them when they cease ta
do it; for in that case God takes the power into his own hand, and turns the sword against the prince as well as against the people, where his laws have not been maintained,
We ought, therefore, to renounce and detest that abominable doctrine, that the power of government is from the people who are governed. We see now immediately how false and contradictory is this principle, thạt the subject should be the sovereign. When once it is admitted, it produces licentiousness, injustice, and anarchy. And it must be so, for the laws of God are restraints upon the passions of men; and if the power be given to those who are to be restrained, they cry out Liberty,and throw them all off; breaking loose like wild beasts, to tear and devour one another, We see an example of it before our eyes, so that the consequence wants no proving. The moral world becomes such as the natural would be, without the lights of heaven, which God hath placed over our heads, and out of our reach, to rule over the day and over the night; and we will as soon believe, that the sun is made out of earthly clay, as that the power of Government is made out of the people. The people are a large body; but government is as much bigger than they, as the sun is bigger than the earth. The power of the people is not a doctrine of this church; but it has been so long and so much the opinion of the nation, and has done so much mischief in the world, that the time is now come when we ought to examine its pretensions, and cast it out if we can.
From the English Revolution, as it was unfortunately called, our modern atheists think they can prove