Page images
PDF
EPUB

his own community, and censuring others-in disturbing the ashes of the dead, who eminently served their generation-in misrepresenting their character, and giving distorted statements of their doctrines and the effects of their ministry—in arrogantly assuming that the church of England is the only true church, and that all who dissent from 'her cut themselves off from the body of Christ; then, instead of operating to the increase of piety and Christian zeal, their natural tendency is to inflate with ideas of exclusive Christianity, to destroy Christian charity, and to produce contempt of the whole body of Dissenters. Such charges but ill accord with the benevolent temper of the present age--an age in which we behold with pleasure Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Methodists and Independents, Baptists and Quakers, laying aside their peculiar shibboleths, and combining their various influence and talents in giving universal circulation to the word of eternal life.

It is much to be lamented that any one, and especially that a minister of eminence in any Christian community, should attempt to disturb this harmony. This, however, has frequently been done by two classes of ministers of very opposite characters. The first appear to be influenced in their opposition to dissenters solely from a concern for their spiritual interests. They consider them as having wandered from the fold of Christ, and as being in great danger of losing their souls ; and therefore they affectionately strive to reclaim them. Opposition from such men, dissenters regard' with much affection. They know they love them, and mean

nothing but their good; and though their arguments may -fail in producing conviction, their temper is sure to gain their hearts, and to produce regret that they are under the necessity of opposing the sentiments of men possessing so much excellence, and with whom they hope to dwell forever in that state where we shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but face to face; no longer know but in part, but shall know even as we are known. The second class appear to be less solicitous for the salvation of dissenters than for the security and honour of the established church. Hence their language to dissenters is not the language of pity, but contempt. They are exhibited as weak and designing men: vollies of abuse are poured forth ; and they are stigmatized as fanatics and hypocrites, or, what, in their estimation, appears to include every other evil, Methodists. I am sorry, Sir, that in your opposition to dissenters you appear to me to bear a far more striking resemblance to the latter than to the former of these classes. You will therefore excuse the liberty which I have taken in offering a few free remarks on several particulars contained in your Charge.

A friend of mine presented me with a copy of it, on a late visit to the city of Lichfield. Learning from the title page that you are not only an archdeacon, but that you also are M. A. F. R. S. and F. A. S., I entered upon its perusal with considerable expectations. Indeed, Sir, I began to read with that profound veneration which I generally feel for intellectual bor ings above the ordinary stature, among whom my

[ocr errors]

stagiaior mai area pace rol. Eerman i espeai ca en Lassivummer wei na i. ammes. tveit bregewonere traveled tarovai tik record all. # wouliustui suur wo en suspecio tia: tarere ei tohist tarysers i acauemra jonouns and crerica. pienettiselta.

Ju lut. You cisarung in elinizmie tie enuren o Lugaidi, wuct vol descris a venez * tw mus. pure ait ajousipira iuik u Curssikanty in the wozie" nech church is parasti Gua suut aiwan ir butivuil with tuenit;" bu from which circunstalme vut suppost it pa visada muci guoc wil result.

1 tsk tim cuuci vi Lugand is tit must apostoucu. Juru of Cursteuni'y, is uut by any nuizais a new asbert196 : but it sivuic la rememberec tirat a thousand but rtivic Ultatwompanied by evidence will never prowk retivil convictiva. Tier mer, and no dvului with itfiutuce the belief of the mutilude, but on the Shovuylful and intelligent tuer pruõuce a very difice Atsdt effzct: tixy excite suspiciou that the thing cannai be supjau by evidence, or betray a porerty of inLur Wat is ju the assertor.

the church of Lngland apostolical in ber Lyw, it is Amt, envuyo w slew that there is some agreeAU A Weem her doctrines and those of the apostles; *** What it cannot do this? Hay the church of Engbund is, ** you suppose her to be, Arminian in her dattimes the Kemonstrants formerly, and the Wesbeyan Methodists now are Arminians also. Say she is what Mr, scult, the antagonist of Dr. Tomlyne, and Ildo more believe her to be, Calvinistic: there

are hundreds of congregations in this country, on the continent, and in America, avowedly so. In order to prove the church of England.“apostolical in her form,” you must not only prove an agreement in her doctrines, but also an agreement in her officers—an agreement in her forms of worshipand an agreement in her discipline. But you have not done this. No: you have not even attempted it. Were it fully admitted that she is apostolical in her doctrines, it would not necessarily follow that she is so in her officers also, Can you furnish us with a list of the arch-bishops, arch-deacons, deans, prebendaries, proctors, rectors, vicars, and curates of the apostolical church, or produce a single evidence of any one of these orders having existed in the apostolical age? You know you cannot. And yet all these are officers in the church of England. Where then is the resemblance? It is as perfect as the resemblance between Prince Henry and Falstaff's men in buckram.

But to constitute a church apostolical, “ there should not only be a resemblance in the names of office, but also in the character of her officers. “My kingdom, (said the Redeemer) is not of this world.” The seve. ral officers employed by earthly sovereigns may be good or bad men, without disqualifying them for office; but it is not so in the church of Christ. A wicked man may command our fleets and armies—a swearer may be employed as an ambassador to foreign courts-a sensualist may be a minister of state : but nothing of this can be admitted among the officers in the church of Christ. They must be good men, full of the holy

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »