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Freedom of animadversion created licentiousness of opinion; and onc sect was followed by another, until Christianity instead of being the bond of peace and union, seemed to be the very apple of contention, about which (to use Dr. Aikin's expression) men were made to differ. Hence has originated that mixture of capable and incapable preachers among us, by which the spirit and principles of the Gospel bave been adulterated. From the same cause sprung allo that union of politics and religion, which has set the pulpits of Dissenters in battle array against the pulpits of the established church. Preachers of this description have always a view to the overthrow of the church of England; they are worldly-minded enough to long for a second taste of those good things, that sweet prey, that palatable thievery, from which they were obliged to recede fo reluctantly in the days of Yore. Their affe&ions are fet on things below; they wish to revenge that privation which they have never forgiven ; and hence comes caballing and intriguing for power. A natural consequence of the opposition, thus constantly made to the doctrines of the establithed church; a natural, confequence of schism, organised in ten thousand shapes, and ramified into distinctions that are numberless, is, that the people at large grow every day more ignorant, and, as they grow ignorant, they become corrupt. Many times, indeed, we lee them attending conventicles, where, from the manifest ignorance of the preachers, nothing can be learned : and if they abandon there for meeting-houses of a higher description, they enter them to hear of the hardships and injuries of non-conformists, instead of the sufferings of their Saviour.
The reformation of the church of England, William Turner informs us, was at first little more than popery in an English dress. That is, it did not spring suddenly from one extreme to the other ; it did not affect purity which was impossible, and precision which was minutely ridiculous. It did not, like the Puritan, abandon its Saint's day; nor, like the philofopher, abolith its Sabbatb. It did not, like the puritan, annihilate its form of prayer, but correct and reform it: it did not, like the philosopher, condemn its whole code of regulations to the flames, but such parts only as more mature reflection had taught it to explode. May we not very juftly fay of such conduct, in the words of the old song, Ob! what wonderful moderation ! while, in the words of the fame song, we may as juftly ridicule the intemperate fpirit of innovation which belongs to the puritan and philosopher, by exclaiming alteration, alteration, Ob what wonderful alteration !
Speaking of fupremacy in matters of religion, William Turner actually denies that the Pope has a title to it. But why does he add, that no man can bave the smalleft right to exercise such supremacy over the religious belief or profession of the meanest of mankind? See, Mr. Editor, the bleffed consequences of republicanism in religion. It seems that to be a leveller in church, naturally difpofes a man to be a leveller in state. He who maintains that there fhould be po bifhops, will of course fhortly vote the rest of the Houfe of
Lords to be usėlėss. He who acknowledgés no ecclefiaftical supreme, will soon doubt whether there be occafion for a civil supreme. And here, perhaps, William Turner has furnished us with the means of accounting for the martydom of Charles I. If the Diflenters, even at that time, held that the king had no right to be esteemed ibe bead of the church ; it did not require any very great stretch of conscience to maintain that he had as little right to be bead of the ftate.
But though the reformation of Harry VIII. amounted to little more, in the estimation of William Turner, than Popery in an Englisb dress, he allows that some excellent translations of the Scriptures were made in bis reign ; wbicb, in many instances (continues he) are far from having been improved upon, by the substitution of tbat which we new use. This sentiment could not fail to please Critical Reviewers, who love to see a bolt fhot at the establishment. Our prefent tranNation of the Scriptures, Mr. Editor, is only offensive to Disfenters, because it was executed by clergymen of the church of England. Had we ftill retained what was called the Bishop's bible, which was the work of fourteen Bishops, it would doubtless have been a version Mill more exceptionable. Our bible, in its present form, is despised, by Diflenters, for the reason above mentioned ; and also because it professed to follow the Biskops' version where it was worthy of being followed, and to reject the fine spun puritanical gloiles of Geneva. Nevertheless, by fuch means was a translation of very great excellence obtained." I ask pardon of the shades of Lowth and New comb, I claim living forgiveness of Blaney and Windle, when I affert that I am far from being perfuaded, that their several tranNations, united, would be preferable to the good old version which they have been fo ftudious to improve; and which they have un. donbtedly in many respects illustrated.
Edward VI. meets with morė mercy than his father from the pen of William Turner, for having made fome attempts to hmplify tbe forms of public worfoip. The fimplihers of public worsip were, however, obliged to fly at the accession of his Roman Catholic fifter; and had now an opportunity of being struck with the greater fimplicity of the worship of their Proteftant brethren abroad. Said fimplicity, at Mary's death, fome vithed to import into England; and were defirous to reduce tbe forms of their own church to a similar Standard. Otbers, being not yet chikdith enough to be in love with foreign fimplicity, retained (Oh! fhocking propensity to popery!) their predilection to the ceremonies and vestments to which they had been accustomed. And Elizabeth (a filly queen, not to love the simplifiers) warmly fided with the latter party. Yes-he bad ber fatber's spirit-She exercised the very feverities she bad escaped-fde oppreffed a body of met, who were so exemplary in their conduct, as to obtain from their less fcrupulous (that įs, less fimplified) neighbours, the appellation of Puritans." William Turner is right. Queen Bess hated a Paritan. She feverely reproved an Oxford doctor, publickly, for being so ftrait-laced. To ber aversion from Puritans, we are perhaps to ascribe that freedom in her conduct, which could
prompt her to be at a play on a Sunday evening, when the fad abi sented herself from the sermon in the morning. That she had good reason to be displeased with the Puritans, William Turner himself has accidentally informed us, when he says, that the Puritans had NATURALLY proceeded from indulging a greater freedom of enquiry on Teligious subjects, to form at the same time MORE ENLARGED NOTIONS OF CIVIL LIBERTY. In fact, Mr. Editor, they mixed politics with religion, like their descendants of the present day; and this conduct William Turner allows to have been natural. I most heartily maintain the fame, and plead that he has confirmed my position, that a republican in cburcb becomes of courfe a republican in state. When David Hume afferts that the spark of liberty was kindled, and preserved by the Puritans (a feet wbofe principles appear to bim so frivolous and their babits fo ridiculous) he acknowledges (and it is Scottish teftimony) that they ever had a wish to fimplify us in ftate as well as in churcb: when, however, that author maintains, that to the Puritans we owe tbe wbole freedom of our constitution, I am of William Turner's opinion that be pays them a very over trained compliment. As well may we attribute to the Whig Club, to the Corresponding Society, or to the minority of a certain legislative atlembly, our present independence. That they have negatively preferved us, I grant; for they have not suffered the true patriot to Neep at his post. But if we have hitherto been admirably piloted, and if our vessel is yet water-tight, and may bid defiance to the tempest that impends, the chief merit is due to the skill of our Palinuri. Not a tittle of it can belong to those, who have wished only to run us aground, and to turn us from the right course, by for ever thouting breakers-a-bead; though their officious impertinence has served to promote a good look out, and prevented us from being ship-wrecked through supineness.
The Puritans of the reign of Elizabeth, William Turner informs us, were the ancestors of the present British non-conformists. At that time, he tells us, they differed in form ratber than in fubftance from their episcopal bretbren--they wisbol ratber to simplify the public worship of the churcb, and to form its government on a more POPULAR and EQUAL plan, tban to alter the dočtrines beld forth in its articles. I am afraid, Mr. Editor, this is no just picture of their descendants. They seem now to differ from us more in substance than in form; and such otheir zeal to fimplify us, that they wish for a plan more popular and equal in our civil as well as in our ecclefiaftical departments. Nor would they be content with an alteration of our articles, but they would require us to fimplify even our creeds and our liturgy, to make them digeftible by the cold Puritan ftomach.
EQUAL religious liberty, continues William Turner, had not yet emnerged from the darknefs of corrupted Christianity. If, Sir, all who oppose Puritans, are to be conlidered as buried in the darkness of corrupted Christianity, there never can exist equal religious liberty under a Puritan government. Indeed the author is candid enough to allow, that the Puritans, when in power, were equally ftrangers
to the just principles of toleration, with those whom they had fupplanted. If a Difenter acknowledge them to have been at least equally, we may venture to pronounce that they were more than equally, strangers to toleration.
The usurper Cromwell is next appealed to, by William Turner, for his enlarged nations of religious liberty. I agree with him that Oliver's is curious authority; and it is equally curious, that a writer who questions the pope's and the king's right of fupremacy, should at once subscribe to the supremacy of Cromwell, and treat his opinion as infallible. • In matters of religion,' says this pope of the Puritans, all men have an equal right to think and act for themselves. While they live in peace with the rest of mankind, they are free to dissent from the magistrate and the priest.' Such, Mr. Editor, is Pope. Oliver's bull; and we may consider it as the Puritan's thirty-nine articles " fidei et religionis, to which no Difsenter has any obje&tion to subscribe. If, after the publication of such do&trine, the temper of the times was such, that even Oliver could not entirely prevent the different fects from biting and devouring each other—if each in its turn vented its malice against the reft, and againf the fallen episcopal church, to what was such conduét owing but to the Arch-puritan's having himself thus publickly maintained the facred right of insurrection For if men are instructed that they have a right to act as well as to think ; if they are declared to be at liberty to diffent from the magistrate as well as from the priest ; it will avail nothing to add that they must live at peace withal, for peace is absolutely incompatible with such a state of warfare. Opinions are armed against each other, the shout of onset is given, and the conflict of anarchy is begun.
In the restoration, says William Turner, the Presbyterians, weary of the distractions which had so long prevailed, joined EQUALLY with the members of the Episcopal church. It might have been hoped, pro. ceeds he, that both parties would have learned wisdom by past experience, and mutually agreed to bury in oblivion the injuries they had. inflicted on each other. This, Sir, is the usual outcry of the vana quished; who, having run their career of cruelty, no sooner find the tide of success turned against them, than they preach up th: beauty of moderation and forgiveness, although in their prosperity they forgot to be exemplary in the practice of either. But the minds of men, says the author, were not yet suficiently expanded. The sufferings of the clergy were returned with tenfold vengeance upon the non-conformists. And how were they returned, Mr. Editor ? What unheard of cruelties did the church of England practise, when restored to her former possessions ? Did she tie the Dissenters to the stake? did she set up a guillotine ? did she condemn them to the axe ? to the halter ? or even send them into exile for the wrongs The had sustained ? No. Of what, then, did her tenfold vengeance confift? Hear William Turner. She re-established (oh horrible to relate!) the Book of COMMON PRAYER, and the ancient EPISCOPAL FORMS, with feueral ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS. What the author implies by additional restrictions we need not enquire, since
the expression manifestly covers the leffer grievances of the Dil. fenters ; a long et cetera of hardships, of inferior cruelty to the res establishment of bishops and the common prayer-book. If, at the restoration of the bishops and the common prayer, two thousand puritanical ministers resigned the means of their fuhsiflence ; that is, gave up the livings they held, rather than violate the dikates of their consciences : without inquiring into the mcans by which they obtained them, and their right of holding them, I 'will pronounce this part of their conduct to be honourable.' But if' tenderness of conscience alone was the cause of this original separation from the church of England, which has subsisted cver since in the persons of those Diffenters whole cause William Turner has undertaken to plead; how is it that their descendants are become fo loosely laced as the preacher has represented ? Ilhatever may be their own sentiments, says he, the ministers of this class endeavour, in their respective congregations, 10 render it easy for Christians of all denominations to attend them without offence. It is their wish to consider persons there afsembled, not as Epifcopalians, Presbyterians, Independents, Calvinists, Arminians, Trinitarians, Unitarians, Baptisls, or Pædobaptifts, but as so many indi, vidual Chrisians. On this principle it is their endeavour to model their devotional fervices; without the most diftant wish to impoje their. orun sentiments upon any single hearer. How charged, therefore, how fallen from the tenets of their rigid forefathers, are these compromising preachers of our days! How are their narrow consciences expanded, and enlarged without measure! They who could formerly refuse to worship God, according to the sentiments of the great majority of the nation, and the wisdom of her representatives in parliament assembled, can, in more modern times, fervilely bow with the utmost respect to the opinions of any feet, however sensible they may be of its errors. They are no longer, Mr. Editor, to be deemed non-conformists, fave only as that title regards the better doctrines and wiser regulations of the church of England. With respect to every thing that is fectarian, be it however fond and absurd, they are conformi;ts. They are ANYTHINGARIANS; they are EVERYTHINGARIANS : and coalesce with all Christians freely but the church of England. And why do they thus meanly Watter the weaknels of every fećtary, and forbear to reprove him for his errors ? Why do they wilh to combine all sectaries in a mais, and to make one united body of all the Disfenters the kingdom ? It proceeds, Mr. Editor, from a hope of being fome day able to assail parliament in such numbers, that it shall not dare to deny to them The repeal of the test-act, and the removal of other obstacles which stand in the way of their ambition. For it is an hereditary opinion of these men, that they have always been karaffed with severe laws and vindi&tive perfecutions (I use William Turner's words); though, in my opinion, the restrictions imposed upon them have ever been mild and falutary, and extremely sorry fhall I be to see them removed.
It is to provide successors in the ministry of this class (a class which avowedly has NO ÇREED as a term of communion) that William