« ZurückWeiter »
them liberty to break the peace of the Church, for matters indifferent ? That is, to destroy peace, essential to salvation; to save liberty, the creature of human pride? Another apologist of the Dissenters, the author of The Independent Whig, puts this matter out of question; and affirms without reserve, that schism is so necessary to the preservation of liberty, that there can be no liberty without schism. What would the Christian world be, if this principle were universally followed? No two of us could consent together; because the one must lose his liberty, till he goes off into schism ; so it would break all Christian societies into individuals. Liberty and bondage are words of strange significations in this land, which it would be tedious to display. Only let us distinguish, that there is no bondage in dutiful submission ; for that is the service of God which is perfect freedom: nor any liberty in unreasonable disobedience; for that is the bondage of Satan, who works in the children of disobedience, and puts them to a great deal of trouble; making them restless and impatient, and leading them such a wearisome life, that if it were not called liberty, they would wish themselves out of the world.
8. The Church of England is accused of taking away the Bread and the Cup, unless
people people will receive kneeling; and Christ hath not made kneeling a necessary term of Communion.
Nor is it necessary with us; because we administer the Sacrament to the sick or the infirm, either sitting, kneeling, or lying. Kneeling is proper to an act of devotion; such the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is now, and not a social act of eating, as at the Passover, when it was first instituted. Kneeling may admit of a bad construction, because the Papists kneel and worship the Host: but Charity will give it a good construction, and then all the difficulty is
However, let us call it an imposition: yet why should the enjoying of it be objected to by the very people, who imposed on all that took their solemn league and covenant the posture of standing, with the ceremony of lifting up the right hand bare? But, what is still more to the purpose, one of their apologists assures us, they make no scruple of giving their Sacrament to all those who chuse to kneel in a Meet ing-house*, Therefore it is not the thing,
(though ** In some of our Churches, there are some who receive standing, some kneeling.-Nor is there, I believe, amongst our ministers, one in five hundred, who would refuse to give the Sacrament either standing or kneeling, to any one who thought either of these the fittest posture of receiving." Dissenring Gentlemen's Answer to the Rev. Mr. White's Three Letters, P. 21.
(though that is sometimes highly exclaimed against) but the enjoining of the thing that renders it offensive: and it appears from this case, that Dissenters will do that to please themselves which they will not do to please God; who hath enjoined us all to be at peace with one another, and to agree in his worship.
Sponsors in Baptism, and the signature of the Cross, are objected to.
But the first is only a prudent provision, as a farther security for the child, if the parents should die, or be of such characters as renders them unfit for sponsors; which the child cannot help. The signature of the Cross can give no offence (as one should think) to any person who delights in the memory
of the Cross itself. The purest ages of the Church used it on all occasions, particularly in exorcisms, which were antiently a part of Baptism, and there are some pretty clear intimations in the Scripture for the use of some signature on the forehead; and the first of all signatures is that of the Cross. For motives of worldly traffic, the Dutch, instead of preferring it to a place in their foreheads; trample it under their feet: and our Dissenters reject it from an affection to their schism. If the Papists are superabundant and superstitious in the use of the Cross, what is that to us? If they repeat the
Lord's Prayer twenty times in an hour, are we not to repeat it all * ?
9. It is farther objected to our Church, that the people have a right, an unalienable right, to chuse their own ministers; which with us they are not permitted to do.
As for the patriotic term unalienable, it is ap- : plied to the rights of nature, which are unalienable because they are inherent. But here, it can only mean, that the Dissenters claim it, and are resolved not to part with it. On this part of the subject, I must lament with tears in my eyes, the great abuses in the Church of England, in respect to patronage and admission into Church-livings. But in bad times, no regulations are sufficient to secure us from corruption; and even the very means appointed to keep out bad men,' will let them in: for there are times, when persons of no conscience or character may act with impunity; and the worst of men are the most ready to play with all religious securities. That this case would be mended if the choice of ministers were always with the people, is by no means clear. For nothing is so common as for people to be divided in interests and affec
* See the use of the Signature of the Cross in Baptism, fully and learnedly vindicated in Bennet's Abridgment of the London Cases, chap. vi.
tions on very unworthy motives; and thence many great and scandalous disturbances arise ; and a parish is so divided into parties, that perhaps they do not come into humour again for some years. Besides; suppose a Socinian should have got possession of a pulpit, and preached the people for a few of the most active, noisy, and cunning, who overbear all the rest) into heresy: whom would they chuse, but a Socinian, at the next vacancy? And would it not be much better that an Orthodox minister should be put upon them? If the people have this right, then all the people have it; and consequently a Socinian congregation have a right to chuse a Socinian minister. How the Scripture hath been handled, as to this affair of popular election, was noted in the Postscript to the Essay on the Church.
19. Though the Dissenters have no ministry by Succession, they make light of this defect, and think they are as well off as we are, because they say, our right of ordairing came down to us through the channel of Popery.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in a Church, were no invention of Popery, nor is our succession any more affected by Popery, than the Apostles' Creed, which is also come down to us through the channel of Popery ; and so is Canon