Imatges de pÓgina
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from that circumstance to the state? (for in that point of view I am now placing the subject.) Do you think, Sir, that the government of this country will stand upon a firmer foundation than at present, when its chief support shall, in a great degree, have been drawn from it?

The idea industriously propagated by the Rev. Mr. Haweis, is certainly calculated to make converts among those to whom it is addressed; but it requires but a small share of discernment to discover its fallacy.

"Not all the Popes of Rome, (says he*) not all the bishops and archbishops, nor all the synods in the universe, can make a man a minister of Christ, whatever preferment he may be qualified to hold by law, who has not been inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, and called and qualified by the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls; and where such call and qualifications are found, and such a man approved and chosen by such as have experienced a like call and qualification; whether the commission be delivered from a rochet or a cloak, if Christ owns, blesses, and makes such a minister a

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A Plea for Peace and Union among the living Members of the real Church of Christ, by the Rev. T. Haweis, LL.B."

Mr. Haweis's mode of promoting union in the Church is rather a singular one. In the diocese of Peterborough, he may, for any thing I know to the contrary, live in canonical obedience to his bishop. But when the rector of All Saints, Aldwinckle, comes into the diocese of Bath and Wells, he officiates in a place of worship that is independent of episcopal jurisdic tion; and that has, as I am informed, with the view of escaping parochial assessments, lately taken shelter, as a Dissenting Meeting-House, under the Toleration Act. "Such things are!"

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father of many spiritual children, and seals his approbation of the work by his spirit, in signs following; I think every gracious heart will be disposed to acknowledge such a man as a minister of Christ, completely authorised, and will prefer him to all the pomp and pride of worldly dignity, and an unrenewed spirit, by whatever title distinguished."

Here is some plausibility mixed with much dangerous doctrine. The whole quotation, taken together, may be considered as containing Mr. Haweis's infallible plan for vacating the Apostolic commission, by eradicating from men's minds every idea relative to the instituted government of the Christian Church. A strange undertaking for a minister of that Church to engage in! According to this plan, the ordination of bishops or arch. bishops is of little consideration; the call and qualifications of the man make the minister of Christ. But, as this subject strikes me, no spiritual qualifications whatever, can supersede the necessity of a regular appointment to the ministerial office; because Christ, for wise reasons, left his Church under regular government. Spiritual qualifications enable the minister to discharge his office with better effect; and he will be but an indifferent minister, who is wanting in them; but it is the regular appointment alone that makes the man a minister.

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If we consider the Church, as it is, a regular society, we must have some fixed rules to go by, in every thing that relates to the management

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of its concerns. We are directed to seek knowledge from the mouth of the priest, for this reason, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts; or, in the words of St. Paul, the ambassador for Jesus Christ. Christians must, therefore, be furnished with some sure criterion, by which they may know where this ambassador is to be found.

That this is a matter of no trifling concern, we are authorised to conclude, from the attention at all times paid by God to persons invested with the ministerial commission, considered as a sort of mediators between God and man. We read, for instance, that God would not heal Abimelech, though he knew the integrity of his heart, till Abraham had prayed for him. "He is a prophet, (says God) he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live." ""* If the good Cornelius will have the Gospel revealed to him, he must send to Joppa, for Peter to preach to him.

Now it is a decided position, that no ambassador can send himself. In like manner, and in allusion to the same idea, the Apostle asks, "how shall they preach, except they be sent."+ Mr. Haweis will answer the question, by telling us, that those persons are sent into the ministry, who have the inward call and qualifications for it. But there is a wide difference between being qualified for an office, and being authorised to undertake it. The former may be considered as an invisible thing, of which we may not have it in our power to form a competent judgment. The minister may deceive himself, and of course cannot fail to deceive others. + Rom. x. 15.

* Gen. xx. 7.

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But the outward appointment to an office is that external mark, suited to the administration of a visible society, which our blessed Saviour sanctioned by his own practice, and by which we cannot be deceived.

For, taking the subject on Mr. Haweis's ground, it must be asked, who is to judge of the call and qualifications of every particular minister? not the minister himself, surely? not quite so: but, what appears to amount to the same thing, ministers of a similar description, who have received the same call and qualifications with himself, and have considered them as their sufficient warrant for undertaking the ministry.

This appears to me to be a wild mode of writing, calculated only to exalt that little thing called self, at the expense of propriety and order; and thereby to open a door to endless confusion. The great Dr. Johnson, whose character for piety is too well established to suffer us to suppose that he meant any disparagement to sound religion, when speaking of the inward light to which some pretended, said, it was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil society. "If a man (said he) pretend to a principle of action, of which I can know nothing; nay, not so much that he has it, but only that he pretends to it; how can I tell what that person may be prompted to do? When a person professes to be governed by a written, ascertained law, I can then know where to find him."

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This judicious observation applies to the principle upon which Mr. Haweis appears to act; which,

* Boswell's Life.

by exchanging a certain and established standard of judgment, for a fallible and unwarranted one, leaves the Christian at some loss with respect to the determination of his conduct, upon a subject of the most essential importance.

Desirous of giving every pious person credit for the best intentions, I conceive that Mr. Haweis cannot have considered the extent to which his principle may be carried, nor even that to which he himself has been carried by it. There is one consideration, therefore, I would take leave to recommend to him, taken out of an excellent letter to the Church of England, lately published. "One reformation without authority soon begets another of the same sort: confusion thickens; and of spiritual as well as of political anarchy we all know the end we know whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. One corruption, once admitted, soon increases to more, till all is lost. We preach wrong; that error is corrected by another by a reformation founded in disobedience, that turns to schism; and in schism, they that are wise without the Church, will soon be wise against it: this leads to heresy, and that to infidelity—a dreadful progress, but it hath been verified a thousand times."*

Nor do I think that it can have occurred to you, Sir, that a principle of insubordination to esta blished authority will never cease to act, while there is any settled government to be acted against. The rebellion that originates in the Church never

* Letter to the Church of England, by the late Rev. Mr.

Jones.

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