Imatges de pÓgina

aware of. It is a doctrine, which, if traced to its source, will be found to spring (too often, it is to be feared) from that fatal root of pride which threw the angels out of heaven, and which will effectually bar all entrance into it. Pride, joined with human learning, causes men to deny every doctrine which their finite understandings cannot fully comprehend, and leads to Unitarianism, Deism, and Atheism. Pride, joined with ignorance, and a warm imagination, causes men to despise all human learning, and sometimes even the ordinances and word of God, and leads to enthusiasm, delusion, and madness. Whilst the humble Christian, sensible of his own weakness, relying on the merits of his Saviour, and continuing steadfastly in the use of those means which He has appointed for the attainment of Divine grace, is thereby guided safely in the way that leadeth unto life.

And now, on taking once more a general review of your publication, there does not appear to me to be any thing of importance which has not received some answer; written, I trust, in such a style and temper, as neither to offend you, nor disgrace myself.

Should we unhappily still differ, I trust you will at least do me the justice to think that I write from principle and settled conviction, and not hastily conclude, (because I see some things in a different point of view from that in which they appear to you) that I must be a dishonest man. A great part of your book proceeds on the position, that the Calvinistic doctrine is the established doctrine of the Church of England. But as this position is rather taken for granted by you than proved, I feel

myself at liberty to reject it, provided I do it upon what appears to me conclusive evidence. That evidence has been fairly brought before you in the course of the foregoing letters: it is evidence, I flatter myself, which no Calvinist will ever succeed in his attempt to invalidate.

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Confirmed, however, in my own opinion on this as well as other subjects treated in my book, I, at the same time feel (thank God) no portion of that odium theologicum, the greatest disgrace of Christian divines, which leads them, in unguarded moments, to speak harshly or disrespectfully of those who may happen to dissent from them on speculative points. The great fundamental doctrines of the cross have been both sincerely believed, and fully taught, by the most learned and pious men in different ages of the Church, who never considered that particular doctrine, for which you are so warm an advocate, as constituting any part of the Divine counsel. Those pious and learned men who have thought with you on this subject, admitting them to be in error, are entitled to respect; and I should consider myself to be most defective in Christian charity, was I to withhold what is most certainly their due. My sincere wish, in correspondence with my duty, has been to write in defence of the Church of Christ, not (according to the charge brought against me in the second page of your publication)" to give a stab to our excellent mother;" but to maintain the cause of Christian unity, as every minister of the Church ought to do, without pronouncing judgment upon those who offend against it. With this view I

have thought it necessary to maintain episcopal government as essential to the constitution of the Christian Church. That it is the best form of government, may be inferred from its having not only the warrant of scripture for its institution, but also the constant practice of the Church for its continuance, from the days of the Apostles to the present time. Strong, however, as the authority is on which this declaration is founded, I nevertheless do not take on myself to say, that the Church may not subsist under any other form of government; but this I conceive to be a point for God, not man, to determine. Nor do I take upon me to assert, that the salvation of Christian people depends absolutely and entirely upon the lawful calling of their ministers; for it was not the object of my book to enter into all the circumstances that have taken or may take place among Christians in Church matters: still I do not scruple to say, according to the most decided judgment of the Church from the beginning, that where a valid ministry is established, of which advantage may be taken, it ought to become a matter of very serious and important consideration with Christians, how far any of the ordinances or sacraments of religion can be duly and effectually administered without it. For although the definition of the Church contained in our Articles, was purposely less definitive than it might have been, with the view of giving the least possible offence to those whom our reformers wished to reconcile; a moderation by which our Church has rather lost than gained; yet it must not from thence be concluded,

that ecclesiastical unity may be dispensed with, and that differences on that subject are matters of unimportant consideration.

With these sentiments before you, I trust you will no longer think, that the most confirmed judgment with respect to the nature of the Christian Church, and the obligation all Christians lie under to conform to it, is necessarily connected with an uncharitable disposition towards those who think fit to separate from it. To give Christians right notions of the Church, that, by understanding what is meant by living in unity and godly love, they may be disposed to conform to the will of its Divine Founder, is, I conceive, one of the greatest acts of charity that a Christian minister can perform. Should he not succeed in his endeavours to promote the welfare of his fellow-Christians, he ought, at least, to have credit for his intention, and not be made answerable for consequences which it is his professed object to prevent. Many learned and wise men, from a want either of firmness of mind or decision of judgment, have been induced to palliate and soften doctrines which it was their duty earnestly to maintain. Others there are, whose professional abilities might qualify them to stem the tide of prevailing error, who adopt a maxim unsanctioned either by the Gospel or experience, that false opinions, if let alone, will die of themselves. These are patterns of discretion, after which I feel no wish to copy. The Bible has taught me, what it will teach every man who is disposed to learn, that there can be no compromise between truth and error. If, therefore, the doctrine

maintained in my book respecting the Church, as a society of Christ's framing, be true, the conclusions drawn from it must stand their ground, how unpalateable soever they may be to those Christians, who, "instead of drawing living water for the use of the sanctuary from the fresh springs of antiquity, take up with such as comes to them at second or third hand from the Lake of Geneva."

The cause I have taken in hand, I am well aware is not a popular one. That weak and temporizing conduct, by which many of the cabinets of Europe have contributed to the success of the desolating system of French policy, seems to be the conduct which is judged to be best suited to the present circumstances of the Church. The consequence, it is to be feared, will be, that that deluge of sectarianism which is now inundating our land on every side, will, in the end, sweep away every barrier which the constitution of this country has to oppose to its destructive progress. This idea, however, is not likely, at this time, to be generally adopted. The loose habit of thinking, which constitutes one of the characteristics of the present day, must be unfavourable to an advocate for established order. But that minister of the Church who is not prepared to go through evil report, has undertaken an office for which he is unqualified. "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?"*

When I consider what the Church of England

*Matt. x. 25.

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