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Are not these words enough to make the hair“ stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine?" We all read them, and have read them
and yet, from our general conduct, it would seem that no such passage might be found in the Sacred Writings. We Protestants are almost universally of opinion, that they apply directly to the Members of the Church of Rome. The Members of that Church read them as well as we Protestants, and yet we hardly ever hear of a Catholic becoming a Protestant, any more than of a Jew becoming a Christian. They have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; hearts, and understand not. The LORD, in judgment, hath sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie. The words are 'extremely plain, and inexpressibly alarming; but the force of them is always evaded, by applying them to any thing, rather than to their own church..We Protestants too read them, and make ourselves easy under the awful denunciation, by applying them exclusively to the Church of Rome; never dreaming, that they are, at least, in a secondary sense, equally applicable, not only to the English, but to every Church Establishment in Christendom, which retains any
of the marks of the Beast. To me this admits of no doubt. If I am mistaken, it is my very great misfortune. My judgment has not been biassed by interest, by connections, by inclination, or by any human considerations whatever. I have thought much upon the subject; read on both sides of the question whatever has fallen in my way; conversed with various persons for the sake of information; suffered the matter to rest upon my mind for some years undetermined; have never made my fears, suspicions, and dissatisfaction known to any man; and now, when I bring near to myself the thought of quitting one of the most commodious churches in the kingdom, erected on purpose for my own ministrations; leaving interred by it many a precious deposit, who will, I trust, be my joy and crown in the great day of the LORD JESUS, besides a mother, a wife, two children, and a sister; and giving up various kind friends, whom I love as my own soul, together with a large body of people, that, if it were possible, would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them to me:- What shall I say?- All that is affectionate within me recoils. I am torn with conflicting passions; distance from this horrible curse, which is sufficient to make the ears of every one that hears it to tingle,"
and am ready to say with the Apostle, I could wish that myself were accursed from CHRIST for my friends and brethren, whom I love in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
But then, various passages of Stripture--(ill understood, some will say)—urge me, on the most momentous considerations, to renounce a situation, which I cannot any longer retain with peace of mind. Perhaps it is my own fault; certainly it is my very heavy misfortune. I bewail it exceedingly. I have received no affront; conceived no disgust; formed no plans; made no connections; consulted no friends; experience no weariness of the ministerial office; the ways of religion are still pleasant; I have been glad when duty called me to the house of God; his Word hath been delightful; the pulpit has been awe fully pleasing: the table of the Lord hath been the joy of my heart, and now that PROVIDENCE calleth me away, with some degree of reluctance it is that I say, LORD, here I am. Do with me what seemeth thee good. Let me stay where I am, I gladly stay. Send me where thou wilt, I will endeavour to submit. Only go with me, and thy pleasure shall be mine.
ADDENDA ET CORRIGENDA.
GRAY is spoken of in the 61st page as a believer, and on the 300th page, as a deist. His character seems to have been ambiguous. He was an ingenious, but whimsical man, yet a poet of no ordinary rank.
The Methodists are mentioned in several parts of the foregoing pages; particularly on the 72d there is a general account of the state of their societies. I add here, that Alkin in his Tour through North Wales, page 148th, has paid that body of people a very high compliment. Nor has Mr. Paley done less in his Evidences, vol. i. page 38th, where he says,~" After men became Christians, much of their time was spent in prayer and devotion, in religious meetings, in celebrating the eucharist, in conferences, in exhortations, in preaching, in an affectionate intercourse with one another, and correspondence with other so cieties. Perhaps their mode of life, in its form and habit, was not very unlike the Unitas Fratrum, or of modern Methodists."
Mr. Cecil, in his pleasing Memoirs of the honourable and reverend W. B. CADOGAN, pp. 29–36, has given a pretty fair account of this body of people, which is every where spoken against, and has honestly and ably defended them from the obloquy which is usually cast upon all seriously religious characters by the world. The single circumstance, of their being generally, I might almost say universally, reviled and abused by all other denominations of professing Christians, is to me a certain sign, that there is something peculiarly good and excellent among them. The criterion whereby to judge, which our SAVIOUR has given us, is, If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Jolin xv. 19.
It is said, on the 1420 page, that “the very last improvements which took place in our ecclesiastical frame of things, Mere in the reign of JAMES I."
This is not, strictly speaking, true. There were some few useful alterations and additions made in our public forms of worship during the reign of CHARLES II. which should have been noticed in their place, but which were overlooked there.
On the 150th page, it is said, “ Every young man, without exception, subscribes, when he becomes a member of either of our English universities, he believes from his soul er animo, that every thing contained in the Articles, Homilies, Commor Prayer, and Offices of Ordination, is agreeable to the Word of God.”
This assertion too is not accurate. Some alterations took place in tbis respect at Cambridge upwards of twenty years ago. But in Oxford, subscription coutinues as it was, I believe, to this day. Every person there, who has attained the age of twelve years, subscribes the Articles of Faith and Religion, when he is matriculated.
Page 151, line 2. “ Spiritual courts,"--add the words of Bishop Burnet, who was well acquainted with these matters. And be it remembered, that every Bishop in England and Ireland has a Court of this description; and that the less true religion prevails in any diocese, the greater and more frequent are the abuses of these Courts.—The Bishop's words are: “ As for the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it has been the burden of my
life to see how it was administered: our Courts are managed under the rules of the Canon Law, dilatory and expensive; and as their constitution is bad, so the business in them is small: and therefore all possible contrivances are used, to make the most of those causes that come before them; so that they are universally dreaded and hated.”—Conclusion of the Hist. of his own Times.
Before the reader too severely condemns the author of this Plea for Religion, because of his leaving the Church, and the various reflections he has made upon the Bishops and Clergy; he requests that this work of the good Bishop, namely, the Conclusion of the History of bis Own Times, may be thofoughly read and considered. The Bishops and Clergy of the land should be extremely familiar both with that and his admirable little book on the Pastoral Care. It is high time to awake out of sleep.
The number of persons who declined officiating in the Church of England, upon the conditions required, in the 17th
kentury, was upwards of two thousand. MULTON was brought. up and sent to the university with a view to the Church; but when he came seriously to consider the conditions pon which he must enter, he declined the sacred office. “To the church," says he, “ by the intentions of my parents and friends, I was destined of a child, and in mine own resolutions, till coming to some maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded the church, that he who would take orders must subscribe, slave, and take an oath withal; which unless he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either straight perjure, or split his faith; I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."
There have been some respectable persons in our own day, who have declined entering into the Church of England, from objections entertained to our oaths and subscriptions; others have complied with all our forms and ceremonies, but have been obliged to strain and shuffle, and have never known what peace of mind and good conscience afterwards meant; and several others have been so pressed and wounded in their minds, that they have given up their situations, after they have been already ordained. The late Mr. Archdeacon BLAGKBURNE was never properly at rest in his spirit; the present Dean TUCKER gives up several things among us as wrong; Dr. ROBERTSON, Messrs. Dyer, EVANSON, and WAKEFIELD, all resigned their letters of orders; or at least have ceased to officiate as ministers in the Establishment.
There may be other mistakes in point of fact or history, which have escaped my observation. If such should be discovered, by any friendly hand, they shall be acknowledged and corrected.