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A view of Presbyterian church-government.
RELIGIOUS tyranny subsists in various degrees-As all civil tyrannies do.-POPERY is the consummation of it—AND presbyterianism a weak degree of it-BUT the latter has in it the essence of the former-AND differs from it only as a kept mistress differs from a street-walking prostituteÓR as a musquet differs from a cannon.
The reformed church at Geneva was the parent of the other reformed churches—AND this rendered presbyterianism odious to monarchsIt was supposed to be formed on republican principles—and for the same reason it was always offensive to the people as it was supposed to be—AND really is—A kind of ecclesiastical aristocracy-EXCLUDING both the monarch-AND the people—AND placing church-government in the hands of a select few.
All church affairs in presbyterian governments are managed--IN some places by two-and in others by three-ASSEMBLIES—THE first is a consistory-on presbytery --within each congregation The second a synod-OR a provincial assembly ---CONSISTING of deputies from the several consistories. The third is a general-or national assembly—MADE up of deputies from the synods.APPEALS lie from the consistory to the synodAND from the synod to the general assembly--
WHOSE sentence is final.—John Knox established this in Scotland--THE Scots brought it into England-AND the long parliament established it here -In lieu of episcopacy.—Ir is equally intolerant with episcopacy—AND cannot stand without civil power.-It is somewhat remarkable that popery in Canada-EPISCOPACY in England—AND presbyterianism in Scotland—ARE all three established religions in the dominions of the king of Great Britain.
Various reformed churches have adopted various forms of church-government-But all are reducible to three-SIMILAR to civil governments. Popery--AND episcopacy-ARE absolute monarchies-- PRESBYTERIANISM is aristocracy some independent churches are democratical—BUT all adopt one grand error--PRODUCTIVE of two great evils—WHICH generate ten thousand more -ALL nefarious.
The great and fountain error is the considering of conscience as a subject of human government. This notion produces two great evils.- 1. LEG19LATION-Now all human legislation is oppressive to conscience-And it is immaterial where this power is lodged--It is tyranny any where.-2.EnFORCING laws made by Jesus Christ-BY penal sanctions.-In popery-AND episcopacy-BOTH the legislative and executive power are lodged in the same person.-PRESBYTERIANISM is exactly like them—AND only swears the civil magistrate to do the worst part of the work.-From these two evils—MAKING laws for conscience-And then executiug them -- OR-executing laws made by Jesus Christ by coercive measures—PROCEED confusion-AND every evil work.
To spread the faith-And to extirpate hereticks --AND schismaticks--ARE only pretences-In the mouths of popes—AND princes ---They have secular views--and have given innumerable evidences--THAT they know no heresy but patriotismAND no orthodoxy but despotism-But it was not thus with Calvin--Knox-CRANMER--AND other reformers-THEY were sincerely mad with intolerance—AND seriously possessed with the rage
of converting by force-It was pity they had not paused--AND thought oftener !
Finish-By a retrospect.--Observe-—THAT ecclesiastical history in the days of Christ—AND his apostles -Is an exhibition of every humane--AND generous sentiment.--That it has been since a scene of infinite woe.That the papal apostacy lost the spirit of christianity and imbibed that of the devil.—That the reformers came smarting--AND feeling their way out of that bad school. -That secular powers associated with them to renounce popery—AND to form an opposition against it.-That the word toleration was not then known
-NOR any idea of it-adopted by those reformers. -That--in a word--they were commendable for going so far-AND that we should be unpardonable for going no further.—THAT one word of St. Paul is a better body of what they call churchpolity--than all the ship-loads of laws--AND canons-THAT have been since made-THAT word is-STUDY TO BE QUIET.
State of Religion from the Restoration to the
CHARLES II. was a polite — DISSIPATEDgentleman-of humane principles-BUT of no religion. When the nation restored him, they aimed to realize Oliver's plan of monarchy and liberty in Charles----Whose inclination was good--AND his tide unexceptionable.--ACCORDINGLY civil liberty was very much advanced in this reign---AND SO would religious liberty--HAD not the revival of episcopacy defeated the design-But those old sinners, episcopalians, not become wise by affliction ----FELL to their former practices again.—THEY soothed the king—AND first deceived --AND then destroyed the puritans.
CHARLES published a declaration for liberty of conscience-Which the parliament would have enacted- But the prelates acted the farce of a conference at the Savoy-TAXED the puritans with sham plots--RENDERED them suspected by government--AND by the basest arts got the act of uniformity passed-Which ejected above 2000 ministers.-Then followed the conventicle act+THE Oxford act-UNDER all which CLARENDONSHELDONWARD+AND other bishops--IMPRISONED and murdered 8000 IMPOVERISHED and ruined thousands of families-- DROVE multitudes lato Holland_AND America-+-+AND rabbed them
of 12-or 14 millions of property.--The kingAND the parliament---OFTEN endeavoured to give them liberty—BUT their designs were frustrated by the prelates and the clergy–who preached the divine right of kings — BISHOPS—AND tithes-PASSIVE obedience and non-resistance--AND invented new church holidays for the purpose of propagating their seditious doctrines -- WHILE they overwhelmed the nation with impiety-And im morality. The few scholars--AND good men of the party-HAD received their education from puritans in the time of the civil wars.
James II. was an arbitrary governor-A determined papist-HE assumed a dispensing power AND aimed to bring in popery-For which purpose he published two declarations of indulgenee--IN order to engage the nonconformists on his side. MANY of them refused an unconstitutional liberty Which the parliament durst not enact for fear of popery-WHICH the king-AND the prelateş had prepared too many to receive.-Many prelates shewed more inclination to popery-THAN TO nonconformity--AND continued their bloody measures of church-polity.
James and his bloody counsellor Jefferies brought the episcopal clergy into the most terrible dilemma-THEY had ever asserted absolute royal supremacy over conscience.AND now the supreme head of their protestant church was a furious papist
Who ereeted an ecclesiastical commission-AND appointed some popish commissioners to reform