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"formed on the principles of the great reformer.' After several satisfactory reasons, for the caution of Frederick's conduct, it follows, Neither should ' it be forgotten, that even Frederick himself had ' determined, a little before he died, to afford a more open and substantial support to the evan'gelical preachers in his dominions: and this cir'cumstance, no doubt, was an additional motive 'to his brother, and his nephew,' (John Frederick,) 'to enter on the work of reformation with vigour ' and dispatch.'1
Now, did Frederick, surnamed the wise, and John, surnamed the good, act scripturally, or unscripturally, or antiscripturally, in this part of their conduct? Would that God, who so highly approved of a similar conduct in Hezekiah and Josiah, and others under the ancient dispensation, (a conduct no where prescribed in the Mosaic ritual or judicial law, but exactly according to the first commandment of all, "Thou shalt love the "Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength;") would he, I say, condemn the same conduct in Frederick the wise and John the good? Was it the proper duty and improvement of talent in the rulers of Israel and Judah, and a presumptuous intrusion in the Electors of Saxony? Were they not, as far as their authority was exercised according to the word of God, as it appeared to them, truly interpreted by some of the most eminent theologians among uninspired men, who ever lived, as entirely to be distinguished from that of Charles the fifth of Ger
'Dean Milner, ibid. p. 960-963.
many, or our king Henry the eighth; as that of the pious kings of Judah was to be distinguished from Jeroboam, from Ahaz, and Manasseh, or Antiochus Epiphanes?
Indeed, all the princes who favoured the Reformation used their authority in support of the reformers, most of them with great decision, and not always in an unexceptionable manner; nay, sometimes by very reprehensible measures. All the reformers, likewise, in one degree or other, sought and welcomed their support and concurrence, with more or less discrimination or caution. Luther and others did not wait for it, but went on in their efforts, without or against all human authority; but, when attainable, they availed themselves of it.
Now, if indeed the experience and progress in learning and knowledge, of much more than two hundred years, have enabled moderns to discover the mistakes and wrong steps of these illustrious men, (as many confidently presume that they do, who seem quite blind to their transcendent excellencies ;) it is surely rather too much to say, "No " doubt we are the people, and wisdom shall die "with us," or at least it was born with us! Surely we ought to allow, that these persons, whom God honoured with a degree of usefulness almost rivalling that of the apostles, though they were not infallible, or right in every thing, were yet not mistaken in every thing, even of this nature; especially as no men in any age ever so diligently and carefully studied the whole of the oracles of God. And surely, instead of classing these Electors of Saxony, our Edward, and a few others, and all who
availed themselves of their countenance and assistance, with Charles the fifth, Henry the eighth, or even our illustrious queen Elizabeth, we should consider what was scriptural, and what not, in their several measures: we ought to distinguish between the precious and the vile; and, while we unite in condemning all compulsory and persecuting proceedings in matters of conscience, we should be careful not to condemn what God approved and commended in Hezekiah and Josiah.
Finally, if the reasoning in this Treatise be conclusive, it shews that the exercise of authority (with this and a few other exceptions,) in the pious princes who favoured the Reformation was as much their duty, and the improvement of their talent, under the Christian dispensation, as that of the pious kings of Judah was in their days; and called on the friends of true religion, to thank God for putting such things into the hearts of their princes. And we also are called on to pray, that God would speedily, by putting such things into the heart of all kings and princes, render them, according to his sure word of prophecy, NURSING FATHERS TO HIS CHURCH."
If, indeed, all concerned could be induced to agree, that authority, as well as wealth, might be improved as a talent in promoting the cause of God; and that princes and senates, individually and collectively, have duties in this respect as well as other men; and if all would employ their attention in carefully distinguishing between the scrip
'That is, with the exception of all cumpulsory and persecuting proceedings.'-J. S.
tural exercise of this authority, and that which is contrary to scripture: if, in respect of existing establishments, those who dissent from them would candidly acknowledge what is right and good in them, and point out calmly, yet firmly, and with scriptural proof, not with general declamation, what they disapprove; and if, on the other hand, the zealous friends of establishments would not attempt to vindicate what cannot admit of scriptural vindication, and only plead with firmness and temper for what can be thus supported; the case would then become more hopeful. But, so long as, on one side, every thing is indiscriminately reprobated, and, on the other, indiscriminately justified, or even extolled, there can be no hope of improvement or of peace; and nations professing "the gospel of peace" must continue to resemble, not "a city that is at unity with " itself," but "a kingdom or house divided against "itself."-May "the God of peace" increase the number and active zeal of those who " endeavour "to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace!"
Aston Sandford, March 28, 1817.
END OF THE NINTH VOLUME.