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of him who sent me, that, of all which he has given me, I should lose none, but should raise it up again at the last day (a). The hour is coming, when all, that are in the graves, shall hear his voice, and come forth : they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (6). That the church, in these points likewise, is the faithful echo of her master's voice, I need not stay to prove.
Such are the inestimable truths, which the disciples of Arius, Arminius, and Socinus, are labouring to wrest from our hands. How must infidels, on one side, and papists, on the other, exult to see any part (though, blessed be God, it is a very small part indeed) of the established clergy, laying the train, and holding the match, to blow up that very church, of which God and man have conspired to make them the nominal guardians! Adverting to such false brethren, may she not too justly complain, He that eateth my bread layeth great wait for me, and hath lifted up his heel against me? Yea, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table? Considering the quarter, from whence the late application to parliament arose, it may be considered as one of the most abandoned efforts that ever were made: so consummately flagitious, that the very party themselves thought proper to mask the battery, and play it off (as much as they could) in the dark. They published their petition ; but took care not to publish their names: though their names would not have taken up more room than their petition. Thus, every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved: but he that doth truth, cometh to the light, instead of shrinking from it, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. Not so wrought was the deed, by which those gentlemen violated their promises to God, trampled on the supremacy of the king, treated the episcopal bench as cyphers, and laboured to destroy the faith they had solemnly engaged to preach.
go EIS wagadsioov, into paradise, and that paradise not be local ? Place, according to sir Isaac Newton's definition, is pars spatii quam corpus occupat: either, therefore, the bodies of the saints never will be in heaven (which would infer a flat denial of the resurrection); and the body of Christ is not in heaven (which but to imagine, were infidelity indeed); or heaven may be, is, and must be, truly and properly, local. (a) John vi. 39. (6) Ib. v. 29.
To say, that “ the church would be sufficiently secured by subscribing only to the scriptures at large;" is a mere pretence, far too thin to conceal the cloven foot which lurks beneath. Arians and Socinians profess to believe the Bible. Papists, Arminians, and Pelagians, profess the same. " So does every sect, which affects to shelter itself under the name of Christianity. Besides, upon the petitioners' own principles, subscription to the Bible itself would bear quite as hard on some men, as subscription to the liturgy and articles is supposed to do on others. One man may be every whit as sincere in infidelity, as another can be in heterodoxy. And if, in after times, a candidate for holy orders should happen to be an infidel, it would (according to the mode of reasoning adopted by the feathery divines) be full as grievous an encroachment on the right of private judgment, to insist on such a man's subscribing to the scriptures; as it can possibly be, to insist on other people's subscribing to the XXXIX articles. If the exaction of the latter is now cried out against, as an imposition ; so, in a short time, would the former. And with full as much reason : for, can it be proved, that God has given heretics a charter of ease, to the exclusion of poor infidels ? -The Socinian goes but one step farther than the Arian; and the Deist goes but one step beyond the Socinian. Is the difference of a single step so very important, that every ecclesiastical door must be thrown wide open, to admit the bible-subscribing Socinian ; while the non-subscribing infidel has every door flung in his face, though he stand but a few inches from his admitted neighbour, yea, so near him that their elbows might touch? Would not a Deist, a Mahometan, a Jew, a Pagan, or a Papist, have as much cause, in that case, to exclaim, as an Arian or Socinian pretends to have now? I conclude, therefore, that subscription to the Bible, and subscription to the liturgy, articles, and homilies, stand on one and the same bottom: and the argument, for abolishing subscription to these, would hold with equal force, for the abolition of subscription to that. It is manifest, therefore, to what point the superseding project ultimately tends.
The plain truth seems to be, that the petitioners wish to divest the church of a power, which even a free-mason's club justly possess (I mean the power of expecting conformity to herself, from all whom she admits into her bosom); only that they themselves may sit down to the loaves and fisbes, without the trouble of previously saying grace. They want to be supported at the public expence, for doing nothing, and for believing nothing. But, in such a case, would not the wisdom of legislature soon begin to ask this reasonable question, “Why all this waste of tythes and church-lands on a useless body of men ?” And would not a speedy resumption of both be the natural consequence? It certainly would, if the legislature were in their senses.
Let the petitioners therefore, lay at least this to heart, in due season. If they care not for the doctrines which they have solemnly subscribed ; let them, however, take heed to what they confessedly love, even the bag, and that which is therein (á). Though they have no regard to the ark of God, yet let them prudently take some thought for the security of their Diana.
Clergymen of this cast, are very apt to complain of the contempt which is thrown upon them. But is it all surprising, that any who are ritual conformists and avowed doctrinal dissenters, should be disliked for their want of integrity, and despised for their insignificancy? How pertinent, and solemn, are those words of God, by the prophet! The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and men should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts : therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. Mal. ii.
In a letter of Mr. Pope's (if I mistake not), mention is made of an eastern fable, to this effect: The owls and bats once joined, in a petition to Jupiter, against the sun; humbly showing, that his beams were so insufferably troublesome, that the petitioners could not fly abroad with comfort, but were kept prisoners, in their respective recesses, for at least twelve hours out of the twenty-four. Jupiter, seeing Phæbus shortly after, informed him of the application he had received; adding, I shall, however, take no notice of the petition; and be it your business to revenge yourself by shining.
May the sentiment be verified in the clergy of the establishment, at this critical and perilous juncture! Let us be careful to stand in the good old ways, and stedfastly abide by the doctrines of the reforma
(a) John xii. 6.
tion, which are found to quadrate so exactly with the glorious gospel of the blessed God. . Be it our care, at once to avenge and heal the wounds of our sacred mother the church, by shining in her defence; by holding forth and holding up the word of life purely, without mixture; meekly, without malevolence, yet intrepidly, without fear or shame; honestly, without self-seeking ; fully, without reserve, without partiality, and without hypocrisy ; practically (a), by giving all diligence to order every part of our own moral demeanor, as becometh the gospel of Christ : giving no just cause of offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed; but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on
(a) Plato the philosopher, had a nephew (named Speusippus) whose morals were so intolerably dissolute, that his parents discarded him and turned him out of doors. Plato then took him into his own house, to live with him. While there, the amiable philosopher did not endeavour to reclaim him by dry lectures and disgustful expostulations ; but strove to make him in love with virtue, by the brightness of his own example. The expedient succeeded.Speusippus, at once shamed and charmed by the practical eloquence of his uncle's blameless life, grew reformed on principle, and, afterwards became himself, a very eminent philosopher.—Are we desirous of winning souls to Christ, and of demonstrating ourselves to be children of God? Our exhortations and our profession must have the sanction of our own example ; which, more than all the studied oratory in the world; more than all the cold harangues on the “ moral fitness of things,” and the “ beauty and expediency of virtue;" will bring glory to God, honour to the gospel, comfort to our own minds, and solidly edify those to whom we minister and with whom we converse. Thus reasons the apostle Paul: Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest, a man should not steal; dost thou steal ? Thou that sayest, a man should not commit adultery; dost thou commit adultery? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God? Rom. ii. 21-23.