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It would draw out this discourse into an incon venient length, were I to bring forward one-tenth part of what has been written upon this subject, by those who saw it in the fame light in which it was seen by the learned divine just mentioned. One ada ditional quotation from Archbishop SHARP shall, therefore, suffice for our present purpose.
“ If human conjectures (says the Archbishop) about the reasons and causes of Divine judgments may be allowed, it will appear from history and experience, that there has been as much war and blood-lhed caused in the world, as many nations de folated, as many churches ruined, by the malignity and evil influence of this sin of schism, as any other. And if ever God in judgment shall think fit to give over this flourishing church of ours as a prey to its énemies, we shall have good reason to believe, that the unnecessary divisions and quarrels among our: selves had a great hand in bringing on the judgment.”
It must seem strange to a modern Christian, that à fin, of which the world now appears to know nothing, should be thus described. He will be apt to conclude, either that the church of the present day must be a very different society from what it once was, or that the old writers upon this subject were
wonderfully mistaken in their opinion. But if he be a wise man, he will consider, that should what has been said upon this subject be true, his past ignorance upon it cannot possibly make it otherwise. He will consequently think it to be his duty to bring the matter to a fair examination, and suffer his judgment to be determined by the evidence.
“ The sum of all (to make use of the words of Bishop Grove) is in short this. Besides these men who justify their separation from the Church of England by charging her with requiring sinful terms of communion, (which is the only thing that can justify their separațion, if it could be proved;) there are others who separate lightly and wantonly, for want of a due sense of the nature of church communion, and our obligations to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. They have no notion at all of a church, or no notion of one church, or know not wherein the unity and communion of this church consists; and these men think it is indifferent, when ther they communicate with any church at all; or that they secure themselves from schism, by commu. nicating sometimes with one church, and sometimes with another; that they may choose their church according to their own fancies, and change them
again whenever their humour alters. But I hope, whoever considers carefully what I have now writ, and attends to those passionate exhortations of the Gospel to peace, and unity, and brotherly love, which cannot be preserved but in one communion, which is the unity of the body of Christ, and the peace and love of fellow-members; will not only heartily pray to the God of Peace, to restore peace and unity to his church, but be careful how he divides the church himself; and will use his utmost endeavours to heal the present schisms and divisions of the church of CHRIST."*
* Should my reader wish to see the subject of Church Com. munion more fully handled, he will not fail to meet with complete satisfaction, by reference to a discourse, entitled “ A Persuasive to Communion with the Church of England," by Dr. Grove, bishop of Chichester, to be met with among the “ London Cases.” And should he be desirous of having the ground, on which the two preceding chapters ftand, more firmly eftablished, (should such additional establishment be judged necessary) I can refer him to no publication, in which he will find more information on church matters brought into a smaller compass, than in “ LESLEY's Discourse concerning the Qualifications requisite to adminifter the Sacraments;" the supplement to which presents him with a funimary detail of authorities for Episcopacy, taken out of the Fathers and Councils in the firft four hundred and fifty years after Christ: a detail, which appears to leave nothing undone, that human evidence is capable of doing, for the satisfaction of every intelligent reader on this subject,
On the Reasons generally advanced to justify a
Separation from the Church ;—and first, on the supposed. Spiritual Qualification of the Party undertaking the Office of the Ministry.
HAVING dispatched the two leading parts of
our subject, which respect the constitution of the church, considered as the body of CHRIST, and the nature of schism or wilful separation from it; we proceed to consider the reafons generally advanced to justify that separation. For at the same time that men fcruple not to commit the sin, they feel unwilling to acknowledge themselves sinners ; and are therefore industrious in finding out pleas, of one kind or another, which may tend, if not to do away, at least to make the fin sit easy upon their minds. Hence it is, that, in the present day, we have so many definitions of schism, differing more or less from the sense originally and properly annexed