صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

It would draw out this difcourfe into an inconvenient length, were I to bring forward one-tenth part of what has been written upon this fubject, by those who saw it in the fame light in which it was seen by the learned divine just mentioned. One additional quotation from Archbishop SHARP fhall, therefore, fuffice for our prefent purpose.

"If human conjectures (fays the Archbishop) about the reasons and caufes of Divine judgments may be allowed, it will appear from hiftory and experience, that there has been as much war and blood-fhed caused in the world, as many nations defolated, as many churches ruined, by the malignity and evil influence of this fin of fchifm, as any other. And if ever GOD in judgment fhall think fit to give over this flourishing church of ours as a prey to its enemies, we shall have good reason to believe, that the unneceffary divifions and quarrels among our felves had a great hand in bringing on the judgment."

It must seem strange to a modern Christian, that a fin, of which the world now appears to know nothing, fhould be thus described. He will be apt to conclude, either that the church of the prefent day must be a very different fociety from what it once was, or that the old writers upon this subject were

wonderfully mistaken in their opinion. But if he be a wife man, he will confider, that should what has been faid upon this subject be true, his past ignorance upon it cannot poffibly make it otherwife. He will confequently think it to be his duty to bring the matter to a fair examination, and fuffer his judgment to be determined by the evidence.

"The fum of all (to make use of the words of Bishop GROVE) is in fhort this. Befides thefe men who justify their separation from the Church of England by charging her with requiring finful terms of communion, (which is the only thing that can justify their separation, if it could be proved;) there are others who feparate lightly and wantonly, for want of a due fenfe of the nature of church communion, and our obligations to preferve 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 confifts: and thefe men think it is indifferent, whether they communicate with any church at all; or that they fecùre themfelves from fchifm, by commu nicating fometimes with one church, and fometimes 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 confiders carefully what I have now writ, and attends to those paffionate 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 prefent fchifms and divifions 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 fatisfaction, by reference to a discourse, entitled "A Perfuasive to Communion with the Church of England," by Dr. GROVE, bishop of Chichester, to be met with among the "London Cases." And fhould he be desirous of having the ground, on which the two preceding chapters ftand, more firmly established, (fhould fuch additional establishment be judged neceffary) 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 ta adminifter the Sacraments:" the supplement to which prefents him with a fummary detail of authorities for Epifcopacy, 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 fatisfaction of every intelligent reader on this fubject.


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.

AVING dispatched the two leading parts of


our fubject, which refpect the constitution of the church, confidered as the body of CHRIST, and the nature of fchifm or wilful feparation from it; we proceed to confider the reafons generally advanced to justify that feparation. For at the fame time that men fcruple not to commit the fin, they feel unwilling to acknowledge themselves finners; 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 fit eafy upon their minds. Hence it is, that, in the prefent day, we have fo many definitions of fchifm, differing more or less from the sense originally and properly annexed

« السابقةمتابعة »