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with the Papifts. For the church authority which obliged them then, and which obliges us now to external communion, was not an authority w ich obliged them to comply with any number of bishops, or any ftate laws, but to enter into communion with that bishop or bishops who obferved that way of worship which Christ had inftituted. The neceffity of being in external communion, does not oblige us to be in communion with the pope or any number of bishops, as fuch, whose authority we may happen to be born under, but it obliges us to be in that communion which is that way or method of falvation which Chrift has inftituted.
So that though we fhould grant, that at the Reformation we broke through the human laws of the church which required us to continue in communion with the church of Rome, it will by no means follow that we broke through that authority which obliges us to external communion, because that authority is not founded in any human laws, but is the authority of Chrift, requiring us to obferve all those things which constitute external communion. For as it is the authority of Christ which obliges us to be Christians, fo that fame authority obliges us to enter into that communion where the institutions and faith of Christ are preserved.
When therefore you fay, "if church authority (meaning human laws) be a fufficient obligation upon them to determine them, then our fore-fathers ought not in confcience to have separated from the church of Rome *."
This, my lord, is no more to the purpose than if you had faid, if the king of France has a right to be obeyed all over Europe, then all over Europe they ought in conscience to obey him.
For fince it is neither pretended nor allowed, that human laws are a fufficient obligation to external communion, to argue from this fuppofition is as foreign to the purpose, as to suppose that the king of France was governor of all Europe.
The next step you take is also very extraordinary, where having rejected human authority from being a fufficient obligation to external communion, you thus proceed, "but if men are their own judges by the laws of God and of Chrift in this matter; if they have a right to use their judgment and be determined by it —then here is a juftification of the Reformation, and particularly of the Proteftant church of England t."
The most complaisant justification, my lord, that could poffibly
* Page 118.
have been thought of, because it as peculiarly justifies all the enemies of the church of England, of what kind foever, as it juftifies the Protestant church of England.
For your argument proceeds thus; if there be no human authority to which we are abfolutely obliged to fubmit, but have a right to use our own judgments, then the Reformation is juftified. Here we see the doctrines of the reformed church are not taken into the question; fhe is not faid to be juftified, as being a true church, or as preferving thofe orders and inftitutions, which conftitute the true church; but is juftified, because men may use their reason, and not enter into any communion which human laws have happened to establish. Now if we of the church of England are juftified in the choice of our religion, because no human laws have an abfolute power to oblige us to be of any particular religion, then all people, whether Papists or Proteftants, whether Quakers, Ranters, Jews, Turks, and Infidels, are equally justified in the choice of their particular ways of worship, because human laws have not an abfolute power to oblige them to be of any particular religion. So that though you call this a juftification of the Proteftant church of England, you might as justly have called it a justification of Quakers, Jews, Turks, and Infidels: for it is as truly a justification of every one of them, as it is a justification of the church of England.
But to proceed, How comes it, my lord, that the Reformation is juftified, because people may use their reafon, and are not under a neceffity from human laws of being of this or that church? Why muft the Reformation be right and juft, because human laws are not sufficient to hinder a reformation? Is there no other authority that can make any particular religion neceffary, because human authority cannot? May it not be our duty to be of this communion, and a fin to enter into another communion, though human laws, as fuch, cannot make the one a duty, or the other a fin? Does baptifm, the fupper of the Lord, and a belief in Jefus Christ, cease to be neceffary, because that neceffity does not arife from human laws?
Now if things may be necessary to falvation, though they are not made fo by human authority, then it is no juftification of the Reformation to say, that the reformers might use their reason, and not chufe that religion which human laws commanded them to chufe; this will be no juftification, till it appears, that they
hofe that religion which the authority of God required them to chufe.
For it would be nonfenfe to fay people are juftified for having fuch a fort of baptifm, because the neceffity of baptifin does not arife from human laws. Yet this is as good fenfe, as to fay, fuch a people are justified in their religion, because no religion is made neceffary by human laws. For as they are only juftified in point of baptism, who obferve fuch baptifm, as the authority of God has appointed, fo are they only justified in their religion, who enter into that religion which the authority of God has instituted.
But your lordship has no fooner fhewn that human authority, as fuch, cannot oblige us to be of any particular religion, but you presently congratulate your readers upon an entire freedom from all authority in religion, and without once mentioning that the Reformation is right and just, because of the orders, doctrines, or inftitutions, which it maintains you fay it is juftified for fuch a reafon as juftifies in an equal degree every religion, and every change of religion in the world. You have fo far justified it, as to fhew that it is as well to be of it, as of any other church; and as well to be of any other church as of it.
Who would not think, my lord, that the inftituted terms of falvation had something to do with the justification of Christians? Yet you can juftify people without any regard to them. Who would not think that a religion is unjuftifiable, if it is contrary to the religion instituted by Chrift? Yet your lordship has juftified all changes in religion, without any regard to the inftitutions of Chrift, folely for this reason, because men may use their own judgment, and not submit to the laws of men, as fuch, in the choice of religion. As if because they are not to be altogether governed by the commands of men in the choice of a religion, neither are they to be determined by the authority of God, or any more tied down to his inftitutions, than to human laws. Who would think that no change in religion is dangerous, because religion is only inftituted by God, and has his authority to make it neceffary? Yet your lordship banishes all danger from every change of religion, and pronounces the fame fafety in every opinion, because people are under no abfolute human authority.
It is very furprizing, after all this, to see your lordship breaking out into paffionate expreffions for the cause of the Reformation, and fo often declaring that it is for fake of the Refor
mation that you have taken fo much pains, and with fo much pleasure, in your late writings.
Now it seems your adverfaries have undermined the very foundations of the reformed church of England; and that in this
First, They justify the church of England, by fhewing that it maintains all those orders, inftitutions, and doctrines, which Chrift has made neceffary to salvation; that it is a true Church, because it confifts of all thofe things which by the inftitution of Christ conftitute a true church.
For this, your lordship rebukes them as enemies to the reformation, as friends to Popery; and declares, that the Proteftants are not justified because they have chofen a true and right religion, but because they think they have chofen a true and right religion.
Again, your adversaries infift upon the neceffity of entering into communion with the church of England, because it is a true church of Chrift; and declare thofe guilty of the heinous fin of fchifm, who separate from her communion.
Here again you condemn them, as confpiring the ruin of the Reformation, because, if the Diffenters are not justified in their feparation from the church of England by their private perfuafion, neither is the church of England to be justified for its separation from Rome. So that the difference between your lordship and your adversaries in relation to the reformed church of England, is this:
They fupport and recommend this church, because it contains all the neceffary doctrines and inftitutions of Christ, and confequently give it an advantage over every other way of worship, which is either corrupted or defective in these doctrines and inftitutions of Chrift.
But you fupport and recommend it (pardon the expreffions) not from any thing which relates to it at all, but from private persuasion; and confequently allow every religion in the world to be as juft, and good, and safe, if men are but fo perfuaded.
They defend the church of England, by fhewing what it is, and by afferting the truth of its doctrines.
You have no title to be mentioned amongst its defenders, but as you may be called a defender of Quakers and Fanatics, Jews and Turks, and every religion in the world, which any one thinks to be right.
To proceed; As a farther defence of the Reformation, you afk, "How did the firft reformers behave themselves? Did they not think and fpeak of them (viz. absolution and excommunication) as having nothing to do with the favour of God, as human engines, and mere outcries of human terror? And did they mean by this to claim to themselves the right of abfolution, which they had denied to others, because they were fallible and weak men; or to affert a power of excommunication, so as to affect men's eternal falvation, to themfelves in one church, which they had disregarded and trampled upon in another? No: they treated all excommunications as alike, and upon an equal foot; and could, upon no other account, neglect and difregard them as they did, but because God had not given to any man the disposal of his mercy or anger *.'
The argument, my lord, here proceeds thus: First, That all abfolutions and excommunications must have been esteemed alike, and equally infignificant by our reformers, because they were not terrified at the excommunications of the church of Rome, nor thought an abfolution from that church necessary.
Secondly, That the reformers having thus difregarded thefe powers in that church, ought not to pretend that the fame powers have any more effect when they exercise them in this church.
To this it may be answered, that if we ought not to pretend to any effects in absolution or excommunication, because we difregarded thofe powers as exercifed by the church of Rome; that then we ought not to pretend the neceffity of any faith, because we difregared the faith of the Romish church; nor the neceffity of any facraments, nor the neceffity of the canonical writings, becaufe we difregarded the canonical books of the church of Rome. And it is as good sense to cry out here, "Did they not treat their facraments as mere inventions of men? Did they mean by this to claim to themselves a power to make facraments neceffary in one church, which power they had trampled upon in another? Did they deny the neceffity of feven facraments there, in order to affert the neceffity of two facraments here? No: they treated all facraments as alike, and upon an equal foot, with refpect to God's favour, and could upon no other account neglect and difregard them as they did, but because God's favour or displeasure was no ways affected by any facraments."
Here let common fenfe judge, whether this argument of yours
* Answer to Repr. p. 121, 122.