« السابقةمتابعة »
wicked and hypocritical persons. Neither should we have separated at all, but upon the utmost necessity; and even then it was with all the unwillingness imaginable.” The corruption of the church of Rome then was (in direct contradiction to what Bishop HOADLEY says on this subject) the ground upon which our separation from it was built; not that right of Christian liberty, for which Bishop WARBURTON is here pleading: a right which Bishop JEWELL never admitted; as may be seen from his · ferinon at St. Paul's Cross, in which he learnedly defends the church of England, and severely condemns the Difsenters for their non-conformity to it; which he could not consistently have done, had he seen the Reformation in the light in which Bishops Hoadley and WARBURTON have here placed it.
In fact, this right, upon which the reformers did not act, because it was a right which they did not acknowledge, takes the Reformation off from that firm ground of reason and scripture upon which it will ever stand secure; and places it upon that uncertain ground of precarious opinion, upon which the church, as a society, can no where exist.
For if Christian liberty give every man a right to worship God according to his conscience, in
other words, according to his own private opinion and persuasion, (for conscience, in the modern acceptation of the term, means nothing more) I would be glad to know what argument can be brought to promote the unity of the Christian church, which this principle does not immediately set aside; a principle which justifies the extravagancies of the wildest fećtary, and places religious persuasions of every kind upon the same dead level.
Bishop WARBURTON's notions of the church communion, as it was to be expected, correspond with his notions of church authority; and appear calculated rather to loosen and diffolve that bond of union, by which the church of Christ was designed to be held together, than to answer any other purpose. They are founded upon the following distinction, which this celebrated writer has made between the Jewish and Christian church.
“ The Gospel (says he) was first addressed to the Jews as a nation, a church, a society. But when the Gentiles had in their turn the Gospel offered unto them, the address was only to particulars. For though the terms of falvation respected the Jewish Sanhedrim, yet the Roman Senate, as such, had no concern in thein. And those particulars who received the word, became, not necessarily, from the simple nature and genius of the faith, members of any community, but of the spiri. tual kingdom of God."
Should the foregoing account of the distinction be tween Jew and Gentile have conveyed a satisfactory idea to the mind of the reader, it certainly has not to mine; for with a desire to pay all due respect to the authority from whence it proceeds, I have been unable to discover the least ground for it.
The Jewish Sanhedrim and Roman Senate, with respect to the terms of salvation' under the Gospel, appear to have stood precisely upon the same footing: for to the members of neither of these bodies, in their collective character, were those terms addressed. In St. Peter's first sermon at Jerusalem, his address was not to the Jews as a nation, a church, or a society; but to “ the men of Israel, who had crucified the LORD CHRIST." And his answer to their question, when, upon their being pricked in their hearts, they faid to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “ Men and brethren, what shall.we do?" was thus addressed to them as individuals—“ Repent, and be baptized, every one
of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of fins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghoft.” Acts ii. 38. It was ordained, indeed, that the Gospel should be first preached to the loft sheep of the house of Israel; upon the idea, it is probable, that from their education under the law, as a school-master to bring them to Christ, they ought to have been in a state of preparation to receive it. But this particular attention to the Jew, though it tended for some little time to confirm the Apostles in their prejudices, made no alteration in the nature of the commission which they had received. That was of the most general kind. They were “ to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." MARK xvi. 15. When “ the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile had been broken down by him, who had made both one,” the church was open for the equal reception of all people. In the general execution therefore of the Apostlic commission, there was to be “ no difference between Jew and Greek, between bond and free, between male and female; all were to be one in Christ Jesus; the fame Lord over all, being rich unto all who call upon him.” Rom. X. 12.
. Gal. iii. 28. Both Jew and Gentile, therefore, were admitted into the church of Christ upon the same plan; respect being had only to their profession of faith, as individuals, in a crucified Redeemer.
The distinction, then, here made between the Jew and Gentile, in their manner of receiving the Gospel, appears to be not less imaginary, than the conclusion built upon it to be unfounded. For the spiritual kingdom of God has generally been understood, in scripture language, to be descriptive of the Church of Christ; or of that community of which the author must be supposed to be here speaking.
This mode, therefore, of representing Christians, as members of Christ's Spiritual kingdom, as it were in contradistinction to their being members of any community, is that kind of description which
every professor will not fail to accomodate to his own particular case; but it is not to be reconciled with the account of the Christian church in the sacred writings; into which all who professed the true faith were necessarily to be admitted. For from these writings it appears, that the particulars to whom the Gospel was addressed, were, by virtue of their faith, admitted members of a community, or spiritual society, distinguished by the name of the kingdom or church of CHRIST.
It would be to trespass upon the reader to enter upon a particular analysis of this learned author's mode of arguing upon the subject before him; or