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at a loss to determine. For, as I have always understood, the schism of which such a minister is guilty, strictly corresponds with that sin, against which the Apostles and first bishops so loudly inveighed, which consisted in breaking the unity of the church by a separation of particular congregations from the authority of their respective bishops.* But exclusive of this important consideration, there is, moreover (as the subject strikes me) something like two fallacies practised upon this occasion. The proprietors of these separate places of Worship, by sheltering them under the Toleration Act, prostitute an act of the legislature to a purpose for which it was never made. By so doing, what was designed only as an indulgence to those who difsented from the church, becomes minif.
* ST. CYPRIAN considered that the unity of the Chriftian church was liable to be broken two ways; by heresy and fchifm. “DIABOLUS hæreses invenit et fchifmata; quibus fcinderet unitatem." CYPR. de Unit. Eccl. § 2. In allufion therefore to this distinction, after having, with an eye to the profession of the same faith, exemplified the unity of the church in the words of ST. PAUL; corpus, et unus fpiritus, una fpes vocationis veftræ, unus DOMINUS, una fides, unum baptisma, unus Deus;" he proceeds to point out that other bond of unity, by which it was designed that the Christian church should be held together. “ Nemo fraternitatem mendacio fallat; nemo fidei veritatem perfidâ prævaricatione corrumpat; epifcopatus eft unus; cujus a fingulis in folidum pars tenetur.”Cypr. de Unit. Eccl. & 4.
terial to the actual division of the church itself. This is a fallacy practised upon the legislature. *
But there is still another fallacy attached to these separate places of worship, which, though it may not be designed, ought to be guarded against. The adoption of the liturgy of the church of England serves as a decoy to many well-meaning Christians; who, from their perfect ignorance with respect to the nature of the Christian church, and the sin of schism, conclude, that if they attend the church service, it matters not where it is performed, or by whom; and thus become schismatics, without knowing that they are fo.
It may be a position inadmissible in the present day, though founded upon the bafis of truth and
* By the Act of Toleration, those who declare themselves dif fenters from the church of England are exempted from certain penalties, on their taking certain oaths. But in the places of worfhip here alluded to, such as Lady HUNTINGDON's chapel in Bath, as it is called, and others of a similar kind, the parties assembled are not dislenters from the church of England; for they make use of its services, and have at times a clergyman of the church of England for their officiating minifter; they are therefore a sort of feparatists from the church, at the same time that they conform to it: a fallacy which, it might be hoped, no clergyman of the church of England would countenance, because it tends to defeat an object which he, as a minister of the establishment, ought to have at heart.
propriety, that no clergyman of the church ought to appear, much less to officiate, in any place of public worship, separated from that establishment of which he professes himself a minister. The spirit of the canons is certainly express to this purpose. Seeing this subject, therefore, in the light in which I have been taught to see it, I beg leave to suggest it to the consideration of my brethren, whether there is not a great inconsistency in their appearing under the character of Protestant Difsenters on one Sunday, and under that of ministers of the established church on the next: and whether, putting all other considerations out of the question, the fingle one of not giving offence ought not to operate with them so far as to prevent their adopting a practice, which renders their ministry less welcome to many serious members of the church;, at the same time that it tends to bring the establishment into that contempt in the minds of the common people, which may prove the prelude to its destruction.
It is not consistent with charity to make the actions of men the decisive interpreters of their principles ; because the motives by which men are impelled, are perfectly known only to that Being to whom judgment belongeth. Whether, therefore, there may or may not be a portion of the old Corinthian leaven mixed up with this zeal for promoting God's honour in an irregular way is a point upon which I venture not to pronounce; my object being only to consider the evil consequences derivable to the establishment from the eccentric practice of its clergy; which will be the same, let the motives by which they have been directed be what they may.
Upon this head it will be sufficient to observe, that if the present schismatical practice, adopted by some clergy, of separating congregations from their bishops, continue to prevail; and nothing more is deemed neceffary to the establishment of a congregation upon a church plan in any place, than money to erect a building, and popular talents to fill the seats; the office both of bishops and patrons is in a fair way to become useless. And thus the building a place for public worship, which in better times was considered a pious undertaking, having the promotion of God's honour for its chief object, degenerates into a business of mercenary speculation, and like other buildings for public resort, is estimated by the probable quantum of interest which it will produce to the proprietor. This is one of the signs of the times, and affords a strong proof of our living in the latter days; when the love
is waxed cold, and when faith is a thing rare to be found in the world.
But the evil will not stop here; for irregularity of any kind, like a bowl rolling down a declivity, seldom stops till it is arrived at the ne plus ultra of its course.
If the clergy of the church act thus independently of the bishop, and in breach of the establishment, it is not to be expected that laymen will feel themselves under greater restraint. Buildings will therefore be erected, and the church service performed, by persons not in episcopal orders. * For in such case, who is to draw the line between the irregularity of an authorized minister, and the licence of a presumptuous layman? If the episcopal authority be openly disregarded by those whose duty it is to reverence and support it, we must not be surprised, should God in judgment suffer an establishment to be totally dissolved, of the excellency of which its members seem, by their conduct, to be grown insensible.
It is to be feared, indeed, that the custom which has long since been adopted, even under episcopal authority, of erecting chapels at the expence of individuals for the performance of religious worship, has in some degree led to this total separation from it.
* A place of worship of this sort there is now open in Batha