Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

such, with all their testimonies and certificates, is but of little value at last. Bishop Hoadley was of this character: a Socinian in principle: who, while he was celebrated by the enemies of the Church of England, (and perhaps assisted toward his advancement) for having banished all Mitres and Lordships, and Spiritual Courts, out of the Kingdom of Christ, was, himself, an answer to every thing he had written; who scrupled not to adorn himself with a Mitre and a Lordship in one of the first preferments in this Church; while he was a greater favourer of those who were out of it, than of those who were in it; unless they were in it upon his own principles.

Amongst other bright ornaments of the Church who applaud the separation of the Dissenters, the authors of the Free and Candid Disquisitions are brought in. These are not only tender to the Dissenters, but they rather think we shall never do well without them; that they are necessary to preserve the virtue of the nation; to save our religious liberty; to prevent the return of slavery; and to serve as a check, lest we should cast a favourable aspect toward Rome. These things are fairly said, but not truly; and if we consider a little farther from whence they came, little honour will acrue to the Dissenters from

from the testimony of these authors. For it is by no means clear that they were members of our own Church, though they most solemnly and repeatedly professed themselves so to be in their work. It was suspected very early, that they were not such as they called themselves, but enemies under the disguise of friends. Of this their work itself carries some internal marks, which seem to have escaped them unawares.Ficta cito ad Naturam reciderint suam. The author of Free and Impartial Considerations on the Free and Candid Disquisitions, pressed them with this (Anno 1751) and with great appearance of reason. He told them farther, "It begins now to be reported, and I partly believe it, that an eminent Dissenter, well known by his writings, has had a hand more or less in the Disquisitions *." But, some few years after, in 1758, when this secret had been searched a little farther, or had transpired of itself, I find an author, and, I believe, a very honest one, asserting in the plainest terms, that those authors were actually Dissenters; and taxing the party very roundly with their prevarication, in these words: "Amidst the greatest indulgence, and in open defiance of the laws, they impugned and libelled our Liturgy, and our Constitution,

without

* Page 59.

without the least proof or foundation: they charged onr Liturgy with all the defects, with all the faults, improprieties, and corruptions, which had been suggested by Papists, Heretics, Enthusiasts, and the most inveterate enemies of our constitution. And for fear the people should say, that an enemy had done this, they, by the most solemn and repeated insinuations, declared themselves to be true and dutiful sons of the established Church*.” If, after such professions, these writers were Dissenters, their Disquisitions exhibit such a scene of treachery, prevarication, self-adulation, and ingratitude, to the government under which, and the established Church with which they live, as is scarcely to be paralleled in history.

On this supposition, all the fine things those authors thought fit to say of the Dissenters, and their virtues, and the nature and merits of their separation, are of no authority; for that Dissenters should praise Dissenters, is nothing wonderful; but, if Dissenters did this, under the name of true and dutiful sons of the Church, then such praise is against them in every word of it. What sort of principles they must be, which can reconcile men's consciences to such

Jesuitical

"

* Case of the Royal Martyr considered with candour, P. 333, 334.

Jesuitical frauds and disguises, they who prac

tise them are bound to consider.

If the Dissenters think they can justify their separation by the praise of men; let them proceed fairly, and take it, such as it is, all toge ther. They should remember and estimate properly, how much of it comes from the bench of our Bishops, and how much from the seat of the scornful: how universally they are befriended and admired by Deists, Free-thinkers, Socinian Philosophers, and loose-livers; who delighting to see the Church opposed, and Christian people divided, are exactly of the same opinion with some of those great ornaments of the establishment of whose testimony our apologist hath so loudly boasted. " I heartily thank God," says the author of The Independent Whig, "that we have Dissenters,

and I hope we shall never be without them* " 13. The last and the most general argument on which the Dissenters depend; and which, if it were just, would render all other arguments superfluous, is this; that all men have a right to judge and chuse for themselvss in matters of religion.

This is an extensive principle, which justifies all sects, and supersedes all institutions and

sacraments

[ocr errors]

Vol. iii. p. 223.

sacraments whatsoever. It also shews the Dissenters of this day, who have recourse to it, to be quite a different class of men, from the Puritans in the days of Elizabeth; for here they extend their claims from schism up to heresy, and beyond it, even into the privileges and immunities of infidelity itself. The Puritans formerly judged against us in our discipline: but the Dissenters, and their friends, now judge against us in our doctrines. For, thus saith the author of the Independent Whig, another apologist of the Dissenters." No man ought to pay any submission to that doctrine or discipline which he does not like:" and the war, which was once carried on against Prelacy and Ceremonies, is now turned against Articles/ and Creeds.

If the Dissenters at large have this right of chusing what they like, and rejecting what they dislike: then the Quakers have it: and why not the Jews and the Mahometans? For, I desire to know, what there is betwixt us and them, but matters of religion.

As to this affair of chusing, especially in matters of religion, there are strange examples of human perverseness and wickedness. How often did the people chuse new Gods? Heresy is so called, because it is a doctrine which a

man.

« AnteriorContinuar »