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I wish to conclude with my most ample acknowledgments of the liberality of your last paragraph; and with expressing my opinion, that, judging by my own feelings, I should suppose of the gentleman whom you name is the author of the pamphlet, that he would thankfully accept the attentions you so politely tender him, if an opportunity should offer.
For the Albany Centinel.
VINDEX. No. II.
To the Author of "MISCELLanies.”
FROM the declarations of the printers, the public were led to
expect that the controversy concerning Church government would soon be terminated. You have thought proper to renew it, and the printers have indulged you. I claim from their impartiality the privilege of a reply. If the Episcopal writers have hitherto received every indulgence, you certainly have no reason to complain. Your communications have always been promptly and correctly inserted; and the printers have graced them with their fairest types.
It is an easy matter for a writer, who deals principally in bold assertion, to be very concise; and thus to be able to apply to those who are anxious to establish every thing they advance, the very elegant epithet of being "long winded." You brought assertion upon assertion so rapidly, that it was not an easy matter even for "A Layman," for "Cyprian," and for "Detector" to keep up with you. Careless of proof, and proudly fancying that your ipse dixit would be received as sacred, you appeared to think that your only business was to assert. Your opponents, reverencing their cause, and respecting the understanding of their readers, thought it their duty to bring forward full and fair reasoning. We readily concede to you the merit of brevity.
We trust that this controversy, which you commenced in a newspaper, and where, of course, those whom you assailed were obliged to follow you, will serve to convince you that the Episcopal Church has sons able and determined to defend her.
If your opponents have introduced new matter, it is a merit which you do not appear anxious to obtain. In your late publications, you have recourse to your old weapons. You endeavour to connect Episcopacy with Popery; to excite the public indignation against the "Companion for the Altar," and for "the Festivals and Fasts;" and to pervert the pamphlet which you attribute to Bishop White, to support your opinions.
You assert that the prevalence of Episcopacy for fifteen hundred years after Christ, is an argument much stronger in favour of Popery than Episcopacy. What, Sir! Do you mean to assert that
during the first ages of the Church, when, according to the conces sion of even the advocates of Presbytery, the Episcopal government arose? Do you mean to assert that during this period the infallibility and supremacy of the Pope, transubstantiation, and other corruptions of Popery prevailed? If this be your intention, you will excuse me for doubting your credibility as an ecclesiastical historian, and your talents as a defender of the Protestant faith.
Episcopalians, equally with you, maintain, that "the scriptures are the only and perfect rule of faith and practice." But in interpreting this rule, are we to discard contemporary evidence? Are we to reject the testimony of the primitive Church? You, doubtless, maintain, that the scriptures establish the divinity of Christ. The Socinians deny it. Episcopalians maintain that the scriptures establish Episcopacy. You deny it. Now, if you can prove, from the testimony of the Fathers, that the primitive Church received the doctrine of the divinity of Christ; and if we can prove, from the same testimony, that the primitive Church received Episcopacy as a divine institution; should not this satisfy the Socinian; should not this satisfy you, Sir, that these doctrines are contained in the scriptures? On what other ground can you account for their universal reception in the Church?
You affect to doubt that Calvin ever urged the plea of necessity for renouncing Episcopacy. The Layman, in his first address, quoted the declaration of Calvin on this subject; and I beg leave to repeat it. You will find it in his work "concerning the reformation of churches."" If they would give us, says Calvin, such an hierarchy, in which the Bishops should so excel, as that they did not refuse to be subject to Christ, and to depend upon him as their only head, and refer all to him, then I will confess that they are worthy of all anathemas, if any such shall be found, who will not reverence it, and submit themselves to it with the utmost obedience." Here Calvin expressly pleads, that they would not give him a primitive Episcopacy, such an Episcopacy as the Church of England possessed, and on the possession of which he and Beza cordially congratulated her. Here he denounces those as "worthy of all anathemas, if any such shall be found, who will not reverence it and submit themselves to it with the utmost obedience." I say not that the plea was well founded; for I believe that Calvin could have procured a primitive Episcopacy. I say not, that, as he advanced in the work of reformation, he adhered to this plea. It is sufficient for my purpose that at one period he certainly advanced it. The chagrin which you discover whenever this declaration of Calvin is mentioned, is perfectly natural. The declaration proves the veneration which, at one period, your great master entertained for Episcopacy, and the qualms of conscience which he felt in renouncing it. Calvin, you insist, might have been a Bishop, perhaps with the honourable titles of "Right Reverend Father in God," and "your Grace."-Ah! but he would not then have been FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH IN GENEVA.
You assert, that "there was no opportunity of effectually opposing Episcopacy till the period of the Reformation." What, Sir! have we not been told that Episcopacy was an usurpation-an asurpation that reared its formidable head in the early ages? Was
not the period of its first appearance the most favourable period for crushing this monster that was destroying the sacred presbytery of the Church? Must not Episcopacy at this period have been viewed as an impious attack upon the institutions of the Apostles, whose memories were then cherished with the most sacred fervour? Would those venerable and pious men who, through the tortures of the rack, and through the flames of the stake, obtained the crown of martyrdom; would they have silently permitted the foundations of the Church to be subverted? Would those illustrious lights of Christianity, in whom humility shone with the most splendid lustre, would they have become not merely accessories, but principals in this impious work of usurpation, in this lawless grasp of dominion? Alas! that in those degenerate days, there was no Miscellaneous Author to step forth the bold champion of oppressed truth, and to lift up his fearless voice against these usurping "Lords in God's heritage."
The pamphlet which you attribute to Dr. White is the burden of your song. This, with you, is "law and gospel." You deride and discard the testimony of the primitive Fathers of the Church, and yet you appear willing to rest your cause on the fallible opinion of an individual of the present day. But even this support will fail you. This subject, however, I will leave to " An Episcopalian,” who is particularly interested in correcting your mistakes. You think my commentary on his letter wholly unnecessary; and yet you have occupied one of your numbers with replies to my remarks. I feel at some loss to account for the anxiety you discover to defend the indulgence of the sensual appetites. In one of the numbers of your Miscellanies you remark, that "the celibacy of the Popish Clergy is none of the smallest corruptions in their Church, against which every orthodox Clergyman will protest." And you now censure me for my intrusion by the very refined observation—“ A brace on the table is pleasant enough; but a brace of antagonists is not very eligible."
Episcopalians, while they "contend for the faith," are yet mindful of the sacred injunction to exercise charity. In conformity to the order handed down from the beginning, they maintain, that Bishops only have the power of ordination; and as a general proposition, that Episcopal ministrations only are valid. At the same time they are disposed to believe, that when any Church cannot obtain the lawful succession, God, who "is not a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed," will mercifully dispense with it. Nay, that he will graciously accept and bless the ministrations of those who have not a lawful call; when the error is not chargeable to wilful neglect of the means of information, or to obstinate resistance to the light of conviction. In this way does the author of the "Companion for the Altar" reconcile truth with charity: in this way does he embrace in the arms of fraternal benevolence all who, according to the talents bestowed on them by their gracious Maker, seek to know and to 'do his will.
You will pardon me if I assert, that you appear totally unac quainted with the doctrine of Succession, as maintained in every age of the Church. You think that when any Church throws off
Episcopacy, the succession is interrupted. No, Sir! as long as there remains a single Bishop in the world, one lawful successor of the Apostles, the apostolic succession remains. We are under no apprehension that it will ever be lost. It is founded on the ROCK OF AGES; on the unfailing promise of the divine Head of the Church, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."
The "Episcopal Priests" in this State, because they maintain tenets obnoxious to you, you have been pleased to load with every epithet of contempt and opprobrium. I wish not to repeat expressions which I deeply regret you ever descended to use. If you consider your language as merely "playful," it would have comported better with the dignity of truth, and with the dictates of charity, if, on a serious subject, you had yourself been grave. If you mean to awe the advocates of Episcopacy into silence, be assured you will fail in your aim. Your attack on Episcopacy has already called forth in her defence "A Layman" and "Cyprian," who do honour to themselves and to their cause. I am not even without the hope that this discussion, which you have provoked," will produce some effect upon those who are teaching things contrary to sound doctrine;" will lead the candid and dispassionate to examine and to acknowledge the claims of that Priesthood, which has subsisted from "the Apostles' times," and which was never laid aside, until the sixteenth century, in any part of the Christian world.
To the author of the "Companion for the Festivals and Fasts" you apply the remark-" Into what vagaries and absurdities will men sometimes run to maintain a cause which they have inconsiderately espoused." Now, Sir, to impress on you the impropriety of rash judgment, I will inform you, that the opinions advanced by that author were the result of a serious and full investigation of the subject on which he wrote; and that the sentiments which you style absurd, are expressed in the language of Divines, who ever have been and ever will be considered as the brightest ornaments of the English Church. But from you, Sir, a charge of this kind surprises me-you, Sir, who, when you explained texts of Scripture, disdained to employ the lights of commentators; and who recently made it your boast that, in the present discussion, you have scorned to take either "counsel or assistance."
I confess I am both surprised and pleased with a concession in one of your late numbers. You observe, "I would be cautious in asserting the divine right, either of Episcopacy or Presbyterianism." And yet you set out with considering Episcopacy as a usurpation; you commenced this controversy with the positive assertion that "the Classical or Presbyterial form of Church government is the true and only one which Christ hath prescribed in his word." I congratulate you, Sir, on this candid renunciation of error-I congratulate you on the traces of mildness and moderation which you display towards "An Episcopalian." O si sic omnia! On sacred subjects we should disdain those little arts that are worthy only of the dabbler in the sinks of party politics; and should wield the manly weapons of candour and truth. Pardon me, Sir; I honour in you that conscientious exercise of judgment which I claim for myself. But when I review the numbers of your Miscellanies, and
discover in them so little argument, and so much bold assertion; so little dispassionate investigation, and so much artful appeal to the prejudices and passions of the public; so little seriousness and candour, and so much ridicule and finesse; I am disposed to reject the belief that the author of Miscellanies is a gentleman, for whose talents, piety, and sacred character I cherish the sentiments of esteem and respect.
Page 53, line 14, instead of "Surely a word cannot be mentioned," read, Scarcely a word can be mentioned.