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ought to have taken the same, shall, upon con- , themselves for ordination, consider seriously what viction thereof, besides the loss of the office, for- office they take upon them, and firmly believe feit the sum of five hundred pounds :"* Stat. 25 what they subscribe to." I am persuaded much Car. II. c. 2. Now, although starving be no otherwise. But as this is a " fact, the reader, if “corporal punishment," nor the loss of all a man he be wise, will neither take the answerer's word has, a
fine," or "penalty,” yet depriving men for it nor mine; but form his own judgment from of the common benefits of society, and rights even his own observation. Bishop Burnet complained of lay subjects, because "they will not comply above 60 years ago, that "the greater part," even with the terms of Church communion," is se- then, “subscribed the Articles without ever exaverity” that might have deserved from our author mining them,* and others did it because they must some other apology besides the mere suppression do it.” Is it probable, that in point either of of the fact.
seriousness or orthodoxy, the clergy are much 2. “Doth it deny them the right or privilege mended since ? of worshipping God in their own way?"_" Who The pleas offered in support of this practice of ever shall take upon him to preach or teach in subscription come next to be considered. “One any meeting, assembly, or conventicle, and shall of these is drawn from the sacred writings being thereof be convicted, shall forfeit for the first capable of such a variety of senses, that men of offence twenty pounds, and for every other offence widely different persuasions shelter themselves forty pounds: "Stat. 22 Car. II. c. 1.-"No per- under the same forms of expression.” Our auson shall presume to consecrate or administer the thor, after quarrelling with this representation of sacrament of the Lord's Supper before he be the plea, gives his readers in its stead, a long quo ordained priest, after the manner of the church tation from the archdeacon of Oxford's charge. of England, on pain of forfeiting one hundred What he is to gain by the change, or the quotapounds for every such offence:" Stat. 13 & 14 tion, I cannot perceive, as the same first query Car. II. c. 4. These laws are in full force still recurs, “ Is it true, that the Scriptures are in against all who do not subscribe to the 39 Arti reality so differently interpreted in points of real cles of the Church of England, except the 34th, consequence ?” In answer to which, the arch35th, and 36th, and part of the 20th Article. deacon of Oxford, we are told, " has shown that
3. “ Are men denied the liberty of free debate ?" points of real consequence are differently inter-“If any person, having been educated in, or at preted," and "the plainest texts explained away," any time, having made profession of, the Chris- and has “instanced in the first chapter of St. tian faith within the realm, shall by writing, John's Gospel." The plea, we conceive, is not printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny much indebted to the archdeacon of Oxford. any one of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be But be these Scriptures interpreted as they will, God-he shall for the first offence be disabled to each man has still a right to interpret them for hold any office or employment, or any profit ap- himself. The Church of Rome, who always pertaining thereto; for the second ollence shall pushed her conclusions with a courage and conbe disabled to prosecute any action or information sistency unknown to the timid patrons of proin any court of law or equity, or to be guardian of testant imposition, saw, immediately, that as the any child, or executor or administrator of any laity had no right to interpret the Scriptures, they person, or capable of any legacy or deed of gift, could have no occasion to read them, and there or to hear any office for ever within this realm, fore very properly locked them up from the inand shall also suffer imprisonment for the space trusion of popular curiosity. Our author cites of three years from the time of such conviction." the above-mentioned query from the ConsideraStat. 9 & 10 Will. III. c. 32.
tions as the first query, which would lead his It has been thought to detract considerably from reader to expect a second. The reader, however, the pretended use of these subscriptions, that they may seek that second for himself, the answerer is excluded none but the conscientious; a species of not obliged to produce it-it stands thus : Supmen more wanted, we conceive, than formidable pose the Scriptures thus variously interpreted, to any religious establishment. This objection does subscription mend the matter? The reader applies equally, says our answerer,t to the oaths too is left to find an answer for himself. of allegiance and supremacy;" and so far as it The next, the strongest, the only tolerable plea does apply, it ought to be attended to; and the for subscription, is, " that all sorts of pestilent truth is, these oaths might in many instances be heresies might be taught from the pulpit, if no spared without either danger or detriment to the such restraint as this was laid upon the preacher." community. There is, however, an essential How far it is probable that this would be the condifference between the two cases: a scruple con- sequence of removing the subscription, and by cerning the oath of allegiance implies principles what other means it might be guarded against, which may excite to acts of hostility against the has been hinted already, and will again be constate: a scruple about the truth of the articles im- sidered in another place. We will here only take plies no such thing. I
notice of one particular expedient suggested in Our author, good man, “is well persuaded, the Considerations, and which has often indeed that the generality of the clergy, when they offer elsewhere been proposed, namely," that the
church, instead of requiring subscription before• This and the Corporation Act, an otherwise excel hand, to the present, or to any other Articles of lent person calls the laws which secure both our civil faith, might censure her clergy afterwards, if they and religious liberties.-Blackstone's Coinm. vol. iv. opposed or vilified them in their preaching | Page 22
• Burnet's History of his Own Times. Conclusion. | The answerer might have found a parallel below + See this whole Charge answered in the London in some otber oaths, which he does not care to speak of, Chronicle by Priscilla. The Lord hath sold Sisera into viz the case of college statules, page 34 of the Consi: the hand of a woman! derations
| Page 26.
The advantage of which scheme above the pre-, with her doctrines? Might not the church lose, sent is manifest, if it was only for this reason, that what she can ill spare, the service of many able you distress and corrupt thousands now, for one and industrious ministers? Would those she rethat you would ever have occasion to punish. tained, be such as acquiesced in her decisions from Our author, nevertheless, " is humbly of opinion, inquiry and conviction ? Would not many, or that it is much better to take proper precautions most of them, be those who keep out of the way beforehand,” he must, with all his "humility," of religious scruples by lives of secularity and voknow that when it has been proposed to take pro- luptuousness ? by mixing with the crowd in the per precautions of the press, by subjecting authors most eager of their pursuits after pleasure or adto an imprimatur before publication, instead of vantage? One word with the answerer before punishment after it; the proposal has been re we part upon this head. Whence all this great sented, as an open attack upon the rights and inquisitiveness, this solicitude to be acquainted interests of mankind. The common sense and with the person, the opinions, and associates of spirit of the nation could see and feel this distinc- his adversary? Whence that impertinent wish tion and the importance of it, in the case of pub. that he had been a more explicit in particular with lishers; and why preachers should be left in a regard to the doctrine of the Trinity ?" Is it out Worse situation, it is not very easy to say. of a pious desire to fasten some heresy, or the im
The example of the Arminian confession is, putation of it, upon him ? Is he “called out of the upon this occasion, recommended by the author clouds” to be committed to the flames ? of the Considerations; a confession which was The 40th page of the Answer introduces a pacompiled for the edification and instruction of the ragraph of considerable length, the sum, however, members of that church, without peremptorily in. and substance of which is this—that if subscrip sisting upon any one's assent to it. But it is the tion to articles of faith were removed, confusion misfortune of the Arminian to be no national would ensue; the people would be distracted with church-the misfortune, alas ! of Christianity her the disputes of their teachers, and the pulpits tilled self in her purest period; when she was under with controversy and contradiction. Upon this the government of the apostles; without alliance fact” we join issue, and the more readily as this with the states of this world; when she composed, is a sort of reasoning we all understand. The nevertheless, a church as real, we conceive, and extent of the legislator's right may be an abstruse as respectable, as any national church that has ex- inquiry; but whether a law does more good or isted since.
harm, is a plain question which every man can Our author, who can much sooner make a dis- ask. Now, that distressing many of the clergy, tinction than see one, does not comprehend, it and corrupting others; that keeping out of churches seems, any difference between confessions of faith good Christians and faithful citizens ; that making and preaching, as to the use of unscriptural terms. parties in the state, by giving occasion to sects and Did a preacher, when he had finished his sermon, separations in religion; that these are inconvecall upon his congregation to subscribe their names niences, no man in his senses will deny. The and assent to it, or never to come more within the question therefore is, what advantage do you find doors of his church; there would, indeed, be some in the opposite scale to balance these inconvesort of resemblance betwixt the two cases; but as niences? The simple advantage pretended is, that the hearers are at liberty to believe preachers or you hereby prevent" wrangling" and contention po, as they see, or he produces, reasons for what in the pulpit. Now, in the first place, I observe, he says; there can be no harm, and there is a ma- that allowing this evil to be as grievous and as nifest utility, in trusting him with the liberty of certain as you please, the most that can be necesexplaining his own meaning in his own terms. sary for the prevention of it is, to enjoin your
We now come, and with the tenderest regret, preachers as to such points, silence and neutrality. to the case of those who continue in the church | In the next place, I am convinced, that the danwithout being able to reconcile to their belief every ger is greatly magnified. We hear little of these proposition imposed upon them by subscription ; points at present in our churches and public over whose distress our author is pleased to in- teaching, and it is not probable that leaving them dulge a wanton and ungenerous triumph. They at large would elevate them into more importance, had presumed, it seems that it was some apology or make it more worth men's while to quarrel for their conduct, that they sincerely laboured to about them. They would sleep in the same grave render to religion their best services, and thought with many other questions, of equal importance their present stations the fairest opportunities of with themselves, or sink back into their proper performing it. This may not, perhaps, amount place, into topics of speculation, or matters of de to a complete vindication; it certainly does not bate from the press. "None but men of some refully satisfy even their own scruples: else where Nection would be forward to engage in such subwould be the cause of complaint? What need of jects, and the least reflection would teach a man relief, or what reason for their petitions ? It might have been enough, however, to have exempted
* We were unwilling to decline the defence of the per. them from being absurdly and indecently compared sons bere described, though the expression in the Con. with faithless hypocrites, with Papists and Jesuits, related to a different subject. The author of the Con. who, for other purposes, and with even opposite siderations speaks of being bound" to “keep up" these designs, are supposed to creep into the church forms until relieved by proper authority;
of ministethiough the same door. For the fullest and fairest rially" complying with what we are not able to remove; representation of their case, I refer our author to who are the instruments of imposing a subscription
alluding, no doubt, to the case of Church governors, the excellent Hoadly; or, as Hoadly possibly may which they may disapprove. But the answerer, taking be no book in our author's library, will it provoke it for granted, ihal ministerially complying" meani his “raillery” to ask, what he thinks might be the the compliance of ministers, i. e. of clergyinen officiating consequence, if all were at once to withdraw in their functions, has, by a quibble
, or a blunder,
transferred the passage to a sense for which it was not themselves from the church who were dissatisfied | intended.
that preaching is not the proper vehicle of contro-1" strong in the faith" will refuse to " bear with the
Even at present, says our author, "we infirmities of the weak ?" The few who upon speak and write what we please with impunity," principles of this sort opposed the application of And where is the mischief? or what worse could the Dissenters, were repulsed from parliament ensue if subscription were removed ? Nor can I with disdain, even by those who were no friends discover any thing in the disposition of the peti- to the application itself. tioning clergy that need alarm our apprehensions. The question concerning the object of worship If they are impatient under the yoke, it is not is attended, I confess, with difficulty; it seems alfrom a desire to hold forth their opinions to their most directly to divide the worshippers. But let congregations, but that they may be at liberty to the Church pare down her excrescences till she entertain themselves, without offence to their con comes to this question; let her discharge from her sciences, or ruin to their fortunes.
liturgy controversies unconnected with devotion; Our author has added, by way of make-weight let her try what may he done for all sides, by worto his argument, “that many common Chris- shipping God in that generality of expression in tians,” he believes," would be greatly scandalized which he himself has left some points ; let her disif you take away their creeds and catechisms, and miss many of her Articles, and convert those which strike out of the liturgy such things as they have she retains into terms of peace; let her recall the always esteemed essential."* Whatever reason terrors she suspended over freedom of inquiry; let there may be for this belief at present, there cer- the toleration she allows to dissenters be made tainly was much greater at the Reformation, as “absolute;" let her in vite men to search the Scripthe Popish ritual, which was then "taken away," tures; let her governors encourage the studious had a fascination and antiquity which ours cannot and learned of all persuasions :—Let her do this, pretend to. Many were probably “scandalized" and she will be secure of the thanks of her own at parting with their beads and their mass-books, clergy, and what is more, of their sincerity. A that lived afterwards to thank those who taught greater consent may grow out of inquiry than them better things. Reflection, we hope, in some, many at present are aware of; and the few, who, and time, we are sure, in all, will reconcile men after all shall think it necessary to recede from our to alterations established in reason. If there be communion, will acknowledge the necessity to be any danger, it is from some of the clergy, who, inevitable; will respect the equity and moderation with the answerer, would rather suffer the " vine of the established church, and live in peace with yard” to be overgrown with “weeds," than “stir all its members. the ground," or, what is worse, call these weeds I know not whether I ought to mention, among " the fairest flowers in the garden.” Such might so many more serious reasons, that even the gobe ready enough to raise a hue and cry against all vernors of the church themselves would find their innovators in religion, as "overturners of churches” ease and account in consenting to an alteration.and spoilers of temples.
For besides the difficulty of defending those deBut the cause which of all others stood most in cayed fortifications, and the indecency of desertthe way of the late petitions for relief, was an ap-ing them, they either are or will soon find them. prehension that religious institutions cannot be selves in the situation of a master of a family, disturbed without awakening animosities and dis- whose servants know more of his secrets than it sensions in the state, of which no man knows the is proper for them to know, and whose whispers consequence. Touch but religion, we are told, and whose threats must be bought off at an ex. and it bursts forth into a flame. Civil distractions pense which will drain the “apostolic chamber" may be composed by fortitude and perseverance; dry. but neither reason nor authority can controul, Having thus examined in their order, and, as there is neither charm nor drug which will assuage, far as I understood them, the several answerst the passions of mankind when called forth in the cause and to the battles of religion. We were * If a Christian can think it an intolerable thing to concerned to hear this language from some who, worship one God through one mediator Jesus Chrisi, in in other instances, have manifested a constancy company with any such as differ from him in their noand resolution which no confusion nor ill as
tions about the metaphysical nature of Christ, or of the
Holy Ghost, or the like; I am sorry for it. I remember pect of public affairs, could intimidate. After the like objection made at the beginning of the Refor. all, is there any real foundation for these ter mation by the Lutherans against the lawfulness of rors? Is not this whole danger, like the lion of communicating with Zuinglius and his followers. be. the slothful, the creature of our fears, and the elements in the sacrament.
cause they had not the same notion with them of the
And there was the same excuse of indolence? Was it proposed to make objection once against holding communion with any articles instead of removing them, there would such as had not the same notions with themselves a hout be room for the objection. But it is obvious the secret decrees of God relating to the predestination that subscription to the 39 Articles might be those men may please themselves with thinking who altered or withdrawn upon general principles of are sure they are arrived at the perfect knowledge of justice and expediency, without reviving one reli- the most abstruse points, this they may be certain of, gious controversy, or calling into dispute a single that in the present state of the church, even supposing proposition they contain. Who should excite dis 1 only such as are accounted orthodox to be joined toge.
ther in one visible communion, they communicate to. turbances? Those who are relieved will not; and,gether with a very great variety and confusion of nounless subscription were like a tax, which, being / iions, either comprehending nothing plain and distinct, taken from one must be laid with additional weight or differing from one another as truly and as essentially upon another, is it probable that any will com difference with relation to the object of worship than plain that they are oppressed, because their if all prayers were directed (as bishop Pull says, almost brethren are relieved ? or that those who are so all were in the first ages) to God or the Father, through
the Son.-Hoadly's Answer to Dr. Harc's Sermon.
In his last note our author breaks forth into " asto* Pages 41, 42
nisbient" and indignation, at the “folly, injustice,
given by our author to the objections against the but rather causing men to forsake, the assempresent mode of subscription, it now remains, by bling of themselves together.-No answer. way of summing up the evidence, to bring " for- IV. That men are deterred from searching the ward " certain other arguments contained in the Scriptures by the fear of finding there more or Considerations, to which no answer has been at less than they look for; that is, something intempted. It is contended, then,
consistent with what they have already, given
their assent to, and must at their peril abide by. I. That stating any doctrine in a confession of -No answer.
faith with a greater degree of “precision” than V. That it is not giving truth a fair chance, to the Scriptures have done, is in effect to say, decide points at one certain time, and by one that the Scriptures have not stated it "with set of men, which had much better be left to
precision" enough; in other words, that the the successive inquiries of different ages and Scriptures are not sufficient.—"Mere declama different persons. -No answer. tion."
VI. That it tends to multiply infidels amongst II. That this experiment of leaving men at liber us, by exhibiting Christianity under a form and
ty, and points of doctrine at large, has been at in a system which many are disgusted with, tended with the improvements of religious who yet will not be at the pains to inquire after knowledge, where and whenever it has been any other. -No answer. tried. And to this cause, so far as we can see, is owing the advantage which protestant coun At the conclusion of his pamphlet, our author tries in this respect possess above their popish is pleased to acknowledge, what few, I find, care neighbours.—No answer.
any longer to deny, "that there are some things III. That keeping people out of churches who in our Articles and Liturgy which he should be
might be adınitted consistently with every end of glad to see amended, many which he should be public worship, and excluding men from com- willing to give up to the scruples of others,” but munion who desire to embrace it upon the terms that the heat and violence with which redress has that God prescribes, is certainly not encouraging, been pursued, preclude all hope of accommodation
and tranquillity-thats we had better wait, thereand indecency" of comparing our church to the Jewish fore, for more peaceable times, and be contented in our Saviour's time, and even to the tower of Babel;" with our present constitution as it is," until a fairer mistaking the church, in this last comparison, for one prospect shall appear of changing it for the better. of her monuments (which indeed, with most people of - After returning thanks, in the name of the his complexion, stands for the same thing) erected to
fraternity,” to him and to all who touch the burprevent our dispersion from that grand centre of catho. lic dominion, or, in the words of a late celebrated cas.
den of subscription with but one of their fingers, tle-builder, “ to keep us together.” If there be any "in I would wish to leave with them this observation, decency" in such a comparison, it must be chargeable -That as the man who attacks a flourishing eson those who lead us to it, by making use of the same terms with the original architects, and to which the few ever will be found to attempt alterations but
tablishment writes with a halter round his neck, author of the Considerations evidently alludes. This detached note is concluded with as detached, and no men of more spirit than prudence, of more sinless curious, an observation, which the writer thinks cerity than caution, ot' warm, eager, and impetumay be a "sufficient answer" to the whole, namely,
ous tempers; that, consequently, if we are to that the author of the Considerations " has wrought no miracles for the conviction of the answerer and his as.
wait for improvement till the cool, the calın, the sociates." For what purpose this observation can be discreet part of mankind begin it, till church go“ sufficient," it is not easy to guess, except it be design. vernors solicit, or ministers of state propose it-I ed to insinuate, what may perhaps really be the case,
will venture to pronounce, that (without His inthat no less than a miracle will serve to cast out that kind of spirit which has taken so full possession of terposition with whom nothing is impossible) we them, or ever bring them to a sound mind, and a sin. may remain as we are till the "renovation of all rere love of truth.
REASONS FOR CONTENTMENT,
ADDRESSED TO THE
LABOURING PART OF THE BRITISH COMMUNITY.
Human life has been said to resemble the situa- , when we see exorbitant fortunes placed in the tion of spectators in a theatre, where, whilst each hands of single persons; larger, we are sure, than person is engaged by the scene which passes be- they can want, or, as we think, than they can use. fore him, no one thinks about the place in which This is so common a reflection, that I will not say he is seated. It is only when the business is in- it is not natural. But whenever the complaint terrupted, or when the spectator's attention to it comes into our minds, we ought to recollect, that grows idle and remiss, that he begins to consider the thing happens in consequence of those very at all, who is before him or who is behind him, rules and laws which secure to ourselves our pro whether others are better accommodated than perty, be it ever so small. The laws which accihimself
, or whether many be not much worse. It dentally cast enormous estates into one great is thus with the various ranks and stations of so man's possession, are, after all, the self-same laws ciety. So long as a man is intent upon the du- which protect and guard the poor man. Fixed ties and concerns of his own condition, he never rules of property are established for one as well thinks of comparing it with any other; he is an another, without knowing, before-hand, whom never troubled with reflections upon the different they may effect. If these rules sometimes throw classes and orders of mankind, the advantages and an excessive or disproportionate share to one man's disadvantages of each, the necessity or non-ne- lot, who can help it ? It is much better that it cessity of civil distinctions, much less does he feel should be so, than that the rules themselves should within himself a disposition to covet or envy any be broken up; and you can only have one side of of them. He is too much taken up with the oc- the alternative or the other. To abolish riches, cupations of his calling, its pursuits, cares, and would not be to abolish poverty; but, on the conbusiness, to bestow unprofitable meditations upon trary, to leave it without protection or resource, the circumstances in which he sees others placed. It is not for the poor man to repine at the effects And by this means a man of a sound and active of laws and rules, by which he himself is benemind has, in his very constitution, a remedy against fited every hour of his existence; which secures the disturbance of envy and discontent. These to him his earnings, his habitation, his bread, his passions gain no admittance into his breast, be- / life; without which he, no more than the rich man, cause there is no leisure there or vacancy for the could either eat his meal in quietness, or go to bed trains of thought which generate them. He en- in safety. Of the two, it is rather more the conjoys, therefore, ease in this respect, and ease result- cern of the poor to stand up for the laws, than of ing from the best cause, the power of keeping his the rich; for it is the law which defends the weak imagination at home; of confining it to what be- against the strong, the humble against the powerlongs to himself, instead of sending it forth to ful, the little against the great; and weak and wander amongst speculations which have neither strong, humble and powerful, little and great, there limits nor use, amidst views of unattainable gran- would be, even were there no laws whatever. Bedeur, fancied happiness, of extolled, because un side, what, after all, is the mischief? The owner experienced, privileges and delights.
of a great estate does not eat or drink more than The wisest advice that can be given is, never to the owner of a small one. His fields do not pro allow our attention to dwell upon comparisons be- duce worse crops, nor does the produce maintain tween our own condition and that of others, fewer mouths." If estates were more equally dibut to keep it fixed upon the duties and con- vided, would greater numbers be fed, or clothed, or cerns of the condition itseif. But since every employed ? Either, therefore, large fortunes are man has not this power; since the minds of not a public evil, or, if they be in any degree an some men will be busy in contemplating the evil, it is to be borne with, for the sake of those advantages which they see others possess; and fixed and general rules concerning property, in since persons in laborious stations of life are wont the preservation and steadiness of which all are to view the higher ranks of society, with senti- i interested. ments which not only tend to make themselves Fortunes, however, of any kind, from the naunhappy, but which are very different from the ture of the thing, can only fall to the lot of a few. truth; it may be an useful office to point out to I say, "from the nature of the thing.” The very them some of those considerations which, if they utmost that can be done by laws and government, will turn their thoughts to the subject, they should I is to enable every man, who hath health, to pro endeavour to take fairly into the account. cure a healthy subsistence for himself and a family. And, first; we are most of us apt to murmur, / Where this is the case, things are at their perfec