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there was a particular application made to the
governing powers in the justly famous Free and Candid Disquisitions, about forty years ago, in a humble, calm, and christian manner, in order to get the liturgy reformed, according to the standard of the scripture : but nothing has yet been attempted in that glorious cause. And, in the year 1772, application was made to parliament for relief from subscription to human articles of religious faith and doctrine : since which, several of the clergy of the established church have resigned their preferments and ministry therein, rather than continue to officiate, in the public service, against their consciences; while many, many more, remain behind, groaning and oppressed by their conformity, being yet unable wholly to withdraw themselves. Notwithstanding which, the same corrupt forms are still kept up in the midst of light and knowledge; and, therefore, common christians are, with the highest reason, called upon to examine, judge, determine, profess, and protest; to disregard all public authority, when it stands in competition with the express declarations of Christ and his apostles.
We are daily praying to our heavenly Father, that his name may be hallowed, that is, that he may be worshipped and adored, as the supreme and only object of the highest reverence and love of all rational creatures; and yet, at the same time, we obstinately continue in such false worship, as eclipses his supreme honour and glory, in express contradiction to his holy word. We are con
stantly interceding with Almighty God, for the good estate of the catholic church, or, that the church of Christ may be universal ; that it may be so guided and governed by his good spirit, that all who profess and call themselves christians may be led into the way of truth; and, at the same time, we seem determined to hold fast important errors regarding God and his holy worship, 'notwithstanding the strongest and clearest light. Upon some occasions, more especially in one of the collects for Good Friday, we earnestly pray for the conversion of Jews, Turks, and infidels, and, at the end of the very same collect, we inconsistently keep up a religious practice, that is one of the greatest obstacles to their conversion. For it is extremely evident, by all accounts, that neither Jews nor Mahometans, who are believers of one supreme God, can be converted whilst they are taught to think, that the doctrine of three persons in one God, and the worship practised in consequence of it, are essential parts of the christian religion. This can be deemed little less than a solemn mockery of the Almighty, unless we employ our sincere endeavours to effect whatever we pray for ; and, I am afraid, will finally demonstrate the insincerity of this church and nation, if no alterations can be obtained from the governing powers.
Since my conviction, I have been naturally led to reflect on the lamentable state of mankind, in almost all ages and countries, with respect to the knowledge of the one true God. Not a great
many years after the flood, whereby the immediate power of the Almighty Creator was so remarkably displayed, there was a general revolt of the nations of the earth, into a state of gross idolatry: upon which account Almighty God chose a particular people for the glorious purpose of keeping up the knowledge and worship of himself; as this grand principle of all religion, though established by de. monstrative evidence in the works of creation, would have been certainly lost, without an extraordinary revelation.
And even this chosen people, the history of the Old Testament faithfully informs us, frequently fell into idolatry, before the Babylonish captivity, and very seldom continued any considerable time in a steady obedience to the Lord their God. And, happy had it been for the christian world, if they themselves had never departed from the plain and fundamental article of all true religion, viz. the unity of God, so frequently inculcated in the scripture. Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, delivers this important truth in the most solemn manner. Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord. (Deut. vi. 4.) And our Lord, when he was asked, by one of the scribes, which was the first commandment of all ? confirms the same doctrine by his express authority : Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord. (Mark xii. 28 and 29.) And that this one God is the Father only, expressly distinguished from the son and holy spirit, is as plainly and strongly declared by Christ and his disciples, as it is possible
for words to set it forth. Yet, in opposition to the authority of both, who derived their commission from God, it was determined by fallible and presumptuous mortals, between four and five hundred years after Christ, that there are three supreme Gods, and, at the same time, that these three supreme Gods are one God; and whoever will not believe this gross nonsense, and impious contradiction, is doonied to eternal torments*. In consequence of this absurd doctrine it was de. creed, that it is the duty of christians to worship God under the character of three co-equal persons, without even the least colour of evidence taken from scripture. If this be not such a departure from God and his holy worship as calls aloud for a reformation, I must despair of understanding the plainest case in matters of religion. But, whether the governing powers will regard their duty
The creed of the athanasian christian is very accurately described by lord Bacon, one of the wisest and greatest men this country ever produced. (See his Works, 4to. vol. iii. p. 129). “ He believes," says his lordship, “ three to be one, and one to be three; a father not to be older than his son; a son to be equal with his father; and one proceeding from both to be equal to both; as believing three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person.
« He believes a virgin to be the mother of a son; and that very son of hers to be her maker. He believes him to have been shut up in a narrow cell, whom heaven and earth could not contain. He believes him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. He believes him to have been a weak child, and carried in arms, who is almighty; and him once to have died who alone has life and immortality."
in this grand affair, or whether they will not, every particular person who has gained right notions of God and his holy worship, is indispensibly obliged to profess and practise in exact conformity to the solemn determination of Christ and his apostles, without regarding any worldly inconveniences that may arise from the rejection of false notions and unscriptural worship. This is an essential character of Christ's disciples, and required, as an express condition, by our Lord himself. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. (Luke ix. 26.)
But, let it be always remembered, and deeply fixed in our hearts, that right notions of God, and his holy worship, were not intended to amuse our minds with empty speculations, but to establish a rational correspondence between God and our own minds, that we may be effectually influenced to reduce to practice the pure and holy laws of Jesus Christ. If we have gained better and more rational sentiments of religion than we had before, we are called upon, by still stronger obligations, to let our light so shine before men, that they may glorify our Father, who is in heaven. Do we see, by a lively faith, the one supreme God in his real character, as a Being of all possible perfection, more especially justice, mercy, love, goodness, and every valuable excellence that can attract a reasonable affection? We are, then, certainly required to love this glorious and amiable Being