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With this evil is , connected another, namely, an entire renunciation of terms importing respect and courteousness. The lightest observer might have discovered that the Prophets and Apostles were equally caresul in expressing, according to the usage of the times, 'an outward veneration and obeisance. To stifle resentment, to restrain impetuosity, and to conciliate affection, are the grand purposes for which the wisest men have acceded to established modes, and submitted to ceremonious restrictions. Thus we become all of us subject one to another, and inferiority of station is not excluded from proper deference and regard.
To brand with reproach those professions which are necessary for the defence of the nation in general, and of the life, liberty and property of individuals is not less an evil in itself, because, from the paucity of the communion whence it originates, no actual mischief is felt. They few sufficient inclination to enjoy the benefits of extensive commerce and permanent possession, and yet very ungratefully disparage the means by which those benefits are to be acquired and preserved, little considering that to partake of the fruits of
iniquity, would be to partake of iniquity itself; and not at all reflecting that to preclude redress of flagrant and notorious grievances, is to encourage insolence, oppression, and injuftice; that we are almost as much indebted to the interpreters, as we are to the first framers, of our laws; and that ingenious arguments, followed by judicious decisions, give stability and certainty to many points, which the irremediable imperfection of the laws themselves has left undecided.
That contention of every kind is carried on with unbecoming rancour, and frequently upon frivolous pretences, cannot be denied. Remedies are allowed for injuries apparently trifling, but those acts which, taken fingly, are of no consideration, may become formidable by repetition. One wilful encroachment is perhaps a prelude to many more. The laws speak not the language of revenge but security; the sword itself is drawn to secure the olive branch.
The foregoing flight review of the evils arising from Separation may tend to confirm our own faith, and increase our gratitude to that Church, which keeps us at an equal dis
tance from levity and gloominess, from despair and presumption, from uncharitable censure, and affected candour. With popular prejudices and trite accusations, with those reflections which one communion of Chrisstians wantonly deliver against another, we have no concern.
Nothing can properly create reprehension, but that which is openly professed and avowed; nothing ought to be alledged from imperfect surmise, or remote deduction. Absurd consequences may ensue, which men do not foresee. Long continuance in any persuasion reconciles the mind, and establishes habitual approbation.
Whatever is good and laudable in any denomination let us studiously follow, always remembering that, though not united together in the visible Church of Christ, we have fellowship in the invisible, that we are all heirs of the same promises, partakers of the same grace. May we gradually prepare ourselves, even during our outward disunion, for the happy union which we all sincerely wish for among the spirits of just men made perfe£t.
F what has been already delivered may
tend to lessen mens prejudices against the Church of England, if it may
shorten controversy, and enforce mutual forbearance, the most fanguine expectations will be fulfilled. There are, however, abuses under the best establishment, for which the first framers of that establishment are not answerable. Thefe abuses increase the number of Separatists, who, not making the proper distinction between our principles and our practice, ascribe the perversions of the latter to the imperfections of the former. In taking a review of
the present state of Religion, we ought, with a becoming freedom, and yet without prejudice or malignity, to point out the reigning vices and errors of the age in which we live. After which will be subjoined some conjectural Remarks upon Prophecies which yet remain to be fulfilled.
And first, let us point out the reigning Vices and Errors of the present Age.
To compare it with past times is neither just, necessary, nor practicable. It is not just, because, if the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before us have not added both to our knowledge and our goodness, we are much worse than they. It is not necefsary, because, if we should appear to advan'tage, the misconduct of others will be no excuse for ours. It is not practicable, because the memorials of former times only furnish us with a few characters, conspicuous for their virtues or their vices, while the generality were either unknown, or are forgotten. Historians indeed, of lively imaginations, exhibit what they deem a faithful picture of the most barbarous and uncivilized people; they please the fuperficial, and they deceive the