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PROVED TO BE A SOUND AND ORTHODOX PART OF THE
Compiled from the most Eminent Divines.
BY EDWARD BARWICK, M. A.
OF TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN.
CONSIDERABLY ENLARGED AND IMPROVED.
BURGH; AND W. WATSON, AND C. P. ARCHER,
I Am persuaded that the following Treatise, which attempts to explain the nature of the
government which Christ has established in his Church, will require no apology, since all who profess themselves christians are so closely interested in the subject.
That gross ignorance on this subject prevails at present among all, even among the members of the Church (for whom this treatise is principally intended,) is too evident to require any proof. And how unnatural is it, that the members of any society should be ignorant of its origin and establishment, the principles on which it was instituted, and the rules by which its credit and dignity have been supported. This ignorance (as a laymember of the Church of England observes *,) which, on other occasions, is only extremely absurd, when applied to the principles of our ecclesiastical constitution, is highly reprehensible in itself, and attended with the most dangerous, consequences.
* Treatise on the Church, by William Stevens, Esq. 1799.
Many will be surprised, and look upon it as a novelty to be told (what yet is the old and true doctrine,) that to that sound and catholic part of Christ's Church, which is established in the country where he was born, or where the providence of God has fixed him, he is bound to adhere, that to all its ordinances in indifferent matters, all those rules which it has directed to be observed for the purpose
of edification, it is his duty to conform,—that he who separates from such a particular church, does it at his peril,—that he is committing an act for which he must be seriously and deeply accountable at the day of judgment,—that, in short, Schism, independently of all considerations of doctrine, though it should be no part of its object to work any express corruption of the truth, is in itself a grievous and heinous sin, hurtful in the greatest degree to the general interests of christianity, and big with the most serious consequences to the individual.
Custom indeed, the loose writing of some of the clergy, and the general silence of the body upon the constitution of the christian church, have so far reconciled us to the divisions that have taken place among christians, that they are no longer seen in the light in which they were seen in the primitive days of the church; whilst charity, forbidding us to speak harshly of the spiritual condition of our brethren, has in a manner tended to efface the sin of schism from our minds. In the liturgy of the church we pray against schism ; if, by their writings or conduct, the clergy at the same