Page images

der of time, why, so is every body of the present generation. But if you mean, as no doubt you do, that clergymen, in virtue of episcopal ordination, are qualified for the ministry, and are their successors in office, why then you assert what I dare stake my salvation upon, neither you, nor archbishop Potter, nor E. Barwick, nor bishop Skinner, nor archdeacon Daubeney, nor any other Reverend, or Very Reverend, or Right Reverend, will ever be able to prove. Many popes and bishops have been notoriously depraved men; "but unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth ?"* On supposition, therefore, that there were certain occult virtues in episcopal ordination, by which a stream of ministerial qualities, (which has been running ever since the time of the apostles through the Greek and Roman, and all other

lived at home with this strange mother of ours, we used to play about this ladder; but it was fit for nothing but child's play. You climbed higher than I did, and one day got two-thirds of the way up to the top. Ishall never forget it, as long as I live, for I strained my neck in looking after you, and never expected to see you alive upon the ground again. On coming down, what an account you gave ine! At one place several steps were missing, at another there were only knobs on the side on which you could scarcely lay hold or set your foot, and at last you were so giddy, that you could not see whether the ladder reached to the top of the tower or not. The people too, who shewed this ladder as a curiosity, used to laugh in their sleeves, and to tell me privately, that they never knew any body get into the castle that way; and it had been handed down to them, that the highest step in the ladder was not within half a dozen yards of the top of the wall. Besides, though climbing ladders might do very well for a girl, only consider, if you could now even get to the foot of the ladder, which is clearly impossible, what a figure you would make half way up in the air with your petticoats flying about you? Really, my dear sister, you would be the laugh of the whole neighbourhood.

Frend's Letters to Bishop Pretyman.

* Psalm 1. 16

episcopal churches) is usually communicated to minis ters who are episcopally ordained, which, by the way, I do not admit, yet it is in the highest degree incredible that wicked ministers, who are prohibited by God from declaring his statutes, should be the medium of that communication. Now should this be the case, it will follow that every ordination of such a bishop, and of all his successors, is to all intents and purposes invalid. And if so, according to your views of the subject, their ministry is not only ineffectual, but they are in danger of sharing the fate of "Uzziah, the Kohathites, and Corah and his confederates."*

From this view of the subject, in what an awful state of uncertainty must be the advocates for apostolical succession? Without a divine revelation, it will be as easy to find out the different tribes of Israel among the present race of Jews, as to ascertain who among the present race of ministers of the church of England are the legitimate successors of the apostles. The fact is, the doctrine of apostolical succession is a mere fiction of popery, which has recently been adopted by some of the English clergy, who, like papists, are desirous of confining salvation to their own community.

In conclusion, Sir, permit me to ask, Why are you so zealous against the sectaries? What evil have they done? Are they enemies to civil government? No: they are good and loyal subjects, and give many proofs of their love both to their king and country.

* Page 29.

Are they enemies to religion and morality? No: they are zealous, and, in thousands of cases, successful in promoting both. Are they hostile to benevolence? No: in general they are ready to every good work. Do they envy the clergy of the church of England their tythes, and stalls, and mitres ? Not they. None of these things move them. They covet neither their silver nor gold, but wish to pass on their way without interruption. They court-they desire no favour. Like Diogenes, when asked by Alexander the Great what he should do for him, they simply say-Stand out of

our sunshine.

Instead, Sir, of calumniating the sectaries, and endeavouring to rouse the clergy against what you consider fanaticism, would it not be much better to direct their attention to the universal suppression of vice, which awfully prevails? I can assure you that the inhabitants of your archdeaconry are very far from being "righteous overmuch." On the contrary, they are, at least the mass of them, "overmuch wicked." But whether you will interest yourself in the suppression of vice or not, let me beseech you to abstain from calumniating the sectaries. If you think by opposing them you shall promote the interests of the established church, you are under a strong delusion. "Refrain from these men, and let them alone for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it: lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."*

*Acts v. 38, 39.

Sincerely praying that the zeal of Christians may be universally directed to proper objects; and that after the present shadowy state of existence, in which diversity of opinion too frequently generates feelings which but ill accord with the benevolent spirit of the gospel, shall have vanished away, they may all meet in their Father's house, where the voice of discord shall never be heard,

I remain,

Reverend Sir,

Your's in the cause of truth,


Lately published, and sold by the same Author,

[ocr errors]

Sold also by J. Booth, Wednesbury; Blanshard, 14, City Road, London; Peart, Birmingham; Maurice, Dudley; and Lomax, Lichfield. 2nd Edit. Price 1s.

[blocks in formation]





« PreviousContinue »