Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nature or Heinousness of a Sin, when at the same time we are endeavouring to acquit all Men of it? I find that sometimes Men are apt to conceal the true Reason of their Proceedings, left it should be injurious to their Design: And therefore I am inclinable to think the true Reason of his declining the Discullion of this Point was, that it would have touched his Beloved Brethren to the Quick, and he feared they would be cast upon the Tryal; and then, let the Sin be what it will, they would have been found the Guilty Persons. It was therefore a more Politick course, and more serviceable to his Friends, to represent the present Schism as no Sin, than to hazard his whole Party by failing in his proof, that the Dissenters were not Schismaticks. As for what he faith concerning their mutual charging each other with Schism, I did never expect that such hardy Men as his Dissenters should give up their Cause, and plead Guilty, whom I have often known to out-face plain Truth. But if the Question had been difcuss’d, and set in a clear Light; unprejudiced and impartial Persons might have made a right Judgment, and it might have been useful to such as are doubtful, and to those who came after; and so have help'd to heal in time. But seeing he will not do this, I must follow him in what he will do.

(4.) Two Affertions he lays down as the Subject Matter of his Book : ist, That they who are guilty of Schism, live in a course of Sin as damning as Muriber or Adultery, and are in a state of Damnation. 2dly, That we may not worship God with them at any tinie. And this Course he makes choice of, because (as he faith) few, if any, have expresly treated of these, (p.2,3.) But this pretended Reason hath more of Confidence than Truth in it. For many of the Ancients have not only asserted, but proved this Charge against Schism, and none more fully than St. Cyprian, with whom in this matter all the Orthodox Christians of his Age agreed : And then nothing is more common than to find them all with one Voice condemning all Comingnion with Schismaticks, and proving it with all the force of Argument.

And indeed if the first be true, the second is the direct and natural consequent of it': For we ought not to worship God with any, at any time, in a sinful and unwarrantable way. But the Ancient Fathers were mere Children, compared with the mighty Men of these blessed Times, and Mr. Tallents, witli his new Light, discovers them all to be in the wrong, and will prove against them all, and all others, that Schism in these Days is no such dangerous Sin. Well then, bic Rhodos, bic Saltus, let us see what will come of it.

(5.) He sets out with a specious Pretence, That it is only a certain Persuasion of the Falseness of those Things, and a Zeal to unite the Servants of Cbrist, that puts him upon this, (p. 3.) I cannot say, how far mighty Prejudice, or (which is worse) the being given over to strong Delusions, to believe a Lye, may prevail upon Men. For we are told in holy Writ, that the Persuasion of some Men had wrought them up to such a Zeal, that they thought to kill the Apostles of Christ would be to do God good service : And we have known Men, who call themselves the Servants of Christ, and who would be the only Saints of the Age, who have murthered their Lawful Sovereign, and the best of Kings at his own Door, and butchered or ruined his Faithful Subječts. And if some such Servants of Christ (if without Horror they can be fo called) be not now at work again, I am much mistaken; and is it not pity but such should be united, that their fanctified Designs for the Ruine of Church and State inay be more easily and surely eifected? But as for our Author, the Truth of his Persuasion, and the Warrantableness of his Zeal,' will best appear from the Soundness of his Argument; which we shall now come to examine.

(6.) It would look ill (faith he) in Disenters to Say, the Schism of those that procured severe Laws to be made against them, is as damning as Murther or Adultery: Truly I think so too. But then here is a whole Cluster of false and malicious Supposals. ift, That a certain Set of Men enviously procured these Laws, which were certainly some wicked Churchmen. 2dly, That these Laws were severe, tho' they have not been severe enough to cure the Evil. 3dly, That these Procurers were Schismaticks; and then doubtless the Makers of those Laws, who were of the fame Mind, and did the Mischief, could not be less guilty. And thus the King and Parliament, and all our Governors, are condemned for Schismaticks; and fo shall doubtless all, who shall dare to disturb thefe Troublers of Israel

. 4thly, That the procuring and making these Laws was a great Sin, though at present they are fo favourable as not to proclaim it as clamıning a Sin as Murther or Adultery; but if we may guess at what may be, by what has been, it is very probable they may alter their Opinion, when they get the Power in their hands. These are fine moderate Infinuations, of which we may feel the blessed Effe£ts in time. But if it were not dangerous to speak Truth, when it is in prejudice of our pious Diflenters, I should tell them, That it was Rebellion and Treason, and their ungovernableness and turbulency both in Church and State, which procured these Laws, and deserved severer. For though Mr. Tallents and his Saints may be of another Persuasion, yet I do and shall think, that Re

bellion

ܪ

bellion and Treafon are as damning Sins as Murther or Adultery. But after all, this makes nothing towards the proof his Assertion, though it well serves to discover his secret Spite.

(7) You have now seen how much this, their great pretended Charity amounts to, which must needs require a suitable return from those he calls their High Opposers. But he goes on, and though at present he finds it not expedient to parallel their Sin with Murther and Adultery, yet he plainly tells them, That they have greatly finn d by causing such needless, doubtful, or sinful ibings to be imposed, on purpose to throw out abundance of useful Ministers, &c. (p. 3.) I have observed, that both Papists and Dilsenters have certain stated reproachful Terms, which they must by no means forego : Thus here it must not be faid, that such things are required or commanded, but that they are imposedl

. Now an Imposition (as it is commonly understood in this cale ) doth suppose not only a hardship in the thing it self, but a stretch of Authority beyond its due bounds in the impofing, and consequently renders both the Thing required, and the Persons requiring it, odious: This Term therefore must be constantly made use of to alienate the Hearts and Affections of the People from their Governors, whether Ecclefiaftical or Civil; it. is a dangerous thing, and favours of a Seditious Spirit, when the lawful Commands of Superiors are constantly represented as Impositions. But our Author, to make good his Charge, hath followed the old Track, when he should have gone a new Way. For certainly he forgot his own design, and what it was his butiness to defend, when he accuseth them of knful Impofitions. For if the Terins of Communion be finful, what shall become of his Occafion al Conformity? For, unless his Saints have a peculiar Privilege to jin uccasionally, I see

rot

not how Communion is justifiable at any time, where the Terms are sinful. If he had well considered the matter, he would certainly have dropt this Plea at this time, it may serve for downright Work, but not for undermining, which is the present business; and they might have had a fit occasion to resume it again, when they had been either prepared for open Defiance, or had the Power in their hands. However, when he shall prove such things finful, I will renounce such a Communion, though I shall not then be of theirs, for Reasons I shall give hereafter.

(8.) I could with our Author had farther explained himself, as to the things he calls doubtful. For present things, in their own nature, are not doubtful, but certain; if they be doubtful to us, it is by reason of the weakness of our Understanding, or for want of Information. And if the matter be in æquilibrio, the safest way is to follow., Authority. But fome Persons are so full of Scruples, or are so easily made fo, that if Authority ihall command nothing, against which they shall raise a Scruple, or shall have it put into their, Heads by others, there is an end of all Authority.

(9.) The third thing which he objects against his Impositions, is, that they are needless; which I take to be a very needless Objection. For if the Cafe.were put, with respect to other matters, I verily think Mr. Tallents would not be easily persuaded to part with many things, which may be accounted needless. He would hardly be pleased to be confined to have neither any more Money, nor any more Clothes, than just what was needful, The Prodigal may have more Money, than he needs, and yet that will not excuse his profaseness, and vain lavishing it away. The Countryman, who went to fother his Cattle with the last Bottle of

Hay

« PreviousContinue »