Page images

A LETTER to the



HE deplorable State of Chriftianity in those Parts of it which have reform'd from Popery in Doctrine, is chiefly to be afcrib'd to the Contempt or Neglect of the Divine Inftitutions, relating to the Conftitution and Oeconomy of the Church. This in particular hath brought all the Disorder and Confufion in Matters of Religion, for which England is fcandalous above all other Christian Countries; having ever fince the Great Rebellion, abounded with Religious Sects and Factions, which owe their Original, more or lefs, to the direful Change and Overthrow of that Government, which Chrift ordain'd for his Church, and his Apostles left in it, and which throughout all Ages was continued without Interruption in the Chriftian World for 1500 Years, as that very Form of Church-Government, which all Christians thought was ordain'd


to continue unto the End of the World. There never was in all that Time any Church founded but in, and with EPISCOPACY; nor did ever any Sect of Men affume the Title of a Church, till they could get a pretended Bishop, from whom they had their Priefts, and their Priefts their Miffion, till the Time of the Reformation; nor did any Chriftian Priefts, or People of an Epifcopal Church, ever rife up against their Bishops as fuch, and reject the whole Order, but thofe of Great Britain, under the Pretence of farther Reformation; by which they have brought fuch Confufions, and fo expos'd Religion among us, that it is in a great Measure loft, fo that we may fay (as was long fince faid of Juftice in the Iron Age of the World) that fhe hath taken her Flight from Earth to Heaven. Could any Church, or Father of the Catholick Church, in Antient Times, have imagin'd or believ'd without the Gift of Prophecy, that an Age would come, when the Presbyters of a National Church would take upon them to depofe their BiShops, and teach the People that their Order was contrary to God's Word, or grieyous and unneceffary to the Church! Could they have imagin'd, that in a flourishing Church, pure in Doctrine and Worship, confifting of Two Provinces, an Affembly

of several Presbyters fhould be held in Oppofition to their Bishops, and their Lawful Sovereign Lord theExternal or CivilBishop of his Church, by the Command of Rebels in actual Arms against their King! Could they ever imagine, that in three famous National Churches reform'd after the Antient Pattern of Churches fettled in the Primitive Times, and profeffing the fame Holy Faith, a ftrong Party of Presbyters and People, fhould be fo wicked, as by Force to depose the whole College of Bishops, and as much as they could, extirpate the whole Order as unlawful and needless, nay, as an Antichriftian Conftitution, and a Yoak which we nor our Fathers were able to bear! Yet, Sir, I am one of thofe furviving Men who liv'd in thofe Times and faw all those things done, and the direful Confequences of fuch Doings'; the first of which was the fetting up a Government of the Church by Presbyters affuming Epifcopal Authority, who with their Sect were called Presbyterians.

But these did not long flourish; for as they had taught the People that Epifcopal Ordinations or Miffions were not necessary, fo others foon faid the fame of their Ordinations by Presbyters, afferting, that only Gifts, and the Call of Gifted Men by the Congregation was fufficient for the Mi


niftry; and fo from the Sect of Presbytery fprang up that of the Independents among us, and from them again, others, who thought Gifts alone were a fufficient Call to the Ministry, and in this Abomination of Defolation, Laymen firft invaded the Sacred Office of the Ministry among us.

When I was a Young School-Boy in a little Village near Helmsley in Torkshire, I faw a Man in Gray Clothes ftep up into the Pulpit on the Lord's Day, where after a long Prayer he preach'd to the People, as well as I can guefs from what I now remember, after the Manner of the Fifth Monarchy Anabaptifts. Being afterwards removed to School at North-Allerton, I faw an Officer of Cromwell's Army go up into the Pulpit, and there after a long Prayer, he made a long Sermon, of which, as I then understood little, fo I remember nothing, but that he talk'd much of Dead Ordinances, and Gifts of the Spirit, and a Carnal Miniftry, meaning no doubt the Miniftry of the Church. By that time Quakerifm, which began in Westmorland, was much increas'd in that Place, where I often faw not only Men, but Women Preach both in the Fields, and in Houfes, without any other Call, but their pretended Motions of the Spirit, when (you muft, Sir, excufe my Impertinence to tell you, that)


á School-Fellow older than my self by three or four Years, though of a Lower Form in the School, who had been carefully bred up in Church Principles, and like another Timothy inftructed by his Parents from his Childhood in the Scriptures, fo baffled their Speakers, by asking them who fent them to Preach, and urging the Places of Scripture against them, which speak of God the Father's fending our Saviour, and His fending the Apostles, and They others; and by requiring of them a Vifible Proof of their pretended Call by the Spirit, that they came not of a long Time after to that Place, and as I remember, not till that Boy, fo mighty in the Scriptures, was taken from

the School.

Indeed, Sir, the Neceffity of an Immediate, or Mediate Call and Miffion from God to any Divine Ministry, is fo plainly taught in the Scriptures as appears by the * Mar


THE MISSION OF MOSES, And the Lord faid· Come now therefore, and I will SEND thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayeft bring forth my People, &c. out of Egypt. Exod. iii. 10. Now therefore go, and I will be with thy Mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt fay. Exod. iv. 12. He SENT Mofes his Servant, Pfal. cv. 26.

THE MISSION OF THE JEWISH PRIESTS, Take thou unto thee Aaron thy Brother, and bis Sons with him, FROM AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, that He may Minifter UNTO ME in the Prieft's Office, even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar, Aaron's Sons. Exod. xxviii. 1. And the Lord fpake unto Aaron, Thou and thy Sons with thee shall keep your


« PreviousContinue »