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doctrines, but are equally adapted to the subscription of the Arian and the Athanasian, of the Arminian and the Calvinist, is one of the grossest libels on the Church in the power of ingenuity or malice to fabricate. To represent the Articles as articles of peace, and to maintain that subscription does not necessarily suppose, nor could ever have been intended to ensure, the belief of every person who subscribes them in all the propositions which they contain, or to allege that subscription ought to be understood as implying assent to them only so far as they are consistent with the Scriptures ; this is worse than puerile absurdity, it is an unmanly disingenuous evasion of their obvious design, expressed in the title which they bear: “ Articles agreed upon by the
Archbishops, and Bishops, and the whole Cler
gy,—for the avoiding of diversities of opinions, “ and for the establishing of consent touching “ true religion.” The Church assumes, that its public formularies are all consistent with the Scriptures, and every Clergyman is supposed to have made, and every one, deserving of the character he sustains, has made, a serious and deliberate examination, and arrived at the same conclusion; in consequence of which he “will
ingly and ex animo,” subscribes the form required, wherein “ he ackuowledgeth all and
every the Articles;-being in number thirty and nine ;-to be agreeable to the word of God.”
And this subscription is further declared by the 86th Canon to be “FOR THE AVOIDING OF ALL AMBIGUITIES."
But if the Articles of the Church may be law. fully subscribed with such latitude of interpretation as to leave in reality scarcely any determinate meaning at all, what opinion must we form of such subscription, professedly made “ FOR THE AVOIDING OF DIVERSITIES OF OPINIONS, AND FOR
THE ESTABLISHING OF CONSENT TOUCHING TRUE “ RELIGION?" Is it possible for the most comprehensive charity to consider it as any other than egregious trifling or solemn mockery?
If every Clergyman, or every Bishop, be at liberty to preach or publish any religious sentiments lie pleases, whether consistent or inconsistent with the Formularies of the Church, what real advantage arises from the existence and imposition of those Formularies? Wherein does the situation of the Clergy of the established Church, in a religious point of view, differ from that of the Teachers of the separate congregations of Dissenters?
That very different and even opposite sentiments are beld by Clergymen and Bishops of the Church; that it is impossible for the acutest ingenuity to frame any propositions more contradictory to each other than the sermons delivered in some churches are to the sermons delivered in others; and that the theological writings published by the Clergy exbibit similar specimens of
palpable contradictions; are facts too notorious to be denied or doubted by any person possessed of a moderate acquaintance with the productions of the pulpit and the press. Some of these contradictory doctrines must necessarily be contrary to the Formularies of the Church, and those who maintain them must be chargeable with disbelieving and opposing Articles which they have solemnly subscribed, as being, “ all and every” of them, “ agreeable to the word of God.” And that this capital breach of clerical and episcopal duty has been committed by the Bishop on Lincoln, his late treatise, already mentioned, appears to me to furnish the most ample and undeniable proofs.
That the principles of the Church of England are really in harmony with those of Calvin and Calvinists in general, few persons, who shall take the trouble of perusing the following sheets, will have the hardihood to deny, and very few, if
any, whose judgements are not perverted by interest, will be so weak as to doubt. And it is worthy of being remarked, that this is never doubted by those who have no immediate interest in the question. Whatever be their own doctrinal attachments or aversions, they consider the Formularies of the Church of England as Calvinistic. This is the unanimous opinion of all intelligent Dissenters, of every variety of theological sentiment, from the pseudo-calvinistic antinomian to the semi-deistical follower of Socinus
or Priestley. That the leading sentiments maintained by Calvin were adopted by the first founders of the Church of England, the framers and compilers of the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy; that having adopted Calvinistic sentiments they cannot reasonably be supposed to have compiled and imposed Anti-calvinistic Formularies; that the Formularies compiled and imposed by them were then universally understood as expressive, “ in “ the true usual literal meaning ” of the words and phrases employed, of Calvinistic sentiments; that the immediate successors of the first founders of the Church were firm believers and strenuous defenders of the same principles; that for the first fifty years after the establishment of the reformed Church of England it is scarcely possible to find half a dozen divines within its pale who opposed these principles: these assertions can be supported by the highest degree of moral eyidence of which such propositions are susceptible, and several of them are established beyond all doubt in the following pages. In addition to the evidence there adduced, it may be stated, that in the year 1629, sixty-seven years after the compilation of the 39 Articles, the House of Commons passed the following vote : “We the “Commons in parliament assembled do claim,
protest, and avow for truth the sense of the “ Articles which were established by Parliament " in the thirteenth year of our late Queen Elizabeth, which by the public act of the Church of England, and by the general and current ex
positions of the ministers of our Church, have “ been delivered unto us; and we reject the sense “ of the Jesuits and Arminians and all others “ wherein they differ from us.'
Perhaps it may be pleaded, that since that period the Church of England has undergone a most material change; that though its creeds and confessions have never been altered, yet the majority of both Clergy and Laity have long ceased to hold Calvinistic sentiments, and that the Church therefore ought not now to be considered as a Calvinistic Church.
But nothing can be more fallacious than such a plea. The maxim,“ defendit numerus,” is not applicable here. The moral quality of actions is not affected by the number of those who practise them. No multiplication of examples can ever make that right which was originally and intrinsically wrong. The injunction of Heaven is, « Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evila."
It is not the defection of any number of persons, whether Clergy or Laity, from the genuine, original principles of the Church, that will justify any one, who does not cordially embrace and believe those principles, in the solemn declaration of assent and consent required of every Clergyman as the sine qua non, the indispensable condition, of his admission to holy orders. The Articles of the Church remain precisely the same as
a Exod. xxiii, 2.