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Egypt into the fire: and, what will come out? Not the Christian Religion, but the philosophical calf of Socinus.
Mr. Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity may be read with safety, by those who are already well learned in the Scripture: but what a perilous situation must that poor young man be in, who, perhaps, when he can but just construe the Greek Testament, or before, is turned over to be handled and tutored by this renowned veteran; who, with a shew of reasonableness, and some occasional sneers at orthodoxy, and affecting the piety and power of inspiration itself, has partly overlooked, and partly explained away, the first and greatest principles of Christianity, and reduced it to a single proposition, consistent with Heresy, Schism, Arianism, Socinianism, and Quakerism.
ON THE ABUSE OF THE REFORMATION, &c.
To the doctrines which are pleaded in de
fence of separation, I might have added the use which has been made of the historical event of our Reformation from the errors of the Church of Rome. Here the Dissenters are in confederacy with the Papists against us. The Papists object, that by the fact of our separation from their Church, the principle of separation is admitted; and being once admitted, it will multiply sects and divisions amongst us, and justify them all, as much as it justifies us. This is the very argument, which the Dissenters have repeated an hundred times; and they borrowed it originally from Rome, whose emissaries were detected
detected among the Puritans in the days of Elizabeth, feeding them with reasons and objections for the multiplying of schism, and the weakening of the Episcopal Church of England: and God knows, they succeeded but too well. However, the link which unites these two parties may easily be broken. They both agree, that the Reformation of the Church of England was a separation from the Church of Rome, of the same kind, and on the same principles, with the separation of our Dissenters. But to say this, is to assert, that the Pope had a legal authority over the Church of England; when in fact it was an usurped authority; and the Church of England reformed itself, as a national Episcopal Church, on the ground of its original independence on the See of Rome. Therefore, till our Sectaries have given up this point to the Papists, and made the Church of England. legally dependent on the authority of Rome, the case of our Reformation affords no precedent to their separation. This Bishop Hoadley knew; therefore he allowed the authority of the Church of Rome, and made the Reformation of this Church a forcible separation, or schism, that all the Sectaries might be justified by our example. But he goes to a greater length: he maintains, that we did not reform, because
because the doctrines of the Church of Rome were actually corrupt, but because we thought them so; putting our Reformation on the foot of opinion, not of reasonable right, and actual knowledge and opinion being once admitted as a rule of Reformation, will hold as good against us, as against the Papists: nay, it will stop no where, till it make every man a Church to himself; with such doctrines as he likes, and without any one Christian ordinance whatsoever. When we descend to reason and authority, a weak cause may soon be overthrown; but if opinion is to justify, the Quakers may stand their ground; and so may Socinians, Mahometans, Jews, and Heathens; because the opinions of men, from the force of custom and habit, will go with the persuasion in which they have been educated. The Papists wish to put all Reformation from their Church, on such a foot, that the principle may be ruined by its own absurdity: and in this our Sectaries, with Bishop Hoadley for their advocate, have given them all the advantage they can desire.
Popular power is another engine which hath been turned against the Church; that is, against the authority of God and his ministers; and if this is admitted, then must that be right which the people set up, whatever it may be. All
unlawful authority affects to ride in upon the backs of the people: and the patriots of Pagan Rome, while they trampled upon captive kings, and looked upon all nations as made to be their slaves, were always flattering the people of their own commonwealth, with the conceit of their own majesty. The Geneva discipline went upon this principle; and they were followed therein by our Puritans and Independents. But the Scripture is so expressly against it, that its friends were tempted to corrupt the text of the New Testament, to give it countenance. In the History of the Ordaining of the seven Deacons, in the sixth chapter of the Acts, the text says-whom WE may appoint over this business-giving the appointment to the Apostles. But the words were altered into-whom YE may appoint-giving the appointment to the people. One of the largest and the most numerous folio editions of the bible ever printed in this country, which is that of Field 1660, several copies of which are still to be seen, upon the reading desks in our Churches, has this corruption; as many others had from the years 1640 to 1660. Field's edition was worked off in the time of the Usurpation, and was to have been published under the authority of the Parliament; but not coming forth till after the Restoration,