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tions on very unworthy motives; and thence many great and scandalous disturbances arise and a parish is so divided into parties, that haps they do not come into humour again for some years. Besides; suppose a Socinian should have got, possession of a pulpit, and preached the people (or a few of the most active, noisy, and cunning, who overbear all the rest) into heresy: whom would they chuse, but a Socinian, at the next vacancy? And would it not be much better that an Orthodox minister should be put upon them? If the people have this right, then all the people have it; and consequently a Socinian congregation have a right to chuse a Socinian minister. How the Scripture hath been handled, as to this affair of popular election, was noted in the Postscript to the Essay on the Church.
by Succession, they make
19. Though the Dissenters have no ministry light of this defect, and think they are as well off as we are, because they say, our right of ordaining came down to us through the channel of Popery.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in a Church, were no invention of Popery, nor is our succession any more affected by Popery, than the Apostles' Creed, which is also come down to us through the channel of Popery; and so is Canon of
of the Scripture itself: yet we take the old Creed and the old Scriptures, and think them as good as ever. The Church of Rome is under such an opprobrium with Protestants, that it is a convenient bugbear, brought forward upon all occasions by those who want better argument, to frighten us out of our Church principles, and cover the weakness of their own innovations. But the succession of Church offices is no more affected by the errors of Popery, than a man's pedigree is affected by his bodily distemper, or the distempers of his parents; and if the man, by alteratives and restoratives, is cured with the blessing of God, he returns to the state of his purer ancestors of a remote generation. A self-originated upstart, who has been railing at him for things past, in which he had no share, may take his name, and claim his inheritance; but when his title comes to be examined, the true right will appear, and justice will take place.
If we trace the pedigree of the Church of England far enough backwards, we find a Christian Church of the Episcopal form in Britain, with an independent right and authority of its own, before Austin set his foot in the country, as the messenger of Rome. At the Reformation, this Church did but return to its original
original rights, with an Episcopacy independent of the Pope, and enjoyed it for some years, with the general approbation of the people, and there was no such thing as a Presbyterian in the nation. It was approved and congratulated for its felicity by the reformed of other countries: and even Calvin and Beza then little thought that they should have any followers so mad, (I use their own word) as to reject such an Episcopacy as ours, which had freed itself from the usurpation of the Papacy. Calvin, in his Epistle to Cardinal Sadolet, said of those who should reject such an hierarchy, that he should think them, nullo non anathemate dignos, i. e. "that no curse could be too bad for them." Beza would not believe that any could reject the order of Bishops in a reformed Church. If there be such, said he, God forbid that any man in his wits should assent to the madness of those men*. And in the same Book †, speaking of the hierarchy of England and her Bishops, he says, Let her enjoy that singular blessing of God, which I wish may be perpetual to her. Such at that time were the sentiments of Beza and Calvin; who afterwards found
* Ad Tract. de Minist. Evang. ab Hadr. Sarav. Edit. Belgo, c. i. + Chap. 18,
it convenient to change their style; and, when the war was carried on against Episcopacy itself, the expurgatorial authority of their editors în later editions expunged these charitable attestations out of their works; which hath a very guilty appearance.
11. The Dissenters plead, that what is called the Act of Toleration, has given a sanction to their separation, and taken away the sin of it. They are "not chargeable with schism, since they who have the power of continuing or altering our Church at their pleasure, have given them liberty to withdraw, and have taken their places of worship under their protection as well
If I understand this plea right, it is a millstone about the neck of all the rest; because it shews, that the apologist of the Dissenters hath argued without principles, and so hath fallen into a manifest contradiction. He began with mocking at the Church of England, as having no foundation but upon the King and Parliament: or, as another Dissenter hath expressed it, in the like insulting strain, as" built upon the foundation of the Lords and Commons, the King himself being the chief corner stone." And they have argued, that it even ceases to be a Church, of Christ, because it acts under the allowKK 3
ance of the civil power. Yet in their own case,
It is a very false suggestion, that our civil government can alter the Church at their pleasure. There is, indeed, a sense, in which it may be said, that a man has power to do whatever he can do by force and violence; but still there is an essential difference between the power of force and the power of right and authority. The Church of England never can be altered legally, without the consent and act of the Convoca ion, who are a part of the constitution: and if it were otherwise done, it must be done by an act of violence, against the rights ' of Englishmen, for Englishmen do not lose their rights by being Christians and Churchmen; as their enemies are inclined to have it. There