Page images

spectively, such weapons and goads, as might increase their rancour, and infuriate their warfare, in what other light could we regard ourselves, than as deceptive, dark, unprincipled, and hypocritical ruffians ? Common sense then would soon award us our sentence. Now it is

functions. They unanswerablyand undeniably, in every tittle, correspond with the above description. They have forsaken the Apostolic body they have abandoned the Church-they have insulted the ordinances, divinely appointed for the administration of Christ's earthly and visible kingdom—they have dared to worship the self-erected idols of their own bewildered fancies--they have in opposition to God's Church, made a Church out for themselves and they have arrogated to theinselves an authority, which as they never received, they can surely never confer. Of all these Sectaries, therefore, we may conclude, that their intrusion into God's sacred ministry, is an unwarrantable, and shamefully impudent usurpation. By departing from the succession so clearly revealed, and institutions of Providence, their commission might as well be called divine, as a commission granted by the silliest, imaginative, old women of their Congregations. They are no more Priests of God, than those are, who pretend to have power of bestowing upon them this great trust. To allow them this honourable distinction, would be as foolish and presumptuous, as to call by the title of The Word of God, a humanly endited version of the Scriptures, which had been made up of scraps, gathered by mere memory, when the originals had been quite lost and extinct. In such a case, it would certainly be well, to make the collection as good, as perfect, and as correct as possible, but would it not argue an excess of gross absurdity, to put it forward, as having equal authority with the true Revelation itself ? Now, we ask, can there be any error in our conduct, when we resist those, who in the delusions of blind enthusiasm, or the uncharita. bleness of imperious schism., set themselves about either making their own Church, or are even, with an odd sort of humility, a Church to themselves? They are stupidly ignorant of the principles of the Apostolic government and practice, and of the very elements of a Christian Church, who do not see their revolting, aye, their impious pretensions. Of the pretended, counterfeit ministers, who have disorderly thrust themselves into the Sacred Office, let us take for example Presbyterians, —who do indeed make more claim than their fellow-se taries, to the characteristics of a regular hierarchy. Their arrogance being proved, that also of all other Schismatics, easily and naturally follows. Let us suppose, that a considerable party of the laity in their Kirk of Scotland, or in their corresponding Conventicles of the North of Ireland, disliked the present doctrine and discipline of their appointed Teachers, and boldly and piously imagined, that they could do infinitely better for themselves, and should therefore take upon themselves to Ordain Pastors according to their own new and reformed rules of Church polity. Nay, let us imagine that their officious, old women should raise up the

easy, to apply this familiar example, to the subject before us. We have solemnly pledged ourselves, not merely in terms of strict neutrality, but close friendship also, towards Portugal. This alliance has been consecrated by a long, uninterrupted reciprocation of mutual benefits.

scream and cry, and determinedly lay claim to the same privilege : for we can promise to our readers, that this is not got up, for the mere playing off of a ridiculous paradox: we assure them, that we ourselves, have more than once, heard with our own ears, their clamorous, and deafening tongues, briskly at work in their Meeting-Houses, to legislate for their Church, and appoint their Pastor : for the unfortunate fellow, must, to secure the patronage of all, pass the ordeal of all his electors

-must have a common creed to suit the delicate palate of all-must have the accommodating talent of preaching and praying, to please and delight the contradictory tastes of alland must teach, just as he is by his people beforehand taught and lectured, ere they give him the power to edify them !!! Now, we ask, who would be so absurd, as to suppose that Ordinations so manufactured, would have any authority? Would the Ministers of the Kirk concede the point to the refractory? And yet this is precisely the case with the Pastors of Presbyterians, and all the other Dissenters. They all deliberately, and knowingly, outraged the Apostolic institution—they all usurped a power to which there was no more right, than in the pretensions of our fanciful, old womenand they have all contrived to dub themselves Ministers—though unsent -uncalled_unauthorised-disorderly and uncommissioned. We have in our preceding remarks sufficiently brought forward the general principles, why we thus declare our sentiments. Their validity, we know, cannot be questioned-cannot be impugned. We can hardly expect, that it would be of any material use, to adduce any more authorities, for strengthening, or elucidating our statement. These pretenders are so generally, and so absolutely ignorant, of even the very first principles of Theology, or the least acquaintance of the resources of the primitive ages, that reseurch into, or the treasures of Antiquity, would rather frighten them away, than be a source of any attraction. Like the fable of the frog in the ditch, or the worm in the cabinet, the boundaries of their intellectual world, do not much exceed the limits of their sensible, and visible horizon. We do not profess to supply in our pages, the lamentable defect of a scanty and bad education, and still less do we like to be enveloped in the clouds of words, that these wordy, spiritual demagogues, and loud, village orators, can quickly call into being, marvellously, to amaze, entrance, and confound ! We prefer ideas to words-learning to prattling_authority to notions

-precedents to whims-sobriety to vapouring-solidity to fanciessteadiness to novelties—the voice of the Church, even to the fond suggestions of our own brains—the interpretation of millions of Saints, blessed with the enlightening influences of God's Holy Spirit, living in all ages, and in all climes, to the pretended inspiration and assumed

But with a treachery, unbecoming the faith of England—with an inhumanity, heretofore unparalleled in our annals-with a heartless ingratitude, more characteristic of a savage, than a professing, Christian nation,-the advisers of our Most Gracious Sovereign, have in their

infallibility of some sturdy, gabbling, village oracle—and the universal practice of all Christendom, to the legislative and clumsy procedures of ignorant, rustic boors, and session-house, tyrannizing dictators! We would rather read again and again, the countless folios of the Fathers, Decretals, Canons, and Councils, however Herculean the task might be, than have our ears stunned to stupefaction, by the vociferous war. fare of such dogmatic sciolists, and ridiculous fanatics. We will however venture to remind our readers of the formidable load of obloquy and contempt, with which the Usurpations of these intruders, would have been visited, by the established usage of all the primitive Churches. We are informed by the undoubted records of Ecclesiastical History, that the acts and ordinations of those, who had even received orders from the very Bishops, contrary to the Canons and Established Discipline of the Church, were strongly censured by the Church, and declared to be irregular, invalid, and null, and in consequence, have been either Re-ordained, or deprived of Holy Orders (Can. Nic. 9, 10, 16, 19. Can. Ant. 73.). Out of many examples, we have one very much to our purpose, in the case of Maximus, who being much favoured by Gregory Nazianzen, when Bishop of Constantinople, was by him admitted to the orders of a Presbyter, i. e. a Priest, or Elder (Greg. Presb. in vità Nazian.). But through some base intrigues, Maximus contrived to get himself ordained Bishop of Constantinople by Peter, then Patriarch of Alexandria. The cause after inuch dissension, came to be debated in the first General Council of Constantinople, consisting of one hundred and fifty Bishops (A.D. 381.). By this Council it was decreed, that Maximus was neither to be taken for a Bishop, nor any of those, that he had ordained by virtue of his Episcopal power (uýte Toùg mag avtoũ Xeipotomévtas), were to be looked on even as Clergy, or to remain in any order or degree thereof (Conc. Const. i. cap. iv.). Here we are most particularly to note the sense of this Second General Council, on the Orders which now are current in the Presbyterian Church, and consequently on those likewise which are used in a somewhat similar manner, among all the other Sectaries. This Council, let it be observed, publicly and formally, declares not only all the acts of this Bishop as unlawful, but degrades also from the ecclesiastical office, all those who had received Orders from him. Which incontestably proves, even though no other proof could be given, that the Ordination of mere Presbyters or Priests, or Elders, is unlawful and invalid :and why? This very Maximus was a lawful Presbyter lawfully ordained by the imposition of Gregory Nazianzen, but as the Council regarded the imposition of hands by Bishops to be alone valid, his rank

legislative and executive capacity, proved traitors to this ancient ally, writhing amid the tortures of internal strife, and almost expiring in the convulsive agonies of dissolution. Another and similar sacrifice to that same shrine of liberal expediency, on which the united bands of in

of Presbyter was consequently and necessarily insufficient, and therefore, though a Presbyter, all the Orders he conferred, were declared to be null and void. But say the Presbyterian ecclesiasticswe have nothing to do with Councils. Yes, we know from experience, that such would be the answer of the nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandth part of them. Their obstinacy, we know too, would be as unbending as their ignorance. We repeat-ignorance, for these worthies know little-mighty little of the constitution of even their own body. We inform them, however, that the Calvinists in the Confession of the Reformed French Churches, allow of the four first Councils (Art. vi.). The Scotch Kirk, whose greatest boast is, that they reformed on Calvin's plan, are instructed by their boisterous, but beloved patriarch-John Knox, that their Reformation was conducted, or desired to be so, according to the Precepts of the New Testament, the Writings of the Ancient Fathers, and the Godly laws of Justinian the Emperor (Knox's “ History of the Reformation in Scotland,” Ann. 1557, p. 131.). An unfortunate recognition of the advantage of the Godly interference of Christian Kings and Magistrates ! Indeed, we never can understand, how the Scotch Clergy and their Adherents, can continually prattle, and infect the minds of their auditories with false prejudices, about our recognition of the temporal Headship of our Most Gracious Sovereign over our Church, when we call to mind, not only this declaration of their canonized Founder, but read also in the twenty-third chapter of that Creed, to which they all subscribe by their oaths and professions, that “ The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven : yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace may be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God." (Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. xxii. sec. iii). These enlightened disciples of Knox, it would seem then, forget the substance of their oaths, and the public, authorised Profession of their Church, in their slyly pandering to the ignorant prejudices of their credulous flocks, and industriously fanning their bigotry, by the soothing breath of slander and falsehood. We would not speak so decidedly on this point, if we had not ourselves witnessed their chicanery upon this matter, in a thousand instances. Nor is there any possible way to obviate it, but

fidelity and popery, are again, exultingly, laying an unhallowed offering of sacrilegious spoliation, to efface the purity of true Religion, and extend the march of superstitious despotism ! Here then are our ancient relations broken= and another of our old allies disgusted. In the

by exposing the ignorance, maliciousness, and lying contradictions of their deluding Teachers. They are also ever rhyming about our Apostolic Church, claiming as such, to have the power of the keys, and thereby pronouncing in the name of God, that article of the Apostle's creed—The Forgiveness of Sins, and yet they modestly let us know, that Kings have it not; tacitly inferring, of course, that they have it ! They are always blustering about liberality and toleration, yet we see the principles laid down by the framers of their Confession, recommending the Civil Magistrate to enforce Unity in spite of opposing divisions and schisms, and by the Civil Power to cut off heresies, and reform the worship and discipline of the Sanctuary! Let any pretender to common sense, compare the above article of the Westminster Confession, with the thirty-seventh article of the Church of England on the same subject, and he will see, that this liberal Kirk gives more unlimited, and positive authority to their Civil Magistrate in the concerns of Religion, than our Church any where professes to do. And further-if their great Reformer's sentence about the Godly laws of Justinian be heeded, we are by these laws, furnished with a pretty sample of charity, tolerance, and liberality. History, that Justinian assigned the term of three months for the conversion or exile of all heretics; and if he connived at their stay, they were deprived, under his iron yoke, not only of the benefits of society, but of the common birth-right of men and Christians. (Malala, tom. ii. p. 63. edit. Venet. 1733. Baronius, in his “ Annales Ecclesiastici," with the consistency of a Romish advocate and historian, naturally copies and applauds Justinian's edict.-A.D. 527. No. 39, 40.). The Montanist and Arian heretics may speak, if they please, for the flames and rapacity, with which the commands of the Emperor scourged them. The Jews can decide for themselves, whether the law of Justinian was vexatious, or just and Godly, which compelled them to observe the festival of Easter, the same day on which it was celebrated by the Christians. (Procopius, Hist. Arcan. chap. xxviii. and the Notes of the learned antiquarian-Alemanni.). The Godly Emperor, proposed for imitation, by Knox to the Scottish Clergy, is famed also for his persecuting zeal among the Samaritans of Palestine. The blood of twenty thousand, and the chains of twenty thousand prisoners, who were sold as slaves to the infidels of the East, are a sufficient memorial in history, for the Godly institutions of Justinian ; whilst the extirpation in the Samaritan war of one hundred thousand Roman subjects, and the terrible desolation of their once fertile province, supply an additional argument for the recommendatory praises of John Knox. (Procopius, Anecdot. chap. xi.). Such extraordinary

« PreviousContinue »