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of the nature of human bias; how tenacious we all are of our youthful predilections; what extraordinary energy of character it requires to disabuse the mind of their influence, however wrong. I am also aware that those very features of the Church, which serve to recommend her most strongly to the affection of her children, are precisely those, least adapted to conciliate the esteem of the modern religionist. He either wants something more rigid and austere to the eye, or he is too excitable, of too enthusiastick a temperament, to be gratified with her grave appearance and moderate sentiments. She is too cheerful in her piety for some, and too cold and lukewarm for others! With either class, she has too little, while, with the men of the world, she has too much religion! But to her praise be it spoken, she is in no danger of being dashed in pieces upon Scylla, or of being ingulphed in Charybdis. She neither mistakes pretension for faith, nor freethinking for liberality; a demure countenance for a renovated heart, nor the love of the world for the love of God. Avoiding all extremes, she is rather devout without pomp, and faithful without boasting; glad without gayety, and rational without licentiousness. In a word, exactly calculated for sensible, judicious, and pious Christians. I care not what may be their condition, or what their profession. Whether they are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, addicted to the labours of the head, or the work of the hands. I only ask for good minds devested of prejudice on the one side, and disposed to investigate on the other; to read, think, and judge for themselves; and I am certain, that the Church, and all, which she receives and contains, will meet with their warmest approbation.

This is emphatically the age of inquiry. Its spirit has gone abroad. It is actively and unremittingly employed in the various departments of art and science; and religion must and will receive a large share of its attention. When Christ declares, that "whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be his disciple," intelligent persons will not be satisfied with adhering to any opinions upon the sole ground of their having been the received opinions of their ancestors. Such a principle would continue the larger portion of mankind in a state of heathen superstition to the end of time. If they will not hear Christ, and be influenced by the doctrines, which are according to godliness, because their progenitors would not, or could not, then are they destined to bow the knee to Baal, until the world, and the fashion thereof shall have passed away.

But is this desirable? Can there be any Christians disposed to acquiesce in the propriety of this decision? Let them then evince their disapprobation, by discarding the self-same doctrine from their personal creed. It is high time to look at things as they are, and not as gilded over and mystified by preceding generations, however honest and worthy. It is high time to strip the evil genius, schism, of its meretricious dress, and expose it in all the naked deformity of its features. The intellectual and reflecting are not so deeply committed, as to be incapable of bursting their bonds, and paying their homage at the shrine of bible truth. A calm and dispassionate view of the existing dissentions, and respectively hostile attitude of the numerous religious sects will be sufficient to convince them, that all this cannot be the work of a God of love and harmony; that other traits should distinguish the true "people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand;" that they must surrender their human systems and human Churches; and acknowledge that the reformed world requires to be reformed anew.

But how is this to be effected? By recourse to the bible, and where the bible is susceptible of different interpretations, by recurring to the period, when unity prevailed, and inspired truth presided in the congregations of the faithful. As Dryden said,

"In doubtful questions 'tis the safest way
"To learn what unsuspected ancients say:
"For 'tis not likely we should higher soar

"In search of heaven than all the Church before."

The disciples of Christ were first called Christians at Antioch, and not at Geneva. And how was the Church at Antioch, how were its sister Churches of the first centuries constructed? What was their government, and what their ministry? What their publick worship and their doctrinal faith? It is by gleaning from such sources, that we can only hope to commence a new era in the history of Christendom, and therefore have I availed myself of their combined testimony; therefore have I clearly proved, that when the Church was established and ordered in strict conformity to the scriptures, and as we would have it established and ordered, that then there existed peace, and harmony, and love; that all genuine Christians were of the same mind; could worship at the same altar; could reverence the same ministers of Jesus; and partake at one table of the same flesh and blood of their redemption.


To exhibit a scene like this in modern times, we must relinquish all that is novel, and revive all that is old in religion. We must repair the many breaches that have been made in the walls of Zion, and restore her to the state of original simplicity and purity. For in divinity, a moment's reflection should satisfy us, that the course of inquiry must be directly the reverse of what it is in natural sciIt must be backward and not forward; backward to the fountain head and last revelation of God, rather than forward, busied in a vain search for new light and new doctrines. A distinction far from being sufficiently observed, and to whose neglect may be justly attributed all the evils, which have been most unpropitiously grafted into the only pure system of faith and morals. Only look at natural science. It has been constantly improving, because it was susceptible of improvement. The ancients were here comparatively ignorant and stupid, The moderns have far outstripped their lingering steps, and are still barely upon the threshold of what they anticipate will hereafter be discovered in the revolution of ages.

In religion on the contrary, an entirely different result presents itself, and for the very reason, that when the volume of inspiration was closed, it no longer admitted of emendation or addition. It was perfect then as it can be now. Notwithstanding every effort that has been made by curiously inquisitive minds, it has been, and is, impossible for them to be wise above what is written. Even biblical learning and criticism derive all their value from the success they have experienced in establishing the authenticity and true reading of the scriptures, as they were originally possessed and understood by the ancient disciples. And what do protestants think of the corruptions introduced during the dark ages? They reject them as unauthorized and unfounded. They compare them with what prevailed before they soiled the pure ermine of the Church, and employ the word reformation itself, because it carries them back to the first and purest ages.

What credit then can we give to the more recent floods of light, that have been professedly shed upon the Christian world? Have their adherents improved upon Paul and his brother Apostles; upon the doctrines they taught, and the Church they founded, under the guidance of Christ and the Holy Spirit? Then is division an improvement. Then is the extracting from the bible doctrines irreconcilably opposed to each other, an improvement. It is a better

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state of things, that some Christians should maintain, and others denounce the doctrine of the atonement; that some should assert, and others deny the everlasting punishment of the wicked; and so throughout all contradictory creeds, it must be a great improvement to be constantly harassed and perplexed with the exclamations, "Lo here is Christ," and Lo he is "there." But what rational being, what pious believer can possibly embrace such opinions? It is scarcely possible for him, under these circumstances, not to perceive, that instead of improvement, discord and disunion are melan< choly spots and wrinkles upon our holy profession; that instead of progressing, there are many particulars in which Christians, as a body, have retrograded in the race for the heavenly world, compar ed to what they were in primeval times; and that, to present a brighter spectacle in the eyes of the celestial host, they that have wandered must return to the bosom of the primitive Church.

I will not pretend, that it would have the immediate effect of evangelizing the world, and producing an unbroken unanimity of sentiment. There would still exist some few deniers of Jesus and the resurrection. The scorner would still make a mock at sin, and the wicked man rejoice in his iniquity. But this I will assert. The preachers of heresy of every description would gradually become less and less in number, until at length they would be completely banished from the face of the earth. An Apostolick ministry, united in one Church, would put them down more effectually than any merely human means. I have already shown you, that they are invariably opposed to bishops, and let me now say, that as the continued dispersion of the Jews is a standing miracle, authenticating beyond all doubt the inspiration of the sacred volume; so does this remarkable fact furnish a scarcely inferiour or less obvious miracle, in favour of the divine institution, and beneficial nature and tendency of episcopacy.

If however I am told, that there were many hereticks even in the two first centuries; I answer, that they were uniformly presbyters or deacons, and as uniformly opposed by their bishops. I answer, that Arius, of the fourth century, the most successful and renowned of all the ancient hereticks, was also a presbyter, and that, if he did corrupt several of the episcopal order, his sentiments were condemned in a general council composed of nearly three hundred bishops. I answer, that his unitarian doctrines were finally extir

pated through the powerful and benign influence of their successors in office; and that at this very moment, as if to remind us of their origin, they are only publickly taught and enforced by a ministry of PRESBYTERS.

No longer therefore let us hear of the dangerous usurpation of bishops. The danger consists in the rejection of their order. Were the maxims of expediency alone consulted, it should obtain the approbation of all the orthodox denominations, and be regarded as one of the most efficacious bulwarks against the dissemination of principles, which they unite in condemning. But we place episcopacy upon higher grounds than those of expediency; we claim for it the sanction of divine authority; and considering it equally binding with the two sacraments of the gospel, we say to our pious presbyterian friends of all sects, when you can convince ns, that they may be rightfully dispensed with, we shall find little difficulty in admitting the validity of your favourite ministerial parity. Until then, while we bid you "God speed," as to your personal progress in the way everlasting; while we commend your zeal for heavenly things; and esteem you highly in love for your works' sake, we cannot but regret the countenance you now give, however indirectly and unintentionally to all manner of heresy and schism; we cannot even for your gratification cease to maintain, with earnestness and perseverance, those institutions of our Church, which are to be traced to the inspired volume, and that the unanimous testimony of all antiquity ascribes to the immediate agency and direction of the holy Apostles.

We rather entreat you as brethren solemnly to pause and reflect upon these things. We cannot refrain from indulging the hope, that diligently examining, and impartially weighing the many arguments we have to produce, you will ultimately abandon the Churches of recent and human origin, and cordially unite with the Zion of the Lord of Hosts. It is a confined and mistaken view, which limits the subject of inquiry to yourselves alone. You must take a broader range. You must contemplate the effects of division, as exhibited in the actual condition of myriads upon myriads of your fellow men, and ask your consciences, if their alienation from Christ, their neglect of religion, their unsound tenets and delinquent practices, are not owing in a great degree to the unhappy dissentions, so visible in the sounder part of the Christian community.

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