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men, after the labour of many years, are no nearer an agreement on it than they were at the beginning; and that after all the disputes that have been carried on between Churchmen and Dissenters, it still remains (in your own phrase) a drawn battle; is what I am sorry to hear a Churchman advance, and what I believe will by no means be admitted by any person acquainted with the true state of the case.
The Church of Christ under the Gospel, is now in its eighteenth century. For upwards of fifteen centuries of that period there was no dispute on the subject of its government. That was confessedly and universally episcopal. The first Presbyterian Church that was ever heard of in the world, was set up by John Calvin, at Geneva, in the year 1541. From this period the controversy between Episcopal and Presbyterian government dates its rise. It is much to be lamented, indeed, that such a controversy ever took place. But whoever will give himself the trouble to mark fairly the progress of it, will determine, that whenever the Dissenters have brought their forces (if I may adopt your phraseology) to a pitched battle with the Churchmen, they have never failed to be beaten out of the field. If their most famous leaders, Blondel and Salmasius, have been unable to maintain their ground, we may safely say, the few advantages which may seem to have been occasionally gained against the Church establishment, have been gained by slight skirmishing parties; who, by sudden irruptions, have surprised some of the Church troops sleeping on their posts, or unprovided with arms to repel the attack. But I will
venture to say, that no Dissenter of learning and character will choose to enter the field against a Churchman of the same description, on the subject of Church government; because he knows that field of controversy has been well fought over, and that there is not a post to be found in it that is long tenable against a powerful adversary. I believe you would not deem this to be a bold assertion, if you had read, as I am inclined to think you have not, the dissertations of the learned Hammond against Blondel, together with the writings of the celebrated Lesley, or even the discourse of Bishop Potter.
You are not to be informed, Sir, that at a noted period of our history, when Presbytery had gained the ascendency in this kingdom, and every argument that could be mustered was brought forth by its champions against Episcopacy, then trodden under foot; that excellent Christian and sound Churchman, Charles I. a layman, without the assistance of books or papers, engaged in single controversy with the renowned Scotch Presbyter Henderson; who was placed by the Parliament at the head of the commission for the defence of the Presbyterian cause; and made him retire out of the field.
The defeat which he received, or a conviction of the badness of the cause he had espoused, is supposed to have had such effect upon the spirits of this veteran divine, that the historian reports him to have died of grief, and broken-hearted, soon after he departed from his Majesty.*"It was * Clarendon, b. x. p. 31.
credibly reported," says the learned Heylin, "that Henderson's being worsted in the controversy threw him into a deep melancholy, which ended in a mortal disorder." "Some say that Henderson died a convert to his Majesty, and that he did him the justice of an extraordinary character for managing a debate of this nature."+ However this be, the conduct of the Parliamentary commissioners furnishes the most convincing proof of the King's having gained the victory; for, seeing their veteran leader overcome, they declined engaging further in the controversy. If you suppose that Presbyterian troops will not, even after they have been often and completely defeated, rally again, and return to the charge; permit me to say you are unacquainted with their character and temper. To quit your military allusion, Presbyterians may be convinced and convicted, but on the subject of Church matters they are not to be silenced. They have a cause to defend which must not be given up. They have "Vescommitted themselves, and must proceed. tigia nulla retrorsum." Arguments, therefore, which have been again and again disproved, will be brought forward again.‡ Disprove them as often as
+ Collier, vol. ii. p.
*Hist of Presb. p. 477.
The reader may find a most striking specimen of this repetition of old arguments in Professor Campbell's Ecclesiastical History, lately published; who has detailed, nearly in the same order and language, some of those apparently material proofs, which had been brought forward a century before his publication made its appearance, without at the same time taking the least notice of the answer by which those proofs had been decidedly and convincingly set aside at that time.
you please, you will find them as often repeated; on this known principle, that a story, however illfounded in itself, gains some credit with some people every time it is told. And when we consider, that at least nine-tenths of the world are totally indifferent about the truth, and of the remaining tenth much the greater part are unqualified to examine into it; we shall conclude, that this is an advantage not to be despised by those, whose object it is at all events to carry their point. I do not mean to say that this mode of conduct is peculiarly characteristical of Dissenters; I fear it is too general in the world, to be confined to men of any particular class or profession. Those of the most upright intentions and of the best understandings, when they have committed themselves in a cause, have been known, I am sorry to say, to go any lengths rather than tread back their ground. Their honour and character they feel pledged for the maintenance of what they have once advanced. They will therefore wilfully shut their eyes against the light, rather than be reduced to the necessity of confessing that they who were once blind, at length see clearly. To make use of a vulgar phrase, and vulgar allusion, they will die hard, rather than confess. Were it not foreign to the subject, I could furnish you, Sir, from my own experience, with one of the most notorious instances of this kind, that is perhaps to be produced.
You will not, I trust, think it to be an unnecessary trespass on your time, if, before I proceed to the main subject of your first letter, I pass a short remark on the allusion contained in your 4th page;
which appears more calculated to mislead an incau-