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deposit by Jésus Christ; for the purpose of preserving which, as much as might be, from corruption and error, (that the end Christ had in view in the delivery of it, might be carried into as complete effect as the circumstances of the world would admit) the sword of discipline and authority, commonly called the power of the keys, was committed by him to the governors of it.

Granting, then, that God does nothing in vain, a position which, it is presumed, will not be controverted; it follows from the foregoing premises, that the preservation of the faith and doctrine of the Church depends, under God, upon the proper exercise of this power; and, consequently, on the support of that government which was committed to the Church, as a visible society, for the proper management of its concerns. When either the power entrusted to the governors, for the edification of the Church is not duly exercised, (a consideration which made St. Cyprian say, “quam periculosum sit in rebus divinis, ut quis à jure suo et potestate recedat;") or when the government of the Church is destroyed; then, a door being opened for errors and heresies of every kind, the object which Christ had in view in the establishment of the Church upon earth is in a great degree frustrated. The doctrine of the Church, then, it will be allowed on all hands, is essential to the object of its establishment. But the government of the Church is also essential to it as a society; for without that no society can possibly exist. And without the existence of such a society as the

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visible Church, the true faith will not long be preserved in the world.

That legion of heresies which sprung up in this country on the abolition of episcopacy in the last century, will give weight, I trust, to the foregoing consideration; and induce you to conclude, that the external polity of the Church is a matter of essential importance; considered as God's own plan for the advancement and security of the great object He had in view, in revealing himself to the world; and, consequently, that a comparison drawn between two propositions in themselves equally true, by which an incautious reader may be led to give a preference to the one at the expense of the other, may do injury to that cause, which you, as a Christian, must wish to promote.

I pass on, Sir, to what is said, page 3d, respecting our Establishment; in which I perfectly agree with you, that, "all her faithful sons may admire her outward symmetry and beauty, without opening the mouth of censure against those who do not exactly see with our eyes.”

I flattered myself that I had spoken as charitably on this subject as you yourself could have wished, when I said, that "if the establishment of the Church of Christ be true, the Dissenter from it is in an error; if his error be unavoidable, we rejoice to think that he is in the hands of a merciful God; but should his separation from the Church be derived from evil causes, be it remembered, that that Being who has established nothing in vain, is not to be mocked."*

* Guide, p. 301.

The object of my book was to point out the nature and constitution of the Christian Church, and the evil consequences derivable from a separation from it; not to condemn or censure the parties who separate. Their cause is left with God, who is alone qualified to judge of it.

Should any unguarded expressions, therefore, occur in my book, which may have given birth to the foregoing observation, as addressed to me; I. should have hoped, they would have been interpreted with that candour which is due to an author, who professes to write from a most charitable regard to the spiritual welfare of his fellow Christians. I have only farther to observe, Sir, as to this point, (since I cannot find that the law which tolerates Dissenters in their separation from the Church, does at all forbid us to give the reasons for our attachment to her communion;) that at a time when every sectarist is permitted, in contempt of law and order, to write with the most marked, not to say indecent and insolent, censure upon the government of that Church which is established in his country; if the faithful sons of the Church may not defend that ground which they are professionally called on to maintain, without being charged with consequences which may tend to throw a stumbling-block in the way of their honest endeavours; the members of the Church of England appear in this respect to be in a worse situation than those of the conventicle or meeting-house, But, Sir, the reason you subjoin for our not speaking too decidedly on the subject of the Church establishment, because the greatest and best of

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.

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