Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

administer the affairs of Christ's kingdom. Of this commission they could not be deprived by civil rulers, because it had been received from a higher authority. The office, therefore, which the nonjuring clergy held in the Christian Church was precisely the same; and every act of it as valid, abstractedly considered, after their deprivation, as it was before; what they had been deprived of, being only those contingent circumstances of emolument and honour, which have no necessary connexion with the ministerial commission.

[ocr errors]

Your mistake upon this subject appears to have arisen from your confounding two things, in their nature quite distinct, and not necessarily connected with each other; the ministerial commission, and the temporalities annexed to the discharge of it in this country. The circumstances of Mr. Law being a nonjuror, and ordained by a nonjuring bishop, which it is incumbent upon you to prove; together with that of Mr. Lesley being a nonjuror, who certainly was not ordained by a nonjuring bishop; tend in no degree to the establishment of the point you attempt to maintain. But let them stand in the same predicament, if you please; all that I am concerned about is, their ministerial commis sion; which was equally valid, if received from a nonjuring bishop, as from any other. To prove this, I need only observe to you, that had these Divines lived in the present day, and repaired to America for the sake of enjoying the public exercise of their function, their letters of orders would have admitted them into the ministry of the American Church, because they would have found no

political impediment to the regular discharge of it. Dr. Seabury, the late eminently learned and pious bishop of Connecticut, who was consecrated by some bishops, who also then were nonjurors-and who even now, though no longer nonjurors, receive from the state nothing but protection (for which alone, there is every reason to believe, they are truly grateful) is an instance in point.*

The

It is with infinite concern I here notice a sarcasm in a note, annexed to a new edition, not published, but printed and dispersed with much industry, of Poems by Michael Woodhull, esq. He calls the consecration of Dr. Seabury "a pretended consecration, by a junto of non-juring Scotch ecclesiastics, assuming to themselves the episcopal office." See page 28. To restrain poets from fiction, would be to destroy their occupation. But when poets accompany their imaginary effusions with matters of fact and real life, that degree of information necessary to ustify the publication of what reflects upon the characters of others, ought to be possessed by them; because it is presumed, that in becoming poets they do not cease to be honest men. Had Mr. W. been acquainted with the history of the Scotch episcopal Church, he certainly would not have written the note in question; for he would have known the substance of it to be not more inconsitent with truth than with charity. He, however, stands excused on the same ground on which St. Paul placed himself, when he said, that " he obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly." 1 Tim. i. 13. Mr. W. in his private character, is both respected and beloved, as a man who does honour to the fortune he possesses; it is to be lamented only, that he writes as he does. Whatever Mr. Woodhull's private opinion on the subject of kings, priests, and republican governments may be, that delicacy of feeling possessed by every liberal mind, ought to restrain him from giving unnecessary offence to the opinions of other people. It is more to be wondered at that Mr. W. should do so, when it is considered, that among his first friends he has to reckon some of the most respectable and distinguished characters in the clerical profession.

[blocks in formation]

conclusion, then, which has been drawn from the circumstance of Mr. Law being a nonjuror, falls to the ground; in fact, see him in what light you please, as ordained by a nonjuring bishop, or not, his case proves just nothing to the present purpose.

The hypothesis, therefore, which you are pleased to call mine, according to which you attempt to prove that I am living in a state of schism with the Church of England, because Mr. Law was a nonjuror; I beg leave to resign to its author-not having penetration enough to see the consequence drawn from it. Nor do I see more clearly, how the testimony of nonjuring divines, upon the subject of Church government, can be affected by an offence committed against the civil power; on the contrary, I should think such testimony ought to weigh heavy in the scale, from the consideration that the parties who furnished it, (whatever judgment may be formed of their political opinions) had given the most unequivocal proof of their being honest men, by sacrificing every temporal advantage to the preservation of their consciences.

What you proceed to observe on the subject of the Venerable Archbishop Secker, strikes me to be as little to the purpose, as your remark on the nonjuring clergy. Nothing is more easy than to put hard cases. But if particular hard cases, which either may happen, or have sometimes happened, be deemed of sufficient force to overthrow a general rule, it will be difficult to find out any such thing as firmness or stability either in Church or state.

Exceptio non facit regulam," is a known and

acknowledged axiom. Admitting, therefore, Sir, what you are pleased to say upon the Archbishop's case, it does not in the least tend to invalidate the general position laid down in the words of St. Ignatius, and other primitive writers, respecting the administration of the Christian sacraments. In conformity with which, Bishop Burnett, in his comment upon the nineteenth article, says, that none ought to baptize but men dedicated to the service of God, and ordained, according to that constitution that was settled in the Church by the Apostles." Such is the language of our Church in her twenty-third article, and in her service for private baptism.

66

In treating of the constitution of the Christian Church, the regular plan upon which it is formed must be laid down: the exceptions, which from particular circumstances have taken place against it, must be left to speak for themselves, but not to militate against the general rule. Dissenters, for instance, have been commonly admitted to communion in the Church, without having been re-baptized. The conclusion to be drawn from this circumstance is, not that the Church considers the baptism of Dissenters to be regular, but that she thinks the irregularity of it may not deprive the parties of the other benefits of Church communion. Admitting, therefore, that the baptism of Archbishop Secker was an irregular one, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, it does not follow from thence that his ministerial function was invalid; because the circumstance of his having been irregularly baptized could not make him a

schismatic, whilst he lived in communion with the episcopal Church; at the same time that the circumstance of his having been regularly ordained, established the validity of his ministerial office. With respect to the character of the Archbishop, both as a divine and a man, the public, I believe, entertain but one opinion; consequently the pages dedicated to his subject might have been omitted.

11

The object of my Second Discourse was to point out to the reader the nature, design, and constitution of the Christian Church, considered as a visible society. As such, it was observed that the Church must have her rules and orders, and, consequently, governors to carry those rules and orders into effect; because, without such a provision for order and government no society can subsist. Thus, far, Sir, it is presumed, we must agree. That such a provision has been made, was proved from the commission delivered to the Apostles; by virtue of which, a power, originally derived from God the Father to Christ, was by him communicated to the first planters and governors of his Church; and, through them, to all his successors in the same high office, for the purpose of directing the affairs of his spiritual kingdom on earth, to the end of time,

To ascertain what particular form of government was established on this occasion, an argument was drawn from the early practice of the primitive) Church; which, it was conceived, would furnish such a comment upon it, as must be sufficient to determine the judgment of every unprejudiced

* Guide, p. 15 and 16.

« AnteriorContinuar »