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Christian duty ; to submit,'u« not only for 66 wrath, but' also for 'conscience sake;" not only from fear of the penalty, to which disobedience may subject us, but because *«the powers that be, are ordained of God,!" and " he that resisteth the power,' resisteth “ the ordinance of God.”. They who have chosen rather to leave the Church, and break the unity of the body of Christ, than comply with terms of communion, which involve no sinful dereliction of Christian duty, must remember, that the offence in this case lies in their schism, not in the lawful exercise of power, which that schism has resisted
The Church, in her anxiety to preserve peace, may concede much to the wishes of her scrupulous children; she may alter the language of her forms, or the ceremonial of her public' services, so far as to meet any rational or even plausible objection: but where she does not think fit to yiel
yield, either because the proposition appears in itself unreasonable, or because she has
u Rom. xiii. 5.
* Rom. xiü. 1, 2.
ground for believing, that the inconveniences resulting from concession would overbalance its advantages; there the obligation to obedience on the part of the rejected petitioners remains in full force, and the woe denounced in the text must fall on those, by whom 'submission is thus wantonly refused. an In the instance which we haye considered, the determination of our Church was grounded upon an accurate knowledge of the character and designs of those, with whom she was committed. They spoke indeed most pathetically of the mischiefs resulting from disunion; of the injustice of separating ministers from their parishes, and depriving them of their benefices, for nonconformity. But it must not be for gotten, that they caused the which they affected to lament; that they y drove the clergy, with every species of cruelty and insult, from their preferments, for refusing to take a rebellious and schismatical engagement; and that, though
y See Preface to “ Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy."
earnest pleaders for indulgence to tender consciences when themselves under authority, in the time of their power they were the decided 2 opponents of toleration.
It was also well known, that their views were not limited to a revision of the Liturgy, or an abolition of a few indifferent ceremonies; that they contemplated an alteration of the very constitution of the Church; and that nothing less than such an adoption of the Genevan model, as might have paved the way
for their return to ecclesiastical power, would have satisfied their demands.
To have yielded to such persons would have been rather reprehensible weakness, than Christian moderation. It is indeed the duty of the Church to bear with the froward, and to a “support the weak;" but she is also ordained to be b“ the pillar and “ ground of the truth:” for this purpose authority was committed to her; and had she surrendered it into the hands of those, who sought it that they might introduce
z See Note CXXVIII. Appendix. a 1 Thess. v. 14.
bi Tim. iii. 15.
their own imaginations into God's service, and mingle their own opinions with the doctrine of Christ; she would have been guilty before God and man of having betrayed that Gospel, which she had been raised up to preserve and defend. Relying therefore for support upon the wise provisions of that national constitution, with whích her polity is inseparably interwoven, her object has since been to maintain her own doctrine and discipline unimpaired. And with that temperate spirit of true charity, which becomes the moderation of her character, she has ever been ready, as far as a due regard for her own security would allow, to promote every measure of toleration proposed for the benefit of those, who must now be considered as formally separated from her fold. To the candid and impartial among this class of Christians we may confidently appeal for the full confirmation of this truth: “ The sense of political inferiority may irritate the am bitious, or the decent splendor of our 'national establishment mortify the envious; the tongue of the adversary may be sharpened by occasional controversy, or temporary
clamour may be excited by the firmness with which every attempt to remove the barriers of our ecclesiastical constitution has been resisted: but the wisest and the best of our dissenting brethren have never been unwilling to acknowledge, that they have always felt themselves most secure under its tolerant supremacy; and that, if political power or influence must be be stowed exclusively on any one class of Christians, to the Church of England alone it can be safely confided,