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terary annals can produce. The Letters of Law will long preserve the memory of that struggle which occasioned them; and now, when the passions it excited are forgotten, and the combatants whom it called into the field are mingled with the dust; to them may the theological student be confidently referred for information, which will teach him at once to venerate and defend that Church, among whose ministers he aspires to be enrolled.
With similar unwillingness to commemorate the failings of those who are now called to their account, would I
pass over the ill advised petitions against subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, which the wisdom of the legislature rejected in the latter part of the last century. Feelings of affection for our excellent Church, and of godly jealousy for the collective character of her ministers, will ever oblige us to lament, that even a few of her clergy should have been then found, so far forgetful of their duty to her and to themselves, as publicly to express an anxiety to be relieved from the obligations, which they had vo
luntarily contracted to maintain her doctrines.
But to such conduct the present subject would not have required me even to allude, had not the advocates for these petitions seriously defended their object, as calcus lated to estrengthen the Church of England, by lessening the number of her opponents.
To such perverted reasoning it is now unnecessary to reply; as matter of history, the measure itself cannot be entirely forgotten ; and it will remain as one proof among many, that injudicious attempts to establish the semblance of unity and peace will ever scatter strife and dissension even among those, who, but for such interference, might have walked together as friends. While however we lament the mistakes from which such evils have arisen, let us not hastily impute to those, who laboured under them, an obliquity of motive, to which, no doubt, the hearts of many were wholly strangers : let us rather believe,
See Note CXLVII. Appendix,
that, ardent in the pursuit of one of the greatest blessings which Christianity was designed to produce, they considered not the proper means of securing their object; than that they delighted in the confusion and disorder, which their ill digested plans were but too well calculated to produce,
From the evidence which the history of the Church, from the period of the Reformation, appears to furnish, what inférences then are to be drawn? We have seen that the efforts which have been made at different times, and by various individuals, to establish peace and unity among the professors of a religion which breathes nothing but harmony and love, have not only failed, but have increased the evil they were intended to remedy. Shall we then suppose, that he who earnestly prayed that his Church might be one, has rendered unity really unattainable ? or that, while he has commanded us to study the things which make for peace, he has ordained that obedience to his will shall promote the cause of disunion? May we not rather conceive, that schemes so uniformly unsuc
cessfül have also been radically defective; and that the cause of their disappointment is to be traced in the erroneous principles on which they were framed ? Shall we not be induced to conclude, that their advocates, however sincere in their intentions, were mistaken in their conduct; and that the union which they sought was incompatible with the welfare of that religion, with whose institutions it was to be interwoven ?
If the foundations of real Christian unity are only to be laid in Christian truth; then are those only to be accounted its promoters, who in the true spirit of the Apostle’s admonition, f“ contend earnestly for 66 the faith once delivered to the saints :' if our blessed Lord, when he petitioned for the unity of his disciples, intended that they should be one, not as men only, but as Christians; as professors of one faith, members of one holy Catholic Church, and ser. vants of one Master; no reconciliation founded upon hollow compromises and insincere concessions can be framed according to his will. They who thus gather, seek not the pure and perfect peace of genuine Christianity; they have contented them. selves with attempting to purchase a mere cessation of hostilities by the indulgence of error; and, instead of strengthening the bulwarks of that Church, which was intended to be the guardian of the truth, they have rather leagued with its adversaries to
f Jude 3.
promote her overthrow.
Little consolation will it prove to her defenders to be convinced, that they deşired not the ruin which they thus contributed to produce; and, that they were unconscious of the mischievous tendency of their ill directed labours. It imports not, that they g“ prayed for the peace of “ Jerusalem,” or that they toiled for its restoration. It is to the effect, and not the design of their labour which we are to look, if we would learn wisdom from the page of history. Let it not then be said, , that we delight in recording the failings of those who have preceded us; or that we in
& Psalm cxxii. 6.