Imágenes de páginas

of them, there could be no doubt; and therefore the note might be thought to apply evidently to the acknowledgment of it by the other.

It surprises me much that you should consider the passage above referred to, as carrying the same meaning with another, which expresses the mere presidency of a Bishop in a general concourse of Christians. This passage supposes the existence of Bishops during the whole tract of time referred to; while the other affirms the rise of them during that tract of time, in all parts of the Christian world, in violation of original establishment and existing habits; an event, of which, in the estimation of Episcopalians at least, there is not the shadow of evidence. And then the part the Bishop is described as taking in the business of debate and determination is very short of his duty generally; not extending to the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and the ordaining to the ministry. Yet you think this passage sufficient for your purpose; that is, evidence of what the author of the pamphlet conceived to be the origin of Bishops.

You continue to lament that the government of the Episcopal Church was not founded on the plan represented in the pamphlet. I know of no difference of principle, unless it should be considered as such, that there was not a temporary departure from Episcopacy; the ground for which you acknowledge to have been done away. But, you say that the sentiments of the pamphlet remain; that is, sentiments declaratory of what might have been done in an exigency no longer existing. But you add, the author expected the necessity to continue longer. Probably he did; and he may have thought with many judicious persons, that, however defeated the design of subjugating America, the armies of Britain would be withdrawn, without an acknowledgment of our independence for some years; as had been done in the contest between Spain and the Netherlands. What would this prove, but that the author was mistaken, and that the war ended much more to his satisfaction, and probably to yours, than he had expected. But you think the Episcopal Church might have continued to have the three orders, although giving up the succession; and that this would have led to her union with other Churches; that is, she might have given up what she conceives to be a constituent part of her institutions, and coeval with her holy religion : in the mere doing of which I see little ground of union with others; but much ground of disunion within herself.


Relying on the sincerity of your declared benevolence to other denominations than your own, I will take the liberty of addressing to you some sentiments to the same effect, merely in the exercise of the allowable freedom with which you have communicated to me yours. What I would principally say to this purpose is, that, in order to cultivate mutual toleration in our respective communions, we should bear with some measure of mutual intolerance; and much more, with what we may conceive to be such, though not deserving of the name, being resolvable into opinion, void of malice. To explain my meaning by a few supposed cases. Should any Presbyterian Church declare (which I do not know to be done by any, and is certainly not done by the body most commonly distinguished by

that name) that parity of the ministry is necessary to the existence of a Church, I should suppose them intending to uphold what they thought Christian verity; and that the bad aspect it would have on the condition of Episcopalians were a circumstance to which they could not accommodate their system. Should any members of such a body (and I am now stating what I have known to happen) consider Episcopacy such an usurpation that it is unlawful to hear the word or to receive the ordinances from a ministry acting under it, I should recollect that their salvation is too serious a matter to expect the means of it to be accommodated to my ease or satisfaction. Now, to take the subject in another line. Had the Episcopal Church declared (which she has not) that the sacraments are invalid from any other than an Episcopalian ministry; or, should any of her Ministers maintain (as I have known done, in consequence of what appeared to them to result fairly and necessarily from her declarations and her practice) that the acts of any other than an Episcopalian ministry are generally invalid; although I should consider it a matter fairly subject to temperate discussion from the press; yet I do not think it an insult either to societies or to individuals, unless this should appear in the terms under which the argument were conducted. I do not see any other grounds on which mutual forbearance, consistently with variety of opinion, can be maintained. Episcopacy and Presbytery out of the question; I could name to you a score of preachers, whose discourses continually consign to damnation very many who (I am persuaded), in your estimation, as well as mine, would be thought entitled to the Christian character. If this is to be held a ground of personal offence, where is it to stop? In short, under the happy toleration of our laws, its advantages in one way must be immensely counterbalanced in another, unless we apply to the present subject, what is said by the Roman poet,

"Hanc veniam damus, petimusque vicissim."

In what degree sentiments of this sort tend to promote an union of churches, it would be difficult to ascertain; but I am disposed to believe, that their effect would be considerable. Animosity preceded division. Forbearance and good will must precede union. Of quarrel on any legal ground there is none; while, for the contrary, there is abundant motive in a consideration which, though arising from what is a dire evil in itself, may in this way render that evil productive of much good. I allude to the increase of infidelity. This gains much more from the animosities of Christians, than from their separate worship; which, however much to be lamented, is resolvable into causes consistent with the acknowledging of the same scriptures; with the pleading of the same evidence of a divine power in the establishment of Christianity; with the pointing to the same progressive accomplishment of its prophecies; and, above all, with the adorning of their profession by their lives and conversation. It is to be hoped that this mutual forbearance in advocating our respective opinions, will be at last the mean of advancing that visible union so favourable to maintaining the "unity of the spirit in the bond of peace," and in which we shall "glorify" God not only with "one heart," but also with one "mouth."

I wish to conclude with my most ample acknowledgments of the liberality of your last paragraph; and with expressing my opinion, that, judging by my own feelings, I should suppose of the gentleman whom you name is the author of the pamphlet, that he would thankfully accept the attentions you so politely tender him, if an opportunity should offer.




For the Albany Centinel.


To the Author of " MISCELLanies.”

ROM the declarations of the printers, the public were led to expect that the controversy concerning Church government would soon be terminated. You have thought proper to renew it, and the printers have indulged you. I claim from their impartiality the privilege of a reply. If the Episcopal writers have hitherto received every indulgence, you certainly have no reason to complain. Your communications have always been promptly and correctly inserted; and the printers have graced them with their fairest types.

It is an easy matter for a writer, who deals principally in bold assertion, to be very concise; and thus to be able to apply to those who are anxious to establish every thing they advance, the very elegant epithet of being "long winded." You brought assertion upon assertion so rapidly, that it was not an easy matter even for "A Layman," for "Cyprian," and for "Detector" to keep up with you. Careless of proof, and proudly fancying that your ipse dixit would be received as sacred, you appeared to think that your only business was to assert. Your opponents, reverencing their cause, and respecting the understanding of their readers, thought it their duty to bring forward full and fair reasoning. We readily concede to you the merit of brevity.

We trust that this controversy, which you commenced in a newspaper, and where, of course, those whom you assailed were obliged to follow you, will serve to convince you that the Episcopal Church has sons able and determined to defend her.

If your opponents have introduced new matter, it is a merit which you do not appear anxious to obtain. In your late publications, you have recourse to your old weapons. You endeavour to connect Episcopacy with Popery; to excite the public indignation against the "Companion for the Altar," and for "the Festivals and Fasts;" and to pervert the pamphlet which you attribute to Bishop White, to support your opinions.

You assert that the prevalence of Episcopacy for fifteen hundred years after Christ, is an argument much stronger in favour of Popery than Episcopacy. What, Sir! Do you mean to assert that

during the first ages of the Church, when, according to the conces sion of even the advocates of Presbytery, the Episcopal government arose? Do you mean to assert that during this period the infallibility and supremacy of the Pope, transubstantiation, and other corruptions of Popery prevailed? If this be your intention, you will excuse me for doubting your credibility as an ecclesiastical historian, and your talents as a defender of the Protestant faith.

Episcopalians, equally with you, maintain, that "the scriptures are the only and perfect rule of faith and practice." But in interpreting this rule, are we to discard contemporary evidence? Are we to reject the testimony of the primitive Church? You, doubtless, maintain, that the scriptures establish the divinity of Christ. The Socinians deny it. Episcopalians maintain that the scriptures establish Episcopacy. You deny it. Now, if you can prove, from the testimony of the Fathers, that the primitive Church received the doctrine of the divinity of Christ; and if we can prove, from the same testimony, that the primitive Church received Episcopacy as a divine institution; should not this satisfy the Socinian; should not this satisfy you, Sir, that these doctrines are contained in the scriptures? On what other ground can you account for their universal reception in the Church?

You affect to doubt that Calvin ever urged the plea of necessity for renouncing Episcopacy. The Layman, in his first address, quoted the declaration of Calvin on this subject; and I beg leave to repeat it. You will find it in his work "concerning the reformation of churches."" If they would give us, says Calvin, such an hierarchy, in which the Bishops should so excel, as that they did not refuse to be subject to Christ, and to depend upon him as their only head, and refer all to him, then I will confess that they are worthy of all anathemas, if any such shall be found, who will not reverence it, and submit themselves to it with the utmost obedience." Here Calvin expressly pleads, that they would not give him a primitive Episcopacy, such an Episcopacy as the Church of England possessed, and on the possession of which he and Beza cordially congratulated her. Here he denounces those as "worthy of all anathemas, if any such shall be found, who will not reverence it and submit themselves to it with the utmost obedience." I say not that the plea was well founded; for I believe that Calvin could have procured a primitive Episcopacy. I say not, that, as he advanced in the work of reformation, he adhered to this plea. It is sufficient for my purpose that at one period he certainly advanced it. The chagrin which you discover whenever this declaration of Calvin is mentioned, is perfectly natural. The declaration proves the veneration which, at one period, your great master entertained for Episcopacy, and the qualms of conscience which he felt in renouncing it. Calvin, you insist, might have been a Bishop, perhaps with the honourable titles of "Right Reverend Father in God," and "your Grace."-Ah! but he would not then have been FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH IN GENEVA.

You assert, that "there was no opportunity of effectually opposing Episcopacy till the period of the Reformation." What, Sir! have we not been told that Episcopacy was an usurpation-an usurpation that reared its formidable head in the early ages? Was

not the period of its first appearance the most favourable period for crushing this monster that was destroying the sacred presbytery of the Church? Must not Episcopacy at this period have been viewed as an impious attack upon the institutions of the Apostles, whose memories were then cherished with the most sacred fervour? Would those venerable and pious men who, through the tortures of the rack, and through the flames of the stake, obtained the crown of martyrdom; would they have silently permitted the foundations of the Church to be subverted? Would those illustrious lights of Christianity, in whom humility shone with the most splendid lustre, would they have become not merely accessories, but principals in this impious work of usurpation, in this lawless grasp of dominion? Alas! that in those degenerate days, there was no Miscellaneous Author to step forth the bold champion of oppressed truth, and to lift up his fearless voice against these usurping "Lords in God's heritage."

The pamphlet which you attribute to Dr. White is the burden of your song. This, with you, is "law and gospel." You deride and discard the testimony of the primitive Fathers of the Church, and yet you appear willing to rest your cause on the fallible opinion of an individual of the present day. But even this support will fail you. This subject, however, I will leave to "An Episcopalian," who is particularly interested in correcting your mistakes. You think my commentary on his letter wholly unnecessary; and yet you have occupied one of your numbers with replies to my remarks. I feel at some loss to account for the anxiety you discover to defend the indulgence of the sensual appetites. In one of the numbers of your Miscellanies you remark, that "the celibacy of the Popish Clergy is none of the smallest corruptions in their Church, against which every orthodox Clergyman will protest." And you now cen→ sure me for my intrusion by the very refined observation—“ A brace on the table is pleasant enough; but a brace of antagonists is not very eligible."

Episcopalians, while they "contend for the faith," are yet mindful of the sacred injunction to exercise charity. In conformity to the order handed down from the beginning, they maintain, that Bishops only have the power of ordination; and as a general pro position, that Episcopal ministrations only are valid. At the same time they are disposed to believe, that when any Church cannot obtain the lawful succession, God, who " is not a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed," will mercifully dispense with it. Nay, that he will graciously accept and bless the ministrations of those who have not a lawful call; when the error is not chargeable to wilful neglect of the means of information, or to obstinate resistance to the light of conviction. In this way does the author of the "Companion for the Altar" reconcile truth with charity: in this way does he embrace in the arms of fraternal benevolence all who, according to the talents bestowed on them by their gracious Maker, seek to know and to do his will.

You will pardon me if I assert, that you appear totally unac quainted with the doctrine of Succession, as maintained in every age of the Church. You think that when any Church throws off

« AnteriorContinuar »