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faith which they delivered in its primitive purity, or to perish in the attempt.

When then the Church of England is charged with having caused the offences, which have torn so many of her members from her communion; when the guilt of schism is attempted to be removed from the separation, and affixed upon her; those of her members who desire to plead her cause against so serious an accusation, should investigate these divisions at their source. And as the very persons, who first refused to conform to her institutions, and by their complaints and invectives laid the foundation of these divisions, have left upon record their confession; that neither the doctrine, the discipline, nor the practice of the Church afforded any just grounds or pretences for deserting her; in this confession they will find her innocence, and the guilt of her rebellious children fully established.

But it has been said, that, as the objections of the nonconformists confessedly applied to things indifferent, it was the duty of the Church, as a tender mother,

to concede somewhat to their infirmity. They professed to be agitated by doubts and scruples, which they could not remove; in charity therefore she should have afforded them relief; and by refusing to do so, she certainly perpetuated the offence, although she did not cause it; and became responsible, in some degree at least, for the mischiefs which ensued.

As however the object which the Church of England proposed to herself was the preservation of unity, it became her to consider, not the benefit of a few only, but the edification of all. Before therefore the concessions, which some required for their private satisfaction, could have been safely granted, it was necessary to nascertain that others would not have been offended by them. For it could not otherwise be expected, that ceremonies and forms, decent and significant in themselves, hallowed in the eyes of the generality of her members by long use, and strictly con

n Such was the reason given for not acceding to the proposed alterations in the Liturgy. See Account of all the Proceedings-Copy of Papers, p. 13.

formable to the practices of the purest ages of Christianity, should be abolished, to please the wayward fancies, or remove the unreasonable scruples of a few individuals, who doubted their expediency.

It is to be remembered also, that these individuals were by profession teachers of religious truth; that they were not supplicating indulgences for the uninstructed, but for themselves: and it is notorious, that, although to suit their immediate purpose they pleaded infirmity of conscience and want of information, at other times they claimed to be considered as the pious, the godly, and the orthodox; and their sufficiency for their sacred office was declared by their adherents to be so undoubted, as to make their ejectment an irreparable loss to the Church. From these persons all the objections had originated; by them all the doubts and scruples felt by their disciples had been first suggested; and though they complained of being weak in these respects, it was apparent from their general character and assumptions, that they did not regard

themselves as babes in Christ." Instead of allowing that they needed themselves to be "fed with milk," they asserted that they were fully able to feed others nay, far more able than those of their brethren, whom, for this particular purpose, they chose to represent as stronger than themselves. To them then it might have been well objected, (and their own conduct, when vested with power, shewed that they admitted the validity of the argument,) that unity in the Church can only be preserved, by supporting the authority by which it may be enforced. But if the strong are to yield to the weak, the very foundations of this authority will be removed the simple will claim a right to dictate to the learned; and he who is fully instructed in the doctrine of Christ, must submit to be directed in his spiritual office by the most ignorant of his flock.

Where therefore infirmity, thus ostentatiously professed, instead of teaching men submission, and filling them with an anxious desire of improvement, prompts them o 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2.

to contend with those who are above them, and to resist the authority which interferes with their prejudices and misconceptions; it will be no breach of charity to suspect the sincerity of such persons, and to be on our guard against p" a voluntary humility," too frequently assumed by those, who are "vainly puffed up by their fleshly



minds," and think to "shew their wis"dom by will worship." St. Paul indeed enjoins the Romans to 9" receive him "that is weak into the faith;" he exhorts them not "to put a stumblingblock or an "occasion of falling in their brother's "way;" and, above all, to "follow after "things which make for peace, and things "wherewith one may edify another." But these rules seem to have little reference to the case before us. Christian charity, it is true, forbids individuals to despise a brother, or to exclude him from their intercourse, because his private judgment does not coincide with theirs in things indiffer


Such a brother it will be our duty to receive, as one who is "weak in the faith," q Rom. xiv. i. 13, 19.

P Col. ii. 18, 23.

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