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bleness. But, surely, there is no inconsistency between charity, and truth. It can never be necessary to give up the one, in order to exercise the other. What say Episcopalians in this particular? They believe, with their Pres byterian brethren, that the church on earth is a visible society; and that, through its ministry and ordinances alone, covenanted communion can be holden with God. But mark the difference! Some Presbyterians, in order to soften their tenet, and to avoid the appearance of blaming others for what they do themselves, turn round and say that all bodies of men, possessing certain internal qualifications, are members of the church;* thus giving up its ministry and ordinances, and every thing visible about it, and contradicting themselves, and their confessions of faith, in the most palpable manner. There is a visible church, and there is no visible church. The ministry and ordinances are essential to the church, and they are not essential to it; thus saying, and unsaying, in the very same breath.

How will you escape from this dilemma! There is no possible way. You cannot raise up two churches. The church, say the oracles of truth, is one; and that church is a visible society. To talk, then, of all holy men, or of all believers being members of the church, without conformity to any outward institution, is to contradict the scriptures in as positive terms as language can supply, or imagination conceive.

Episcopalians run into no such absurdity; and yet, they carry their charity, I venture to pronounce, further than those who vent against them the most severe accusations. What do they say ? "In every nation he who feareth God, and worketh righteousness, will be accepted of him." All who sincerely desire, and endeavor, to know and do the will of God, will be received to his mercy, whatever the denominations to which they belong, and even supposing them to labor under fundamental error. Will you go thus far? No, sir, you will not. Take the following passage from the incomparable Horsely, one of the most profound scholars of this or any other age.

"Though truth, in these controversies, can be only on one side; he will indulge, and he will avow, the charitable belief that sincerity may be on both. And he will enjoy

Letters, p. 344.

the reflection, that, by an equal sincerity, through the pow er of that blood which was shed equally for all, both parties may at length find equal mercy. In the transport of this holy hope, he will anticipate that glorious consummation, when faith shall be absorbed in knowledge, and the fire of controversy forever quenched. When the same generous zeal for God and truth, which too often, in this world of folly and confusion, sets those at widest variance whom the similitude of virtuous feelings should the most unite, shall be the cement of an indissoluble friendship; when the innumerable multitude of all nations, kindreds, and people, (why should I not add of all sects and parties) assembled round the throne, shall, like the first Christians, be of one soul, and one mind; giving praise, with one consent, to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain to redeem them by his blood."*

Here I think it proper to take some notice of a note, în the seventeenth page of your letters, which I sincerely regret that you ever permitted to fall from your pen. You represent several late writers, in Great Britain, as saying "that all who are in communion with the Episcopal church are in the sure road to salvation ;" and "as ridiculing every attempt to distinguish between a professing Episcopalian, and a real Christian." This is calculated to deceive, and inflame your readers. In the sense in which it will be received, it is utterly false; and you have incurred a deep responsibility in so stating the sentiments of those writers as to induce a strong probability of misconception. What, sir, would you be understood to say? Is it your design to charge the distinguished writers, in question, with maintaining that every member of the Episcopal church is sure of salvation; or, that it is impossible to be a professing Episcopalian without possessing the real graces of the Christian character? So you will be understood by nine out of ten of your readers. I am lost in astonishment; I am filled with sorrow, when I see a man of estimable character descending to such gross injustice. Were the sentiment, which you ascribe to those authors, really entertained and avowed by them, they would, indeed, be monsters of impiety and arrogance unfit to be tolerated among men. But, sir, they entertain no such sentiment. You ought to know this; you

Charge to the clergy of St. Albans, in defence of the divinity

of Christ, against the attack of Doct. Priestley.


cannot but know it; and, in advancing such a charge, yon have committed an outrage upon the sacred rights of character which the enlightened friends of truth and justice will not easily forgive.

The writers, to whom you allude, go no further, sir, than the Presbyterian confessions of faith; maintaining that the members of the true visible church, instituted by Christ and his apostles, have a covenanted title to the benefits and blessings of the gospel dispensation. And will you deny the truth of this doctrine? No, sir, you well know that it is expressly laid down in the confession of faith of the religious society to which you belong.* Out of the visible church, say the standards of your association, there is no covenanted possibility of salvation. And into this church, say the same standards, baptism, by a minister outwardly ordained, is the only mode of admission. Now, sir, ought you not to retract, and apologize for, such unqualified misrepresentation! The writers, whom you have attempted to hold up to public scorn and execration, say nothing more than your own religious articles say; nothing more than is said in your very letters themselves. Departing from the church, according to your great master Calvin, "is a denying of God and Christ."

There is no difference, you make the writers, in question, say, between a professing Episcopalian and a real Christian. In other words, every member of the Episcopal church must, of necessity, be a saint. Do you really believe all this? Can any man, in his sober senses, believe it? No, sir, these distinguished scholars represent the Catholic visible church as consisting of good and bad individuals; ex、 pressly holding that the membership of the latter, being an abused mean of grace, will aggravate their condemnation. How different is this from the idea which you have led not a few of your readers to entertain!

You go so far as to place the doctrine which you oppose upon a level with the worship of images; charging all who embrace it with sin, and tenderly exhorting your people to exercise forbearance towards the miserable "bigots" who are thus deluded.† Are you sure, sir, that there flamed, in your soul, when you penned these expressions, none of that "unhallowed fire," against which you so affectionately warn

* Presbyterian confession of Faith, chap. xxv, 2 Letters, p. 21, 350, 351, 352.

your followers! You could not, possibly, have adopted a mode of address more calculated to sour the minds of your readers, or better fitted to indulge the bitterness of your own heart. It is indirect and insidious; covering, under the mask of moderation and kindness, all the loftiness of pride, and all the rankling of passion. What! do you dare to entertain a doubt of the validity of the commission under which I act? Do you dare to say that I am not a regularly ordained minister of Christ? Have you the effrontery to deny that "Presbyterial government is the true and only one prescribed in the word of God;" or, that Presbyterial ordination alone can constitute a valid ministry ?* But, apart from all reasoning, how is it possible that a per son, so holy as I am; officiating in a church so preeminent ly distinguished for sanctity, should be without authority from on high!--Miserable bigots! Ah, sir! it was a course of feeling, like this, I fear, which led you to such a display; much less nearly allied, pardon me for saying so, to the meek humility of the devout Publican, than to the ostentatious boasting of the self righteous Pharisee.

Do you think, sir, that the continual application of inde cent and opprobrious names is of a nature to promote that spirit of conciliation which makes a capital object in many pages of your letters?

And for what is it, pray, that your opponents are dignified with such amicable titles! Is it for the stress which they lay on external order? But they lay no more stress on this than does the society to which you belong. That there is a visible church, through the ministry and ordinances of which alone, visible and covenanted communion can be holden with God, is, equally, a Presbyterial, and an Episcopal doctrine. Who could have supposed it possible, after seeing you, through several pages, declaiming against the monstrous pretensions of your opponents, charging them with the most despicable bigotry, classing them with those who worship images, and subscribe to the infallibility of the Pope, that they carry external order precisely as far as your own confession of faith, and not a tittle further. Why did you not direct some portion of your attack against your coadjutor Mr. M'Leod, who will have it that there is no lawful government, but the Presbyterial, either for church, or state?

Letters, p. 347.

As to charity towards those who are in error, I have already observed that you will not follow us in the extent to which we go. No, sir; you will not subscribe to the eloquent extract from the great and excellent Horsely, whom you and your friends are ever ready to brand as a bigot, but whose manly, and truly christian liberality, you will neither imitate, nor admire.

What if I should shew that we do not carry Episcopacy further than you carry election and reprobation ?-Let us see how this is.

We say, with you, that the visible church is the "household of God to which his gracious promises and his life giving spirit are vouchsafed;"* and that, out of this visible church, in the language of your own confession of faith, there is no ordinary, in other words, no covenanted possibility of salvation. Those who depart from this church, as I have before observed, we suppose to be in a great error; but we judge them not; leaving them in the hands of a merciful God who will deal both justly and graciously with them. All who sincerely desire and endeavor to know and do the will of God will be accepted by him; and fundamental error will not shut out from mercy the truly devout and penitent soul. Even irregular and invalid ministrations will be blessed, to the faithful and humble recipient, as channels of grace, and means of salvation. Men must answer to God for their errors; and error will be a subject of condemnation just so far as it is fairly imputable to the individual who cherishes it. This can be known only to omniscience, Pardon my repetition. I think it necessary frequently to state the principle to you, as in your animadversions upon the doctrines and reasoning of your opponents, you appear to have entirely overlooked it.-Nor do we run into the absurdity of maintaining the innocence of error; or, that provided a man be sincere, it is immaterial what profession he is of. Far from it. They who reject revealed truth reject it at their peril; losing all covenanted title to salvation; and the hope which we cherish is founded on the nature, and the language of God, who has given us abundant reason to believe that he will make great allowance for human frailty; pardoning the errors of the head, where there is a truly sincere and willing heart; knowing whereof we are made, and

*Letters, p. 342,

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