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teaches ; when she gives her members to understand, that repentance, faith, and obedience, through Divine grace, are the terms or conditions upon which they may look for salvation unto Christ; who, “ being made perfect, became (the Apostle tells us) the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”*
Having, I persuade myself, replied to every part of your letter which relates to the general subject before me, what applies personally to myself in it may be passed over unnoticed, as not affecting the main argument, with which alone the reader is concerned. Taking leave, therefore, to remind you, that “ He that judgeth me is the Lord,”+
I have the honour to be,
separate from the Church. Still it affords me no
Had you been disposed to give the author of
In page 342, you find me speaking thus strongly, and I presume you will allow charitably, upon the subject of Separation from the Church. “The minister of the Church, however, who constantly prays against schism, should in consequence think it his duty to prevent Christians, as far as may be, from falling into so dangerous a sin; and wbilst he remembers of what spirit a Christian ought to
be, the means made use of by him for the purpose will be no other than what a Christian ought to employ. . Without pronouncing sentence, therefore, upon or disturbing those who are without the Church, his object will be to preserve those that still remain in it,” &c. In page :37, you find me speaking the same charitable language. “ Cus. tom has, indeed, so far reconciled us to the divi. sions that have taken place among Christians, that they are no longer seen in the light in which they were seen in the primitive days of the Church; whilst charity, forbidding us to speak harshly of the spiritual condition of our brethren, has in a manner tended to efface the sin of schism from our minds. But though we presume to judge no man, leaving all judgment to that Being who is alone qualified to make allowance for the ignorance, invincible prejudice, imperfect reasonings, and mistaken judgments of his frail creatures; yet must it not from hence be concluded, that it is a matter of indifference whether Christians communicate with the Church or not, or that there is a doubt upon the subject of schism, whether it be a sin or not.”. In alluding to Baxter and his ejected brethren, in the last century, I speak of them as "pious, learned" ministers; and in common with every well-wisher to the cause of religion, lament the existence of those unhappy prejudices which deprived the Church of their ministerial labours. *
You favour me with a passage from Dr. Saun. derson, whom you call an able and strenuous advocate for our national Church, where he says, “ For
* Guide, p. 255.
my own part, I make no doubt, nor dare I be so
Having pleaded thus far in arrest of judgment in
* Dr. Sannderson, p. 169.
fair trial, be found more destitute of foundation; for I will venture to say, that' upon an appeal to the dissenters themselves, it will be admitted, that
all the Christian societies in this kingdom, that of the Church of England is by far the most tolerant and the most charitable ;) having, I say, pleaded thus far in arrest of judgment against: a charge, which of all those contained in your book I feel most anxious to set aside, I proceed to the examination of the particular passage upon which your judgment against me in this respect has been formed. The passage in question is taken, I perceive, from my tenth discourse, which treats of the advantages attendant upon a conscientious communion with the Church, together with the disadvantages consequent on a wilful separation from it.
One of the principal considerations necessary to be impressed upon the mind of the reader on this occasion, was the commission from which the act of the minister of the Church derived its validity, for the benefit of the parties concerned in it. The commission to administer the sacraments of the Church was originally delivered by our Saviour-to his Apostles, accompanied with a power to invest others with the same important office. From this Divine fountain all authority in this case must be derived. The priest “ is ordained (says the Apostle) for men in things pertaining to God."* He, then, who is to act in things pertaining to God in the affairs of his Church, must certainly have a commission from God to authorise him so to do.
* Heb, v. l.