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A51956 The Church of England and the continuation of the ceremonies thereof vindicated from the calumnies of several late pamphlets, more particularly that entitled, The vanity, mischief, and danger of continuing ceremonies in the worship of God, subscribed by 1690 (1690) Wing M65; ESTC R4181 64,933 67

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concurr'd to the granting of them a Parliamentary Indulgence neither did her kindness end there but she entertained thoughts of making farther attempts to re-unite them to her Communion till their own carriage and ill returns made her pursue those Methods more coldly which by the outward Symptoms appear already to be without any hopes of the design'd success Therefore Pa● 〈…〉 as to the many Dissenters living in the confines of our Church the bringing them back to her Communion and thereby the Restauration of a mutual tranquillity peace and charity among all her Members and the recalling of that Christian Love which seems now to have forsaken us as well as the rest of Europe would be the greatest and most valuable blessing both to our Church and State can be attained on this side Heaven and he doth not deserve to be reckon'd in the number of good Christians who would not part with all his temporal enjoyments or even his Life it self were it at his own disposal to purchase it God forbid that any Clergy-men of the Church of England should hold any Rites or Ceremonies the two Sacraments often so called only excepted Church-Constitutions Canons Customs Benefices or Preferments whatsoever so dear unto them but that they would most gladly Sacrifice any or all of them to the Peace and Unity of the Church were it thereby attainable this Peace and Union are that which every one wishes and desires though few find solid ground whereon to fix their hopes while we mistake the means and methods to obtain them The Dissenters being unwilling to own the real Motives of their Separation from our Church have for a pretence cavell'd and excepted against some few Passages in our Liturgy some of our legal Constitutions and Establishments our Subscriptions Ceremonies Church Customs c. Wherefore several have thought that the alteration and removal of them would effect a Re-union but that this is at the best but a great mistake I shall think my self to have sufficiently proved when I have produced such Reasons as shall be effectual for the proving the following Position viz. Any alterations how many or great soever that can be made in our present Liturgy the utter abolishing all the Ceremonies prescribed or used in our Publick Worship and any alteration● that can be made in our Book of Constitutions and Canons or all these together should they be accomplished would never heal the Schisms that are amongst us and re●unite the Dissenters to the Church of England For 1. If the Liturgy Ceremonies and Constitutions in use in the Church of England were the causes of these Schisms and Separations then where these are not in use there would be no Schisms but we see the contrary In the United Provinces what a great and formal Schism did the Calvinists make upon the account of Five disputable Articles neither way accounted Heresie and what a severe Persecution did they raise against the Remonstrants which they could neither confute nor convince of error because they would not say as they would have them In Scotland the Church there by Law Established in the Reign of King Charles II. used no Liturgy no Cross after Baptism nor any other Ceremony that ever I could learn and yet the Dissenters there behaved themselves far worse to the Conformists than ever the Jews did to the Samaritans nay so barbarously as undeniably to evince that the true Presbyterian Spirit is no less full of rancour malice spleen hatred and when let loose from fear of Laws of Robberies Persecution and Bloodshed than the Papal If any fay this is nothing to us the English Presbyterians are not like the Scotch I answer God forbid they should but yet that any alterations in our Liturgy c. Abolishing of all our Ceremonies c. would never make an Union in our Church is apparent from hence that some few Years after 1640. and thence till 1661. When the Supreme Authority lodged as was pretended in the House of Commons with the assistance of the Rabble had disowned the King's Authority in Church and State and thrown all our Laws thereunto relating out of doors and our Liturgy Rites Ceremonies Church-customs Constitutions and Canons were all abolished and discharged so that if the cause of the Con-conformity Schism and Separation lay in any or all of them it must necessarily have been removed The Dissenters were so far from an Union among themselves 〈◊〉 ● by ● Mr. 〈…〉 that on the contrary they subdivided themselves into many minute Sects and Opinions and gave birth or revival to about forty more than our Church was formerly troubled with some whereof neither Amsterdam nor the World it self had ever seen before And this is so convincing an Argument being taught us by experience the School Mistress of Fools that I need add no more for the proof of my Assertion but I subjoin ex abundanti If our Liturgy should be altered our Ceremonies abolished and our Constitutions and Canons till they became insignificant so that one or two of the gravest wisest and most moderate of the Dissenting Preachers for the love of Peace and Union having Episcopal Ordination should come over to our Church and conform unto it yet the main Body of the Presbyterians who being unacquainted with Antiquity have credulously embraced the opinion of Lay Elders believe the Ordination of Presbyters by Presbyters to be valid and are too wise in their own Eyes to be informed The Independents who before separated from the Presbyterians and were numerous and powerful enough in Anno 1647. to supplant and displace them The Anabaptists and Quakers whose opinion of Liberty of Prophesying makes them uncapable of being united in Church Polity And all the other subdivisions and lesser Sects and Relicks of Schisms having the same Reasons must be supposed to continue in the same Separation as formerly and consequently by these means would never be reunited to our Communion and Church Some of their Teachers would be conscious to themselves of their own Ignorance and that their whining Tones useful impletives of Hums Huh's spittings Coughings c. Canting Phrases affected and unintelligible expressions so melting and ravishing to the Apron-proselytes would not meet with that applause and Admiration in a more judicious Auditory and a Congregation used to the more pertinent solid and rational Discourses made by the learned Clergy in the Conformable Churches and therefore will think it prudence rather to stay where they imagine themselves highly in esteem than to go where their defects will render them only tolerable Others since our Church is abundantly supply'd with learned and deserving Divines which will and may with good reason expect the best Benefices and their qualifications being none of the greatest they consulting their own interest perhaps will judge the Mens present gratuities together with their Wives superadded and secret kindnesses more eligible than the probability of being provided after a considerable long expectation with a small One Others as if
Laws of the Land have placed them and which they might and ought if any doubts and scruples had arose in their minds to have had recourse to and consulted And indeed the frequenters of Consenticles consisting of Petty-coat Proselytes the vulgar sort of Men who are illiterate ignorant and unstable and some few Men of better quality that sometimes grace those Meetings with a fair out-side and the attendance of a Coach and Lacquey whose infirmities and defects made it necessary or convenient for them to give up themselves fortunes and Religions to the conduct and choice of their Wives for all such Persons it is more fit and necessary to be well instructed in the Church Catechism by their own proper Pastors than to take upon them to judge of or determine controversies in Religion of which they are no more qualified to be Judges than blind Men of colours So that being no competent Judges of such matters they can have no right to plead that the conviction of their judgments that such and such things in our Church are unlawful is the cause of their separation because it presupposes them to have judged and determined in a case in which no Wise Man much less any Church or Synod ever allowed them to have any right so to do But the truth is some suck in Fanaticism with their Mothers Milk are initiated with the Principles of it in their Infancy continue under the prejudices of that education and inherit their Parents Schism and have no more reason for it than the ignorant Papists Jews and Mahometans have for their Religions Some are Dissenters upon Worldly accompts and for temporal advantages as the promotion and encrease of Trade gaining of Custom advance of Fortune conveniencies of Marriage pleasing of Relations friendship of Favourites c. Others are Persons of a fickle and unstable temper affect novelties and as if the Religion of our Parents Age and our Infancy as well as their Houses and our last Years Clothes were out of fashion and unsuitable for us think to recommend their judgments to the World by their singularity and new Choice and alledge the Apostles Precept of proving all things for their justification Others being Persons of strong passions but weak judgments are of a ductile temper and wrought upon by the whining tone affected cant fustian Language stuff and unintelligible Phrases of their Holders forth not discerning that all these are but the designed artifices and cunning craft whereby they lye in wait to deceive sacrifice to their own nets and enhaunse their Glory by leading silly Women Captive Others well inclin'd without any persuasion of the unlawfulness of any thing in our Church's Doctrin Discipline or Constitutions or so much as doubting of it hearing these Venders of the Geneva Discipline make such large boasts of more than ordinary purity of Worship strictness of Discipline and holiness of life as if they were entail'd upon that Sect since so Pharisaical a confidence without something to support it would be monstrous and absurd are apt to think that some parts of them are true and not aware that all this is done to draw the more Customers together and get the better Market for their spiritual Wares blindly give up themselves by a Faith more implicite and inexcusable than that in the Romish Church to be taught and guided by them Thus ordinary People being Men of great inadvertency and small judgment become their cheap and easie prey and as for the richer sort whose Wealth may be useful to the supporting of the cause they usually imitate the Method of the first deceiver and so make their Addresses that the Men are made Disciples by the mediation and assistance of their Wives I might add hereunto the evil arts those designing Persons use to decry others to recommend themselves such are their traducing both Persons and Things the envious detractions and calumnies the unjust aspersions and slanders which they used to insinuate and spread abroad amongst their hearers with a purpose to put them out of conceit with and make them disaffected to the Government of both Church and State in general and the Persons of our Governors and Clergy in particular hence arose that malice censoriousness want of Christian Charity and bitterness of Spirit which they are leaven'd withal more than and above other Men this makes them turbulent and unquiet disobedient to the Government and like S. J. strugling with it contriving caballing and plotting against it factious in the State Schismatical in the Church proud and peevish in their dispositions morose unsociable and unneighbourly to all but themselves and banishes that Christian Charity and Brotherly Kindness which would qualifie them more for a re-union with our Church and conduce more to it than our abolishing all our Rites Ceremonies Church constitutions and Customs can or ever will do for it is not any evil in them or any of them but the evil designs of Men that caused these unchristian breaches and divisions 3. If the Dissenters had really made their Schism upon the accompt of Conscience the same Principles of Conscience would have influenc'd their other actions as well as it and they would certainly have behaved themselves very differently from what they have done and have carried themselves humbly modestly quietly and obediently to the Monarchy as God's Ordinance as the Primitive Christians did to even the Heathen Emperors Pro-consuls and Governors But alass we find them of a quite contrary temper to omit what Men of the same Principles have done in Germany France Bohemia Holland Switzerland Geneva c. The Murmurings Tumults Covenanting Conspiracy Insurrection and open Rebellion of the Scots against King Charles I. and their Invasion of England being promoted both by the Instruments of Cardinal Richelieu who aimed at furthering the French Kings designs against the Hugonots and Flanders by diverting King Charles's Forces and Attempts design'd against France and by the Missionary Jesuits who to ruine the Church of England exclaimed against the King and his Government the Archbishop and evil Counsellors Arbitrary Power and Popery c. blew the coals fomented differences pretended grievances aggravated miscarriages exasperated Parties both here and there and excited the Fanatick Party here to encourage their Brethren in Scotland first by secret and then open assurances of their assistance to invade this Kingdom cannot be imputed to the obligations of their Consciences unless the Cardinal and Jesuits are allowed the Guides and Directors of them The two several open Rebellions raised in Scotland against King Charles II. the Fanatick Plot against his Life here the continued carriage of the Dissenters in general and of the Presbyterian Party tin particular since his Restauration their malicious and bitter Speeches against him and his Government in ordinary conversation and discourses the slanderous Libels railing Pamphlets written and dispersed by them their intriguing caballing and plotting their pragmatical and indirect interposing in all Publick Elections Places and Offices their perverse
enjoyned the Congregation in the ordinary Publick Worship prescribed in the Church of England Will the removal of them take away the Vizor with which Formalists Hypocrites Wicked and Prophane Men cover themselves Wicked and Prophane Men as the words themselves imply are bare-fac'd Sinners and wear no Vizor and as for Formality and Hypocrisie they were never since the Ancient Pharisees used by any more than by our Modern Sectarists nor ever so much in esteem and fashion as since the number of those who under that disguise decry Ceremonies made them bold and confident Had kneeling at Prayers and standing at the Creed and Gospel been such an excellent Vizor it would not be prudence in us to abolish them especially for nothing for many of the Dissenters who need a Vizor as well as others would either use them in their Conventicles or come over to us themselves merely for the benefit of them but suppose what it is almost ridiculous to suppose viz. that our Author had herein spoken Truth and Reason yet the removal of Ceremonies would effect little as to that for we find that the Dissenters who seldom kneel at Prayers or use the Creed and have no Gospel have yet under the Vizor of purity preciseness and tenderness of Conscience done abundantly beyond all that ever Ceremonies can or could pretend to neither need we to strip our Church Offices of these and run from the little remainders of decency remaining in use in our Churches into down-right rusticity and more than Corinthian rudeness in our Publick Worship in hopes that then Drunkards 〈…〉 Swearers Whoremongers and such like will be known to be what they are a mere Herd of Brutes It would be a foolish and too costly an experiment and an extravagant instance of our levity and indiscretion but no discovery unless of that which every body knows already or if any Man wants farther satisfaction herein let him repair to our Author who can tell him such wonderful things concerning Rites Ceremonies c. as all the World never dream'd on before nor any Man of but ordinary Sense and Judgment will believe now 5. Mischiefs in promoting a mighty increase of profaneness and all kind of wickedness Pag● 〈…〉 1. Profaneness in the outragious contempt of holy things The tautologies impertinencies improper inferences and untrue assertions of our Author's Pamphlet are too many to be consider'd or remark'd but a Man must either have a conceit of himself like to that of his own Infallibility or else he must presume wonderfully upon the simplicity dulness and ignorance of his Readers before he comes to put such down right contradictions upon them Him who all this while he hath bitterly inveigh'd against as a Bigot and Zealot he now makes a profane and outragious contemner of holy Things whereas Zeal when taken in ill part for Superstition and profaneness are and always were esteemed the two contrary extremes and vices on either side Religion There is scarce any thing in Religion that hath escaped the scorn and reproach of blind Zealots The Ordinance of Preaching the Lords Day the Scripture our Holy Religion and Jesus Christ himself all have been struck at To scorn and reproach Preaching Scripture the Lord's Day c. hath been always hitherto look'd upon as a Sign of a Profane and not of a Zealous Person and this Author hath shewn us no reason to change our Sentiments but suppose his words to be true hence we may observe 1st That a Schism caused by a difference in belief though erroneous can never be reunited by the abolition of Ceremonies for the cause remaining the effect would continue 2ly That the apprehensions of Men being so various and their judgments so discrepant a comprehension without a compliance in things indifferent and a forbearance with Men in their particular Opinions can never be effected but these being once supposed it may follow as things now are 3ly That there are divers others as extravagant Zealots as our Author whose Notions are altogether impracticable who encrease the Schism and widen the Separations in the Church under pretence of making propositions for a comprehension and should not be regarded till they learn more discretion and moderation than at once to ask the abolishing of all Ceremonies the exercise of jurisdiction 〈…〉 and power of Orders and the pulling down the whole Constitutions of our Church The Ordinance of Preaching 〈…〉 21. The constant serious diligent performing of this would spread knowledge amongst the People to the prejudice of humane impositions in Divine Worship They would see what light things they are in the Service of God 〈…〉 43. The Constitutions of the Church of England are so far from discouraging or obstructing constant serious diligent Preaching as our Author would insinuate that on the contrary she requires and enjoyns it so that in that sense even the Ordinance of Preaching may properly be called an Humane Imposition neither do we of her Communion if Passionate Malicious Schismatical Sinister-designing Railing go not as often it hath under that notion fear any prejudice thereby ensuing to any Impositions in use in our Divine Worship We wish all Men in our Communion and in theirs too were more knowing pious discreet honest and conscientious than all the Preaching of Dissenters and our Author with all others of his Opinion is ever like to make them We would be glad all Men did see what light things all our Impositions and Ceremonies both are in the Service of God hoping then they would be better satisfied both of the lawfulness and decency of them and if their prejudices and interests which with ignorance are the great causes of our Schisms and Separations should not hinder would approve of them and conform to the use of them for their lightness adds to their weight and value and their easiness and fewness to their Commendation for those Impositions and Ceremonies which were otherwise allowable as were the Jewish when their numbe like theirs makes them weighty Matt. 〈…〉 become a burthen too heavy to be born As for Preaching it must be confess'd to be far less necessary now at least in a converted Nation than when the World was Pagan And whereas the Papists have resolved all publick religious Duties into Prayers and the Dissenters have run into the other extreme and placed them in long Preachments the Church of England hath herein as in most other things retained the golden Meane and useth both and tho frequency is more necessary to the former yet the latter is not to be neglected but when it excludes Catechizing the change is made for the worse and indeed were that most useful way of instruction of both the young and ignorant much used in the Primitive Church and prescribed by our own revived throughly performed and duly frequented Can. 〈…〉 61. as it would be far more difficult to the Teacher so it would be far more beneficial to the People than Preaching The
greatest prejudices they labour under in that Church upon that account is the abolishing of Confession to the Priest and of Publick and Catholick Church fasts However what our Author adds viz. Ibi● The Quarrels occasioned by them hinder the Progress of the Reformed Religion must be granted if it be understood that the many Divisions and variety of Sects amongst us is an Objection the Papists make against the translation of the Bible into the vulgar Tongue and their pretence for their not coming over into that Church which is already so full of subdivisions caused as they think by the forsaking of the visible Head of the Church here on Earth under whose conduct they therefore continue as the only means to preserve Unity and avoid confusion But this must not be charged upon the Church whose Moderation is designed as a preservative of Union but on those perverse and humoursom Persons whom nothing will satisfie there is nothing in use in our Church but he who condemns it must condemn with it the Catholick Church of Christ and he who dare do that is a man no ways fit to be gratified by the condescension of a Nation and the alteration of the most perfect Liturgy and the best Ecclesiastical Constitutions that any visible Church now known to us enjoys Pag● 〈…〉 All wise and good Men amongst the Clergy and People desire the taking away the Instruments of our Confusions The execution of this would extend farther than our Author intends it or for fear of his own Copy-hold would assent to Many Pharisaical Zealots by an opposite Superstition in whose number I place him injuriously accuse our innocent Ceremonies as the instruments of our confusions when indeed they are not as we shall shortly consider but Men which if they should be taken away or brought within the compass of the Apostle's wish 〈◊〉 5.12 the Conventicle-doors would be shut up and our Author himself dismiss'd Ceremonies have been Cloaks of Impiety and Maliciousness ●●id if these are continued it will be exceeding difficult to purge out Vice which will shelter it self under them This Expression like the greatest part of his Pamphlet hath an abundance of prejudice and malice but no truth or shew of Reason for how is it possible that Ceremonies should be the Cloak of Impiety whenas if the Ceremonies be supposed to be numerous vain or not agreeable to the simplicity and spiritual sincerity of the Christian Religion for then only they become noxious they indeed become the parents of Superstition but can never as such be the Cloaks of Impiety because it is the opposite extreme Why may not that Man who kneels at his Prayers and stands at the repetition of the Creeds and Gospels as easily have his Vice purged out as he who sits at his Prayers and frequents a schismatical Meeting where they use no Creeds nor Gospels Or what strange Vice is it which can shelter it self more about a Man kneeling or standing in our Church than about one who sits in a Conventicle These are such gross absurd malicious and false insinuations and assertions of our Author's that I wonder he is not ashamed to propose them to a Convocation or even to undervalue himself by writing them or can in Conscience thus abuse the credulous Vulgar whose unaccountable prejudices are by such Artifices very easily improved into Malice and Schism Debauchery came in with Ceremonies 〈◊〉 28. we shall be happy if they fall together To make this good if we pass by the Brittish Churches our Author must grant that Debauchery came into England with Augustine commonly called St. Augustine sent hither by Gregory the Great Bishop of Rome in the seventh Century for he brought more Ceremonies in with Christianity 〈◊〉 Test●●y to 〈◊〉 Truth ●●esus ●●st and ●●ur ●●mn ●●gue than are now in use in our Church but this I suppose he never thought of However that Debauchery hath no dependence on Ceremonies appears even from hence that in the late times of Rebellion wherein the Government both of Church and State being dissolved and there was no King every one did that which was right in his own Eyes all sorts of Vice Wickedness and Debauchery grew up to that strength and vigour that they have never since been rooted out of this Kingdom and though now we should part with all our Ceremonies which we would very gladly do upon condition we could banish all Debaucheries with them yet there are no hopes to effect it as long as Schisms are no Crimes and the pretended Puritans are indulged in the sins of the godly and that God sees no sin in his Elect c. is allowed for Orthodox Divinity 2. They hinder love among the People and between the People and their Ministers 1. Love amongst the People is mightily hindred by the divisions and animosities caused by human Impositions That human Impositions are the causes of our Divisions and Animosities is presupposed by our Author since he asserts it without proof but this is but begging of the Question we must not grant him that as a Postulatum I leave what I design to say on the true causes of the Schism till the last In the mean time that love amongst the People is hindred by our Divisions and Animosities is too apparent to be denied tho that ought in truth and justice to be charged upon the Dissenters as the evil effects of their unnecessary and wilful separation for Ours being supposed which they also grant a true Christian Church their Schism becomes unnecessary and therefore sinful and these Animosities are the fruits of that Schism and the pride of their Spirits heightened by their Teacher's industrious railings against our Church and her Constitutions thereby to gain Proselytes to themselves and retain them to their own advantage Soon after the Restauration the Enemies of Piety and Virtue resolved to continue the division between the two most potent Interests of the Protestants in England to further this a Sham-plot was cast upon the Presbyterians in several Counties this was so improved in Parliament that Penal Laws were easily obtained to inslave and destroy the Dissenters By the Enemies of Piety and Virtue whosoever our Author means if we will reconcile it to Truth can be understood none but the Dissenters because it lay only in their power either to renew and continue a Division which they did or to reunite themselves with the Church of England as they ought to have done and so to have prevented the Evils which it hath since produced It is no wonder our Author takes such Liberty to make undecent if true reflections upon some single Persons when he ventures to cast such a severe tho oblique one upon the whole Parliament as to insinuate them all to be imposed upon by a Sham-plot yet I would gladly know how he came by such skill in discerning of Spirits as to discover that to be a Sham-plot which was cast upon the Presbyterians
the pertinacious continuance in a perverse and mischievous Schism was as commendable as the bearing testimony to the good fundamental truths of the Gospel or a constancy to the profession of Christianity in times of danger and persecution will take pride to appear in the Eyes of their small Disciples as Men of resolution and courage who resisted the Temptation and stood firm to their Principles and so by a dexterous manage of all the Revolutions and putting suitable colours and pretences upon their Actions in all circumstances like him who sails with all Winds make the perseverance in as well as the entrance into a criminal Separation seem a Virtue and both tend to the enhaunsement of their Reputation and think it no small acquisition and degree of Happiness to be great and high in the esteem and to receive the gifts and kindnesses the Applauses and Caresses of the holy Sisters II. The Schisms and Separations made by the Dissenters from the Church of England did arise from other occasions and Causes than the Church's retaining some few Ceremonies using the present Liturgy and enjoyning of the prescribed Subscriptions and therefore will not upon or by the abolishing of the first and the making any how great soever alterations in the other two be again closed and re-united 1st When some of our first Dissenters went beyond the Seas to avoid the Persecutions here and lived in Geneva Frankfurt Strasburgh Arn heim c. They returned with a pertinacious adhering to and an unsatiable desire to introduce the Ceremonies Discipline and Customs which they had seen in their Travels in opposition to what as good and wise Men as themselves had agreed on and Authority established here at home which cannot so reasonably be thought to proceed from the dictates of Conscience or the discretive judgment as a partial affection to what they had seen abroad and a peevish humor too much mixed with Pride as if they thought themselves undervalued if any others Instructions Judgment or Advice should be preferred before what they had there learn'd and brought over as the price of their banishment which is just like that foppish Humour our Gentlemen used to send their Sons to fetch out of France who going over before they had learned any thing at home at their return Ape the French-men in all their Fashions be they never so ridiculous and think it strange that every body else doth not admire those Vanities which cost them so dear and are all that they have to shew for their Father's Money and their own time and travel and upon which they do not a little value themselves And hither and to the Jesuit's industry and labours in sowing Tares amongst our Corn and not to any convictions of Evidence or conscientious adhesion to the Truth as some are willing to pretend for then Others here of at least as much Piety Learning Judgment and Conscience and of far more unprepossess'd unprejudic'd and unbiass'd understandings than themselves would have had the same apprehensions and Notion of the same things must we refer the first beginnings of our unhappy Schisms and Divisions 2. In the Year 1662. How happy an opportunity was there put into Mens hands to have reunited the Schisms then in being to the Church and so both piously and prudently at once to have put an end to their miseries and confusions both in Church and State and have buried the both in one Grave The King graciously gave a Commission for a review of the Common-Prayer and tho nothing could be proved unlawful in it as then it was yet the Commissioners for the Conformable Church consented to correct amend and add many things to make it more perfect if it were possible without exceptions but alas How do Men obstruct and lessen their own Happiness The Presbyterians and Independents the two most numerous Parties amongst the Dissenters did so idolize their mistaken Reputation that they chose to sacrifice the Peace and Unity of the Church to it and so for fear of lessening it would not submit to Episcopal Ordination Tho except some few of them what Ordination they had was Uncanonical irregular illegal schismatical and if not altogether invalid yet very doubtful and preca●ious the Church of God having for fifteen hundred Years never used nor allowed of the like nor would they renounce the Scotch Covenant tho a forreigne Oath and unlawful in it self and unlawfully imposed and taken and therefore the Obligation of it void to qualifie themselves to hold Benefices and so were displaced by the Law of the Land and tho some therefore censure them yet their greatest Crime was not that they did not conform but that they actually revived the Schism which might have been so opportunely either totally extinguish'd or at least diminish'd into a very inconsiderable one had they liv'd peaceably conform'd as far as they could gone to Church and exhorted others to do the like forborn Holding-forth and keeping Conventicles and schismatically Ordaining of others to perpetuate that Separation which they have these twenty eight years now almost maintained to mantain themselves for doing which since all pretenders to an Obligation in Conscience to Preach by virtue of a Divine inward Call without any lawful and allowed Ordination thereunto a settled place to exercise their Function in and a Charge regularly committed to them unless they are able to demonstrate and confirm that pretended supernatural Call by Miracles must be concluded to be either Enthusiasts or Impostors they can never be excused 3. Difference in Opinion And this being as usually it is accompany'd with Pride Self-conceit a malignant Temper a fiery blind Zeal a strife who shall be Greatest and endeavours to make a Schism and maintain it to serve an Interest gave occasion to many of the ancient Hereticks divers of whose Errors were in themselves consistent with Communion to separate from the Catholicks Thus to omit the rest the old Puritans the Novatians and the Meletians made a needless Schism but very mischievous to the Church And since small dissentions began about indifferent things through the Pride of some Covetousness and Ambition of others they have been agitated and encreased into greater and unhappy Schisms too many to be named Tho the Clergy of the Church of England do mutually allow to one another their several interpretations of the sense in which our Saviour is said in the Creed to have descended into Hell as being none of them contrary to the analogy of sound Faith and do permit to each other their enjoyment of their different Notion of Predestination and the Tenents depending on it as being all reconcileable to the Latitude of the Articles subscribed Yet the Calvinists being usually of a fierce Temper four Humour and made by Pride impatient of contradiction on the account of the latter in Holland severely persecuted the Remonstrants Upon as small a discrepancy did the Independents separate from the Presbyterians here in England and divers other Sects less numerous
oppositions of the Civil Magistrate's Authority and exclaiming against his Government their industrious spreading of false and malicious reports to undermine it by possessing others with prejudice against it are all sufficient nay undeniable evidences that their actions are not directed to the preservation of a pure and undefiled Conscience as is pretended for that is void of offence towards God and Man but to the encreasing and upholding a Faction in the State to confront the Government I might add hereunto the practice of our Dissenting Brethren in New-England in their combinations conspiracies against and oppositions to their Governors and the Royal Authority their Penal Laws made against those of the Communion of the Church of England their Sanguinary ones against the Quakers c. their Persecutions of the former and Executions of the latter and their injurious and unchristian dealings with all Men not of their new Church fellowship are such plain instances that their Principles and Practices are such as for which no Conscience or Conviction of judgment can with any shew of reason be pretended or with any appearance of discretion be allowed 4. To alledge the Immorality of the Dissenters Lives in general as an Argument that their Schism was not caused by the conviction of their Consciences since he who lives in the wilful Commission of any one known sin hath forfeited his right to the Plea of Conscience in any other case though a probable Inference yet I am sensible would be to insist upon an harsh and unpleasing Topick to others as well as my self having therefore in the last Paragraph intimated it in relation to their carriage to their Governors in Church and State Here in Scotland and New-England from the beginning of the Rebellion against King Charles I. and often since observing only here that the Scripture Histories Reason and Experience have taught us sufficiently that no actions can be more immoral than the conspiring beginning and carrying on of Oppositions Insurrections and Rebellions and those things which precede accompany and follow them which when made under pretence of Religion are thereby yet aggravated by the dishonour done to the Profession of it the scandal given to others and the addition of their own Hypocrisie I shall pursue it no farther but only give you a Character which one who knew them very well by his own woful experience hath left us gathered by his personal observation and confirm'd with a solemn Protestation It is that of King James I. to his Son Prince Charles Take heed therefore My Son of such Puritanes very Pests in the Church and Common-wealth whom no deserts can oblige neither Oaths or Promises bind breathing nothing but sedition and calumnies aspiring without measure railing without reason and making their own imaginations without any warrant of the word the square of their Conscience I protest before the great God and since I am here as upon my Testament it is no place for me to lie in that ye shall never find with any High-land or Border-Thieves greater ingratitude and more lyes and vile perjuries than with these Fanatick Spirits c. Basil Dor. l. 2. p. 160. This is a Testimony too great to be disputed much more to be denyed it commands belief and needs no confirmation and is large and wants no addition Lastly This Schism themselves being judges is unnecessary for upon supposition that either the Presbyterian or Independent in the difference betwixt the Church of England and them is in the right tho the Institution of our Saviour the Writings and Practices of the Apostles the Universal Government of the whole Catholick Church being against them both it is scarcely to be supposed yet since neither of them can deny a true Christian Church wherein are all things necessary to Salvation to have subsisted under the Episcopal Government unless he will assert that there never was such a true Christian Church in the World till Mr. John Calvin erected one at Geneva Anno Dom. 1541. which I think neither of them will affirm what can be imagined should hinder but that they may both live in Communion with the Church of England which they cannot deny to be such an one It is evident enough by the Writings of the Presbyterians Printed between the Years 1640. and 1660. part of which time the Government was in their own or a Friends hand that they insisted upon this as a sufficient argument against the Independents Separation That they allowed their Churches to be true Christian Churches and therefore they condemned them and all others separating from them as guilty of Schism and declared against a Toleration of them as appearas by their Covenant Letter to the Assembly Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ and others too many to be named So that it is evident that they themselves since they cannot deny our Churches to be true Christian Churches are now such Persons as when they had power in their hands they judged to be inexcusable and not to be tolerated in their Schism because unnecessary and therefore unlawful being made from that which the Separatists themselves confess to be a true Christian Church and consequently that their then judgment condemns their present practice This might be a sufficient argument for us if we had no other to conclude that the prepossessions and prejudices education custom relation interest temporal advantage fear of being accompted fickle unstable c. if conforming and not any conviction of Judgment obligation of Conscience sense of Duty impartially considered or objection against our Liturgy Rites or Ceremonies rightly understood and duely pondered are the true though concealed causes of their renewing and continuing this which when time was at least by parity of reason they themselves judged unnecessary and unlawful Schism Whether it be no reflection on these pretended Teachers to act so contrary to their own Principles and former practises let their Consciences and the World judge In what guilt they involve themselves and their deluded Proselytes for their own temporal gain interest reputation and advantage deserves their most serious Examination In the mean time to all those who desire to hold the unity of the spirit in the bond of Peace it must needs be a very sad spectacle to see prejudic'd ignorant unstable and inadvertent Men not considering the relation they stand in to their own proper Pastors the hazards they run of their own Souls by the guilt of Schism they incur and the scandal they lay before others nor the invalid Ordination of these new intruding Teachers 〈◊〉 10.1 their want of Mission or their designing Schism nor the Obligations of their own Consciences to promote and preserve the Peace Order Unity and Communion of the Church or the many and great mischiefs attending an unnecessary and therefore a criminal separation should contemn those spiritual advantages of Church Ordinances celebrated in the most Decent Pious and Apostolick manner and needlesly make a childish and perverse Schism from the
most Orthodox and best constituted Church now Visible to the World And though the Dissenters in general thought it advantagious to their cause to pretend objections against the Liturgy Rites Ceremonies and Constitutions of the Church of England as being founded in Conscience and the most plausible because the Obligations of it depend upon the WIll of God the Supreme Law-giver and the insincerity of the pretence not easily demonstrable Yet since according to their own Principles sufficiently known such a Schism as theirs from our Church now is is sinful and a Toleration not to be allowed it must rationally be imputed to other Motives and Inducements for had they been Men of a modest temper peaceable disposition pious and regular lives they would have been very careful not to have given offence they would have submitted themselves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake They would never have separated upon the accompt of kneeling at Prayers and standing up at the repetition of the Creed and Gospel and yet these are all that are enjoyn'd the Congregation in our daily and weekly Publick Worship or of any indifferent Rite or Ceremony retained in our Church for the sake of Order Decency Unity Communion with the Primitive and Catholick Church and avoiding of scandal or of any other Rite Ceremony Vestment Gesture or Custom whatsoever not evidently sinful in it self and so rigorously enjoyn'd them that they must necessarily either make that particular Rite Ceremony Vestment Gesture or Custom their own by an actual participation in it and approbation of it or be excluded from Communion This last being the only case in which it can be lawful to separate from a national establish'd Church had it been observed all our Dissenters Quakers and other Enthusiasts only excepted