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A61665 A letter to Mr. Robert Burscough, in answer to his Discourse of schism, in which ... Stoddon, Samuel. 1700 (1700) Wing S5713; ESTC R10151 63,414 120

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if a Company withdraw themselves from it and shake off all Dependance on it and Communion with it all Communion if you speak this to us you must mean all outward Communion in those Ceremonious Acts of Worship and Matters of Discipline that lie in Controvesie betwixt us they cannot be of the same Body that they deserted And then it must needs follow That Your Church being Politically in Communion with the CATHOLICK and Ours out of Communion with you we are but as so many dead Branches that have lost their Union with the Body and all the Influxes of Life from the Head How gladly then would you see us in the Fire that you may warm your selves by us Sure 't is well for those of us you are so angry with that the Act De Haroticis comburendis is repeal'd But this Inference of yours you pretend to illustrate by several pat Instances The Empire of Persia you say was one Body under Darius but was not so when divided into several Kingdoms under the Successors of Alexander Very critically observ'd when thus divided they were not One particular Political Body as before yet were they true parts of One and the same Universal World still tho' divided into particular National Polities yet united still in all the common Interests of Human Nature and Society So a City is one Body but the Colonies that issue out from it and are form'd into other Cities under their own proper Laws and Jurisdiction cannot be Numerically and perhaps are not Specificially one Political Body yet they are one Kingdom and govern'd by the same common Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom And what the Kingdom is the worse for this Variety or Diversification of particlar Political Forms no Man can tell Nay suppose this Separation be made by a Revolt or Dislike of the Constitution of the Government of the City or of their Manners and Formalities and without the Publick Consent we hope this will not Out-law them nor Disfranchize them of any of their National Privileges and Rights as long as they behave themselves with due Loyalty to their Sovereign and peaceably to their Fellow-Subjects Now you say a Church hath this Communion with a City and with all Corporations Very true so the Church at Jerusalem was once the Vniversal Church and Gospel Metropolis But if all those particular Churches that have been separated from it into Political Bodies not only Numerically but Specifically distinct under their own Laws and Forms of Government Worship and Discipline and different from that of the first Mother-Church from which they issued be no more Churches because of these different outward Communions wherein they are not one with the first Church nor with one another then it must needs follow that You are no more a Church of Christ than We and so you have thus far set us on even Ground with your selves nor hath any one need to renounce the use of the Words or affront the common Sense of Mankind to draw this Conclusion from your Premises 2. You plead from a supposed Inconsistency it hath with Church Government and its Destructiveness of the Church it self and a vain excuse you say 't will be for Men to say that they are at an Agreement with the Church in Doctrin while by their Divisions they are tearing the Church in Pieces And this you are at the Pains to Illustrate by Comparisons Military Civil and Domestick as if it were an hard Matter to beat this Notion into Mens Heads But when all is done you won't imagine how little We think our selves concern'd in it for you have granted us and we cannot forget it that it must be a Causeless Separation or else it is not what you are declaiming on therefore till it appear that our Separation from the Church of England is Causeless we are not the Persons that are like to be hurt by your Arrows And as for our Officers by whose Conduct we are guided in the Matters of God and of our Souls they are neither Mutinous nor Seditious nor Self-Intruders as by your Comparisons you would Insinuate but generally as well qualify'd and altogether as lawfully call'd and commission'd and as fully invested with the ministerial Office according to the Rules of the Holy Scriptures as any of your Selves as we have already prov'd so that this Argument you may now lay aside among your broken Weapons till you find a proper Occasion for it 3. You argue from its Inconsistency with the Notion of Schism as it is express'd in the Holy Scripture i. e. If the Scripture Notion of Schism were the same with Yours And for this your only Instance is the Schism that was once in the Church of Corinth where every one said I am of Paul or I of Apollas or I of Cephas But this Faction among the Disciples at Corinth you told us in your second Section was but a Schism within the Church not from it and therefore will not give us the full Notion of Schism according to your own apprehension of it But we will let this pass for an Impertinence having already granted you more than this Instance can pretend to prove viz. that Oneness in Doctrin is not always enough to justify a Separation from outward Communion 'T is in your misapplying it to us that your great Mistake lies supposing that our Separation from you is as Causeless as were the Factious Divisions of those in the Church of Corinth which is the Thing that 's yet to be prov'd But it seems to us by the Tenour of your Discourse from top to bottom that let a Church be what it will either as to its Constitution or its individual Members ever so Corrupt in Doctrin Superstitious in Worship or Filthy in Conversation and degenerated from Scripture Rules and Institution yet while they hold together in outward Communion as the Church of Rome hath done both before and since the Protestant Reformation there is nothing in it that deserves the Name of Schism or that will justifie a Seperation from it Pray tell us plainly whose Cause it is you are pleading under the Name of the Church of England Have you never consider'd the Differences that there were in the Apostle's Days between the Churches of the Christian Jewes and those of the Gentiles in respect of Rites and Ceremonies and outward Communion and don 't you know to what a height these Differences were kept up by the Churches that were still so fond of their old Way that there was no Uniting them in this Point That Paul for his Non-Conformity to 'em could not shew his Face among 'em at Jerusalem without danger of his Life Have you not read what a feud there was once between Him and Peter on this Account Gal. 2.11 12 13 14. And how much ado the Apostle Paul had to preserve the Churches of the Gentiles from being bigotted to their Superstitions Now pray tell us whether the Church at Jerusalem or that at Antioch were the
Service of your Hypothesis and on the Judgment and Practice of the Faithful in the purest Ages alias the most Popish Ages so that you presume your Inference is clear That all those who have separated without just Cause from the outward Communion of that Church with which they ought or with which you will say they ought to hold Communion and so persisting in that Separation tho' otherwise never so Orthodox or Holy have hereby so cut themselves off from the Body of the Vniversal Church that they can do nothing that can qualify themselves or others for Communion with it So that by this your Rule of Catholick Vnity in outward Communion all those Persons and Churches that herein agree not with you are not of the Body nor united to the Head and then must necessarily be in a state of Damnation Woe be then to all those poor Churches that are to your Constitution and way of Government and Worship Strangers But by the way give us leave to ask you How it comes to pass that Baptism and Ordination received in the Church of Rome are accounted valid in your Church of England and yet Ordination in any Protestant Church that 's not of your Constitution accounted Null Or for what politick Reason is their Baptism allowed and their Ordination only Condemn'd Is it because the Church of Rome never separated from you nor you from it as all the other Protestant Churches have done Who must therefore be all abandon'd by you as Harlots that deserve to be ston'd while Rome is own'd for your Sister or your Mother and of the same Catholick Body with you Either own the Relation or renounce the Title of Protestant Will you say that these Churches were never in Communion with you and therefore did not go out from you Suppose this were true of the main Body of them that they were never in particular outward Communion with the Church of England tho' before the Reformation they were in the same Church with you and many of those and of their Children who were once actually in particular Communion with you went out from you on the same Account as we do yet supposing it otherwise How little will this help Them more than Vs as to the Oneness of the outward Communion of the universal Church in the Sense that you take it and urge it on Vs And now that we are upon Enquiries with you Pray be not offended if we ask you once more What think you of our first Protestant Reformers Before they actually separated from the Church of Rome were they not Members of that Church and in outward Communion with it If not how could they be said to separate from it But if they were let us ask you again was that Church of which they were then Members a true Church of Christ or not If not then that Church and all the Members of it was not united to the Head and consequently was no Church nor by your Rule of Catholick Vnity could do any thing to qualify themselves or others for Communion with any part of the Catholick Church and from whom then did your Church of England or any of the Reformed derive their Succession and Authority from the Apostles But if it was a true Church how could they according to your Notion of Catholick Vnity separate from it without involving themselves in the guilt of Schism with which you now charge us May we not hence conclude that to separate from a true Church of Christ that retains the Essentials of a Church is not always Schismatical nor a Solution of Catholick Vnity Will you tell us that these had a Warrant by a Call from Heaven to justify their Separation Rev. 18.4 2 Cor. 6.17 But on what Reason was this Call grounded Come out of her my People that ye be not Partakers of her Sins And doth not the same Call reach Vs as far as the Reason is the same Tho' the Sins of the Church of Rome were greater than those of the present Church of England yet what is Sin is Sin still and will by your own Concessions so far justify our Separation and on no other Account do we desire or pretend to justify it The Separatists condemn'd in Scripture and with whom you would sort Vs and so represent us to the World were Men of very ill Character as to their Morals Persons given up to Sensuality walking after their own ungodly Lusts tho' veild under a Form of Religion yet by their corrupt Lives they were visibly to be discern'd Now let the impartial part of the World judge whether this be so much our Character as the Character of those by whom we are thus Censur'd That the Fathers and Bishops of the first Ages were very jealous of the Union of their Churches and an intire Obedience to their Ecclesiastical Rulers very Passionately and sometimes Hyperbolically declaiming against Separation or setting up Pastors without the Approbation of their own Bishops is not to be denyed and for which they had some prudential Reasons The Christian Church was then in its Infancy and therefore requir'd a stricter Hand of Government over it for the preservation of its Unity in Communion the Faithful were not so well settl'd and experienced in their Way their Dangers were many ways extraordinary not only from the Heathen Persecutors but from the Jewish Bigots which were in so many Places dispers'd among them and had so troublesome and ensnaring an Influence on the young Gentile Converts Besides the many false and seditious Teachers which the Devil had Sown as his Tares almost every where among them the Orthodox Presbyters too few and generally too weak to deal with so many so potent and so subtil Enemies or to be entrusted with the Conduct of the Church without the Counsel and Direction of its prime Guides and Governours Besides the Honour and Satisfaction of Sovereign Rule and Dictatorship is what was ever very pleasing to Nature So that all these things consider'd we have no reason to wonder at the Heat of their Spirits in this Case And indeed the Church had then very great Reason to bless God for this their Zeal and most religiously to observe them in it especially while they had no cause to dissent or divide themselves on the account of any Heresies they Taught them or any disputable unscriptural Impositions that were required as the Conditions of their Communion with them There were no such Things exacted of Them as have been of Vs and our Teachers which made their Obedience easy and indisputable And you may observe that the great Reason of their Care to preserve the Unity of the Churches outward Communion was not to uphold a few unnecessary Ceremonies but to preserve the Purity of its spiritual Worship and Doctrin which was infinitely more valuable and consequential a circumstantial variety of the external Forms of Church-Administrations would have done the Church no more harm than the variety which we see in every Species
granted you all this we will see what we have left for our selves and Answer you 2. By way of Confutation of your Supposition you suppose 1. That because our Conformity was once Lawful therefore it is not only so still especially because there have been no new Terms added by you to alter the Case but that therefore it is still Necessary which is Illogical enough But to this we say as the Apostle doth in a like Case 1 Cor. 6.12 Ch. 10.23 All things are Lawful unto me but all things are not Expedient i. e. All things that are Lawful to me as all indifferent Things in their own Nature are are not always Expedient and when they come to be Inexpedient they cease to be in their use Lawful for Quicquid non expedit in quantum non expedit non licet All Things are Lawful for me but I will not be brought under the Power of any q. d. In the use of all Lawful Things I have my Liberty to do or to forbear as it consists with the Expediency of my own or others Edification and this Liberty I will not betray by being brought under the Power of any of any what Why if it be Sense it must be of any of those Lawful Things he is now speaking of for if he be by any weak Scruples or ill Principles of his own or any impoling Humour of others brought under the Power of 'em or to look upon them as Necessary he superstitiously enslaves his Conscience and renders himself uncapable of serving the more noble and useful Ends of his Liberty Now in Conformity to this apostolical Rule we lately conformed to the Church of England because we thought it in it self Lawful and on some accounts then Expedient so to do but under our present Circumstances and since that Providence hath given us the Experience of other Publick and Peaceable Christian Communions we find it Inexpedient to continue where we were with relation to the eternal safety of our own Souls which is the highest Concern we have under Heaven tho' this be one of those Things which in your next Section you upbraid us with So that tho' it lately was and still is simply Lawful to communicate with you yet we now find it to be on some of the most important Accounts very Inexpedient and Prejudicial both to our selves and others and the use of our Christian Liberty herein no way really injurious to the Edisication or to the Peace of the Church besides those private Disorders it accidentally occasions in the uncharitable Spleens of a few 2. You suppose that what was once our Duty cannot now become a Sin to us to do But we wonder that this should be such a Paradox to a Person of your Capacity must you not allow it in Thousands of other Cases that what is a Duty at one time would be very inexpediently and sometimes scandalously sinful at another Why then should it look like such a Contradiction in our Case 'T was indeed our Duty to provide for our own and for the Souls of our Families in the best manner we could while we were in Communion with you that is while we either knew no better or could get no better we thought it our Duty as we do still rather to joyn with You than to ly at Home on Lord's Days or do worse But now that God hath enlarged our Steps and made a more plentiful Provision for us we should Sin against our own Souls and theirs too that are committed to our Charge if we should not make use of what God hath given us in this kind and not hazzard the loss of our eternal All for the sake of a few unnecessary offensive Ceremonies and humane Institutions wherein you would Popishly perswade us to believe that the vital Union of the Catholick Church doth consist And thus we briefly answer to the first Article of our Indictment II. The second Article against us is That we have added to our Sin by setting up opposite Churches and Officers or joyning with them And this hath more alienated our Minds from those whom you say we have unjustly forsaken This you suppose is generally our Case and that hence it is that you hear of an Old Church and a New in so many Towns in this Kingdom the latter labouring to establish it self on the Ruins of the former To this we reply That the Separate Churches which we now commonly frequent are not set up in Opposition to Yours but by a necessity which your obstinate Uncharitableness hath brought us under Could we have enjoy'd those Gospel-Privileges with you which our dearest Saviour hath by his precious Blood purchased for us and by his Last Will and Testament bequeathed to us we had never forsaken You. But now if the more we come to understand the Wrong you have done us the more our Minds are alienated from you you must thank your selves for that And wherein you have wronged us you have already often enough heard and we are ready once more to declare in part according as the Discourse we are now waiting on you in shall give us the particular Occasions All the Opposition that is between our Churches and yours is certainly of your own making And for our setting up Church-Officers i. e. Teachers and Pastors over our selves we flatly deny without a good Distinction 'T is true we take it as our natural Right that the Pastor to whom we are to commit the Care of our Souls be of our own free Election and not impos'd upon us against the majority of our Votes by any that shall pretend to a Power so to do as the common manner of the Church of England is and which was not the least of our Grievances while we were in Communion with You. But if by our setting up of Officers you mean our conferring the Pastoral Office upon them or the Authoritative Investing them with it we deny your Supposition If you know any such among Dissenters let them answer for themselves we assure you We are not the Persons And because you fear that we are Labouring to establish our Selves on your Ruins we openly declare your great Mistake of us 'T is our Union and joint Establishment on a Reformation according to the Scriptures that we are Labouring and have been so long praying and waiting for And if such a Reformation will be your Ruin Miserere Deus In vain do you complain of our separate Churches which yet are no Independant Congregations as you suggest tho' they have not that Dependance on Yours which you contend for while your selves are the only Causes of the Separation For let your calmer Reason tell us Who are they that cause Divisions and destroy that Union and Communion of the Churches which you seem to be so Zealous for Are they those that stick to the Primitive Apostolical Rules and Institutions or those that make their own dangerous Innovations the Terms of Communion with them What we have here to
to Preach Christ here so near to your Noses wherein you make your self a Judge of evil Thoughts 4. By your implicit complaint how much they exercise your Patience and Self-denial as those of old did Paul's Yet would you but lay aside your own Envy and Prejudices you might on much more comfortable Grounds conclude as the Apostle there doth that this their Preaching would be to your Advantage and Beneficial both to the Church and to your selves too V. The next Argument that you can afford us is this That we are only returned to those whom we had forsaken before and that we might do this since we had the Indulgence or the Liberty granted to us by the Law Before we meddle with this Argument let us turn it into Form after its Fellows and see how it will look then and who they are that will own it But in Syllogism it makes this Figure For a People to return to those Ministers whom they had forsaken before when they have Liberty granted them by the Law so to do is no Schism But we have now Liberty granted us to return to those Ministers whom we had forsaken before Erg. Sir It would look very ingeniously if you would now at last please to tell us from what Author of Ours you took this Topping Argugument which perhaps you think and would have others to think is one of the best we have to defend our selves with The truth is were it not for the Law that protects Us we should be badly able to defend our selves against Church-violence and doubtless there are Summer-flies enough among Us whose Devotion depends on this Liberty which the Law hath given us But had we not better Reasons to justifie our Cause against your Argumentations we should think our selves in an ill Case 'T is hardly worth our labour to follow you in all that you harrangue on this Head You say If our Separation was Sinful before we Conform'd our return to it must be Sinful And we think so too For the Law hath not alter'd the Case as to the Nature of the thing Wherefore your first Enquiry upon it is very pertinent viz. Whether our Separation before we Conformed were Sinful But instead of Enquiring you take it for granted that it was so and say 't is clear from what went before i. e. from your notion of Catholick Unity which we have examin'd and think that by this time you have little Reason to Glory in it But if this prove to be no clear evidence against us then it is not yet clear that our Separation from you is Causeless and therefore Sinful and Schismatical And we hope we have already said enough to destroy that Infant-notion of Catholick Unity in your Sense if we may but obtain an unbyassed Judgment upon it Neither do we need that Objection you here make for us That many of us were never Members of the Church of England and therefore no Deserters of it We commend you that you will be careful to raise no Objections but what you think you can Answer But you must first better prove that our Separation is Causeless and then we shall think our selves concerned to take notice of what you say Sir We are ashamed to hear a Protestant pleading so like a Papist for a Priestly Succession concluding that the Office of the Gospel-Ministry is utterly extinct without your Episcopal Ordination Had not this Antiscriptural Uncharitable Church destroying Pretension been so long ago baffled and therefore deserted by the Wisest and most Learned of your own Communion as well as by the Judgment of all Foreign Protestant Divines we should not have wondered so much at you Wherefore we shall not now Rem toties actam agere but leave you first to answer what hath been by so many and with so convincing Evidence written on this subject whose Names we need not mention to one that is so well acquainted with Books as you are In the m●an time we cannot but make a very particular Observation on the Ebullition of your Gall against the Liberty we now enjoy by the Benefit of the Law 't is well for us that this was not granted us as once by a Dispencing Power to which the late Reigns pretended but by a Better-design'd and Well advised Act of King and Parliament For to give us here a Taste of the Volatility of your Spirit of Charity you are bold to suggest that We are not the Persons that come within the intent of that Act and therefore can justly expect no savour from it because you say that Act was only design'd to give ease to Tender Consciences but ours are not of that number because not of the same Latitude with yours Oh how do your Fingers itch to be at your old Work with us again What a grief of Heart is the Indulgence which our Governours have so Graciously and so Necessarily granted us How fain would you cut us off from the Protection of the Laws under which we live as Loyally and Obediently as any of your selves And all because we have forsaken your Ceremonies and desire to Worship God in a way more agreeable to the Scripture Simplicity of the Gospel and more experimentally conducive to the Spiritual Good and Eternal Happiness of our own Souls We see by this that Paul was never in greater danger at Jerusalem on the account of his Nonconformity than We should be of You should the Government but once more let you loose upon Us. But that We are none of the Tender Consciences that come within the intent of the Act you pretend to prove by our former Conforming to you and Communion with you wherein you presume that we were then satisfied and thought it lawful Ay Sir we once thought it lawful i. e. not absolutely or in it self Sinful when we either knew no better or could get no better and we are of the same Mind still as we have once already told you and to which to avoid repetition we would referr you having for illustration of the Case first given you this Familiar Similitude 2 Kings 6.25 There was a time in Samaria when an Asse's Head was sold for Fourscore Pieces of Silver and the fourth part of a Cab of Dove's Dung for Five Pieces of Silver There was nothing so Ceremonially or Naturally unclean but was Hungrily fed upon and not one questioned the Lawfulness of it so that there were no Murder in the Case To the Hungry Soul every bitter thing was sweet But when the Siege was broken up and the Gates were opened and a Plenty of all Good Food was come should the Princes have Monopoliz'd it and by a severe Edict interdicted the free use of it and confin'd the People to the use of such things for kind and measure as they had found in their extremity would pass down with them and was just enough to keep Soul and Body together and condemn all such to Fines or Prisons or Banishment that should dare
warrants our Sitting at this Sacrament but never a word of Kneeling by Precept or Precedent of Christ or his Apostles in all the New Testament nor in the Practice of the Churches while they retained their Primitive Purity therefore you are as much concerned in the Second Commandment on this account as we You tell us for certain that this Matter is not decided in Scripture But why is it not there decided Because it is not expresly required or forbidden and where the Scripture is not very punctually express there no doubt Men may devise and do and impose what they list without any regard to Scripture Consequences But yet you find that it is not for your Interest alway to use this way of Arguing The Practical Precedents and Examples of Christ or his Apostles which you find in Scripture will sometimes amount with you to the force of a Precept when you apprehend it will fall on the side of your Beloved Ceremonies Nay you can plead very stiffly the Authority of an Old Custom of the Churches which hath been taken up and perhaps superstitiously enough long after the Apostle's Days But now it seems there is nothing to be taken for certain that hath not a plain Scripture command wherein we think you are not so well aware at what an uncertainty you have lest the Cause you have now undertaken Though you cannot be ignorant of what hath been already said by so many of the Learned of our Way in the Vindication of our Practice herein yet let us once more see if we may not find much more in the Holy Scripture for Sitting at this Sacrament than for Kneeling Now it is certain that this Sacrament as to the Externals of it is but a Ceremony tho' of the most Sacred Institution and Highest Importance both a Signifying and a Sealing Ceremony and he that instituted it did best understand the Nature and Ends of it and what Gesture and Circumstances would best become the Celebration of it And his own Example herein we think is sufficient to warrant if not to require our Imitation But when we look back to the Institution we find that Christ sate down with the Twelve and Eat the Passover with them Here the Gesture was expressed and 't was Sitting not Kneeling Matth. 26.20 And as they were Eating without changing the Gesture he Instituted and Celebrated this Gospel Ordinance and Administer'd it to them with his own Hand verse 26 27 28. Mark tells us as they Sate and did Eat Mark 14.18 i. e. the Passover and in the same Posture still As they did Eat Jesus took Bread and Blessed it ver 22. Luke also tells us That be Sate down and the Twelve Apostles with him Luke 22.14 and in that Posture Administred his Last Supper to them verse 17 18 19 20. These are the only three Evangelists that particularly mention the manner of our Saviour's Administring this Ordinance and they all speak expresly of their Sitting but never a word of Kneeling in either of them Thus Christ and his Disciples did Eat it together as they were wont to Eat the Passover which was the very same Ordinance of the same Divine Institution Signification and Mystery and equally Sacred though of a different Form as this of the Gospel is And will you now say that this was irreverently done That it had too much of Familiarity and two little of Decency or Humility Dare you thus Blaspheme the Wisdom of your Saviour Did not he understand the End and the proper Signification of his Own Mystery as well as you Hath he told you again and again that he and his Disciples did Eat it Sitting and will you tell him that it ought to have been done Kneeling May he not then demand of you who made you his Counsellors or his Correctors And who hath required this voluntary Humility and Will-worship of you But you tell us that there is a Prayer with which you deliver the Elements to the People and therefore it ought to be received in a Praying Posture A Prayer viz. The Body and Blood of Christ preserve thy Body and Soul unto Eternal Life To which we answer 1. This which you call a Prayer sounds more like a Priestly Benediction or kind of Exorcism being repeated over and over to every individual Communicant so that the Kneeling seems to be requir'd rather in Honour of the Office as in Confirmation and Absolution than in respect of what you call a Prayer 2. Who made this Form of Words for you Or required it of you Is there any mention of this or of any thing like it in the Institution Though we grant that the Heart ought to be full of Holy Ejaculations Vows and Self-resignation in so Sacred an Action and which may be done every way as Decently and Reverently Sitting or Standing as Kneeling and wherein every one ought to have his own Liberty and Freedom of thought in the Exercise of all Graces according as they find particular occasion in and from themselves and wherein the Minister from the Experiences of his own Heart may piously and profitably suggest to their assistance in it and this reasonable Service we reject not 3. Why do not You Administer on your Knees For if it be a Prayer 't is you that properly Pray and the People say Amen Doth not your requiring it of others condemn your selves Why must you Pray Standing and they Kneeling 4. Though Kneeling be an ordinary Praying Posture yet if you will excuse your selves you must grant that it is not indispensibly necessary The Apostle bids you Pray 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 continually or without ccasing but should you be bound to Kneel continually we doubt that would not be very pleasing Judge now whether your Practice herein be not irregular to say no worse of it What the Reasons were of our LORD 's Instituting this Sacrament with a Table-Gesture and of what it is significant we will not now enquire 'T is enough for us that we know his Will in it by his Practice But you know that we have something else to Object against Kneeling in the Act of Receiving This Gesture is now become scandalous at least to some because it Symbolizes with the Idolatry of the Church of Rome in Worshipping the Host and by whom as some say it was introduc'd and impos'd to support their Bloody Doctrine of the Real Presence or as others think that this was the occasion of that Idolatry so that here is an unexcusable appearance of Evil in it and therefore having no Command of God for it nor Apostolical Example we ought not to continue its use much less to endure the imposition of it as if it were of necessity Neither is your Churches declaring against the Idolatrous use of it enough to purge or to defend it unless it were a matter of particular Divine Institution As for those that think it their Duty or their Liberty so to express their Reverence to Almighty God in this Sacrament
be built by others and this House you say as the word is here to be taken is the Church for which you quote us two pertinent Scriptures in which the Apostle speaks of Edifying of the Church But can you inform us why it is not as proper and as necessary for Temples to be Edified as Churches and whether every individual believer be not call'd the Temple of the Holy Ghost 1 Cor. 6.19 Nay do you not grant us in other words as much as we crave when you say that the Polishing and Perfecting those Living Stones of which the Church is Built is the Edifying of it yea and thus the Church is said to Edifie it self Eph. 4.16 Well then if Edifying be the Word that doth offend you pray strike it out of our Argument and put in Polishing and Perfecting and it will please us all as well And thus we will conclude with you That if we bring new Proselites into the Church i. e. by sound conversion to God and not to a Party to the Church of Christ and not meerly to the Ceremonies and Peculiar External Rites or Forms of this or that Particular Church and confirm those that are in it in advancing any in Knowledge and Piety in Faith and Practice we shall be reckon'd amongst the Builder or Edifiers of the Church And farther to explain what you mean by Edification you tell us there are these two things requir'd in it viz. Unity and Order 1. Unity And here you descant on the Benefits of Union and the Mischiefs of Schism in the words of Clemens Romanus and Mr. Baxter wherein we would not contradict you would you but once better prove that this Union must consist in those controverted things which you impose on us as the indispensible Condition of our Communion with you We are as desirous of Church-Union as You and are sensible how much it would conduce both to the Ornament Establishment and Enlargement of the Church but if it be your Tyrannical Impositions and your delivering up the Care of our Souls to such as have no Care of Ours nor of their Own that hath made and doth keep open the Breach between us let the World Judge who are the Schismaticks 2. As for Order you tell us not what you mean more than what we can pick out of Eph. 2.21 and Ch. 4.16 which Scriptures we own but can't learn from any thing that is Written there that our Dissent from such Impositions as yours and refusing to do what you would have us to do is a breach of Order If we stand not in those Ranks and Files of Military Order as once we stood if you see our Seats forsaken in your Churches and at your Communion-Tables you must blame your selves as the only Causes of this Disorder II. You next Enquire What we understand by Edification and whether we rightly judge how it is best promoted And here we are also concern'd to Enquire how rightly we are judg'd by you when you say That we take that to be Edifying that raises in us some Sensible Devotions that excites in us some Religious Affections such as Love Joy Fear or the like And these you suppose we have chiefly in view when we preferr the Service in our Meetimgs before that of the Churches The truth is that which is not proper to raise our Devotion in Religious Duties and to excite Holy Affections in us we cannot think to be very Edifying We know not how in this our compound state to exercise the Spiritual Graces of Faith Repentance Love Fear Humility Joy Delight in God c. but by the help of those Rational and Intellectual Faculties of Understanding Will and Affections which God hath given us If you understand the more Raptural Mysteries of Quietism a more Stoical or Seraphick way of contemplation without concerning those Grosser Spirits in so Divine an Exercise we will not envy your Attainment but for our parts we can't be satisfied that our Hearts are concern'd in Religious Duties as they ought to be unless we are sensible that they are so But to come to Particulars you instance in the two great ordinances of Praying and Preaching 1. You begin with the way of Praying us'd in our Meetings and here again you make your self a Judge of Evil Thoughts and that in such a Case wherein you are in Danger of Blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God For if it be by the Spirit of Supplication which makeh Intercession in the Saints that we are taught both what and how to Pray it concerns you to take heed how you approbiously oppose your Cant against our Common Experience of its assistance herein The Old and Often-repeated Harrangue by which you and others of your Way endeavour to exalt your prescribed Forms of Prayer and which hath been so often answered to silence doth but bewray your Inexperience of that way of Praying which the Holy Scriptures direct to and in which all the Saints in all Ages have found their greatest Reliefs How impertinently do you tell us That we are not to think that God is at all wrought upon by the variation of Phrases or the modulation of them No Sir we don't imagine that God is mov'd with Words or Tones or the most Eloquent or Artificial Composures of Matter or Expression whether Prescrib'dor or Unpremeditated Words are for our own sakes not for His yet we have great reason to think that the better the Affections are exercised and the Graces of the Spirit of God in the Heart the better is the Heart prepared and the better grounds it hath to hope to obtain Mercy from him And certainly that way of Praying which we find most conducible to this end we have reason to preferr Nor can any thing that we have ever yet heard incline us to your contrary Opinion That the Gift of Prayer which is in it self but a Common Gift as that of Preaching c. is may be and too often hath been abused by ill Men is what we grant But to censure all for ill Men that use it is unbecoming a Christian and to argue from the Abuse against the Use is too Weak and Absurd for a Man of your Figure and Learning And may we not easily retort as many and as great Abuses of your Way of Praying by Limited and Prescribed Forms had we a Mind to retaliate Those Motions and Efforts of Devotion which without due Caution or Distinction you impute to Natural Causes as you say a little Philosophy would teach us in such as use the Gift of Prayer are censured by you but one degree short of what the Spirit of God in our Saviour Christ was censured by those that attributed the Power by which he wrought his Miracles to a Diabolical Cause Matth. 12.24 c. which you will do well to read and spend some Second Thoughts upon But to moderare the matter you are pleased to grant that the Gift of Elocution which you seem to take for the whole of the
Wolves instead of Shepherds set over us and enforc'd on us or such as are either unable or unapt to feed our Souls with the Bread of Life we think it our Duty and Bless God that we have now Liberty and Allowance by the Law of Men as well as of God to make the best Provision we can for those poor Souls of ours which must Live or Die to Eternity by the more Charitable assistances of those whom the good Providence of God hath raised up for us and sent to us to this End So that what you alledge out of 1 Cor. 3.3 is not to our Case nor at all to your purpose Yet here again you lift up your cry of Unity and Order That which is against the Unity of the Church is against the Edification of it That is without an entire Conformity and tame Submission to all your Impositions your Church is broken and weakned and convuls'd and undone So that whoever they be that could speak with the Tongues of Angels or whatever their Qualifications and Commissions to Preach the Gospel be if they will not say as you say and do as you do in those things wherein you Dissent from almost all the Reformed Churches in the World we must for the preservation of your Ceremonies fly from them and avoid 'em as most dangerous Fellows And then what is against the Order of your Church must needs be against