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Teration : The former assures us in the behalf of those whose Cause he pleads, that they do receive the Doctrine Faith contained in the Articles of Religion, pag. 2, and again pag. 22. That they heartily embrace the English Reformation established by Law, &c. and that they do assent to the Doctrine of Faith contained in the Articles of the Church of England, and worship God according to that Faith, pag. 22. The Peace-offering doth likewise bear witness for us of that great esteem which is bore unto the Articles of the Church of England in all the Reformed Churches abroad, and withal doth assuré us in behalf of the Independents at home, that as to all which is purely doctrinal in them they do fully embrace and constantly adhere to, &c. And accordingly he undertakes to profess in the name of them all ; We have no new Faith to declare, no neve Doctrine to teach, no private Opinion to divulge, no Point or Truth do we profess, no not one , which hath not been decla. red, taught, divulged and esteemed as the common Doctrine of ine
England, ever finee the Reformation, pag. 13. * Thus far therefore our way is clear, that the Doctrine of the Church is found and esteemed to be so in the Opinion of its greatest Adversaries. In the next place therefore we are to consider, whether any reasonable Plea for Separation can be drawn from any juft Exception which may be taken against the Liturgy; and here there are two forts of men to be considered : First, those who dislike all Forms of Prayer in general : Secondly, those who are only disgusted at some particular things in ours.
As to those who are against all Forms of Prayer ; I believe that the number of them, among considering Persons, is not so great, as that any great regard ought to be had unto them; and this must needs be fo, for a realon which can never fail; For it cannot choose but seem strangely ab. surd and infinitely unbecoming the great distance which is between us and Almighty God, and that great awe which we ought to bear unto him;
that all the Expressions of the Publick Devotion of every Congregation in the whole Nation should be left to the arbitrary, and especially the extemporary conception of each single Person, who is bold enough to venture upon the taking so much upon him. It were very strange if this Kingdom should at this day be ignorant, how very frequently Folly, Heresie , nay and Blasphemy, hath been uttered in such kind of Prayers; and it is utterly impossible, that upon the indulgence of any such Liberty, such Extravagancies, can with any security be provided against; And it is not unlikely that the greatest Pretenders to the highest Attainments in that way would be not a little out of Countenance ; If so be that their own Prayers were faithfully taken from their Mouths , and after some reasonable space of time, when they might be supposed to have forgot them, presented to their view. And that which renders this evil utterly intolerable, is this, that thesePrayers which either really are cxtemporary
else only pretended to be so) are under that pretence recommended and regarded by the People as the only way of praying by the Spirit ; and by that very means the ever blessed Spirit is as far as these mens endeavours can be succesful , entituled to all the Follies, Vanity; and Weaknesses, all the Sin and Errour, and even those very Blasphemies which are every day committed against him. And I think all good Christians are concerned to endeavour, that if a Li. berty must be given to these Persons to go on and to abuse the People, yet however that it may be done some other way, and they not permitted to bely the Holy Ghost.
As for Forms of Prayers, the great reasonableness and even necessity of them is very apparent, and in Scripture it self there are Examples enough to be produced ; and if any man pleaseth to enter upon that Argument, I no way doubt but there will be those found who will debate it with him. It shall suffice at present only to say, that our Saviour Christ
did compose a Form of Prayer , and gave it to his Disciples to use: Now if, as great numbers of the People are brought to believe, that there is no praying by the Spirit, besides praying Ex tempore, then no man ever did, or ever could say Christ's Prayer by the Spirit of Christ.
Now, as to the other sort of Persons, who have some exceptions against some expressions in our Litur. gy; those things have been so fully examined that of late we have heard very little of them : And the matter of it is all along so clearly unexceptionable, and so fitted for the common use of all Christians, that all controversial Expressions were designedly avoided: Inlomuch that I do not know of any confiderable Sect amongst us which may not joyn with us in every expression in it,except the Socinians. Now here perhaps some Jealousies may arise in the minds of men, that if there were not some real exception against the Liturgy , then so many good Teachers would not lay it aside; nay, and not only so, but, as far as mens Intentions