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A work of this kind, adapted to general perusal, plain without being inelegant, comprehensive and convincing without any boastful display of learning, might have excited much interest and attention. It might at all times produce beneficial effects by pointing out errors and the dangers arising from them, and teaching the truth and the importance of maintaining it. It were well if some vigilant watchmen of the true Israel would continually, from time to time, give notice of the dangers which arise. The visitations holden at stated seasons afford to our spiritual rulers an opportunity of conveying information to the clergy concerning the state of the church ; and, perhaps, it were not amiss, if such information were conveyed to the public frequently in a more popular form; not for the purpose of exciting disputation, or filling them with that knowledge which puffeth up; but to put them constantly upon their guard against the errors and false doctrines which are continually arising; and to excite in them a lively interest and quick feeling on the subject of pure religion, and a strong attachment, on sound principles, to the church which teaches it.
There is one subject mentioned above to which Mr. Bowdler was in the habit of frequently adverting, namely, the danger of taking partial views of religion.
“ People fall into error,” says he, “ by taking only particular passages of the Scripture, and not considering the whole scope of it. Some finding that God is love; that to love God with all the heart, &c. is the great commandment make love every thing. Others reading, that by faith we are saved; that he that believeth shall be saved, — make faith all. Others observing, that we are told it is the Spirit that quickeneth; that the days come when they shall worship God in spirit, — despise all outward forms and ordinances, and even those very sacraments which Christ himself instituted. Others again, taught by St. Paul, that charity is greater than faith or hope; and by our Lord himself, that in the day of judgment the enquiry shall be, whether we have fed the hungry, visited the sick, and the like, – conclude most rashly, that our good works can save us; and say, with our excellent poet, but execrable divine,
For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight.' “ Now all these are errors; and all errors in matters of the highest moment are dangerous. If, instead of dwelling on some detached parts of Scripture, they would read the whole attentively, they would see that all these are necessary, and none of them may be omitted,” &c. &c.
Some of his thoughts upon these subjects he afterwards put in print, and distributed among his friends, as remarks upon a work which had then appeared, whose author he conceived to be, in some degree, under the influence of religious enthusiasm, which he used to call “ religion run wild.”
“ Reason instructed by revelation, and assisted by the grace of God, will teach a man true religion, and keep him steady in the faith and practice of it, so long as his passions, appetites, feelings, affections, and imagination are kept in due subordination. But if any of these overpower reason, the man becomes liable to run into all sorts and degrees of error and mischief, in proportion to the nature and strength of the prevailing power. If these things be so, they will account for the leading error, and most of the other errors contained in this work. It is an able apology for the persons calling themselves evangelical clergymen; and its aim is, to induce all sober, serious members of the church of England to unite with them, and with sectaries of all denominations, in order that thereby vital religion may
“ But this author appears to be ignorant of that which should form the basis of such a plan; I mean the constitution of the Christian church. For he does not consider it as a regular society, under officers duly authorised to govern it according to certain fixed laws and ordinances; but as consisting of a number of distinct sects, differing from each other in many important points both of doctrine and discipline, and most of them governed by rulers of their own appointment. But is this the doctrine of the church of England ? Was it the doctrine of any part of the Christian church, for fifteen hundred years after Christ? Or is it the doctrine of the holy Scriptures? In them we have a full account of another form of church government, established by God himself among his own peculiar people; by which it appears, that in every part of the Jewish church the most exact order prevailed; and what makes this the more to our purpose, is, that all its principal ordinances are types of Christ and his church. The form of church government was the same; the high priests, priests, and levites, answering to the bishop with his priests and deacons. And let it not be forgotten, or remembered without awe, that an attempt to alter this form was punished with death, and that by one of the most tremendous miracles recorded in the Bible. Happy would it be for themselves and for the Christian world, if those who are inclined to introduce novelties into the church, would recollect the fate of Corah and his company.
“ In exact agreement with the Scriptures as illustrated by the uniform doctrine and usage of the first and purest ages of Christianity, the church of England teaches her sons that the Christian church is one holy universal society, founded by Christ himself, and settled and established by his Apostles under the immediate direction of the Holy Spirit; governed by Bishops, deriving their own authority from Christ and his Apostles, and empowered to give the like authority to others, and to appoint under them two other orders of ministers, viz. Priests, or Presbyters, and Deacons; and with their assistance to administer two Sacraments, instituted by Christ himself, and generally necessary to salvation :- Baptism, by which we are made members of Christ and of his church, and enter into covenant with God, professing our belief in the blessed Trinity, and promising to obey all the divine laws: and the Holy Commu
nion, wherein we renew that covenant, and receive grace · and strength to enable us to fulfil the same. It teaches us
also the great danger of listening to false doctrines, and of forming schisms in the church, which it classes with other heinous sins, and calls on us to pray to our good Lord to deliver us from them.
“ Now let us compare this account with the work in question. Instead of considering the church of England as a part of the universal church continued down from the days of the Apostles to this time, the author calls it a fabric produced and founded by the reformers. Of Bishops he takes little notice, and plainly does not consider them as essential ; whereas the primitive doctrine was, Where there is no bishop there is no church. : “ Of Baptism he also speaks little, and not well; for he does not state it to be, as it is, the only mode of admission into the church, appointed by Christ himself.
“ Of the Holy Communion, I believe, there is not the least notice taken throughout the whole work; though eighty pages of it consist of instructions for young Clergymen, and a greater number are spent on the subject of preaching. .“ By this author's own account, it is plain, that though there are very worthy men among the Evangelical Clergy, as he calls them, yet that, by taking a peculiar name, (which, by implication, casts a dreadful and very unjust stigma on all the other clergy of the church of England,) by holding meetings unauthorised by their Diocesans, and by various parts of their proceedings, they are decidedly schismatical. It also appears, by his own admission, that some of them are Calvinists and rank enthusiasts. Yet he states things as favourably as possible towards them, and very unfavourably, and indeed unjustly, towards the rest of the clergy of our church.
“ Of our ecclesiastical constitution he speaks very unworthily; and though he strongly censures lay preachers and those appointed by unauthorised persons, he seems to admit of preachers who have never received episcopal ordination; and yet does not attempt to show what other ordination is valid, and what is not..
“ He wishes for union, and seeing no prospect of bringing back the dissenters to the church, he recommends