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but the feelings which they excite will be greatly different, and the practices to which they lead will vary.
These remarks may be exemplified in the state of the English Church after the Revolution, and that of the Non-jurors. There was in the former, probably, some desire to abandon differences of opinion, some leaning towards principles and practices which were dissentient from those of the Church of England, and much loose opinion on such subjects as those of occasional conformity, absolution, confirmation, and the peculiar character and authority of the priesthood. The sentiments held by Bishop Hoadley were likely to be prevalent; who scrupled not to designate the regular uninterrupted succession of ministers, authoritative benedictions, absolutions, and excommunications, as no more than vain words, niceties, trifles, and dreams. Such language (as that acute disputant, William Law, has shown) was nothing less than a betraying of the church to which he belonged, and verging upon Socinianism. From this source may be traced a lax and enervated tone of feeling upon religion, which was highly injurious to its interests, and foreign to the true character of our church. The difference of opi. nion which existed between the Non-jurors and their brethren of the Established Church, may be illustrated by the subject of the holy Eucharist. Among the latter it began to be considered as merely a commemorative ceremony, without any particular blessing attached to it, or any particular promise of grace.
In the words of the Bishop, who has been lately mentioned, “ it is not the renewal of the covenant on our part, or the seal of it on God's; it is only a remembrance of Christ, without any peculiar privileges annexed to the partaking worthily; we do not thereby partake of the benefit of remission of our past sins; such a notion is no better than a dream.” The general style of his writings was calculated, even more than any particular expressions, to depreciate it. It is not meant that the opinions of Bishop Hoadley prevailed generally among the clergy of that day ; but there was probably a leaning towards them, which was, in its consequences, highly pernicious. This holy ordinance was less honoured than it had formerly been ; its true character was, in some degree, forgotten; there was a dread of being superstitious, an inclination towards the opposite extreme of nakedness and neglect. The attention of the Non-jurors, on the contrary, was greatly devoted to this sacrament: they referred themselves to the practice of the Primitive Church, as far as it could be ascertained; or, more properly, perhaps, to the three points of antiquity, universality, and consent. They held, that this was not merely a commemorative ceremony, but strictly a sacrifice, a commemorative and unbloody sacrifice,
not offering the body of Jesus Christ, as the Romanists profess to do, but offering the appointed
representation of his body and blood, in a manner as strictly sacrificial as were the offerings of the patriarchs and the Jews.
This opinion is very widely different from that mentioned above; and the difference is highly important, as it respects both the ordinance itself, and that meritorious
propitiation which it represents. Hence it came to pass, that the Lord's Supper was more highly esteemed, and more frequently celebrated among the Non-jurors, than in the Established Church, where, during a considerable portion of the last century, there seemed to be great danger of its being much neglected. The opinion of the Nonjurors was also much more consonant to the language
of the Primitive Church, to which, as the best interpreter of holy writ and of the will of God, they desired as far as possible to conform. Hence they deemed it necessary to insist strongly upon several points which they conceived to be either wholly omitted, or insufficiently provided for in the Church Seryice, but which had a place in the Clementine and other ancient liturgies, and in those of Edward VI. framed at that critical period, when our Reformers had released themselves from the bands of Popery, and were not yet subjected to a new teacher from the school of Geneva. Had the Non-jurors contented themselves with maintaining the importance of these points, without requiring the introduction of them as necessary, they would have had many with
them; but controversy unhappily drives opposing parties into extremes, and leaves the breach wider than it found it. One objection with which those who maintained them had to contend was, that they were bringing back the doctrines of popery. But here they were able to make a complete defence. Not only were these points much more ancient than the corruptions which disfigure the Romish church, but by setting forth the truth they formed the strongest argument against it. The mixing of water with the wine, for instance, in exact conformity to the cup which Jesus blessed, and in remembrance of the blood and water which flowed from his wounded side, is a continual reproof of the presumptuous error of the Romanists, who hold that the whole body is present under the appearance of bread, and deprive the laity of the cup, as being superfluous and unimportant. The sacrificial oblation of the elements is in plain and direct opposition to the popish doctrine of transubstantiation ; for it is, and professes to be, an offering of elements, representing the body and blood of Christ; it carries us back to the pure and primitive practice, before it was perverted into the absurd and idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. The invocation of the Holy Spirit has nothing in common with popery, and appears not only so harmless, but so solemn, so appropriate, and so truly primitive, that its omission is much to be lamented. The Non-jurors were so far from hold
ing sentiments in common with the Romanists, that they were its most powerful opponents, by taking away the authority of antiquity and tradition, upon which the Romish church rests its pretensions; and it will ever remain a proof of their inflexible firmness and sincerity, that they who continued to profess allegiance to an exiled monarch, and to maintain opinions which were branded with the odious appellation of popery, were the same who had stood forth to oppose the encroachments of popery and arbitrary power, when that monarch, in the full possession of authority, sought to exercise the one and establish the other.
The opinions which have caused divisions and separations in the church pass away after a time, and are forgotten, while the essential doctrines of the Gospel remain unshaken. But the names of the principal Nonjurors were too eminent to be easily lost, and the opinions which they asserted are so interwoven with the principles of our church, and the nature of our constitution, that they deserve not only to be reinembered, but to be carefully studied. Those with whom the name took its rise lived at one of the most important periods of our history; and the questions on which they were called upon to decide were of that difficult and delicate nature which demanded great knowledge of fundamental principles, great accuracy of discrimination, and great foresight as to their prac