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CONCLUSION OF THE ESSAY,
The writer of this Essay is alone accountable for all its faults and defects. He has written it without the counsel or the help of any man, or of any body of men. He believes, and therefore he has spoken. Perhaps it will make him some enemies. This he would regret; as he desires, as much as lieth in him, to live peaceably with all men. If maintaining the truth should make him enemies, he cannot help it. Some may think that he speaks too freely on certain points, and as to certain orders of persons. All he can say, is, that he thought truth and piety required it. He would give honor to whom honor is due: but he hopes he shall ever shew the greatest courtesy to the Truth of God. Whilst men, or the ordinances of men, oppose not the Truth of God, he would respect them, and would submit to them for the Lord's sake; but when they oppose that truth, either in principle or in practice, he would call no man Father upon earth. He makes no pretensions to style. He only uses words as a plain man uses his clothes ; not for ornament, but for use and decency. The confidence of his language arises from the conviction of his own mind, and not from any design to impose his opinions upon others. He dislikes to read an author who does not appear to believe himself. If chuse to controvert his positions, he freely allows them the liberty which he has taken. His design is CATHOLIC, NOT SECTARIAN. Truth is his object: let his efforts perish, only
this prevails. He commits his work to God, and to his church, praying that the kingdom of our Redeemer may speedily come ; that Peace and Happiness, Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, may be established among us, and in all the earth, throughout all generations ! Amen!
April the 20th, 1838.
“Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free,” is a divine command. The truth of God, at the Reformation, made the Protestant churches free from Priestly Tyranny, and the Traditions of Men. It is the duty of every Protestant to watch against all encroachments upon this liberty.
Popery commenced on the principle of exclusiveness and bigotry. “Out of the church is no salvation ;—the church of Rome is the only true church ;-ergo, out of the church of Rome is no salvation.” This is the logic of Rome; enforced, according to opportunity of power, and circumstances, by excommunication and confiscation; by fire and faggot to the body, and perdition to the soul, against all who have dared to resist its claims.
All exclusiveness and bigotry generate intolerance. When any part of God's church asserts its right to the whole inheritance of his people, it publishes an act of ejectment against the rest; and the spirit that dictated the ejectment, will, when circumstances seem favourable, endeavour to effect its object by persecuting those who do not admit this exclusive claim. To admit an unjust claim, is to encourage injustice. Our Christian birthright is a trust from Heaven; and we cannot “sell it for a mess of pottage,” without an Esau's profaneness.
A certain class of men have, at different times since the Reformation, come forward to effect that in the Protestant church which Popery endeavours to effect as to the church universal. This they try to accomplish by a sophistical method of teaching the doctrine of Apostolical Succession. By this doctrine they excommunicate all the other Protestant churches in Europe. This is done seriously and in earnest, and that by men of considerable influence and learning too. The Writer is convinced that the broad absurdity of their arrogant pretensions will be sufficient to lead many
to treat those claims with just contempt. However there are some that seem willing to receive the bold assertions and pretensions of such men as proofs sufficient to support their claims. Others who do not believe them, would yet be glad to see plain reasons for rejecting them. It is for this class of persons, chiefly, that the following Essay is designed.
Another object with the writer is to develope the nature of genuine Protestantism, and to supply an Antidote to Popery. POPERY IS A DEEP
Its principal Basis is Priestly arrogance, generating the direst Tyranny. This is not founded on the WORD OF GOD, but in the Traditions of men. This foundation must be exposed and broken up, or in vain shall we attempt to break the iron yoke of Popery. Now it is a matter worthy of the most serious and careful observation by the reader, that nearly all the great succession Divines are Semi-Papists. Archbishop Laud is supposed to be the father of them. Amongst his distinguished Disciples will be found Dr. Hickes, Bishop Jeremy Taylor, the Authors of the Oxford Tracts for the Times, Dr. Hook, Vicar of Leeds, &c.
The reader may be surprised to find the celebrated Bishop Taylor represented as a semi-papist; let him read his “Clerus Domini," and his "Episcopacy Asserted,” and he will see the evidence of the statement. Bishop Taylor's splendid talents have imposed upon many, and have gained him more credit than he deserved. Like many pious Papists, he could write well upon devotional subjects; but he is no safe guide as a Theologian. Dr. Hook, and the Authors of the Oxford Tracts for the Times, are evidently introducing Popery into the Church of England, and spreading it in the nation.
Many of the Clergy of the Established Church are strongly opposed to the errors of these men; and they have spoken out manfully in the pages of the Christian Observer. They seem however to be very tender of this doctrine of Apostolical Succession. They perhaps think it is calculated to add importance to their Ministry in opposition to the Methodists and Dissenters. A spirit of exclusiveness is indeed very general amongst the Clergy
An opinion too of the Divine Right of Episcopacy has spread extensively in the Church of England: most of them seem willing to believe it.