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proached the investigation of this subject, I expected to find much more in the sacred volume appearing to favor the Episcopal cause, than I have since been able to discover. It did not occur to me as possible, that such confident appeals to Scripture could be continually made on grounds so entirely unsolid. I might have recollected, indeed, the decisive tone with which many ingenious and learned men have resorted to the sacred oracles to establish the supremacy of the Pope, and the damning sin of separation from the Church of Rome. Nor ought we to be surprised that pious and learned men, of other denominations, should fall into similar mistakes, and express equal confidence of finding support where none is in reality to be found. The late Mr. Burke has somewhere said, “ Let us only suffer any person to tell us his story “ morning and evening but for one twelve-month, 16 and he will become our master.' Many zealous advocates of Episcopacy have been so long in the habit of saying, and of hearing it said, that the Scriptures “ clearly,” “ strongly," and "
unques~ tionably” declare in favor of their system; and some of them so little in the habit of reading the refutations of this error, that they unfeignedly believe it, and scruple not to stigmatize all who do not see it, as given up to blindness and prejudice. But, happily, we have the sacred volume in our hands as well as they ; and, after the most dispassionate examination, are compelled to pronounce their arguments from Scripture, nugatory ; their
confidence totally unwarranted; and the whole system which they profess to found on the word of God, a fabric resting alone on human contrivance.
After this statement, you will not be surprised to learn, that the whole testimony drawn from Scripture, in favor of diocesan Episcopacy, has been pronounced altogether inconclusive, by some of the warmest and ablest friends of that system, The learned Dodwell, one of the great oracles of high-churchmen, frankly confesses, that Bishops, as a superior order to Presbyters, are not to be found in the New Testament; that such an order had no existence until the beginning of the second century ; that Presbyters were the highest ecclesiastical officers left in commission by the Apostles ; and that the first diocesan Bishops were ordained by Presbyters, the last Apostle having been dead a number of years before this new order was instituted in the Church. And even those who attempt with confidence to found diocesan Episcopacy on the Scriptures, exhibit such contradiction and confusion among themselves, as entirely to invalidate the whole testimony which they would de. rive from this source. Scarcely any two of their great standard writers can agree upon any one principle of scriptural evidence. And accordingly, you have seen, that all the leading arguments drawn from Scripture in support of Prelacy, have been pronounced wholly untenable, and each in its turn surrendered, by a number of the most pious and learned Divines of the Church of England,
Can Episcopalians, then, complain that we are not convinced by arguments, which some of the most competent judges among themselves have declared to be inconclusive and even frivolous ?
But this is not all: The great body of Episcopal writers, even those who contend most earnestly for the scriptural evidence in their favor, acknowledge, if I mistake not, that their system is not directly laid down in the Word of God. In other words, they confess, that the Scriptures, taken absolutely alone, will not bear them out in their claims. But they suppose, and insist, that the facts which are mentioned in the sacred history, taken in connexion with the writings of the early Fathers, decidedly support this claim. That is, the New Testament, in its own divine simplicity, is insufficient for their purpose ; but, explained, and aided, by the writings of fallible men, it declares positively in their favor.
Is it so, then, that a doctrine, held not merely as important, but fundamental; not merely as fundamental, but essential to the very existence of the Church; without which her officers are unauthorized, her ministrations invalid, and her sacraments a nullity, cannot be maintained from the Bible alone? Is it so, thst the Great Head of the Church has given us his Word to be a light to our feet and a lump to our path ; that he has denounced the most awful threatenings against those who add to, or take from the words of this book; and yet that an article which lies at the foundation of all the interests and hopes
of the Christian Church cannot be directly proved out of that book ? What is this but saying, that the Bible is not a Rule either perfect, or sufficient for the Church? What is this but embracing a principle which makes human testimony co-ordinate with that of God; and which must involve us in all the mazes and uncertainty of tradition? But the admission of the principle in question, is not merely taking uncertain and dangerous ground; it is liable to a more serious objection. To say that an article of faith or practice, is essential to the well being of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, and, at the same time, that it cannot be distinctly and satisfactorily proved from Scripture ; is, in effect, bringing a charge against the great Head of the Church, which I know the advocates of this position would abhor equally with ourselves; and which is too shocking to be embodied in language.
But the advocates of Epicopacy tell us, that our demand of express warrant from Scripture, in this case, will carry us too far. They contend that several articles of Christian belief and practice, generally deemed of great importance, cannot be distinctly proved from Revelation alone. And, particularly, they insist, that if we discard Episcopacy for want of direct scriptural testimony in its favor, we must, on the same principle, discard Infant Baptism, and the Christian Sabbath, neither of which, say they, can be fully established on the ground of Scripture, unconnected with the writings of the early Fathers.
To this plea I answer without hesitation, that if it were true that a divine warrant for Infant Baptism and the Christian Sabbath is not to be found in the Bible ; if it were true that they cannot be distinctly supported from the sacred Volume, independent of all other authorities; then we ought instantly to discard them. Under such circumstances, we should be unworthy of the name of Protestants if we retained them an hour. Nor is it any valid apology for the addition of human de. vices to the institutions of Christ, that other addi. tions stand on the same ground, and are equally indefensible.
But it is not true that these important articles of Christian belief and practice, cannot be directly proved from Scripture. And to assert that they stand, in this respect, on a footing with the doctrine of diocesan Episcopacy, is, though certainly not an intended, yet a real and gross imposition on the credulity of mankind.
THE DIVINE RIGHT OF INFANT BAPTISM CAN BE DECIDEDLY AND FULFROM SCRIPTURE ALONE.
We can prove from Scripture, with absolute certainty, the divine right of INFANT CHURCH MEMBERSHIP; and we can prove, from the same source, and with equal certainty, the divine right of BAPTISM TO ALL CHURCH MEMBERS. This is warrant as express as could be desired. On these two great facts, as on a rock, the friend of Infant Baptism may stand undaunted and immoveable to the end