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subjects continued idolaters, or even a much larger proportion. Suppose also that he should form an establishment, with the consent of his counsellors and senators, by which places of worship should be built at proper distances throughout his dominions, and a decent maintenance allotted to officiating ministers, left in many things to their own discretion, but with certain general rules and principles, to which their voluntary consent is required; and, on the supposition of episcopacy, some bishops, with rather larger allowance, to superintend the other pastors, to ordain, and under certain limitations to appoint to cures, &c. Suppose, again, schools annexed to these places of Worship, and Christian schoolmasters decently maintained, to teach the elements of learning and the principles of Christianity to all the children in the vicinity, whom their parents should voluntarily, or influenced merely by argument and persuasion, send. Suppose all the population were invited and exhorted to attend the public service and instruction; but none compelled or hired. Suppose, also, that none were admitted as members of this established church, but such as had been baptized on a credible profession of Christianity ; with those of their children who were too young to choose for themselves; all the rest remaining at the highest as catechumens. Suppose all those, and none else, who had been thus baptized, were admitted to the Lord's supper; and their children, when they, after proper instruction, themselves had made a credible profession of Christianity. Suppose that none but these persons were so considered as a part of the church, as to
have their infants baptized. Suppose all who evidently acted inconsistently with their profession, or renounced the faith, or its leading truths, were excluded by an easy process, and no other harm whatever attempted against them, but a continual watchfulness exercised over them to bring them to repentance, and restore them if penitent, with all temporal kindness, which did not imply approbation. Suppose that, some professed Christians still objecting to this arrangement, a full toleration should be granted them; and, under certain limitations, an allowance made to them for their places of Worship, and maintenance of ministers. And, finally, suppose the rest of the community were ruled with equity and lenity, and no advantage, except spiritual advantages, granted to the members of the church above others. Would, I say, this church imply comprehension instead of selection ? And would it not tend to make Christianity known to the whole population in a degree not easily to be calculated?
It does not indeed appear, that any thing of a secular nature (unless the decent maintenance of ministers be secularity,) would be at all connected with such an establishment. In fact, the political effect of our establishment, though probably considerable in the higher circles, is scarcely at all felt by the lower orders even of the clergy: and I have certainly been taught to understand the source, nature, and effects of that political tendency, far more from the writings of dissenters, than either from my own experience, or the discourse and conduct, or writings of my
brethren in the church of England. I do not think,
that my conduct, even in respect of an election of a member of parliament, was ever different as a churchman, from what it would have proved had I been a dissenter; according to the views that I deem myself bound to act upon as to kings and all in authority, whether in the establishment or out of it.
There may, however, be some exceptions even in our circle and company; but the most of us, at least in England, have little secular advantage from an adherence to the church. I have been used oecasionally to associate with dissenting ministers who had much more than double my income; and it might sometimes occur to me, that possibly I might in this respect fare better by leaving the church than by continuing in it. In fact, political matters have been so little in my thoughts while reflecting on these subjects, that in my strictures on Messrs. H. and their party, I never once thought of their political creed, but merely adverted to their conduct as to establishments, and to those ministers who adhered to them; and indeed as to every thing which had the stamp of antiquity. I have heard, with pleasure, that they have changed their political views and conduct much for the better; and I am sure I have no personal disrespect to them: though, in defending what they have assaulted, some notice must be taken of them; and perhaps this was done too strongly.
Some also compare our reference to the Old Testament, in respect of establishments, with that of the papists in support of their persecuting principles. But where in the Old Testament is any sanction given to persecution? God commanded Moses, and Joshua, and Israel, to execute his vengeance on certain nations who had filled
up the measure of their sins :” and he commanded that idolaters and blasphemers should be put to death, as violators of the fundamental laws of that community to which they belonged. But where did he command or sanction persecution ? Were the Israelites ever required to make war against the surrounding nations, and compel them, at the point of the sword, to be circumcised and embrace the religion of Moses? Were they required to use compulsion in bringing back the ten tribes, even when they had set up an idolatrous and schismatic religion under Jeroboam? Was Rehoboam even allowed to make war against them? Did David, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah effect their several revivals of true religion by persecution; or by scriptural instruction, invitation, persuasion, and kindness? All that looks like persecution in the Old Testament, is the reprobated conduct of Saul towards the Gibeonites; that of Jeroboam towards the priests and Levites, and pious Israelites ;2 and that of the princes of Ahab's line towards the prophets, and worshippers of Jehovah ; and that of Jehu towards the worshippers of Baal, which received no divine sanction: and in general the persecution of prophets and saints by wicked kings:--unless it were persecution in Elijah to put the priests of Baal to death, as condemned to die by God himself.—I must, therefore, consider all such intimations, whether by papists or others, as a kind of slander on the Old Testament, and on God who gave it : as if he were not the same unehangeable God who gave the New Testament also. But, alas ! such slanders are very common; and not unfrequently adopted even by pious men!
! 2 Sam, xxi.
*2 Chron, xi.
When the incestuous Corinthian was separated from the church of Corinth and the intimate communion of Christians, and specially from the Lord's supper, was he excluded also from public worship, and all public means of grace? Might he not, if desirous, attend as a hearer of the gospel; at least in the same manner as the unbelievers were admitted? If he might not, how was he to be restored? Without means, or by means? An exclusion from all public means of grace would certainly give a new view of that subject, as implied in excommunication, and is a topic in this controversy of peculiar importance, and requires some clear answer to the question ; though I merely hint at it. This, however, every one, who has tried and observed, may know, that the person himself, and all whom it concerns, within or without, do understand sufficiently, for all practical purposes, the censure under which a man lies, while excluded from the Lord's supper, and withdrawn from by Christians, (except as his good and recovery is attempted, though he be allowed in other respects to attend the place of worship as before.
Disputants often speak of the whole population of a parish, whatever their profession and their
"I Cor. xiv. 24, 25.