Andrew Kippis.

A vindication of the protestant dissenting ministers, with regard to their late application to Parliament .. online

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Proteftant Diflenting Minifters,

With Regard to their late


•— — fpes fibi quifque, fed, hxc quam augufta, videtis.




Printed for G. Robinson, in Pater-nofter-Row.


9f 8





lis Gi

>) His Grace the Dpke of RICHMOND,

The Right Hon. th? Earl of CHATHAM,

The Right Hon. the Earl of SRELBURNE,

The Risht Hon. the Lord LYTTELTON.


In grateful acknowlegement of the Reafon,
Eloquence, Learning, and Piety difplaycd by
them in Support of the Dissenters Bill, the
following Publication is humbly infcribed, by

Their moft obliged,
moft obedient, and

moll devoted Servant,




THOUGH the author had the honour of
being one of the CoiPimittee appointed
for conducing the late Application to Farlia-"
inent, this performance has not been drawn up
under the fandtion of the Committee -, and, to
prevent their being, in the lead degree, anfwer-
abie for its faults, it has not been communi-
cated, previous to its publication, to a fingle
member of that body. If, therefore, in any in-
ftance, the writer has expreffed himfelf impro-
perly, or afforded juft ground of offence, he
hopes that nothing of this kind will be convert-
ed to the prejudice of a caul'e which he intends
toferve. He takes the liberty of adding, that
lie thinks he hath a full right of vindicating his
brethren who concur with him in fentiment,
upon fuch principles as appear to him to be im-
portant, though they fhould not be exadly the
fame principles on which otherDiffenting Mini-
flers may proceed, who are equally well-wifhers
to the dcfign of removing the Subfcription
required by the Toleration Adt, and of obtain-
ing Relief for Tutors and School- mailers.




Proteftant Diflenting Minlfters.

THE queflion concerning the right,
expediency, and utility of requir-
ing an afTcnt or fubfcription to hu-
man articles of religion hath, for nearlixty
years, been the frequent matter of debate
in this country. It was largely contider-
ed in the celebrated controverfy, occa-
fioned by bifliop Hoadly's fermon on the
kingdom of Chrift ; was vigorouily taken
up and purfucd in the great difference
which arofe among the DiiTcnters, in
1719, and hath often been revived in
the difputcs between the nonconfcrmilTs

B . and

( o

and the clergy of the eftabliflied church*
But it hath never perhaps been more clear-
ly and copioufly difculTed, than from the
publication of the Confeffional to the pre-
fent time. The fubjed feems, indeed, to
be almofl: exhaufted in that mafterjy and
celebrated performance ; fo that many
perfons may be difpofed to think, that
nothing farther need be written or read
upon the queflion. It muft, however,
be acknowledged, that fubfequent pro-
ductions have been of no little fervice.
They have tended flill more to elucidate
the matter, to fpread the knowledge of it
wider, and to expofe the futility of all
the arguments which have been urged for
human tefls of faith and orthodoxy. Even
the writings in favour of fubfcription have,
upon the whole, contributed to promote
the contrary caufe j for the authors of
mod of them have been fo weak in their
reafonings, that, in fa6t, they have only
afforded occafion of greater triumph to
their adverfaries.

It feems to have been amply fhewn,
in the courfe of the controverfy, that no


( 3 )

Chrlflian foclety can have a right to im-
pofe articles of human compofition on
any of its members; becaufe a requifition
of this kind is contrary to the authority of
our Saviour, as the lord and law-giver of
his own church ;_and becaufe it is equally
contrary to the principles upon which
Proteftantifm can alone be defended,
which are the liberty or private judg-
ment, and the fufficiency of Scripture.
Could it even be proved, which it never
can, that fuch a power might be exer-
cifed without violating the precepts of
the Gofpel, or fubverting the grounds of
the Reformation from Popery; ftillthe
utility of fubfcrlptions hath juftly been
called in queftion : nay, it hath been
evinced, that they are hurtful in the
higheft degree; that they have been pro-
dudive of endlefs debates, animofities,
and divifions ; have been one chief caufe
of the infidelity which prevails among the
great, in aim oft every Chriftian country;
and, indeed, have occafioned fuch a mul-
titude of evils and miferies, as cannot be
receded upon without deeply regretting
B 2 that

( 4 )

that mankind have not long ago been
fenfible of their pernicious nature, ten-
dency, and effects.

Independent of thefe confiderations,
relative to human impofitions and tefts
of orthodoxy in general, many of the
eftabliihed clergy labour under difficulties,
with regard "to the Thirty-nine Articles
in particular. While they continue o-
bliged to fubfcribe thefe articles, it mull
be iirjpoffible tor them to vindicate the
Chriftian difpenfation, or to conduct their
religious enquiries with the freedom and
advantage which are neceffary to maintain
and fupport the caufe of truth. When
they engage with the enemies of revela-
tion, they cannot defend the Gofpel on
its proper footing, but are embarraffed
by doctrines which they may not believe
to exift in the New Tellament. This is
certainly a great difadvantage to them in
their controverfies with infidels, Vv'ho ac-
cordingly have gladly availed themfelves
of it. Indeed, the grand triumph of infi-
delity appears to me to arife from charg-
ing certain abfurdities on the religion of


( 5 )

Jefus, which are by no mcstns to be found
there J but this the clergy cannot clearly
and fully prove, fo long as they are ham-
pered with tefts of human compofition.
The fame caufe muft be no fmall em-
barraffinent to them, in their difputes
with the Papids, and their defence of the
Proteftant Reformation. It is true, that
feveral of the errors, impoiitions, and cor-
ruptions of Popery, are condemned in.
the Articles ; but then the authority
which fupports thefe corruptions is too
much favoured by the power arrogated
to the church in the Twentieth Article.
The pretenlion to fuch a power, and the
adlual exercife of it, can never be main-
tained but upon principles fubver-
five of genuine Proteftantifm. Until,
therefore, thefe principles be renounc-
ed, the minifters of the eftablifhment will
often appear weak and inconfiftent ad-
verfaries to the church of Rome.

Another difficulty, under which many
of the clergy are laid by their fubfcrip-
tion to the Thirty-nine Articles, arifes
from the Calviniftical part of the Me-


( 6 )

thodlfls. It is well known how much
the Methodids of this kind triumph ii>
the Articles, as being decifive in their
favour ', and can it be truly faid, that they
do not triumph with reafon ? I am not
infenfible what learned pains have been
taken to give the Articles in queflion a
more liberal explication, i'o as to render
them confiftent with the dodlrines of
Arminius j but, in fach a caufe as this,
the mod: able and celebrated writers muft
ever bow to a Toplady and a Bowman*. It
feems to be an infatuation that hath feiz-
ed numbers of the clergy, who are un-
doubtedly Arminians, in being fo zealous
for a fubfcription to Articles, which can-
not be reconciled with their own fenti-
ments. So long as this infatuation fub-
fifts, and fubfcription, in its prefent form,
maintains its ground, the Methodifls
muft increafe. Sendble of their advan-
tage, they are of all men the moft viru-
lent enemies to the fcheme of the peti-

* Two gentlemen who have lately written in de-
fence of the Calvlniflical fenfc of the Articles.


( 7 ^

tioning clergy, as may efpeclally be feeri
ih the preface and notes to a late publi-
cation of Mr. Martin Madan's -f.

As thefe, and all the other objed:ions
which may be made againfl fubfcjiption to
human tells of religion in general, and
to the Thirty-nine Articles in particular,
have been fo fully difculTed in this inquiii-
tive age, and fo often prefented to the
confideration of ingenuous and thoughtful
minds, it cannot be deemed furprifmg
that they have had fome influence in
changing the fentiments of men ; that
the force of them hath been felt by many
of the eftabliflied clergy themfelves, and
that it continues to be felt more and more
every day. There are numbers, no doubt,
who figh for a reformation in fecret,
while others have, in various forms, pub-
licly expreiled their widics on this head.
A feledt few have gone farther, and made
an adtual attempt, by petition to parlia-
ment, to obtain relief in the matter of
fubfcription. I fhall not enter into the

f His Scriptural Comir.cnt on the TLiity-ninc Articles.

hi (lory

( 8 )

hlftory of the condu(5t or the fate of the
petition. It is well known, that the ad-
miffion of it was rejected by a large
majority of the Houfe of Commons ; nor
will this appear extraordinary to thofe
who refled: upon the variety of circum-
flances which concurred to prevent its
obtaining a favourable reception.

The affair of fubfcription to human
dodlrines, though fo much agitated of
late years, is far from being univerfally
or thoroughly underftood. This feems
to be the cafe with regard to a confider-
able part of the clergy themfelves, who
probably fubmit to the terms of minifle-
rial conformity impofed upon them, as a
thing of courfe, without having enter-
tained the leaft doubt concerning the
juftice and wifdom of demanding fuch
terms, or having made the leaft enquiry
into the competence of the authority by
which they are prefciibed. Much lefs
then can it be expeded, that the laity
in general fhould have paid attention to
matters of this nature. Engaged in their
bulinefs, their pleafures, their political


( 9 )

ichemes and purfuits, the members of
Parliament did moft of them proba-
bly think that religious concerns ought
to be left to thofe who, by their pro-
feffion, are imajgined to be befl acquaint-
ed with them, and therefore the Houfe
was difpofed to give no countenance to a
defign whi^h was fupported by fo few of
. the clerical order. The fmall number of
ihc petitioners muft certainly have been
very prejudicial to their caufe. This
would have no little influence on the
condud of feveral of the clergy, who fe-
cretly wifhed well to the fcheme ; would
blail its reputation wdth thofe who had a
diflike to it; and prevent the generality
of the laity from treating it with any re-

Its originating likewlfe with perfons
of no great rank in the church muft have
been hurtful to it in the higheft degree.
In fadl, it was fo far from originating
with, that it was oppofed by the digni-
fied clergy, and particularly by almoft
the whole bench of bifhops, who, by
their characfler and ftation, are cxpcfted
C t^

( lo )

to take the lead in what Immediately re-
lates to eccleiiaftical matters : nor were
their lordlhips influenced folely by dlf-
■guft at the petitioners' mode of proceed-
ing, or by the general averfion they
may be thought to have to fchemes of re-
formation, as not knowing where fuch
fchemes may end, but might imagine that
too much was afked ; that the precife dif-
ficulties laboured under ought to have
been ftated ; that the articles complained
of fhould have been fpecified, and not the
entire abolition of fubfcription demanded.
Subfcription to fome teft they might con-
sider as a fence abfolutely neceifary to the
exigence and fecurity of religious efta-
blifhments, or fo important, at leaft, that
it could not be wholly removed with-
out danger.

But what had a great cfxed: on many
members of the legiflative body was the
particular idea they have formed con-
cerning the nature of a national eftablidi-
ment. The public mode of religion they
do not confider in a fpiritual view, as
what is folely to be direded by the laws


( " )

of Chrld: and of his Gofpel, but as a cer-
tain fyfteni of dodlrine and worfliip, which
the flate hath adopted for its own pur-
pofes, and for the maintenance of which
a number of perfons are paid by the
government. It is the opinion, therefore,
of political men, that the civil magiftrate
has a right of prefcribing what he pleafes
with regard to the form of religion em-
braced and countenanced by himj that
thofe who will not comply with thp
terms on which ecclefiadiqal preferments
are propofed, have no claim to them j
and that fuch perfons fhould either rea-
dily perform the duty affigned them, or
give up all title to the reward.

Other reafons, no doubt, concurred to
prevent the fuccefs of the petitioning cler-
gy : but thefe were probably the chief
reafons by which men of the world were
determined, whatever effecft fpeculative
and dodrinal opinions might have on the
minds of individuals, and efpecially of
the clergy, whether in higher or lower

C 2 Should

( 12 )

Should it be afked why thefe things arc
mentioned, or what connedtion they have
with the fubjed: before us ; I anfwer, that
it appears to me to be of importance to
mention, them, becaufe it is hence evi-
dent, that the motives for rejeding the
petition of the clergy are not applicable
to the fituation of the Proteftant Difient-
ing MInifters.

Without pretending to approve of the
arguments which were fo fatal to the
petitioners, without wifhing ill to their
caufe, many of us could not but be re-
joiced to find that thefe arguments did
not difcourage an application to Parlia-
ment in our particular cafe. We werq
naturally led, both by our fentiments
and fituation, to pay a very diligent at-
tention to the controverfy between the
difiatisfied clergy and the advocates for
fubfcription, and to obferve the progrefs
and fate of the petitions offered to the
legiflature ; and we faw with pleafure,
that the reafons alledged for the conti-
nuance of fubfcription were applicable
only to thofe who are members, and


( IJ )

receive the emoluments of a national
eilabliiliea church. We law, with plea-
fvire, that none of thefe reafons militated
againft the liberty which may be claimed,
and ought to be granted, under a tolera-
tion. We faw, with pleafure, that Mr.
Tophdy, one of the warmeft defenders
of the Thirty- nine Articles, had aflerted,
that the fubfcription required of the Dif-
fenters is a real grievance, equally op-
prefiive and abfurd. Wc faw, with flill
greater pleafure, that Dr. Tucker, the
ableil: apologill for the church of Eng-
land, had declared— r** Let the minifters
of DilTcnting congregations, if they will
choofe to apoly, be heartily wiihed a good
deliverance from the burden of our fub-
fcriptions." But what gave us peculiar
fatisfadtion was, that our cafe was not
involved in the arguments urged againfb
the petitioners in the Houfe of Commons,
and that it was even fpoken of in a man-
ner, which might afford a rational pro-
fped: of obtaining redrefs. By all thefe
circumftances we were encouraged to
hope, that we fhould fucceed in an ap-


( H )

plication to be relieved from the rub-*
fcription required by the Adl of Tole-
ration : nay, fuch an application was
highly expedient, becaufc the peculiarity
of our fituation becaQie every day more
and more notorious. It was declared in fe-
veral publications, it was declared in the
Houfe of Commons, that the greater part
of the DilTenting Miniflers had not fub-
fcribed. It was known too, that a large
number of us could not polfibly fubfcribe,
and that wc flood expofed to very fevere
penalties for our refufal. When, there-
fore, our danger was evidently increafed,
and there appeared, at the fame time, a
difpoiition to relieve us, we fliould have
been fhamefully deficient in the duty we
owe to ourfelves, to our pofterity, and to
the divine caufe of religious liberty, if we
had not endeavoured to obtain a legal to-

But though the circumftances I have
mentioned encouraged an application to
Parliament at this time, and we might
otherwife have been contented fome years
longer with a flate of connivance, let it


( '5 )

hot be imagined that we were infenfible o{
the infelicity of our condition, or that we
did not defirc and aim at procuring a
deliverance from it. We were painfully
confcious of our difgraceful fituation : we
lamented, that, as minifters of the Gofpel,
we were not under the protedion of law,
and could fcarcely be confidered as mem-
bers of civil fociety : we felt that, in our
religious capacity, whatever injuftice might
be done to our perfons or charrfdters, we
were entirely dcftitute of the means of
redrefs. Iniiances have occurred amon<r
us of men who have been obliged to defifl
from a legal pro-fecution for the moft atro-
cious injuries, becaufe they. have not qua-
lified, and could not qualify according to
the terms of the Toleration Adl. It has,
therefore, been not only the wifh, but the
defign of many Diffenting Minifters to
embrace the firfl favourable opportunity of
attempting to get a deliverance from the
burden of fubfcription. This hath long
been my own cafe ; and I know that it
hath been the cafe with a number of the
mofl refpe(5table of my bfethreii. We have


( i6 )

often convcrfed upon the fubjeft, anei
have often regretted, that when the Dif-
fenters formerly applied for the repeal of
the Teft Adt, they did not dired their
attention and zeal to what appears to us a
vaftly more dcfirablc and important ob-
jedt. The Ted Act only excludes thofe
who cannot comply with it, from the
enjoyment of certain civil honours and
preferments : the Toleration Ad, if we
cannot fubmit to its terms, legally de-
prives us of what we apprehend to be the
common rights of human nature, and of
Chriftianity, and fubjed:s us to very fevere
penalties.' We muft, therefore, have been
deftitute of all the principles and feelings
of the mental frame, if we did not regard
the amendment and enlargement of fuch
an adl of parliament as a matter of un-
fpeakable moment.

In order to fhew this more particularly,
it may not be improper to look back a
little, to the ftatc of things when the To-
leration Adt was obtained, and to the
change which hath taken place in the fen-
tiraents of many of the DifTenters.


( '7 )

Sy the Toleration Ad, Proteftant Di{*-»
fcnting Minifters are exempted from the
penal laws made againft nonconformity,
only on condition of their taking the oaths
of allegiance and fupremacy, making and
fubfcribing the declaration againil Popery,
and fabfcribing alfo the Articles of the
church of England, except the thirty-
fourth, thirty-fifth, and thirty-fixth, and
part of the twentieth Article. Antipoe*
dobaptifts are farther excufed from fub-
fcribing that part of the twenty-feventh
Article which relates to infant-baptifm*

All Proteftant DilTenting Minifters,
therefore, who cannot fubfcribe the doc-
trinal Articles of the church of England,
are thereby excluded from the benefit of
the Ad: of Toleration, and expofed to the
penalties of all the laws before in force
againft nonconforming miniflers. " They
are not to come or be, unlefs in paffing
upon the road, within five miles of any
city, or town corporate, or borough that
fends burgefles to parliament j or within
five miles of any parifh, town, or place
where they have taken upon them to
D preach;

( i8 )

preach ; upon forfeiture, for every fuch
oifence, of the fum of forty pounds;
one third to the king, another third to
the poor of the parifh, and another to
him that fhall fue for it ;" and if fuch per-
fon keep a fchool, he fhall forfeit, like-
wife, for every fuch offence, ** forty
pounds; and any two juftices of the peace
may, upon oath made of any of thefe of-
fences, commit fuch offender for fix
months, without bail or main-prize."
They are alfo liable, on convidion upon
oath of two witnelTes, before one or
more juftices of the peace, of having
preached ; for the firfl offence, to a pe-
nalty of twenty pounds; and for every
fuch offence afterwards, to a penalty of
forty pounds. And by another adl, for
every fuch offence they are liable to fuifer
three months imprifonment in the com-
mon jail, without bail or main-prize.
And every time they adminifler the Lord's
fupper, they are liable to a penalty of
one hundred pounds j one moiety to go to
the king, another moiety to be divided
between the poor of the pariih, and fuch


( '9 )

perfon or perfons as (hall fue for the fame
by ad:ion of debt, bill, plaint, or informa-
tion, in any court of record, wherein no
effoign, protection, or wager of law fhall
be allowed.

To thefe fevere penalties, fuch Prote-
Aant Diflenting Minifters as have not
fubfcribed the Articles before-mentioned,
are expofed : and, in the laft cafe, a very
ample reward is propofed to every profe-
cutor, out of the forfeiture incurred j and
the profecution is, at the fame time,
made as eafy as poffible *.

This is the fituation we are left in by
the AO: of Toleration. It is only by com-
plying with the fubfcription enjoined by
it, that we can legally be permitted to
condud the worfhip of the God and Fa-
ther of mercies in that manner which we
think agreeable .to the did;ates of truth.
Scripture, and confcience; and the pe-
nalties to which we are otherwife fub-
jedt are fuch, that every ingenuous and

* See the Cafe of the Proteftant Diflenting Minifters
and Schoolmafters.

D 2 lb ral

liberal man muft ftart back with horror
gt the recital of them. Nay, they are
penalties which even bigotry itfelf fcarce
dares to call for the exadion of, in the
prefent age.

There is another circumftance, of the
greateft importance, for which relief is
not provide4 by the A^ of Toleration,
even upon any ternis. The right of edu-
cating our chil(5ren, accor4ing to our own
views of what will be moft conducive
to their temporal and eternal felicity, is
pne of the deareft rights of human na-
ture; one of the laft privileges which a
yuan would be wUhng to give i-p, who is
endued with the feelings of parental affecr
tion, and the principles of piety, integri-
ty, and honour. But this is a privilege to
which the Proteftant Dillenters have no
kgal title. By the cruel laws of king
Charles the fecond, every nonconformifl:,
of every kind, is difabled from ading in
the capacity of a tutor or fchoolmafter,
and profecutions cannot be diverted with-
out confiderable trouble and expcnce.
This is a cafe that includes the Laity, as


( 21 )

Well as the Minifters, and which does
indeed fpeak loudly for itfelf *. ,

Many perfons will, without doubt, be
ready to wonder how it could poffibly
come to pafs, that the Toleration Adt
ihould be fo very defedive. But this
mufl be fought for in the principles and
fpirit of the times.

At the glorious period of the Revolu*
tion, religious liberty, in its due extent,
was, comparatively fpeaking, very Imper-
fedily underftood. Experience had, in-
deed, inftrucfted the nation, in the evil
confequences which had arifen from per^
fecuting the nonconformifls. It was
found that the difunion and animolities
of the Proteftants were hurtful to the
common caufe, and added flrength to
the fchemes and enterprizes of the Pa-
pifts. It was neceflary, therefore, to
unite the former together; and the lin-
cere and zealous concurrence of tlie Dif-
fenters, in promoting the late change of

* Sec the Cafe of the Proteftant Diflenting Minifters
^nd Schoolpafters.


{ 22 )

government, was an additional reafon for
treating them with favour. King WiU
liam was delirous of conferring greater
marks of diftindion upon them than a
bare toleration -, but this was the whole
that could be obtained, and it was even
debated, whether the Toleration fliould
be allowed for more than a certain num-^
ber of years. When its permanency was
difputed, it cannot be furprizing that it
jdid not in other refpe(fls go upon en-
larged principles. The truth of the cafe
was, that the nation was not yet fuffi-
ciently enlightened upon the fubjed:.
Toleration was not, indeed, forgot-
ten among the important topics which
were difcufled during the time of
the civil war : liberty of confcience was
pleaded for by the independents ; and
Dr. Owen, among others, wrote in its
favour: but a due regard was not
paid to their principles and reafonings.
The obnoxioufriefs of the men to the
two great parties of Epifcopalians and
Prefbyterians, had prevented the eafy re-

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Online LibraryAndrew KippisA vindication of the protestant dissenting ministers, with regard to their late application to Parliament .. → online text (page 1 of 5)