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Samuel Wilton.

A review of some of the articles of the Church of England, : to which a subscription is required of protestant dissenting ministers. online

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*' the wealth and profit of this your Realm.'*
And by the fame Statute it is provided, that
in cafe the ArchbiHiop Ihall obltinately refufe to
grant any fuch Difpenfation, he fhall incur the
penalty limited by the King, in the writ of
Injun(5lion. And his Majefty may then com-
mifilon two other fpiritual Prelates to grant the
faid Difpenfation \ which by this Act is ren-
dered of as good value, ftrength, and effe(fl, and
as beneficial to the TranfgrefTor, as if it had
been obtained under the name and feal of the
laid Archbifhop. I am fure I do not at all
queftion it. To prevent miftakes it is necefiliry
however to add, that this fpiritual, apoftolical
power can in neither cafe be exercifed to purpofe
unlefs quickened to adion by the co-operation
of certain Fees, to be paid to the Officers of
the Court. For carrying the purpofes of this
A(5l into execution, the Archbifliop has a (land-
ing Officer, called T^he Mafter of the Faculties'*.

From

* The pious Bp. 'Jenxiel in Kis celebrated Apology of the
Church of England, upbraids the Church of Rome with her
corrupt management of the Keys ; and thus ftates the oppo-
fition between the dodrine of the two Churches, upon this
point.

" Seeing the fame word was given to all, and the Key

*' which pertains to all, is but one ; ijce fay that the power

" of all Minifters as to binding and loofmg is one and the

M 2 «' fame J



164 'the Se7ife of the Article. Art. xxxiii.

From the preceding account of the feveral
Officers encrufted with ecclefiallical jurifdiction,
we may learn the genuine fenie, and full extent
of the phrafe in the Article. There was an
evident propriety in making ufe of fo general
a defcription, as that of " a Judge that hath
*' authority thereunto •," becaufe in different parts
of a Diocefe, under different degrees of guilt,

" fame; and -mc fay, that even the Pope himfelf, notwith-
*' flanding his flatterers, do fo fweetly footh him up with
** thefe words, I avill gi-ve. unto thee the Keys of the Kingdom
*' of Heaven ; as if they belonged to him, and to no other
^^ mortal under heaven ; except he makes it his bufinefs to
•' bend and fubdue the confciences of men to the word of
*' God, we deny that even he (as I faid) can eitlier open or
*' ftiut, or has at all the Keys ; and although he doth teach
** and inflruft the people (which I wifli he would fometimes
** do truly, and at laft be perfuaded to believe it is as leaft
•* fome part of his duty and office) but yet if he did fo, his
*' key would be neither better nor greater than that of
** others ; for who made that difference ? Who taught him
*' to open more learnedly, or abfolve more poiv erf ully than his
•' Brethren." JeiveVs Apology, Chap. 2. § 8.

With fubmiffion to the judgment of others, I am of opinion
that in this inftance, the good Bilhop through an excefs of
filial duty and affedlion, rather ftretched a point to ieive the
caufe of his Holy Mother. Several provifions of the ancient
canon Law then in force, and the Statute above quoted,
fpeak a very different language from his Lordfhip. And it
is certain that the Church proceeded upon quite oppofits
principles, in the Canons of !6o3. So that I apprehend,
the Archbifliop of Canterbury is to the full as much interefted
in the quellions propofed in the Apology, as the Pope of
Rome himfelf.

7 accord-



Art. xxxiii. Rogers'j Expofition. 16.5

according to the different quality, rank, and
ftibftance of the Offender, and in other various
circumftances, the authorized Judge miglit
happen to be either the Archdeacon, or the
Commiffary, or the Chancellor, or the Bifhop,
or the Archbidiop. Hence alfo we muft infer,
that though Proteftant Diffenting Congregations
may excommunicate Offenders, they have, ac-
cording to the dodrine of the Article, no power
to reconcile and reflore them -, fince they have
no fuch authorized Judges in their Communion.

The Expofitors of this Article, are exceedingl v
tender and cautious of entering into a particular
examination of it ; but lb far as thev go, they
juftify the interpretation above given. It is
probable they might fay the lefs, as knowing
it to be fufficiently expounded by the Canons
and Injuncftions of the Church.

The only thing remarkable in Rogers^ expo-
fition of it, is this : That in the lift of Errors
and Adverfaries to the truth of the Article ;
the fecond clafs confifts of thole " which allow
" the cenfure of Excommunication fo it be
" done not (as with us it is), fays he, by Com-
" miffaries. Chancellors, or Bifhops, but in every
*' Pariffj^ and that either by the ivhole Cpjigrega-
*•'■ iion, or by the Elder/hip^ and the whole Church ;
*' or by every Minijier^ yea every Member of the
M 3 *' Church i



1 ^6 WelchmanV, a::d Bp. BurnetV Art.xxxiii.

" Church ; or finally, if not hy^ yet not without
*' the confcnt of his Pajior^ who is to be excom-
" municated *.

Welchman in a note upon the claufe, con-
cerning the Judge that hath authority, fays,
" i. e. the Bifhop, cr he at leaft, to whom this
*' epifcopal authority is delegated by cuftom -|-."

Bifliop Burnet was flruck almoft dumb in
treating on this Article. He fays not a word in
vindication of the doftrine of reconciliation by
Penance ; nor does he enter into the particular
conHderation of the Judge that is authorized
thereunto. In fad, he does not expound the
Article, but gives a general diilertation upon
the nature and realonablenefs of Excommunica-
tion, as fet forth in the Scriptures, and prac5t:ifcd
in the primitive Church. Vv htn he treats of the
caufes for which, and the manner in which the
fentence fhould be palled, he talks a language
diredly oppofite to the whole tenor of the
ecclefiaftical Canons. And in the clofe he re-
prefents the Church as having long groaned
under the management of the Civilians and
Canonifts, .and as having long wilhed to fee that
efFcded, which was defigned in the beginning
of the Reformation. He fays the draught of

* Rcgtrs ubi fupra, p. 195.
t U'eiJjmoK ubi fupra, p. 35*



Art. xxxili. Expofilions ccnjidered. i^y

the reformation of thofe Courts is ftill extant.
But having faid this, he probably recolleded
the timid difpofition of that great Prelate, who
moved him to undertake his expofition, and
put him into commifTion to remove difficulties,
and not to ftart them. Therefore v^'hile he ac-
knowledges that by reafon of the delay of the
reformation, the tares grow up with the wlieat -,
he thinks we ought to let them grow together,
*till the Great Harvefl: comes •, or at lead, till
a proper harveft may be given the Church by
the providence of God. In the ecclefiaftical
Regiller of time, there never has been a harvell
feafon fince the Reformation, and perhaps there
never will be, till the final confummation *.

Upon the whole, how materially docs the
judgment of the Church vary from the rules laid
down in the New Tcftament •, where tiie excom-
munication of Offenders is reprefented, not as
the province of any one individual Member, or
Minifter of fuperior rank, nor as taking place
ipfo fa^lo i but as the aft of the Church or
Congregation alfembled together, after repeated
private admonitions -f. The Gofpel knows not
any fuch inftituted means of reconciliation, as
the performance or commutation of Penance.
Nor is the reftoration of the Offender entrulted

* See Burnet's Expofition, p. 457 & feij.
f Mat. xviii. 15 — 17 i Cor. v. 4, 5.

M 4 under



i68 Refle5Iions cyi the Art. xxxiii.

under different circumftances, to different
Officers •, but the Congregation from whole
Communion he was excluded, are to forgive
and receive him into fellowfhip again *, though
not without a more credible evidence of his
repentance, than either ftanding in a white Sheet,
or paying a round fum of Money.

Here I mud beg leave to paufe a little for
refleftion. Permit me as a Proteftant, ferioufly
to afk the queflion, Wherein does the abfolution
of a notorious fmner, upon the mere performance
of Penance, materially differ from the obnoxious
dodlrine of the 0;pus Operatum of the Papifts ?
What is the commutation of Penance, but
putting pardons to fale ? A pra6lice which
furely can never be juftified, however pioufly
the purchafe-money may afterwards be difpofed
of. Who can trace in the facred volume, any
diftinftion in the mode of the redemption or
reftoration of the rich and the poor tranfgreffor ?
If I miftake not, Chriftianity puts us all upon
a level in fpiritual concerns, and fuppofes us alj
to be infolvcnt debtors, who muft feek a pardon
and reftoration to the favour of God, merely
from his free mercy thro' Jefus the one only
Mediator. The language of the gracious
promife, is, " I, even I am he that blotteth out
[[ thy tranfgreflions," (not for a good round

* i Cor. ii. 7, ?,

fum



Art. xxxiii. I)o5lrine of Pejiance. 169

Turn of money, but) " for mine own fake *."
And the prophetick invitation, addrefled to the
contrite Penitent, runs in a fimilar fVrain. " Ho
" every one that thirfteth, come ye to the
*' waters i and he that hath no money, come ye,
" buy and ear, yea come, buy wine and milk
" without money, and without price -f." Can the
followers of the blefled Jefus, admit the fuppo-
fition, that the common Law of England is a
purer fyftem of ediicks, than Divine Revelation
itfelf ? Yet if the doiflrine of this Article be
agreeable to Scripture, this is certainly the cafe.
For a great Lawyer of our own tinies,occafionally
glancing at the dodlrine of the commutation of
Penance, afTures us, that " the common Law is
" a flranger to fuch unaccountable batterings
*' of publick juftice J."

Whofoever fubfcribes the Articles of the
Church of England, as the condition of his
toleration in the exercife of the Chriftian
Minidry, is bound to preach agreeably to them ;
et tiicri et defender e fidcm Ecclefi<£. But how then
muft a man preach ? In treating of the forgive-
nefs of fms, he muft inform his hearers, that
there is one way prefcribed for the rich, and

* Ifaiah xliii. 25,
f iraiah Iv. i.

X Blackjlone'% Commentaries, Book IV. Ch. 19. p. 273.
Edit. 4.

another



lyo The Application of this Art. xxxiil.'

another for the poor. With refped to the former,
he may affiire them, that if they have fallen
into any of the grofieft crimes, they need not be
beholden to the mercy of God — they need
not be indebted to the atoning efficacy of the
blood of Jefus^ — they need not feek the purify-
ing influence of the grace and fpirit of God in
order to their repentance, nor fubmit to the
reproach of publick Penance. But, Horrendiim
diBu ! they may redeem themfelves by a good
round fum of money ; and upon payment of
luch an adequate confideration, a diocefan
Bifliop is fully authorized to abfolve them, and
pronounce them fully reconciled to God. If
from their knowledge of Scripture, they fhould
happen to obje<5l the declaration of an infpired
Apoftle, " Forafmuch as ye know that ye were
" not redeemed with corruptible things, as filver
" and gold, but with the precious blood of
" Chrift, as of a lamb without blemifh and
" without fpot *;" he muft tell them (to allude
to a memorable Tale,) that Peter of Rome, who
had an admirable talent at interpreting his
Father's will, fortunately difcovered that this
■was only fpoken of the fcattered ftrangers, who
■were reduced to extreme poverty by the rage of
perfecution •, but that the reverie is true with
rcfpe(5t to thofe who are in more afliuent circum-
flances. This is the Gofpel for the rich. What

* 1 Peter i. 18, 19.

then



Art. xxxiii. Bo5frinc to Preaching. lyt

then mil it be faid to fuch poor wretches, as
have neither filver nor gold to puichafe their
reconciliation to God ? This do(flrine would
naturally lead them to defpair. But their relief
is at hand. The confiftcnt Preacher may afiure
even thefe, that the Scripture in conformity to
an eflabliflied maxim of the canon Law, declares
^e non hit in burfd luet in corpore. For pruden-
tial reafons he may beg to be excufed froni
quoring Chapter and Verfe, and proceed to
expatiare on their advantageous fituation, when
compared vvith that even of rich linners of old.
Under the former difpenfation, a broken-hearted
backflider importunately cried, *' Create in me
" a clean hearty O God •, and renew a right
" ffirit within me * ;" not othervyife expefting,
that God would reflore unto him the joy of his
falvation. But now may this Preacher fay, the
Chriftian difpenfation being lefs fpiritual than
the Jewifh, God does not fearch the hearts, nor
try the reins of the children of men •, but by
virtue of the gracious tenor of the new covenant, .
is mercifully pleafed to accept of a corporal
Penance^ \o that it be performed in a white
Sheet, in the body of the Church, and in the
exaft forms prefcribed in the Canon Law.

Such I apprehend to be the doflrlne of the
Article. Yet I hope, nay I am pcrfuaded that

* Pfalm ]i, lo.

there



172 -A'^ unfcriptural Tio5lrine. Art. xxxiir.

there is not a diffenting Congregation in the
Kingdom, v/hich would not difmifs a Minifter,
were he to preach this do6lrine of Devils among
them. Such I muft both account and call it,
as a Chriflian, and as a Proteftant ; notwith-
ftanding the anathema of the Canon. For
I had rather be anathematized by all the Canons
of the Church, than forfeit the approbation of
my great Lord and Mafter, by alTenting to a
do(flrine fo repugnant to the genius and
fpirituality of his religion. What an infult
upon the moral perfections of God ! What an
affront to a crucified Redeemer ! Why did he
fhed his precious blood, if (landing in a white
Sheet, or the oblation of Silver and Gold, are
equivalent in efficacy with his atoning Sacrifice ?
How totally inconfiftent is this, with the Scripture
doiflrine both of the necefiity and nature of true
Repentance ! The finner who feeks reconcilia-
tion to God by this means, can, in my opinion,
give no ftronger evidence of his being yet " in
*' the gall of bitternefs, and in the bonds of
" iniquity." A faithful Minifter would furely
rejefl the propofal of furchafing a pardon with
abhorrence ; and fay to the deluded Wretch,
*' Thy money perifh with thee." There is in-
deed hardly any thing more ihocking, or more
blafphemous, in the whole enormous fyftem of
Popilh corruption, than this dodrine of reconci-
liation by Penance. Yet if you will credit fome

de-



'Art. xxxiii. The true Origin of it. 173

declaimers, and fome writers, this is one of the
vjery articles of Chriftianity — this is one of the
bulwarks of Proteftantifm. Chriftianity and
Proteftantifnn are bafely calumniated by fuch
aflertions. The learned Judge above referred
to, feems much better acquainted with the true
nature of this doftrine, and has given a much
more accurate account of its origin, than thofe
who would thus palm it upon the eternal Spirit
of Truth.

" But though, fays he, the being fpiritual
" head of the Church was a thing of great
" found, and of greater authority, among men
*' of confcience and piety, yet the court of
" Rome was fully apprized that (among the
" bulk of mankind) power cannot be main-
" tained without property -, and therefore its
*' attention began very early to be rivetted
" upon every method that promifed pecuniary

*' advantage. Indulgences were fold to the

" wealthy, for liberty to fin without danger.
" The Canon Law took cognizance of crimes,
" injoined Penance pro falute anim^^ and com-
" muted that Penance for money. — In fhort,
" all the wealth of Chriftendom v/as gradually
" drained, by a thoufand channels, into the
" coffers of the Holy See *.'*

♦ Bladjloni'% Commentaries, B, IV, Ch, 8. p. 105.

Such



174 li'* 5 natural Tendency. Art. xxxiil.

Such beyond all controverfy, was ihe crthcdox
original of the do(fl:rine of reconciliation by
Penance, held forth in the Article now under
confideration. And it's natural tendency fcems
well to correfpond with fo pure an original.
For does not this eafy mode of reconciliation to
God, appear well calculated to be the bafis of
a delufive hope, to hardened and impenitent
finners — to be the fource of their comfort in the
pradice of iniquity — -and a moft powerful in-
centive to a courfe of fmcere, ftedfaft, chearful
obedience to the lulls of the- flefti ? I flatter
myfelf therefore, that, upon mature deliberation,
thofe who, I am perluaded, do not wilh to reir
their hopes upon the farae bafis, to derive their
confolations from the fame fources, or to walk
under the influence of the fame principles, which
Severn the views and conducfl of the moil aban-
doned and prophane ; can no longer in the
inftance before us, approve the application of fo
high a compliment, as they formerly paflTed upon
this Article, in common v/ith the reft. But to
proceed.

It is I prefume fufficiently evident, that by
fublcription to this Article, we alfo declare our
concurrence in judgment with the Church, that
all who are rightly cut oflf or excommunicated,
are to be accounted of the whole multitude of
the Faithful, as Heathens and Publicans. The

Canons



Art. xxxiii. All Dijfenfers excommunicated. 175

Canons fully inform us who are comprehended
under this defcription. Thus we pals fentcnre
upon ourfehes as accurfed, devoted to the Devil,
feparated from Chrift, and his Church's Com-
munion. For ic cannot be denied, that in fome
or other of the premifes we all offend ; fince
our principles as Diflenters, necefiarily fubje6b
us to the fentence of Excommunication — of
Excommunication ipfo fa£fo. For fhocking
as it is in a Proteftant Church, profefTing
to believe in the fufficiency of Holy Scrip-
ture, it is a truth unqueftionably confirmed
by the tremendous roar of thundering Canons,
That to fpeak againft any human inventions in
matters of religion, is confidered and treated by
this Church, as a more heinous offence againft
God, than Lying, Swearing, Fornication, Adul-
tery, or any other tranfgrcffions of the Moral
Eaw. And our Northern Brethren would do
well to be extremely cautious of fubfcription to
this Article, left unawares they fhould anathe-
matize the Minifters and Members of their be^
loved Kirk *. It follows from a fubfcription

ex

* It would be difficult I believe to find in any Author,
fuch bitter and fevere refleftions upon Prelacy, and all the
elFencials of an epifcopal Church, as are to be met with in
the writings of Mr. Rutherfocrd of the laft century, whofe
opinions appear to have been the general fentiments of his
countrymen at that time. Nor is there any evidence to my
knowledge, of any material change in the judgment of the
Minifters of the Church of Scotland fince that time ; though,
the prefent fecurity of the Kirk, has foftened their refent-

ment;



176 The Confequences of a Art. xxxilL

ex ammo to this Article, that we ought to account
ourfelves and one another Heathens and Pub-
licans ;

ment ; and the more polite tafte of their writers, would lead
them to exprefs their fentiments in much more inofFenfive
terms. The Reader may take a fpecimen of Mr. Rutherfoord's
t)pinion, in the following extrafls from his letters. In one
of them directed to his Parifliioners he addrefTes them
thus :

" I counfel you, beware of the new and ftrange leaven of
men's inventions, befide and againft the word of God,
contrair to the oath of this Kirk, now coming among
you. I inftrudted you of the fuperllition and idolatry of
kneeling in the inftant of receiving the Lord's fupper,
and croflinginBaptifm, and the obferving of men's days,
without any warrant of Chrill our perfed lawgiver :
countenance not the Surplice, the attire of the Mafs
Prieft, the garment of Baal's Priells ; the abominable
bowing to Altars of tree is coming upon you : hate, and
keep yourfelves from idols : forbear in any cafe to hear
the reading of the new fatherlefs Service Book, full of
grofs herefies, Popifti and fuperftitious errors, without
any warrant of Chrift, tending to the overthrow of
preaching : you owe no obedience to the baftard Canons j
they are unlawful, blafphemous and fuperftitious : all the
ceremonies that lie in the Antichrift's foul womb, the
wares of that great mother of fornications, the Kirk of
Rome, are to be refufed ; ye fee whither they lead you :
continue ftill in the doftrine which ye have received : ye
heard of me the whole counfel of God, (s'fi no clouts
upon Chrift's Robe."
In another letter direiSted to Lord Lonxdon, he thus exhorts
him : ** Go on as you have worthily begun, purging of the
** Lord's Houfe in this land, and plucking down the flicks
*« of AntichrilVs filthy neft, this wretched Prelacy, and that
•♦ black Kingdom, whofe wicked aims have ever been, and

'♦ ilill



Aft.XXxiii. Suhfcriptioh to this Article. 1"}^

licans • and we agree chat we ought fo to be
accounted by the whole multitude of the
Faithful. But my cortfcience will ndt allow me

•' flill are to make this fit Woi'Id the only conipafs they
*' would have Chrill and Religion to fail by ; and to mount
*' up the man of fin, their Godfather the Pope of Rome,
'* upon the higheft ftair of Chrift's Throne, and to make
«* a velvet Chiifch, (in regard of parliament grandeur and
*' worldly pomp, whereof always their llinking breath
" fmelleth) and put Chrift and Truth in fackcloth and
" prifon. They mind nothing elfe, but that by the bringing
" in of the Pope's foul tail iirft upon us, (their wretched and
" beggarly ceremonies) that they may thrufl in after them
** the Antichrift's legs and thighs, and his belly, head and
*' fhoulders ; and then cry down Chrirt and the Gofpel,
** and up the merchandize and wares of the great Whore. — ■
*' Chrift fhail never be content and pleafed with this land,
'♦ neither fhall his hoi; fiery indignation be turned avVay, {o
" long as the Prelate (the man that lay in Antichrift's foul
" womb, and the Antichrift's Lord Bailiff) fhall fit Lord
" Carver, in the Lord Jefus his courts : the Prelate is both
•' the egg and the neft to deck and bring forth Popery :
*' plead therefore in Chrift's behalf, for the plucking down
*' of the neft, and cruftiing of the egg ; and let Chrift's
<' Kingly office fuffer no more unworthy indignities."
See Jopua Rei/:'vivus, Letters 2, 213. Edit. Glafgouo, 1765.
This good Man, I am fure, according to the Article and
Canons, died under the fentcnce of the Greater Excom-
munication. — And though I think far otherwife of his ever-
lafting ftate, it muft be acknowledged, that this illuftrious
Sufferer was betrayed by an immoderate zeal, into a very
tinjuftifiable feverity of expreftion. Agreeably however to
thefe views of EpifcOpacy, it is common at this day in fome
pirts of Scotland, for the Merribers of the Kirk to reproach
the Epifcopalians, with" bowing to Baal's broad Side.'*

N to



178 f he Injuftice of the Sentence. Aft.xxxiit,

to confent, that the Church hath herein judged
a righteous judgment. Many of the criminal
affirmations fpecified in the Canons, appear to be
the refult of a judicious acquaintance with the
facred Scriptures — of a zealous attachment to
the fole authority of Chrift, as King and law-
giver in his Church — an unfeigned regard to
the purity and fimplicity of Gofpel worlhip —
and a firm adherence to the fundamental prin-
ciples of true Proteftantifm. Nor can I conceive
that our venerable and godly Anceftors, who
never repented of thofe heinous offences, and
were never reftored by the Archbifhop, though
they are thus anathematized by a Church on
Earth, are feparated from the Communion of
the Church Triumphant above.

It is in vain to attempt to prove, that fuch
confequences do not follow from a fubfcription
to the Article -, fince there is no polBble method
of evading the conclufion, but by putting our
own fenfe and comment upon It, and thereby
deviating from the prefcribcd rule of interpreta-
tion, as laid down in the Royal Declaration.
While however fuch are my views of the
dotftrine contained in this Article, no man can
wonder, that I fhould fcruplc on this account,
aflentingto an encomium pafled upon the Articles
to which I have before referred. For there muft
be (bmething very extraordinary both in the
3 - fenti-



Att.xxkvil Of the Ctvil Magljiraie, if^

fentiments and fenfations of a man, who can ac-
count it the bafis of his hope, to be thus held ac-
curfed by the whole multitude of the Faithful — •
the fource of his comfort, to be devoted to the
Devil — and a powerful incentive to a courfe of
fincere, ftedfaft, chearful, obedience, to be fepa-
rated fromChrifl, and his Church's Communion.


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Online LibrarySamuel WiltonA review of some of the articles of the Church of England, : to which a subscription is required of protestant dissenting ministers. → online text (page 11 of 15)