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indeed it was!) But, abstracting from the account of the church this interregnum ; it may be truly said, that from the abolition of popery, to the death of James, the blessing of God, in the light of the gospel, shone eminently upon this land. And it might have been observed, as is recorded of the primitive days of christianity, that in this period also, the churches had rest, and were edified, and "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

Let the reader pause, as he contemplates this state of things, and then make his own comment. Let him figure to himself the whole realm as actuated, on a subject of all others the most interesting, with one heart and one soul. In this sense, as concerning religion, the kingdom was but as one family. Not a single congregation of dissention—not a pulpit but what proclaimed the same doctrines-not a preacher but what preached the same truths! Let him ponder well the auspicious era; and calculate, if he can, what blessed consequences must have resulted, under the divine blessing, from such harmony in religion, both in respect of "the happiness of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."*

Let me not be misconstrued in this statement, I am speaking of the general complexion of the times. There were, no doubt, many, who in private, like the free-will men, as they were afterwards called in the reign of Elizabeth, did not relish the pure truths of God; and such as we know, at a future period from this, sought for an act of toleration. But there were no public meetings im those days, where a departure from the truth was advanced. Perhaps an higher proof of the unanimity which prevailed throughout the whole kingdom, on the subject of religion, cannot be desired than what the history of those times furnisheth, in a well-authenticated record.

'Peter Baro, a foreigner and a refugee, had not only found asylum in this country from papal persecution; but, through public favour, had obtained an appointment of professor in the university of Cambridge. This man in a sermon, ad clerum, had the effrontery to advance certain heretical opinions, in direct opposition to the universally received doctrines of truth. And much about the same time, one William Baret, fellow of Caius College, stood forth to call in question the doctrine of justification by faith. The whole body of the clergy, with the heads of houses, took the alarm at these proceedings. Both were compelled to make a public recantation before the university. And Baro, in addition to his disgrace, incurred the queen's displeasure. An historian of known veracity tells us, that in a conversation which her majesty soon after

Let him pause again and again, as he beholds this beautiful order; then let him turn his thoughts, and call home to his recollection the present state of discord on points of faith, with which the kingdom is now torn. Let him calculate, if he be able, the divisions and subdivisions of the several sects among us; in some instances, indeed, carried to such a wonderful length, that they seem to be at a loss to find a name, whereby to designate their particular order. And when the reader hath duly pondered over the whole, let him appreciate the happy state with which the church of England, on this account, was distinguished in the sixteenth century.

It was during this period that the book of common prayer, the articles, and homilies were formed, and carried into a law. And from that time, to the present, have been, or are supposed to be, the standard of the doctrines which constitute the established religion of this country.*

I stay not to make any observations which might be thought invidious. It is to be lamented that for the last two centuries the tranquillity of the church hath been sadly interrupted, from various causes. A sense directly opposed to the plain and genuine spirit of the

held with archbishop Whitgift, the queen observed, that 'Dr. Baro being an alien ought to have carried himself quietly in a country where he had been so humanely harboured, and where both he and his family had been enfranchized.' -See Strype's Life of Whitgift.

* It may not, perhaps, be generally known; and if so, it will not be unacceptable to remark, that the liturgy and articles were not of the same date. The common prayer book was composed as early as the year 1549; though, perhaps, not immediately brought into use. The psalmody of Hopkins and Sternhold bears a later date, namely, 1552. And the articles were subsequent to both. The difference in the two translations of the book of Psalms is also worth remarking; the most ancient is the one which is used in the church in the ordinary reading of the liturgy, and is evidently taken from Cranmer's bible, first published in the year 1539. The other, is in the bible, in the translation made soon after the accession of James the First. This translation was formed in a synod appointed by the king's authority, and is what is now in use. Fuller, in his history, saith, that this was one of the best things produced by the Hampton court conference.

articles, hath been advanced by many; although to this hour, the establishment herself, still remains unaltered and unrepealed, in all her legitimate principles. But it is evident to every looker-on, that instances have not been a few, where men have attempted to give a different construction to the plain and obvious meaning of the articles; (and very plain and obvious to common sense they are, taken in their literal acceptation,) and have laboured in very vanity in the service; and not only been defeated in their views to carry conviction to others, but plainly manifested by their performance, that they have not satisfied themselves. And the probable circumstance, generally speaking, hath been, that in the early part of life, subscription was entered into, without due consideration, which in after days, on reflection, brought self-reproach. And even in cases where the mind had a proper sense of the real meaning of the articles, but considered subscription to them as a matter pro formá; no doubt many might have followed the beaten path, heedlessly of others gone before them.*

Under the present existing circumstances, therefore, without due attention in marking truth from the semblance of it, to draw the portrait of a bishop of the sixteenth century, in a faithful manner, would be attended with no small difficulty. For if the features be taken, in conformity with the plain sense of the articles,

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• Mr. Whiston, in his Memoirs, hath given a curious anecdote on the subject of subscription. I must,' saith he, tell a melancholy story of my own knowledge. When I was once talking with the then lord chief justice King, we fell into a debate about signing articles which we did not believe for the sake of preferment. He openly justified the measure, and insisted upon it. We must not,' he said, 'lose our usefulness for scruples.' I replied, that I was sorry to hear his lordship say so; and desired to know, that as he was a lawyer, whether in courts of law there was allowed such prevarication?' He answered, 'certainly not.' And this produced this rejoinder from me. Suppose,' I said, 'God Almighty should be as just in the next world as my lord justice is in this: where are we then?' To which he made no answer. And queen Caroline, to whom I related the story, very properly said, 'the justice in his silence was right, for no answer could be made to it.'-See Whiston's Memoirs, p. 162.

which those men not only subscribed, but many of them had a hand in framing; it might be contended by those, who had frittered away the spirit of them, and squared them by the standard of modern expositors, that the portrait is not correct: and on the contrary, with those who accept the doctrines of the church of England, according to the simple and unvarnished language of the original compilers of the liturgy; the smallest departure from those principles, in the character of a bishop of those times, would be deemed, and justly deemed, an unfaithful picture.

The question therefore is, What is to be done? Are there no data to go by, in coming at the knowledge of the real character of those men on the doctrines of faith? Can it be indeed a matter of difficulty, to ascertain what were the real sentiments of the bishops of that generation on the great points of theology? Supposing for a moment, for argument's sake, that there never had been the thirty-nine articles, would not the writings of those great divines on the same subjects, have been tantamount in the discovery of their religious tenets ?

I humbly think this to be a fair statement of the case. And if, from the documents of those times, handed down to us as they are in authentic records, the faith and practice of those venerable reformers from the errors of popery are clearly discoverable; surely common candour must be constrained to allow that these form an equal testimony for decision to the point in question, even if the articles of the church of England were laid aside.*

* I hope it will not be supposed, from this concession of passing by upon the present occasion, the articles, as if I meant to relinquish such an evidence, or that I lay no stress upon it. This would be as ungenerous, as it would be unfair. For the fact is, that I do lay the greatest stress upon the articles, as binding in the most solemn manner the conscience of every individual who subscribes them. I consider them (as every plain, honest man must consider them) unanswerable, and conclusive to all the points there agreed upon. For after all that

In following up this enquiry, it is happy for our purpose that we are in possession of numerous writings of

hath been said, or can be said, by the utmost ingenuity of human learning, to twist and twine the meaning of them, in accommodation to any time-serving purpose, the articles remain still the same; and surely of all plain principles, designed to be conveyed in plain sense, nothing can exceed the homely language of the articles of the church of England. And I cannot but think that those venerable and conscientious reformers of the church from popery must have acted upon the model of holy scripture in their decisions, and suffered nothing of error to have crept in, to countenance the smallest departure from the standard of "the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints."

And my opinion is still yet more strongly confirmed from comparing the writings of those men of God with the articles themselves, which carry with them an exact correspondence. They had a strong apprehension of the apostacy, which, according to the prophecy of scripture, would mark the after times of the church. Their writings, as is well known to those that are conversant with them, foreboded awful and perilous seasons in the latter day dispensation. They were men evidently taught of God. They accepted those prophetical parts of scripture, which were left by the apostles, as the marks and characters by which the church was to be known before the slaughter of the "two witnesses," (Rev. xi. 7.) as infallible and sure. And they acted upon them. Hence, therefore, they were the more anxious to lay down in the articles, a summary of the true faith, because they foresaw that the time would come when the mere professors of godliness, void of the power thereof, would not as the apostle had foretold "endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts would heap unto themselves teachers having itching ears, and would turn away from the truth, and be turned unto fables." 2 Tim. iv. 1-4.

It appears from the history of those times, after the reformation, that the higher orders in the church were not only eminent examples for their adherence to the truth in themselves, but anxious in watching over the conduct of others. And they certainly had strong presentiments of a falling away in the after days. For as the established church of England had taken such a decided part in the reformation, to countenance the departure from popery over the continent, they were no doubt the more tenacious that nothing of the gangrene of error should be found in this country. In particular, the universities watched over the students with the most sedulous circumspection; and not a college was suffered to advance a single point on theology, in any of its branches, which either by allusion, or in a more direct reference, led to any thing questionable on the distinguishing doctrines of faith.

May I add, by way of illustration, an anecdote given by one of the doctors of divinity, writing from college to a bishop of those times on the subject of the articles, which will serve to put the matter on its own basis. 'We have,' said he, some doings here of late, about one of Pembroke Hall, who preached in St. Mary's, about the beginning of Lent, and who seemed in his discourse to avouch the insufficiency of faith to justification, and to impugn the doctrine of the 11th article. For which, he was convented by the vice-chancellor, Dr. Lowe, who was willing to have accepted an easy acknowledgment; but the same party, preaching his latin sermon, pro gradu, upon Rom. iii. 28. said, that he came not palinodiam canere, sed candem cantilenam canere. This so moved the vice-chancellor, that he demanded his sermon, which he refused to deliver. Whereupon, on Wednesday last, being Barnaby-day, the day appointed for the

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