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The Publisher takes this opportunity of stating, that the present edition, reprinted in a cheaper form, with the view of more extended utility, was all corrected, except the last sheet, by the lamented Author, previous to his last illness.

13th January 1834.

VINDICATION

OF

ECCLESIASTICAL ESTABLISHMENTS.

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT OF THE QUESTION AT

ISSUE, WITH A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN

AND PROGRESS OF THE CONTROVERSY.

It has been very generally regarded as indispensable, for the maintenance of true religion, that a particular order of men should be set apart for ministering to others in what concerns the interest of their immortal souls. The Divine Author of the Christian Faith, and his Apostles also under his guidance and direction, afforded in this respect an example, accompanied with corresponding exhortations, which few men have been disposed to call in question as a rule of duty.

The preaching of the Gospel and the administration of its ordinances being the more peculiar work assigned to this order of men, it has been very generally ac

A

counted necessary, for the maintenance of unity in the faith, that all and each of them should give some pledge for their own understanding or interpretation of the Christian doctrine being conformable to that of the particular society of Christians, in which they are to exercise their sacred functions. For this purpose creeds and confessions have been recognised, as standards to which men might appeal upon any points of doctrine, respecting which there have been conflicting interpretations of the language of Scripture ; and a written acknowledgment of the authority of such standards has been required of those who were to be ordained to the ministry of the Gospel.

As an additional security, office-bearers have been appointed, or ecclesiastical judicatories established, to which every minister of the word should be individually responsible for his stedfastness in the faith which he had once professed, as well as for his faithful discharge of all the duty to which he had solemnly pledged himself; and power has been lodged in such office-bearers or judicatories to cast off, or eject from his sacred office, every heinous or obstinate offender.

For the more perfect peace and good order of the church, as consisting of laity as well as clergy, these office-bearers or judicatories have been, at the same time, authorised to exercise a salutary discipline over all the members of their own communion.

But even these arrangements, which seem to be all that constitute an ecclesiastical establishment as unconnected with the state, have not been accounted suf

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