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to be condemned, which opposes his edicts. The sanguinary laws of the Christian emperors
liberty of speech, but for the exhibiting a bill in the House against the prerogative of the Queen; a temerity which was not to be tolerated. Cleve, another member, remarked that the sovereign's prerogative is not so much as disputable: he added, that in questions of divinity, every man was for his instruction, to repair to his ordinary: and he seems to insinuate that the bishops themselves, for their instruction must repair to the Queen.
“The Speaker moved, that the House should make a stay of all further proceeding : a motion which was immediately complied with. The Queen finding that the experiment which she had made was likely to excite a great commo. tion, saved her hovour by the silence of the House; and that the question might no more be resumed, she sent next đáy ner permission to Stricland to give bis attendance in parliament. Notwithstanding this rebuke from the throne, the zeal of the Commons still engaged them to continue the discussion of those other bills which regarded religion, but they were interrupted by a still more arbitrary proceeding of the Queen, in which the Lords condescended to be her instrument. That House sent a message to the Commons desiring that a committee might attend them. Some members were accordingly appointed for that purpose ; and the Upper House informed them, that the Queen's Majesty being informed of the articles of reformation which they had can. vassed, approved of them, intended to publish them, and to make the bishops execute them by virtue of her regal authority, as supreme head of the church of England ; but that she would not permit them to be treated of in" parliament.”— History of England, 8vo. Vol. V. pp. 180—184.
of the East and West, from Constantine, inclusive, against those who differed in religious opinions from the sect which the emperor favoured, are shocking to humanity, and would affect us more were not a violent dislike and prejudice grown familiar to us from such bad precedents, against all those who dare to declare their dissent from a great and splendid public establishment of religion. What miseries, or else what sad havoc of conscience and integrity, must that one edict of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius have caused in the year 395! It runs thus: “Those persons are comprised under the name of heretics, and ought to suffer according to the laws made against them, who shall be discovered to deviate
The times are happily changed since Elizabeth's days. The Commons House of Parliament, on Feb. 6, 1772, without apprehension of controul from regal authority, debated until near the hour of midnight, upon the petition of the clergy, &c. for the removal of subscription to the xxxix articles; and one may surely aver, that another such day's debate must have carried the cause for the petitioners, with all reasonable men.
And soon after in that year, and also in the present, 1773, the same Honourable House, after a serious and solemn argument, voted almost unanimously for 'relieving dissenting ministers and schoolmasters from the same burden of subscription; not without the solemn vote, and noble concurrence each time of many of the temporal peers of great name in the Upper Hoyse,. .
a hair's breadth from the judgment and track of the catholic religion,”* that is, the emperor's religion, or, as we speak, the religion of the state.
I shall make no apology for the following quotation from Dr. Lardner's remarks on the council of Nice. ..
“ The introducing force and authority in matters of a speculative nature, is subversive of true religion and virtue. For what ávail human decisions, if they are not satisfying? If you can bring reason and scripture for any doctrine, men will assent. But to say that the bishops of such a council have so declared and determined, is not convincing. Therefore it ought not to be expected, that men should confess and act, as if they were convinced. If you make use of any methods, beside those of rational arguments, to induce men to profess and act as you desire, you do what lies in your power to make them lie and prevaricate. So did this council of Nice.
“ This way of acting may be supposed to have been the chief cause of the ruin of the Christian interest in the East. This and the like determinations of speculative doctrines, and the violent methods by which they were enforced, may be reckoned to have paved the way for Mahometanism, more than any thing else. By these means, ignorance and hypocrisy, and tedious
* Sir Isaac Newton's Observations upon the Apocalypse of St. John, p. 300.
rituals, came to take place of honesty, true piety, and undissembled spiritual and reasonable worship and devotion. · :
" In about three hundred years after the ascension of Jesus, without the aids of secular power or church authority, the Christian religion spread over a large part of Asia, Europe and Africa. And at the accession of Constantine, and convening the council of Nice, it was almost every where throughout those countries in a flourishing condition. In the space of another three hundred years, or a little more, the purity of the Christian religion was greatly corrupted in a large part of that extent, its glory debased, and its light almost extinguished. What can this be so much owing to, as the determinations and transactions of the council of Nice, and the measures then set on foot, and followed in succeeding times ?"* .
* Lardner's Credibility, Part ii. Vol. VIII. pp. 22–24.
UNION IN GOD'S TRUE WORSHIP, HOW TO BE
SYNODS and councils have, in different ages, been assembled to promote this union; creeds and confessions of faith have been drawn up and imposed, and forms of worship prescribed and enforced by awful authority ; but the desired end hath not yet been attained. In the last century, Mr. Dury, a. very pious good man, embarked with the most disinterested views, in a design to unite all Protestants together in one common confession of faith, and with indefatigable labour travelled over Christendom for near thirty years, to accomplish his benevolent design.
His plan was to lay down certain fundamental points, and to engage the whole community of Protestants in all countries to accede to them, and thus to form a band of amity amongst them. In the letters that passed * between him, Mr. Mede, and Mr. Hartlib, may be seen how little likelihood there was of an union in this way. They could not agree upon, or settle what
* Mede's Works, p. 868, &c.