« AnteriorContinuar »
What dost thou chiefly learn in? these articles of the belief?
First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the world.
Struck out. Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all mankind.
Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies me, and all the elect people of God.
Matrimony. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless, pre- Changed. serve and keep you.
Visitation of the Sick.
Absolution. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his church to absolve all sinners, who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and, by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
What may be done by those who cannot conscien
tiously join in the Established Worship. “I may err, and yet be saved. In the dark and intricate walks of controversy, I may make false steps, without being at all the more out of my way to blessedness." Sincerity and integrity are things final in religion; right opinions are of inferior consideration, and instrumental only. Earnestly as it is to be wished for and endeavoured, that our solemn public addresses to Almighty God, and worship of him, were framed and conducted in the most perfect manner, suited to the discoveries made of himself and his merciful designs by our Lord Jesus Christ, and so as best to cultivate in us a temper of devoutest reverence, submission, and obedience to him, and of most unbounded love to our fellow-creatures of mankind; yet as any great degree of perfection is not to be attained in human appointments, or but by slow degrees; it seems a duty to acquiesce in the public forms of religious worship, though faulty and imperfect, and not to make them a cause of separation from our Christian brethren, where we can innocently comply with them.
About five and twenty years ago, many striking faults and defects in our Liturgy and church-establishment, were, in the most gentle and inoffensive manner, pointed out; and first, privately, and in manuscript, submitted to the consideration of an eminent prelate, said to be Bishop
Gibson; and afterwards, if not with his consent, yet without a prohibition from him, laid before the public, in the treatise called the Free and Candid Disquisitions, &c.
The writers of that valuable work do not represent any of those things, of which they sought the redress, as contrary to the word of God, but as unedifying, and hindering its good effect on the minds of his worshipers. And in particular, they appear satisfied with the commonly received doctrine of the trinity, although they plead for the removal of the Athanasian Creed, or a liberty at least to drop it, as serving no good end, and some bad' ones.
But the matter becomes infinitely more serious and important to the individual, when the worship enjoined in the Liturgy is esteemed to be directed to a wrong object, and sinful; sinful, I mean, to his apprehension, who is convinced from the sacred Scriptures, that God the Father, is alone the object of religious worship, and that prayer ought not to be addressed to any other being or person whatsoever. To join constantly in forms of devotion that are directed to one or more other persons, will appear, more or less, an approbation of such worship, and must influence him to wish for some other forms which he can entirely approve, and in which he may not worship God amiss.
Many members of our established church are said to be offended with its trinitarian forms, so as to be kept thereby from the duty of assembling themselves together, Heb. x. 25, for religious worship, to their own moral loss and disadvantage without extraordinary care and holy vigilance ; and to the manifest detriment of others, by an open example of irreligion. Many there are also, who are much hurt and dissatisfied with joining in devotions they disapprove; but are unwilling to go over to the churches of our dissenting brethren, on account of their preference of a prescribed form of prayer; and are therefore at a loss where to turn themselves for social worship of the great Creator, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To such persons as these, something in the way of Dr. Clarke's reformed Liturgy, holds fort every thing which they seek. By adopting this, they may quiet and satisfy their own minds, in that great point, the right object of worship; and may do the most essential service to the church established, by bearing a peaceable, open, and most effectual testimony against her errors; and remain a perpetual standing monument of her departure from the purity of God's worship, until she return to it.
The following passage from An Account of Mr. Firmin's Religion, annexed to his Life, falls in so aptly and entirely with my proposal and design that I may not omit it.
“ He [Mr. Firmin] proposed, besides the continuation of his former efforts, to hold assemblies for divine worship, distinct from the assemblies of any other denomination of Christians. But he did not intend these assemblies or congregations by way of † schism, or separation from the church, but only as fraternities in the church, who would undertake a more especial care of that article, for the sake of which it is certain both the Testaments were written. The great design and scope of both Testaments, and the reason that they were given by God, was to regain mankind to the belief and acknowledgment of but One God; to destroy polytheism of all sorts. Mr. Firmin intended to
* This refers to a scheme of agreement betwixt the church of England and the Socinians, which Mr. Firmio had caused to be published, in which the Socinians declared, that they could look upon the church of England to be a Socinian church, and heartily adjoin themselves to her, if all that was meant by a trinity of persons, was only three internal relations of the Deity to itself; an interpretation which had been publicly espoused by Dr. Wallis and others, in the controversy with Dr. Sherlock, who had gone into the contrary extreme.
+ [Schism ] Separation from a particular church, on account of God's true worship, not being right, y upheld in it, is no blameable schism. Such schism is oftentimes a duty, and laudable. Such schismatics were we, and the whole body of Protestants, when we separated from the idolatrous church of Rome.