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CLERICAL SUBSCRIPTION NO GRIEVANCE:
THE DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND PROVED
TO BE THE DOCTRINES OF CHRIST.
AT AN ANNUAL VISITATION
OF THE CLERGY OF THE ARCHDEACONRY OF EXETER,
HELD AT COLUMPTON,
TUESDAY, MAY 12th, 1772.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the Doctrine of Christ, hath not
God. He that abideth in the Doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son.2 John 9.
Quod vetus est, in Religione, sequamur. BURGERSDIC.
" If any man be a dumb Christian, not professing his faith openly, but cloking and colouring himself, for fear of danger in time to come; he giveth men occasion, justly and with good conscience, to doubt lest he have not the grace of the Holy Ghost within him: because he is tongue-tied, and does not speak.”
Homily for Whitsunday. Part I.
MATTHEW iv. 23.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their
Synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom.
AT time when the adversaries of Christ and of his church, are leaving no effort untried to extinguish the knowledge of him, and to accomplish the demolition of that; at a time, when the insidious and the daring are on full scent after every measure, which art can suggest, or insolence avow, to subvert an establishment built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, having Jesus Christ himself for its chief corner-stone; it eminently behoves those, whom providence bath stationed as watchmen upon the walls of Sion, to sound the needful alarm, and to put God's professing people on their guard, lest, being led away with the error of the wicked, they fall from their own stedfastness.
With a view to drive a nail in the ark; and to show my willingness at least, to contribute something, though ever so little, toward a purpose so important; I have, on this public occasion, made choice of the words now read: to which I was the rather induced, as they naturally open a way for pointing out what those doctrines are, or what that gospel of the kingdom is, which were taught and preached by him who spake as never man spake.
The intentional destroyers of our national church profess a mighty veneration for the scriptures : and are perpetually crying out, in the much-prostituted
words of the celebrated Chillingworth, “ The Bible, the Bible is the religion of protestants.
It is certain, that the Bible ought to be the religion of all protestants : but it is no less certain, that there are some protestants, whose religion has no more concord with the Bible, than Belial has with Christ. Witness the gentlemen, who assemble at the Feather's Tavern in the Strand, for the laudable purpose of smiting their Mother under the fifth rib. Surely, the Bible is not the religion of such protestants ! If they revered the original, would they seek to demolish the transcript? If they regarded the fountain, would they labour, first, to poison, and then to cut off the stream? I wish, the true cause of their enmity against the vine, may not be an hatred of the sacred soil in which it grows. They would perhaps love the church better, if the Bible and the church were less agreed. No unprejudiced person will censure this apprehension, as hasty and uncharitable, who considers the extreme thinness of that partition, by which Socinianism and infidelity are divided from each other.
That the whole chain of doctrines, comprised in our public standards as a church, are perfectly coincident with that system of religious truths which God the Son made the grand subjects of his own personal ministry on earth, will, I hope, be sufficiently proved, in the course of our present inquiry. Nor do I think, that the meditations even of this reverend and respectable assembly can be directed into a more suitable channel, than by briefly reviewing the first principles of the doctrine of Christ *, as declared and asserted by that adorable person in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge t. Permit me, therefore, my honoured brethren, to put you in remembrance of these things, though, I would wish to take for granted, that many of us already know them; and that some of us are established in the present truth. The articles of the faith once delivered to the saints (a), are not points of idle curiosity, or barren speculation; but enter deeply into our comfort and holiness as Christians : consequently, they cannot be too frequently reviewed, nor too attentively surveyed.—Let me likewise intimate, that they cannot be pointed out with too much plainness and sincerity. If trimming and hypocrisy, duplicity and adulation, be justly considered as indications both of guilt and meanness, even in the common intercourse of civil and social life; how much deeper guilt must he incur, and what transcendent contempt must he deserve, who, from sinister motives of honour, interest, or applause, would dare to temporize in holy things, and either maim the body of religious doctrine by a partial display of it, or veil and disguise it with the cloud of artificial misrepresentation! He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully: for what is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord (6)? An inspired prophet hath declared, Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully (c). An apostle hath said, Do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, sought to please them at the expence of truth, I should not be the servant of Christ (d). Jesus Christ himself hath affirmed, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, i. e. of me and of my doctrines, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, i. e. him shall the Son of man disown, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (e). A de
* Heb. vi. 1.
+ Col. ii. 3.
(a) Jude 3. (6) Jer. xxiii. 28. (c) Jer. xlviii. 10. (d) Gal. i. 10.
(e) Mark viii 38.- I was formerly well acquainted with two worthy persons in the ministry, who were eminently pious, and extensively useful. One of these died in 1759, the other in 1761. I thought, that if ever any men in the world were faithful to the light God had given them, these were. And yet, in their last illnesses, they had such a feeling sight of their past unfaithfulness, VOL. III,