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XVI.

SECT. III.

PART II.

Lutheran church.

not, in any degree, affect the grand and funda- CENT. mental principles of true religion [d].

III. The form of public worship, and the rites and ceremonies that were proper to be admitted as a part of it, gave rise to disputes in several The cereplaces, during the infancy of the Lutheran church. monies and

public wo Some were inclined to retain a greater number of ship of the the ceremonies and customs that had been so excessively multiplied in the church of Rome, than seemed either lawful or expedient to others. The latter, after the example of the Helvetic reformers, had their views entirely turned towards that simplicity and gravity that characterised the Christian worship in the primitive times; while the former were of opinion, that some indulgence was to be shewn to the weakness of the multitude, and some regard paid to institutions that had acquired a certain degree of weight through long established custom. But as these contending parties were both persuaded that the ceremonial part of religion was, generally speaking, a matter of human institution, and that consequently a diversity of external rites might be admitted among different churches professing the same religion, without any prejudice to the

bonds of charity apd fraternal union, these disputes could not be of any long duration. In the mean time, all those ceremonies and observances of the church of

Rome,

as Dr. Mosheim seems to imagine. To maintain the ubiquity or omnipresence of Christ's body, together with its real and pecu liar presence, in the eucharist, and to exclude from their communion the protestants, who denied these palpable absurdities, was the plan of the Lutheran doctors in composing and recommending the form of Concord; and this plan can neither be looked upon as a matter of pure indifference, nor as a mark of Christian charity. But for a further proof of this, see sect. xxxix. already referred to.

[d] See, for an account of the Lutheran confessions of faith, Christ. Kocheri Bibliotheca Theologiæ Symbolicæ, p. 114.

SECT. III.

PART TI.

cent. Rome, whether of a public or private nature, that XVI. carried palpable marks of error and superstition,

were every where rejected without hesitation; and wise precautions were used to regulate the forms of public worship in such a manner, that the genuine fruits of piety should not be choked by a multitude of insignificant rites. Besides, every church was allowed the privilege of retaining so much of the ancient form of worship as might be still observed without giving offence, and as seemed suited to the character of the people, the genius of the government, and the nature and circumstances of the place where it was founded. Hence it has happened, that, even so far down as the present times, the Lutheran churches differ considerably one from the other, with respect both to the number and nature of their religious ceremonies; a circumstance so far from tending to their dishonour, that it is, on the contrary, a very striking proof of their wisdom and moderation [e].

IV. The supreme civil rulers of every Lutheran ing the viSible head, state are clothed also with the dignity, and per

form the functions of supremacy in the church. form of go-The very essence of civil government seems maof the Lu- nifestly to point out the necessity of investing the

sovereign with this spiritual supremacy [f], and the tacit consent of the Lutheran churches has confirmed the dictates of wise policy in this respect. It must not, however, be imagined, that the an

cient

Concern

and the

theran church.

[e] See Balth. Meisnerius, Lib. de Legibus. lib. iv. art. iv. quæst. iv. p. 662—666.--Jo. Adam Scherzerus, Breviar. Hulsemann. Enucl. p. 1313—1321.

[f] Since nothing is more inconsistent with that subordination and concord, which are among the great ends of civil government, than imperium in imperio, i. e. two independent sovereignties in the same body politic: Hence the genius of government, as well as the spirit of genuine Christianity, proclaims the equity of that constitution, that makes the supreme head of the state, the supreme visible ruler of the church.

SECT. III.

PART II.

any al.

cient rights and privileges of the people in eccle- CENT. siastical affairs have been totally abolished by this XVI, constitution of things; since it is certain, that the vestiges of the authority exercised by them in the primitive times, though more striking in one place than in another, are yet more or less visible every where. Besides, it must be carefully remembered, that all civil rulers of the Lutheran persuasion are effectually restrained, by the fundamental principles of the doctrine they profess, from any attempts to change or destroy the established rule of faith and manners, to make teration in the essential doctrines of their religion, or in any thing that is intimately connected with them, or to impose their particular opinions upon their subjects in a despotic and arbitrary manner.

The councils, or societies, appointed by the sovereign to watch over the interests of the church, and to govern and direct its affairs, are composed of persons versed in the knowledge, both of civil and ecclesiastical law, and, according to a very ancient denomination, are called Consistories. The internal government of the Lutheran church seems equally removed from episcopacy on the one hand, and from presbyterianism on the other, if we except the kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark, who retain the form of ecclesiastical government that preceded the Reformation, purged, indeed, from the superstitions and abuses that rendered it so odious [g]. This constitution of the Lutheran hierarchy will not seem surprising, when the sen

timents

[g] In these two kingdoms the church is ruled by bia shops and superintendants, under the inspection and authority of the sovereign. The archbishop of Upsal is primate of Sweden, and the only archbishop among the Lutherans. The luxury and licentiousness that too commonly flow from the opulence of the Roman Catholic clergy, are unknown in these two northern states; since the revenues of the prelate now mentioned do not amount to more than 400 pounds yearly, while those of the bishops are proportionably small,

SECT. III. . PART II.

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CENT. timents of that people, with respect to ecclesiasti.
XVI. cal polity, are duly considered. On the one hand,

they are persuaded that there is no law, of divine
authority, which points out a distinction between
the ministers of the gospel with respect to rank,
dignity, or prerogatives; and therefore they re-
cede from episcopacy. But, on the other hand,
they are of opinion, that a certain subordination,
a diversity in point of rank and privileges among
the clergy, are not only highly useful, but also
necessary to the perfection of church communion,
by connecting, in consequence of a mutual de-
pendance, more closely together the members of r
the same body; and thus they avoid the unifor-
mity of the presbyterian government. They are
not, however, agreed with respect to the extent of
this subordination, and the degrees of superiority
and precedence that ought to distinguish their
doctors; for in some places this is regulated with
much more regard to the ancient rules of church-
government, than is discovered in others. As
the divine law is silent on this head, different opi-

t nions may be entertained, and different forms of ecclesiastical polity adopted, without a breach of Christian charity and fraternal union.

V. Every country has its own Liturgies, which t gies, their are the rules of proceeding in every thing that public wor- relates to external worship, and the public exercise ship, and

of religion. These rules, however, are not of an thod of in- immutable nature, like those institutions which structing. bear the stamp of a divine authority, but may be

t augmented, corrected, or illustrated, by the order of the sovereign, when such changes appear evidently to be necessary or expedient. The liturgies used in the different countries that have embraced the system of Luther, agree perfectly in all the essential branches of religion, in all matters that can be looked upon as of real moment and importance; but they differ widely in many things

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XVI. SECT. III.

PART II.

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esiat of an indifferent nature, concerning which the CENT. hand Holy Scriptures are silent, and which compose diri that part of the public religion that derives its the authority from the wisdom and appointment of

Assemblies for the celebration of divine en worship meet every where at stated times. Here

the holy scriptures are read publicly, prayers Latie and hymns are addressed to the Deity, the sacra

ments are administered, and the people are inal structed in the knowledge of religion, and excited

to the practice of virtue by the discourses of their de ministers. The wisest methods are used for the su religious education of youth, who are not only mitor carefully instructed in the elements of Christiaal nity in the public schools, but are also examined by t of the

pastors of the churches to which they belong, prit in a public manner, in order to the farther im

provement of their knowledge, and the more mit vigorous exertion of their faculties in the study

of divine truth. Hence in almost every proA

vince, Cathechisms which contain the essential truths of religion, and the main precepts of morality, are published and recommended by the authority of the sovereign, as rules to be followed by the masters of schools, and by the ministers of the church, both in their private and public instructions. But as Luther left behind him an accurate and judicious production of this kind, in which the fundamental principles of religion and morality are explained and confirmed with the greatest perspicuity and force, both of evidence and expression, this compendious Cathechism of that eminent reformer is universally adopted as the first introduction to religious knowledge, and is one of the standard-books of the church which bears his name. And, indeed, all the provincial cathechisms are no more than illustrations and enlargements on this excellent abridgment of faith and practice.

VI. Among

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VOL. IV.

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