Abbildungen der Seite

placid now, and I take my leave of this goddess, and also of the godly translator, who profaned a jewish fast by nick naming it after a pagan prostitute, and laid the blame on innocent St. Luke..

The established clergy do not pretend to support their festivals by authority of scripture; but they say their legal authority arises from that act of parliament which ratified the thirty nine articles of their faith, one of which affirms, the CHURCH hath power to decree rites ond ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith. This clause is said by them to mean, that the “ governors of the church have power to determine what shall be received and professed for truth among the members of the church, and to bind them to submission to their sentence, though they err in their sentence.” These are their own words.

These thirty-nine articles were first produced in a convocation of the clergy in the year 1562— they were reviewed by another convocation in 1571-and were afterwards ratified by parliament. It is an unquestionable fact, that the religion of all the good people of the church of England was, in 1562, put to the vote of one hundred and seventeen priests, many of whom could hardly write their names, and several of whom were not present, and voted by proxy, and that ceremonies and holidays were carried by a majority of one single vote, and that given by proxy. Whether the absent member, who had the casting vote, were talking, or journeying, or hunting, or sleeping, is immaterial, he was the God Almighty of this article

of English religion, and his power decreed rites and ceremonies, and matters of high behest.

The insertion of the above clause of theCHURCH's power in the twentieth article was an infamous piece of priestcraft. It is not in king Edward's articles. It is not in the original manuscripts subscribed by the convocation, and still preserved in Bene't college, Cambridge, among the papers of bishop Parker, who was president of the assembly. -It was not in the printed book ratified by parliament-It was not in the latin translations of those times nor did it dare to shew itself till twenty-two years after, as Heylin, and other high churchmen allow.

Subscription to this clause is mere mummery; for what does it mean! The church power to decree rites and ceremonies! An absolute falshood. One person in this church, and one person only hath power to decree rites and ceremonies : the common people pretend to none. The clergy have introduced organs-pictures candles on the communion table-bowing towards the east--and placing the communion table altar-wise : but they had no right to do so : for as the Common Prayer book no where enjoins them, they are expressly prohibited by the act of uniformity, which says no rites or ceremonies shall be used in any church other than what is prescribed and APPOINTED TO be used in and by the Common Prayer book. By what effrontery does a priest allow organs in pubi lic worship, after he has subscribed to the truth of an homily, which declares them superstitious ! Or


[ocr errors]

with what presumption does he dare, in direct op position to act of parliament, to invade a prerogative that belongs to the crown ! Neither a convocation, nor an house of commons, nor an house of lords, nor all together have a power to decree rites, ceremonies, and articles of faith in the established church of England; the constitution has confirmed it as a royal prerogative, and annexed it to the imperial crown of this realm.

In former times our kings ceded, this prerogative to the pope; at the reformation they reclaimed it; and long after the reformation they refused to suffer the other branches of the legislature to examine, or to meddle with it; but in later times this prerogative was bounded, and now it is restrained to the national established church. By the act of toleration the crown agreed to resign, and in effect it did actually resign this prerogative in regard to the nonconformists, and this cession is become a part of the constitution by the authority of the whole legislative power of the British empire. The mode of restraint,indeed, is not so explicit as it might have been; but the fact is undeniable. · The English nonconformists think civil government, natural, necessary, and of divine appointment --they suppose the form of it arbitrary, and left to the free choice of all nations under heaven: they believe the form of mixt monarchy to be the best ; but were they in Venice they would yield civil obedience

to aristocracy; in Holland to a republic, or in Spain · to an absolute monarchy; the best mode of civil go

vernment making no part of their religion. They submit to him, as God gave him, as a prophet, a priest, and a king, on the fullest proof :they say their religion has nothing hostile to civil governo ment, but is highly beneficial to it-that although it is no part of it to determine the best form, yet it is a part of it to submit in civil matters to the powers that be. On these principles they justify the aposles for embracing christianity, when religious governors rejected it--the first missionaries, who subverted established religions by propagating it-the reformation from popery-and the revolution, that dethroned high church tyranny. For their civil


principles they are ready to die as Britons, and · for their religious ones as Christians.

But we have lost Friday !-No wonder. GoodFriday is a libel against the king of kings, und always when loyal subjects approach him the traitor lurks behind, skulks among popes and priests, and hides his guilty head in a cowl, muttering--the church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies. Ah Sirrah !

The article of authority, then, amounts to this. In that system of religion, which goes on the principles of the perfection and sufficiency of scripture, and the sole legislation of Jesus Christ, church holidays are non-entities. In those systems which allow human authority, they rest on the power that appoints them. In this happy country, the power that appoints them is constitutionally bounded, and has agreed to spend its force on as many as choose to subinit to it, and to exert itself against all who dare to impede others, who choose

« ZurückWeiter »