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Church, to which he belongs;—then zealously to inculcate those great Truths upon the Minds of the People;—and lastly, in his own Conduct, to exhibit an example of the effects which Christian faith, wherever it is sound and lively, is sure to produce.
The Writer has already expressed the great satisfaction, which the perusal of certain excellent compositions, delivered within these few years at Episcopal Visitations, have afforded him; and he
may add, he trusts, without impropriety, that by these very compositions, he has been encouraged to speak out in this manner. He cannot but rejoice, that any of those, who have most power to stop the progress of the evils in question, have shown that they are aware of their cause, and ready to exert their influence and authority to remove it.
For the information of those, who may not be much versed in the history of practical religion, it ought perhaps to be observed, that every thing, which hath been now said respecting the neglect of the fundamental articles of religion in the discourses of the Clergy of the Establishment, is to be understood as having prevailed some thirty or forty years ago, in a much higher degree than it does now.-Within the memory of the Writer, notwithstanding all he has been constrained to say on this subject, he is enabled to declare with certainty, and from his own knowledge, -- that there has been a very considerable revival of the pure reformed religion, and that the compositions which are at this day delivered from our pulpits are of a more Christian cast ” than were often heard some thirty years ago. To the same effects, and almost in the very same terms, speaks one of the learned Prelates
above alluded to; and at the same time, adds these remarkable words, “ Still the dry strain of moral preaching is too much in use, and the erroneous maxims, on which the practice stands, are not sufficiently exploded.”
The judicious Hooker is a striking instance of a Divine, who combined in the same person, and in a very high degree, all the three above-mentioned * requisites : that is, he was able as a defender of the English Ecclesiastical polity; he was sound and clear in his Doctrine; and he was impressive, and pointed, and warm in his practical statements and applications to the people. Mr. Milner often declared that Hooker's Sermon on “ Justification by Faith” was among the first things that set his mind to serious thinking. He had not then suspected that there existed a single person of learning or respectability, who held such notions as those of which he was then beginning to think more favourably. : He had supposed that they were chiefly confined to persons of no literary attainments, or to certain classes of the dissenters, or perhaps to men who failed not to connect with them much wild and indigested principle, and much irregular practice : Of course, this discovery had no small effect in removing his prejudices, and in exciting his attentive curiosity.
If it be true that few of the late public defenders of our Establishment have combined sound evangelical principles, with a warm and well-directed zeal, that circumstance will stamp a peculiar value on Mr. Milner's Church History, in the minds of all who are well acquainted with the execution of that performance. Its intrinsic value is more and more understood ; and it will, doubtless, continue to increase in estimation, in proportion as the literal meaning of the Articles of the Church of England is more confirmed by a just interpretation of Scripture; and in proportion as men take greater pleasure in seeing the pure faith of the Gospel exemplified in the lives of those, who profess themselves believers in Christ Jesus.
* Mentioned in page cv. 26–29.
It would be inconsistent to expect that those, who, on principle, dissent from the Church of England, should accord with this Author in the Contents of his Chapter on Ecclesiastical establishments, however cordially they may agree with him in the Doctrine of Salvation by Jesus Christ. But it may seem somewhat remarkable that the Rev. Dr. Haweis, himself a member, and even a beneficed Clergyman of that Church, should have taken such EXTRAORDINARY and SUCH UNFAIR means to counteract the effect of Mr. Milner's labours. Dr. Haweis'
IMPARTIAL HISTORY,” as he calls it, abounds with mis-quotations and misrepresentations. An account of these, with animadversions upon them by the Writer of this Narrative, may be seen in the Preface to the second Edition of the first Volume of Mr. Milner's History, published at Cambridge *.
* That Volume was published in the Summer of 1800.
OBSERVATIONS ON CONFORMITY,
By the Rev. Wm. Richardson. THE Rev. William R. the Editor of these Sermons, is tempted to add a few observations on the subject of Conformity. In a long account which he has seen of Dr. Haweis' Publication in one of the Reviews, it is said to express the “ opinions of that part of the Clergy of the Church of England, which has assumed to itself the title of Evangelical, among whom he is to be considered as a leading Member.” This statement, however, requires explanation. 1. If there be, indeed, a part of the Clergy of the Church of England, who call themselves Evangelical, and who also approve of Dr. Haweis’ mode of proceeding, so as to consider him as one of their leading members, the Editor hopes most cordially that it is but
-2. There is a very
considerable part of the Clergy of the Church of England, who, strictly speaking, assume to themselves no title, but that of faithful and sincere members of the Establishment to which they belong; though the Editor does not deny, that they are frequently termed Evangelical, sometimes by way of distinction, and at others, strange as it may seem, by way of sneer and reproach. Dr. H. so far from being a leading member, or a fair specimen of this class of the Clergy, is going on in a way which they extremely dislike.—They agree with Mr. Milner in his views of Church Order and Government, and look upon all separations from the Establishment as serious evils. Dr. Haweis' book seems to be an apology for Schism ; which according to him is rather
a VERY SMALL PART.
& DUTY than a sin, when there is cause. Did he ever hear of any divisions in the Church, or sedi
, tions in the State, without some cause, some provocation being alleged to vindicate them? Such loose sentiments, on the point of Conformity, entertained by Dr. Haweis, and by a few more Preachers too fond of popularity, who encourage separate places of Worship, and despise the order of the Church in which they were called to minister, ought not to be imputed to the whole body of those, who are called Evangelical Clergy. They love their Church, and conduct themselves according to her rules, for conscience sake : though they may suffer, undeservedly, as Methodists or Sectaries from one quarter, and as Time-servers and Bigots from another.
From this peculiarity in their situation, they will hardly be suspected of interested motives in their attachment to the Established Church. Certainly, it is not her loaves and fishes, but her sound doctrines, and edifying forms of worship, that bind them to her. She may have many faults, and her officers and members still more; but she must be proved to be Antichristian, before separation from her can be justified. Nothing short of this could vindicate our departure from the Church of Rome, at the Reformation. Against all separations and divisions we are solemnly and repeatedly warned in the New Testament. These warnings ought not to be overlooked by the serious members of the Church, who are taught to pray in their incomparable Litany, “ from all heresy and schism, good Lord, deliver us.” They who look not far before