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not reach the seat of the mischief. This celebrated work, it is true, gives up entirely the doctrine of 'divine right,' as to forms; but it asserts little less than a divine right on behalf of man, to legislate in the church, and to demand obedience, be men's judgments what they will,' * on the presumption that the Protestant magistrate would command ' nothing repugnant to the word of God.'-Such was the doctrine that became popular, on the eve of the passing of the Act of Uniformity, which was a practical illustration of it. Thankful ought Christians to be to the ruler of princes, that we live in a period which is nearly two centuries in advance of those unhappy times !
Other writers lay the basis of an exclusive church-form and ceremonial, in a union of the views taken by Cranmer, Stillingfleet, and others, with the doctrine of the divine right of a particular mode of government. A learned author, in a recent work of great research, states as follows : ' Episcopacy was established by the apostles, and is obligatory on the whole church.
I assume all the essentials of rites and discipline, transmitted from our Lord and his apostles, to be preserved . . . . If alterations not affecting essential points are proposed, bishops are invested with the right of making regulations in such points;
• Irenicum, 1661. p. 416. The work was first pub. lished in 1659.
for, succeeding to the place of the apostles, it is virtually said to them, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. ... The ecclesiastical supremacy of the Christian magistrate consists in his general right of protection to the church, and to its essential principles. He is to preserve the peace and unity of the church, procuring the termination or suppression of controversies. He has the right of making injunctions or ecclesiastical laws, confirmatory of the catholic doctrine and discipline, with the advice of competent persons, and he may enforce his decrees by temporal penalties.' * These views, if they give rather more power to the church' than the former, equally place the supremacy in the civil magistrate.
The statements that have been quoted are based on considerations drawn from religion itself. Another class of writers take lower ground, and assign ecclesiastical power to the civil ruler, on the principle of the mere temporal welfare of nations. One of the leading advocates of this order of things, is Bishop Warburton; who affirms that 'the true end for which religion is established, is not to provide for the true faith, but for civil
* A Treatise on the Church of Christ. By the Rev. William Palmer, M.A., of Worcester College, Oxford. Part vi. chap. i. pp. 377.382. 389. Part iv, chap. xv. p. 290. Part v. chap. iii. pp. 325. 326.
utility."* That the more true piety there is in a nation, the greater will be its general security and prosperity, can scarcely be doubted; but it is difficult to see how this matured Erastianism can be freed from the charge of directly tending to desecrate religion; to render heaven subordinate to earth; and the church to the world. It is true this doctrine may be popular with civil governments, but it is rejected by a very large class of individuals, who assert the right of the magistrate to ecclesiastical power.
The dominion of man in the professed church of Christ, is now of such antiquity; it is so blended with the associations of mankind; and so interwoven with the constitution of States; that it may probably admit only of a slow and gradual withdrawment. Thus one form of corruption in Christianity, may be produced by another. That the supremacy of Protestant Princes, in the church, , is a far less evil than the spiritual despotism of Rome, no Protestant will deny; and the minor evil may have had existence, from a sort of necessity involved in the greater. Erroneous ideas of the unity of the church, aided the ambition of the Roman pontiff to claim universal
* Warburton's Alliance, Bk. iii. ch. 4. See also Mackintosh's History of England, vol. iii. p. 12. Compare Dick on Church Polity. 1835.
dominion; to assume to be the substitute and representative of Christ on earth; to sit on throne of which the potentates of the world were but vassals; and to rule all Christendom as with a rod of iron. Probably this despotism, in its maturity, could have been crushed, only by collision with another. Perhaps the one grand blow that was to prostrate spiritual domination in the dust, could alone be struck by that which was temporal. One evil may thus be permitted, for a time, as the remedy against another. How far nations indicate any approach towards a religious condition which may tend to restrict civil rulers to their proper function of securing the peace of society, and its temporal welfare in general, we do not now inquire. But, while the gigantic dominion of Rome, under the image of visible unity, was the consummation of the greatest of all corruptions in the church; the standing power of the civil magistrate to enact laws for the same unity, is, as deem, only a second and milder form of the like evil—the chronic and inveterate evil of human legislative authority in the church.
On the principle of this authority, the chief magistrate, however unchristian and immoral his character may be, is, as a matter of course, the legislative head of the church, the visible unity of which has no solid basis, but is liable to be as shifting and variable as the laws of a nation, the
humour of princes, or the secular interests of society. The magistrate may, in connexion with the legislature, frame and enforce laws which shall have the effect of keeping back, for ages, that visible moral unity, which is destined, one day, to distinguish the professing church of Christ, and to be the instrument of salvation to the world. For it cannot be too carefully borne in mind, that in the solemn moments which preceded the scenes of Gethsemane and the cross, Jesus prayed that all his disciples might be 'ONE;' and he added 'That the world may believe that thou hast sent me:' "That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.'
Now the peculiar mark, and visible sign of this oneness, was not placed in external forms and ceremonies, but in
love. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.'? But to pronounce what Christ has left free and undetermined, essential to the visible unity of the church; to prescribe, for this purpose, forms and ceremonies which he has not prescribed, -is not regarded by all Christians as presumptuous, only because it is so familiar. This procedure cannot fail, in a multitude of instances, to mar charity, by wounding the minds of the most upright men; even though there should be a free 'toleration to religious opinions. John xvii. 21. 23.
: John xiii. 35.