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I must be allowed to congratulate the Church of England that, notwithstanding the lamentable defection from her communion, she still cherishes in her bosom friends, whose attachment is founded on disinterestedness, and whose zeal is only equalled by their generosity. Much, however, still requires to be done, to fill up the yet un: finished draught of the institution, which, after all, perhaps, must be indebted for its ultimate and finishing im provements to actual experiment. On this, as on every other account, I rejoice, ibat the office has fallen to the option of my friend, Mr. Pearson. In such able bands, I have no doubt of its undergoing a close inspection in regard to its nature and obligations, and finally receiving every advantage, which labour, judgment, and integrity can confer upon it. I beg leave, however, to submit to him, whether the title " Pastoral Professor," which I recommended, (see my letter in your Mag. for May last,) would not designate the nature of the institution, better than that of “Ritual Professor” which he has substituted. The former embraces the whole range of Pastoral duties in all their arduous variety; and, of course includes that branch, which respects a due attention to rites and ceremonies. The latter narrows the plan to that branch exclusively. Besides, a name has frequently no slight share in the recommendation or condemnation of the thing to which it is given ; and if, by conceding to the prejudices of our adversaries, we can coneiliate their esteem, or, at least, obviate their reproaches, it is, I think, our duty so to do. Now those, who separate the widest from us, cannot object to the use of the word “ Pastoral,” because it is sanctioned by the writers of the New Testament, applying it to the then Christian ministry; but the term “ Ritual” might be objected to, (how perversely I will not stay to enquire) as implying, that our Church, by authority from its governors, concerned itself with nothing, but carnal rites and ceremonies.
And now, Sir, I take my leave, earnestly hoping, that the noble and generous offer of our worthy anonymous friend
may be gratefully accepted; and that I may, forthwith see one more bulwark erected in defence of our Zion, against the growing hosts of opposition leagued for her destruction. Should this hope be realized, and be followed by the consequences, which I am sanguine
enough enough to anticipate, I shall have the satisfaction, whenever it please God to reinove me from this eartbly scene, to think I have not lived in vain.
I am, Sir, with hearty good wishes for the best interests of the Church and its ministers,
Your faithful Servant,
S. C. Woolpit Parsonage, Dec. 9, 1806.
ON THE UNION CHAPEL AT ISLINGTON.
"WO letters have been sent to us on the subject of
this building: one subscribed PERSIS is confined wholly to the enquiry of TheoDOSIUS, (see page 259,) and very clearly shews that the property of the Chapel, in question, is fully protected by the Toleration Act.
The other communication is official on the part of the proprietors, who disavow all idea of making this a speculative and lucrative concern ; and in answer to the query, “Whether the Chapel has been consecrated and licensed,” reply by a reference to the “ Bishop of Lon. don's Register where it will be found regularly entered and certified under the Act of 1 Will. and Mary, cap. 18,
Thus much certainly is sufficient to place this building within the shelter of the law of the land, as a Dissenting Meeting House, and under that character, its claim to protection cannot, and ought not to be contested.
But the Union Chapel it appears, assumes a higher distinction, and is avowedly a rival of the Parish Church; for these are the words of the Proprietors themselves:
“We occupied for several years, a Chapel in an inconvenient and remote part of the parish;we felt for the wants of the population at large, in respect to accommodation for
Divine Worship, and built the present on an extensive plan for the benefit of others, as well as ourselves and our famia lies. Instead of being chargeable with · Schism,' our conduct is directly, the reverse : we aim to unite those who have been too long separated; we are members of the Church of England, of the Church of Scotland and Dissenters, uniting in the spirit of barmony, and, as agreed in all essential doctrines, to worship together under one roof.”
This exhibition of their motives and objects, deserves very serious consideration; more especially of those members of the Church of England, who have been led to attend this chapel, under the specious, but delusive plea of Christian unity and superior edification.
The Toleration Actwas professedly provided for “ Protestants dissenting from the Church of England, and for no other persons," whereas the proprietors of this ch do not scruple to declare, that some of them are members of the Church of England; and that, in “ erecting this building on an extensive plan, they have had an eye to the wants of the population at large.” In another part of their letter, they say, that “the Liturgy of the Church is solemnized in the morning by an episcopally ordained Clergymun, using the Litany and the Communion Service alternately."
According to this, the Union Chapel, instead of being what the : Act of Toleration was intended to protect, a place of worship for conscientious protestants dissenting from the established Church, is merely a trap for the purpose of drawing away the people from their parish church and minister, to a conventicle where the Liturgy of the Church is read in a garbled state by a Clergyman, who acts in violation of his ordination vows.
Now, whatever may cover the building itself, or the proprietors, or the occasional teachers, the fact is, that all members of the Church of England, who frequent this Meeting House, are guilty of Schism, and the Episcopally ordained Clergymen who othciate therein, are liable to the penalties of suspension and excommuni. çation.
But the gentlemen engaged in this concern, are very angry at baving the charge of Schisin brought against them; and we shall be very glad to find that they have a proper abhorrence of the thing itself, for then, it is to be hoped, they will see that this affected Union is no other
than a breach of Christian order, and a disobedience of that authority which Christ instituted in his Church. All that we are here stating is directed to the attention of those who have been admitted by Baptism into the Church of England, and who believe that her orders, services, and doctrine, are in unison with the faith and worship of the Apostolic age.
According to this, the Church is a visible society, regularly constituted with proper powers, and having a form of government established at the beginning, with an assurance from Christ of being continued to the end. Now there can be no government without a magistracy or governors, and, therefore, at the commencement of the gospel promulgation, twelve were chosen, who became an Episcopal College, with subordinate ministers under them; that college, by the defection of one member, was filled up by a solemn act of consecration; and thus a succession of governors in the Church was settled, and has continued to this day. In them only, lies the power of ordaining Presbyters and Deacons, for the administration of the Sacraments and other public services of religion; and whoever does not derive his orders in this line, we maintain to be a mere layman, let whatever acts or decrees of Civil Powers, interpose to shield him froin legal incapacities, or from Church censures.
What ideas the primitive Christians had of Church Unity, and of the obedience due to their spiritual governors, will appear from the writings of those who lived in, and near, the times of the Apostles themselves. The holy Ignatius, who was the disciple of St. John, has many strong and excellent remarks on this subject, in his epistles; “ He that is within the altar,” i. e. in the Communion of the Church, “is pure” saith he, “but he that does any thing without the Bishop, Priests, and Deacons, is not of a pure conscience*;" again in his epistle to the Magnesians, this blessed martyr says, " Some, indeed, call their governor, Bishop; and yet do all things without him. But I can never think, that such as these have a good conscience, seeing, that they are not united, or gathered together according to the ordinance of God." And in the same epistle he gives this excellent exhortation:
“ Let there be nothing in you that may cause a division among you; but be ye united to your Bishop, and those who preside over you, to be your pattern and direction in the way to immortality. And as the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to bim; neither by himself, nor yet by his apostles; so neither do ye any thing without your Bishop and Presbyters: neither endeavour to let any thing appear rational to yourselves apart; but being come together into the same place, have one Common Prayer; one Supplication; one Hope, in Charity, and in Joy undefiled. There is one Lord Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is better. Wherefore, come ye all together as unto one Temple of God; as to one Altar, as to one Jesus Christ; who proceeded from one Father, and exists in one, and is returned to one.”
* Epist. ad Trall. The unlearned reader will do well to pernse carefully Abp. Wake's translatiou of the genuine Epistles of the Apostolical Fathers, which will prove an excellent preservative against Schism.
The same duty is as clearly enforced in the sacred writings, particularly in St. Paul's epistles, where the dig nity of the episcopal character is strongly insisted upon, apd the necessity of obedience on the part of the people repeatedly enforced : let one passage suffice, “ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account; that they may do it with joy, and not with grief.” Heb. xii, 17.
We may here ask, how do the supporters and fre. quenters of such Chapels as that in Islington, adhere to these apostolical rules? They acknowledge no spiritual superiority, nor have they a stated minister. All these places are served by occasional teachers of various descriptions, and consequently there is no tie of union between pastor and people. In this respect, then, they are worse than Presbyterian congregations, where some regard to order, and subordination, and church unity is preserved.
This pretended Union, therefore, is to all intents and purposes, nothing better than disunion, for there is no head, nor any thing in it like church order: and here one cannot belp noticing the strange inconsistency of those persons belonging to this chapel, who acknowlege themselves, members of the Kirk of Scotland. They cannot but know that their kirk, so far from sanctioning such mixed and irregular assemblies, passes a severe censure upon the practice of “ gathering Churches out of Churches."
We shall make no other observation on what the apologists for this chapel say, with regard to the doctrines professed by them and their teachers, than this, that their very profession is against themselves, and stamps