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of England is vested with all authority, and justly challengeth all obedience. If one crosses a river in the north, there it stands thus. The church of England is not enough reformed; its doctrines, worship, and government have too much of antichristian Rome in them. But the kirk of Scotland hath a divine right, from its only head, Christ Jesus, to meet and to enact what to it shall seem fit, for the good of his church. Thus we left you for your enormous, unjustifiable claim to an unerring spirit, and have found out a way, unknown to your Holiness and your predeeessors, of claiming all the rights that belong to infallibility, even whilst we disclaim and abjure the thing itself. As for us of the Church of England, if we will believe many of its greatest advocates, we have bishops in a succession as certainly uninterrupted from the Apostles, as your church could communicate it to us. And upon this bottom, which makes us a true church, we have a right to separate from you ; but no persons living have any right to differ or separate from us. And they again, who differ from us, value themselves upon something or other, in which we are supposed defective; or upon being free from some superfluities which we enjoy ; and think it hard, that any will be still going farther, and refine upon their scheme of worship and discipline. Thus we have indeed left you; but we have fixed ourselves in your seat; and make no scruple to resemble you, in our defences of ourselves and censures of others, whenever we think it proper.
We have all sufficiently felt the load of the two topics of heresy and schism. We have been persecuted, hanged, burnt, massacred, as your Holiness well knows, for heretics and schismatics. But all this hath not made us sick of those two words. We can still throw them about us and play them off upon others as plentifully and as fiercely, as they are dispensed to us from your quarter. It often puts me in mind, (your holiness must allow me to be a little ludicrous, if you admit me to your conversation,) it often, I say, puts me in mind of a play which I have seen amongst some merry people; a man strikes his next neighbour with all his force, and he, instead of returning it to the man who gave it, communicates it with equal zeal and strength to another; and this to another; and so it circulates, till it returns perhaps to him who set the sport agoing. Thus your Holiness begins the attack. You call us heretics and schismatics, and burn and destroy us as such ; though God knows there is no more right any where to use heretics or schismatics barbarously, than those who think and speak as their superiors bid them. But so it is, you thunder out the sentence against us. We think it ill manners to give it you back again; but we throw it out upon the next brethren that come in our way; and they upon others; and so it goes round, till some perhaps have sense and courage enough to throw it back upon those who first began the disturbance, by pretending to authority where there can be none. We have not, indeed, now the power of burning heretics, as our forefathers of the reformation had. The civil power hath taken away the act, which continued that glorious privilege to them, upon the remonstrance of several persons, that they could not sleep whilst that act was awake. But then every thing on this side death still remains untouched to us; we can molest, harass, imprison, and ruin any man who pretends to be wiser than his betters. And the more unspotted the man's character is, the more necessary we think it to take such crushing methods. Since the toleration hath been authorized in these nations, the legal zeal of men hath fallen the heavier upon heretics, (for it must always, it seems, be exercised upon some sort of persons or other ;) and, amongst these, chiefly upon such as differ from us in points, in which, above all others, a difference of opinion is most allowable; such as are acknowledged to be very abstruse and unintelligible, and to have been in all ages thought of and judged of with the same difference and variety. Sometimes we of the established church can manage a prosecution (for I must not call it a persecution) ourselves, without calling in any other help.
But I must do the dissenting Protestants the justice to say, that they have shown themselves, upon occasion, very ready to assist us in so pious and christian a work, as bringing heretics to their right mind; being themselves but very lately come from experiencing the convincing and enlightening faculty of a dungeon, or a fine. The difference between these two sorts of persons is this. The one differ from us about ceremonies of worship and government; but they boggle not at all at the doctrine settled for us by our first reformers; it is all with them right and good, just as Christ left it at first, and Calvin found it above fifteen hundred years afterwards. The others, unhappy men, look upon this to be straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. However, the former sort, having a toleration for their own way upon subscribing all our doctrines, can the more easily come to persuade themselves, that the christian world is unhinged, if the latter should be tolerated in their opposition to doctrines which have been called fundamentals, even by Protestants, for so many years. This hath been experienced particularly in Ireland, by one who could not see exactly what they saw about the nature of Christ before his appearance in this world. For, as with you, a man had better blaspheme Almighty God, than not magnify the blessed Virgin; so, with many of us, it is much more innocent and less hazardous, to take from the glory of the Father, than of his Son. Nay, to bring down the Father to a level with his own Son, is a commendable work, and the applauded labour of many learned men of leisure; but to place the Son below his own Father, in any degree of real perfection, this is an unpardonable error; so unpardonable that all hands were united against that unhappy man. And he found at length that he had much better have violated all God's commandments, than have interpreted some passages of Scripture differently from his brethren. The Nonconformists accused him ; the Conformists condemned him ; the secular power was called in ; and the cause ended in an imprisonment, and a very great fine. Two methods of conviction, about which the Gospel is silent.” In Scotland, let a man depart an inch from the confession of faith and rule of worship established by the assembly there; and he will quickly find,
* [The person here alluded to was the Rev. Thomas Emlyn, who was several years settled as a dissenting minister in Dublin. He was an Arian in sentiment, and so violent did the popular feeling become against him on account of his religious opinions, that he was arraigned before a judicial tribunal, tried, and condemned to suffer imprisonment and pay a heavy fine.
He remained in prison two years; and, when released, he went over to England, in 1705, about ten years before this Dedication to the Pope was written. He preached to a small congregation in London till age and infirmities compelled him to retire. He was a friend of Whiston and Clarke, and highly respected for his learning and virtues. He died 1743, aged seventy eight. EpitoR.]