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disorder, confusion, and every evil work. It is no doubt by preserving the bonds of ecclesiastical unity, that Christians are to be kept in the way of obedi. ence to the one God, and dependence on the one Mediator. It has therefore been justly observed by an eminent writer, that, 6 if ever this subject of the “ church of Christ, now so much neglected, and al. “ most forgotten by those who are moft concerned 6 to understand it, should come to be better confi« dered; there would be more true piety, and more « peace, more of those virtues which will be required " in heaven, and which must therefore be first learn. « ed upon earth. Some amongst us err, because w they know not the Scriptures; and others, because " they never considered the nature of the church.
Some think, they can make their own religion, cand so they despise the word of God, and fall into “ infidelity. Others think, they can make their 6 own church, or even be a church unto them“ felves; and so they fall into the delusions of enthu6 fiasm, or the uncharitableness of schisın.”
These are the pertinent remarks of a learned divine of the church of England, and they are enforced by an obfervation fo justly expressed, and so well adapted to my present purpose, that I must take the liberty of presenting it to the notice of those, for whom this publication is more particularly intended. « But, as there is nothing to enlighten the minds of " men in the doctrines of falvation, but the word of “ God; so there is nothing that can unite their hearts
and affections, but the church of God. Ye are “ one bread, and one body, faith the apostle ; one a body by partaking of one bread; and that can C only be in the same communion.”* Impressed there fore with the truth and importance of what is here fo juftly afferted, and earnestly desirous of its producing the same effect in the minds of those, for whose benefit I am now writing, I shall beg leave to request their serious and impartial consideration of the subject before 'us; while, taking a view of the general state of religion in this country, and the danger to which it is exposed, from professed infidels on the one hand, and from the fanatical abettors of enthusiasm on the other, we look back through all this mist of modern confusion, to the primitive order and uniformity of the church, and see what necessity there is for our continuing still in the “ apostles « doctrine and fellowship,” as the only source of order and guard of uniformity.-We shall then close our view with such a brief, but, I trust, satisfactory account of the ecclesiastical orders and administrations of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, as, notwith. standing the violent attack which was lately made upon it by a learned Professor of the establishment, may tend, by the blessing of God, to confirm the regard and attachment of its present members, to promote a becoming union among all those who profess to be of the Episcopal persuasion in this part of
• See the preface to an Elay on the Church, by the late Rev. William Jones, of Nayland in Suffolk.
the kingdom, and to furnish them with proper arguments for the vindication of those sound and falutary principles, by which they have the happiness to be distinguished.
It is an observation of undeniable certainty, that the same Divine Being, the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth, who has given to man the good things of creation for the use and benefit of his body, and the precious truths of revelation for the instruction and comfort of his soul, has in both inftances met with the most ungrateful and unworthy returns. The good things of creation have been abused to the baselt purposes of riot and intemperance, consumed in fin and sensuality, and often made a pretence for indulging covetousness and ambition, a sordid parsimony and griping avarice; while the precious truths of revelation have been treated with the most insolent scorn and contempt, exposed to all the wantonness of raillery and ridi. cule, and often so strangely perverted, as to produce nothing but blind superstition and enthusiastic prefumption.
It is not enough, however, that we acknowledge in general the truth of this melancholy observation : let us examine whether such a charge be strictly just, when applied to the inhabitants of this land, the country with u hich we are most immediately connected. Perhaps, when comparing our moral character with that of other states and kingdoms, we may feel an inclination at once to resist the charge,
because our country cannot in justice be accused of fuch flagrant abuses of the divine goodness as are too often exhibited in other parts of the world. But before we allow ourselves to be carried away by any such superficial and flattering comparison, we shall do well to consider, whether this moral superiority, which at present we undoubtedly possess, may not be more juftly ascribed to a want of means and opportunity of carrying the pursuit of sensual and worldly pleasure to the same height with our richer neighbours, than to any want of inclination, from principle, to the abuses which I have been mentioning. It seems therefore a doubtful point, whether our virtue in this respect is to be traced to the proper source and principle of all that deserves to be called virtue, or whether our being " delivered “ from much of the evil,” that prevails in other places, may not be ascribed to the favourable circumstance of our not being so much “ led into tempta« tion.” But whatever may be said, either for or against our national character on this score, it can only be applied to the first branch of the charge to which I have alluded, as pointing to that presumptuous abuse of the good things of creation, the criminality of which will no doubt be in proportion to the share that is enjoyed of these temporal blessings; and those, to whom little is given, will surely have the less to account for. But as to the other part of the charge, in which our country is implicated, as professing to be Christian, and enjoying the full
benefit benefit of divine revelation, I am afraid, that in the contempt, or abuse of its precious truths, as much guilt and depravity will be found here, in proportion to our numbers, as in the other parts of the united kingdom.
From the advantages, which Scotland has long enjoyed in the way of literature, and the easy access thus afforded to the general acquisition of knowledge, has arisen the powerful temptation, which many have been unable to withstand, of carrying their speculations beyond the proper limits, and affecting to be wise even in matters of religion, above what God has caused to be written for man's instruction. While such speculations however were confined to the student in his closet, their influence was narrow and circumscribed ; and the general state of society was but little affected by the writings of such infidels as David Hume, till they were better suited to vulgar capacity, and their deadly venom more widely circulated, by the poisonous arts of Tbomas Paine, and his numerous disciples. These could not fail at last to attract the notice of govern. ment; and by its firm and steady exertions, a stop has been put to the open and avowed propagation of principles so hostile to the morals, the peace, and good order of society. Yet is it much to be feared, that in many parts of the kingdom, the seeds of irreligion and licentiousness have been so plentifully diffeminated, that unless their growth be checked by a returning sense of duty, or some power