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"not read, Slater's Original Draught, in answer to lord King, "which it has always been confidently said, made his lordship a "convert to diocesan episcopacy. If you have heard of Slater's "book, but not read it, you should have made a point of procuring "it, and of stating his answer, that your readers might have a "fair opportunity of judging for themselves." Vol. I. Letter 7. p. 186. I can assure this learned professor, who so kindly undertakes to instruct me in my duty, that I both possessed and had read Slater's work, long before I ever heard of Dr. Bowden or his Letters; and that, however it impressed lord King, it was so far from converting me to diocesan episcopacy, that it rather served to con firm me in my Presbyterian principles. But is it possible that this complaint of Dr. Bowden can be seriously made? Did I not distinctly announce, in my introductory letter, that my object was, not to write a full and complete treatise, but a small and popular manual? Did I not fairly apprize my readers, that this plan would lay me under the necessity of being every where extremely "brief, and of totally excluding many topics, both of argument and "illustration, which might be profitably introduced?" And did I not, to relieve in some measure, the difficulty thence arising, promise, that "no arguments should be urged, but those which 1 "believed to have stood immovably solid, after every attempt to "answer them?" Was it my duty, then; would it have been proper, after all this, when I felt myself obliged to omit many argu ments on my own side, which were, in my view, powerful and important; to introduce arguments, many of them frivolous, and most of them destitute of real force, merely for the purpose of swelling my work into a number of volumes, and preventing it from being read by those for whom it was intended? I have the charity to believe, that if Dr. Bowden, had indulged a moment's reflection, he would have been ashamed to urge a complaint so unworthy of his grave character.
Besides, if it was my duty to state in detail all those arguments which the fond partiality of some episcopal writers has been pleased to style "unanswerable," " triumphant," "demonstrative," &c. was it not Dr. Bowden's duty to do the same with respect to the arguments of Presbyterian writers? But has he done this? If I do not mistake, every impartial reader will pronounce, that in my
little manual, I have gone as far, if not further, in stating the arguments and replies of my opponents, than this gentleman has in his two volumes.
These gentlemen, in the course of their strictures, have allowed themselves frequently to employ language of which I cannot forbear to exhibit a specimen. Dr. Bowden charges me with "contemptible cavilling; with "contemptible puerilities;" with "misrepresentations gross to excess ;" with writing "nonsense," "palpable nonsense," &c. &c. &c. Mr. How's pamphlet abounds with language, which I hope he will reconsider, in his cooler moments, with shame and regret. He charges me with "a continued strain of misrepresentation;" with "an outrage of decency itself;" with, a construction" as puerile as it is disengenuous;" with " fanatical absurdities;" with "violations of the plain language of scripture, as presumptuous as are to be met with in the entire annals of fanaticism;" with "talking like a deranged fanatic ;" and with advancing allega tions which I "ought to know, and cannot but know," to be ground. less. In fact, he frequently imputes to me, in terms a little indirect and softened, known and deliberate falsehood. And on one occasion, he permits himself to address me thus: "You could not possibly "have adopted a mode of address more calculated to sour the minds "of your readers, or better fitted to indulge the bitterness of your "own heart. It is direct and insidious, covering under the mask of "moderation and kindness, all the loftiness of pride, and all the "rankling of passion." p. 16. Dr. Hobart represents me as writing with great "arrogance" and "bitterness," and even with insidiousness, a term which no intelligent reader needs to be told, implies dishonesty. I regret that such language has found its way into this controversy. I am not able to see that it aids the argument of those who employ it; and it certainly contributes nothing to the charity of christian intercourse. You will not imagine, I am sure, that this language is capable of exciting in me a feeling of personal resentment or pain. But it is exceedingly to be lamented,that gentlemen of their station should indulge in a style so scrupulously banished from all dignified and polished society; that a person so long employed as one of them has been, in forming the moral principles and character of youth, should discover so little success in the discipline of his own temper; and that they have not all more highly appreciated the duty of being examples to the
flock. It shall be my aim, in the following pages, to avoid all similar language. And if you should ever find me inadvertently betrayed into it, be assured it is contrary to my fixed resolution; and that, when discovered, it will be a source of unfeigned regret. May we all remember, with the celebrated author of the ecclesiastical polity, that" there will come a time when three words uttered "with charity and meekness shall receive a far more blessed "reward than three thousand volumes written with disdainful "sharpness of wit!"
But these gentlemen not only employ, on their part, what I must consider as exceptionable language; they also impute to me language scarcely less offensive or exceptionable than their own. Dr. Bowden says that I pronounce episcopacy an antichristian usurpation. Vol. I. p. 245. And Mr. How asserts, that I "brand prelacy as the detested offspring of ecclesiastical fraud and tyranny." I can only say that no such expressions are to be found in my book; and that whatever there is in them which bears an opprobrious or indelicate character, is to be ascribed, not to me, but to the invention of my accusers.
I shall not attempt to follow these gentlemen through all their minute and tedious details. For this drudgery I have neither leisure nor inclination. It would be again to travel over the whole ground which I have already endeavoured to explore, and to exhibit in a just light; and which, after carefully attending to all that they have said, still appears to me to rest on immovable foundations. After requesting you to peruse my former letters a second time with care, and to compare them impartially with what my opponents have advanced, the cause is cheerfully committed to your decision. All that I propose, at present, is to review some of the most plausible reasonings of these zealous and confident polemics; to point out a few of their more gross and palpable mistakes; and to show the candid reader how far he can rely on the statements of persons who discover so little acquaintance with more than one side of the controversy; and at the same time allow themselves to speak as if they engrossed all knowledge, and as if wisdom would die with them.
These letters, my brethren, as well as the former series are intended solely for your use. They are occasioned, indeed, by the strictures of the gentlemen whose names are mentioned in the title
page; but I have not thought proper to address those gentlemen directly. With them I have no personal dispute. Though they have intruded into our Church for the purpose of attacking me in the peaceable discharge of my pastoral duties, I have still no disposition to do more than to act on the defensive. But to refute their cavils, to repel their unfounded and injurious charges, to lay open the weakness of their cause, and to expose their want of information on this subject, is a duty which I owe to you. This duty I will attempt to discharge; and in the execution of it, I hope you will follow me patiently.
COMPARATIVE STRESS LAID ON ECCLESIASTICAL ORDER BY PRESBYTERIANS AND HIGH-CHURCHMEN. THE DOCTRINE OF THE JURE-DIVINO PRESBYTERIANS BRIEFLY STATED.
Two of the gentlemen whose attacks I am called upon to repel, accuse me of misrepresenting the high-toned episcopal doctrine which they avow, and endeavour to maintain. They impute to me a desire to excite prejudices against them, by insinuating, that they exclude all but Episcopalians from salvation. Mr. How, in particular, brings forward and urges this accusation with great zeal. I utterly deny the charge. I never intended to convey such an insinuation; and am persuaded that my letters do not contain a single sentence which can be fairly construed as expressing it.
But I have asserted, that such Episcopalians as agree with these writers, exclude us from the covenanted mercy of God, and declare us to be destitute of all interest in the promises of salvation. I have asserted, that they pronounce us to be out of the church of Christ, and aliens from the covenant of grace. I have asserted, that, while they express a charitable hope that such of us as depart from the episcopal church from " involuntary ignorance or error," will find mercy; they uniformly consider and represent this mercy as extended to Presbyterians, in the same manner, and on the same principles, as to the heathen; that is, not in virtue of any covenant engagement, or explicit promise; but on the footing of general, unpledged mercy. I have said this, and this only, and all this, they have themselves, in effect, avowed, repeated, and gloried in, with a zeal worthy of a better cause.