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NFIDELITY has always had its Advocates amongst us; there never was a Time when they totally defifted from promoting its Caufe; but never, till now, have they dared to attack the Christian Religion, by forming themfelves into a public Society, and endeavouring to form those ancient Bulwarks, which the Piety, Prudence, and Wisdom of our Forefathers, have erected, as Means for its Protection and Defence in this Kingdom.
Christianity is so interwoven in the very Con ftitution of this free State, that a great Lawyer. bas not without Reafon ftyled it " Part of the "Law of the Land." Our Kings have been its nurfing Fathers, our Queens its nurfing Mothers; and when, by the gracious Providence of Almighty GoD, it was delivered from the Corruptions of the Papists, and established in its genuine Beauty and Luftre by the holy Zeal of our Proteftant Reformers, every Step which could be taken, every Caution which could be bferved, was by them moft ftudiously provided for,
for, in order to continue it down to the latest Pofterity.
To this, under God, we owe the inestimable Bleffing of our Liturgy and Articles, thofe Repofitories of true and undefiled Religion, which, like impregnable Fortresses, have for Ages defended that Proteftant Citadel the Church of England, against the Attacks of Popery from without, and the Malice of Infidels from within.
The better to fecure this, the Laws of the Land have enlifted themselves on the Side of the Liturgy and Articles, and by making it impoffible for any Perfons to be ordained to teach in the Congregation without firft fubfcribing them, they have either shut out Papifts and Infidels entirely, or if any have been profligate enough to fet their Hands to what they do not believe, yet they have not dared to avow what all the World must condemn, at least not in fo open a Manner as they would have done, if the prefent legal Refraints were taken out of the Way.
That fuch a Violence done to their Confciences, Should be attended with painful After-thought, is not to be wondered at, any more than that they ficuld try to deliver themfelves from it for the Time to come.
To this the prefent daring Attack upon the Peace of the Church and Kingdom owes its Rife; its Contrivers and Abettors have advertifed their Meetings, they have published their Proceedings: The only Inftance of Modefty relating to them is, that they have hitherto 'concealed their Names; but this will foon have an End, as they have figned them to a Petition which they have agreed upon, and which they have determined fhall be presented to the Parliament at its next Meeting.
I am forry to find that fuch a Proceeding comes from fome of the Clergy, it should be hoped that but few of thefe efpoufe fuch a Caufe; furely the Generality will fay, as was faid of Simeon and Levi of old, "My Soul come not thou " into their Secret, unto their Affembly mine "Honour be not thou united."-Indeed this rather appears to be the Cafe, for the Petitioners have been forced to beat up for Recruits, amongst the two other learned Profeffions of civil Law and Phyfic.
*It must be confeffed, that there are those who differ in Sentiment from this Paragraph, and who imagine that the Oppofers of Subfcription to the Liturgy and Articles are much greater, both in Weight and Number, than the Author fuppofes; but that, for certain prudent Reasons, they ferve the Caufe of the Petition, as Numbers of Jacobites ferved the Caufe of the Pretender in 1745-not caring to interfere till they fee How MAT
TERS WILL GO.
What the Fate of their Petition will be, is no very difficult Matter to forefee; it may as probably be fuppofed that the Parliament of England would pass a Law to drive the Proteftant Religion out of the Land, as liften to a Petition against the ancient and effectual Means of its Support.
The Pretences for this Proceeding are various, the chief Complaint is, that "Subscriptions to "the Liturgy and Articles are contrary to "Christian Liberty"-that they are contrary to infidel Licentioufnefs may be true, but to profefs, fign, and acknowledge the Truth of Scripture, and that publicly and openly, is indeed Christian Liberty, and that Sort of Liberty which our Reformers dearly purchafed for us, at the Expence of their Blood, and which I pray God to continue to us for his Mercy's Sake!
But, fay they, "the Liturgy and Articles are the Words of fallible Men."-True, but they are the exact Meanings of the Word of God, and therefore ftand upon the fame Foundation, unless a found and important Distinction can be made between the Word of God, and its express Meaning.
But the Church has no Right to impofe "her Interpretations upon me."-At least as
good a one as I have to impofe my Interpretations upon her.-And it may be reasonably concluded, that the "Articles agreed upon by the "Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, "and the whole Clergy in the Convocation "bolden at London 1562, and afterwards de"liberately read, and confirmed again by the Subfcription of the Hand of the Archbishops * and Bifhops of the Upper-houfe, and by the Subfcription of the whole Clergy in the nether Houfe of Convocation 1571," bid as fair for laying before us the true Senfe of the Scriptures, as the Members of this new Society, at their very refpectable Meeting at the Feathers Tavern in the Year 1771.
The Times of Popery might well be called the dark and ignorant Ages of the Church, but fuch an Infinuation, with respect to the Time of the Reformation, would almoft lead one to fufpect, that there is fome Claufe in the Affociationbond, against the Truth of History-the Evidence of Facts and the Dictates of common Senfe.- The Reftoration of Learning in Europe, and the Number of Men of Genius that arofe, were the happy Fore-runners of the bleffed Reformation. These were the Intruments, in the Hands of a gracious Providence, to dispel the Gloom of Ignorance and Superftition, and kindle