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dence upon Christ, as the supreme Head of his own mystical body, and of independence on every other church, whose title to pre-eminence is no better than our own. On these rights did the catholic church of Christ in general, and the several particular churches of which it stood composed, found the code of discipline which decency and order' required. We have merely re-adopted the instituted form of ecclesiastical polity by bishops, collegiate in power, as to general government, but of individual authority, in the diocese or district committed to their charge and we have most becomingly returned to the pure standard of catholic faith and doctrine, which Christ delivered, and his apostles taught; in our recovery of which we esteem ourselves peculiarly happy, hoping (as we do both fervently hope and pray) that our present pure standard of faith and doctrine, may be preserved to us, and that it may please the gracious author of 'every good and perfect gift,' not to remove our candlestick out of its place'. For, though by a course of licentious indifference, or of national apostacy, some particular churches may provoke him, who has the keys of hell and of death,' to inflict upon them this the extremity of temporal chastisement, yet the church catholic' standeth sure; 'against it the gates of hell shall not prevail: so that still Christ will have a church upon earth; still there will exist a kingdom of willing subjects to
I Rev. ii. 5.
him in the day of his mediatorial power, and until the final consummation of all things.
In the sure faith of this the Catholic church is, and ought to be acknowledged indefectible in point of duration; although, in the latter days, even the church catholic may, by reason of infidelity and lukewarmness, be brought within the narrowest compass possible, in terms of our blessed Lord's prophetic interrogatory, When the Son of Man 'cometh, shall he find faith on the earth'?' But this indefectibility is, on no pretence whatever, to be restricted to any particular church, how splendid soever its present establishment may be-not even to the church of Rome itself, which, in days of other years, boasted of its splendour and extent, as marks of its infallibility, and thought it no shame to claim a monopoly of princely favour as its especial prerogative.
The Romanist would do well to remember, that other churches, while they stood, appeared to be indefectible; and might have pled this appearance, in support of the same claim which the church of Rome urges even now. It is peculiarly incumbent on her members to bear in mind the necessary caution which the truly primitive church of Rome received from the pen of the great apostle of the Gentiles Boast not against the branches; thou bearest not the root, but the root thee: be not
1 St Luke xviij. 8.
high-minded, but fear, lest, if God spared not the natural branches, he also spare not thee'.' It is plain, that the church of Rome is here, by an inspired apostle, simply denominated a • branch of the wild olive grafted in,' among other branches, into the root of the true olive, and therefore no less defectible, no less in danger of being broken off, than the natural branches originally were. What presumption then is it, in this polluted branch of the church catholic, to pretend to restrict the all-nourishing root from resuming those branches, viz. the churches of Jerusalem, and of Antioch, which, with many others in those regions, were engrafted before itself; although it is presumptuously believed, that they were lopped off, that the church of Rome might stand alone. True, they have been long deprived of outward pomp and splendour, and do groan under the burden of heathen oppression. But does the church of Rome forget, that it was for a time similarly oppressed? It must be so; otherwise we shall find it impossible to account for this church unkindly and unreasonably rejecting the churches, above noticed, from being parts, or, upon her principles, from ever having been parts of the catholic church of Christ.
This hasty conclusion is certainly worthy of the severest reprehension; since it is drawn from premises which are, on catholic principles, wholly inadmissible,
Rom. xi. 17-21.
admissible, viz. worldly poverty and paucity of numbers-objects of reproach these, which perhaps are more applicable to our Lord himself, and his apostolic mission, than to any church now existing in the christian world. Nay, is the Romanist aware, that in many of these poor and uncountenanced churches, that of Constantinople for instance, where something worse, if possible, than Paganism reigns triumphant, there may after all be found as many great, as many noble, as many wise men ' after the flesh,' professing christianity, as were to be found in Rome, when St Paul wrote his affectionate Epistle to the christians there, or when he preached to them in his own hired house, for the space of two whole years. Indeed, if external splendour and opulence shall be thought necessary to the constitution of a church (an opinion too prevalent, alas! with many), who knows, but that the inscrutable will of him, who has all power in heaven ' and in earth,' may, in his own good time, restore the oppressed churches of the East to the flourishing state which, once on a day, they are known to have enjoyed, and reduce the mighty and hitherto prosperous Patriarch of the West to their present low and despicable condition. Let him who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.'
FROM discussing the unity, and indefectibility of the holy catholic church, the transition to the discussion of that, by which we become entitled to the precious privileges of being members of Christ's mystical body, is natural and easy. If the church of Christ be One,' as well as holy and catholic, (and to evince this unity was the design of the preceding Letter), then it follows, by the clearest deduction, that, being once admitted into the church by baptism, we must continue in its holy communion and fellowship, and strictly adhere to the Unity,' of this our Lord's mystical body; since such steady adherence is expressly required of us in Scripture, and is clearly sanctioned, by antiquity, universality, and consent,' the semper, ubique, et ab omnibus; for which all the learned champions of the christian faith do most earnestly contend, as affording proofs of both doctrine and fact, of the most irrefragable nature.
But, in order to obtain the blessed effects of this M m 2 holy