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view it as a stratagem, and not a very deep one, to avoid the unpopularity of appearing as the aggressor. Some of them, too, may consider Mr. H's. books as the continuance of a system of attack which commenced several years ago, when a certain preacher declared to the faces of some of the most venerable ministers in this city, that all clergymen not episcopally ordained, are impostors; their commissions, forgeries; and their
sacraments, blasphemy.* These aspersions raised a great clamour at the time; and the repetition of them by Mr. H. and others, though in more decent language, has been loudly censured, as a violation of all the rules of prudence and charity. Of their prudence we say nothing. And the offence against charity is not the point of difficulty with us. Nor do we think that the author of “Miscellanies,” in declaiming against episcopal “bigotry and superstition,” has taken the question by the proper handle. These are, at best, ungracious compliments, which, though they may vent the ire of the writer, contribute little to the emolument of the reader; and are generally repaid with good will, and with large interest. Truth, can admit of no compromise with error, nor does charity require it. They are the truly charitable who point out the way of life, and warn their fellow men of dangerous mistake. Therefore we shall neither dispute the right of an Episcopalian to publish his peculiar sentiments, nor when they happen to bear hard upon others, shall we cry out against their uncharitableness. Our concern is with their truth or falsehood. And as we are far from impeaching the sincerity of Mr. H. and his coadjutors, whatever we may think of their discretion ; SO our criticisms are intended to apply to them solely as authors. For their personal characters, we entertain unfeigned respect. Nor can we be justly charged with violating that respect, though we examine their claim with as little ceremony as they have brought it forward. If the errour be ours, let them overwhelm our darkness with the effulgence of their light—if the error be theirs, God forbid that any human regards should prevail with us to pass it gently by. With the imperial Stoick, we “aim at truth, by which no man was ever injured.” ! They tell us then, that their “priesthood” is the only “authorized ministry”—that the church in which it officiates, is the only one in covenant with God—that where the gospel is proclaimed, communion with this church, by the participation of its ordinances at the hands of the duly authorized priesthood, is the indispensable condition of salvation—that whatever mercy may be extended to those who labour under involuntary errour, such as negligently or wilfully continue in a state of separation from the authorized ministry of the church, and participate of ordinances administered by an irregular and invalid authority, are guilty not only of schism, but of contempt of God's institutions; of rebellion against his government, and of exposing themselves to his awful displeasure. In fewer words, their doctrine is, that nonepiscopalians are no part of the Christian church; but are “children of wrath,” and without a single hope founded on covenanted mercy. No “repentance toward God;” no “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ;” no conformity to his image; no zeal for his glory, can be of any avail. The
* The preacher was Mr. WRIGHT ; the place, St. Paul's church; the occasion, a deacon's ordination; and the text, of which, to use his own words, he “took leave,” in order to give the poor non-episcopalians a hit, that injunction of our Lord, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” That the orator was right in taking this “ leave,” will hardly be questioned, as he immediately broke through the second precept of his text; and the consequences proved that he had but little skill in the first. The effusion had more of every thing in the serpent, than his wisdom ; and more of every thing in the dove, than her innocence.
A circumstance which rendered the attack an outrage, was the care of the episcopal clergy to circulate notice of the ordination, and their solicitude for the attendance of their non-episcopal brethren | One of the latter, who was present, remarked, at the close of the service, with the pith and point of indignant feeling, that “Mr. W. possessed a large stock of confidence, to tell his bishop to his face, that he was an unregenerated man, and no member of the Christian church!” It being well known that the Right Reverend Father in God, SAMUEL, bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New-York, had been baptized by the Rev. Mr. DuBois, one of the ministers of the Reformed Dutch Church. Therefore,—&c. Alas! Alas !
simple fact of their separation from the “authorized,” that is to say, from the episcopal “priesthood,” mars their religion, and renders it stark naught ! This sweeping sentence of proscription is softened by representing it as “not inconsistent with that charity which extends mercy to all who labour under involuntary errour.” But the relief is not worth accepting. For in the first place, so much is necessary to constitute “involuntary,” or as it is elsewhere called, “unavoidable,” errour, that the instances in which the plea should be substantiated would be rare indeed. Access to means of instruction precludes it effectually. And as there are few districts where this question can be agitated, without episcopalians, or their priests, or their writings, the errour must almost always be wilful; in which case the retreat is cut off—and secondly, we have no ground to expect even this very precarious mercy, but the charity of Mr. H. and his brethren' Warrant from the word of God they have produced none, and have none to produce. If communion with the authorized, or Episcopal priesthood, be to those among whom the Gospel is proclaimed, an indispensable condition of salvation, what possible escape can be left for those who reject it? The very idea of such an escape, however to be effected, is repugnant to that of an indispensable condition. No : if the condition be indispensable, they who reject it must perish. And if they who reject it may still be saved, it is not indispensable ; otherwise, the definition might run thus, an indispensable condition is that which may be dispensed with ! The alternative then is, EPIscoPACY or PERDITION | | Prove this, and there is but one way for us: rush into the arms of the Episcopal Church, and the sooner the better | Prove this, and for our part, little as we are inclined to such a transition at present, we will take refuge immediately in her communion! He is a fool who would put his soul in jeopardy for a single moment, by rejecting an “indispensable condition of salvation;” and risk the loss of Heaven upon the credit of the charity of Mr. H. and Bishop Horsley !! We are sure that the drift, and have little doubt that the design, of a number of Episcopal publications is to force plain people into such a conclusion. But before the authors can be justified in uttering a syllable which only looks toward such a conclusion, they ought to be perfectly certain of their premises. To unchurch, with a dash of the pen, all the non-episcopal denominations under Heaven; and cast their members, indiscriminately, into a condition worse than that of the very Heathen, is, to say the least of it, a most dreadful excommunication; and if not clearly enjoined by the authority of God, as criminal as it is dreadful. That all those glorious churches which have flourished in Geneva, Holland, France, Scotland,