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CE N T. is, indeed, severely censured by many of the Rea XVIII.
formed doctors in Switzerland, Germany, and more especially in Holland, who lament, in the most sorrowful strains, the decline of the ancient purity and strictness that characterized the doctrine and discipline of the church, and sometimes attack, with the strongest marks of indignation and resentment, these modern contemners of primitive orthodoxy. But as the moderate party has an evident superiority in point of numbers, power, and influence, these attacks of their adversaries are, generally speaking, treated with the utmost
indifference. Projects of XXII. Whoever, therefore, considers all these re-union hinno ich do
the things with due attention, will be obliged to acbetweenthe Reformed knowledge that neither the Lutherans nor Armi.,
the Lu- nians have, at this day, any further subject of therans.
controversy or debate with the reformed church,
with individuals, with private persons that are c EN T. members of this great community (s). For the church, considered in its collective and general character, allows now to all its members the full liberty of entertaining the sentiments they think most reasonable, in relation to those points of doctrine that formerly excluded the Lutherans and
[s] Granting this to be true with respect to the Arminians, it cannot be affirmed, with equal truth, in regard to the Lutherans, whose doctrine concerning the corporal presence of Christ in the eucharist, and the communication of the properties of his divine to his human nature, is rejected by all the reforma ed churches, without exception. But it is not universally true, even with respect to the Arminians: for though these latter are particularly favoured by the church of England; though Arminianism may be said to have become predominant among the members of that church, or at least to have lent its influence in mitigating some of its articles in the private sentiments of those who subscribe them; yet the Thirty-nine Articles of the church of England still maintain their authority; and when we judge of the doctrine and discipline of any church, it is more natural to form this judgement from its established Creeds and Confession of Faith, than from the sentiments and principles of particular persons. So that, with respect to the church of England, the direct contrary of what Dr MoSHEIM asserts is strictly true; for it is rather with that church, and its rule of faith, that the Lutherans are at variance, than with private persons, who, prompted by a spirit of Christian moderation, mitigate some of its doctrines, in order charitably to extend the limits of its communion. But, if we turn our view to the reformed churches in Holland, Germany, and a part of Switzerland, the mistake of our author will still appear more palpable; for some of these churches consider certain doctrines, both of the Arminians and Lutherans, as a just cause of excluding them from their communion. The question here is not, whether this rigour is laudable ? it is the matter of fact that we are examining at present. The church of England, indeed, if we consider its present temper and spirit, does not look upon any of the errors of the Lutherans as fundamental, and is therefore ready to receive them into its communion; and the same thing may, perhaps, be affirmed of several of the reformed churches upon the continent. But this is very far from being a proof, that the Lutherans have at this day (as Dr Mosheim asserts) no further subject of controversy or debate with these churches ; it oply proves, that these churches nourish a spirit of toleration and sharity worthy of imitation.
CE N T. Arminians from its communion, and looks upon · XVIII.
the essence of Christianity and its fundamental truths as in no wise affected by these points, however variously they may be explained by the contending parties. But this moderation, instead of facilitating the execution of the plans that have been proposed by some for the re-union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches, contribute ra. ther to prevent this re-union, or at least to ren, der it much more difficult. For those among the Lutherans who are zealous for the maintenance of the truth complain, that the reformed church has rendered too wide the way of salva. tion, and opened the arms of fraternal love and communion, not only to us (Lutherans), but al. so to Christians of all sects and all denominations. Accordingly, we find, that when, about twenty years ago, several eminent doctors of our commu. nion, with the learned and celebrated Matthew PFAFF at their head, employed their good offices with zeal and sincerity in order to our union with the reformed church; this pacific project was so warmly opposed by the greatest part of the Lus therans, that it came to nothing in a short time (t).
( [t] The project of the very pious and learned Dr FFAF$ for uniting the Lutheran and reformed churches, and the reasons on which he justified this project, are worthy of the truly Christian spirit, and do honour to the accurate and sound judgment, of that most eminent and excellent divine*. And it is somewhat surprising, considering the proofs of moderation and judgment that Dr MOSHEIM has given in other parts of this valuable history, that he neither mentions the project of Dr Pfaff with applause, nor the stiffness of the Lutherans on this occasion with any mark of disapprobation.
L O * See this learned author's Collectio Scriptorum Irenicorum ad Unionem inter Protestantes facientium, published in 4to, at Hall in Saxony, in the year 1723.
XXIII. XXIII. The church of England, which is now c ENT, the chief and leading branch of that great com. XVIII. munity that goes under the denomination of the Thepresent Reformed Church, continues in the same state, state of the
Church of and is governed by the same principles, that it England, assumed at the Revolution under the reign of King WILLIAM III. The established form of church-government is Episcopacy, which is embraced by the sovereign, the nobility, and the greatest part of the people. The Presbyterians, and the numerous sects of different denomina. tions that are comprehended under the general title of Non-conformists, enjoy the sweets of reli. gious liberty, under the influence of a legal tole. ration.. Those, indeed, who are best acquainted with the present state of the English nation, tell us, that the dissenting interest declines from day to day, and that the cause of Non-conformity owes this gradual decay, in a great measure, to the lenity and moderation that are practised by the rulers of the established church. The members of this church may be divided into two classes, according to their different ideas of the origin, extent, and dignity of episcopal jurisdiction. For some look upon the government of bishops to be founded on the authority of a divine institution, and are immoderately zealous in extending the power and prerogatives of the church; others, of a more mild and sedate spirit, while they consider the episcopal form of government as far su, perior to every other system of ecclesiastical polity, and warmly recommend all the precautions that are necessary to its preservation and the in. dependence of the clergy, yet do not carry this attachment to such an excessive degree, as to refuse the name of a church to every religious community that is not governed by a bishop, or to defend the prerogatives and pretensions of the Vol. VI.
CE N T. episcopal order with an intemperate zeal (u).
These two classes are sometimes involved in warm debates, and oppose each other with no small degree of animosity, of which this present century has exhibited the following remarkable example. Dr BENJAMIN HOADLEY, the present bishop of Winchester, a prelate eminently distinguished by the accuracy of his judgment, and the purity of his flowing and manly eloquence, used his utmost endeavours, and not without success, to lower the authority of the church, or at least to reduce the power of its rulers within narrow bounds. On the other hand, the church and its rulers found several able defenders; and, among the rest, Dr John POTTER, now archbishop of Canterbury, who maintained the rights and pretensions of the clergy with great eloquence and erudition. As to the spirit of the established church of England, in relation to those who dissent from its rule of doctrine and government, we see it no where better than in the conduct of Dr WAKE, archbishop of Canterbury, who formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each of the two communities should retain the greatest part of their respective and peculiar doctrines (w).
XXIV. (u) The learned and pious Archbishop Wake, in a letter to Father COURRAYER, dated from Croydon House, July 9. 1724, expresseth himself thus: “I bless God that I was born and have “ been bred in an episcopal church, which, I am convinced, has “ been the government established in the Christian church from “ the very time of the Apostles. But I should be unwilling to « affirm, that where the ministry is not episcopal, there is no “ church, nor any true administration of the sacraments. And “ very many there are among us who are zealous for episcopa“ cy, yet dare not go so far as to annul the ordinances of God “ performed by any other ministry.”
(w) Archbishop Wake certainly corresponded with some learned and moderate Frenchmen on this subject, parti