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and which therefore the Lutherans might scruple subscribing to: and contented themselves with condemning those only, who held the doctrine of transubstantiation, or affirmed, that the body of Christ was eaten after a carnal manner. The like caution they have observed in those Articles relating to Predestination, Free-Will, &c. They worded them in general terms, that persons, who were of different persuasions in several particulars relating to them, might yet subscribe, as agreeing in the general doctrine there delivered. (b) They went, as a Calvinistical writer (bishop Hall) observes, a mid-way between both, guarding against the extremities on each side; on one hand condemning the Papists, who ascribed a merit to Good Works, and on the other the Antinomians, who denied the necessity of them. Whenever therefore we subscribe to these Articles, we do not subscribe in contrary, or different, senses. We all subscribe to the same general sense, though, in explaining the particulars relating to it, we use that liberty of judgement, which the Church hath purposely left to us.
However, if the oppugners of our Articles would be content with expunging these Articles, we might, if by this means peace might be obtained, be possibly willing to comply with them. There may per
haps be less occasion for such Articles now, than there was in those times. But this is not all they contend for. They inveigh against all Subscriptions in general: nay, we must part with our (c) Liturgy too, and our Creeds. The principal thing indeed, which seems to be aimed at by most of these reformers, is the doctrine of the Trinity, so plainly taught, both in our Articles, and our Liturgy. This has been always from the very beginning of Christianity thought an essential Article of Faith: and, if any come unto us, and bring not this doctrine, we may, and ought, to shut our gates against him. I cannot indeed but wonder how men of this persuasion should expect, or desire, to be included in communion with those who believe our Blessed Saviour's Divinity. If we believe Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to be really and truly God, we ought in our publick prayers to ascribe to them the titles, the honour, the worship, due to God: if we do not
(c) One argument used against Subscription to the Liturgy is, that such requisition of Subscription must eventually preclude all improvement in a Liturgy; which is confuted by fact, there having at different times been several additions, and improvements, made in our Liturgy. By our Subscription we only declare that the Book of Common Prayer, &c. containeth nothing in it contrary to the Word of God, and that it may lawfully be used, and that we ourselves will use it. And what is there herein, which should forbid, or prevent, the governor of our Church from making improvements in our Liturgy?
believe this, we cannot, I think, pay them such honours without idolatry. How then can there be any communion between persons of sentiments so diametrically opposite? how can they join in worship, who have not the same object of worship? Far be it from me to desire to persecute them, or injure them in the least, in their persons, or possessions: but surely we may exclude them from our communion, and much more from our ministry, without any breach of charity. But neither, if this point were given up, will they be contented. No; they declare against all Subscriptions, except only the truth of the Holy Scriptures, which would let in (as I observed before) not only Arians, but Papists, and all the wildest sectaries. They protest against all impositions, and such they call all human ordinances: but without something of this kind there could be neither establishment, nor Church, nor indeed any publick worship.
If any of us then should think that some things in our Articles, or Liturgy, might be amended, (as no human composition can be free from all imperfections,) yet let us take care how we listen to the plausible suggestions of those, who under the pretence of the reformation of our Church strike at the very foundation of it. And this especially at this time, when a spirit of licentiousness seems to be prevailing, and a contempt of all government, which threatens
threatens the subversion of our happy constitution, both in Church and State. But I have already detained you too long, and therefore shall conclude with exhorting you all to (d) hold fast the faithful word, as you have been taught: (d) and avoid them which cause divisions, and offences, contrary to the doctrine, which ye have learned. Let no man deceive you with vain words. Give no assistance, countenance, or encouragement, to these innovators, who under the pretence of reformation would privily bring in damnable heresies. (e) Fear God, and honour the king; and meddle not with them that are given to change.
Page x line 21, for which indeed, read of which indeed
9, for when be, read when we be
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