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TO MR. JOHN PHILLIPS, DISSENTINGI…

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TO MR. JOHN PHILLIPS, DISSENTING I MINISTER BANGOR. Sir,—As you profess an apparently unfeigned repug- nance to ecclesiastical titles of every kind, I have aiiixed one of common courtesy only to your name; and I am bound to believe that you will ?t as thank- ful to me for having adopted this course,, as I am at beinir thus spared the pain of informing you why I should he unwilling to attach any other title to it. Mv attention has lately been directed by a friend to a lc-ettire delivered by you, some time back, at a dis- senting place of worship in the town of Bangor. Upon reading the placard which announced this lecture, and which was printed in the same journal with it, I not unreasonably concluded that your objpet wonld be to prove that Popery was worse than Dissent; there- verse. as you say, having been the charge brought against your party (whether justly or not I do not pre- tend to determine) by the North II ales Chronicle.— Here, however, 1 was in error, rrom tile nurouue- tory portion of the lecture, I learn flint its object will be, not to prove that Popery is worse than Dissent,but once more to revive arguments which Withers and Cartwright advanced, and Hooker refuted, nearly three hundred years ago to prove, in short, that you have conscientious grounds for separation from the Church of England or in your own words, to shew that the dictates of conscience have placed you under a moral compulsion to reject membership in that Church." Conscience, Sir, in these days, I need hardly inform you, is a most dangerous tiling to meddle with and if it were less so, my own opinions on the question of religious toleration, would not allow ine for a moment to think of interfering with its dictates to any individual or class of men whatsoever. I have neither a right nor a wish to do vjolcne to your own or any other man's re!ig!ous scruples. But, in com- ,:?.n ?ith every other individual, I have a perfect right to question the validity and logical accuracy of the arguments whereby you attempt to maintain the po- sition you have assumed. The duty incumbent upon everv man, at all times, and in all places, to stand up ia defence of the truth, confers this right upon me; and, for reasons 1am about to disclose, I have been, induced oil the present occasion to exercise it. j lou will pardon me, 1 trust, wnenisay, mai nir.i your lecture been delivered to men of reading and education cqunl, or superior, to your own, it would never have attracted more than a cursory perusal from me if as much as this. But such was not the case. I know enough of Dissent to feel r.ssured that the great bulk of your audience would consist of small farmers, shopkeepers, and peasants; a class of men which, in Wales, I am ready to admit, is second to no other in national intelligence and quickness of parts; nevertheless, one composed of persons who are as rarely disposed to draw legitimate (or indeed any) inferences from facts connected with Ecclesiastical History, as they are unaccustomed to deep theological research: men to whom tiie original language of the ,'II' 'l'estn!l1nt is a dead lettei, who know as much about the writings of Cyprian as they do about the love-songs of Ovid, s or the lt Gods of Homer; men," in short, who would be but too liable, and, I re- gret to express my belief, in the present instance, but too willing, to accept assertion for fact, or assurance for argument; to mistake conjecture for induction, or dogma for a dictum. Under these circumstances, however repugnant to my feelings to introduce a reli- gious discussion into the columns of a newspaper, I feel it to be a duty I owe alike to the cause of truth and that Church to which I esteem it a privilege to belong, to resort to this llleans of exposing the falla- cies of your argument, and the general looseness and inaccuracy of your reasoning. The same cause has led me designedly to write this letter ill a popular style and I shall take all the pre- cautions in my power to insure it:") being interesting ami intelligible to that class of men to whom your ob- servations were almost exclusively addressed; and who 1 think were the ollly people likcly to he deceived by your arguments, or led into talse conclusions by your premises, As I haveassumedauanonymous signature, it is rt?"pethaps,Ishouhlpreface)nyremark9with a t?w () 1).iorvatioii, iii3,self' I am, Sir, one of those men who have spent a number of terms at (,I' tit.se iiieIlp 'I in -our lcetiii-c N,,)ti one of, tile f tlic! sttiienti of tiies?? venerable Institu- tions as occupied in "eating Latin and drinking Greek." [confer.hat 1am myself somewhat puz- zled to discver either the point or wit of this expres- sioa, Hut if you mean by it to imply that these young men derive iutdlcctual strength and vigour from im- hi bing the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, I alii willing to acknowledge the truth of your remark, although at the same time, I must confess, I cannot admire^the beauty of your metaphor, or the polish and l) luity of your diction. Yes, Sir, I feel a plcasnrr, Iwt unmixed, on the present occasion, with priùe, ill acknowledging that many of the happiest hours of my lit'e have been spent in contemplating the beauties of those •' fables and love-songs of Ovid," in converse with those Gods and heroes of Homer,"whichyou, would appear so thoroughly to despise. I have reason to believe, too, that thesc studies have not been so unprofitable as you would imply. If nothing else, they have enabled me to compare the theological sys- tems of Greece and Rome, and indeed of the whole, ancient world, with that which is revealed to man in the Bible they have shewn me the incomparable su- periority and purity of the latter over all other sys- tems and thus they have taught me to cling, with greater confidence of their ultimate fulfilment, to the iiopes which the Christian religion unfolds to man but above all, Sir, they have made ine familiar with the grammatical construction and idiom of that lan- ?uage in which the New Testament was originally written, and a familiar acquaintance with which is so essentialy requisite before a man attempts to discuss matters connected either with ecclesiastical polity or doctrinal truth. Further than this, Sir, I will inform you that I have devoted many years of my life almost exclusively to the study of tfe more severe and exact sciences. Neither can I allow this time to have been wasted, even in a religious point of view. Such studies I have shewn me how the natural appearances of the uninrse are all reducible to fixed and general laws; they have shewn me the invariable fitness of those laws ?o promote the happiness and benelicial course of the wor, and they have thus led me, by an inde- pendent process, to form conceptions of the divine power, goodness, and superintendence, which I find agree in a remarkahle manner with those I was pre- viously taught to entertain of them from the letter of revelation. But above all, Sir, they have taught me a co) red and logical mode of argument and induction they have brought me on no occasion to take simple assertion for proof, or any man's assurance for argu- ment Quitting these remarks, I will now proceed to dis- cuss thesubject matterof your lecture, and I shall t??k, yom arguments seriatim, in the order in which they occur. I would, however, here draw attention gene-I rally to a mode of proceeding which, had I been writing on any other occaion, I should have desig- nated as trifling; but which, when I consider the na- ture and constitution of your audience, I cannot de- signate by any milder term than vicious. I allude to the tendency, more or less rli8cernihle throughout your lecture, to take things for granted which you have never proved and to the great paucity of quota- tions and references to be found throughout the lec- ture. You seldom advance more than an isolated text of scripture to prove your point and frequently not so much as this. I need not remind, you, Sir, that the saying of one of those Archdeacons (of whose very titles you appear to have a well-grounded dread) that" he alone discovers who proves," is equally ap- plicable to an argument. What has been impugned only on your simple assertion, I cannot think re- quires any notice from me beyond this general cau- ?,i,)ii. I shall not therefore waste my time in defend- ing points which are thus glossed over and trifled with. You preface your argument by remarking, that you would not hurt the feelings or lower the character of any one. Whether insinuating that your adversary I was Imiler the influence of Satan and, because lie happens to differ from yon on a religious question,ap- plying to him such opprobrious terms as the mother I of harlots," and" ull the abomination" of the earth," be a specimen of Christian charity and brotherly jove, or a proof that you are acting up to your assertion, I shall not trouble myself to determine. It very little coneerns me, or my argument, whether you terlll your opponent "a beat," or a "harlot," or any other earthly abomination whatsoever. From the strong democratical bias discernible throughout your lecture, I must confess I am somewhat surprised to find you granting in the very outset that the kingdom of Heaven is a monarchy, of which Christ ii king that to him, ard him alone, belong the au- thority to enact laws, to institute oilices and to appoint ordinances. That laws, offices, and ordinances have been so appointed by him that these are all written in the New Testament, and that he whoaddeth thereto or subtracteth there from is not guiltless." At the close of the next paragraph but one you remark with refer- ence to Ecclesiastical titles; How then can we rea- sonably consider this list tobe offices of Christ's Church, when h, z,,ver i(iiiif,d thent ?" Hence I think I may legitimately infer that in your opinion no Ecclesiastical title, office, or ordinance, can be binding upon Chris- tians, unless it has been expressly named and instituted by Christ himself, and that unlcss it has bcen so named and instituted, it is a grievous sin for any Christian to assume it. Now, Sir, in reading of the transactions of the non- conformist body I invariably find a talented Minister among them designated as the Reverend Doctor Vaug'han. You ) ourself are styled the Reverend John Phillips in the very paper in which your abhorrence of all Ecclesiastical titles is reported. Now whcre am I to find any warrant in the Bible for you to attach such titles as Doctor and Reverend to your names ? Titles these, which, to use your own words "are indirect opposition to the positive exhortation of Christ himself, for thus saith the Lord, (say you) "Be yc lIot call cd Rahhi, for one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren." Surely, Sir, you have added to the Book of the Lord"by assuming such titles as Doctor and Reverend, equally with the Clergy of the Anglican Church who have assumed to themselves the appella- tions of Dean, Archdeacon, and Rector. Your own argument, and not mine, has convicted you of a griev- ous sin in the sight of Heaven. Gall forbid that I should ever esteem a man guilty of sin for assuming such innocent and unpretending titles as the above 1 have only for a moment adopted your own argument, to shew the utter wonhlessness and untenable nature of the ground you have chosen, on which to make your attack. A"ain Sir, I do not profess to know much about your ofifcers, hut I am told by yourelf that you have one called a Deacon, and in Welsh I have commonly heard this omcer designated hy the word Blue nor. But I have looked in vain throughout thc four Gospels to discover any mention of the word Deacon or Blaenor by our Lord; indeed it is my belief that the latter of these appellations is as great a stranger to the New Testament as the word Vicar or Rector is. The office of Deacon was noteven instituted untii after our Lord's death. Am I not then bound to believe that you have added to the word of God, and are not guiltless in his sight ? If you object to this that the office was insti- tuted at the intimation of the Spirit to the Apostles, I am willing to allow the objection to stand (although you yourself are not) on condition that you answer the following questions in the affirmative: In the first. Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy (chapter ii. verse 1,) 1 iiiid a iiiost solemn exhortation, amount- ing indeed to an injunction, that every time the early Christians assembled themselves together for prayer, they should pray" for kings al/dall that are in uu- j thority." Di, yuu do this every time you assemble tor religious worship ? I must confess the spirit of your lccture induces me to doubt this. Again, in the second chapter of ikets lN-ei-se 11, I read that the early Chris- tiitiis had all things common. Is this the case with your 1 sect? InSt. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, (chap. xvi. verse I,) I find an order given to that Church, (and not to that only, but extended to others also,) to "lay by them on the first day of the week as God hath prospered them." Do you act up to this injunction? In 2 Corinthians, ii. verse 1, I find that it was an esta- blished custom in the Primitive Church to give letters commendatory to a Bishop, or as you will have it an Elder, when he travelled from one place to another. Is this custom in force with you' In St. Paul's first I E'¡istle to Timothy, (chapter v. verse 9,)Ifind the foHowi))gp:tSsage? Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore jears old. When I compare this with Acts, chapter vi. verse 1, 1 cannot doubt that from the first formation of the Christian Church a regular provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the order of widows which be- longed to it. Have you such an order or such a pro- vision among you? Last of all, Sir, I find in the xxii. v  i oii ainon,? chapter of St. Matthew, verse 2, our Blessed Lord himself solemnly exhorting his disciples to the follow- ing effect: "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' scat, whatsoever therefore they bid you observe, Ihat observe and do," When your sect first separated itself from the Church of England, and thus rebelled against the authority of those whom your ancestors oppro- hriously termed" Scribes and Pharisees," was it acting in obedience to this precept? a precept too of our Lord himself! Unless you can answer all these ques- tions in the affirmative, I am bound to convict );ou, (and I do it only on your argument) of IHlving taku1 from the word of God you have committed a grievous sin. Bnt I h ive yet another question to put to you before I have done. I never yet met with II Dissenter who was not most scrupulous (and rightly too) in his observance of the Christian Sabbath, and who did not consider it an ordinance binding upon every man. I know that your nonconforming ancestors, in their zeal for the proper observance of this day, have even pro- ceeded to such lengths as to tie up a Clergyman of the Church of England to the whipping post for walking too fast from Church on a Sunday I ask you yourself whether you do not consider the observance of the Christian 'Sabbath binding upon all Christians. I take it for granted that you answer in the affirmative; and I further ask you to produce from Scripture a single proof that such was our Lord's institution or that o. ds Apostles, You cannot do this. Ilien I am bound oil \our hypothesis to deem it "human and unimport- ant." But I have not quite done yet. In the Old Testament I fintlll10st solemnly enjoined upon mankind the duty of keeping the seventh day Holy. Do you act up to this command.' You do not. Prodnce yonr au- thority from Scripture for this disobedience to God's command. You cannot. Then, Sir, I convict you on your own argument of a heinous sin. I will now, Sir, tell you why I, as a member of the Church of England do not consider that I am commit- ting a sin, or transgressing God's word, by giving to the Clergy such titles as Curates, Vicars, Rectors, Archdeacons, &rc. In the first place, I can clearly collect from St. Paul's Epistles to 'I imothy and 1 Corin- thians (chapter xiv. verse 10,) as well as from Acts (chapter vi. verse 1,) that there were various titles given both to the Laity and Clergy of the early Chuch, but that such titles were very (fiflerent from the three orders of Ministers, Apostles, Elders, or Bishops, an d Deacons. I also learn from Eusebius (Eccles. Hist-vi that there existed in the Church about the year 251, such classes and officers as subdeacon, acolyttes, readers, janitors and widows. I know that this last was an order in the time of St, Paul, and this confirms me in the belief that many of the others might be so. I have a Scriptural warrant for believing that there are innumerable grades and degrees of rank in the Com- munion of Saints above, I cannot therefore consider it sinful that such grades should exist in the Communion of Christians below. List of all, Sir, coiiiiiioit sense tells me that the mere giving of such titles to Eccle- siastical ofifcers cannot be a sin, or a substantial ground for leaving the Chnrch's Communion. You know as well as myself, that the three Estates of this realm are King, Lords, and Commons. You know also that you are bound by the most solemn ties of duty and religion to obev the Constitution under which you live. But according to your argument you are freed from your allegiance to your sovereign, you are at perfect liberty to constitute yourself and your followers into a little republic, simply because the state recognizes such officers as Prime Minister, Secretaries of State, Judges, General i, Admirals and Captains! I will not, however, press you further on this head you seem yourself to be thoroughly ashamed of your argument by your concluding paragraph, and it would be cruel to press it further against you. In my next letter I shall consider some of the other arguments you advance. I now remain, Sir, your obedient Servant, A. SILURIAN. Wilberforce' History of the American Church.

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