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ment. In our ecclesiastical constitution, however, regard was had to an earlier state of the Primitive Church, when the political government of the Roman empire was not for, but against her; when the civil rulers at best only afforded the religion of the Gospel a precarious and capricious toleration, often interrupted by seasons of persecution, cruelty, and blood. This was the time, when the Church presented, within herself, a Federal Republic, of which each bishop presided over his separate district, and united in council with his colleagues for the determination of any question of great and general interest. This was the time, too, when bishops were elected by the clergy, with the concurrent suffrages of the people, and when the whole support of the Church was the liberal offering of the people's will. And from this earlier period of the Church's history, when she had no connexion whatever with any civil government, nor any secular dominion, we take our model; with some additional provisions, nevertheless, of very recent origin, but all designed to shew our republican dread of power, and our desire to conform to the genius of our national system.

I proceed, in the third place, to state the manner in which our Church officers are held responsible for abuses. 1 The bishop, who is a judge of the Church, is elected and

consecrated without limitation, that is, for life; as the judges of the Federal Courts, and of the State Courts in general, are commissioned for life. But the bishop may be impeached, and tried, and degraded, if he act in any way unworthy of his office; just as the judge of the civil republic may be impeached, and, if guilty, be deprived of his commission. Here, then, we have the most perfect analogy. The judge of the Church, and the judge of the commonwealth, are both, in their respective spheres, entrusted for life with the interpretation of law, and with the administra

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tion of justice but they are not, in their own persons, above the law, nor beyond the reach of justice. God forbid that the State should have any officer who cannot be made responsible for his official delinquency. Much more, may God forbid that his Church should have any officer who cannot be brought to account even here; besides the awful reckoning which awaits him hereafter. In this thing, therefore, we show again the closest conformity with the principles of the Republican System.

The other clergy are all responsible, of course, before their bishop, for their official delinquencies; and may be presented by written accusation from any one who stands prepared to sustain his charge. And the laity, in like manner, are subject to the laws of the Church, and may be suspended from the communion by their pastor; who is bound in such case to report them to the bishop, before whom, if the party suspended should desire it, the question is examined, and the opinion of the presbyter either confirmed or reversed. The sentence of formal excommunication, however, is committed to the bishop alone.

And now I confidently ask, Where is the conformity between our ecclesiastical government and Popery, to which it has been so often, either ignorantly or maliciously compared? In the Church of Rome, the Cardinals elect the Pope, the Pope appoints the bishops, the bishops appoint the priests, and the people are utterly excluded from any participation in the selection of a single officer, from the supreme Pontiff down to the subdeacon. In the making of canons or ecclesiastical laws the people have no voice; nay the priests have no voice, and even the bishops may not meet in Council unless the Pope authorises them; and after they have met and concluded upon their decisions, they are of no force whatever, unless the Pope ratifies them.

Their parishes have no choice in the minister who is to govern them, the people and the priests have no choice in the bishop who is to rule the diocese. The bishops themselves have no choice in the Pope, who is to reign over them all; for even this important choice is confined to the twelve cardinals who reside at Rome. Not a trace of liberty-not a speck of freedom can be found in their whole ecclesiastical system; while in ours, the rights of the people and the elective principle occur at every step, and justify us in the assertion, that there is not, on the face of the earth, an example of Church government, which is so true a counterpart to the boasted model of the Federal Republic in these United States; since it is calculated, on the one hand, to preserve the Christian rights of her humblest member, and on the other, to guard against the evils of discord and confusion.

I do not make this comparison, however, in the spirit of hatred to the Church of Rome. That is a spirit which I should be sorry to indulge towards any class of men, much more, to any class of Christians. Nor do I believe that there is any thing to be gained by it, even on the score of policy; for though it be granted that their system is the most perfect specimen of spiritual despotism ever invented amongst men, yet I have no idea that the best method of dealing with their errors is to abuse and vilify them. But surely, the corruptions and errors of that Church are not our affair. Surely, the Protestant Episcopal Church has a right to be tried upon her own merits, instead of being confounded with the Church of Rome, in order that the horror existing against the one, may thus be piously excited against the other. We protest, in the plainest terms, against the many and perilous errors of our Roman Catholic brethren in doctrine, as any one may know who will read the articles of our religion. We protest as strongly against

We disclaim

the system of that Church in government. all and every connexion with these errors, and desire nothing more at the hands of any man, than a fair and unprejudiced examination of our whole circle both of faith and practice, to acquit us of any thing that can justly be called Popery; and if, under these circumstances, we are to be classed with Roman Catholics, in order that we may be put down in defiance of truth and justice, we must take leave to say, that such management is much more in accordance with the wisdom of the serpent, than with the harmlessness of the dove.

But we have nothing to fear, my beloved brethren, so long as we ourselves are faithful to Jesus Christ, the Supreme Bishop and Shepherd of our souls. We live in an age of investigation, which will not be always blindfolded by prejudice. We live amongst a people who will think for themselves; and who, sooner or later, will do us justice for their own sake, if not for ours. Meanwhile, let us bear with patience, and instruct with kindness, those that oppose themselves; forgiving their uncharitableness, praying for their welfare, and remembering the Omniscient Judge whose favor will richly compensate us for every trial of our earthly lot. To him, let us lift up our hearts, with one accord, blessing his name for the knowledge of his truth, and earnestly endeavoring, through the influence of his Spirit, to shew forth his praise, 'not only with our lips, but in our lives,'


GAL. IV. 16.


Ar length, my brethren, I have arrived at the close of these discourses, to which you have listened with so much interest and attention. I would they had been more worthy of my theme; for surely, next to that blessed Gospel which the divine Redeemer came from heaven to promulgate, there is no subject which ought so deeply to exercise the Christian's thoughts and feelings, as the primitive characteristics of his Church. O would to God that the spirit of unity and peace might once more rest upon that ark of salvation! Would that the Church could once more present the blessed aspect of piety and order, which it possessed before the corruptions of Rome made a reformation necessary. Then I might be spared the pain of writing, and you of listening to defences against misrepresentation. Then the family of Christ, instead of vilifying and slandering one another, would be occupied in assaulting the strong holds of Satan, and in drawing the careless and ungodly world into the pure and sacred enclosure of the Gospel. Then the river of life, instead of the waters of bitterness, would flow over the heritage of the redeemed, and the kingdom of the Lord would rejoice in the holiness and love which should distinguish his people.

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