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It is therefore no idle Caprice that has compelled us to dissent from and forswear the See of Rome; but that Obligation and Duty which we owed to our God and Saviour, whose true Religion we sincerely hope all our Protestant Brethren will constantly profess and openly acknowledge, whatever their sufferings may be in so glorious a cause.
: When however this step was first resolved upon, the Church of England laid no burdens on the Consciences of Men, and exercised its authority no further than was absolutely necessary for its own preservation. It required indeed a compliance with its Rules from its members in general, and its Ministers in particular: but as no man is compelled to remain a Member, he may exercise his private Judgment in the Inyestigation of its Doctrines, and withdraw from its Communion, if he believes those Doctrines to be false. We allow therefore to others the privilege which we claimed for ourselves in withdrawing from the Church of Rome. And since they who withdraw from us, continue the exercise of that very authority, to which they had been previously subjected in the Church of
England, our Church stands exculpated front the Charge of Inconsistency, and a departure from the Principles of the Reformation.
But if the Church of England thus allows the right of private judgment, this right is absolutely refused by the Church of Rome. For the latter not only requires obedience from all who continue in its communion, but prohibits a departure from that communion. And this prohibition is carried so far, that the Church of Rome claims the power of exercising spiritual jurisdiction over those who have ceased to be its members. Allegiance to the Church is considered in the same light as allegiance to the State; and Apostates from the Religion of Rome are regarded as Rebels against their lawful Sovereign. The Council of Trent has formally declared that the Church of Rome is the Mother and Mistress of all * Churches, whence they who have deserted its standard, and have gone over to other Churches are still declared amenable to the Church of Rome. Accordingly we find in the Roman Catechism,
* Ecclesia Romana, quæ omnium Ecclesiarum, Mater est et Magistra, &c. p. liii. See also the Trent Confession of Faith.
published by order of Pius V, that Heretics and Schismatics, though no longer members of the Church of Rome, are still in the power of the Church, “as persons to be called by it to judg“ment, punished and doomed by Anathema to “ damnation.”* And this claim, thus officially made in the Roman Catechism, is urged at this very day in the Theological Lectures which are given in the College of Maynooth.†
In further considering the various articles of Popish Faith and Practice, we might safely refer to the admirable line of argument taken by Bishop Jewell in his Apology: but Burnett, & in his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, bas given such incontrovertible reasons for dissenting from the See of Rome in certain particulars, that we cannot refrain from citing his own words; “ An obstinate adherence to things, only because they
* Hæretici sero et Schismatiei, qui ab Ecclesia desciverunt, &c. Non vegandum tamen quin in Ecclesiæ potestate sint, ut qui ab ea in judicium vocentur, puniantur, anathemate damnentur.
Catechismus Romanus, p. 78. Ed. 1587. + Bishop Marsh's Comparative View, p. 179, Cambridge, 1814.
Bishop Burnett on the xxxix Articles,
are ancient, when all the ends for which they were first introduced do cease, is the limiting the Church in a point in which she ought still to preserve her liberty: she ought still to pursue those great Rules in all her orders of doing all things to edification, with decency and for peace. The only question that can be made in this matter is, whether such general laws as have been made by greater bodies, by General Councils for instance, or by those Synods, whose Canons were received into the body of the Canons of the Catholic Church; whether these, I say, may be altered by National Churches, or whether the body of Christians is so to be reckoned one body, that all the parts of it are bound to submit, in matters indifferent, to the Decrees of the body in general ? It is certain that all the parts of the Catholic Church ought to hold a Communion one with another, and mutual commerce and correspondence together : but this difference is to be observed between the Christian and the Jewish Religion, that the one was tied to one nation and to one place, whereas the Christian Religion is Universal; to be spread to all nations, among people of different climates and languages, and of different customs and tempers : and, therefore, since the power in
indifferent matters, is given the Church only in order to Edification, every nation must be the proper judge of that within itself.
** .“ The Roman Empire, though a great body, yet was all under one Government; and therefore all the Councils that were held while that Empire stood, are to be considered only as national Synods under one Civil Policy. The Christians of Persia, India, or Ethiopia, were not subject to the Canons made by them, but were at full liberty to make Rules and Canons for themselves. And in the primitive times we see a vast diversity in their Rules and Rituals. They were so far from imposing general Rules on all, that they left the Churches at full liberty: even the Council of Nice made very few Rules; that of Constanti : nople and Ephesus, made fewer; and though the abuses that were growing in the fifth century gave occasion to the Council of Chalcedon to make more Canons, yet the number of them is but small;" so that the Tyranny of subjecting particular churches to laws that might be inconvenient for them, which now forms a leading feature of Popery, was not then brought into the Church.