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man nature, when, upon a comparison of two things, one is found to be of greater importance than the other, to consider this other as of scarce any importance at all; it is highly necessary that we remind ourselves, how great presumption it is, to make light of any Institutions of Divine Appointment; that our obligations to obey áll God's commands whatever, are absolute and indispensible: and that Commands merely positive, admitted to be from him, lay us under a moral obligation to obey him; an obligation moral in the strictest and most proper sense.”—Butler's Analogy, p. 270.
Whatever hasty idea some pious persons may have been occasionally led to form on the subject; they may be convinced, if they will judge the Clergy fairly; that our zeal for the essence of religion is not less warm than their own; although there may be a difference of opinion between themselves and us, with respect to the best mode of exercising it. The provision made under the Christian Dispensation for the preservation of true religion in the world, we are persuaded, was the Apostolic Consti
tution of the Church. To the circumstantials of order and government, as they exist in the Episcopal Church of this country, considered as a branch of the Catholic Church of Christ, we look up, as to means divinely appointed, for the purpose of conducing to a certain important end.
Were we to be asked, in the loose but imposing language of the day, which we thought to be of most importance; the Circumstantials of Religion or the Essentiuls of it? we should hold the question to be as little entitled to answer, as if we were to be asked; which we thought of most consequence, the Body, or the Garment that covers it? because, it is presumed, that none but fools or madmen will expose the human frame to the injuries it must suffer from the inclemency of seasons, on the conviction that the covering appointed for the preservation of the body was, comparatively speaking, of infinitely less value, than the body intended to be preserved
With this idea in my mind, I think that the greatest service the Clergy can do to
the cause in which they are engaged, not less than to the country to which they belong; will be to convince all persons really disposed for conviction on the subject, that the " lips of the priest in this land still preserve that knowledge, which is to be expected from his mouth. Conviction on this head will most effectually counteract separation from the Church; by removing the ostensible cause of it: and should it not succeed so far, as to bring Separatists back from the error of their ways, it will at least, with the blessing of God, preserve those members of the Church from going astray, who still remain in it.
The great body of the people in this country are attached to their Bible. Generally speaking, they know when they hear it. And if they hear it, as they ought to do, in the Church, they will certainly have no reason, and it is to be hoped little inclination, to wander in search of it in other places. And when it is considered, that the great body of the people carry with them the political weight of the country they inhabit; their religious instruction ought to constitute an object of primary
importance in every well-regulated govern. ment. :: To behold with indifference that
growįng separation from the Church, which ignorance, misguided zeal, and the prevalence of latitudinarian principles have contributed to introduce among us, would argue a want of attachment to the Christian cause, which no honest Minister of the Church can be supposed to feel. When therefore it is considered, that the Establishment, whether of Church or State, in any country, depends for its security on the support which it receives from public opinion; the obvious conclusion appears to be, that in proportion as the direction of that opinion is withdrawn from those teachers, to whom the Constitution in Church and State has committed it, will the Establishment in either case be proportionably endangered.
But when the Church is viewed, not merely in its political connection, but as a society incorporated by divine wisdom, for the purpose of preserving the standard of Christian truth in the world; the conviction that a corruption of the doctrine of
the Church is the general consequence of a separation from its government, leads to the still more serious apprehension, that such separation may increase to a degree, to render the removal of a Church from any country, a judgement necessary to be carried into execution.
So long therefore, as a rectitude of sentiment in religion continues to be regarded as a matter of importance, so long will the possession of a well educated Clergy be deemed essential, to the spiritual condition of a Christian country. This is a conside ration which must weigh heavy in the scale of every thinking man.
I speak with cautious reverence and fear; acknowledging myself liable to error. But it will be happy for those who shall live some years hence, if they can prove me guilty of error on the subject, -to which I now more immediately, allude.
The times in which we live call for all the energy of the human mind, to stop the progress of that desolating system, which derives its origin from the licentious creed, which has long been stealing on the