Category Archives: Church of England

Item of the Day: Locke on Toleration (1777)

Full Title: The Works of John Locke, In Four Volumes.  The Eighth Edition.  Volume the Second.  London:  Printed for W. Strahan, J. F. and C. Rivington, L. Davis, W. Owen, S. Baker and G. Leigh, T. Payne and Son, T. Caslon, S. Crowder, T. Longman, B. Law, C. Rivington, E. and C. Dilly, J. Wilkie, T. Cadell, N. Conant, T. Beecroft, T. Lowndes, G. Robinson, Jos. Johnson, J. Robson, J. Knox, T. Becket, and T. Evans.  MDCCLXXVII.

A Letter Concerning Toleration [p. 316].

Honoured Sir,

Since you are pleased to enquire what are my thoughts about the mutual Toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must needs answer you freely, that I esteem that Toleration be the chief characteristical mark of the true church.  For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or of the pomp of their outward worship; others, of the reformation of their discipline; all, of the orthodoxy of their faith, for everyone is orthodox to himself: these things, and all others of this nature, are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another, than of the church of Christ.  Let any one have ever so true a claim to all these things, yet if he be destitute of charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians, he is certainly yet short of being a true Christian himself.  “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, said our Saviour to his disciples, but ye shall not be so,” Luke xxii. 25, 26.  The business of true religion is quite another thing.  It is not instituted in order to the erecting an external pomp, nor to the obtaining of ecclesiastical dominion, nor to the exercising of compulsive force; but to the regulating of men’s lives according to the rules of virtue and piety.  Whosoever will lift himself under the banner of Christ, must, in the first place and above all things, make war upon his own lusts and vices.  It is in vain for any man to usurp the name of Christian, without holiness of life, purity of manners, and benignity and meekness of spirit.  “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. 2. Tim. ii. 19. Thou, when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” said our Lord to Peter, Luke xxii. 32.  It would indeed be very hard for one that appears careless about his own salvation, to persuade me that he were extremely concerned for mine.  For it is impossible that those should sincerely and heartily apply themselves to make other people Christians, who have not really embraced the Christian religion in their hearts.  If the Gospel and the Apostles may be credited, no man can be a Christian without charity, and without that faith which works, not by force, but by love.  Now I appeal to the consciences of those that persecute, torment, destroy, and kill other men upon pretence of religion, whether they do it out of friendship and kindness towards them, or no; and I shall then indeed, and not till then, believe they do so, when I shall see those fiery zealots correcting, in the same manner, their friends and familiar acquaintance, for the manifest sins they commit against the precepts of the Gospel; when I shall see them prosecute with fire and sword the members of their own communion that are tainted with enormous vices, and without amendment are in danger of eternal perdition; and when I shall see them thus express their love and desire of the salvation of their souls, by the infliction of torments, and exercise of all manner of cruelties.  For if it be out of a principle of charity, as they pretend, and love to men’s souls, that they deprive them of their estates, maim them with corporal punishments, starve and torment them in noisome prisons, and in the end even take away their lives; I say, if all this be done merely to make men Christians, and procure their salvation, why then do they suffer “whoredom, fraud, malice, and such-like enormities,” which according to the Apostle, Rom. i. manifestly relish of heathenish corruption, to predominate so much and abound amongst their flock and people?  These, and such-like things, are certainly more contrary to the glory of God, to the purity of the church , and to the salvation of souls, than any conscientious dissent from ecclesiastical decision, or separation from publick worship, whilst accompanied with innocency of life.  Why then does this burning zeal for God, for the church, and for the salvation of souls; burning, I say, literally with fire and faggot; pass by those moral vices and wickedness, without any chastisement, which are acknowledged by all men to be diametrically opposite to the profession of Christianity; and bend all its nerves either to the introducing of ceremonies, or to the establishment of opinions, which for the most part are about nice and intricate matters, that exceed the capacity of ordinary understandings?  Which of the parties contending about these things is in the right, which of them is guilty of schism or heresy, whether those that domineer or those that suffer, with then at last be manifest, when the cause of their separation comes to be judged of.  He certainly that follows Christ, embraces his doctrine, and bears his yoke, though he forsake both father and mother, separate from the publick assemblies and ceremonies of his country, or whomsoever, or whatsoever else he relinquishes, will not then be judged an heretick.       

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Filed under 1770's, Church of England, Letters, Posted by Matthew Williams, Religion

Item of the Day: Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695, 1777)

Full Title:

The Works of John Locke, in Four Volumes.  The Eighth Edition.  Volume the Third.  London:  Printed for W. Strahan, J. F. and C. Rivington, L. Davis, W. Owen, S. Baker and G. Leigh, T. Payne and Son, T. Caslon, S. Crowder, T. Longman, B. Law, C. Rivington, E. and C. Dilly, J. Wilkie, T. Cadell, N. Conant, T. Beecroft, T. Lowndes, G. Robinson, Jos. Johnson, J. Robson, J. Knox, T. Becket, and T. Evans. 1777.

The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures [originally, 1695]

It is obvious to any one, who reads the new testament, that the doctrine of redemption, and consequently of the gospel, is founded upon the supposition of Adam’s fall.  To understand therefore, what we are restored to by Jesus Christ, we must consider what the scriptures shew [sic] we lost by Adam.  This I thought worthy of a diligent and unbiassed [sic] search: since I found the two extremes, that men run into on this point, either on the one hand shook the foundations of all religion, or, on the other, made christianity almost nothing: for whilst some men would have all Adam’s posterity doomed to eternal, infinite punishment, of the transgression of Adam, whom millions had never heard of, and no one had authorised to transact for him, or be his representative; this seemed to others so little consistent with the justice or goodness of the great and infinite God, that they thought there was no redemption necessary, and consequently, that there was none; rather than admit of it upon a supposition so derogatory to the honour and attributes of that infinite Being; and so made Jesus Christ nothing but the restorer and preacher of pure natural religion; thereby doing violence to the whole tenor of the new testament.  And, indeed, both sides will be suspected to have trespassed this way, against the written word of God, by any one, who does but take it to be a collection of writings, designed by God, for the instruction of the illiterate bulk of mankind, in the way to salvation; and therefore, generally, and in necessary points, to be understood in the plain direct meaning of the words and phrases; such as they may be supposed to have had in the mouths of the speakers, who used them according to the language of that time and country wherein they lived; without such learned, artificial, and forced senses of them, as are fought out, and put upon them, in most of the systems of divinity, according to the notions that each one has been bred up in. 

To one that, thus unbiassed, reads the scriptures, what Adam fell from (is visible), was the state of perfect obedience, which is called justice in the new testament; though the word, which in the original signifies justice, be translated righteousness: and, by this fall, be lost paradise, wherein was tranquility and the tree of life; i.e. he lost bliss and immortality.  The penalty annexed to the breach of the law, with the sentence pronounced by God upon it, shew this. The penalty stands thus, Gen. ii. 17. “In the day, that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”  How was this executed?  He did eat: but, in the day he did eat, he did not actually die; but was turned out of paradise from the tree of life, and shut out for ever from it, lest he shoul take thereof, and live for ever.  This shews, that the state of paradise was a state of immortality, of life without end; which he lost that very day that he eat: his life began from thence to shorten, and waste, and to have an end; and from thence, to his actual death, was but like the time of a prisoner, between the sentence passed and the execution, which was in view and certain.  Death then entered, and shewed his face which before was shut out, and not known.  So St. Paul, Rom. v. 12. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” i.e. a state of death and mortality: and, 1 Cor. xv. 22.  In Adam all die; i.e. by reason of his transgression, all men are mortal, and come to die.    

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Filed under 1690's, 1770's, Church of England, Eighteenth century, Philosophy, Posted by Matthew Williams, Reason, Religion

Item of the Day: The Works of Richard Hooker (1682)

Full Title: The Works Of that Learned and Judicious Divine, Mr. Richard Hooker, in Eight Books of Ecclesiastical Polity, Compleated out of his own Manuscripts. With several other Treatises by the same Author, and an Account of his Life and Death. Dedicated to the King’s most Excellent Majesty, Charles II. By whose Royal Father (near His Martydom) the former Five Books (then only extant) were commended to His Dear Children, as an excellent means to satisfie Private Scruples, and settle the Publick Peace of this Church and Kingdom. London: Printed for Robert Scot, Thomas Basset, John Wright and Richard Chiswel, M.DC.LXXXII.

 A

PPREFACE

To them that seek (as they term it)

The Reformation of the Laws and

Orders Ecclesiastical,

in the

Church of England.

Though for no other cause, yet for this, That Posterity may know we have not loosly through silence, permitted things to pass away as in a Dream, There shall be for Mens infomration extant thus much concerning the present state of the Church of God, established amongst us, and their careful endeavour which would have upheld the same. At your hands, beloved in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, (for in him the love which we bear unto all that would but seem to be born of him, it is not the Sea of your Gall and bitterness that shall ever drown) I have no great cause to look for other, than the self-same portion and lot, which your manner hath been hitherto to lay on them that concur not in Opinion and Sentence with you. But our hope is that the God of Peace shall (notwithstanding mans nature, too impatient of contumelious malediction) enable us quietly, and even gladly to suffer all things for that work sake, which we covet to perform. The wonderful zeal and fervour wherewith ye have withstood the received Orders of this Church, was the first thing which caused me to enter into consideration, Whether (as all your published Books and Writings peremptorily maintain) every Christian man fearing God, stand bound to joyn with you for the furtherance of that which ye term The Lords Discipline. Wherein I must plainly confess unto you, that before I examined your sundry Declarations in that behalf, it could not settle in my head to think, but that undoubtedly such numbers of otherwise right well-affected and most religiously enclined minds, had some marvellous reasonable enducements which led them with so great earnestness that way. But when once, as near as my slender ability would serve, I had with travel and care performed that part of the Apostles advice and counsel in such cases, whereby he willeth to try all things, and was come at the length so far, that there remained only the other clause to be satisfied, wherein he concludeth, that what good is, must be held: There was in my poor understanding no remedy, but to set down this as my final resolute persuasion. Surely, the present Form of Church Government, which the Laws of the Land have established, is such, as no Law of God, nor Reason of Man hath hitherto been alledged of force, sufficient to prove they do ill, who to the uttermost of their power, withstand the alteration therof. Contrariwise, The other, which instead of it, we are required to accept, is only the Error and misconceipt, named the Ordinance of Jesus Christ, no one Proof as yet brought forth, whereby it may clearly appear to be so in very deed. The Explication of which two things, I have here thought good to offer into your hands; Heartily beseeching you, even by the Meekness of Jesus Christ, whom I trust ye love, That, as ye tender the Peace and Quietness of this Church, if there be in you that gracious Humility which hath ever been the Crown of Glory of a Christianly disposed mind: If your own souls, hearts, and consciences, (the sound integrity wherof can but hardly stand with the refusal of Truth in personal respects) be, as I doubt not but they are, things most dear and precious unto you: Let not the Faith which ye have in our Lord Jesus Christ, be blemished with partialities, regard not who it is which speaketh, but weigh only what is spoken. Think not that ye read the words of one who bendeth himself as an Adversary against the Truth, which ye have already embraced, but the words of one, who desireth even to embrace together with you the self-same Truth, if it be the Truth; and for that cause (for no other, God be knoweth) hath undertaken the burthensome labour of this painful kind of Conference. For the plainer access whereunto, let it be lawful for me to rip up the very bottom, how, and by whom your Discipline was planted, at such time as this age we live in, began to make first trial thereof. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1680's, Church of England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion