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they were opposed more through indolence than
9. When a body of Doctrine is to be fixed upon, in order that unity of teaching may have
may happen, that several doctrines will be set up or proposed, in competition with each other. In this case, it may sometimes promote unity to have different parties enter into a compromise. It seems odd at first, that men should presume to settle truths, as if they could order a proposition to be true or not true, as they pleased: and Mr. Voltaire ridicules such kind of compromise: speaking of the Jansenists and Jesuits, and of one Jesuit Achilles Gaillard in particular, he says, “Il proposa gravement d'accepter la predestination gratuite, à condition que les Dominicains admettraient la scienced moienne; et qu'on ajusterait ces deux systémes comme on pourrait.” This at first has the air, as if the Jesuits could allow Predestination to be true in what degree they chose, and in like manner the Jansenists the Doctrine of Grace: but, though this might be ridiculous in theory, yet in practice something of the sort might reasonably take place. Suppose the Jesuits not to allow gratuitous predestination in their private opinion, they might agree, for the sake of peace, not to oppose it, or require subscriptions or declarations in contradiction to it: and so might the Jansenists do, with regard to the Jesuitical notion about the assistance of the Holy Spirit. — And accordingly, in consequence of this compromise, we are told, One
composa • Siecle de Louis XIV, Jansenisme, not far from the beginning, p. 263. 12mo.
. For scientia media see Vitringa Theol. vol. I. De attributis-(Sapientia.)
e See Voltaire's Jansenisme, in Louis XIV. towards end. p. 296. 12mo.
Dr. Balguy allows of “ mutual concessions : p. 125. in Disc. vii.
composa un corps de doctrine, qui contenta presque les deux partis."
Allied to mutual concessions, is obedience to injunctions of the civil power to put an end to disputes on speculative doctrines : in this, the open profession and maintaining of opinion, is sacrificed to good order, and to that good turn of mind, which arises from order and peace. It might seem, as if no earthly Governor had a power to silence the preacher of truth; as if he might follow the example of“ Peter and John, who preferred the command of God to that of the Council:-but the business of the ordinary teacher, in the cases we speak of, is not to propagate a system of religion like the Christian ; nor has he miraculous power, to shew that he is to judge for himself; he should think what is the least evil, to obey the Magistrate, or to destroy the peace of the Church.
Injunctions of the kind we speak of are, that of • Charles 1st, prefixed to our Articles ; and those of several Popes, who endeavoured to bring the Jansenists and their
opponents to teach the common moral duties.—The title of our Articles shews, that they were made “ for avoiding of diversities of opinions, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion.”
Dr. Balguy should be read; particularly his seventh Discourse.
* Acts iv. 19. Dr Balguy, p. 119.
• That this was by Charles 1st. see Pamphlet called “ A Diss. on the i7. Art.” &c.-Oxf. 1773,
1. We have now, according to our plan, shewn, that the way to promote right conduct is, to study the nature of Sentiments, religious ones in particular: and that the way to promote good sentiments is, to maintain unity of doctrine; the last thing is to shew, that the way to maintain unity of Doctrine is, to require, from those who are to teach, some kind of assent to that which is to be taught.
Attempts have been made to shew, that such assent is needlesso; if it is so, it must be owned that they do wrong, who insist upon it. The Remonstrants in Holland“, a very respectable set of people, made one attempt of this sort; the Ministers of our own Church made another, not many years ago: but I consider both as mere expedients of Reformers, aiming to change particular Doctrines, not as coming from objections of mere reason to all Articles. If reformers can get rid of one establishment, they can more easily introduce o another; and I have no idea, that either the Dutch Remonstrants or our own countrymen would have gone
c See end of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia: the experiment is not yet fully tried there, and whilst it is trying, it comes under an observation to be made in this Chapter. Note, p. 45.
d See Dr. Jortin's Six Dissertations, p. 104, 105. nod of Dort was in 1618 and 1619.
e Were ever any persons known to wish to throw off subscriptions to any doctrines, who meant to continue the profession of the same doctrines ? these would be the persons to be heard against subscriptions.
on without one, or without declarations on the part of the teachers, for any length of time" 2. Not but there are some specious thing's
be said in favour of leaving men at liberty; there are some suppositions on which, and some circumstances in which, assent to doctrines would be needless; and we shall not go to the bottom of the subject, if we do not inquire what they are. Till it is shewn, that none of them can be expected to be realized in the present state of things, they will be perpetually urged as objections to our manner of managing religious Society. Besides, to conceive different cases, must enlarge the mind, and let us see the nature of all religious establishments, without the peculiarities of any one. If we do not think in this way, we do not distinguish between peculiarities, and those properties which are inherent in the nature of Religious Society as such.
Dr. Powell says', very sensibly, “Since it cannot be imagined, that men should explain with clearness, or enforce with earnestness, or defend with accuracy of judgment, such doctrines as they do not believe; the Church requires of those, who are appointed to teach religion, a solemn declaration of their Faith.” When Dr. Powell says, " it cannot be imagined,” he does not say it is impossible ; he reasons from experience, his conclusion is probable.- Dr. Balguy, in that admirable composition his fifth Charge, does, as I conceive, the same. This method was best suited to their purpose ; we have only to hope, that our plan may be suitable to a course of Lectures.' I know not that there is amongst us any difference of opinion.
3. The most obvious, though not the most probable, supposition is, that there was no mateFial difference of Opinion amongst the students of religion in any number of men who lived together, None which could occasion any dissensions hurtful to religious sentiments; none which seemed to the persons concerned inconsistent with the carrying on of a religious Society. This may seem too improbable a supposition to bear mentioning; but yet it should be made, as no assent to doctrines need be given in such a case: and we should observe, that it would come to much the same thing, if there was great moderation about the different modes of expressing those doctrines, which we cannot comprehend; for it is chiefly about these that any dissensions arise, which disturb the peace of the Church, so as to defeat the ends of religious society. We and the Socinians are said to differ, but about what? not about morality, or natural religion, or the divine authority of the Christian Religion; we differ only about what we do not understand: and about what is to be done on the part of God: and, if we allowed one another to use expressions at will, (and what great matter could that be in what might almost be called unmeaning expressions? we need never be upon our guardagainst each other: a heathen Socrates, I think, would be surprized at those, who agreed in so many things, requiring declarations and subscriptions in order to exclude one another; he would judge, that we might worship together, and even have the same body of doctrine : each party thinking freely in private, and using discreet expressions in public a.
rial a Oliver Cromwell was for making an ecclesiastical establishment, or national Church, at last. See Hume, A. D. 1656.
b Disc. p. 33.
e Chap. iv. Sect. 4.
4 The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine to the heads of the parties when Arianism first broke out, does bim honour. It is easily found in Eusebius's Life of Constantine, or in Socrates's Ecclesiastical History. Lardner commends it; Works, vol. IV. p. 188 and 200. It is mentioned again, in our B. iv. Art. 1. Sect. 15. end.