A LETTER FROM A Minister of the Church OF ENGLAND TO HIS Dissenting Parishioners.

CONTAINING A brief Answer to the most material Objec­tions against the Establish'd Church that are to be found in De Laune's Plea, The Answer to the Bishop of Derry, The plain Reasons for separating, &c. and others. Together with plain Reasons for Confor­mity to the Church of England.

1 Kings 18, 21.

How long halt ye between two Opinions.

1 Cor. 14, 40.

Let all Things be done decently and in [or ac­cording to] Order.

1 Pet. 2, 13.

Be subject to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake.

New-York, Printed by John Peter Zenger, 1733.

[Page 3]

A LETTER FROM A Minister of the Church of England to his dissenting Parishioners, &c.

My dear, tho' mistaken Brethren;

MY Hearts Desire and Prayer to God for you and yours, is, That you might be saved: This likewise has been, and is my earnest and constant Endea­vour; for your Souls are very preci­ous, for whom our dear Redeemer spilt his preci­ous Blood. I am sorry you will not give me more Opportunity to serve the Interest of your Souls, which I should gladly do with all my Heart: But you are taught to keep at a Distance from me, [Page 4] and beware of my Conversation: And all ima­ginable Pains have been taken to frighten you from coming within the Doors of the Church, which, at least, is directly contrary to the Apo­stle's Advice, 1 Thes. 5.21. Prove all Things and hold fast that wich is good.

HOWEVER, because you will not give me Opportunity to promote the spiritual Good of your Souls, neither at my Habitation, nor at the House of God, I have taken this method to wait upon you at your own, and I hope you will not shut your Eyes against the Light, or be so preju­diced against the Title of this Paper, as not to read it carefully, and consider it seriously and impar­tially.

I BEAR you Record, that you have a Zeal for God, but not according to Knowledge, Rom. 10 2. You are, many of you, seriously and religi­ously disposed, and heartily concerned to be sav­ed; but, give me Leave to say, you are unhap­pily mistaken and misled in sundry weighty Mat­ters of Religion. Did you rightly understand the true State of Things, did you really know the true Principles of our Church, and how exactly a­greeable her Doctrine, Discipline and Government are to the holy Scriptures, and the true primitive Church, as founded by the Apostles, I say, did you understand things as they really are, you would immediately fly into her Bosom, as into the Ark, and not be contented a Day out of our Communion.

[Page 5]BUT the Truth is, there are so many Fals­hoods and Slanders industriously spread about, to cast Disgrace on the Church, that, no wonder you are frighted from her, and afraid to be concerned with her; for it would indeed deeply grieve any▪ indifferent, serious and considerate Person, to hear what injurious Mis-representations, evil Re­ports and groundless Reproaches she suffers from some who call themselves Christians, may our Heavenly Father forgive them, and grant them better Minds, for they know not what they do.

BUT I will observe to you in particular sun­dry false and groundless Stories, which you are made to believe concerning the Church of Eng­land, by which you may see how wickedly you are imposed on and we abused.

1. SOME of the wicked Books scattered about among you, would perswade you, That our Church is little better than Popery, and symbolizes with the Church of Rome.

Answ. NOTHING can be more false and abusive than this: For those who first laid the Foundation of our Church, burnt at the Stake be­cause they could not comply with Popery. And never did any Writers so effectually confute Po­pery as ours have, and we have as much Zeal a­gainst and Hatred to Popery as you can have: Nay, if you would give me Opportunity, I could make it appear, That some of your Principles are nearer a Kin to Popery than any of ours, and that there is nothing peculiarly taught or practised in the [Page 6] Church of England, but was taught and practised in the Church long before Popery was heard of in the World. Do we deny you the Scriptures or public Worship in your own Language? Do we worship Images, or pray to Saints or Angels? Do we teach Transubstantiation, or deny the Cup to the Laity? Do we teach the Popes Supremacy or Infallibility, or Pray Souls out of Purgatory? These and the like are the Absurdities of Popery, which our Church abhors as much as you can do: So that your Delaune and the rest of them are a­bominably injurious to us, in endeavouring to fasten Popery upon us, and by the same Reasons they might as well charge it upon you: For thus he argues; The Church of England use the Te Deum, the Responses, &c. so do the Church of Rome. Nay, he goes on, and says, The Church of England use the Apostles Creed, the Lords Prayer and Ten Commandments, and the Psalms of David, and so does the Church of Rome. Does this prove them to be Popery? Why just as much as it proves the two Sacraments to be Popery. And indeed he did hold Infant Baptism and Sprinkling to be Popery as much as any Thing else in the Church of England: And therefore his Argu­ments do as much Prove you to be Papists as us.

YOU are told, Our Church is a persecuting bloodthirsty Church. I answer. This is a most a­busive Insinuation; for it is easy to prove, that the Church of England never shed a Drop of any Mans Blood in the World for his Religion. [Page 7] It is true the civil Goverment hath sometimes imprisoned and fined Persons for seditious Practi­ces, who pretended Zeal for Religion in what they did: But you are the most unreasonable People in the World, to talk of Persecution at this Time of Day, when you know that you have for almost 50 Years enjoyed a free Liberty and uninterrupted Tolleration. But if you are for looking back, remember the blessed Days (as some of you call them) of Oliver Cromwell, when the Dissenters were uppermost, and the Church was suppressed, and her Clergy sequestred, plundred, imprisoned and barbarously treated, and forbid to perform the least Part of their Office. Or if you are for looking into Scotland, don't forget how barbarously the Episcopal Clergy were turned out of Doors and persecuted, when the Presbyterians got the Upperhand: Instances these are enough to shut your Mouths, if you had any Modesty: However I have nothing to say for Persecution, I abhor it as much as you do; only I would sug­gest, that we of the Church of England here have but too much Reason to apprehend, from sundry Instances of the severe oppressive Treatment we have met with from same of you, that if we were in your Power, there are not a few would perse­cute us, at least as much as ever any Dissenters were persecuted in the World.

SOME have been so ridiculous as to try to make you believe, That the Martyrs in Queen Mary's Days (and particularly John Rogers) were [Page 8] Presbyterians. I answer, That nothing can be a more absurd or false Pretence than this; for it is certain and can be easily made to appear that some of those who were burnt at the Stake at that Time, were the very Men that composed our Prayer-Book, and sealed their Religion with their Blood, and they all suffered long before the Presbyterians were heard of in England. And this puts me in mind to observe to you, how wickedly some im­pose upon you, in making you believe, That we of the Church in this Country are not true Church­men, such as they are in England, and such as they were from the Beginning of the Reformation. Now this is a most injurious Slander; for we use con­stantly those very same Prayers now as were com­posed by those old holy Martyrs, and the very same Service here as they do in England, Word for Word, without the least Variation: But it is insupportably abusive in any of you, as some do, to charge us with being High-flyers and Jacobites, when you know in your Consciences, that we constantly pray for our most Gracious Sovereign King GEORGE, and steddily practice and preach up a sincere Attachment to his Person and Go­vernment. And I challenge you to produce an Instance of any one Person in these Parts, that ever mentioned the Pretenders Name but with Abhorrence.

SOME of the wicked Books among you would perswade you, That our Church places all Religion in mere outward Ceremonies, and holds no [Page 9] Regeneration but Baptism, no Necessity of the in­ward Work of the Spirit, &c. I answer, this is all absolutely false: For tho' we hold the great Expediency of outward Rites and Observances for Unity and Uniformity, for Decency and Order in the Worship of God; yet we don't place all Reli­gion in them: On the contrary, we hold that all outward Performances without an inward Change of Heart and a good Life, are of no Account with God. 'Tis true, we call Baptism External Rege­neration, according to St. Paul, Tit. 3.5. who there calls it the Washing of Regeneration; but we deny, that Baptism alone can save us without the inward Regeneration wrought in us, by the mighty Power of the Spirit of God: So that these vile Books do most falsly misrepresent and wick­edly abuse us, and we wish you therefore to con­sider seriously, how little those are to be believed or regarded, who spread such false and scandalous Books among you, to impose upon you.

5. YOU are told, That we don't hold the Ne­cessity of Conversion and real Goodness, to qualify us for the Sacrament, and that we receive all with­out Distinction. I answer the direct contrary to this is true; for tho' our Charity is larger than yours, yet we hold the same Qualifications neces­sary as you do: This appears to any one that will read our Exhortations to the Communion. We hold no Man can come acceptably without Faith, Repentance and new Obedience, whereas some of your Teachers hold the Sacrament a convert­ing [Page 10] Ordinance, which the Writers of our Church deny.

6. Some would perswade you, That we take upon us to forgive Sins; whereas we only declare Gods Forgiveness to all true Penitents. And That we pray for the Dead, for this wise Reason for­sooth, because we pray That God would not re­member against us our Iniquities, nor the Iniquities of our fore-Fathers. Can it be that People would dispute such Things as these, were it not purely for Disputing sake, or dissent for such Reasons, unless meerly for Dissenting sake? Surely they deserve no Reply but that of Pity for poor igno­rant People that are imposed upon by them, and for the poor trifling Disputers that by such means impose upon them.

MANY Things are objected against us as su­perstitious, such as the Surplice, God-Fathers and God-Mothers in Baptism, and the Cross after it, and the Holy Days, and the like. I put these things together for brevily because I would make the quicker dispatch. And I answer in the first Place, There are very wise and good Reasons for the propriety decency and expediency of these Practices; particularly, as to the Surplice. What can be more proper, than to distinguish the sacred Services by a peculiar Garment, for which we have the Example of God himself in the Mosaic Dispensation, which, tho' not binding upon Chri­stians, may be a good Precedent to them, in ap­pointing what is decent in publick Worship: [Page 11] Thus in Ezekiel 44 17, it is ordered, That when they come to minister in the inner Court, they shall be cloathed with linnen Garments: To which it is very likely St. John alludes, in Rev. 19 8, even in Gospel Times, when the Church should be ar­rayed in fine Linnen, clean and white, for the fine Linnen is [the Emblem of] the Righteousness of Saints. I don't offer these as Scripture Evidences of the Necessity, but of the Lawfulness, Propriety and Significancy of this Appointment. And how mean a Thing is it, and how despicable a Weak­ness, to dispute and contend about or take Offence at the Matter, Colour or Shape of a Garment? It betrays a Littleness of Mind, and a mean Nar­rowness of Soul. And then as to God-Fathers and God-Mothers, or Sponsors in Baptism, what can be more proper or expedient, when a Child is ad­mitted into Covenant by Baptism, than that since the Child cannot answer for it self, some Body should answer its Part in the Covenant, in its Name? and that there should be double Security for its Christian Education? You don't think it unreasonable in your temporal Affairs, to have Bondsmen joyntly engaged with the Person im­mediately concerned in paying of Money; and can it then be thought improper, that there should be the like double Security insisted upon for this more important Matter, the Christian Education of a Child, in Case of Mortality, Po­verty, or any other Inability or Want of Duty in the Parents? And as to the Sign of the Cross; [Page 12] what can he more proper or significant, after a Child is baptized into the Faith of a Crucified Saviour, and is publickly declared to be admitted into the Number of Christ's Flock, than to use this Sign, to intimate to us, that we should be so far from being ashamed of, that with St. Paul, Gal. 6 14, We should glory in the Cross of Christ. And this was a Practice that always obtained in the Church from the earliest Ages, and even several Hundred Years before the Day of Popery, as is plain from the Testimonies of St Cyprian and Ter­tullian, within little more than a Hundred Years of the Apostles, which renders it highly probable that it was the very thing alluded to in Rev. 7 3. where we read of Sealing the Servants of God in their Forheads, so far is it from being a Mark of the Beast, as some opprobriously, and I may say, profanely call it! And lastly, what can be more properly and wisely done, than to set apart par­ticular Days and Seasons to commemorate the several Steps which our glorious Redeemer took in accomplishing our Redemption, and his Apo­stles in propagating the Knowledge of it: For by this Means every Minister is obliged once a Year to explain, and the People have Opportuni­ty as often to hear opened, each Article of the Christian Faith, and so a lively Sense of every one of them is the better kept up in their Minds; whereas you may go to Meeting several Years (and perhaps all your Days) and never hear seve­ral Articles of the Christian Faith, such as the [Page 13] Trinity, the Resurrection or Assension of Christ, or Discent of the Holy Ghost, once particularly ex­plained or insisted upon, and the Sense of them is in Danger of being lost.

Object. But you will say, Where has God com­manded these Things, and does he not give this Reason for the Unlawfulness of such Things, that he commanded them not? Jer. 7 31. I answer no: For that Text don't speak of Things in their own Nature indifferent, but what is notoriously sinful and idolatrous, building high places and worshipping Idols, which when he says he had not commanded, the meaning is he had forbidden them. And it betrays great (not to say wilful) Ignorance of the Figures used often in Scripture-Language, to put such an Interpretation on this Text. So that the proper Question in these and the like Cases, is not Where has God commanded them? But Where has he forbidden them? For it is certain, that we may lawfully do any thing that God has not forbidden; and I dare challenge you to shew one Text, that forbids these or any Thing else that the Church requires. But then let me ask in my turn, where has God command­ed your Relations as Terms of Communion, or your Form of Church Covenant, or that you should keep a Fast on the 15th of April (suppose) or a Thanksgiving on the 9th of November? You have no Rule in Scripture for keeping these Days. O, you will say, Our Governours command these Day to be observed, and we are commanded to o­bey [Page 14] them! Very good; the same say we: Do you justify your selves in these Matters, and with the same Breath you justify us in every Thing we plead for: God has no where forbidden us these Practices, and our Governours both in Church and State have commanded them, and God has com­manded us to submit to every Ordinance of Man for the Lords sake, 1 Pet. 2 13. and to obey them that have the Rule over us, who watch for our Souls, Heb. 13 17. and therefore we must observe these Rites and Days in Obedience to him as well as them.

Object. But you will say, Is not this teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men? Mat. 15 9. I answer, no: For what the Pharisees were there condemned for, was 1. advancing human Inventions into essential Doctrines, as tho' they were Divine and necessary in themselves; where­as we declare these Things still indifferent in their own Nature. You seem rather guilty of this, in insisting on your Church Covenant, and (in some Places) Relations, as Terms of Communion, un­der the Notion of their being Divine Ordinances, and in making the absolute Predestination of par­ticular Persons, an essential Doctrine, which real­ly is no where taught in Scripture. 2. The Pha­risees are here accused of justling out and setting aside Divine Commands, by, and for the sake of human Ordinances: Thus v. 6. They set aside th fifth Commandment by their Corban, Mark. 7 11. whereas we challenge you to shew one Scrip­ture [Page 15] Doctrine rejected, or one Divine Law set a­side and neglected by the Church of England.

Object. But you say, why will you offend your weak Brethren by these Things? St. Paul says, 1 Cor. 8 13. Rom. 14. he would rather not eat Flesh while he lived than offend. I answer, I am glad you are sensible that you are but weak Brethren, as indeed you really are if you take Offence at such innocent harmless Things. But pray wherein do we offend you? To offend in the Apostles Sense, is to lay a Stumbling-Block before our Brother, so as to cause him to sin. Now I can't see where­in the Church is guilty of tempting you into any sinful Practices; so far from this, that I would wish you to observe, That the Apostle in those Places is speaking of Things, not only indifferent in themselves, but those concerning which nei­ther divine nor humane Authority had interposed to command or forbid, with Respect to which in­deed we must become all things to all Men; but does it hence follow, that we must disobey God, or even lawful human Authority for Fear of of­fending? Nay, so far from this, that we should properly, according to the Apostles Sense, offend, if we should not conform to the Laws of both Church and State; for then our Example of Dis­obedience to Authority would tend to confirm those that dissent from us in their Disobedi­ence.

Lastly a great Noise and Clamour is raised a­gainst us about Arminianism, and you are told we [Page 16] are Arminians, To this I answer, That we hold no Doctrines now but what were held and taught in our Church long before Arminius was heard of as I can make appear from sundry of the Writings of our first Reformers and Martyrs, Cranmer, Hooper, and Ridley, &c. And if Arminius hap­pened to agree with them in some of his Notions, I know no Reason however, why we should be called after his Name. In Short, we have no Bu­siness with Arminius, he was a Dutch Presbyterian, and we are none of his Followers: We call no Man Master upon Earth, for one is our Master in Hea­ven, we are Followers of Jesus Christ and his noble Army of Martyrs, who sealed the Truth with their Blood. In a Word we hold no Doctrines but what where always held from the Begining, even in the purest times of Christianity, none but what the Apostles every where taught, and are plainly revealed to us in the holy Scriptures, which our Church asserts to be her only Rule of Faith.

Indeed some would wickedly perswade you, That we lay aside the Scriptures, and build on hu­man Authority: This as well as all the rest, is a groundless Slander. 'Tis true, we make use of the ancient Writers, to help us in finding out the Sense of Scriptures, and appeal to the certain Facts of the earliest Ages of the Church, as our best Guides in doubtful Cases, where the Sense of Scripture is Disputed, to determine the true Mean­ing of it; but still that is our Rule both of Faith [Page 17] and Manners. Of the Falshood of all these Slan­ders and Misrepresentations, and the Truth of what I have here asserted, I could yet further a­bundantly convince you if I had Opportunity, and should gladly do it; for while you are thus miserably imposed upon, and led on in Ignorance and Mistake, I can't but look on you with the greatest Compassion, and wish you to consider the Danger there is lest, while the Blind lead the Blind, they both fall into the Ditch.

But perhaps you would desire to know what I have against you; you think your Fathers were very good Men, and came here for the sake of Re­ligion and you can scarcely be persuaded to think they could be mistaken. To this I answer, that I believe I think as charitably of your Fathers as any of you do; I am ready to believe that they meant well, and endeavoured to please God ac­cording to the best of their Light: But I don't therefore think they were perfect: On the con­trary I am persuaded, they greatly, tho' I hope ignorantly, erred in some things; and indeed I suppose you think so too, for you have greatly de­parted from them in several Instances, and are ashamed of many of their Notions and Practices. Nay, your Teachers have in some Cases used the same Arguments against them as we do, as some of you very well know, and if you think them wrong in some Things, why mayn't I think so in others, and at the same Time have as much Cha­rity for them as you have.

[Page 18]Indeed I own they and you too are right in many Things, nay in most of the Essentials and Fundamentals of Religion: For you joyn with us in teaching the Necessity of Repentance to­wards God, and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and a sober, godly and righteous Life, and of the supernatural Grace of the holy Spirit, to enable us to repent, believe and obey the Gospel, and that our Acceptance with God depends wholly on the free Grace of God, and the Merits and Intercession of Jesus Christ. It is happy that we agree thus far, and so far as we have attained, let us walk by the same Rule, and mind the same Things. Give me leave however to observe to you, that there are some very weighty Points of Religion wherein you grieviously err in separating from us, besides others of less moment, and to offer them as so many Reasons, why you should return into the Bosom of the Church and come into our Commu­nion, and you will plainly see under each Head, how expressly they are founded on the holy Scrip­ture, and that you have left that holy Rule in de­parting from us. Particularly,

1. You have cast off the Original Government which Christ, or at least his Apostles under the Guidance of his holy Spirit, established in his Church, in the Order of Bishops, and in the Room of it have set up what is next akin to none, as is evident from the sad Effects of your Constitu­tion, in the many Disorders, Contentions and Confusions which you miserably see and feel a­bounding [Page 19] and daily increasing among you: In­deed, You pretend to retain the Orders of Elders and Deacons; but as to Deacons, You know that your Ministers refuse to Ordain them by laying on of Hands, wherein they act directly contrary to Scripture, Acts 6.6. And as to your Elders, You know that what Ordination they, many of them, Originally had, were perform'd by the Brethren mere Laymen, who were allowed to Ordain in the pure Days of Your fore-Fathers, as appears by the Platform agreed upon at Cambridge in the Year 1649. Chap. 9. The like certainly was ne­ver heard of before in the whole Christian Church. But suppose Your Ministers were Originally Or­dain'd by Bishops; Yet the Bishops that Ordain­ed them never gave them Power to Ordain others: So that any one Captain or Justice of the Peace, however lawfully commissioned, might as well take upon them to give Commissions to others and set up other Captains or Justices of the Peace as those Ministers, even upon this Supposition, could set up and commissionate others. But Your Error is aggravated in this, That You set up in Opposition to Bishops, in Opposition to that Go­vernment which was at first established in the Church, and is thro' Gods Goodness established in our own Nation and Mother Country, and this from a wrong Notion of a particular Church, as is plain from the holy Scriptures, which do not call a particular Congregation of Christians a par­ticular Church: For the Scripture Notion of a [Page 20] particular Church comprehended all the Christi­ans in a City and Country adjacent, however so many Christians or Congregations of Christians were contained in it. Thus we read of the Church of Jerusalem, the Church of Ephesus, the Church of Corinth, &c. That the Case was thus with the rest, we may learn from what we read of the Church of Ephesus, Acts 20, 17. in which one Church you there see, there were a Numbers of Elders, and consequently doubtless many Congre­gations; for the Apostle dad laboured there three Years and an half▪ and if we may judge of his Success by other Places, Acts 2, 41. — 4, 4. — where 3000 were converted by one Sermon, 5000 by another, so mightily grew the Word and pre­vailed, Acts 19, 20. there must have been many Congregations, as there were many Elders, in this one Church, and over these the Apostles af­terward appointed Timothy, to exercise Govern­ment and Jurisdiction, as appears by his Epistles to him, and the like of Titus in Crete, 1 Tit. 5. And that this Government was to continue is evi­dent, in that 30 Years after this, when there must be yet many more Congregations and Elders, there was still but one Church of Ephesus, and but one Angel, or but one Ecclesiastical Governour or Bishop there, which was also the Case of the other six Churches of Asia, as appears from Rev. 2. and 3. So that you plainly see, these Scrip­ture Churches were not such as they call Churches here in New-England. Thus far the Scriptures [Page 21] speak in this matter, and we are well assured we don't misunderstand them, because we find plain­ly from the History of the Church that this Or­der of Church Government was established in all the Churches, and continued down from the Days of the Apostles thro' all the Ages of the Church, to which our Bishops have succeeded, and no other was ever tho't of for 1500 Years; so that your Way is but a late invention, that was never heard of till within those 200 Years; for I challenge all your Instructors to show one Church in the first and purest Ages of Christianiy that was ever goverred after the Presbyterian or Congregational manner: So that in casting off this Order of Bi­shops, you seem to me to have rejected an Ordi­nance of God, and might as well have cast off any other of his Instructions that you do retain. Nay I am ready to make it appear, that there is at least as much (if not more) Evidence for Bishops as for Infant Baptism, or the first Day Sabbath, and that the Anabaptists are rather more excusable some of them in rejecting the first Day Sabbath, and all in denying Baptism to Infants, than you in denying Submission to Bishops. But I will be more brief in giving an Account of the other Rea­sons I have against you. Therefore,

2. The second Thing I have against you is, (what I have already had Occasion to mention) that you do not follow the Apostles Rule, to sub­mit to every Ordinance of Man for the Lords sake. And obey them that have the Rule over you. 1 Pet. [Page 22] 2, 13. Heb. 13, 17. This you are bound to do, because God expressly commands it, and that not only for Wrath but also for Conscience sake, Rom. 13, 5. So that you cannot discharge a good Con­science to God, unless you be obedient to those he has set over you. There is one Exception to this, and that is, in Case our Rulers command what is contrary to the Word of God: But you could never prove that the Church established by King and Parliament commands any Thing contrary to the Word of God.

3. For this Reason I cannot see how your Se­paration from us can be justified or excused, and it is clear to me, that you have broken the Peace of the Body of Christ, by needless Divisions, and the Apostle requires us, Rom. 16, 17. to mark such as cause Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine we have learned, and avoid them. Indeed if we had imposed on you any Doctrine or Practice contrary to the Word of God, I own we should then be the Schismatics: But in as much as we require nothing of you that God has forbid­den, I don't see how you can clear your selves from being guilty of Schisme.

4. I think you are to be justly faulted that you do not read the Word of God in your public Wor­ship: This was the Practice of Christ himself, who stood up to read in the Synagogue, Luke 4, 6. and the Apostles appeal to and approve of this Practice, Acts 13, 27. that the Writings of the Prophets were read every Sabbath Day: And [Page 23] Timothy was required 1 Eph. 4, 13. to give Atten­dance to Reading as well as Exhortation and Doc­trine. So that I cannot conceive how you came to be so conceited of what you call your Gifts, as to justle out the Reading of Gods holy Word. If you say, you can read it at Home: I answer, you can also read Sermons and pray at Home, so this Plea equally concludes against all public Worship.

5. You seem to me to break an express Law of Christ, in that you do not use the Lords Prayer in your Worship: For he commanded expressly, Luke, 11, 2. When ye pray, say, Our Father, &c. By which it is plain, he requires that this Prayer be always used when we address our selves to God, especially in public. Not indeed that we should use no other Prayer, but however, that this should not be omitted: And I am sure a better cannot be devised. And what could tempt you to throw it out of your public Worship, I cannot conceive, un­less it were that you thought yours were better than Christ's.

6. You have laid aside Publick Forms of Prayer, and in Room of them have set up the extempore Way, wherein you depend on the meer Invention of your Minister, and so you cannot be agreed beforehand what to offer up to God, because you don't know what it will be; whereas our Saviour makes it a Condition of our being heard That we should be agreed touching any Thing we would ask, Mat. 18, 19. This we can't be in your Assembly, [Page 24] unless (like the Papists) we put an implicit Faith in the Minister. Now we in the Church are free from this Difficulty; for our Service is taken, at least two Thirds, if not three Quarters of it, Word for Word, out of the Scripture, and all con­formed to Scripture, and we all know what we are going to do, and so are prepared to offer up our Address to God unanimously, with the Unity of the spirit, in the Bond of Peace, Eph. 4, 3. and to lift up holy Hands without Wrath or Doubt­ing, 1 Tim. 2.8. And besides your extempore Way is liable to many rash and unbecoming Ex­pressions, and therefore directly contrary to the wise Man's Advice, Eccles. 5. Be not rash with thy Mouth, nor let thy Heart Hasten to utter any Thing before God, for God is in Heaven and thou upon Earth, therefore let thy Words be few. For these and the like Reasons all the wise and holy Men of old, and all ancient Churches, both Jew­ish and Christian, have ever used Forms of Prayer carefully composed. Thus David composed ma­ny Forms of Prayer and Praise, and his Psalms were ever used in public Worship, by both Jews and Christians, and expressly commanded by St. Paul, Eph. 5, 19. Col. 3, 16. and Solomon used a Form in the Dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8, 22. Hezekiah, Isai. 37, 15. and 38, 9. and Daniel, 9, 4. used Forms. And our Saviour com­Posed a Form, Mat. 6. and used a From, John 17. Mat. 26.44. and so did the Apostles, Acts 4, 24. Strange it is you should be against Forms, when [Page 25] you have so many Scripture Rules and Examples for it! Your only Pretence is, That you pray with the Spirit, 1 Cor. 14, 5. which you vainly pre­tend is praying Extempore, as tho' the Spirit dictated the very Words and Phrases, or at least the Matter of your Prayers. But if this be the Meaning of it, you must by the same Rule sing Extempore also, and it will be as much stinting the Spirit to sing the Psalms, which are Forms, as to use Forms in Prayer: And indeed if your Prayers were thus inspired as you pretend, I don't see why they should not be equal to canoni­cal Scripture: But I believe if you could see many of them written out Word for Word after­wards, you would be ashamed to pretend they were inspired.

7. Another Thing wherein you appear to me to vary from the ancient Examples and Prece­dents in holy Scriptures, is, That the People do not bear a Part in your publick Worship. Indeed this is what many of you are prejudiced against, because you think it is Confusion: But let me assure you, that this is meerly because you are not accustomed to such a Method, which if you were, Experience would soon convince you, as it does us, that it would be so far from being Con­fusion, that it would appear the most awakening, enlivening and every way the most edifying Way: But I should hope that it would take off this Pre­judice, if you would consider that it was the ancient Scripture-Method of Worship. Thus the [Page 26] Apostles and Primitive Christians, lift up their Voice with one Accord, Acts 4, 24. all joyning in one Form. And the Apostle requires, Rom. 15, 6. That we should with one Mind and one Mouth glorify our Heavenly Father. And the Church in Rev. 19, 6. are represented as all praising God together, so that their Voice was like the Noise of many Waters, which implies not their Singing but Speaking together: And St. Paul requires not only that we should sing Psalms, but also that we speak to one another in Psalms and Hymns and spiritual Songs, Eph. 5, 19.

8. I think I have just Reason to except against you in that you do not kneel in your Prayers and other Services, which is directly contrary to what is required, Ps. 95, 6. Let us kneel befere the Lord our Maker. And to the Example of the Apostle, who kneeled down and prayed with them all. Acts 20, 36. You pretend That bodily Exer­cise profiteth little, and that we should worship God in Spirit and Truth, which, it is true, is of the greatest Importance; but thence to depretiate or exclude bodily Worship is directly contrary to the Apostle, who tells us, that since we are [in Body as well as Spirit] bought with a Price, we should therefore glorify God with our Bodies, as well as our Spirits, which are his, 1 Cor. 6, 20. You except against our bowing at the Name of JESUS, which it is strange you should do, when it is expressly said, at the Name of Jesus let every Knee bow, Phil. 2, 10. which, if it is not [Page 27] to be understood as an express Command of what we practice, is, I think at least, sufficient to justify the lawfulness of it, and none me­thinks but an Arian or Socinan could find Fault with it. You also except against Kneeling at the Sacrament: But, pray, why should you? when this is the most solmn Act of Worship that we can perform; and I have before shewn that knee­ling is the proper and Scripture Posture of Wor­ship. You reply, Our Savour and his Apostles did not kneel. I answer, it does not certainly ap­pear what Posture they used; but besure it was not sitting, for the Table gesture then was lean­ing; if therefore you are bound by his Example precisely, you must lean on one another. But, supposing the Table-Posture was then admit­ted, is not the Case now much altered from what it was then? Does it follow, because he admitted his Apostles to sit with him then, when he appeared in the Form of a Servant, that there­fore we should not now use the Posture of Adora­tion on that Occasion, since All Power in Heaven and Earth is given unto him, Mat. 28, 18. And he is made the Lord of Angels, who are com­manded to worship him, Heb. 1, 6. How scandal­ously indecent is it to receive this Seal of our Pardon sitting? And is it not much more becom­ing us to perform this most solemn Act of Wor­ship in the antient adoring Posture?

9. I can't but think it a wrong Thing, that the Laity among you are not only forbid bearing a [Page 28] vocal Part in your Service, but are not allowed even so much as to say Amen audibly in your Worship, at the End of the Prayers and other Services: Whereas God requireth this, and it was the Practice of the Church of Old, both Jew­ish and Christian, as will evidently appear to you if you will look into Deut. 27, 15. Ps. 106, 48. 1 Chron. 16, 36. 1 Cor. 14, 16. Rev. 5, 4.

10. I will add lastly, as to doctrinal Points, that you seem to me guilty of a very great Error, in teaching your Children, That God has fore or­dained whatsoever comes to pass. For seeing Sin has come to pass, it is plain, that you do herein teach them, That God has ordained, that is, will­ed Sin, and consequently approves it; which yet we are sure he abhors, Hab. 1, 13. and therefore could not decree it: And you teach also, That God has absolutely decreed the eternal Death and Destruction of the greatest Part of Mankind; for this I take to be the true Sense of your Confession of Faith. Whereas he hath declared with an Oath That he hath no Pleasure in the Death of a Sinner, Ezek. 33, 11. and therefore he could not abso­lutely decree it, for he can't but have Pleasure in his own Decrees.

MANY Things might be offered further un­der each Head, but I will add no more at present. These I hope will be sufficient, if duly consider­ed, both to make you sensible how much Reason we have, not for want of Charity, but purely in point of Conscience, to scruple the lawfulness of [Page 29] your Communion, and that it is your Duty to lay aside your Prejudices, and come over to ours. At least I hope you will be convinced how inju­rious your Teachers are, in representing the Mi­nisters of the Church as grievous Wolves, and false Brethren, as they lately did deliberatly being con­vened in Council. They could not, sure, in this, be governed by the Spirit of the Gospel, which is all Truth, Charity, Meekness and Moderation: This is the Spirit of Christ, with which such a censorious, malevolent and uncharitable Spirit is certainly inconsistent, which therefore I hope you will lay aside, considering, that they which have not the Spirit of Christ, are none of his, Rom. 8, 9.

TO conclude therefore, let me beseech you in the Spirit of Meekness, to give these Things an unbyassed, candid and serious Consideration; and let nothing but a pure disinterested Love of Truth and Right influence you in examining the Weight and Imporance of them: For if you receive not the Love of the Truth, and do not en­quire after it, and embrace it, purely for its own sake, but are governed only by Vogue, Custom, Fashion and worldly Considerations, and for the sake of them hold fast deceit, and refuse to let it go, or (which in Effect is the same Thing) if you lazily or negligently sit down, in a careless in­considerateness about it, you may provoke God to send you strong Delusions, and leave you under [Page 30] the Power of them, to run on into enless Mazes of Contention and Confusion.

BE not therefore afraid or any Account un­willing to acquaint your selves with the Church, and examine the Matter fairly on both Sides. This can do you no harm, and may do you a great Deal of Good: For if upon a fair and impartial Examination on both sides you find, that, accor­ding to the best of your Judgment, the Truth is on the Dissenting Side, you will then be reasona­ble, and at least you would learn to be Charitable Dissenters, and consequently be the more accept­able in continuing as you are: But if you should find (as I doubt not but you will; for the Church is not afraid, nay is glad, to stand the Test of a serious, honest and impartial Examination; I say, if you should find) That the Truth is on the Side of the Church, you will not repent of your In­quiry: For I conclude, certainly, if you are Persons of Honesty and Seriousness, you would rather be on the side of the Church, then not be on the Side of Truth: For to be deceived or in an Error, in any Case, is to be in a wretched and unnatural Condition. And if you would thus uprightly enquire, and be thus impartially de­termined, you would then Act the Part of reason­able Creatures, and perform an acceptable be­cause a reasonable Service, and be able to ren­der to every one a Reason of the Hope that is in you, and which is yet of infinitely greater Im­portance, you would then be able at last to give [Page 31] the better Account of your selves to God. And certainly, if, having an Opporunity to enquire and inform your selves, to examine and judge for your selves, you neglect it' and will not put your selves into the Way of being impartial­ly instructed, but shut your Eyes against the Light, you can't but have much to answer for, and which I don't see how you can give an Ac­count of; wherereas, if you would thus honestly and seriously inquire after the Truth, with a stu­dious and conscientious Endeavour to find it, that you may be practically govern'd by it, you would not fail, by God's Blessing, to find it, and be led by it in the Way of Peace and Holiness, through Faith, unto Salvation, which is the earnest Pray­er, and shall be the hearty endeavour of

Your sincere Friend, and Wellwisher

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