Project Canterbury

William Law's
Defence of Church Principles:
Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor, 1717-1719.

edited by J. O. Nash and Charles Gore.

[London: Griffith Farran and Co.] 
Transcribed by John D Lewis



| Chap I | § 1 |


[sections one to seven]

    My LORD,

        I BEG leave to trouble your Lordship and the world once more with my remarks upon the doctrines you have lately delivered. Your Sermon and "Preservative" I have already considered in the most impartial manner I could; and shall now examine your answer to the representation of the learned committee, both as it is the answer to that, and as it contains opinions contrary to the fundamental articles of Christianity.

    I have less need of excusing to your Lordship this third address, since you can so easily acquit yourself from the trouble of making any reply to whatever comes from me. It seems I have too small a reputation to deserve your notice; but if the Dean of Chichester "would but declare for the doctrines delivered in my Letters, and put but a little of his reputation upon the issue, then, you say, you would submit to the employment of an answer."1

    My Lord, I readily confess that I have neither reputation nor learning, nor any title to recommend me to your Lordship’s notice; but I must own that I thought the very want of these would, in your opinion, qualify me to make better inquiries into religious truths, and raise your esteem of me as a correspondent in [169] these matters. For you expressly declare, that if learning or literature "is to be interested in this debate, then the most learned man has certainly a title to be the universal judge."2 So that no man ought to show any regard to learning, as a qualification in religious disputes, unless he will own that the most learned man has a title to be a Pope, or as you express it, the universal judge. Yet your Lordship in spite of this Protestant doctrine so lately delivered, has despised and overlooked all my opinions in religion merely for my want of character and learning, and has promised to undertake the needless task of examining those opinions with another gentleman merely upon account of his character and reputation. So that though it is perfect Popery, and making the most learned man the universal judge, to allow anything to learning; yet your Lordship is so true a Protestant, and pays so great a regard to learning, that you will not so much as examine a doctrine with a person of no character for learning.

    Again you say; "Nothing has been seen to administer so many doubts and differences (in religion) as learning, and that none are seen to be less secure from error than learned men."3

    Now is it not strange, my Lord, that after this noble declaration against learning as the greatest cause of doubts and differences, this extraordinary preference given to ignorance as a more likely guide to truth, you should despise anyone as below your notice in religious disputes, because he wants that learning which so blinds the understanding? Can you ascribe thus much honour to learning, which in your opinion does so much dishonour to religion? Will you interest those qualities in this debate, which if they, are allowed to have any [170] interest in it, will make the man of the greatest abilities the universal judge.

    Again, as a farther reason why you have taken no notice of me, you say, "as considerable a writer as Mr Law is, I hope the committee, as a body, are much more considerable in the Dean’s eyes; I am sure, they are in mine: and the Dean himself I have thought a much more considerable writer than Mr Law, and so have spent all my time upon him and the committee."4

    Now, my Lord, though I readily acknowledge this to be exceeding true, and have so far at least a just opinion of myself, as to be afraid to be compared to much less persons than the Dean or any of the learned committee, yet, my Lord, this reason which if urged by anyone else, might pass for a good one, cannot be urged by you, without contradicting a principal doctrine maintained in your "Answer to the Representation." For there you bid us "look into the Popish countries; and see whether one illiterate honest man be not as capable of judging for himself in religion, as all their learned men united; even supposing them met together in a general council, with all possible marks of solemnity and grandeur."5

    Here we see a person merely for his want of literature made as good a judge in religion, as a general council of the most learned men, acting with the utmost solemnity. We see a council in its utmost perfection contemptuously compared to, and even made less considerable than a private illiterate person. And this we may fairly suppose was intended to show your contempt of the English Convocation. But a few weeks after, when you had another design in your head, you tell us to this purpose, that you disregarded the writings of a [171]  single person of no figure in the learned world, to pay your respect to the committee as a body, which, as such, is much more considerable in your eyes. So that here an illiterate person is made a great judge in religion in regard to a body of learned men, because he is illiterate; and here that same person is made of no consideration in points of religion in regard to a body of learned men, merely because he is private and illiterate.

    It will be of no advantage to your Lordship, to say that you have only replied to the Dean, in relation to me; in the same words that he used to you, in relation to Mr Sykes.6

    For, my Lord, that reply might be proper enough from the Dean, if he judged right of Mr Sykes’ performance; it being very reasonable to overlook an adversary that has neither truth, abilities, or reputation to support his cause.

    But though this might be right in the Dean, who pays a true regard to the authority and learning of great men, yet it cannot be defended by your Lordship. For though my learning or reputation were ever so low, they are so far from unqualifying me for religious inquiries, that if you would sincerely stand to what you have said, you ought, for the want of these very accomplishments, to esteem me the more, and even choose me out as a correspondent in this debate.

    But however, without any farther regard to the opinion your Lordship has either of me or my abilities, I shall proceed to the most impartial examination of your book that I possibly can.


| Top | § II |


§ I. (Obj.) ‘The Church or Kingdom of Christ means the universal invisible Church, which consists of the number of men dispersed or united who are truly subjects of Christ.’ Hoadly, "Ans. to Repres. of Convoc."

Ans. This doctrine of the invisible Church contradicts (i.) Scripture; (ii.) Article xix.; (iii.) Does not concern the question at issue.

(i.) Scripture: The Church on earth is a visible Kingdom, a Net, a Feast; containing good and bad.

    § I.  To begin with your Lordship’s description of a church; "The number of men, whether small or great, whether dispersed or united, who truly and sincerely are subjects to Christ alone in matters of salvation."7

    The learned committee calls this your Lordship’s description of a church.

    Your Lordship answers; "I wonder to hear this called my description of a church; whereas I pretend in those words to describe no other but the Universal invisible church. It is a description, not of a church, in our modern way of speaking; but of THE CHURCH, the invisible Church of Christ."8

    May not we also wonder, my Lord, that you should so describe the Church, that it will not bear being called a church? If I should say it is a description of no church, I have your Lordship’s confession, that it is not a church; so that it is something betwixt a church and no church, that is, it is the Church.

    (i.) Suppose, my Lord, somebody or other should have a mind to be of your church, if he betakes himself to a church, he is wrong; you don’t mean a church, but the Church. Your Lordship owns that this is not [173]  a description of a church in the modern way of speaking; I humbly presume to call upon your Lordship to show that it is a description according to the ancient way of speaking. To call the number of believers the invisible church, is a way of speaking, no more to be found in the Scriptures, than the company of pre-Adamites.

    There is, no doubt of it an invisible church—i.e., a number of beings that are in covenant with God, who are not to be seen by human eyes; and we may be said to be members of this invisible church, as we are entitled to the same hopes and expectations. But to call the number of men and women who believe in Christ and observe His institutions, whether dispersed or united in this visible world, to call these the invisible Church, is as false and groundless as to call them the order of angels, or the Church of Seraphims. The profession of Christians is as visible as any other profession, and as much declared by visible external acts. And it is as proper to call a number of men practising law or physic, an invisible society of lawyers or physicians, as to call the Church on earth the invisible Church. For all those acts and offices which prove people to be Christians, or the Church of Christ, are as visible and notorious, as those which prove them to be of any particular secular employment. Would it be proper to call the number of infidels and idolaters the invisible church of the devil? Are they not visibly under the dominion of the powers of darkness? Are they not visibly out of Christ’s Church? Must it not therefore be as visible who is in this Church, as who is not in it?

    If anyone should tell us that we are to believe invisible Scriptures and observe invisible sacraments, he would have just as much reason and Scripture of his [174] side as your Lordship has for this doctrine. And it would be of the same service to the world to talk of these invisibilities, if the canon of Scripture was in dispute. as to describe this invisible Church, when the case is, with what visible Church we ought to unite.

    Our Saviour Himself tells us, that "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away." And then says, "so shall it be at the end of the world."9

    This, my Lord, is a description of the state of Christ’s Church given us by Himself. Is there anything in this description that should lead us to take it for an invisible kingdom, that consists of one particular sort of people invisibly united to Christ? Nay, is it not the whole intent of this similitude to teach us the contrary, that His kingdom is to consist of a mixture of good and bad subjects till the end of the world? The kingdom of Christ is said here to gather its members, as a net gathers all kinds of fish; it is chiefly compared to it in this respect, because it gathers of all kinds; which I suppose is a sufficient declaration, that this kingdom consists of subjects good and bad, as that the net that gathers of every kind of fish, takes good and bad fish. Let us suppose that the Church of Christ was this invisible number of people united, to Christ by such internal invisible graces; is it possible that a kingdom consisting of this one particular sort of people invisibly good, should be like a net that gathers of every kind of fish? If it was to be compared to a net, it ought to be compared to such a net as gathers only of one kind—viz., good fish, and then it might represent to us a Church that has but one sort of members.


But since Christ, who certainly. understood the nature of His own kingdom, has declared that it is like a net that gathers of every kind of fish; it is as absurd to say, that it consists only of one kind of persons (viz., the invisibly good) as to say, that the net which gathers of every kind, has only of one kind in it. Farther; "when it was full they drew it to shore, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away; so shall it be at the end of the world." Now as it was the bad as well as the good fish which filled the net, and the Church is compared to the net in this respect; so it is evident that bad men as well as good are subjects of this kingdom. And I presume they are members of that kingdom which they fill up, as surely as the fish must be in the net before they can fill it. All these circumstances plainly declare that the Church or kingdom of Christ shall consist of a mixture of good and bad people to the end of the world.

    Again; Christ declares "that the kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king which made a marriage for his son," and sent his servants out into the highways, who "gathered together all as many as they found, both good and bad, and the wedding was filled with guests."10 Nothing can be more evident than that the chief intent of this parable is to show that the Church of Christ is to be a mixture of good and bad people to the end of the world. It is like a feast where good and bad guests are entertained; but can it be like such a feast if only the invisibly virtuous are members of it? If the subjects of this kingdom are of one invisible kind, how can they bear any resemblance to a feast made up of all kinds of guests? Nay, what could be thought of, more unlike to this kingdom, if it was such a kingdom as you have represented it?


How could our blessed Saviour have more directly guarded against such a description of His kingdom as your Lordship has given us, than He has done in these parables? He compares it to a quantity of good and bad fish in a net, to a number of good and bad guests at a feast. Are there any words that could more fully declare His meaning to be, that His kingdom consisted of good and bad subjects? Could anyone more directly contradict this account of our Saviour, than by saying that His kingdom is an invisible kingdom consisting of a particular sort of people invisibly virtuous?

    Your Lordship professes a mighty regard for the Scriptures, and a great dislike to all doctrines that are not delivered there; pray, my Lord, produce but so much as one text of Scripture; tell us the Apostle or Evangelist that ever declared the "number of believers whether dispersed or united on earth," to be "the universal invisible Church;" show us any one passage in Scripture which teaches us, that none are of the Church of Christ, but those who have such invisible virtues, and cannot be known to be so.

    There is as much authority from Scripture to prove that the Church is a kingdom without any subjects, as that they are only of it, who have such invisible graces. And it is as easy to prove from those sacred writings, that neither Christ or His Apostles were ever visible on earth, as that the number of people on earth who believe in Christ constitute the invisible Church.

    In the parables above mentioned it is out of all doubt that our Saviour describes His universal kingdom or Church: it is also certain that the universal invisible Church, which you call Christ’s Church, cannot be this universal Church that is made up of a mixture of good and bad members. I therefore beg of your Lordship to let us know where Christ has taught us, that He has [177] two universal Churches on earth; for if you cannot show that He has declared that He has these two universal Churches, you must allow that this which you have described, is a Church of your own setting up, not only without any authority, but even against the express word of Scripture.

| § I | § III |

§ II. The Bishop asks ‘if his doctrine hurts the universal invisible Church, or the universal visible Church, or some particular visible Church.’

Ans. There is but one Church on earth, and that external and visible. An invisible Church would be in no danger.

    § II. Your Lordship says that the doctrines which the learned committee have condemned, if they be of that evil tendency, must be so "either with regard to the universal invisible Church, made up of all those who sincerely in their hearts believe in Christ; or with respect to the universal visible Church made up of all, who in all countries (whether sincerely, or insincerely) openly profess to believe in Christ, or with respect to some particular visible Church."11

    It may be justly expected, my Lord, that you should show us some grounds for this distinction. Where does our blessed Lord give us so much as the least hint that He has founded two universal Churches on earth? Did He describe His Church by halves when He likened it to a net full of all kinds of fish? Has He anywhere let us know that He has another universal kingdom on earth besides this, which in the variety of its members is like a net full of all sorts of good and bad fish.

    Let your lordship, if you can, show any subtilties in Popery which are more of human invention, or more contrary to Scripture than this refined distinction. The opus operatum in the sacraments, the temporal satisfaction [178] for sins, works of supererogation, or any of the nicest arts of Jesuitism are not less founded in Scripture than this nice distinction, of injuring either the universal invisible, or the universal visible, or a particular visible Church. For, my Lord, the Church of Christ is as truly one and the same Church, as the sacrament of baptism is one and the same baptism; and He no more instituted several sorts of Churches than He instituted several kinds of baptism.

    Pray, my Lord, therefore be no longer angry at human arts in religion; why may not Popery have its peculiarities in doctrine as well as your Lordship; the Church of Rome, with all its additions and corruptions and pompous ornaments, is as much like the Church as it was in the Apostles’ times, as your invisible Church is like that which Christ declared to be His Church. When they set out the Church as infallible, they, do but reason like your Lordship, when you describe it as invisible.

    That there are good and bad Churchmen, is past all doubt; but that people are of the Church by means of invisible virtues, is as false as that only good men came to the feast in the Gospel. We are assured that many are called, but few are chosen—i.e., that many shall be made members of Christ’s Church, but few shall be saved; and who these few are that truly work out their salvation, may be invisible to us; but those many that were called, that is, who were in the Church, though they did not live up to all the intents of Church communion, yet were as truly of the Church, as the bad fish were really in the net.

    But to proceed; I shall illustrate this reply of your Lordship concerning an universal visible, and universal invisible, and particular visible Church, with the following instances.


Let us suppose any one was charged with writing against the sacraments; if he should with your Lordship reply, that this charge against him must either relate to universal visible sacraments, or universal invisible sacraments, or particular visible sacraments, he would have just as much Scripture or reason to support that distinction, as your Lordship has for dividing the Church into universal visible and universal invisible, and particular visible. For the profession of Christianity, or Church membership, is as external and visible a thing, as the sacraments are external visible institutions. So that it is as contrary to Scripture, and as mere an human invention to make pretence of an universal invisible Church, when the dispute is concerning Christ’s Church on earth, as it is to have recourse to invisible sacraments, if the question was concerning Christ’s sacraments.

    They are both equally, external and visible; and as the sacraments may be received without any spiritual advantage, so persons may be of the Church and yet not be saved. And as the sacraments are not less sacraments, though they may not convey the designed benefits to the receiver; so neither are such a number of people not of the Church, though they do not obtain that salvation which is the intended consequence of Church communion.

    Your Lordship cannot give any one reason for introducing this distinction with regard to the Church, which will not equally hold for the same distinction in regard to the sacraments; and there is exactly the same Quakery and fanaticism in one doctrine as the other.

    For as it is the sacraments which chiefly constitute the Church, so no distinctions or divisions can with any tolerable propriety be applied to the Church, but [180] such as may be also applied to the sacraments that constitute the Church. And therefore the terms universal and particular, visible and invisible, have no more to do with Christ’s Church which He has instituted in this world, than with the two sacraments which He also instituted, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

    Again, if anyone was accused of writing against the Christian revelation, he might answer with your Lordship, if this accusation be true, it must be so either with regard to God’s universal visible revelation in all the canonical books, or with regard to His universal invisible revelation whereby He speaks inwardly to all sincere people, or with respect to some particular part of His visible revelation. Let all the world judge whether if a person so accused should make this reply, it would not plainly appear, either that he was a downright enthusiast, or a crafty dealer in cant and artificial words. I am sure your Lordship cannot show that you have more authority to divide the Church on earth into universal visible, and universal invisible, and particular visible, than he had to divide the Christian revelation into visible and invisible. Neither was it less to the purpose for such a one to talk of invisible Scriptures, if he was accused of denying the Gospel of S. John, than it is for your Lordship under your present accusation to have recourse to the invisible Church; but your Lordship will find no advantage in this retreat.

    Again; suppose a person was charged with writing treason against the Government, and in his defence should thus distinguish; The treason that I am charged with against the Government, must relate either to universal government in this world, or to universal in the other world, or to some particular government in this world.


It would be as ingenuous, as sincere, and as pertinent for a person thus accused to talk of governments that had no relation to the case, but in his own imagination as for your Lordship in the present dispute to talk of universal visible, and universal invisible, and particular visible churches. For besides this, that there is no foundation for such a distinction, yet if there were such an invisible Church, how is it possible your Lordship should hurt it? How is it possible the learned committee should mean to charge you with injuring it? They, might as well think your Lordship capable of forming a design to arrest a party of spirits, as to attack an invisible Church that neither you nor they know anything of or where to find.

| § II | § IV |

§ III. ‘This doctrine of the universal invisible Church is the only true account of the Church of Christ in the mouth of a Christian.’

Ans. This overthrows the visible Church and contradicts our Saviour.

    Your Lordship says, "That if you have unjustly laid anything down in this description of the invisible Church, to the prejudice or injury of any particular visible Church; you acknowledge that it is your part to answer for it.’12

    I believe it appears already that your Lordship has a great deal to answer for upon this head; and I shall now farther show you that you have set up this invisible Church in opposition to all other Churches whatever. This will appear from the following passage in your sermon; "This inquiry will bring us back to the first, which is the only true account of the Church of Christ or kingdom of Christ in the mouth of a Christian—viz., the number of men whether small or great," &c.13


We have your Lordship’s confession that you only here pretend to describe the universal invisible Church of Christ; you also here plainly declare, that ‘it is the only true account of Christ’s Church or kingdom in the mouth of a Christian.’

    Is not this, my Lord, expressly declaring that any other account of Christ’s Church is not a true one; for you say this is the only true one? Is it not directly affirming that any other description of Christ’s Church cannot become the month of a Christian; for you say that this is the ‘only true one in the mouth of a Christian’? So that if we call the universal visible Church, the Church of Christ, we give a false account of Christ’s Church, and such a one as is unfit for the mouth of a Christian.

    Could your Lordship have thought of anything more shocking, than to say that the description of your invisible Church is the only true account of Christ’s Church, and fit for the mouth of a Christian, when our Saviour lists given us a quite contrary account of it from His own mouth? He compares it to a net full of good and bad fish, to a feast full of good and bad guests; this surely, my Lord, is not an account of your invisible Church, where there are only invisible members. Your Lordship cannot say that Christ has here described the invisible Church; you directly say that your description of the invisible Church, is the only true account of Christ’s Church in the mouth of a Christian; and consequently this account which our Saviour Himself has given of His Church, stands condemned by your Lordship as a false account of Christ’s Church unfit for the mouth of a Christian. I appeal to the common-sense of every reader, whether I have laid anything to your charge, but what your own express words amount to. The short is this; if Christ has in [183] these parables described the universal Church as visible, then it is plain that this account of Christ’s Church is a false one in the mouth of a Christian; for you say your account of the invisible Church is ‘the only true account of Christ’s Church in the month of a Christian;’ so that nothing can secure this account which our Saviour has given of His Church from your Lordship’s censure, but showing that it is the very same account of the invisible Church that you have given; which I believe is more than your Lordship will undertake to prove; it being as hard to prove that a net full of good and bad fish, or a feast full of good and bad guests should represent an invisible kingdom of only one sort of subjects, as that the net and feast, though both full, should represent a kingdom that had not one subject in it.

    If a fanatic should describe the Christian sacraments, as spiritual and invisible sacraments, and then affirm that that was the only true account of Christian sacraments in the mouth of a Christian, could we charge him with less than writing against all sacraments but invisible sacraments? It is just thus far that your Lordship has proceeded against the external visible Church; you have declared the invisible one to be the only true Church, fit to be spoken of by a Christian, which I think is laying down a position highly injurious to the visible Church, since it is here condemned as false in the mouth of a Christian.

| § III | § V |

§ IV. (ii.) Article xix.: The Bishop says ‘the article is speaking of the visible Church, he of the invisible one. Does membership in the invisible Church prevent membership in any visible one?’

Ans. To call the invisible Church the only true one is to depreciate the visible one. The question is not whether a man may join the visible Church, but whether he must.

    § IV. (ii.)

From all this it appears that the learned committee have justly disliked your Lordship’s description of the Church of Christ.


Firstly; As you describe it as an invisible Church, directly contrary to the Scripture representations of it, as given by our Saviour Himself.


As it is in disparagement of the Article of our Church, which gives quite another description of the Church.

    That the Church described in the Article falls under your Lordship’s censure, is very plain. For you declare that your description of the invisible is the only true account of Christ’s Church; therefore the description in the Article cannot be a true one, because it is different from yours, which is the only, true one.


You declare that you consider the Church under this description—viz., as invisible, because every other notion of it, is made up of inconsistent images:14 therefore the account of the Church in the Article is thus inconsistent.

    Now what does your Lordship answer here? Only this, ‘that the Article speaks of the visible Church, and you speak of the invisible one.’15

    This answer, my Lord, proves the charge upon you to be just. For since you own that you describe another Church than that which is described in the Article, and expressly affirm that your account of this other Church is the only true account of Christ’s Church in the mouth of a Christian; you plainly declare that the other Church is a false one in the mouth of a Christian. Yet your Lordship rests satisfied with this reply, is if you had cleared yourself by it. Whereas this is the very charge itself, that you have described the Church otherwise than it is in the Article, and have called this different and new account of it the only true account of it; and if it be the only true one, then that which is given in the Article must be a false one.


Your Lordship goes on, "The Article declares what it is, that makes every such congregation the visible Church of Christ; and I describe what it is that makes every particular man, a member of Christ’s universal invisible Church. The Article describes those outward acts which are necessary to make a visible Church; and I describe that inward sincerity and regard to Christ Himself, which make men members of the invisible Church of Christ. And where is the contradiction contained in all this?"16

    Suppose, my Lord, anyone should affirm that there is a sincere, invisible Bishop of Bangor, who is the only true Bishop of Bangor in the mouth of a Christian. Would your Lordship think here was no reflection intended upon yourself? Would you think this account no contradiction to your right as Bishop of Bangor? Does your Lordship believe such an assertion could come from anyone that owned your right to your bishopric, and was a friend to you in it? Would you imagine that nothing was meant against you, because the other bishop was said to be invisible? Your Lordship cannot but know, that though he is said to be invisible, yet if he is the only true Bishop of Bangor in the mouth of a Christian, then any other Bishop of Bangor, whether visible or invisible, must be a false one in the mouth of a Christian.

    Thus it is your Lordship has dealt with the visible Church; you have set another up as the only true Church, and yet think all is well; that there is no contradiction, because you call this other an invisible Church, whereas if it be the only true Church, it contradicts every other Church in the highest sense. And though it does not contradict it as a visible Church, yet it does as a true Church, which is of more consequence.


Your Lordship here puts a question in favour of the visible Church. "Can it be supposed by this learned body, that a man’s being of the invisible Church of Christ, is inconsistent with his joining himself with any visible Church?"17

     No, my Lord, it cannot be supposed. It cannot be supposed by anybody that a man’s being of the invisible Church is inconsistent with his joining himself to the Royal Society or College of Physicians. But pray, my Lord, is this all that your invisible Church will allow of? Dare your Lordship proceed no farther, than only to grant that it is no inconsistency, no contradiction for a member of your invisible Church to join with any visible Church? If you would sincerely show that you have said nothing to the prejudice of the visible Church, you ought to declare that the members of your invisible Church, may not only consistently join with that which is visible, but that it is their duty, and that they are obliged to join with it in order to be of yours that is invisible. For if you have set up an invisible Church, which will excuse its members from being of any that is visible, then you have plainly destroyed it, by making it useless. And it is but a poor apology for it to say there is no inconsistency in joining with it, after you have made it needless and unnecessary to join with it. And it will be pretty difficult to give a consistent reason why any person should join himself to a needless Church.


| § IV | § VI |

§ V. The Bishop’s invisible Church ‘is not concerned with the outward acts of which the Article speaks.’

Ans. 1. Then it is possible to be a Christian without open profession of Christianity, or observance of Christ’s ordinances, or any kind of Church membership. This is flat against the Gospel.

Ans. 2. The so-called "invisible Church" really means, not those who do not use external ordinances and do not belong to any visible communion, but those who are inwardly what they profess outwardly. But Christianity demands outward acts, and mere sincerity does not make a Church.

    § V. Your Lordship has here made great discoveries of the nature of your invisible Church, which appears to have nothing visible or external in it.

    For first, you declare that the Article describes one Church and you another. But how does this appear? How does your Lordship prove this?  1st.  "Because the Article declares what it is that makes every such congregation the visible Church."18 Now, my, Lord, if this shows that the Article does not describe your Church, then it is plain that the Article here describes something that does not belong to your Church; for if it equally belonged to your Church, it could be no proof that it did not describe your Church. But you expressly say that it describes a different Church from yours; therefore it must describe something that does not belong to yours.

    Now if that which makes any congregation the visible Church, be not necessary to make persons members of your Church, it follows that they may be members of yours, without being members of any visible Church.

    Again; another reason why, the Article does not describe your invisible Church is this; because it describes "those outward acts, which are necessary to make a visible Church."19 These outward acts are, the "preaching the pure Word of God, and administering [188] the sacraments." Now, my Lord, seeing these outward acts show that the Church here described is not your invisible Church, does not this evidently declare that such outward acts are not necessary to your Church? For if they did equally belong to both Churches, and were alike necessary to them, how could they more describe one than another? But you say, it is the mentioning of these outward acts, that shows that your invisible Church is not described; therefore it is plain that you do not include these outward acts as essential to your invisible Church, and consequently it is a Church to which neither public worship, nor visible sacraments are necessary. For if these outward acts are necessary to your invisible Church, does not your Lordship mention them as such? You own you describe what it is that makes every particular man a member of the invisible Church; yet you not only take no notice of these outward acts, but say that the Article describes not your Church, because it mentions these outward acts, which is a demonstration that these outward acts do not belong to your Church.

    Farther; when the learned committee had charged your Lordship with the omission of "preaching the Word and administering of the sacraments," you answer, " they might have addled, He omits likewise the very public profession of Christianity. And is not the reason plain? because I was not speaking of the visible Church; to which alone, as such, visible outward signs, and verbal professions belong: but of the universal invisible Church."20

    1. My Lord, the reason is very plain, and it is as plain that is not a good reason. For if the preaching of the Word, the administering of the sacraments, and the public profession of Christianity, be necessary to [189] make any one a member of your invisible Church, then there was as good reason to mention them in your description, as if you had been describing the visible Church.

    If they are not necessary, then you have set up a Church exclusive of the visible Church. The case stands thus; if these outward acts be as necessary to make persons be of the invisible as of the visible Church, then they ought to come equally into the description of both Churches, being equally necessary to both: if you say they are not equally necessary, then you must allow that there is no necessity that the members of your Church should be in any external communion.

    It is therefore no apology, to say that you describe the invisible Church, unless you will say that a man may be of it without any outward acts, or communion with any visible Church. If a person may be of this invisible Church without having anything to do with visible sacraments, or worship in a visible communion, then you have an excuse why you did not mention these outward professions in your description of the Church; but if he cannot be of this invisible communion without observing these outward ordinances, then it was as necessary to mention these outward ordinances in your account of this Church, as if you had been describing a Church, which consisted of nothing else but outward ordinances.

    So that the short of the case is this; if the observation of external ordinances be not necessary to make men members of your invisible Church, then indeed there is a plain reason why your Lordship should omit them; and it is also plain that this doctrine sets aside the Gospel, if this invisible Church, the "only true Church in the mouth of a Christian," be excused from Gospel ordinances. But if these external ordinances [190] be necessary to constitute the invisible Church, then there was as plain a reason to mention them in the description of your Church, as if you had been describing the visible Church.

    So that if your Lordship will give a good plain reason why you have omitted these outward acts, it must be because they do not belong to it; for otherwise the calling it invisible is no excuse, unless it has no occasion for such outward performances.

    And indeed this has appeared to be your doctrine in almost every page, that you set up this invisible Church in opposition to outward and visible ordinances. For you all along set out the opposition or difference betwixt the visible and invisible Church in respect to external ordinances: thus the one is visible, "because to it alone belong external signs, or verbal professions."21 The other is invisible for the want of these. Yet this invisible Church thus destitute, and even necessarily destitute of external ordinances, is by you called, the "only true Church in the mouth of a Christian."

    2. One may, I acknowledge, easily conceive in one’s mind a number of people, whose internal and invisible graces may entitle them to the favour of God; and these may be called an invisible number, or congregation, or church, because it is invisible to us where it is, or how great it is. But then, my Lord, it is a great mistake if this invisible Church is opposed to, or distinguished from the visible Church in respect of external ordinances. For in these things they are both equally obliged to be visible. And the invisible Church is not so called, in contradistinction to those who attend visible communions, and observe external ordinances, [191] but in contradistinction to those who are invisibly bad, and are not what their external profession promises. This is the only number of people or church, which the invisible Church is opposed to. For as the invisible Church intends a number so called, because of their invisible graces; so this invisibly good Church can be truly opposed only to the invisibly bad Church, or such as are not such persons inwardly, as they profess to be outwardly.

    But, contrary to this, your Lordship has all along considered and described this invisible Church in opposition to the visible, and made those outward acts which are necessary to the visible Church, so many marks to distinguish it from that which is invisible. Thus you say that you "was not speaking of the visible Church, to which alone, as such, visible outward signs, or verbal professions belong: but of the universal invisible Church."22

    Here you plainly make external signs and outward professions distinguish the visible from the invisible Church; whereas it is not invisible in this respect, as being without these external professions, or in contradistinction to a visible Church; but it is only invisible in those graces, which human eyes cannot perceive. Thus they are said to be the invisible Church, because they are a number of men, who are such inwardly, as they profess to be outwardly. But this shows that they cannot be so called in contradistinction to outward professions, since they must have an outward profession themselves before they can be inwardly sincere in it; and consequently they are not opposed to, or distinguished from a number of outward professors, for this they are obliged to be themselves, but from a number of outward professors, who are not sincere in what they outwardly, profess.


If I should describe charitable men to be an invisible Church of persons sincerely well affected to mankind, and this in contradistinction to others who are externally charitable, and perform outward acts of love: or if I should describe chaste men to be an invisible Church of persons inwardly chaste and pure, and this in contradistinction to others externally chaste and visibly pure as to outward acts; I should just have the same authority either from reason or Scripture to set up these invisible Churches of charitable and chaste men, in opposition to persons outwardly charitable and chaste, as your Lordship has to set up this invisible sincere Church in contradistinction to the visible external Church. For, firstly, this sincerity no more makes a church, than charity and chastity make a church, or than honesty makes a man a member of a corporation or an officer in the army; these being private personal virtues, do not constitute a church or society, but concern men, as men, in every estate of life.


Outward ordinances and visible professions are as necessary to make men true Christians, as outward acts of love and external purity, are necessary to make men charitable or chaste. For Christianity as truly implies external acts and professions, as chastity implies outward purity.

    Now, my Lord, suppose the question was, whether adultery or fornication or any other impurity was lawful, and that the world was divided upon this controversy would he not be an excellent preacher of chastity, that should never tell us whether any or all of these were unlawful, but should pretend to decide the controversy, by telling the world, that chaste men is an invisible Church of persons inwardly pure, and this in contradistinction to persons externally pure? Suppose he [193] should tell them that their title to chastity did not depend upon their being or not being of the number of any outwardly pure or impure persons, but upon their inward purity; what apology could even charity itself make for such a teacher?

| § V | § VII |

§ VI. (iii.) But the doctrine of the invisible Church is a mere speculation, and has nothing whatever to do with the matter at issue. The whole controversy is whether it be as safe to be in one external visible communion as in another.

    § VI. (iii.)

The controversy on foot is this; whether external communion with any sort of fanatics be lawful? Whether it be as safe to be in one external visible communion as in another? The world is divided upon this subject, and your Lordship comes in to end the controversy. But how? Is it by examining the merits of the contending parties? Is it by telling us what is right and what is wrong in the different communions? Is it by telling us that one external communion is better than another? Is it by showing us that any is dangerous? Is it by directing us with which we ought to join, or indeed that we ought so much as to join with any? No: this right and wrong, or good and bad in external communions, though it was the whole question, is wholly skipped over by your Lordship; and you preach up an invisible Church as the only true Church in the mouth of a Christian, and this in contradistinction to all visible Churches: and only declare that our title to God’s favour cannot depend upon our being or continuing in any particular method, but upon our sincerity.

    Your Lordship says; "I have laid down a description of the universal invisible Church or kingdom of Christ."23 Your Lordship had been as well employed if you had been painting of spirits, or weighing of [194] thoughts. "The main question," you say is whether this description be true and just."24

    This, my Lord, is not the main question nor indeed does it concern us at all whether your Lordship is ingenious, or not, in this description.

    For suppose your Lordship had been describing an invisible king to the people of Great Britain, do you think the main question amongst the Lords and Commons would be, whether you lad hit off the description well? No, my Lord, the main question would be, to what ends and purposes you had set up such a king, and what relation the subjects of Great Britain had to him, whether they might leave their visible, and pay only an internal allegiance to your invisible king. If your Lordship should farther describe him as the only true king in the mouth of a Briton, I believe it would be thought but a poor apology to appeal to your fine painting, that you had described him justly, and set him out as invisible. The application is here very easy; it is a very trifling question, and only concerns your Lordship’s parts, whether your description of your invisible Church be just or not; but it is the use and the end of setting up this Church, which is any matter of question to us. Your Lordship might erect as many Churches as you please, if you did it only for speculative amusement, and to try your abilities in fine drawing; but if you pretend to unsettle the Christian Church by your new buildings, or to destroy the distinction between the Church and conventicle by your invisibles, we must beg your Lordship’s excuse, and can no more admire the beauty or justness of your fine descriptions, than you would admire a just description of an invisible diocese, if it was set out in order to receive your Lordship.


You add; but of ‘this (description) they (the Committee) have not said one word; but rather chosen to go off to an Article of the Church of England, which defines not the universal invisible Church.’ And your Lordship might as well observe, that they have not said one word about Plato’s "Republic." For how they should imagine that you was describing an invisible Church, or if they did, why they should trouble their heads with such a description, is not easily conceived.

    For, my Lord, if it was your primary intention only to appear in defence of an universal invisible Church, what can we conceive in our minds more surprising? What can be more extraordinary than that a visible bishop at a visible court, should with so much solemnity preach in defence of a Church which can neither be defended nor injured? Are there any rights in your invisible Church which can possibly be lost? If not, to what purpose does your Lordship come in as a defender? Can the sight of any men find it, the malice of any men attack it, or the goodwill of any men support it? No: yet though it is as invisible as the centre of the earth, and as much out of our reach as the stars, yet your Lordship has very pathetically preached a sermon and published some volumes, lest this invisible Church, which nobody knows where to find, should be run away with.

    Should the same Christian zeal induce your Lordship to appear at some other solemn occasion in the cause of the winds, your pains would be as well employed; for it would be as reasonable to desire that they might rise and blow where they list, as that an invisible Church, nowhere to be known or found by us at present, may not be injured.

    If therefore the learned Committee had so far forgot that visible Church of which they are members, as to [196] have engaged with your Lordship about your invisible Church, the dispute would have been to as much purpose, as a trial in Westminster Hall about the Philosopher’s Stone.

    But you complain that they rather chose to go off to an Article of the Church of England. My Lord, this is very hard indeed, that they should go off to the Church of England, when you had an invisible Church ready for them; or that this learned body cannot dispute about churches, but they must needs bring the Church of England into the question.

    Suppose, as in the above-mentioned instance, your Lordship should lay down a fine and just description of your invisible king of Great Britain, a number of Tories should, instead of examining the truth of your description, go off to the Acts of Settlement, which declares a visible king of Britain: this would be to use your Lordship just as the learned Committee have done, who, instead of dwelling upon the beauty and justness of this description, have gone off to an old Article in the Church of England, which indeed only describes an old-fashioned visible Church, as churches went in the Apostles’ days: that is, "a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered."25

    I am of opinion that the Apostolical Church would not have thought themselves too invisible to be thus described, or that this was too visible a description of the Church of Christ to take in its sincere members.

    Whether therefore your Lordship has given a true description of the invisible Church, that is, a Church of thoughts and sentiments, I shall not consider, but thus much I must observe, that it is a very false description; firstly, as it pretends to describe "THE Church, and the [197] only true Church in the mouth of a Christian."26 For the Church of Christ, as has been shown, is as truly, a visible external society, as any civil or secular society in the world: and it is no more distinguished from such societies by the invisibility, than by the youth or age of its members.

    The holy consecrated elements differ from common bread and wine, but they do not so differ from it as to cease to be as visible as common bread and wine. Thus the holy Catholic Church, the kingdom of Christ, differs from worldly societies and kingdoms, but not in point of visibility, but in regard to the ends and purposes for which it is erected—viz., the eternal salvation of mankind.


This description contradicts the nineteenth Article of the Church of England. For though it is not set up as another visible Church, so as to contradict it in point of visibility, yet seeing it is described as the Church, and the only true Church, it plainly contradicts it in point of truth; for if it be the only true Church, every other must be a false one.


This description is a mere speculative conjecture, a creature of the imagination, which can serve no purposes, but is entirely foreign to the present dispute, and must be so to any dispute which ever can arise between contending communions. It no more serves to inform anyone whether he should go to the visible Church or visible conventicle, than whether he should study the law or physic. It may indeed serve to make persons regardless of any visible Church, but can be of no use to them, if they, desire to know with what visible Church they ought to join.


| § VI | End |

§ VII. ‘"My Kingdom is not of this world."’ These are the words in which our Lord declares the nature of His kingdom.’

Ans. These words do not say what the Kingdom is, but what it is not. They in no sense do away with the visible Church and the duty of belonging to it; or do away with the threefold ministry and its divine authority.

    § VII.

It may now be worth our while to observe how your Lordship came by this account of Christ’s kingdom, which you say is the only true one. "Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world," is the text to your sermon. You say, you "have chosen these words in which our Lord declares the nature of His kingdom."27

    Now, my Lord, one would imagine, that you hereby mean, that our Lord has in these words declared what His kingdom is; for without this, it cannot be true that He hath declared the nature of His kingdom. Whereas it is so far from being true that He has in these words declared what His kingdom is, that He has only, and that in one particular respect, declared -what it is not. If He had said that His kingdom was not a Jewish kingdom, would this be declaring the nature of His kingdom? If a person should say that his belief was not the belief of the Church of England, would he in these words declare the nature of his belief? Would it not still be uncertain whether he was an Arian or Socinian, or something different from them both? Thus our Saviour’s saying that His kingdom is not of this world, no more declares the nature of His kingdom, than a person by saying such a one was not his son, would in these words declare how many children he had.

    "My kingdom is not of this world," are very indeterminate words, and capable of several meanings, if we [199] consider them in themselves. But as soon as we consider them as an answer to a particular question, they take one determinate sense. The question was, whether our Saviour was the (temporal) King of the Jews? "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world." Now as these words may signify no more than the denial of what was asked; as there is nothing in them that necessarily implies more, than that He was not a king as the Jewish or other temporal kings are; as the question extends the answer no farther than this meaning so if we enlarge it, or fix any other meaning to it, it is all human reasoning, without any warrant from the text.

    Now, taking the words in this sense, what a strange conclusion is this that your Lordship draws from it: that because Christ said His kingdom was not a temporal kingdom, as the Jewish and other kingdoms were, therefore His kingdom is invisible. Is it denied to be a temporal kingdom, because a temporal kingdom is visible? If not, it will by no means follow, that it must be invisible, because it is said not to be temporal. Must it be in every respect contrary to a temporal kingdom, because it is said not to be temporal? Then it must have no subjects, because in temporal kingdoms there are subjects; then there must be no kin because in such kingdoms there are kings. I suppose the sacraments may, in a very proper sense be said to be not temporal institutions, though they are as external and visible as anything in the world; and consequently the Church may be not temporal in a very proper sense, without implying that it must therefore be invisible. Indeed I cannot conceive how your Lordship could have thought of a more odd conclusion, than this which you have drawn from them. If you had concluded that because Christ’s kingdom is not a temporal kingdom, therefore its members are all of an age; it [200] had been as well as to say, therefore they are invisible.

    Nothing can be more surprising than to see your Lordship throughout your whole sermon describing this kingdom with all the accuracy and exactness imaginable, and even demonstrating every particular circumstance of its nature, from this little negative, that it is not a temporal kingdom. Your Lordship must be very excellent at taking a hint, or you could never have found out this kingdom of God so exactly from so small a circumstance. It seems had this little text been all the Scripture that we had left in the world, your Lordship could have revealed the rest by the help of it. For there is nothing that relates to this kingdom, or the circumstances of its members, but you have purely by the strength of your genius, unassisted by any other Scripture, proved and demonstrated from this single passage.

    If a foreigner should tell your Lordship that his house in his own country was not as the houses are in this kingdom, would it not be very wonderful in your Lordship, to be able to demonstrate its length and breadth, to tell how many rooms there are on a floor and to describe every beauty and convenience of the structure merely from having been told that it was not like the houses in this kingdom? But it would not be more wonderful than to see your Lordship describe the nature of Christ’s kingdom, and explain every circumstance that concerns its members, from having been told this negative circumstance. Nor indeed is it much to be wondered, seeing you set out upon this bottom, if you give as false an account of Christ’s kingdom, as you would do of an house, that you only knew what it was not.

    Again, you say, "As the Church of Christ is the kingdom [201] of Christ, He Himself is king; and in this it is implied that He is Himself the sole lawgiver to His subjects, and Himself the sole judge of their behaviour in the affairs of conscience and salvation."28

    What a pretty fine-spun consequence is this, to be drawn from the above-mentioned text. Your Lordship here advances a mere human speculation founded upon no other authority, than the uncertain signification of the words, king and kingdom; you say it is in this implied that because Christ is king of His kingdom, He is sole lawgiver to His subjects. Pray, my Lord, why is it in this implied? Do the words king and kingdom always imply the same thing? Has a king in one kingdom the same powers, which every king has in another kingdom? Has the king of England the same power, which a king of France, or any sovereign has in his kingdom? Would it be any reason why the king of England should be sole law-giver to his subjects, because there are kings who are sole law-givers to their subjects? Now if the word, king, does not necessarily imply the same power in every kingdom, how can there be any conclusion, that because Christ is king of His kingdom, He is sole law-giver to His subjects? Yet your Lordship’s whole argument is founded upon this weak and false bottom, that the word, king, is to be taken in one absolute and fixed sense: for you expressly say it is in this implied, that because He is king, He is sole law-giver. Now it is impossible it should be implied in this, unless the word, king, always implies the same power: for if there be any difference in the constitutions of kingdoms, though they all have kings, then it is plain nothing certain as to the nature and condition of any kingdom can be drawn from its having a king. But your Lordship has described the constitution [202] of Christ’s kingdom, the circumstances of its subjects, and in short everything that can concern it, as absolutely, and with as much certainty, from Christ’s being king of it, as if the word, king, had but one meaning, or every king the same power.

    Again, you tell us; "the grossest mistakes in judgment, about the nature of Christ’s kingdom or Church, have arisen from hence, that men have argued from other visible societies, and other visible kingdoms of this world, to what ought to be visible and sensible in this kingdom."29

    Is it thus, my, Lord? Are all our gross errors owing to this way of reasoning? How then comes your Lordship to fall into this grossest of errors? How come you to state the very nature of Christ’s kingdom from the consideration of temporal kingdoms, or absolute monarchies? How come you to argue from the relation between a king and his kingdom, to what ought to he in Christ’s spiritual kingdom? Are not kings and kingdoms temporal institutions? Is not the relation betwixt a king and his kingdom a temporal relation? How then can you argue from these temporal kingdoms to anything concerning Christ’s kingdom? Why will your Lordship fall into so gross an error, as to assert that Christ must be sole law-giver to His subjects, because there are some temporal kings who are sole law-givers to their subjects? Is there any consequence in this argument? Nay, are not all our errors owing to this mistaken way, of arguing?

    The only way to know the constitution of this kingdom, is not to reason from what is implied in the words king and kingdom, for they do not imply any fixed or absolute sense, but from the laws and institutions of it, whether they admit of or require the authority of under [203] magistrates. Thus, if it appears that Christ has commissioned others to act in His name, to exercise authority in His kingdom, and govern His subjects in such a manner as He has commissioned them to govern; is it any answer to this, to say, that "the Church is a kingdom, and Christ is a king and consequently sole law-giver in it"? Is there nothing in this text, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," &c., because Christ is king of His Church?

    The whole scheme of all your doctrines is raised out of this single text, "My kingdom is not of this world"; which certainly implies no more, than if Christ had said, I am not the temporal king of the Jews. Let us therefore see how your Lordship’s doctrines appear, if we bring them to the principle from whence you had them: as thus, Jesus is not the temporal king of the Jews, therefore there is no such thing as Church authority, no obligation to join in any particular communion. Jesus is not the temporal king of the Jews, therefore ‘absolutions, benedictions, and excommunications are dreams and trifles’; therefore no succession or ..order of clergy is better than another.

    Jesus is not the temporal king of the Jews, therefore ‘the invisible Church is the only true Church in the mouth of a Christian’; therefore sincerity, alone, exclusive of any particular communion, is the only title to God’s favour. Now if the Papists should say, "Jesus is not the temporal king of the Jews, therefore there is a purgatory, therefore we are to pray to saint"; they would show as much true logic and divinity, as your Lordship has shown in the proof of your doctrines from the above-mentioned text. And I daresay, that every reader of this controversy knows that you have not pretended to any other proof from the Scriptures for your doctrine, than what your oratory could draw from this single text.


 This therefore, I hope, every, reader will observe, that all which you have advanced against the universally received doctrines of Christianity, is only an harangue upon this single text, which everyone’s common-sense will tell him contains nothing in it, that can possibly determine the cause which you are engaged in. For who can imagine that it is as well to be a sincere Turk as a sincere Christian, or that a sincere Quaker is as much in the favour of God as a sincere Churchman, because our blessed Lord told Pilate, that His kingdom was not of this world, and that in such a manner, and upon such an occasion, is only to imply that He was not that king which he inquired after? Who can conceive that there is no particular order of the clergy necessary, no necessity of any particular communion, no authority in any Church, nor any significance in the sacerdotal powers, for this reason, because there is a text in Scripture, which denies that Christ was the temporal king of the Jews.

    Your Lordship has said much of the plainness and simplicity of the Gospel, and of its peculiar fitness to be judged of by the ordinary common-sense of mankind; you have also interposed in this controversy, to deliver them from the authority of the Church, and turn them loose to the Scriptures. But, my Lord, if this text, "My kingdom is not of this world," which seems to common-sense to contain only the denial of a particular question, contains, as you have pretended, the whole Christian religion; and every other seemingly plain part of the Gospel is to take its meaning from this passage; if it be thus, my Lord, what can we conceive more mysterious than the Scripture? or more unequal to the common, ordinary sense of men?

    For how should it come into a plain honest man’s head, that this text, which is nothing but the denial of [205] a certain question, should be the key to all the rest of Scripture? How should he know that the plainest texts in Scripture were not to be understood in their apparent meaning, but in some sense or other given them from this text? Thus, when it is said, "Go ye and disciple all nations, and lo I am with you to the end of the world":30 the first apparent sense of these words is this, that as Christ promised to be with the Apostles in the execution of their office both as to authority and power, so He promises the same to their successors the bishops, since He could no otherwise be with them to the end of the world, than by being with their successors. Now, my Lord, how should an ordinary thinker know that this plain meaning of the words was to be neglected, and that he was to go to the above-mentioned text to learn to understand, or rather disbelieve them? For what is there in this text, "My kingdom is not of this world," to show either that Christ did not authorise the Apostles to ordain successors who should have His authority, or that the bishops alone are not such successors? Is there any thing in this text which can any way determine the nature, the necessity, or the significance of such a succession.

    Again it is said, that "There is no other name under heaven given unto men, whereby they may be saved but Jesus Christ."31 Now how should a man that has only common-sense imagine that he must reject this plain meaning of the words, and believe that a sincere Turk is as much in the flavour of God as a sincere Christian, for this only reason, because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world? It must not be common ordinary sense which can reason and discover at this rate.

    Lastly, it is said, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on [206] earth, shall be bound in heaven," &c.32 Now, how shall anyone that has only sober sense find out, that there is nothing at all left in this text, that it only gave something or other to the Apostles, but gives no authority to any. persons now, because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world?

    Our Saviour told His disciples, that ‘they were not of this world,’33 but is that an argument that they therefore became immediately invisible? Was neither S. Peter nor S. Paul, &c., ever to be seen afterwards? Why then must the kingdom of Christ become immediately, invisible because it is said not to be of this world, any, more than its first members were invisible, who were also declared to be not of this world.

    Had S. Peter or S. Paul no visible power and authority over the presbyters and deacons, because these were not of this world? If they had, why may not some persons have authority, over others in Christ’s kingdom, though it is not of this world?

    For our blessed Lord’s saying that His disciples were not of this world, does as strictly prove that S. Peter and S. Paul had no distinct powers from presbyters and deacons, as His saying that His kingdom was not of this world, proves that there is no real or necessary difference betwixt bishops and presbyters in His kingdom. And it is as good logic, to say the disciples of Christ were not of this wor1d, therefore there was no necessity that some should have been Apostles and others presbyters, &c., as to say Christ's kingdom is not of this world, therefore there is no necessity that some should be bishops and others presbyters in it.

    I have been the more particular in examining the text to your sermon, and bringing your doctrines close to it, that every reader who has common-sense may be [207] able to perceive that they have no more relation to that text from which you would be thought to have them, than if you had deduced them from the first verse in the first chapter of Genesis.

    And yet thus much every reader must have observed, that it is your explication of this text alone, which has led you to condemn all that authority, to censure all those institutions as dreams and trifles, which the Holy Scriptures, and the first and purest ages of Christianity, have tatiglit us to esteem as sacred in themselves, being ordained by God, and of the greatest benefit to us, being means of obtaining His grace and favour.

    Thus far concerning the nature of Christ’s Church.

 | § VII |

 | Top |

1 "Answer to Dr Sherlock’s ‘Condit. of our Saviour vindicated,’" p. 112 [ii. 695].

2 "Answer to Repres. of Convoc.," p. 99 [ii. 488].

3 Ibid. p. 98 [ii. 488].

4 "Answer to Dr Sherlock" [ii. 694].

5 "Answer to Repres. of Convoc.," p. 98 [ii. 488].

6 Sherlock, "Answer to a letter sent to him (by A. A. Sykes, M.A.) relating to his sermon before the Lord Mayor, November 5th 1712," "proving the doctrines maintained in his sermon to be the same with those charged upon the Bishop of Bangor." To Sykes’ second letter was added a ‘Postscript to the Rev. Dr Sherlock, Dean of Chichester, by Benjamin, Bishop of Bangor.’

7 "Sermon on the Nature of Christ’s Kingdom," p. 17 [ii. 406].

8 "Ans. to Repres." p 70 § 12 [ii. 477].

9 Matt. xiii. 47.

10 Matt. xxii. 2.

11 Answer to Repr., p. 5, § I [ii. 452].

12 Answer to Repr. p. 70 [ii. 477].

13 Sermon on the Nature, &c., p. 16 [ii. 405-6].

14 Sermon, p. l0 [ii. 404]

15 Answer to Repr., p. 78, § 14 [ii. 481].

16 Answer to Repres., p. 79 [ii. 481].

17 Answer to Repres., p. 79 [ii. 481].

18 Answer to Repres., p. 79 [ii. 481].

19 [ii. 481.]

20 Repr. of Convoc., p. 7; Answer to Repres., p. 80 [ii. 481].

21 Answer to Repres., p. 81 [ii. 481].

22 Answer to Repres., p. 81 [ii. 481].

23 P. 78 [ii. 480].

24 Ibid.

25 Article xix.

26 Answer to Repres., p. 70 [ii.477]; Sermon [ii. 405].

27 Sermon, p. 10 [ii. 404]; John xviii. 36.

28 Sermon, p. 11 [ii. 404].

29 Sermon [ii. 408].

30 Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

31 Acts iv. 12.

32 Matt. xviii. 18.

33 John xv. 19.

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