Project Canterbury


The Excellence of the Church.







On Monday, May 21, A. D. 1810.





An Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New-York.






No. 160 Pearl-Street



Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2007


PSALM xlviii. 12, 13

Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof.
Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generations following.

WITH feelings of exultation did the King of Israel contemplate Zion and the holy city Jerusalem, of which it was the defence and ornament. It was the peculiar habitation of Jehovah. He who filleth the heavens, and whom "the heaven of heavens cannot contain," condescended to "dwell on earth." In the holy services of the Tabernacle, and of the temple on Mount Zion, he declared his will, received the homage of his people, and dispensed to them his mercy and his favour.

"Glorious things," therefore, were "spoken of this city of God;" "for there the Lord commanded his blessing, even life for evermore." In her praises, the heart and the voice of the pious King of Israel were often devoutly engaged. And on the occasion of a signal triumph over "the kings of the earth," who had "gathered together" against the holy city Jerusalem, David, [1/2] beholding their dispersion by the power of the Most High, and the daughter of Zion laughing her enemies to scorn, breaks forth in the animated strains of the psalm from which my text is taken--"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark, ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generations following."

Brethren, though the services of Mount Zion have passed away; and though the holy city Jerusalem is leveled with the dust; there is still a Zion in whose "palaces God is known for a sure refuge," and where he has "commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." Jehovah has made the Christian Church his habitation; and in this spiritual Zion he dwells with more illustrious manifestations of power and grace than those which he dispensed to Mount Zion of old. To her he declared his will by "Moses, who was but his servant;" but the Christian Church hears the voice of his "only begotten and well-beloved Son." Mount Zion of old beheld the glory of Jehovah, under a material emblem, overshadowing the mercy seat; but the Christian Church beholds "the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." On the altars of the sanctuary of Zion, "the blood of bulls and goats" was offered to put away sin--But the Christian Church is purified by that one great sacrifice to which all the legal sacrifices owed their efficacy; for in her Jesus Christ hath "appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." The Zion which David [2/3] celebrated held forth as the reward of the people of God, the fading joys of a temporal rest; and through this temporal rest imperfectly typified a more glorious rest remaining for the people of God--But the Christian Zion directs the immediate faith of her children to a spiritual and eternal rest, an "inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." The members of the Christian Church "are not come unto the mount that might be touched, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of words"--(these were the awful circumstances which attended the promulgation of the law)--"but they are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel." This spiritual Zion, the Christian Church, exceeds the Zion of the legal dispensation as much as the glorious antitype exceeds the type, and the substance the imperfect shadow. To her then may we apply, with exultation and delight, the strains of the King of Israel. "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God. Beautiful for situation; the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. God is in her palaces as a refuge. Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces that ye may tell it to the generations following."

[4] My brethren, "when all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord was ended," it was set apart by solemn religious services, to the worship of Jehovah. "And the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." By his mercy and his grace accompanying the ministration of his ordinances, Jehovah is yet present in the congregations of his worshippers. It seems reasonable and proper therefore, that his blessing and his favour should be invoked on the places dedicated to his worship, to the celebration of the ordinances of that evangelical covenant, of which the services of the sanctuary of Zion were only a type. The natural sense and reason of mankind suggest that the places where the name of God is to be invoked, his grace implored, and his ordinances celebrated, should be consecrated by religious solemnities, by offices of supplication and praise. And since the period when, emerging from the shades of persecution, the holy services of the Church were transferred from the obscure retreat to the splendid edifice, constant usage has continued what originated under the legal dispensation, and what the reason and common sense of mankind approve, the consecration of houses to the service of Almighty God, by solemn supplication and praise.

Thus set apart to the service of Jehovah, is the goodly edifice in which we are now assembled. Holy is this place; for it is the house of God, "the place where his honour dwelleth." Holy is this place, for the Almighty being, to whose worship it is devoted, is holy. Holy is this place, for the ministration and ordinances to be celebrated in it are [4/5] holy. And, therefore, let "no ordinary, unhallowed or worldly uses profane the sanctuary of the Lord." [ Consecration Office]

The principal glory of this building consists not in its external strength and decorations, honourable as they are to the taste, to the munificence, and to the piety of its founders. The spiritual services which are here to be administered constitute the glory of this sanctuary of the Lord. The evangelical doctrine here to be promulgated; the Apostolical ministry here to be exercised; the pure and primitive worship and ordinances here to be celebrated, as they constitute the peculiar excellence of that venerable Church to which we have the happiness to belong, so they will be the glory of this building consecrated to the services of our Zion.

The excellence of our Church,
shall be the subject of the following discourse. Let us "walk about Zion, and go round about her; let us tell the towers thereof. Let us mark well her bulwarks; let us consider her palaces; that we may tell it to the generations following."

Your time will permit me only cursorily to exhibit the excellence of our Zion,

I. In her DOCTRINE, considered
1. As to those practical points in which professing Christians generally agree.
2. Or as to those more theoretical opinions on which there is greater diversity of opinion.

[6] 1. The practical truths in which professing Christians generally agree, have all respect
To the meritorious cause of man's acceptance with God;
To the conditions or qualifications of his acceptance; or
To the strength by which these conditions are to be performed; and these qualifications acquired.

The meritorious cause of man's acceptance with God can be none other than the infinite righteousness and merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Not the merits and righteousness of a mere man; of the most perfect creature. Man is a sinner. Obnoxious to wrath himself, can he save his guilty brother? The most perfect creature--Ah! how can he stand when Jehovah is wrath! How can he abide when the Eternal lays judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. The most perfect creature! The breath of the Lord would sweep him from existence. And can he save a soul from eternal woe? No--man's Redeemer must be divine. The scrutiny of divine holiness can be sustained; the claims of divine justice can be satisfied; the authority of the divine government can be vindicated; and man can be saved--only by a divine Redeemer. It is the voice of reason; it is the demand of nature. When nature trembles at her guilt; when she contrasts her sinful and corrupt state with the purity, the justice, and the power of the Sovereign of the universe; when she beholds the dark valley of the shadow of death; and beyond it, the lake that burneth for ever and ever; nature cries for help to one that is mighty. And one that is mighty [6/7] appears so save her. For "God sent his Son into the world," "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," "that the world through him might be saved." "He is the propitiation for our sins." "All power is given unto him;" and "he is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God through him." These are the truths, so consoling to sinful man, which the scriptures proclaim; and they are the truths set forth in the Creeds, and Articles, and Liturgy of our Church. She declares that "the Son, begotten from everlasting of the Father," [ Art. ii.] "God of God, light of light, very God of very God, came down from heaven," [ Nicene Creed] "and took man's nature upon him--to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men" [ Art. ii.] --"and that we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." [ Art. xi.] Had our Church, violating scripture and the universal faith of the primitive ages, and leaving the sinner without hope, disguised or rejected these consolatory truths, because they are incomprehensible, for the same reason she would reject the being of a God: "Who can by searching find him out!"

Laying then, as the meritorious cause of man's acceptance, the righteousness and merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our Church determines that the conditions or qualifications of our acceptance, are repentance, faith, and obedience; constituting together that "renewing of the mind," whereby we [7/8] are "turned from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and satan unto God."

Repentance is necessary; for man is a sinner. Faith is necessary; because faith alone receives Jesus Christ and his merits as the only ground of our acceptance with God.

[Footnote: "Our Church asserts, "that we are accounted righteous before God, for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own and deserving;" and then adds, that "justification by faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as is more largely expressed in the Homily upon that subject." By referring to the Homily alluded to, we find the obvious meaning of the Article to be, that we are esteemed righteous in the sight of God solely for the sake of Christ, and not rendered perfectly so in point of fact, as the Papists held, by our own virtues, which we are told "are far too weak, insufficient, and imperfect, to deserve the remission of our sins;" and that we are thus reputed righteous, not on account of the act but the object of faith, on account of him, in whom alone we are to trust, yet in whom we are not entitled to trust, except upon a previous condition, except "we truly repent, and turn to God unfeignedly." For when we are said, as the same Homily remarks, to be justified by faith only, it is not meant "that this our own act to believe in Christ . . . doth justify us . . . for that were to count ourselves to be justified by some act or virtue that is within ourselves . . . nor that the said justifying faith is alone in man without true repentance, hope, charity, the dread and fear of God at any time and season;" but the purport of such expressions "is to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being unable to deserve our justification at God's hands, . . . Christ himself only being the cause meritorious thereof." --An Attempt to illustrate the Articles of the Church of England, which the Calvinists improperly consider as Calvinistical, in eight Sermons preached before, the University of Oxford, in the year. 1804, at the Lecture founded by J. Bampton, MA. Canon of Salisbury. By Richard Laurence, LL. D. of University College. p. 131.]

Obedience is necessary; not only as the fruits and the evidence of genuine repentance and lively faith, but as the unalterable and indispensible duty of all intelligent creatures, to their infinitely good and glorious Creator. And by "the renewing of the mind only, arising from the joint exercise of repentance, faith, and obedience, can corrupt and sinful man be [8/9] restored to the favour of his righteous Maker, and prepared for the holy felicity of heaven.

Repentance, faith and obedience, terminating in the renewing of the mind, required by the reason and nature of things, and enjoined in scripture as the conditions and qualifications of salvation, are uniformly and most impressively urged by our Church. These are displayed, as the indispensible qualifications for her sacraments and ordinances and as the blessed fruits which are to result from them.

Presenting himself at the "laver of regeneration," the candidate for baptism solemnly promises to "renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh;" professes his belief in "all the articles of the Christian faith," and vows "obediently to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his life." [ Office of Baptism] And when he is baptized into the merits of Christ's death, he is solemnly exhorted to "rise to newness of life; to follow the example of his Saviour Christ, to die to sin, and to rise again unto righteousness." [ Ibid: Office of Baptism] In the Apostolic ordinance of Confirmation, these vows are renewed, and these obligations again solemnly enforced. Called to participate spiritually in the body and blood of the Son of God, the members of the Church are admonished to "judge themselves lest they be judged of the Lord; to repent them truly of their sins past; to have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ their Saviour; to amend [9/10] their lives, and to be in perfect charity with all men." [ Exhortation in the Communion Service] In the affecting office for the holy communion, repentance, faith and obedience are enforced by the Church when she puts into the mouth of her members the language of confession and supplication--"We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful God; for thy Son Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life." [ Confession in the Communion Service] The Church devotes the season of Lent, preparatory to the commemoration of her Saviour's sufferings, to the more solemn exercises of repentance; and she exhorts her members to unite during this season with humble confession, supplication for mercy and newness of heart and life through the merits and grace of Jesus Christ. "Mercifully forgive us our trespasses; receive and comfort us who are grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins"--"Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is great; and after the multitude of thy mercies look upon us, through the merits and mediation of thy blessed Son" [ Confession and supplication for Ash-Wednesday] "Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord." [ Collect to be used during Lent] Not less humble the confessions, not less fervent the supplications [10/11] to serve God in newness of life, not less lively the trust in the merits and mediation of Christ, which animate the confessions and the numerous prayers of the daily service of the Church. To recite all the passages which exhibit repentance, faith and obedience as indispensible conditions and qualifications for the favour of God, would be to recite almost the whole of our incomparable liturgy.

And the strength which the Church exhibits, by which these conditions are to be performed and these qualifications acquired, is the grace of God's Holy Spirit.

Dependent as man is on God his Creator; fallen as he is from the original rectitude and strength with which his Maker endued him; and subject to a "law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity;" reason finds no difficulty in admitting, what the sacred writings expressly declare, that "without God we can do nothing," and that it is his "grace only which can be sufficient for us, and his strength which must be made perfect in our weakness." Accordingly the Church recognizes the important truth of thy necessity of the aids of divine grace to perform the conditions and to acquire the qualifications of salvation, when she declares in one of her articles, that "we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable unto God without the grace of God by Christ." [ Article 7] And the sentiment which animates all her offices and liturgy is that which she so strongly expresses in one of her inimitable collects---"O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able [11/12] to please thee, mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord." [ Collect for the 19th Sunday after Trinity].

Thus then, brethren, in regard to those truths of the Gospel more immediately practical, where the differences among Christians are less strongly marked, have we surveyed our Zion. And we have seen that she remains, as she was established by her divine founder, "all glorious within;" that in all her creeds and offices she holds in simplicity, and has exhibited, in language the most striking and affecting, the "truth as it is in Jesus"--"the faith once delivered to the saints." Happy would it have been for the Christian world, if the prying and presumptuous mind of man had never gone beyond these practical truths. But her curiosity and her pride have soared into those "secret things that belong unto the Lord," "things abstruse," and "too high for her."

2. Certain theoretical opinions, on which among Christians there prevails a diversity of opinion, have been the result of this pride and presumption of the human mind. These respect the points
Of Predestination,
Of Redemption,
Of Free-will,
Of Grace, and
Of Final Perseverance.

Agitated as these doctrines have been throughout the Christian world, particularly since the period of the reformation, we should only imperfectly survey our Zion if we did not exhibit the views of them [12/13] which she entertains. Your time would not permit me, were it part of my plan, to discuss either the truth or the falsehood of the contradictory opinions among Christians on these points. My single object shall be to ascertain the sense of our Church with respect to them. And thus confining myself to an investigation of facts, no remarks will be necessary from me, which, on a fair construction, can be deemed an injurious reflection on the sentiments of others, or improper in this place or on the present occasion.

An investigation of the sense of the Church on these points will prove that she does not hold the opinions which, from the distinguished Reformer who so ably defended them, are usually styled Calvinistic; and which are the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and, of course, of the Churches which have adopted this standard of doctrine. [ This investigation, temperately conducted, must appear an indispensible duty. Churchmen are continually told that the Articles of the Church are Calvinistic; and her Ministers are reproached with departing from the true sense of the Articles. The assertion, therefore, ought to be refuted, in order that her Clergy may be vindicated from the reproach.]

In regard to the first point--Predestination--the Confession of Faith declares that God hath "chosen in Christ some men unto everlasting glory," excluding all "foresight of faith or good works--as conditions or causes moving him thereunto." [ Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, chap. iii. 5.] Our Church simply declares God's decree to "bring certain persons by Christ to everlasting salvation," [ Art. 17.] and does not exclude "foresight of faith and good works." Contrary, therefore, to the Confession of [13/14] Faith, she leaves her members at liberty to contend that "predestination to life" is founded on foreseen faith and good works.

Again--the Confession of Faith expressly declares, that "some men and angels are fore-ordained to everlasting death." [ Confession of Faith, chap. iii. 3.] On this fatal decree of reprobation, our Church is totally silent.

Again--the Confession of Faith declares, that "elect infants dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit;" [ Chap. x. sect. 3.] thereby unavoidably implying that there are infants not elect, who are not saved. Our Church makes no such declaration, and therefore authorizes no such inference.

The article of the Church concerning predestination is concise, and stands alone; while the tenets of unconditional election and reprobation are directly or indirectly avowed in every chapter of the Confession of Faith. I merely state facts; designing no injurious imputations on a standard of doctrine embraced by large and respectable communities of Christians.

If the article of the Church concerning predestination must be interpreted of individual predestination; still we see it is essentially different from the Calvinistic doctrine on this subject. The concluding paragraph of the article indeed effectually excludes the Calvinistic tenet of particular unconditional election, by directing us to follow God's will, and to receive his promises as they are set forth in holy scripture. Now, his will there revealed certainly is, that "none should perish, but that all should be saved;" and his gracious promises of [14/15] mercy are there proclaimed to all who repent and believe, without any restriction of an irrespective decree.

But the article is not necessarily interpreted of individual predestination. It maintains, on a just construction, the only election declared in scripture, the election of Christians as a collective body to the privileges of the Gospel; the principal of which is eternal life; but all of which may be forfeited.

The whole Jewish nation are styled in the sacred writings, God's "elect." [ Deut. iv. 37. 1 Chron. xvi. 13. Psal. cv. 6. Psal. cvi. 5. Isa. xlv. 4.] They were chosen out of the world to be his people; to be in covenant with him. But no one will contend that all the Jews were elected in the Calvinistic sense, were infallibly predestinated to everlasting life. In like manner, all Christians are now the chosen, the "elect" of God. They are all by baptism taken out of the world, and placed in God's holy Church; received into covenant with him. As the article declares; they are chosen in Christ out of mankind--unto everlasting salvation; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length, by God's mercy, attain everlasting felicity." [Art. xvii.] These are the privileges of their election as Christians. But the article does not assert that these privileges may not be forfeited. The Apostles, addressing whole churches, all the Christians in large and populous cities, uniformly speak of them in similar terms; as "called of Jesus Christ;" [ Rom. i. 6. Gal. i. 6.] "elect of God;" [Col. iii, 18. 1 Thes. i. 4. 1 Pet, i. 9.] [15/16] "washed, sanctified, justified;" [ 1 Cor. vi. 11.] chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of children;" [ Eph. i. 4, 5. 1 John iii. 1, 2.] "partakers of the heavenly calling," and having "received the promise of eternal inheritance." [ Heb. iii. 1. ix. 15.] But the Apostles could never have meant to authorize the conclusion, that all the Christians to whom these epithets were applied would finally inherit eternal life; that these privileges were infallibly secured to them. These very Christians, called, elected, justified, sanctified, predestinated, partakers of the heavenly inheritance, are yet exhorted to "make their calling and election sure;" [ 2 Pet. i. 10.] it is supposed, that to some of them "Christ become of none effect--and that they may fall from grace;" [ Gal. v. 4.] they are earnestly exhorted, "beware lest any man spoil you," "let no man beguile you of your reward;" [ Col. ii. 8.] "take heed lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest--any man fall after the example of unbelief--any man fail of the grace of God;" [ Heb. iv. 1, 11. xii. 15.] for if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." [ 2 Pet. ii. 20.]

This brief investigation of the scriptural meaning of the terms, elected, predestinated, and others of a similar import, was necessary to prove that the application of them to Christians is compatible with the forfeiture of the privileges which these terms denote. Agreeably to these Apostolic authorities, the Church [16/17] supposes that the "elect," those "chosen in Christ," might forfeit the "everlasting felicity" to which they were predestinated; or she would not have exhorted them "called" by baptism "into a state of salvation," to pray to God for his "grace that they may continue in the same unto their life's end." [ Catechism]

The 17th article then may be interpreted of the election of Christians in general to the privileges of the Gospel; [ For a very clear and satisfactory explanation of this article on the principle of a collective predestination of Christians to the privileges of the Gospel, the reader is referred to an extract from the Sermons of Dr. Laurence, already quoted. The extract being too long for a note is inserted at the end of this Sermon.] all of which will be forfeited if they do not, by adding to "their faith, virtue," and all the other fruits of the spirit, "make their calling and election sure." [ 2 Peter i. 5, 10.] But if the article be interpreted of individual election to everlasting life, we may still insist, that even on this interpretation of it, it does not maintain Calvinistic doctrine. It does not exclude from this predestination, as the Confession of Faith does, all foresight of faith and good works; nor does it maintain the decree of reprobation; nor lead by its declarations to the inevitable inference that there are some infants who are not elected and who are not saved; and while the doctrine of predestination, thus cautiously stated in terms that will not warrant a Calvinistic interpretation, is found only in this article, the tenet of unconditional election pervades every part of the Confession of Faith.

On the subject of Redemption, the Calvinistic doctrine as laid down in the Confession of Faith is, that [17/18] "none other are redeemed by Christ, but the elect only;" [ Confession of Faith, chap. iii. sec. 6.] for them only was "reconciliation purchased;" [ Ibid. chap. viii. sec. 5.] and to them only are the "virtue, efficacy, and benefits of redemption communicated;" [ Ibid. chap. viii. sec. 6.] "others not elected although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved." [ Confession of Faith, chap. x. sec. 4.] Our Church, on the contrary, maintains in her articles, that "the offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world both original and actual." [ Article xxxi.] The universality of redemption is also asserted in the service for the communion, where the prayer of consecration declares that "Christ made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." And in the catechism, the catechumen is taught to believe (and to the young and tender mind how consoling the belief,) that "Christ hath redeemed him and all mankind."

Equally adverse to the Calvinistic doctrine is the faith of our Church concerning Free-will. For the standard of doctrine already quoted declares that in the "effectual calling," whereby the elect are drawn to Jesus Christ, they are "altogether passive." [ Confession of Faith, chap. x. sec. 2.] The Church, on the contrary, asserting that the Spirit of God "works with us," [ Article x.] admits a co-agency, a co-operation on our part. The Confession [18/19] of Faith declares that man, in his natural state, is "altogether averse from that which is good;" [ Confession of Faith, chap. ix. sec. 3.] "and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body." [ Ibid. chap. vi. sec. 2.] The Church, on the contrary, only admits that man is "very far gone" (not altogether) "from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil;" [ Article ix.] not "utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all which is good, and wholly inclined to evil," as the Confession of Faith asserts. [ Chap. vi. sec. 4.] This standard of doctrine also maintains the Calvinistic tenet, that the guilt of the sin of our first parents was imputed to all their posterity, who in consequence thereof are "made subject to death with all miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal." [ Confession of Faith, chap. vi. sec. 3, 5.] Our Church no where asserts this imputation of the guilt of the sin of our first parents; and in speaking of the corruption of our nature, merely declares, that "IT deserveth God's wrath and damnation;" [ Article ix.] leaving her members at liberty to suppose, in consistency with reason and scripture that men will be punished only for those actual transgressions which through divine grace it was in their power to avoid.

[Footnote: On the subject of this article, the Author expressed the same sentiments in the Clergyman's Companion, a work edited by him some years ago. "It is worthy of remark, that the ninth article of the Church, while it asserts the doctrine of the corruption of human nature, does not sanction the Calvinistic doctrine that all mankind are doomed, on account of the sin of Adam, to everlasting misery. The article does not assert that every person born into the world deserves God's wrath and damnation--but in every person born into the world, it (that is, the corruption of his nature) deserves, &c. All sin must be the object of God's wrath. But it would not be just in him to punish his intelligent creatures for those sinful propensities which they inherit through no act of their own. Guilt can only be incurred by actual transgression. Accordingly, though the original corruption of our nature considered in itself deserves God's wrath, yet we no where find in scripture that we shall be called to account for our original corruption, but solely for our actual voluntary transgressions. For 'the deeds done in the body' only are we to be judged--And at the last day 'every man will receive according to what he hath done', whether it be good or bad,"--Clergyman's Companion, page 127.]

On the topics of Grace and Final Perseverance, the standard of Calvinistic doctrine maintains that the [19/20] elect are "altogether passive" [ Confession of Faith, chap. x. sec. 2.] under the operations of God's Spirit, which of course works irresistibly; and that they "can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but, shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved." [ Confession of Faith, chap. xvii. sec. 1.] Mark how opposite is the doctrine of our Church. She speaks as we have seen, of God's "working with us," [ Article x.] implying that we are co-workers with him. She teaches us to pray in one of her collects, that we may "obey the godly motions of the Spirit," [ Collect for the First Sunday in Lent.] evidently implying that we may disobey them: and in another of her collects, she speaks of the "continual help" (not of the irresistible grace) of God's Holy Spirit, whereby we "bring the good desires inspired by him to good effect." [ Collect for Easter-Day.] So far from maintaining that the elect can never finally fall away from grace, "can never fall from the state of justification," [ Confession of faith, chap. xi. sec. 5.] she only admits that, when we fall into sin, "we may arise again;" directly implying that we may not arise again, and may finally perish.

[Footnote: Our Church in no part of her articles, creeds or offices, mentions the doctrine of final perseverance, which is stated unequivocally and at great length in the Confession of Faith. In other points of doctrine as well as in those above stated, there is a marked difference between the language of our articles, and that of the Confession of Faith. This speaks of the elect only as being justified, and sanctified through the Holy Spirit: the articles use the general term we, designating Christians, all baptized persons. "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Art. xi. "We have no power to do good works, but by the grace of God in Christ." Art. x. "After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given." Art. xvi. The truth is that the compilers of the articles cautiously abstained from the language of Calvin, and adopted as their model the Lutheran Confessions of Faith. This fact is incontestibly proved by Dr. Laurence in his Bampton Lectures.

[21] Thus then, brethren, we have reason to be proud of our Zion; that she does not, on these much controverted points, advance tenets which have ever found opposition in the common sense and feelings of mankind; and which a large portion of the Christian world deem repugnant to scripture. Her wise and temperate Reformers, in opposing the Pelagian heresy of the innocence of man, and of his ability by his own natural strength to work out his salvation, and the Papal heresy, nearly allied to the Pelagian, of human merit, of the power of man to deserve grace, avoided those extreme opinions, by which, in the fifth century, Augustine controverted the one heresy, and by which in modern times Calvin sought to demolish the other.

[Footnote: "On the other hand, when contrasted with the scholastical doctrine, is how advantageous a point of view, how much more consistent with Gospel truth, and declarative of Gospel beneficence, appears that of the Church of England! The more-memorable divines, who compiled her offices, and reformed her Creed, instead of exercising their talents in abstruse theory and vain speculation, directed their attention wholly to the word of God. Upon this grounding every position which they established, they taught, with no less simplicity than sincerity, that we possess by nature a tendency to evil, which in itself is no innocuous quality, but one offensive to a just and holy God, when abstractedly considered; that we cannot ourselves in any way atone for sin; but that an atonement has been once made for all by the common Saviour of mankind; and that, consequently, instead of attempting to expiate it by our own merits, whether congruous or condign, we ought rather, with a lively faith, united to a truly penitent and contrite heart, to trust in the expiation of Christ alone, because something more is [21/22] requisite than we can perform, to appease the displeasure and satisfy the justice of heaven. Thus while their adversaries laboured to promote pharisaical pride, and render the cross of Christ of no effect, they solely endeavoured to inculcate Christian humility, and to demonstrate the inestimable value of Christian redemption; not indeed in a Calvinistic sense, as if faith were appropriated to the elect only, for that would have been to exchange one species of personal conceit for another; but in a sense, which both scripture and reason approve, which makes the light of the evangelical as general in its influences, as that of the natural day. For upon the subject of predestination, as well as upon every other, which has been alluded to, their prudence was not less conspicuous than their piety. Approaching it with reverence, and treating it with circumspection, they indulged not, like many in the Church of Rome, and like some who were enumerated among the friends of reformation, in abstruse disquisitions upon the nature of the divine will; they boasted not of a philosophy, which affected to soar above vulgar view, and fix its sublime abode in the bosom of God himself. That he, whom the wonders of created being perplex, who knows not half the wisdom of the meanest insect; that man, equally imperfect as impure, should presume to investigate the arcana of the omniscient mind, appeared to them the height of extravagance and crime. Their feelings recoiled at the idea of passing the boundary, which the scriptures have prescribed, and of exploring without an infallible guide the abyss of the unrevealed Godhead; what no human intellect can comprehend, they were contented in silence to adore. Every attempt therefore to explain the will of the unknown God, as he exists in his native majesty, amid clouds of impenetrable darkness, they utterly disclaimed, and spoke only of that consolatory effect of it, which the sacred volumes disclose to us, and represent as certain, the predestination of Christians to eternal life. With this express object in view they intimately blessed the doctrine of election with the holy ordinance of baptism, including all in the universal promise, and regulating the decrees of God by our assumption or rejection of the Christian character; persuaded that the contrary tenet of a predestination by individual destiny is attended with the worst of consequences; that while it furnishes the profligate sinner with a pretext for his vices, it increases the agony of the desponding, whose petitions for mercy and forgiveness seem never to reach the throne of grace, but return to his afflicted soul disregarded, if not despised; adding tenfold horror to his despair."--Laurence's Sermons at the Bampton Lecture, p. 174.--It is worthy of remark, that in the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, when the Articles were ratified, there was not one advocate of the Calvinistic doctrines. This fact is a decisive proof that the American Church does not acknowledge that the articles admit of a Calvinistic interpretation.]

Your time will only permit a very rapid survey of the excellence of our Church in her ministry, and in her ordinances and worship.

[23] II. In her MINISTRY.

Here, as in her doctrine, she has avoided one extreme without running into the other. She has renounced papal usurpations without adopting the modern invention of ministerial parity. In common with the other Christian communities who separated from the Church of Rome, she maintains the necessity of an outward ordination to the ministry of the word and sacraments; and the transmission of this ministerial authority from its only legitimate source, the divine Head of the Church. The parity in the ministry which many of them maintain, she cannot; however acknowledge. The rise of the usurpations of the Pope of Rome she can distinctly trace. But even her adversaries are unable to agree on the period when what they term "prelatical usurpation" took its rise; or to trace the singular steps by which it advanced from Presbyterial parity to Episcopal supremacy. Finding the Church universal, [until(sic) within these four centuries,] in possession of distinct orders of the ministry; perceiving the foundation of this distinction in the superior powers of Timothy and Titus, and the Angels of the seven Churches of Asia; utterly unable to account, on the principles of human nature, for the alleged change from Presbytery to Episcopacy, without any record of the change; and mindful that power to be derived from the Head of the Church must flow in the channel in which it was originally placed; the venerable Reformers of the Church of England left the power of ordination where they found it--in the hands of Bishops. They settled the order of the Church on the principle laid down in the preface to the book of [23/24] ordination--"It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' times there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons." They thus secured to the Church, not only an apostolical and valid ministry, but a form of government wisely constructed on the principles of human nature; combining energy with moderation, and the collected information and zeal of the many, with the controlling prudence and decision of one supreme Head.

[Footnote: "We say also, that it is the form of government best fitted for the purposes of edification: that it admits more readily than any other the exercise of that moderation, which is on all hands allowed to be so desirable, and which is so seldom found; that it is best enabled to temper its judgments with the alternate and due application of indulgence and severity," Le Mesurier's Sermons on the Nature and Guilt of Schism, preached at the Bampton Lecture, 1807, p. 406.]

[Footnote continued: It is gratifying to find that Overton, the champion of that party in the Church of England who arrogate to themselves the exclusive title of Evangelical, speaks in the following decided terms on the subject of Episcopacy. "The whole external structure of the Church of England is either founded on express injunctions of scripture, or on the undoubted practice of the Apostles and early Christians. This has been satisfactorily shown by Hooker and Milner; and except where they attempt too much by Jones and Daubeny. The expediency of our establishment, as contrasted with any thing that opposes it, has also been convincingly shown by several of these writers, and might be further demonstrated from the nature of the thing, the nature of man, and an appeal to historic fact.--On these grounds it is that the present work so solicitously disclaims all intention of apologizing for any species of irregularity in any ministers of the establishment." Overton's True Churchman, p. 384.]

III. Equally Apostolic and primitive is our Church in her ORDINANCES and WORSHIP.

She gives efficacy to the sacrament of Baptism, by making it more than a mere ceremony of initiation into the Church. She declares it to be a mean and pledge of spiritual grace; translating us from our state of condemnation in the world, where considered [24/25] independently of the grace and mercy of the Gospel, we are "children of wrath," into a "state of grace;" into that holy Church of which Christ is the head, where we become "members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven." [ Catechism] This change in our spiritual state, she styles Regeneration. [ Office of Baptism and Confirmation] But our final title to these spiritual privileges will depend on the change which takes place in our heart and life; on our "dying to sin, and rising to righteousness." [ Exhortation in the Baptismal Service] And this change on which the privileges of baptism are suspended, the Church styles Renovation; distinguishing between it and regeneration, according to the Apostle, who speaks of the "washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." [ Titus iii. 5. In the thanksgiving after Baptism, the baptized person is said to be "regenerated by God's Holy Spirit;" because the Holy Spirit is the agent by whom this translation from a "state of nature" to a "state of grace" is effected; and because the Holy Spirit is given in Baptism as the principle of a new and holy life.] This distinction is expressly noted by the Church, in the collect for the Nativity. In this collect she considers all baptized persons as "regenerate and made God's children by adoption and grace:" and then teaches them to pray that they "may daily be renewed by God's Holy Spirit."

The rite of Confirmation, in which the vows of baptism are ratified, and the blessing of God invoked upon the baptized person, she retains, as edifying in itself, and sanctioned by apostolic and primitive usage.

In the sacrament of the Supper, agreeably to primitive [25/26] usage she makes a solemn "oblation" to the Almighty Father of the consecrated symbols of the body and blood of his Son; invoking the blessing and sanctification of "his word and Holy Spirit" on the "creatures of bread and wine;" whereby they become to those who worthily receive them "the spiritual body and blood of Christ;" assuring to them "the favour and goodness of God, an inheritance through hope in his everlasting kingdom." [ Communion Office]

The Public Worship of her God and Saviour she conducts according to a prescribed form. The authority of her Saviour, the practice of the Jewish Church, the usage of the primitive Church sanction, in her judgment, the prescription of a form. Established by the collected wisdom of the Church, a liturgy secures, as she conceives, correctness of doctrine, propriety of expression, enlightened and sober piety; and exhibiting the truths of religion in the affecting language of devotion, carries them with power to the heart. A form of prayer is calculated to restrain the aberrations of the weak and the presumptuous; while it becomes a luminous and unerring guide to the honest and humble.

In the liturgy which she enjoys, the Church justly glories, as the legacy of the martyrs who were her founders; who received it as, in great part, the legacy of defenders of the faith yet more primitive. She glories in it, as the most simple, perspicuous, and affecting exhibition of evangelical doctrine and devout sentiments that human genius and piety ever penned. Instruction is mingled with devotion. [26/27] Confession and supplication are enlivened by the more benevolent and grateful exercises of intercession and thanksgiving. Minister and people animate each other in responsive supplications and praises. Evangelical doctrine, and the aspirations of devotion are expressed in language so simple, so correct, and so pathetic, that the taste must indeed be corrupt which does not admire its inimitable beauties; and the heart cold, which can remain insensible to its penetrating fervour. Oh! may our lukewarmness, our indevotion, our sins, never provoke thee, Almighty God, to permit the arts of man, or of the adversary, to wrest from us, or to deface this animating guide of our devotion; next to thy word, the light which conducts us to thy throne. In the season of adversity, it has been the support and solace of our Zion. Should prosperity endanger her, may her liturgy still prove her benignant safeguard.

[Footnote: The Liturgy loses much of its effect from the imperfect manner in which the responses are generally repeated by the people. Mentally to join in the service, is not sufficient. They cannot be devout according to the forms of the Liturgy, unless their voices accompany their hearts. And this vocal and responsive devotion, while it is the distinguishing privilege of Churchmen, contributes in a high degree to the solemnity, beauty and fervour of divine service. How earnestly is it to be wished that those particularly whose example would have weight, would always devoutly attend to the service, and audibly join in the responses!]

Her ritual admitting a few ceremonies, decent, simple, and appropriate, is equally removed from that extreme, which extinguishes the devotion of the heart under a load of pompous and unmeaning rites; and from the other extreme equally erroneous, which, excluding all ceremony from public worship, fails to engage the body as well as the spirit in the adoration of the Almighty Maker of them both.

[28] This inimitable liturgy is designed, where circumstances admit, to be daily, or at least on two days [ Wednesdays and Fridays, called Litany days; because on those days only, and Sunday, is the Litany ordered to be used.] in the week, besides Sunday, the service of the Church. It prescribes also devotions appropriate to festivals and fasts commemorative of the leading events of redemption, and of the character of Christ and his Apostles. Our Church has thus made the most ample provision for the devotions of her members, assembled in the congregation under their authorized ministers. Private associations for this purpose she dare not countenance. Among other communities of Christians, for aught she knows, they may be harmless, they may prove edifying. But experience, raising a warning voice in the sad pages of her history, proves that within her bosom they have been the nurseries of enthusiasm and spiritual pride; the engines by which ambition, cloaked under the mantle of extraordinary sanctity, has excited against her sober order the rage of ignorant fanaticism, and whelmed in ruin her fairest forms. Could I need any authority for these sentiments, or any apology for the delivery of them, I might cover myself with the shield of one whose humility and piety were equal to his transcendant talents and learning, the "incomparable HOOKER." Thus does he express himself in that masterly work, which remains an illustrious monument of his genius, and an impregnable bulwark of the Church, his "Ecclesiastical Polity"--

"No doubt from God it hath proceeded, and by us it must be acknowledged a work of singular care [28/29] and providence, that the Church hath evermore held a prescript form of prayer; although not in all things every where the same, yet for the most part retaining still the same analogy. So that if the Liturgies of all ancient churches throughout the world be compared amongst themselves, it may be easily perceived they had all one original mould; and that the public prayer of the people of God in churches, thoroughly settled, did never use to be voluntary dictates, proceeding from any men's extemporal wit. To him who considers the grievous and scandalous inconveniences whereunto they make themselves daily subject, with whom any blind and secret corner is judged a fit house of common prayer; the manifold confusion which they fall into, where every man's private spirit and gift, as they term it, is the only Bishop that ordaineth him to this ministry; the irksome deformities whereby through endless and senseless effusions of indigested prayers, they, who are subject to no certain order, but pray both what and how they list, oftentimes disgrace, in a most insufferable manner, the worthiest part of christian duty towards God; to him, I say, who weigheth duly all these things, the reasons cannot be obscure, why God doth in public prayer so much respect the solemnity of places where, the authority and calling of persons by whom, and the precise appointment even with what words or sentences his name should be called on amongst his people." Ecc. Pol. book v. sec. 25.

[Footnote: The object of Hooker in this celebrated work is to overthrow the fundamental maxim of the Puritans, "that the scripture of God is in such sort the rule of human actions, that simply whatsoever we do, and are not directed by it thereunto, the same is sin." Hence the Puritans contended [29/30] that all rites and ceremonies not prescribed in scripture are sinful. To root out for ever this erroneous maxim "was the main reason, (as Bishop Warburton observes) why, in a particular dispute, Hooker goes so far back as to give a long account of the original of laws in general, their several kinds and their distinct and contrary natures." With this account the first three books are occupied. The remaining books are devoted to a very minute and able vindication of the rites and ceremonies as well as the polity in general of the Church of England The first book concludes with the passage so justly admired for its eloquence. "Of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world: all things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels, and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sorts and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."]

My brethren; in this survey of our Zion, in "going round about her, and telling the towers thereof, in marking well her bulwarks, and considering her palaces," so grateful to me has been the display of her strength and beauty, that I have not counted my time. Happy should I be, if I could think that I had beguiled you of yours. The occasion must be my apology: for an apology I deem necessary; deprecating as I do whatever seems to advance in importance the exercises of the pulpit over the devotions of the desk. You must bear with me, however, a little longer, while I indulge in some reflections which press upon my mind.

From this survey of our Zion, it appears--how unfounded is the imputation, sometimes cast upon her, that she is not evangelical.

What does the term mean? Its true import is--good tidings. And to what system of doctrine can the term with more propriety be applied, than to that embraced by our Church--a system of doctrine which represents the Parent of the human race, "as the Saviour of all men;" which represents Jesus Christ, [30/31] "as giving his life a ransom for all;" which represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, as "given to every man to profit withal;" which thus proclaims to all the fallen children of men the glad tidings, that salvation is possible to them all; without the reservation of a secret will of God, rendering salvation impossible to any. Yes, the ministers of our Zion, like the prophet of old, may address the affectionate invitation, without the distressing apprehension that some secret decree mars to any of the unfortunate sons of Adam its cheering efficacy--"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

Is the term evangelical applied to the distinguishing truths of the Gospel? Here also our Church
may interpose the highest claim to this title. No meritorious cause of man's salvation does she acknowledge, but the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "begotten from all eternity, of one substance with the Father, very and eternal God." The conditions or qualifications for salvation which every page of the scriptures proclaims, are urged as indispensible by our Church; "repentance towards God;" "faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" renewed obedience, "a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness." The strength which the Gospel proclaims, by which only these conditions and qualifications of salvation are to be performed and acquired, is that to which the Church directs the constant prayers, and trust of her members--the grace of the Holy Spirit. These are [31/32] the truths which, explicitly declared in the Creeds and articles of the Church, pervade every part of her liturgy; and thus in the daily devotions of her members, excite their trust, their hope, and their gratitude: Our Zion then, like the messenger that came to console Zion of old with the news of deliverance, proclaims indeed "glad tidings" to the children of men. "Very excellent things may be spoken of thee, thou city of God!"

How causeless and dangerous then must be separation from our Zion.

The principal reason for this separation most commonly alleged, is that, which we have just seen is utterly unfounded; that our Church is not evangelical. Evangelical truth, neither, on the one hand, alloyed by what we must be permitted to style, the errors of Calvinism; nor, on the other, tainted by the heresies of Pelagius and Socinus; denying the divine merits and grace of the Lord who bought us evangelical truth displays her consoling aspect in every part of the articles and liturgy of our Church. And of the benefit of these, no imperfections of us, who hold "the treasure" of the ministry "in earthen vessels," can deprive her members. Let them live upon the evangelical truths contained in the liturgy--let them exercise themselves upon these truths, day and night--let them offer through the sober yet animating forms of the liturgy, their prayers and praises to the God of their salvation; [ If Churchmen would commit to memory the language of the prayers, and accustom themselves in private to pray in this language, they would never be at a loss for terms the most appropriate and affecting, in which to express the devout feelings of their hearts.] and according to its [32/33] evangelical offices, commune with their God and Saviour in the ordinances of the sanctuary; and they will be nourished and strengthened to everlasting life, though instructions from the pulpit should never greet their ears. For, to use the language of a prelate, who defends by his learning and zeal, and adorns by his piety the Church of England, [ The Right Reverend George Isaac Huntingford, D. D. Warden of Winchester College, and Bishop of Glocester.] "Were the ministers of the Church less attentive to Christian subjects than they are known to be, yet if the prayers are purely Christian, the discourses of its ministers should not impel us to separation. And the reason is this--Preaching is but a secondary part of divine service; prayer is the first, the chief, the principal duty." [ Previously to the Reformation, preaching was undervalued in the Church of Rome. Since that period, among those Protestant sects particularly who have no established liturgy, a preference is given to preaching above public worship. And this same error has infected even Churchmen; who are the less excusable for indulging it, as they enjoy in their liturgy such invaluable means of Christian instruction, and of communion with God in the exercises of prayer and praise.]

And when the members of our Zion forsake her, they forsake not only evangelical truth, but a worship pure and primitive, a ministry Apostolical, "called of God as was Aaron;" they are guilty of rending the body of Christ; of that sin of schism, which the Apostle styles a "carnal" sin; from which in the litany they have prayed to be delivered; and which, like every other sin, if not washed away by repentance and faith in the blood of Christ, will appear an accuser against them at the bar of God.

[Footnote: Bishop Beveridge, venerated by all for his piety, and by many persons for his tendency to Calvinism, expresses himself in much stronger language on the subject of separation from the Church. The following passage is taken from the conclusion of his sermon, on Matthew xxviii. 20. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. "And as for schism, [33/34] they certainly hazard their salvation at a strange rate, who separate themselves from such a Church as ours is, wherein the Apostolical succession, the root of all Christian communion, hath been so entirely preserved, and the word and sacraments are so effectually administered; and all to go into such Assemblies and meetings, as can have no pretence to the great promise in my text. For it is manifest, that this promise was made only to the Apostles and their successors to the end of the world. Whereas in the private meetings, where their teachers have no Apostolical or Episcopal imposition of hands, they have no ground to pretend to succeed the Apostles, nor by consequence any right to the Spirit which our Lord here promiseth; without which, although they preach their hearts out, I do not see what spiritual advantage can accrue to their hearers by it. And therefore, whatsoever they may think of it, for my own part, I would not be without this promise of our Saviour for all the world, as knowing, that not only myself, but the whole Catholic Church, is highly concerned in it; it being by virtue of this promise, that the Church is continually acted, guided and assisted by the Spirit of God, and so the ordinary means of grace are made effectual to salvation, which otherwise would be of no force or efficacy at all. And therefore to speak modestly, they must needs run a very great hazard, who cut themselves off from ours, and by consequence from the Catholic Church and so render themselves incapable of receiving any benefit from this promise, or from the means of grace which they do or may enjoy.]

[Footnote continued: "Upon these therefore, and such like considerations, which this text will readily suggest to your serious and more retired thoughts, I humbly advise and beseech you all in the name of Christ your Saviour, and as you do tender your salvation by him, that you would not hearken unto those who go about to seduce you from our Church, but that you would continue firm and faithful to it. For so long as you do so, I dare undertake for you, that you are in the ready way to heaven. But if you once forsake that, whither you will next go, I know not; no, nor you neither." Bishop Beveridge's Sermons, vol. i. p. 11.]

Lastly---This survey of our Zion should excite our most devoted attachment to her.

Her doctrine, extending the atonement of Christ to all men; dispensing his grace to all men; making this grace persuasive and assisting, and not overpowering and resistless; thus placing man in a state of probation, and resting with himself, life or death, salvation or condemnation; presents a system of evangelical truth, harmonizing with all the attributes of God; perfective of man's free-agency, and of the nature, obligations, and [34/35] rewards of virtue; honourable to the Creator, consoling to the creature. In communion with her Apostolical ministry, her members are assured, that they are united to that spiritual body of which Christ is the head. And in the pure and animating exercises of her worship, they enjoy the confidence that they are preparing for the more blissful services of a sanctuary in the heavens. Let then our Zion be our joy and our pride. Let us acquaint ourselves with her excellences. Let us glory in her, founded as she is on "the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." Let us fix our attention on the solid pillars of evangelical truth, which constitute her strength; and on the neat decorations of ritual ceremony, that are the ornament of our Zion. Let us "go round about her, tell her towers, mark well her bulwarks, consider her palaces," that we may "tell it to the generation present;" that they may tell it to the generations following; that so she may "be the joy of the whole earth, the joy of many generations." "O pray for the peace of Jerusalem--they shall prosper that love thee. If I forget thee, may my right hand forget its strength. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth: yea, if I make not Jerusalem my chief joy."

Of the attachment to our Church, cherished by you, my brother, [ The Rev. Joseph Willard, Rector of Trinity Church, Newark] and you gentlemen, to whose superintendence the erection of this building was committed, [ The building committee: Archibald Mercer, Esq. Chairman; Mr. Caleb Sayres, Mr. John Crawford, Mr. Edward Blackford, William Halsey, Esq. Capt. Josiah James, Capt. Thomas Whitlock; Nicholas Ogden, Esq. Secretary.] and you the people of the congregation, the [35/36] happy event of this day affords a lively evidence. A structure, uniting, like the spiritual Zion to whose services it is consecrated, solidity with ornament, and strength with beauty, is the fruit of a laborious zeal that could be intimidated by no difficulties, that could be arrested by no obstacles, and which has finally triumphed over them all. This zeal has been inspired and cherished, not only by the pride of Churchmen, however well founded that pride; not only by an admiration of the externals of our Zion, however just that admiration; but, I trust, by a devout attachment to her internal glory; to her evangelical doctrine, her Apostolical ministry, her pure and primitive worship.

Let me then finally exhort you to evidence the sincerity of your attachment to our Zion, by receiving with the heart her evangelical doctrine; by reverently submitting to the ministrations of her Apostolical priesthood; and by constantly and devoutly attending her ordinances and worship. Thus will you effectually contribute to her prosperity, and proclaim to the generations present and following her excellency and glory. And thus (infinitely more important consideration!) you will be prepared for "telling the towers, for marking the bulwarks, for considering the palaces" of that Zion whose "walls are salvation, and whose gates praise"--in which dwelleth for ever "the Lamb who was slain to redeem us by his blood;" to which "the Lord is an everlasting light, and God himself an eternal glory." Blessed occupation of the host of heaven! blessed occupation of the host of the redeemed! O my soul! mayest thou prove worthy to [36/37] engage in it! May that God who makes Zion his habitation prepare you, my brethren, for dwelling for ever on her holy hill. May he prosper the work of your hands upon you; may he prosper your handy work. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon your and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you peace. To whom, &c.

[38] An explanation of the 17th Article of the Church, as inculcating the general predestination of Christians to the privileges of the Gospel in the present life, and not the predestination of individuals to everlasting life--extracted from Laurence's Sermons at the Bampton Lecture; referred to in page 17 of this Sermon.

"But the sentiments of the Lutherans on this head I have already sufficiently detailed. I proceed, therefore, in the last place, to consider what our own Church has established in her Article upon the same subject; a subject perplexing only by being contemplated as Calvin contemplated it, who, with all the confidence of the Schools, and the vanity of his country, endeavoured to explain that which his better judgment should have told him was inexplicable. So far indeed is the Article in question from sanctioning the creed of the French Reformer, that, like those already reviewed, it seems to have been framed in perfect conformity with the less abstruse, and more scriptural opinions of the Lutherans. With them it teaches an election of Christians out of the human race, conceives abundant consolation derivable from such an election, when piously surveyed, and not perverted by a profligate fatalism; and, lastly, represents its position upon the point as consistent with God's universal promises and revealed will, expressly declared to us in the holy Scriptures.

"But in order accurately to comprehend its scope, it will be requisite to examine it more minutely.

"Predestination to life" it defines to be 'the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed, by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour.' The tendency and propriety of the leading terms adopted in this definition, we immediately perceive, when we recollect the system of the Scholastics, to which it was opposed. They believed predestination to be God's everlasting purpose to confer grace and glory upon individuals, who deserve the first congruously, and the latter condignly; conceiving us competent by our own virtues to extricate ourselves from crime, and its alarming consequences. Our Church, on the other hand, always keeping the idea of redemption in view, states it to be the everlasting purpose of the Almighty, to deliver from a state of malediction and destruction, ('a maledicto et exitio liberare,') from a guilt which none can themselves obliterate; and to render eternally happy, through Christ, or Christianity, as vessels before dishonourable thus formed to honour, those, whom he has elected not as meritorious individuals separately, but as a certain class of persons, as Christians collectively, 'whom he has chosen its Christ out of mankind.'

"After having explained the nature, and slightly alluded to the objects, of that predestination, which alone it inculcates, the Article proceeds to enlarge upon the latter point, and to specify the peculiar characteristics of this highly favoured community. 'Wherefore', it is added, 'they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to his purpose, by his Spirit working in due season,' Spiritu ejus opportuno tempore operante; by his Spirit operating, not irresistibly at pleasure, without regard [38/39] to time and circumstances, but conformably with the established constitution of human nature, at a seasonable period, when the mind is indisposed to resistance, or, as in infancy, incapable of it; 'they through grace obey the calling, they are justified freely'; are justified without any expiation or satisfaction for sin on their part, Christ himself only being the meritorious cause of it; 'they are made the children of God by adoption; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy,' not by condign merit, 'attain everlasting felicity.' Such is the description given of those, who are predestinated to life; a description, which, when connected with the preceding clause, manifestly points out the election of a part out of the whole, yet not, according to the tenet of the Romish Church, the election of men preferred one before another on account of their personal qualities, but of Christians, distinguished as an aggregate from the remainder of the human race, by a characteristical discrimination, by being called, justified, and sanctified, through Christianity.

"The definition of the doctrine being completed, the subsequent passage, still carrying on the contrast with the Church of Rome, touches, in guarded but not ambiguous language, upon the application of it. 'As the godly consideration,' it remarks, 'of predestination and our election in Christ,' of the election of us Christians, 'is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ,' vim Spiritus Christi; the influence of that holy Spirit, of which the Gospel speaks, and not of that meritorious principle which the Schools termed Charity, 'mortifying the works of the flesh, and drawing up the mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it greatly establishes and confirms our faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ,' fidem nostram de aeterna salute consequenda per Christum, our confidence in Christian salvation generally, and not theirs particularly, a change of the pronoun adopted in the Latin not without design, 'as because it fervently kindles our love towards God; so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination,' to believe that God has predetermined something certain respecting their final doom, 'is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the devil doth thrust them into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.' In this important clause we are taught, that none except the truly pious can derive consolation from the doctrine of our election in Christ, of ours collectively in a religious, and not of theirs individually in a personal capacity; and that the opposite idea of a predestination which regards the persons of men, fixing the fate of each irrevocably, when entertained by those whose curiosity and crime exceed their piety, tends to drive them into despair, from a persuasion of their being exposed to the wrath of heaven, as the non-elect, or from a presumption of their ultimate security, as the elect, into the most abandoned profligacy.

"But the conclusion of the Article, as distinctly expressive of the basis upon which the doctrine is founded, and admirably calculated to prevent every misapplication of it, is worthy of particular observation. 'Furthermore,' it is said, 'we must receive God's promises in such wise as they are generally set forth to us in holy Scripture, and in our doings that will of [39/40] God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared to us in the word of God.' When we consider the preceding parts of the Article, the connection of the whole, and the sentiments of the Lutherans, whose very style upon the subject seems particularly attended to, is it possible for a moment to imagine (according to the conception of some), that the object of this clause is to admit an absolute predestination in theory, but to proscribe it in practice? So far indeed from adopting such a conclusion we ought rather to be persuaded, that the obvious tendency of it is very different; and that, instead of allowing in one sense, what it disallows in another, it rejects the same in both. For, assuming God's universal promises as the ground-work of Predestination, it requires us to embrace them, not as confined to certain favourites previously ordained to bliss, but as general to the whole human species, to whom our Church elsewhere considers eternal life as offered without discrimination, and not to indulge every evil propensity of our nature, under the pretence of being overruled by a secret will of heaven, which we can neither promote nor resist; but to act in conformity with that will, which is clearly revealed to us in holy Scripture; a disposition in the common Parent of all men to effect the salvation of all who obstruct not his operations on their part, discarding 'the means of grace, and the hope of glory.' That the Lutherans perpetually urged the universality of the divine promises and will, I have already pointed out; and it should be remarked, that our Reformers, on this occasion, kept an eye even upon the language, as well as opinions, of Melancthon. Had they been inclined to favour the tenet of Calvin, we may be assured, that they would not have countenanced an idea, which gave particular offence to that Reformer, which he never alluded to, unless to explain it away, and, which he prided himself upon having refuted, as an error. 'Aliquid disserui,' he remarks in his Institute, 'corum errorem refellens, quibus generalitas promissionum videtur aequare totum humanum genus.' Lib. iii. cap. 24. §. 1. What was the utmost latitude of expression upon the subject, which, had they been his disciples, they would have admitted, we may learn from the Helvetic confession, which speaks indeed of God's promises being universal, but, instead of extending that universality to all, restricts it to the faithful, 'Promissiones Dei sunt universales fidelibus.'

"Having considered the whole of the Article, in a point of view which no less exhibits the moderation of our Church, than her wisdom and piety, I shall simply refer, in confirmation of what has been advanced, to our baptismal service, which every where proceeds upon the principles suggested. There we are directly taught the benignity of our gracious Creator towards us all, without distinction, his election of us as Christians, and his subsequent rejection only of those, who, polluted by vice, divest themselves of that sacred character. So strikingly prominent indeed are these sentiments in the office alluded to, that in order not to perceive them, or to deny their existence, we must shut our eyes against the obvious construction of the English language. It expressly asserts that the good will of our heavenly Father is equal towards all, who are brought to his holy baptism, that he favourably receives them, and embraces them with the arms of his mercy, gives unto them the blessing of eternal life, and makes them partakers of his everlasting kingdom. But, lest even this should be deemed equivocal, or at least [40/41] not sufficiently declarative of the object in view, the baptized are further said not only to be regenerated with his holy Spirit, and made his own children by adoption, but, still more explicitly, to be admitted 'into the number of the children of God, and heirs of everlasting life.' Was it possible for words more precise, distinct, and expressive, to be adopted? And yet there are writers who contend that all infants are not supposed to be thus regenerated, and numbered among the elect of God, but only a fortunate few, irrespectively chosen, regeneration not always taking place in point of fact, but only in the judgment of charity; and that the words upon which so much stress is laid, are only general expressions adapted to general forms.

"On the whole, by explaining this Article in conformity with our baptismal service, we instantly perceive upon what principles divine election is supposed to proceed, and what is that general promise and will of God of which it speaks, as expressly declared in the word of God; we perceive, that grace, according to the Lutheran doctrine, is directly taught to be both universal and detectible, circumstances which necessarily preclude every idea of an arbitrary selection of individuals. Our benevolent Creator, we are told, possesses no private partiality for certain pre-ordained objects of his bounty, but is equally disposed to all, embraces all indiscriminately with the arms of his mercy, and receives all, when dedicated to him by baptism, into the number of his elect; and when, at any subsequent period of our existence, he withdraws from us the light of his heavenly countenance, the cause of that deplorable change is not imputable to him, but to us, who prove defective on our parts, forfeiting in maturer years our title to eternal happiness, and excluding ourselves from salvation. Thus, when captivated with the pleasures of the world, and subdued by its temptations, we cease 'manfully to fight under the banner of Christ,' we completely lose that state of security in which we before were placed; for it is not sufficient to be once regenerated, and made the children of heaven by adoption, unless we are daily renewed by the holy Spirit, which we can never be while we despise his dominion, resist his influence, and pollute the hallowed sanctuary, which he has established in our hearts. Hence, therefore, from this diversity in us (some finally abandoning the hope of their calling, and perishing in their crimes, others by repentance and amendment recovering it) arises the rule of a personal discrimination in the mind of God; for although his purpose is indeed immutable, and his predestination of the elect, as a collective body, consequently absolute, yet our continuation in that number, or rejection from it, is evidently conditional, depending not upon his irrespective decree, but upon our Christian conduct, 'upon our being endued with heavenly virtues,' by which alone, through the merits and for the sake of Christ, we are 'everlastingly rewarded.' And when we recollect what our Church maintains in her Article of Free-Will upon the point of human co-operation with divine agency, we see, that, according to her sentiments, widely differing from those of Calvin, in ourselves is to be found one essential requisite towards the performance of that condition, upon which, when erased by guilt, our names are again inscribed in the book of life."

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