Project Canterbury

Of the Three High-Churches in England.

From The Independent Whig (London), Number LI, December 31, 1720.

HAVING, in my former Papers, given some Account of the Scripture-Church; I shall, in this, give an Account of the Three High-Churches in England, which are very different from it. And though in order to do this I shall be obliged to take in a good deal of Matter, and reveal many High-Church and Jacobite Secrets; yet I hope to give the Publick a clear Notion of them in the Compass of one Paper. I shall, First, state what the true Church of England is; and then describe the Three High-Churches of England, shewing how they differ from one another, and from the true Church of England.

[193] I. FIRST, What the true Church of England is. All Churches by Law established, are Creatures of that State, where they are so established. For whatever is established, necessarily depends on the Legislature, which can and does repeal and enact whatever it thinks fit, and calls its present Constitution in Religion, The Church by Law established. The Church of England therefore by Law established, is whatever the Legislature has enacted, and continues in Force, in relation to Religion, together with whatever is enjoined by the Authority of the King, or is determined by the proper Judicatories, acting by the Authority of, and in Subordination to, the Legislature. Thus the Act of Parliament requiring the Subscription of the Thirty Nine Articles; the Acts of Uniformity, and the Act of Toleration; the King’s Injunctions, the Canons of Convocation confirmed by the King; the Sentences of the Delegates, and the Determinations of the House of Lords, constitute the Church of England: And the Members thereof are good and true Members, who conform their Belief and Practice to the several Particulars aforesaid: As on the other Side, they fall short of being good and true Members, who recede from any Particular and established and settled as aforesaid. [193/194] Nor can those be truly said to agree with and conform to a Church, who do not agree with and conform to it in the Sense intended by the Makers of the several Constitutions of that Church. This last is so plain a Truth in itself, and so manifestly implied in taking all Oaths, and making Subscriptions and Declarations, that it would have been needless to have observed it, had it not been for the Equivocation of Jesuitism of so many of our Priests, who think that they may take Oaths, and make Subscriptions, in Senses contrary to, and different from, the Intention of the Imposers, and yet be good, and true, and perfect Members of the Church.

II. NOW the High-Churches, which differ from this Establishment, are Three in Number; which I shall rank under the Names of the most remarkable Leaders in them. I. Dr. Bungey’s High-Church. [A Name frequently given to the late Dr. Sacheverell.] 2. Mr. Lesley’s High-Church. 3. And Dr. Brett’s High-Church. The two last are in an open Separation from one another, as well as from the true Church of England. But Dr. Bungey’s High-Church has as yet made no Separation from the true Church. He and his People are only Schismaticks in the Church (as were those upon whom St. Paul charges [194/195] Schism, when they were met together in the same Church, I Cor. xi. v. 18.) being as his present Grace of Canterbury [Dr. William Wake] describes some High-Church Priests, “a new Sort of Disciplinarians risen up among our selves, who seem to comply with the Government of the Church, as others do with that of the State; not out of Conscience of their Duty, or any Love they bear to it, but because they cannot keep their Preferments without it: They hate our Constitution, and revile all such as stand up in good Earnest for it; and yet, for all that, go on to Subscribe and Rail.” Which Passage, from so great an Authority, cannot be too often quoted.

But to proceed to the Description of these Three High-Churches, in their Order.

I. Dr. Bungey’s High-Church stands distinguished from the true Church of England; by their Arminian Doctrines, contrary to our old orthodox Calvinistical Articles; by their Enmity to the Act of Toleration, and to the Principles on which it is grounded; by their claiming an independent Power in Priests to make Laws, and govern the Church; which is contrary to the Laws of England, that place the Power of making Church-Laws in other [195/196] Hands, and particularly contrary to the Oath of Supremacy, which makes his Majesty Supreme Head of the Church; by teaching the Doctrines of Hereditary Right and Passive Obedience, contrary to the Judgment and Practice of the Legislature at and since the Revolution, and to the Determination of the House of Lords, on the Impeachment of Dr. Sacheverel, and their Condemnation of the Oxford Decree; and by a Spirit of Faction against the present Establishment in State, and against his Majesty’s Measures; by Rebellion and Perjury, by Uncharitableness to all Foreign, and more especially to Domestick Protestants; and by an implacable Fury and Malice towards all Dissenters among us, besides Jews and Papists: In which they act contrary to the known loyal Principles of our Church; to its Opinion of all Foreign Protestant Churches, which it esteems true Churches; to its Principles, which all tend to preserve Liberty and Property; and to its known charitable and peaceable Temper, and Regard to Tender Consciences.

2. The Second High-Church is Mr. Lesley’s High-Church. At the Revolution several Bishops, who were deprived by Act of Parliament, for not taking the Oaths to the Government, made an open Separation from the [196/197] Church of England; and pretended, that they and their Adherents were the Church, charging those who filled their sees with being Usurpers, and setting up Altar against Altar; and also charging them and their Adherents, together with all other Bishops, Clergy and Laity, who joined in the same Communion with the usurping Bishops, with Schism. Hereby also they distinguish themselves in Principles from the Church of England; which being a legal Establishment, asserts to the Legislature (which has a Right to preserve their Peace) a Right to deprive Bishops for Crimes against Law. They do not indeed so much distinguish themselves in Principles from Dr. Bungey’s Church, as they do from the true Church of England: For the Doctor’s Church equally contends with Mr. Lesley’s Church against the Parliament’s Right to deprive Bishops, and calls it Usurpation on the Rights of the Church; but is for Submission to such usurped Exercise of Power; and contends, Schism to be on the Side of those, who separate on a Principle of defending the Rights of the Church, against an Usurpation of those Rights.

This new separate Church agrees with Dr. Bungey’s Church, in other Principles before-mentioned, which distinguish the Doctor’s [197/198] Church from the true Church of England. But in Point of Honesty, or Adherence to those Principles, it greatly differs from the Doctor’s Church, which goes on to subscribe, and swear, and practise contrary to what they do subscribe and swear; Mr. Lesley’s High-Church honestly practising, in several Respects according to its villanous Principles.

3. Proceed we now to Dr. Brett’s High-Church. Soon after King George’s Accession to the Crown, the Bishops of the last-mentioned High-Church did all, except one, assemble in a Synod, where they resolved upon making Four Alterations in the Common Prayer Book: 1. To mix Water with the Wine in the Sacrament. 2. A Prayer for the Dead. 3. A Prayer for the Descent of the Holy Ghost, upon the Bread and Wine in the Sacrament. 4. An Oblatory Prayer, which goes upon the Ground, that the Eucharist is a proper Sacrifice. All which Dr. Brett is not only an Advocate for, as an Author, but (perhaps) as Titular Archbishop of Canterbury, exercised his Authority in enjoining. This has split the last High-Church into two Churches. Dr. Brett and his Followers adhering to the Bishops, or Church Governors of their Church, in Behalf of Wine and Water, &c. and Mr. [198/199] Lesley and his Followers adhering to one Bishop only, in Behalf of Wine, &c. contrary to the Determination of their own Bishops, and all their own Principles, about the Authority of Bishops and Clergy.

To render my Account of our several High-Churches of England more compleat, I shall, by way of Supplement, observe, that there is a Distinction in Dr. Bungey’s Church; and his High-Church may be divided into two High-Churches. Some of his High-Church are swearers to the Government, and say the Church Prayers for his Majesty King George and his Family, continuing at the same Time disaffected to him, and Enemies to his legal Title. Others of the Doctor’s High-Church are Non-swearers; and though they come to the Church, disown joining with the swearers in the Prayers for the King and his Family; which Practice of theirs the profound Mr. Dodwell has defended in a Book, (whose Title I shall, upon Memory, venture to give the Reader) intitled, A further Prospect of the Case in View; proving, that it is our Duty to be present at sinful Prayers, made sinful by Mistake of fallible Superiors, who have a Right of imposing Prayers. So that I think, the High-Churches of England may not improperly be [199/200] reckoned Four in Number; which may be justly distinguished by Things, as well as by Names of Men, after the following Manner.

I. The Swearing and Forswearing High-Church.

II. The Non-swearing High-Church, that contends for being present at the sinful Prayers of the Church.

III. The Non-swearing Wine and Water Church.

IV. The Non-swearing No Water Church.

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