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us go every one unto his own country. When ye
shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee to the inountains.These are remotely applicable to the business in hand. The following is directly so.-" I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.'
In obedience to these injunctions, and under a strong disapprobation of the several anti-christian circumstances of our own established church,(3) the general doctrines of which I very much approve and admire, I now withdraw; and renounce a situation, which, in some respects, has been extremely eligible. I cast myself again upon the bosom of a gracious Providence, which has provided for me all my life long. Hitherto, I must say, the Lord hath helped
I have never wanted any manner of thing that has been necessary to my comfort. And though I neither know what to do, nor whither to go, yet
" The world is all before me, where to choose
(3) Paine observes, that " all national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, are no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” The Jewish institution ought to have been excepted in this ceri
It was unquestionably divine, and was appointed for the most important purposes, and attended with the most indisputable evidence.
Another anthor, much more capable of judging than Paine bath said, that “ National churches are that hay and siubble, which might be removed without difficulty or confusion from the fabric of religion, by the gentle hand of reforina'ion, but whici, the infatuation of ecclesiastics wili leave to be destroyed by fire, National churches are that incrustation, which has invelopel, by gradual concretion, the diamond of christianity; nor can the genuine lustre be restored, but by sach violent efforts as the separation of substances so long and closely connected must ineviļable require."
This extraordinary step the sacred dictates of conscience compel me to take. I am truly sorry for it. To me few trials were ever equal. I have loved the people among whom I have so long lived and laboured. And I have every reason to be satisfied with their conduct towards me. Neither hath the great Head of the church left us without seals to our ministry: The appearance of fruit has been large. And there are some among the people of our charge, who will be our joy and crown in the great day of the Redeemer's coming. My friends must consider me as called away by an imperious Providence; and, I trust, they will be provided with a successor more than equal, in every respect, to their late affectionate pastor. I think it necessary to say, that the doctrines which I have preached unto them for six and twenty years, I still consider as the truths of God. I have lived in them myself, and found comfort from them. I have faithfully made them known to others, as thousands can bear me witness; we have seen them effectual to the pulling down the strong holds of sin and Satan, in a variety of cases; and I hope to die in the same faith, and to find them the power of God unto the salvation of my own soul in eternal glory by Christ Jesus. I mean to preach the same doctrines, the Lord being my helper, during the whole remainder of my life, wheresoever my lot may be cast. I am not weary of the work of the sacred ministry. I have, indeed, often been weary in it, but never of it. I pray God my spiritual vigour, life, and love, and usefulness may abound more and more to the end of my Christian warfare.
" Awake my dormant zeal! for ever flame With gen'rous ardours for immortal souls; And may my head, and tongue, and heart, and all, Spend and be spent in service so divine.”, “ But, if you had so many objections to the established church, why did you enter into it? Why did
you continue to officiate so long in it? And why did you not decline it long ago?
All my habits, and the prejudices of my education run in favour of the church. My father and friends were in the same habits. All my younger days, I took for granted every thing was right, nor had I any suspicions to the contrary. If I had so seriously considered these things thirty years ago, I should have acted agreeably to my convictions. I recollect, indeed, about that time, to have had my fears that some things among us were not as they should be.
I saw with my own eyes, that almost all the clergy, with whom I was acquainted, were practically wrong at least. Between them and the precepts of the gospel there seemed a perfect contrast. My mind was but little informed upon religious subjects. I was distrustful of my own judgment, and thought it prudent to be guided by the judgment of those, of whose piety I had a good opinion. Few young persons think deeply and solidly, and fewer still have reading and experience sufficient to enable them to form an accurate estimate upon such intricate questions. Indeed, most men, in the earlier stages of life, are led by the prejudices of education, and the example of those with whom they converse.
There is so much that is excellent in the Articles, Homilies, and common forms of our church, that it cannot be a matter of wonder, if unenlightened and inexperienced young men, who, are either careless about all religion, or whose desires are good, and intentions simple, should comply with what they hear spoken of in terms of high approbation, and see practised every day by their superiors both in age, rank, and learning. The idea too, that we have left the church of Rome because of her delusions, and are members of a reformed and Protestant community, has no little weight with the larger part of the candidates for the sacred ministry.
I am well aware that many of the most sericus and useful of my clerical brethren are of an opinion very different from me respecting the established religion of this country. It is not long since a clergyman of this description told me, in a manner extremely emphatical, that “ our church is all pure and without spot.”(4) I was surprised at the assertion, from a conscieniious man; but I have no material objertion to any person's enjoying his own sentiments in pace. I chim the same liberty, and desire nothing farther. Earnestly wishing success to the ministerial labours of every good man, whether in the cstablishment or out of it, and without even condemning or approving one denomination or another, I obey the painiui dictates of my own mind. Possibly I am mistaken. If I am so, it is to be lamented, because I prefer my present situation to most others I know in England. If I had been disposed to leave it, I have not been without opportunity. Twenty years ago, the late John Thornton voluntarily offered to procure me a better preferment, if I would accept of it; but I told him, alter expressing my gratitude, that Divine Providence seemed to have placed me where I was, and I could not think of quitting my station, merely for the sake of a better living; till the time came that the same Providence should call me away. That time seems to me to be now come; since I can no longer keep my church and retain my honour, in obeying the dictates of conscience. This is the providential call to quit my station, though I never expect to be so happily circumstanced again. I know well what pain such a determination will give my people; bur, with all due regard to the feelings of my friends,
(4) This brings to mind a remark that Whiston used frequent. Jy to make upon Gibson, " That he seemed to think the church of England, as it just then happened to be, established by modern laws and customs, came down from heaven with the Athanasian creed in its hand."
I must consider, that I am amenable, in the first - place, to the great Head of the church for my conduct, and must, on the highest considerations, endeavour to conduct myself agreeably to his pleasure. After a thousand defects, both in my public ministrations and private conduct, I can say, I have done my best to promote as well the temporal as spiritual interests of the town of Macclesfield, and I heartily wish my successor may be more-acceptable, more heavenly minded, more laborious, more useful and more successful in winning souls to Christ.
To this, it will be objected, “ that I am taking a very disreputable step, and that a vast majority of the men of sense and learning around me are of a different opinion.
I admit every thing that can be said on this score, in the utmost latitude, But a passage or two of our Saviour's discourses is a sufficient support against all obloquy of this nature. These monopolizers of sense and learning must answer for themselves, and I must give an account unto God for
my conduct. I consider myself as a shadow that passeth away. I feel the infirmities of nature coming on, and death stands ready at the door to summon me before the bar of Re. deemer. It is, therefore, of consequence we act now as we shall wish we had acted then. At that trial, no man can be responsible for his brother:-" Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, shall receive an hundred fold now, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.--Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
“Why are you so squeamish in little matters? Why not make yourself easy, and conduct yourself like the rest of your clerical brethren?”.