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TO THE REVEREND AND WORSHIPFUL
OF THE ARCHDEACONRY OF LEICESTER.
In the absence of our Venerable Archdeacon, permit me, most worthy and dear Sir, to dedicate to you, his Official, and to the Reverend Clergy, the substance of a sermon preached at the Visitation, on the 18th of May. The very indulgent attention with which it was heard, and the kind approbation which was by many expressed, demand a due and grateful acknowledgment. The insertion of a few pages, not preached, though partly written at the time, will, I trust, not be deemed indecorous; and here candour demands, that. I acknowledge the valuable assistance of very kind and learned friends.
The nature of the subject, and the critical situation in which our Church is placed, em
boldened me fully and fearlessly to state my views and sentiments. Towards
Roman Catholic Brethren, I feel no spirit of acrimony or hostility; and, as a proof let me state, — That during the mania of the French Revolution I received at my table several of their refugee priests, and raised charitable contributions for their support. With the same spirit of Christian charity, I would most willingly relieve any indigent member of their communion. But, Sir, though towards their persons I feel no unkindness, yet to the tenets and doctrines of their Church I must freely express my opinion, considering them not only erroneous and superstitious, but in the highest degree idolatrous; completely subversive of the word of God, and the whole Gospel of Christ.
The spirit of their hierarchy, of which we have lately had some specimens, tend to fill the mind with just alarm. That, as they still implicitly believe the Papal articles of Pius the I Vth. and the Tridentine Decrees :—They could not, if their practice were consistent with their faith, permit Protestantism to exist in the land.- As I firmly
believe that every soul in the Popish communion is in great danger of incurring the wrath of God, consequently it must be my duty to guard against the machinations of their priests, the artful insinuations and insidious arguments of their proselyting agents.
Zealous, strenuous, and persevering, were my exertions to maintain unimpaired the Protestant Constitution, “The Palladium of British Liberty," -not with a desire of keeping out any person or party from political privileges and power, but with a sole view of keeping our Church safe and entire. The supreme Disposer of all things has seen fit in his wisdom, to remove our defences and bulwarks ; it is our duty to bow to his will, to obey the powers that be, but yet to maintain the faith.
In respect to our dissenting brethren, though I lament much their late political conduct, yet to no religious denomination amongst them, who agree with us in the essentials of Christianity, do I bear any undue prejudice,-rather towards all, Christian forbearance and love. In affectionate attachment to our own Church, and in
dutiful obedience to our ecclesiastical superiors, I have lived in all good conscience; convinced that in unity of discipline consists our safety; that one grand bond of union ought to knit together the hearts of our Bishops, Clergy, and People ; and that as soldiers look up for orders to their general, so ought we to our Diocesans, as our Heads and Fathers in Christ.
This duty is neither violated, nor weakened, by giving the right hand of fellowship to our Protestant Brethren, who may differ from us, in matters not essential. The variations of Protestantism are indeed evils to be lamented; but, after existing so many years, they cannot be remedied, but rather may be increased by an intolerant spirit.
Duty, policy, and religion, teach us a more excellent way than invectives and anathemas, to increase our flocks,—" to strengthen the stakes, and lengthen the cords of our Zion,”—the way of charity, that divine and brotherly love, which preserves, among all true Christians, “the unity of the spirit in the bond of Peace.”— Besides, we ought not to forget, that in one sense, we are all of one community, “ Protesting against the
errors o' the church of Rome." If, therefore, we be animated by the same spirit, and appeal to the same standard, there is still much agreement,and, as it has been well observed, “Every one of us may be assured, that he also
in something ;—that our neighbours have just the same reason for desiring to be right, as we ourselves have,-inasmuch as their souls are at stake, and they know, and own it." May God
of all Protestants, to discern the designs and machinations of the church of Rome. The one constant view of its hierarchy is, an universal empire over the bodies, souls, and especially the estates, of all mankind. May God unite the hearts and counsels of us all, to defeat these plans and designs, that we may preserve to our country the pure and reformed Religion, and the blessing of Almighty God, who never will protect and prosper any nation which either defiles itself with the rites of idolatrous worship; or, forgetting Him, plunges itself into the mire of voluptuousness, profanity, and infidelity