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AN INQUIRY

INTO THE PRINCIPLES

OF CHURCH-AUTHORITY:

OR, REASONS

FOR RECALLING MY SUBSCRIPTION

TO THE ROYAL SUPREMACY.

BY THE REV. R. I. WILBERFORCE, M.A.

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“Non habent Dei caritatem, qui Ecclesiæ non diligunt unitatem."-S. Aug.

LONDON:

LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.

1854.

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PREFACE.

The preparation of the present volume has brought to a head difficulties, by which I have been perplexed for four years.

Some may think me dilatory, and others hasty; but the mind, like the body, has its time of crisis, which it is not altogether in our own power to regulate. Those who know what it is to break through the associations of nearly half a century, will not wonder at my experiencing that which Cicero speaks of in a less arduous case: “Quam difficile est sensum in republicâ deponere.” I had previously felt that the Royal Supremacy “in all Spiritual things and causes," as modified by recent Acts of Parliament, was open to great objection ; but I did not at that time discern how completely it was the introduction of this novel principle, which had originally separated England from the communion of the rest of Christendom ; and, therefore, that every subsequent generation (and I myself in particular,) by subscribing “ readily and willingly," as the terms run, had in effect given an individual sanction to the events of the sixteenth century. So soon as my conscience was satisfied that the declaration, to which I had pledged

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