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trict, as soon as the church in that district became numerous; and thus clearly evinced their judgment as to the form of ecclesiastical government, most advantageous at least in those days to Christiavity : but they left no command, which rendered Episcopacy universally indispensible in future times, if other forms should evidently promise, through local opinions and circumstances, greater benefit to religion. Such is the general sentiment of the present church of England on the subject.” Bishop Prettyman has expressed himself much after the same manner in his Elements of Theology*.
DISSENTERS. Dissenters from the church of England made their first appearance in Queen Elizabeth's time, when, on account of the extraordinary purity which they proposed in religious worship and conduct, they were reproached with the name of Puritans. They were greatly increased by the act of uniformity, which took place on Bartholomew-day, 1662, in the reign of Charles the Second. By this act 2,000 ministers were obliged to quit the established church, refusing to conform to certain conditions, whence they were called Nonconformists. An instructive and entertaining account of the lives, literature, and piety of these good men, is to be found in Palmer's Nonconformists Memorial, of which work there is a new and improved edition, lately published, in three volumes. Their descendants are known by the name of Protestant Dissenters, and rank under the three denominations of Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists.
* As the established church in Ireland is the same with that of England--so are also the Dissenters of much the same complexion. The Papists, indeed, are very numerous there, as are likewise the Presbyterians in the North of Ireland. Abernethy, who wrote on the Atlributes of God, and Duchal, who wrote on the Internal Evidences of Christianity, were ministers of eminence amongst them.
Of the origin and progress of the Dissenters, a full account is contained in Neal's History of the Puritans*, an improved edition of which work bas been published by Dr. Toulmin of Birmingham, who has accompanied it with notes, in which are obviated the objections which have been made to it by Grey, Maddox, Warburton, and others. Here the historian traces, step by
** It is remarkable, that little notice is taken in this work of John Bunyan, the celebrated author of the Pilgrim's Progress; he was twelve years in Bedford goal, and therefore deserves to have been particularly mentioned, were it only for his sufferings as a Protestant Dissenter. But Crosby, in his History of the Pupists, accuses Neal of not having treated the Baptists in that work with impartiality.
step, the differences which originally occasioned the separation, and an affecting narrative is given of the sufferings which our forefathers underwent in the cause of religious liberty. A brief history of the Puritans also was published in 1772, of which the author, the Rev. J. Cornish, of Culliton, has given an enlarged and pleasing edition. The principles on which the Dissenters separate from the church of England are much the same with those on which she separates herself from the church of Rome. They may be summarily comprehended in these three: 1. The right of private judgment. 2. Liberty of Conscience. And 3. The perfection of scripture as a Christian's only rule of faith and practice. .
The late Dr. John Taylor, of Norwich, thug expressed himself concerning the principles and worship of the Dissenters :-" The principles and worship of Dissenters are not formed upon such slight foundation as the unlearned and thoughtless may imagine. They were thoroughly considered and judiciously reduced to the standard of scripture and the writings of antiquity, by a great number of men of learning and integrity. I mean the Bartholomew divines, or the ministers ejected in the year 1662, men prepared to lose all, and to suffer martyrdom itself, and who actually resigned their livings (which with most of them were, under God, all
that they and their families had to subsist upon), rather than sin against God and desert the cause of civil and religious liberty, which, together with serious religion, would, I am persuaded, have sunk to a very low ebb in the nation, had it not been for the bold and noble stand these worthies made against imposition upon conscience, prophaneness, and arbitrary power. They had the best education England could afford, most of them were excellent scholars, judicious divines, pious, faithful, and laborious ministers, of great zeal for God and religion, undaunted and courageous in their Master's work, standing close to their people in the worst of times, diligent in their studies, solid, affectionate, powerful, awakening preachers, aiming at the advancement of real vital religion in the hearts and lives of men, which it cannot be denied, flourished greatly wherever they could influence. Particularly they were men of great devotion and eminent abilities in prayer, uttering as God enabled them from the abundance of their hearts and affections; men of divine eloquence in pleading at the throne of grace, raising and melting the affections of their hearers, and being happily instrumental in transfusing into their souls the same spirit and heavenly gift. And this was the ground of all their other qualifications; they were excellent men, because excellent,
instant, and fervent in prayer. Such were the fathers and first formers of the Dissenting interest. Let my soul be for ever with the souls of these men."
The Test Act excludes Dissenters from filling public offices, except they take the sacrament at the established church, which some think cannot be consistently done by any conscientious Dissenter. Hence loud complaints have been raised respecting this exclusion, since, as members of the civil community, they are entitled to all the common privileges of that community. The Test Act was originally levelled against the Roman Catholics. The Dissenters have made several unsuccessful applications for its repeal, The question was warmly, agitated in the House of Commons, 1787, and on each side numerous publications issued from the press. The chief argument urged for the continuance of the Test Act is, the safety of the established church. The principal arguments alledged for its repeal are, that it is a prostitution of the Lord's Supper, and that to withhold civil rights on account of religious opinions, is a species of persecution.
The Dissenters, as a body, have not been una fruitful of great and learned men. Among their ornaments are to be ranked Baxter, Bates, Howe, Owen, Williams, Neal, Henry, Stennet, Evans, Gale, Foster, Leland, Grosvenor, Watts, Larda