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FOR THOSE OF
WHO ARE SOMETIMES CALLED
OCCASIONED BY THE PUBLICATIONS OF
POLWHELE, FELLOWES; the REVIEWERS, &c. &c.
THE SECOND EDITION.
BY JOHN OVERTON, A. B.
“ Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh
“ We have in fact lost many of our people to Sectaries, by not
J. TODD, York; and the other Booksellers.----1802.
(Price Eight Shillings in Boards.)
DID certain writers confine their ftri&ures to the peculiar doctrines and irregular 'procedure of Sectaries, as, to superficial observers, they would seem to insinuate, they might, doubtless, deserve well, of the Church of England, and of Christianity in general. But, if, as a learned Prelate expresses himself, in their os over-abundant zeal to check the frenzy of the Methodists a,” they involve under these ftri&tures niany important doctrines of the Church of which they are Ministers; if, as a late eminent ArchBishop speaks, they do such fe&taries “ the honour of miscalling other persons of more than ordinary seriousness by their name b;" if, under certain reprobated and reproachful terms, they hold up to ridicule and contempt some of the most faithful adherents to this Church, their defert is very different. And this they unquestionably do, in the judgment of the present Apologift.
There is, it must be confeffed, an indistinctness, and a seeming affectation, in the Title under which such Churchmen are here vindicated; but, as it is that under which, among others, they are accused; that which they are conftantly charged with having " arrogated to themselves c;" and which, in reality, is, in some degree, characteristic of
(a) Bishop Horsley's Charge, 1790, p. 25. (b) Secker's Ch. 1. p. 77 of Vol. vi. of Bishop Watson's Tracts. (c) See the Antijac. Review for April, 1799, p. 362, &c.; the same for May, 1799, p. 76; Efsays by T. Ludlam, M. A.; A Guide to the Church by the Rev. C. Daubeny, LL. B. ; &c.
them; it may prevent circumlocution, and cannot be wholly unsuitable. There are confiderations, indeed, which might be urged in express defence of the Appellation. It might be suggested to the recollection of our Clerical Brethren, that the original commission delivered to the Apoftles of our Lord was, to“ preach the gospeld;" that the authority deduced from hence, and given to us, by the Bishop, at our ordination, expressly is, to " preach the gospel €;" and, that if our situation in any degree resembles St. Paul's “Wo will be unto us if we preach not the gospelf.” It might be shown reasonable, to charge the invidiousness of the distinction to their account whole conduct has rendered it necessary. At any rate, it might be fairly inquired, why there is more arrogance in this assumption, than in
assuming exclujively the proud Title of “ RATIONAL DI· VINES 2,”
Be it known, however, to the writers in question, and to all others who do not know it, that a large number of those Ministers whom, by name and direct allusion, they class with Methodists, Enthufiafts, Fanatics, and Schifınatics, are wholly unconscious of affording any other cause for this treatment than a firict adherence to the vows of their Ordination; that they equally respect, in their theory and their practice, the doctrines and the constitution of the established Church; lainent, molt cordially, every occasion, and every degree of deviation from her; and wish for nothing fo much as her preservation in her genuine purity. And for thejë, and theje EXCLUSIVELY, under whatever Title they are found, it is the obje&t of this work to apologize. This it is particularly requested, that the reader would fully undersiand, and constantly remember. Whatever may incidentally be faid of persons guilty of any species
(a) Mark xvi. 15. (e) Ordination Service. (f) 1 Cor. ix. 16. (z) See Mr. Polwhcle's Letter to Dr. Hawker, p. 55; Mir. Daubeny's Guide, p. 375; &c.
of irregularity, with whom these characters have been confounded, will only apply to them juft so far as they adhere to this standard. And whoever puts any construction upon the book, contrary to this declaration, will wholly misreprefent and pervert it. Nor will the Work become responsible for the doctrines of any persons, except those for whom by name it undertakes. Few, however, it is believed, will be found, of the denomination and description in question, who will not cordially subscribe to their sentiments.
The Writer well knows how frequently it is insinuated, that professions of regard for the Church are wholly inconfistent with animadversions on the defects of so many of her Ministers. But, to answer in the words of a most fenfible and celebrated female writer, on another occafion; 6Surely an earnest wish to turn their attention to objects calculated to promote their true dignity, is not the office of an enemy. So to expose the weakness of the land, as to fuggeft the necessity of internal improvement, and to point out the means of effectual defence, is not treachery, but patriotism 8." A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. The commencement of the nineteenth century is not a season when men can be hoodwinked respecting their religion. It is every way absurd to suppose that it is not known what are the real doctrines that we preach. And if, in fact, they are not such as we have folemnly and publicly engaged to teach, it will not soften the reproaches of our adversaries that we are dexterous at equivocation, and endeavour to huddle up the business among ourselves. But in truth, neither the existence, nor the proclamation of this defect in the doctrines of some of the Clergy, affords any fufficient ground for the enemies of the Establishment to triumph. However much it is to be lamented, it is only an occasional and a partial deviation from a constitution
(g) See Striểures on Education, by Hannah More, Introduction, p. 10.