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Reverend Dr. SNAPE,* &C.
INCE writing letters in print to a friend, is fo much in fashion, I hope I shall not incur your displeasure, if I run in with the herd of thofe, who, following: your footsteps, have with the utmost familiarity addrefs'd themfelves to their fuperiors: and, though but a country curate, prefume to apply myself to you, who are at prefent one of the most renowned champions of our distress'd church, which has been fo violently attack'd of late, by men whose interest as well as profeffion should have led them to defend her.
*Thefe two letters to Dr. Snape have been generally ascribed to Bishop Fleetwood: and the late Dr. Birch, a good judge in thefe matters, told me that he always underflood Bishop Fleetwood to have been the author; but that Dr. Herring's timidity made him omit them in the collection of the Bishop's works.
We all fee how fhe has been torn and mangled of late, how her power hath been queftion'd, her honour debafed, and her true grandeur vilify'd; and all this hath been done, only to make way for carnal reason and bare religion; as if power, honour and riches were no effential part of our church.
It is true, reafon and religion are very good things, when locked up amongst the Arcana of a church; but when they come to be once profituted to the hands of the vulgar, they are the most dangerous inftruments of its ruin. Then will the sheep begin to judge of their Shepherds fermons, and calling loudly for their bibles, pretend to be their own interpreters; and this deteftable licence fhall be commended under the fpecious name of chriftian liberty. Our great adverfary the bishop of Bangor, hoping to get all the fanatics on his fide, and thereby more effectually accomplish his pernicious defigns against us, has trump'd up this doctrine of searching the fcripture, and submitting our confcience to no man's direction. Ta fupport which herefy, he tells us, that no fet 'of men (not even the clergy whom we very juftly call the church) have any authority to direct the confciences of men; that Chrift is king in his own kingdom, and that no power · on earth can add by-laws to the laws of
Chrift; and that to add fanctions, rewards, C or punishments to his laws, is to dethrone 'Chrift; that we priests are not by divine right, but only a laudable humane inftitution; and 'that our claim to our facerdotal powers by an uninterrupted fucceffion from the apoftles, ' is a chimera; that our excommunications are idle terrors of men; and that the laity may go to heaven without our intervention, 'without benefit of clergy.' If this be not wresting out of our hands the very leadingftrings of the laity, and at once destroying the power of the clergy, if this be not making the church of Chrift a Babel, and his kingdom a realm of confufion, I know not what is. Thus does a governor of our church fhew himself lefs zealous for her, than the filverfmiths at Ephesus were for their Diana; whilst they cry, Great is the goddess of the Ephefians, he cries, Small is the power of the church of England. However fince your great felf are pleased to enter the lifts against him, fince you have been follow'd by fuch an able fecond as the dean of Chichester, and fince Mr. Law has laid down his plan of church power, to the utter confufion of the new herefy; I fhall not fear to throw in fome few of my answers to the bishop's arguments; which I will venture to fay no one has handled with more freedom, nor declared themselves against with
more fincerity, nor has any one spoke out the fentiments of the orthodox priesthood with more christian zeal.
First then, the bishop affirms, that our church has not any power to add by-laws to the laws of Christ. I would fain know whether he doth not allow, that any little body politic hath a power to make by-laws for their own Ironour, profit or fafety; if fo, fhall not our church or clergy, a body the most politic in the world, be permitted to have a poor privilege, which is not deny'd to the pettiest borrough, or to the meanest corporation? That our bifhops, deans, archdeacons, and the reft of our brethren, whofe revenues exceed those of all the bodies corporate in England, fhould not be admitted to an equality with any other fett of: prophane laymen, who are ftiled, mayor, alder-. men and common council, feems to me not only blafphemous, but even ridiculous to affirm. Oh! poor church, to what low ebb art thou reduced ?
In the fecond place, the bifhop affirms, that to add fanctions of this world to the laws of 【Chrift, is to act against Christ, for his kingdom
is not of this world. I must ask the bishop another queftion here, and that is, Whether in the time of Chrift and his apoftles, men were not afflicted, for their want of faith, and for