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all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.”
When they settled as a body in public worship, the dress of their ministers was the same as that which is used in the church of England. But when they began to increase in numbers, a few intemperate individuals introduced peculiar garments for the priest to officiate in. These, as they were only calculated to create disgust among the more rational part of the community, were soon laid aside, and they returned to their original dress, which is the same as is used by the ministers of the church of England. They use a liturgy, which is nearly the same as that of the established church, and they have adopted the episcopal form of ordination, which order, they think, was established by the apostles, agreeably to those words, Acts i. 20. “ and his bishoprick let another take.” Phil. i. 1. 6 with the bishops and deacons" 1 Tim. iii. 1. 66 desire the office of bishop.”
By these, in England, are understood, the complex body of Calvinists, Arians, Socinians, Methodists, and all, (except the Roman Catholics) who dissent from the doctrines, service and form of worship, of the church of England. They are distinguished by their respective names, as Calvinist, Arian, Socinian and Baptist dissenters. They dissent from each other in principle and profession, as much as they all do from the established
But the first dissenters in England, were those, who, in the time of queen Elizabeth, proposed a more strict
kind of worship, and who were on that account called Puritans.
About 100 years after this period, in the reign of Charles II. the act called the Act of Uniformity was passed, which took place on Bartholomew-day, and many ministers refusing to conform, left the established church, and were called Non-Conformists.
Are those who observe the seventh day, instead of the first day of the week. This custom is not of modern date, but as early as the time of the apostle St. John. It was observed hy the Jewish converts, who found no command in scripture for the observance of the first day of the week. They are principally to be found among the Baptists, who are distinguished by the term, Seventhday Baptists.
They say, that the change from the seventh to the first day of the week, took place at the time of Constantine, when he embraced Christianity. The reason they give for keeping the seventh day of the week as the sabbath, is, that God hath commanded it to be observed;' and that there is not any authority in scripture for its being changed from the seventh, to the first day of the week.
These professors are the followers of Richard Baxter, a noted writer and preacher, in the last century.
His plan was to reconcile the Calvinists and Arminians, by pointing out a middle path. He taught, that a certain number were predestinated to eternal life from eternity, that the rest were not reprobated, but that they have common grace, which, if improved, will finally end in saving grace. This is to be proved by a life of faith and obedience, and consequently they maintain, that Christ died for all men; that by his death the sins of the elect were forgiven, and that those who were not of the elect, were through his death placed in a salvable state, by an offer of that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
In order to show, that all men are placed in a salvable state by the death of Christ; they say,
1st. It is the nature of all mankind which Christ assumed at his incarnation, and the sins of all mankind were the occasion of his suffering.
2dly. It was to Adam, as the common father of lapsed man, that God made the promise, Gen. iii. 15. The conditional grant is universal, “ Whosoever believeth shall be saved."
3dly. It is not to the elect only, but to all mankind, that Christ has commanded his ministers to proclaim his gospel, and offer the benefits of his procuring.
So called, because they hold the doctrine of necessity, or fatality; that all the actions of men are inevitably consequent on a superior overruling agency, which cannot be counteracted by finite beings. Necessity is but another word for predestination ; for predestination teaches, that moral agents act from necessity. They teach, that the will is in every case necessarily determined by the strongest motives, and that this moral necessity may be as absolute as natural necessity; or that a moral effect. may be as perfectly connected with its moral cause, as a naturally necessary effect is with its natural cause.
The Necessitarian believes, that no event, either respecting the body or the soul, could possibly have been contrary to what it has been, is and is to be ; and that all things must necessarily be what God intended they should be.
Others again hold, that God, by his omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence, superintends the most minute concerns of this world, and that from his foreknowledge, the doctrine of necessity follows, as effect follows its cause. But these latter cannot properly be believers in the doctrine of necessity; for if the foreknowledge, by which God knows who are the faithful, precedes the decree by which man is obliged to act, then the doctrine of necessity falls to the ground.
These professors believe, that the wicked are not to be preserved eternally, in the torments of hell, but that finally, after a period which is to be in proportion to the magnitude of their crimes, the lightning of the divine vengeance is utterly to destroy them.
They say, that this doctrine is taught in the scriptures, and that the word death means that which is everlasting, agreeably to those words Rev. ii. 11. " He that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death." They hold it to be an absurdity, to suppose, that death can be inflicted for a certain term; and they apprehend that punishment and death cannot be intended to reform the wicked, since it is not less absurd to conclude, that man should be punished with death, in order to reform his conduct, than it would be to imagine, that by death is signified eternal life, though in a state of torment, as it would be inconsistent with the obvious meaning of the words. They conclude, therefore, that it must mean annihilation, a total cessation of conscious existence ; a complete destruction of being. The kingdom of Christ is to last forever, because it is said, that “ of his kingdom there shall be no end," and therefore, that the mediatorial kingdom is 'never to be delivered up to the Father.
These have been the opinions of a very few ; I have mentioned them because some have magnified them into a sect, though they have not been sufficiently numerous to be ranked as such,
Believe that Christ will literally reign on earth a thousand years, with all those who are said to have their part in the first resurrection. After which, the second resurrection is to take place, the last judgment, and the beginning of eternal glory. Soon after the council of Nice, about the year 340, these professors increased rapidly. The doctrines they promulgated were the same as are now received by this sect. They believe, that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt gloriously, and that the saints, or believers shall see Christ descend from heaven ; that