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missed from his curacy; and one morning, after breakfast, Mr. Worthy being detained at home on some business as a magistrate, the three ministers walked around the pleasure grounds, when the following conversation took place.

Loveg. I ain anxious to know how matters are at Ahley since I left them. Does Mr. Steepleman continue in the curacy, who was sent to succeed me, when I received my dismissal ?

Slapd. Aye, he has been preaching up the Church, till he has driven almost all the people out of the Church; and has been preaching against schism till they are all turned schismatics, at least in his esteem, throughout the neighbourhood.

Mer. What sort of a character is he?

Slapd. Why, he is half a papist. - In some of his high flying notions he is quite a papist.

Loveg. Hush! hush ! my good brother, you always speak so vehemently.

Slapd. There is no taking the devil by the nose, but with a pair of tongs:* and I am sure Mr. Steepleman's doctrine is completely popish, and where can such ignorance lead to, but first into sin, and ultimately to the devil ?

Loveg. A heavy charge, brother Slapdash!

Slapd. No more than just, be it ever 80 heavy. Who can bear the thought, that a set of ruined sinners should have their eyes and hopes turned from God, to seek for salvation in the mere outward forms of their different churches, as they are called, and their super

Alluding to a popish legendary story, respecting St. Dun. stan : when the devil accosted him as a tempter, the saint took him by the nose with a pair of tongs.

stitious reverence for an ungodly priesthood, while their forms and modes of worship, however good in themselves, are converted into mere tricks upon the imagination. Their baptismal regeneration and their giving the sacrament to ungodly and careless sinners just when they are going to die, what think you of all that?

Mer. [To Lovegood.] Why, there is a deal of truth in the observation; thousands, in different ways, are deluded by these means : I shall take sides with Mr. Slapdash. But do, Sir, be more particular about Mr. Steepleman's religion.

Slapd. Sir, salvation with him is just the same as with the papists. He has scarcely any thing to urge, but that “you must keep yourself in the church, and trust in her priesthood.” As to our good old reformers, while they universally charged the Church of Rome as Antichrist, Mr. Steepleman tells us, she is the true old Christian Church, and the mother of us all; and that though in some things it might have been necessary to reform, yet that in others we have gone too far. The power of the keys is his favourite topic, and that Jesus Christ has delegated all the powers of salvation to the priesthood, who can turn in and turn out, lock in and lock out, just as they please. He says the reformers ruined the Church, by giving up confession and absolution.

Mer. It seems, that Mr. Deliberate spent two years of his time in Ireland, before he came into these parts ; and he gives an awful account of the horrid evils of priestcraft in that country. He tells us, that thousands of the poor ignorant papists can live in open violation of the pure and holy laws of God without the least apparent remorse ; but directly they transgress the laws of their Church, or the directions of their priesthood, they are alarmed at the consequences, as though certain

damnation were just about to overtake them ; and I fear that Mr. Steepleman's religion is but one shade better.*

Loveg. How many thousands there are, of all quarrelsome sects, “who make void the law through their traditions ;” and how terribly are the consciences of sinners screened from conviction and hardened in sin thereby!

Slapd. Now, I said it, and I think can stand to it, that Mr. Steepleman is quite a papist at least as far as this goes. First, he supposes, should a man live like a devil, yet, if he be of the true Church, it will prove a great step towards his salvation ; but, on the contrary, should a man live like an angel, and be what he calls a schismatic, through this damnable sin, the most tremendous consequences are to be expected; and as to priests, he will have it, that the efficacy of their functions is in their office, and is not at all affected by their characters; so that a priest, though as wicked as sin can make him, in himself, has a power, by a sort of spiritual conjuration, to send others to heaven ; while he himself, if wickedness can take him thither, is going fast to hell. -Is not this popery? Mer. Indeed, Mr. Slapdash, it is popery downright.

Loveg. (smiling.] I thought brother Slapdash would soon make you a convert.

Slapd. Why, cannot you remember, when you were curate at Abley, that you preached in my church, at a meeting of ministers ; and what a sermon you gave us on that text, “Having the form of godliness, but denying the power :” and how you explained to us, that excellent definition of a sacrament we have in the Church Catechism, that, in itself it was only an outward and visible sign, of an inward and spiritual grace;" and was

* See much of this in Sir R. Musgrave's Account of the late Rebellion in Ireland.

only meant as a pledge, or token of the divine mercies? Don't you recollect, how you ripped up all the lying hopes of those who trusted in these outward signs, and formal Churches, instead of seeking for the inward and spiritual grace? and the absurdity that some have fallen into, who suppose that the outward ceremony of baptism, creates the inward regeneration of the heart ? I think you were Slapdash on that occasion.

Mer. Well, well, we must all give up the point. The consequences are really awful, when such wretched substitutes are permitted to occupy the mind, instead of the realities of the gospel. Just so far as a vain confidence in Churches and priests prevails, the need of that which is inward and spiritual will sink in our esteem. “ The kingdom of God is within you.” It is not meat and drink, but “ righteousness, and


and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Slapd. Yes, and one evil is almost sure to beget another. When you (to Mr. Lovegood,] were curate of Abley, what were the grand objects the poor people were directed to seek after?

immediately began to preach—that you and all your congregation were a set of ruined sinners : so that if


had not bad Christ to set before them, in his justifying blood and righteousness, and sanctifying Spirit, you had all been in despair together : and this you know was the top and and bottom of all your preaching ; and you remember in what a loving, uniting spirit, you were then all kept as one, having nothing in view “ but the one thing needful.” But when Mr. Steepleman came with his chaff, no wonder that such as felt any thing like a spiritual appetite, were constrained to seek after something better ; and I wish with all my heart, they could have found what they sought after. But here, from one extreme they were hurried into another; for, while they were driven from the Church by the disgusting trumpery

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of Mr. Steepleman, they unfortunately hit upon a Mr. Stiff, who it seems, first made an unsuccessful attempt to get into the established Church, though afterwards he put himself under the tuition of a Dr. Buckram, and then turned out of the most narrowminded, rigid dissenters, I ever met with in all my life. Having procured a license, he preaches in the farm house where Mrs. Goodworth lived ; and while Mr. Steepleman keeps railing at separatists, and schismatics, Mr. Stiff will be casting out his invectives against the church, and all establishments; and conceitedly insists upon it, that their church government is the only one exactly modelled according to the word of God, and the practice of the primitive Christians ; and it is said, that, at some of their dissenting ordinations, he has been most abominably abusive : asserting roundly that the Church of England was not a Church of Christ.

Mer. Oh! the terrible consequences of these controversies about mere empty forms! For after all, who are the people that constitute the real Church in the sight of God? Why, penitent believers, when convened together, of every party. How dreadful, when any,

who are thus saved and blessed, are found to anathematize and condemn each other !

Loveg. How much it is to be lamented, that a meek and mild turn of mind, could not have been found to instruct the poor people, when they were under the necessity of seeking for instruction from another quarter. For although it may appear, how well designed the established Church is in itself, for the conveyance of general instruction ; yet still, in a variety of instances, through the badness of her patronage and prevalence of corruption, every candid clergyman must acknowledge the end designed thereby is by no means accomplished. Were then the work of public instruction confined, merely to any establishment, however good,

man of

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