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The Bishops proved to be not the only ministers of the sacraments--
should invariably be confounded under one common name-A capa-
A SERIES OF LETTERS, &c.
YOUR Continuation of Letters concerning the Constitution and Order of the Christian Ministry, has sufficiently engaged my attention to enable me to judge of its spirit, its decorum, and its weight of argument. Of its spirit, I cannot say much in commendation. It appears to me to be a spirit of resentment, and of a mind irritated by opposition. Of its decorum, I can say still less. It wants propriety and civility in a striking degree. And as to its weight of argument, it falls, in my judgment, much below your first publication. But general observations are of no material consequence; I shall, therefore, proceed to verify my assertions in a few instances.
There is, Sir, I am bold to say, a great want of propriety and civility in your Continuation of Letters. You tell me on more than one occasion, that 'I ought to blush.' Now, Sir, as blushing seldom accompanies a consciousness of integrity and propriety; and as I am not destitute of this consciousness, you must excuse me for not complying with your intimation. In order to justify your censure, you say, that I charge you with 'contemptible cavilling;' with 'contemptible puerility;' with 'misrepresentations gross to excess;' with 'nonsense;' 'palpable nonsense;' and with your calling episcopacy an 'anti-christian usurpation.' Without running over my two volumes, (for you have not pointed to the pages) I take it for granted that you are perfectly correct. I then ask, Supposing it were possible for you, Sir, to cavil; when you do, what am I to say? What name should I give it? Should I say, the objection is unreasonable? Would this mend the matter? Might you not say, Dr. B. calls me an unreasonable man? When I apply the term 'puerility' to some of your reasonings, would it alter the case, and be more polite to say your argument is weak? If your argument is weak, and your objections cavils, and that to a great degree, is there any thing improper in applying to them the epithet 'contemptible? If I
a Page 32 [239, 2d ed.]
had said that you are a contemptible man, or that you cavilled, perceiving it to be cavilling; or that you uttered puerilities, knowing them to be such; or that you laid down any position, involving in its consequences nonsense, being at the same time aware that it was nonsense, I should certainly be reprehensible. But when I had so liberally acknowledged your integrity, your good disposition, and your talents, I should really suppose that this, in conscience, is praise enough; and that you would never ascribe to your head, or to your heart, what I ascribe to nothing but arguments, hypotheses, or supposed facts.
But what makes this matter worse, you involve yourself in inconsistency also. You find fault with me for using terms which you deem offensive, when you yourself use terms much more so. You advise your people, to forgive their' (the high-toned Episcopalians) 'uncharitableness,' and to 'pity their delusion.' This certainly means, that we are uncharitable and deluded men. Now, Sir, were it put to my choice, whether to be called a caviller, or one who utters puerilities or nonsense, or to be called an uncharitable man, I should prefer the former by many degrees; for that affects only the head, but uncharitableness affects the heart; and I had much rather be called a weak than a bad man. Again in the same page you say, we 'make claims nearly allied to the doctrines of Popish infallibility.' If this be true, we certainly speak nonsense; for infallibility in a mere creature, deserves no better name. And in your last volume, you explicitly declare Prelacy to be a 'Popish doctrine,' and pronounce those who maintain it, bigots. Was I not then warranted in saying, that you assert episcopacy to be an anti-christian usurpation? Do you not ascribe its origin to Popery? And is not this anti-christian? And have you not conveyed this idea more than once in your Letters? What strange conduct is this! You wish to throw odium on me, for asserting that you consider episcopacy an 'anti-christian usurpation,' when your words will bear no other sense. Ah, my good Sir! how easy is it to see a mote in a brother's eye, and not perceive the beam in our own!
If then I have been indecorous in a few of my expressions, it is very certain that you have been much more so in several of yours. For you have really called us names; but I have not applied any thing reproachful to you, as a man, or a Christian. We are uncharitable bigots; and in return for this, I have acknowledged you to be a man of integrity, and free from any design of misrepresenting things, or of misleading the reader. This appears to me to be very like returning good for evil.•
b Letters, p. 19 [10, 2d ed.] d Letters, p. 286, 350.
c Continuation, p. 427 481, 2d ed.]
e As the following anecdote is directly in point, and may amuse the reader, I take the liberty of presenting it. "Bilibaldus Pirckheimerus, the great friend of Erasmus, in a company where much was said in commendation of him, took notice that a certain Mendicant Monk discovered by his countenance and gestures, that he was greatly dissatisfied with the encomiums that passed; and being hard pushed to declare