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    LETTER 18.



    Since we can by no means expect at this time, what we so much desired, that the principal doctors, from those churches which have embraced the pure doctrines of the gospel, should assemble, and from the word of God publish a definite and luminous confession concerning all the points now controverted; I very much approve, Reverend Sir, of your design, that the English should maturely determine their religion among themselves; that the minds of the people may no longer remain in suspense about unsettled doctrines, or rites less determined than they ought to be. It is especially your business, and that of all those who have the government in their hands, to unite your exertions to effect this object. You see what your station requires, and more imperiously demands of you, in return for the office which you hold by his favor. The chief authority is in your hand, confirmed both by the greatness of the honor, and the long established opinion concerning your prudence and integrity. The eyes of the better part are turned upon you, that they may follow your motions, or grow torpid under the pretext of your negligence. I wish they had followed you as a leader more than three years since, and avoided the present numerous contests for removing gross superstitions. I confess indeed, that since the time the gospel has seriously flourished in England, the acquisitions have been great. But if you consider how much remains to be done, and how much delay there has been in many things, you will hasten to the goal, as if a great part of your course was yet to be finished. I do not give you this admonition to assiduity in the work, lest you should indulge yourself as though it was accomplished; but to speak freely, I greatly fear, and this fear is constantly recurring to my mind, that so many autumns will be past in delaying, that the cold of a perpetual winter will succeed. The more you advance in years, the more vigorously you ought to excite yourself to action; lest leaving the world in this confused state of things, great anxiety should distress you from a consciousness of negligence. I call it a confused state of things; for the external superstitious have been so imperfectly corrected, that the innumerable remaining suckers unremittingly germinate.

    Indeed I hear that of the corruptions of popery such a mass remains, as not only to obscure, but almost destroy the pure and genuine worship of God. At the same time, the spirit of all ecclesiastical discipline is breathless, at least the preaching of the gospel does not flourish as it ought. Sound doctrine certainly will never prevail, until the churches be better provided with qualified pastors, who may seriously discharge the office of teachers. That this may not take place, Satan opposes his secret arts. But I understand that one manifest obstacle is, that the revenues of the church are exposed for pillage. This is truly an intolerable evil. Besides this waste, which is too gross, another evil, not much lighter, is that idle fellows are fed upon the public income of the church, that they may chant their vespers in an unknown tongue. I say nothing more, as it is more than absurd, that you should be an approver of these reproaches which are in open opposition to the legitimate order of the church. I doubt not but these things often occur to your mind, and are suggested to you by that best and most excellent man, Peter Martyr, whose advice it gives me pleasure to hear that you use. The many arduous difficulties, with which you have to struggle, appeared to me a sufficient reason for my exhortation. Farewell, excellent prelate. May the Lord long preserve you safe; enrich you more and more with the spirit of prudence and fortitude, and bless all your labors. Amen.


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