Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number XLIX.: The same Subject continued. - The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743)
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Number XLIX.: The same Subject continued. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Seventh Edition, with Additions and Amendments (London: J. Peele, 1743). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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The same Subject continued.
Wednesday,December 21. 1720.
THere is nothing in the Four Gospels to authorize or countenance the Distinction of Ecclesiastical and Civil; for as our Saviour renounced all worldly Power himself, so he gave none. He neither used nor allowed the Use of Force and Violence, to coerce and conquer Subjects to his Kingdom, which he declared was not of this World. As the Religion, which he taught, was not to consist of outward Actions and Ceremonies, like the Worship of the Gentiles, but was to reside in the Mind; so he chose proper Means to attain his End: He knew that the Sword might make Hypocrites and Slaves, but never Converts; he therefore instructed his Apostles to win Mens Affection by Love and Gentleness, to allure them by Example, and convince them by the Reasonableness of his Precepts; and he enabled them to prove their Mission by Wonders and Miracles; all which are directly contrary to the Proceedings of Mahomet, whose Aim was temporal Dominion, and his Religion Imposture; and consequently Violence was necessary to propagate both: For Absurdity can no way be supported but by Tyranny; but Truth can ever defend itself, and desires nothing but a fair Examination, a free Hearing, and equal Favour.
He takes every Occasion to caution his Apostles against spiritual Pride, and claiming Superiority over others, or one another: The Powers which he gave them were of another Kind, such as were proper to overcome the Prejudices of the innocent and well-meaning, though misled People; and to confound the Malice and Subtilty of the governing Priesthood; namely, A Power against unclean Spirits, and to cast them out; to heal all manner of Sickness, and all manner of Diseases; and to raise the Dead. Sure no Clergyman pretends to these Powers!
He bids them provide neither Silver, nor Gold, nor Brass, in their Pockets; nor Scrip for their Journey; neither two Coats, nor Shoes, nor Staves: Much less, Coaches. I presume that no Clergyman desires these Powers.
He orders them, when they come into any House, to salute it; and if they do not receive them, and hear their Words, to depart from that House, and shake off the Dust of their Feet. The Popish Clergy are for setting Fire to such an House, (as they did lately to several) and for burning and damning every one within it.
The Apostles Commission was to preach Christ to all Nations, in Matthew; and in Mark, to go into all the World, and to preach him to every Creature. The Popish Priest stays at home, and preaches himself only, to his own Parish, for Money.
Those who believed in the Apostles, and were baptized, had the Power of casting out Devils in Christ’s Name, and speaking with new Tongues: They could take up Serpents; no deadly thing they drank could hurt them; they laid Hands upon the Sick, and they recovered. Those who believe in the Popish Priest, are the best Friends that the Devil has; and instead of casting him out, for the most part, bring him in: They can speak Sense with no Tongue; nor dare venture on any Poison, but what proceeds from Gluttony and Drunkenness, with which they give their Votaries Diseases, instead of recovering them.
The Apostles were to be Witnesses of all which they had heard or seen said or done by our Saviour; and who else could be so? But the Popish Priest has no other Means of knowing Christ, than any Layman of equal Abilities, and equal Application; nor can have any greater Motive or Inducement to preach him, except his Hire; which, as it first suborned his Predecessors to betray his Person, and take away his Life, so it has ever since been the Occasion of crucifying him anew, by misrepresenting his Doctrines, and making them subservient to worldly Ambition and Interest; a Practice so universal, that no Englishman can set his Foot out of his own Country, but he fees the Clergy perverting the Scripture, and abusing the People.
Our Saviour himself appointed the Seventy Disciples, whom he sent before him two by two, in every Place where he intended himself to go; and gave them Powers almost equal to the Powers of the Apostles, even to heal the Sick, to tread on Serpents and Scorpions, and over allthe Power of the Enemy, and that nothing should hurt them; but he was so far from giving any worldly Authority, that he tells them, he sends them forth as Lambs amongst Wolves; that they should carry nothing with them; but whatsoever House they came into, they should say, Peace to that House, and should eat and drink such things as the People gave them; and whatever City they came into, they should eat such things as were set before them, for the Labourer is worthy of his Hire (here it seems the People were to judge what Wages and Hire they deserve); and if any Persons refused to receive them, they were to go into the Streets, and shake off the Dust of their Feet at them; which was all the Excommunication that they were directed to use, and was nothing else but to leave them in their Sins, and preach to them no longer.
Whatever is meant by the figurative and abstruse Texts of binding and loosing, remitting and retaining Sins, is evidently confined to those whom it is spoken to, and seems to have relation to the other World alone.
Now I would e glad to know, By what Rules of Construction can the Powers, now claimed by any Set of Clergy in the World, be brought from these Texts, or in what Sense can any Clergyman be said to be a Successor of the Apostles, more than every Layman of equal Qualifications.
If our Saviour had intended to have conveyed down any Powers to any Man, or Set of Men whatsoever, it is impossible to believe but he would have expressed himself in the fullest and most significant Words; and left no Doubt behind him, what those Powers were, and to whom they belonged. No Statute enacted amongst weak Mortals is penned so loosely: What Lawyer in Westminster-Hall could have found out sovereign Power in the Precept, Feed my Sheep? Or in our Saviour’s Promise to assist the Apostles, and perhaps all Christians in general, in these Words, I will be with you to the End of the World?
The Priests of Delphos, uttering, for the most part, their Oracles in sorry and balderdash Poetry, gave Rise to a waggish Jest amongst the Antients, That Homer could write better Verses than Apollo, who inspired him. But sure no one among Christians will be so profane, as to give Occasion to the Suggestion, that the Attorney General can draw up a clearer and more intelligible Commission than the Apostles.
But though there be nothing in the Gospels to justify or excuse the priestly Demands upon the Laity, yet there are many Texts expresly against them, in which our Saviour disclaims all Authority over Men, and forbids his Disciples and Followers assuming Superiority over their Brethren, or censuring, judging, or using any one ill, for not receiving, or for opposing them.
InLuke the xiith. v. 13. A Man desires of our Saviour to speak to his Brother to divide his Inheritance with him; and his Answer is, Who made me a Judge, or a Divider, over you?
InJohn, chap. xii. v. 47, 48. our Saviour declares, If any Man hears his Words, and believes not, that he will not judge him; for he came not to judge the World, but to save the World. And in the next Verse leaves him to the Judgment of the Father, and tells him what will be his Doom.
InJohn, chap. xviii. v. 36. he was brought before Pilate for speaking Treason against Cæsar, and claiming the Temporal Kingdom of Judea; and he took that Occasion to renounce all earthly Sovereignty, by declaring, his Kingdom was not of this World, and gave his Reason for it; which so satisfied the Roman Governor, ever jealous of his Master’s Authority, that he pronounced him innocent, and would gladly have released him, if the Jewish Priests would have suffered it.
InMatthew, Chap. vii. v. 1, 2, 3. he says to his Disciples, Judge not, lest ye be judged; for with what Judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and what Measure ye mete shall be measured to you again, &c.
InLuke, Chap. ix. v. 54. James and John desired of him, that they might command Fire from Heaven to punish the Samaritans for not receiving him; which he was so far from consenting to, that he reproves them for it; and tells them, Ye know not what Spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is not come to destroy the World, but to save the World.
In the same Chapter, John said to him, Master, we saw one casting out Devils in thy Name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said, Forbid him not; for he that is not against us, is for us. A plain Precept for Christians to tolerate one another.
Through the whole xviiith Chapter of Matthew, our Saviour exhorts his Disciples to be humble, and to forgive Offences. And in v. 15, 16, 17. tells them, If thy Brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his Fault between thee and him alone. But if he will not hear thee, take one or two more with thee, &c. and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the Church, or Congregation: And if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee like a Heathen or Publican; that is, have no more to do with him. And in the two Verses after, he tells them what a Church is, namely, When two or three are gathered together in my Name, I will be in the midst of them; and his Presence, methinks, should be effectual to constitute a complete Church, though a Parson is not one of the Company.
Indeed the whole New Testament is a Lesson of Humility, Humanity, and Morality; the Sermon upon the Mount is nothing else; and we every-where find constant Precepts and Cautions against Pride and Domination.
In the xxiiid of Matthew, our Saviour spake to the Multitude, and to his Disciples, bidding them not to be called Master; for one is your Master, even Christ, all ye are Brethren; but he that is greatest amongst you, shall be your Servant; and whoever does exalt himself, shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted.
InLuke, chap. xx. v. 46. he warns his Disciples to beware of the Scribes, who desire to walk in long Robes, and love Greetings in the Markets, and the highest Seats in the Synagogues,and the chief Places at Feasts, (hear, O ye Popish Bishops, Priests, and Deacons!) who devour Widows Houses, and for a Shew make long Prayers.
InLuke xxii. v. 24, 25, 26. There was a Strife amongst the Apostles which should be the greatest. And Jesus said unto them, The Kings of the Gentiles exercise Authority over them, and they that exercise Authority upon them, are called Benefactors. But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest amongst you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. The same in Matthew, chap. xx. v. 25, 26, 27. And he enforces this Precept in Verse 28. from his own Conduct, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministred unto, but to minister.
Our Saviour did not, like others, preach Doctrines to his Disciples which he refused to practise; but teaches them Modesty and Humility by his own Example: For, in the xiiith of John, he washes their Feet himself, and bids them wash one another’s. How different is this from the proud Spirit of his pretended Successors, who take Place of the Nobility and Gentry, and make the great Men of the Earth kiss their Slippers; salute them upon the Knee, as if they were Gods below, or sovereign Princes; nay more, set themselves above the Crown itself; for what is it else they mean, after saying Grace, and in their Cups, by putting the Church (by which they mean themselves) before the King and Royal Family? We all know too well their Kindness for the People, (who are the Scriptural and Legal Church) to suspect that they mean them.
Not many Years since, the constant Health among them was, King, Queen, and Church; but now all the High Clergy are guilty of the same Crime for which Cardinal Wolsey ought to have lost, and in all Likelihood would have lost his Head, if he had not prevented it, as it is said, by Self-murder, even the Crime of setting themselves above the Crown, and viva voce crying out, Ego & Rex meus, when they are in the Humour of owning him as such.