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Title: Short Reasons for Communion with the Church of England - or the Churchman's answer to the question, "Why are you a Member of the Established Church?"
Author: Biddulph, T. T.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1826 J. Chilcott edition by David Price, email

                        [Picture: Pamphlet cover]

                                No. XXXI.

                                * * * * *

                     Church of England Tract Society,
                       Instituted in BRISTOL, 1811.

                                * * * * *

                              SHORT REASONS
                              FOR COMMUNION
                      _With the Church of England_;


                       “WHY ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE
                           ESTABLISHED CHURCH?”

                                * * * * *

    “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
    peace.”—_Ephes._ iv. 3.

    “Beseeching Thee to inspire continually the universal Church with the
    spirit of truth, unity, and concord; and grant that all they that do
    confess Thy holy name, may agree in the truth of Thy holy word, and
    live in unity and godly love.”

                                                           _Com. Service_.

                                * * * * *

            Sold at the DEPOSITORY, 6, Clare Street, BRISTOL;
            And by SEELEY and SON, 169, Fleet Street, LONDON.
          _Price_ 1¼_d._ _each_, _or_ 6_s._ 8_d._ _per Hundred_.
  [Picture: Hand with finger pointing right] An Allowance to Subscribers
                             and Booksellers.

                                * * * * *

             J. Chilcott, Printer, 30, Wine Street, Bristol.

                                * * * * *

    “_O ALMIGHTY God_, _who hast built Thy Church upon the foundation of
    the Apostles and Prophets_, _Jesus Christ Himself being the head
    corner-stone_; _grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit
    by their doctrine_, _that we may be made a holy temple acceptable
    unto Thee_, _through Jesus Christ our Lord_.  _Amen_.”

                      For St. Simon and St. Jude’s Day.

                                * * * * *



_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _not_ MERELY _because
my parents and forefathers were members of her community_.

THE connexion which my parents and forefathers held with the Church of
England I consider to be a sufficient reason why I should continue in
communion with her, if there be nothing contrary to the law of God in
such a connexion.  For the fifth commandment peremptorily requires me to
“honour my father and mother;” and, assuredly, this duty implies
reverence to their example, if that example be not inconsistent with the
rule of God’s holy word.

But as a man’s parents and forefathers may have been members of a
communion, a continuance in which would be manifestly contrary to the
word of God (as, for instance, if a man were born of Popish or Socinian
parents;) I therefore say, that “I maintain communion with the Church of
England, not MERELY because my parents and forefathers were members of
her community.”


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _not_ MERELY_ because
she is ancient and venerable_.

HER antiquity is a sufficient reason to justify my continuance in her
communion, if it can be shown that nothing materially differing from the
primitive and apostolic Church, in doctrine or discipline, has, in the
long course of her existence, been introduced into her constitution.  For
the more ancient any Church can prove to be, the nearer is the approach
to the source of Divine authority and sanction.  Now the Church of
England existed long before her corruption by popery; and the labours and
sufferings of her Martyrs in the sixteenth century were employed, not in
planting a new Church, but in correcting gross abuses in one which had
been long established.  They are therefore called _Reformers_.  The
Church of England, as is highly probable, was planted by St. Paul; and we
know from credible history, that there was a church in Britain during the
apostolic age, and that there were bishops who presided in it soon after
that period.

But as that which is ancient may have been corrupted, antiquity alone
would not fully justify my continuance in any visible Church, though it
strongly enforces the necessity of earnestness and diligence in inquiring
about the reality and nature of the supposed corruption, before I venture
to quit the Church of which I have been made by baptism a member.


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _not_ MERELY_ because
she is established by law_.

THIS, like the two former reasons, is a sufficient one to enforce my
continuance in communion with the Church of England, unless she be found,
after _due_ inquiry, to be contrary, in her constitution or doctrines, to
the word of God.  For I am required to “submit myself to every ordinance
of man for the Lord’s sake.”  Nothing can justify my departure from a
church so established, but the well-known decision in cases where the law
of God and the law of man are in opposition to each other.  In any such
case the duty is clear to “obey God rather than man.”

Such an opposition may exist between human laws and the law of God; and
therefore “I maintain communion with the Church of England, not MERELY
because she is established by law.”


_But I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because her
government is episcopal_, _i.e. by Bishops_; _this being the mode of
Church government which existed in the primitive Church_, _and was
founded by the Apostles of our Lord_.

IN stating reasons for conformity which are to be comprised within a few
pages, it is impossible to enter at large into the proof of the fact here
asserted, viz. that the primitive church as founded by the Apostles of
our Lord, was episcopal; or, in other words, that the power of ordination
and government in the church was vested by the Apostles in officers
superior to the order of Presbyters, and who are now called by the name
of Bishops.  I must therefore only state a few circumstances, which are
capable of being clearly proved, without producing the evidence on which
my belief of them is built.

1.  Episcopal government, as established in the Church of England, has
all the authority in its favour which prescription or long usage can give
it.  The most learned of its adversaries have never been able to fix on
any period in the Christian Church, from the time of the Apostles to the
Reformation, in which the ordination of men to the ministry of the gospel
was considered to be vested in any other minister or ministers than a

2.  All the instances of ordination, recorded in the New Testament, are
in favour of Episcopacy.  For there is no single instance of ordination,
on record there, performed by presbyters, or at least without the
presence and co-operation of some officer superior to presbyters.

3.  All the directions concerning ordination, given in the New Testament,
are addressed to persons superior to presbyters.  Such, confessedly, were
Timothy and Titus; and to them only are any such directions given.

4.  The Apostles, at their decease, left the government of the several
churches which they had planted, and the ordination of their ministers,
in the hands of fixed Bishops.

It may be granted that, during the life-time of the Apostles, the title
Bishops, was common to all presbyters, and that this name was not
confined to an officer superior to presbyters till after their decease.
For it is not the name but the office about which I am inquiring.—It
moreover appears that, during the life of the Apostles, some churches had
each its settled Bishop, as the seven churches of Asia, who are addressed
in their several epistles through the medium of an individual; (Rev. ii.
3.) and that of Crete, where Titus was left by St. Paul. (Titus i. 2.)
Other churches however had none as yet settled among them, being under
the immediate government of the Apostles, who frequently visited or sent
to them, and either themselves, or by other superior officers, ordained
ministers for them.

But immediately after the death of the Apostles there was, in every
church, an officer superior to presbyters, who was called by way of
distinction a Bishop.  This we learn from express testimonies in the
remaining writings of men who lived in the time of the Apostles; such as
Clemens Romanus, mentioned in Phil. iv. 3.—Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch,
who suffered martyrdom in the year 107; and Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna,
who was burned in the year 167, aged one hundred years or more.  These
excellent apostolic men have expressly spoken in their epistles of
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, as the stated officers of the Christian
Churches, assigning to the former the prerogatives or rights of
government and ordination in their several districts.  Besides this,
ancient historians of the church have given lists of successive Bishops,
that is, of individual presidents, in several of the more important
churches, reaching up to the very time of the Apostles.

Now it is not to be supposed that, immediately after the death of the
Apostles, any innovation or change, so important and invidious as that of
episcopal government, would or could have been introduced; or that,
supposing it to be destitute of apostolic sanction, its introduction
should produce no opposition.  Much less is it to be supposed that such
men as Clemens, Ignatius, and Polycarp, the disciples and friends of the
Apostles, would have suffered such an innovation to be introduced, and
have mentioned it in the highest terms of approbation.  But the truth is,
that they speak of the three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in
the Christian Church as conformed to the three ranks of ministers in the
Jewish Church, the High Priests, the common Priests, and the Levites,
{8}—as ordained by Christ himself, and as existing even during His own
ministry, He himself acting as the great Bishop, His Apostles as His
Presbyters, and the seventy disciples as His Deacons: and as at length
established in the universal Church by apostolic authority and usage.

On this ground then I justify my continuance in the Church of England,
viz. its conformity in this important branch of its constitution to the
primitive and apostolic church.  But I wish it to be understood that I
assign my reasons for such a continuance, not with a view to the
conversion of those to my sentiments who are not members of our church;
but merely for the purpose of showing that I do not act without reason,
and of confirming those who are members of our own church, but have not
had an opportunity of obtaining information on the subject under
consideration,—of confirming them in their attachment to that church,
which I consider to be “built,” in its constitution as well as its
doctrines, “on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ
Himself being the chief corner-stone.”  From HIM all authority descends;
for in HIM, as “the head of His body the church,” it is all vested by
Divine appointment.  “All power is given unto me in heaven and upon
earth.—Go ye _therefore_ and teach (or make disciples of) all nations,
baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
Thus He handed down the authority He had received to His Apostles; they
transmitted it to their immediate successors; and so it has descended to
the Bishops or chief pastors of the church in our own day.  Without
wishing to interfere with the right of private judgment which belongs to
every man, and for the exercise of which he is accountable to God only; I
own that I cannot see how the Christian Church as a visible society,
could have been continued in the world without such a communication of
Divine authority.


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because her doctrines
are fixed by articles of Religion_, _which appear to me to be derived
from and perfectly conformable to the Scriptures of Truth_.

I AM fully aware that some among the ministers of the church to which I
belong, may have entered into her service without understanding or fully
approving the articles to which they subscribed their assent and consent,
and consequently may preach doctrines differing from those of the church
whose ministers they are.  The possibility of the supposed case appears
from the painful necessity, under which a late Bishop of London was laid,
of depriving an unsound clergyman of his office.  But such ministers
cannot do this without exposing their own ignorance or hypocrisy; nor can
their own unbelief make the faith of the church of no effect.  These
articles I consider to be the bulwark of orthodoxy or true doctrine in
our church,—the means of her preservation from apostacy in the lowest
state of spiritual life to which she has been or may be reduced, and of
providing for her recovery from such a state whenever God is pleased to
breathe upon her.  A declaration or subscription to the truth of the
Bible would afford no security, as all who bear the Christian name,
however heretical or unsound in opinion, pretend to derive their creed
from the word of God.  I conceive therefore that it is of high importance
to have the principal articles of the Christian faith embodied in such a
way, that no heretic can, without manifest dishonesty, subscribe to them.
If the incumbent or minister of any parish be thus dishonest, having
subscribed to what he never cordially believed, and preaching doctrines
contrary to the articles he has subscribed, when his incumbency or
ministry in that parish ceases by death or any other cause, the articles
of the church remain in full force.  But if no such test existed, and if
the election to church preferment were vested in the people, a single
incumbency might so corrupt the opinions of the congregation as to
perpetuate heresy from generation to generation.

I continue therefore in the communion of the Church of England, because
she has fixed principles, and those principles are, in my judgment,
scriptural and “according to godliness.”


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because her mode of
worship is primitive and scriptural_, _and in my judgment best calculated
to promote general and individual edification_.

“Mr. Wheatly has proved (referring us to the testimonies of Josephus,
Philo, Paul Fagius, &c.) that the ancient Jews did always worship God in
public by precomposed forms.  Dr. Lightfoot not only affirms the same
thing, but sets down both the order and method of their hymns and
supplications.  Now it appears from the general tenour of the four
Gospels, and particularly from Luke iv. 16. that our Saviour habitually
attended at the service of the Temple, or of the Synagogue, on every
Sabbath-day. {12a}  He therefore, by this act, from week to week, gave a
public sanction to all the Jewish forms of Divine worship.  And had it
been otherwise, the Scribes and Pharisees, His implacable foes and
persecutors, would not have failed to load Him with their severest
reproaches, as an open enemy to all godliness.  He lived and died a
member of the Jewish Church.  He moreover gave a set form of prayer to
His Apostles, which has ever since been used in the Christian Church.
And it is evident from many passages in the book of their acts, that they
also, in conformity to His Divine example, did attend on the service both
of the Temple and Synagogue; and it is expressly said, (Acts xvii. 2.)
that it was ‘_the manner_’ of Paul so to do.  The apostolic practice is
therefore another sanction to the same religious institution.

“Mr. Wheatly has also shown, by sundry appeals to ancient Christian
writers, that the three first centuries joined in the use of precomposed
set forms of prayer, besides the Lord’s prayer and Psalms; and that these
were styled by so early a writer as Justin Martyr, who died in the year
of our Lord 163, ‘_Common Prayers_;’ by Origen, ‘_Constituted Prayers_;’
and by Cyprian, ‘_Solemn Prayers_.’—From hence the inference is fairly
drawn, that a liturgy composed for public use, is warranted by the
practice of our Saviour, of His Apostles, and of the primitive
Christians.” {12b}


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because her Liturgy
is scriptural in its doctrine_, _plain in its style_, _comprehensive in
its addresses to the throne of mercy_, _and therefore adapted to general

IN confirmation of this reason, I shall content myself with the
declaration of one, whose testimony may have the more weight in
consequence of his being unconnected with the Church whose liturgy he has
extolled, the eloquent and candid Robert Hall.  At the Leicester Bible
Society he spoke thus of our Liturgy.  “I believe that the evangelical
purity of its sentiments, the chastised fervour of its devotion, and the
majestic simplicity of its language, have placed it in the very first
rank of uninspired compositions.”


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because a separation
from her_, _without a sufficient reason_, _would_, _in my opinion_, _be a
great sin_.

“THERE is, undeniably, such a sin as _schism_, against which we are
precautioned in the New Testament, as being one proof of carnality in a
religious professor, (1 Cor. iii. 3.) and as being diametrically opposite
to the duty of ‘endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
of peace’.”

“By _schism_ we are to understand a _causeless_ secession from our
Church, into the communion of which we have been solemnly admitted by
baptism.  And that such a secession would be causeless on our part, is
evident from this simple consideration, that our Church neither proposes
to our faith any doctrine which is not evidently contained in the
Scripture; nor obtrudes on us any practice which the Scriptures forbids,
nor restrains us from the observation of any rule which the Scripture
enjoins.” {14}

It is not, in my humble opinion, a sufficient reason for a separation
from the general Church to which I belong, that the gospel is not
preached from the pulpit of the particular place in which I live.  To
admit for argument sake, the worst case that can occur, viz. that a
Socinian clergyman had, through his own hypocrisy in subscription, got
possession of the pulpit of my parish; my removal from that parish to
another, if I could find no other way of remedying the calamity, would be
a less evil than the act of separation, and the encouragement of a spirit
of division in the Church of Christ.  The word of God prohibits my making
such a division; but it no where forbids me to make any sacrifice of
temporal emolument or accommodation for the benefit of my own soul, or
the souls of my family.


_I maintain communion with the Church of England_, _because I have
discovered no sufficient reason for a separation from her_.

I WISH it to be distinctly understood that I judge no man, however his
views of this subject may differ from my own.  Every man must act
according to the guidance of his own conscience, after having seriously
and diligently used all the means within his reach, by reading and
prayer, to obtain information and direction.  It is not to those who
conscientiously dissent from our communion that I address my reasons; but
to those of my own Church.  And if any of these should be confirmed in
their attachment to her by reading my short statement of the grounds on
which my own conduct is built, I shall have attained the only end I have
had in view, and rejoice in my success.


LET not my brother churchman, however, satisfy himself with being a
member of the visible Church; but let him examine himself whether he be a
living branch in the true vine, united to Christ by faith, and bringing
forth the fruits of righteousness by virtue of union with Him.  Let him
inquire whether he have ever experienced conversion to God,—whether his
heart have been humbled, spiritualized, and comforted by those doctrines
which he professes to believe as derived from Scripture, and by that
worship in which he professes to join as being primitive and “according
to godliness.”  Let him remember the solemn words of Him, who is the
Founder, Head, and Judge of the Christian Church.  At the close of His
awful parable of the ten virgins, He represents the foolish virgins, who
had lamps without oil, as coming to the door of the guest-chamber, and
saying “Lord, Lord, open to us.”  But the Bridegroom answers, “Verily, I
say unto you, I know you not.”  Let him also remember the sentence passed
on the guest at the marriage feast in the gospel who had not on the
wedding garment. (Matt. xxii. 1, &c.)

“I am therefore to consider that all are not Israel that are of Israel;
all were not Jews that were circumcised; all are not Christians that have
been brought by baptism into the Church; for many are called but few are
chosen.  Under the present state of things, bad and good are together at
the marriage feast of the gospel; and many of those that are now _called_
to be among the rest will not be _chosen_ at the last as fit for the
kingdom of God.  I am therefore not to depend upon any privileges I have
at present, unless I use them right; and must give all diligence to _make
my calling and election sure_.” {16}

                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *


Two Dialogues between Thomas Steady and William Candid about going to
Church.—Extracts from the Epistle of St. Clements to the
Corinthians.—Arguments in favour of Infant Baptism; with Extracts from
Bishop Bradford’s Sermon on Baptismal and Spiritual Regeneration.—The
Churchman Instructed in the Book of Common Prayer.—The Churchman’s
Directory in the Study of the Holy Scriptures; or Helps in reading and
hearing the daily Lessons, the Psalms, and the Epistles and Gospels in
the Church Service, &c. &c.

                                * * * * *

             J. Chilcott, Printer, 30, Wine Street, Bristol.

                                * * * * *


{8}  The government of every synagogue seems to have borne some
resemblance of the general ecclesiastical establishment in the Jewish
Church.  For there were fixed ministers to take care of the religious
duties to be performed therein; and these were by imposition of hands
solemnly admitted to their office.  He who presided is called in the New
Testament Archysynagogus, or the ruler of the Synagogue.  This word is
sometimes used in a larger sense, for any one of the officers who had
power in the affairs of the synagogue.  Thus, (Acts xiii. 15.) we read of
the rulers of one synagogue, as we also read (Luke iii. 2.) that Annas
and Caiaphas were contemporary High Priests, though we know that in a
strict sense there could be but one who bore that office.  But generally
and properly the word Archysynagogus describes the president, or chief of
the officers of the synagogue; as Luke xiii. 14. and Acts xviii. 8, 17.

Next to the Archysynagogus were the Elders or presbyters of the
Synagogue.  The person whose office it was to offer up public prayer to
God for the whole congregation, was probably one of these.  He was called
_Sheliac Zibbor_, that is, the Angel of the Church, because as their
messenger, he spoke to God for them.  Hence the pastors of the seven
churches of Asia, in the book of the Revelation, are called by a name
borrowed from the Synagogue, “Angels of the Churches.”

Under these were inferior officers in every Synagogue, called in Hebrew
_Chezanim_, who were also fixed ministers, and under the rulers of the
Synagogue, had the charge and oversight of all things in it.  The deacon
is mentioned in Luke iv. 20.

In every instance, so far as I have observed, our Lord adopted the
institutions of the Jewish Church, unless they were inapplicable to His
new dispensation.  “To the end we may understand apostolical tradition to
have been taken from the Old Testament; that which Aaron, and his sons,
and the Levites were in the Temple, Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons in
the Church may lawfully challenge to themselves.”—_St. Hierom_, _Ep._ 85.

{12a}  The liturgy of the Jewish Church, in which our Lord and His
Apostles joined may be found in _Prideaux’s Connection of the Old and New

{12b}  Hart’s Answer to Gill’s Reasons.

{14}  Hart’s Answer to Gill’s Reasons.

{16}  Rev. William Jones’s Works, vol. xi.

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