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Some notice having been taken of Mr. Bowdler's younger friends, it may not be improper to mention the decease of a very different person, the Right Rev. Robert Gordon, who died in November 1779, at a very advanced age. Mr. Bowdler attended him with the unremitting kindness which was due to his father's old and intimate friend; and “ never,” said he, “was I witness to such piety, resignation, benevolence, and true politeness. He was a truly primitive bishop, a tender husband, a warm friend, and a fine gentleman; and so pleasing in his manners, and unexceptionable in his conduct, that in spite of the inconveniences and insults to which his character and the times exposed him, he lived unmolested and respected by all who knew him.”
Mr. Gordon was the last in the succession of English non-juring bishops, which had been continued from the Revolution. At that time the archbishop of Canterbury, with several of the bishops, and a large body of the clergy, refused, from conscientious scruples, to take the oaths of allegiance to King William, and were, therefore, expelled from their benefices. The succession, however, was preserved by consecrations performed by Bishops Lloyd, Turner, and White, and Dr. Hickes and Mr. Wagstaffe, together with several other persons distinguished for their learning and private worth, were advanced to the episcopate. It will often happen, that where a difference of opinion takes place between those who had before been united, and separation ensues, other points will appear, or will arise anew, to widen the breach. The Non-jurors were soon found to differ from their brethren in some few religious tenets as much as in their political opi. nions. Nor was this surprising. There are some points of sentiment and belief which are linked together, and, from a person's opinions upon one of these subjects, may easily be inferred that which he will hold on the other. But this is not all. There is a certain train of thought and tone of feel. ing, which is much influenced by the circumstances in which any one is placed. These circumstances will give a colouring and a character to sentiments, which should be unalterable. When changes take place in civil matters, and persons accommodate themselves to those changes, they will be naturally induced to view, as favourably as is possible, a difference of opinion upon religious subjects ; they will mix familiarly with those who dissent from them, and will partially, at least in some slight degree, adopt their mode of thinking; there will be less fear of innovation, less reverence for antiquity; and from these causes will be produced a loose mode of thinking, and, perhaps, of acting, suited to the temper of the times. Those who have adopted the other course, and disapproved the political change, will naturally express a fear of any alteration in that which is peculiarly sacred, and should be like its Author, the same yesterday, to day, and for ever: there will be in them much strong and solemn feeling, much deep and fervent piety; great veneration for antiquity; and a spirit, which, if the expression may be used, will partake of the best part of chivalry. The doctrines of Christianity will be equally held by both parties, but perhaps their importance will not be equally seen; the principles of both sides will be the same, but the feelings which they excite will be greatly different, and the practices to which they lead will vary.
These remarks may be exemplified in the state of the English Church after the Revolution, and that of the Non-jurors. There was in the former, probably, some desire to abandon differences of opinion, some leaning towards principles and practices which were dissentient from those of the Church of England, and much loose opinion on such subjects as those of occasional conformity, absolution, confirmation, and the peculiar character and authority of the priesthood. The sentiments held by Bishop Hoadley were likely to be prevalent; who scrupled not to designate the regular uninterrupted succession of ministers, authoritative benedictions, absolutions, and excommunications, as no more than vain words, niceties, trifles, and dreams. Such language (as that acute disputant, William Law, has shown,) was nothing less than a betraying of the church to which he belonged, and verging upon Socinianism. From this source may be traced a 'lax and enervated tone of feeling upon religion, which was highly injurious to its interests, and foreign to the true character of our church. The difference of opi. nion which existed between the Non-jurors and their brethren of the Established Church, may be illustrated by the subject of the holy Eucharist. Among the lattet it began to be considered, as merely a commemorative ceremony, without any particular blessing attached to it, or any particular promise of grace. In the words of the Bishop, who has been lately mentioned, " it is not the renewal of the covenant on our part, or the seal of it on God's; it is only a remembrance of Christ, without any peculiar privileges annexed to the partaking worthily ; we do not thereby partake of the benefit of remission of our past sins; such a notion is no better than a dream.” The general style of his writings was calculated, even more than any particular expressions, to depreciate it. It is not meant that the opinions of Bishop Hoadley prevailed generally among the clergy of that day; but there was probably a leaning towards them, which was, in its consequences, highly pernicious. This holy ordinance was less honoured than it had formerly been ; its true character was, in some degree, forgotten; there was a dread of being superstitious, an inclination towards the opposite extreme of nakedness and neglect. The attention of the Non-jurors, on the contrary, was greatly devoted to this sacrament: they referred themselves to the practice of the Primitive Church, as far as it could be ascertained; or, more properly,
perhaps, to the three points of antiquity, universality, and consent. They held, that this was not merely a commemorative ceremony, but strictly a sacrifice, a commemorative and unbloody sacrifice,
- not offering the body of Jesus Christ, as the Romanists profess to do, but offering the appointed representation of his body and blood, in a manner as strictly sacrificial as were the offerings of the patriarchs and the Jews. This opinion is very widely different from that mentioned above; and the difference is highly important, as it respects both the ordinance itself, and that meritorious propitiation which it represents. Hence it came to pass, that the Lord's Supper was more highly esteemed, and more frequently celebrated among the Non-jurors, than in the Established Church, where, during a considerable portion of the last century, there seemed to be great danger of its being much neglected. The opinion of the Nonjurors was also much more consonant to the language of the Primitive Church, to which, as the best interpreter of holy writ and of the will of God, they desired as far as possible to conform Hence they deemed it necessary to insist strongly · upon several points which they conceived to be either wholly omitted, or insufficiently provided for in the Church Service, but which had a place in the Clementine and other ancient liturgies, and in those of Edward VI., framed at that critical period, when our Reformers had released them