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out in a cassock, and to do many strange things, as ridiculous as they would be superstitious. But it matters not to us what the Prayer Book, Canons, or College statutes command; our rule of conduct is in the Bible and in the Bible only.”
Master.—'Why, then, did you come to Cambridge, if you had made up your minds to resist the established order of things ?”
J. C. Thompson.-" I can only answer for myself. I came to the University in a state of indifference on these subjects ; my opinions have been formed since I have been here, for I cannot say I had any opinions at all on the points in dispute when I matriculated.”
Master.—“ How can you reconcile it to your consciences to make this stir about a matter so indifferent as the wearing of a surplice? What harm can it do you? Is any under-graduate the worse for conforming to this long-established and harmless custom ?”
J. C. Thompson.-"Nothing can be indifferent that relates to the worship of God and the Gospel. If the doctrine of yielding to matters 'indifferent be once allowed, then by the same argument the Master of this college might put on cloth of gold and elevate the host; for what does it signify whether the bread be handed around or first lifted up by a Priest ? Is the bread any worse for undergoing such a lifting ? or will it do us any harm to communicate under such a ceremony? Why not
conform in such trifles, and thus show our charity to the Papists? And in the same way every superstition may be introduced, for the spirit of indifference in the worship of God is the spirit of libertinism, the spirit which animates an atheist as well as a Pope. The atheist will yield all trifles of this sort to the Pope, who insists on them. He that cares not what is done in religion, but will do anything for the sake of peace,
is a right-hand man of the Devil, an instrument of superstition; and superstition is nothing but an epitome of hell itself.
" We therefore consider it sinful to conform to any heathen or Popish custom, however harmless it may appear, for we are fully convinced that all corruptions of religion have come into the world by bad men indulging their fancies in matters of religion, and hy better men giving way to them as to trifles against which it was not worth while combating. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin by such arguments as are used for our conformity to things 'indifferent.' He did but alter a few particulars, as, for instance, the place; he said they should worship in Dan and Bethel instead of Jerusalem, and what rational man could see the difference, since one place is as good as another to worship in ?—Then, he did but change the signs of the Divine Presence, golden calves instead of golden cherubim, and the calves were more intelligible than the mysterious figures
of the cherubim, which no man could well com prehend. And then, for the time of his festivals, he fixed the fifteenth day of the eighth month instead of the seventh; and what did it matter? One day was as good as another; it was a matter of perfect indifference, and people ought to obey their superiors in things indifferent. By arguments like these the Church of England upholds the surplice, and other inheritances of the man of sin."
Master.-" It is impossible to prove from Scripture that wearing the surplice is unlawful. Show me that it is forbidden in the Bible, and I will then yield to your most unreasonable scruples; but when it is most certain that you have no authority of Scripture on your side, then it is evident that your duty is to obey your superiors, and to submit to their commands when they do not command unlawful things. Bishop Stillingfleet's words I consider unanswerable : ' All things are lawful which are not forbidden, and upon this single point stands the whole controversy of separation, as to the constitution of our Church.""
J. C. Thompson.-" If the Master will allow me to refer to Bishop Stillingfleet, I will answer him by his own words—(Here the servant was ordered to bring Stillingfleet's works.)-Thus says the Bishop in writing against the Papists:
-But we, knowing them (i.e. Papists) so experimentally, are not to be compassed by needless symbolizing with them in anything, for I conceive our best policy is studiously to imitate them in nothing, but for all indifferent things to think the worse of them for using them. As no person of honour would willingly go in the known garb of any lewd and infamous person, whatsoever we court them in, they do but turn it to our scorn and contempt, and are more hardened in their wickedness; wherefore seeing that needless symbolizing with them does them no good, but hurt, we should account ourselves in all things indifferent, perfectly free to satisfy and please, in the most universal manner we can, those of our own party, not caring what opinions, or customs, or outward formalities the Romanists or others have, or may have had, from the first degeneracy of the Church, which we ought rather to account the more hideously soiled by the Romanists using them ; but, supporting ourselves upon plain Scripture and solid reason, to use and profess such things as will be most agreeable to us all, and make most for the welfare and safety of the kingdom of Christ.' (Dial. III.) Now these are exactly our sentiments, and therefore we leave Bishop Stillingfleet to confute Bishop Stillingfleet.
“ I would, however, ask the Master how the surplice can be considered a thing indifferent, when it is made by the Church of England an absolute requisite for an officiating Priest, and when it is forced upon us against our consci
ences ? Would it not be a great act of tyranny if the King were to compel the Master of this college to wear a fool's cap; and would the tyranny be alleviated if the Master were reminded that the wearing of a fool's cap is indifferent, that it is not forbidden in Scripture—that whatever is not forbidden is lawful, and that it is a sin to disobey our superiors in things indifferent?
“But if the surplice is a thing indifferent, how comes it that the worship of God cannot go on without this dress? And how is it to be accounted for, that though a most godly minister would be driven out of the Church if he attempted to engage in prayer without this white robe, yet a notorious Socinian, a deist, a drunkard, an adulterer, might officiate undisturbed to the day of judgment?”
Master.-" The custom of the Church hath been all along to have a grave and sober ritual. The Established Church has purged away the dross of the Romanists, and has retained only that which is for edification. The Apostle says, let all things be done decently and in order."
J. C. Thompson.-“ Custom is a rule of faith unknown in the Gospel ; we do not follow 'a vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers, but we follow this truth : what is the 'truth ? it is Christ; it is taking up our cross, and following him in all things. He is King, Priest, and Prophet, and in all these his offices we must look up to him in hearty obedience and sincere faith; but