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as for these weak and beggarly elements of white linen and all other Popish types, they are nothing but the lumber of voluntary humility, and we cannot in our consciences find anything like an argument for conformity with such idle traditions. • Custom’ is the Trojan horse of the Church; within the belly of this capacious monster, Custom, were hid Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Archbishops and Cardinals, Deans and Popes, canons and decretals, acts of supremacy and lawn sleeves, prayer books and surplices, tithes and monks' cowls, doctors' degrees and oaths of abjuration, with all the other treasures of a state Church, too long to mention. Custom has spread midnight over all the earth, but of this source of mischief Tertullian hath well spoken :-Consuetudo ab aliquâ ignorantiâ vel simplicitate initium sortita in usum per successionem corroboratur, et ita adversus veritatem vindicatur; sed Dominus noster Jesus Christus veritatem se non consuetudinem cognominavit. Hæreses non tam novitas quam veritas revincit; quodcunque adversus veritatem sapit, erit hæresis, etiam vetus consuetudo.' As for the custom of the surplice, I would remind the Master that the Protestant Salmasius and his
*“ Čustom, taking its origin from some ignorance or foolishness, becomes strengthened into a fixed law by traditional use, and thus is set up against the truth ; but our Lord Jesus Christ said he was the truth, he did not say he was custom. Heresy is not so much convicted by its novelty as by the truth; whatever is against the truth will be heresy, although it should be a very ancient custom.”
learned opponent Petavius both agree that, at first, the Christian proselytes wore no distinctive dress in their worship; the surplice was brought into the Church A. D. 796 by Pope Adrian; it was copied from the dress of the mystics of Mithras, from the Persic fire-worshippers, and the Priests of Isis, for the Priests of Isis wore both the tonsure and the surplice; and the monks of Egypt, charmed with this white robe, adopted it, taught it to other Priests, and so spread the edifying 'custom' all over Christendom. With such an origin, and after such a bleaching, who but a superstitious person will deck himself out in this unmeaning robe? And what Church but a corrupt one will make it a matter of importance that her worshippers should submit to this superstition ?”
Master.—“ I fear it is hopeless arguing with persons who take such perverse views; but I would ask you if it does not, even to yourselves, appear very wrong thus to create a confusion by appearing in the chapel contrary to the statutes ? Why select this eccentric mode of martyrdom? If you are Dissenters, you ought to quit the University without running your heads against a wall of your own rearing. I attribute this act of insubordination entirely to a love of notoriety; the question never till now was moved in the University.”
J. C. Thompson.—“ The Master is mistaken. In the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and of King James, the surplice was vehemently opposed in Cambridge, and all the scholars of St. John's unanimously refused to wear it, in which determination they were countenanced by some of their superiors*. The power of the Prelates forced them into submission, but not without much difficulty, and many acts of gross oppression. We are aware of the singularity of our conduct, and are prepared to find its effects anything but agreeable; we know that we make ourselves the subjects of much ridicule, and that this affair will probably terminate greatly to our disadvantage. But we trust that, by thus following out a pure principle in early life, we shall be better able to be faithful in all things which the word of God, speaking to our consciences, shall hereafter point out to us. The life of man is a life of trials : it is a narrow and a strait path, and a firm attachment to principle is by no means common in these days. It is better to see one's prospects in life overclouded, and to bear the cruel mockings' of ill-natured calumniators, than to cast away principle, which is a strong anchor, and so make shipwreck of faith; it is better to bear affliction with the people of God than to endure the pleasures of sin for a
“ The notoriety gained by this contest is far from being so tempting as the Master seems to
* The Masters of Trinity and St. John's Colleges in particular. See their remonstrance in Stryje.
think ; but, to bring the matter to a conclusion, we would venture to suggest to this Reverend Seniority that, as it has been conceded to us that the wearing of a surplice is a thing in itself indifferent, we ought therefore to be permitted to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience; for we are fully determined never again to put on the Popish dress, never again to be present at the profane farce of declamations, and never again to communicate at the college altar.
“Much is said in these days about the propriety of admitting Dissenters to the University; here is a case before you, on which, by passing a righteous decree, you might justly get rid of that accusation of bigotry and intolerance under which you now labour. We are Dissenters; but excepting in the matter of conformity with your mode of worship, what worse is the College for harbouring us? We confidently appeal to our conduct and characters as being blameless, and the prizes that some of us have gained must sufficiently testify of our diligence in our studies.
Neither are we • Atheists,' according to the opinion of the Chan-. cellor of Oxford, pronounced against Dissenters in the House of Lords. We invite inquiry into our religious practices; we have social prayer--mutual exposition of the Scriptures -- and class meetings—for comforting one another in the faith. We praise God in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,-we attend the sick, and pray
with the dying,—we go to the prisons and give words of instruction to the poor prisoners, – have a little Sunday School of our own institution; we lay up of our substance to distribute to the necessities of the poor ; we visit the widows and the fatherless in their affliction; and we keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Therefore our objections to your mode of worship are not founded in any libertine or irreligious views."
Master." I will do you the justice to say that I believe you are good young men, but you are labouring under a delusion ;-and now let me, as a well-wisher and a friend to your interests in life, beseech you not to be carried away by an overstrained
iety. Remember that the Dissenters say nothing about the surplice in these days ; it was a controversy of ferocious times, but a more liberal spirit has now prevailed amongst us, and we seem agreed to forget our differences.”
J. C. Thompson.—“I am deeply impressed with the kind way in which the Master addresses our little society; and feel myself fortified against every argument but this friendly and parental tone. But still, Sir, I must not forget that truth, like its master, is the same to-day, yesterday, and for ever,--and if our holy and martyred ancestors preferred imprisonment, banishment, and death, sooner than conform with the superstitious remnants of an ill-disguised Popery,—if they have left testimonies in their writings against this sin to which you would now persuade us to submit,