« AnteriorContinuar »
POPERY THE ENSLAVER, AND CURSE OF MANKIND. 735
bad proposed, and confirmed. The Scriptures were opened.
The evil wbich has resulted from the Reformation is the
I will not weary the reader with a detail of the battles which were fought, the treaties which were made, or the crimes which were committed, by both parties, before the Reformation became permanent in Europe, or in England. With each there was much to be condemned. Both parties may be proud, or ashamed, of its saints, its hypocrites, or its martyrs. The consequences will deserve our gratitude, while the Scriptures of truth, the freedom of intellect, the establishment of pure religion, and the principles of civil liberty, can be appreciated by the natives of Europe. Public happiness had been destroyed, because the morality on which it rests had been corrupted by the religion of Rome. The Reformation was the effect of the desire of the people of Christendom to throw off the yoke of an immoral and enslaving despotism; and the providential overruling of apparent accident, caused that Luther should become the successful organ of expressing the general opi. nion, and accomplishing the overthrow of the usurpations and errors of tbe ages of ignorance,
V. History of Christianity since the Reformation, with the prospect of its future dominion over all mankind.
The enactment of the decrees of the council of Trent, and the general adoption of Protestant Principles in Germany, Sweden, France, and England, occasioned long and fierce wars, and many opposite religious theories, systems, and confessions of faith. The federated republic of Europe was divided by a religious civil war, of which Spain and the Pope were the
leaders on the one part; and England and Holland the heads of Asia Vian. riod, 4799. the Reformation. It is not necessary to enumerate the various Vulgar Æra, collisions wbich took place between these parties on the Con96. tinent, the efforts of the Jesuits, the wars of the league in
France, the persecutions under Charles V. and Philip II. in
On her accession to the throne, Elizabeth found three dis-
The testimony of any modern theologian, who may profess himself to be attached to the Church of England, will be received with jealousy and suspicion, on account of his supposed biassed preference. It may be only necessary therefore to refer to facts, and to avoid any onlargement on those reasons, which appear to compel an impartial enquirer to conclude that the form of Church government established in England is preferable to that of any other religious society, now claiming the approbation of an English Christian. It may be suficient to remark, that the reformers, in the reign of Edward, wisely endeavoured to retain as much of the religion of their ancestors as possible ; and to receive nothing as good, either because it was novel, or because it differed more widely from the Church of Rome. The consequence of this great moderation was, that the people were generally united in the reign of Edward in support or the Protestant Church ; and the union would have continued, if two unfortunate circumstances had not prevented ; the obedience of the Romanists to the bull of the Popo, in tbe reign of Elizabeth, which commanded the people not to continge to frequent their parish Churches--and the desire of the exiles who returned to England from the continent, after the death of Mary, to introduce the new, and, as they believed, the purer form of ecclesiastical regimen, which they had imbibed in the lecture room of Geneva.
I may be permitted to observe here, that the long contro. versy, wbich has been so frequently agitated between various
POWER OF ROMANISM, AND OF ELIZABETH.
737 Julian Pe- parties in England, respecting the origin of some of the doc- Asia Minor. riod, 4799. irinal articles of faith professed by the Church of England, Valgarðra, may be said to have been decided by the most unbending of all 96. testimonies, that of dates. It has been affirmed by many, that
the articles in question were borrowed from the opinions which
At the time when Elizabeth in England had peacefully re-
In the reign of James, an attempt was made to unite the Romanists of England by the bond of a new oath of allegiance. The union was forbidden by the Pope.
The ancient jealousy bad not ceased. The opinions of the people, and the wisdone of the legislature, are alike divided, respecting the extent of the privileges which may be allowed to the adherents of the corruptions of Christianity. This is not the fittest opportunity of discussing the question whether the genius of Romanism is altered, or if the liberality of the Protestants is degeneratiog into weakness.
When the danger which bad threatened the establishment effected by Elizabeth had nearly ceased ; apother evil arose, from the opposition of the partizans of that Church Polity, and of those VOL. II.
Julian Pe- theological doctrines, which bad been submitted to the world by Asia Miser. riod, 4799. the Reformer of Geneva. The monarchy and hierarchy yielded Vulgar Æra, to the tempest. 96.
During this struggle, the people had become divided into the austere and the profane. On the restoration of the monarchy, the latter were for a time triumphant. Infidelity ravaged the higher classes, and a gloomy discontent brooded over the lower ; while the intermediate ranks of society preserved the temperate attachment of their fathers, to the institutions of the country. The utmost jealousy prevailed among them, against both the extremes which had ihus threatened the extinction of tbeir Protestant Church. In the next reign, the decision of the people was irresistibly declared against the appearance of the influence of Rome; and the most solemn national act, which bas ever get adorned the annals of a great country, gave the tbrone to a Protestant; on condition of the perpetual exclusion of Romanism from the councils of the State.
It was necessary thus briefly to allude to these transactions, that we may understand the manner in which the true religion, which confirms the existence of civil liberty, and perfect toleration, has been maintained among so many fluctuations. England still continues, as we have abundant reason to offer up our prayers to God, that it may continue, till Cbrist shall come to judgment, to be the only powerful state whose government is exclusively Protestant. It is necessary to the existence of truth, and freedom, and human happiness, that this sublime distinction should continue.
In the mean time, when national profligacy, in the reigo of Charles the Second, had usurped the place of national austerity; the restored Clorgy distinguished themselves by endeavouring to heal the wounds which religious enthusiasm had inflicted, by introducing a better style of instruction ; and to heal the wounds wbich infidelity had inflicted, by devoting their own attention, and by directing the people in general, to the study of the evidences of Christianity. They thus established religion on that firm and immovable basis, from which it can never be thrown down. While they kept this object steadily in view; they were no less unanimous in writing and preaching against the ancient enemy of their Church, and of the religion of Christ in general. The good consequence of their exertions was effectually demonstrated, by the overthrow of the remnant of papal 'influence; at a moment when they accomplished the downfal of the despotism which would have fastened the yoke on the neck of England. By the labours of the Clergy, civil and ecclesi. astical tyranny fell together; and never was the nation so pow. erful, or the Church so pure, as at the period of that glorious Revolution, which sealed the charter of that political and religious liberty, for which we had contended through so many ccnturies.
After the period of the Revolution, till that dreadful shaking of nations, which commenced with the convulsions in France, a general religious repose seemed to tranquillize all nations. The influence which the Church of England exercised over the people was rudely shaken by the efforts of two of her ministers, who afterwards separated from her communion; and who in different ways have strengthened the various religious parties, which still survived the restoration of the monarcby. Wesley, aod Whitfield were of opinion that the Clergy were inactivo, and they endeavoured to supply their defects. Iustea of attempt ing to interest the 'hierarchy and the state in the reformation of supposed evils, they appealed to the people against their teachers, whom they stigmatized as négligent; while they ap
PRESENT STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE WORLD. 737 Julian Pe-' proved of their religious opinions, and acquitted them of immoral Asia Minor. riod, 4799. conduct. The effects of the labours of ihese zealous teachers Vulgar Æra, still continue; and when the alienation of the public mind 96.
from the institutions of the country, wbich they too much
The results of the French Revolution are so extensive, that
Ten years have now elapsed since the great contest which
Africa and the East are still lying prostrato before the altars of the dark idolatries of their Fathers. The voice of England has been heard in the recesses of their groves. It has resounded through theirtemples. Their gods are trembling in their shrines, and Dagon is falling before the ark of Jehovah. The Church and the State of England have at length adopted the only effectual plan of accomplishing good. Without repressing by useless per secution the desultory efforts of unauthorized, and sometimes of ill-judging zeal; they have clothed the truth of God with the robes of rightful authority, and invited the beatben and ignorant, wbom they are able to influence, to receive the Scriptures, and become free, and happy, enlightened, and holy Cbristians.
It is difficult to speak of the actual religious condition of England, without appearing to design needless offence against some one party or class, among the people. This would be equally unnecessary and unwise; and I need not say it is contrary to my intention. I well know that I cannot even mention some few facts without offence, even though, I would speak as a Christian to all classes, not as a partizan to one. I would otherwise have observed, to what extent the three great divisions of religious opinion which prevailed in the reign of Elizabeth, still exist among us—and have attempted to form an estimate of the influence of each, both upon the people in general, upon the government, and upon the various parties in our senate. All this, however, would be misplaced, and I defer such inquiries till a