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POWER OF ROMANISM, AND OF ELIZABETH.
alian Pe- parties in England, respecting the origin of some of the doc- Asia Minor. iod, 4799. trinal articles of faith professed by the Church of England, Vulgar Æra, may be said to have been decided by the most unbending of all
testimonies, that of dates. It has been affirmed by many, that
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 had not ceased. The opinions of the people, and the wisdom 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 degenerating into weakness.
When the danger which had threatened the establishment effected by Elizabeth had nearly ceased ; another evil arose, from the opposition of the partizans of that Church Polity, and of those $ B
Julian Pe- theological doctrines, which had been submitted to the world by Asia Minor. riod, 4799. the Reformer of Geneva. The monarchy and hierarchy yielded Vulgar Era, to the tempest.
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 thus threatened the extinction of their 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 has ever yet adorned the annals of a great country, gave the throne 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 Christ 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 reign of Charles the Second, had usurped the place of national austerity; the restored Clergy 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 which 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 ecclesiastical tyranny fell together; and never was the nation so powerful, 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 centuries.
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 monarchy. Wesley, and Whitfield were of opinion that the Clergy were inactivo, and they endeavoured to supply their defects. Instead of attempting 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 negligent; while they ap
PRESENT STATE oF CHRISTIANITY IN THE WORLD.
Julian Pe- proved of their religious opinions, and acquitted them of immoral Asia Minor. riod, 4799. conduct. The effects of the labours of these zealous teachers Vulgar Era, still continue; and when the alienation of the public mind
from the institutions of the country, which 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 prostrate 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 their temples. 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 persecution 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 heathen and ignorant, whom they are able to influence, to receive the Scriptures, and become free, and happy, enlightened, and holy Christians.
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
Julian Pe- future opportunity. The age is characterized by benevolent Asia Miner. riod, 4799. intention, and active exertion. Insuperable difficulties appear Vulgar Era, to prevent the accomplishment of the only plan, by which the
greatest, most permanent, and certain good would be effected;
With respect to the future, I consider history to be the only interpreter of prophecy, and I dare not be guilty of the presumption of asserting what God has not revealed. Some facts, however, appear to be so plainly predicted, that we may confidently affirm they will certainly take place. The eventual conversion of the Jews the overthrow of the Mohammedan power in the East— the overthrow of Romanism, the apostacy of the West, and of idolatry and infidelity over the whole world, may be anticipated by every believer in Scripture. But through what variety of untried ways it may please God, that the visible Church should pass, is not related. The Millenium, or universal reign of virtue, is the most rational opinion which man can form, who believes in a Providence, and is satisfied of the true Christian doctrine of the original dignity, and present degradation of man, as a spiritual though fallen Being. The blood of the atonement cannot have been shed in vain. The revolted province of earth must be recovered to the dominion of the King of kings, from the Prince of Darkness. The time must arrive when the progress of knowledge shall have banished ignorance; and the influence of holiness and virtue be more prevalent, than that of wickedness and vice. Then will the perfection of the human race be completed, and evil be overruled by good. Then the human race shall have attained to the highest state of good which this lower existence can afford them; and after the object of man's creation shall have thus been answered, and the tree of life bloom again in this Paradise, where it was first planted; the fulness of time will have come, when the enlarged and purified faculties of man, shall be prepared for a higher state of existence; and the bcaven and the earth shall pass away, but the word of these prophecies shall last for ever, though clouds and darkness, and thick darkness, may now veil His glory from the reason and curiosity of man. The happiness of man is the object of all the dispensations of God; and the temporary existence of evil, cannot counteract the designs of Omnipotence. Our Father which art in heaven, may thy kingdom of glory come.