Слике страница

the ox.

whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.-Then shall the wolves dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like

And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice-den. The followers of Jesus shall never hurt or destroy one another again, but shall beat their swords into plow-shares; and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

“ But why should a Protestant nation share the common fate of the Catholic countries, even upon

the principles of the prophetic Scriptures?”

Have you reflected upon the fate of Holland, Geneva, and the reformed cantons of Switzerland ? They were wholly Protestant, and made their boast of being more pure than most other churches of the reformed religion, and yet they have undergone the same changes as the Catholic states, though with infinitely less blood and slaughter. And though the pope(6)

(6) The Pope of Rome may be a respectable private character. There have been a few such in a course of ages. But, because he is at the head of the great apostacy from the genuine gospel of Christ, he shall go into perdition. The late king of France was a worthy man, and had many and considerable virtues; yet because he was at the head of one of the ten antichristian kingdoms which gave its power to the support of the Beast; and, because the 1260 prophetical years in that kingdom were expired, he went into perdition. George III. is a good character, and his successors, we trust will be the same, but unless there shall be piety and. wisdom in the government of the country, civil and religious, to

and church of Rome may be, and certainly are at the head of the grand 1260 years delusion, yet all other churches, of whatever denomination, whether established, or tolerated, or persecuted, which partake of the same spirit, or have instituted doctrines and ceremonies inimical to the pure and unadulterated gospel of Christ, shall sooner or later share in the fate of that immense fabric of human ordinances.

That we have various things in our ecclesiastical establishment, which cannot be defended, upon the pure principles of the Son of God, is unquestionable. Our excellent reformers(7) did great things, considering how they had been educated, and the age in which they lived. They were good men, and proceeded, in their regenerating work, much farther than might have been expected; but their successors have not followed the noble example set before them, of reducing the religious establishment of the country, to primitive purity, and evangelical simplicity.(8) We have been contented to suffer our religious constitution, our doctrines, and ceremonies, and forms of public worship, to remain, nearly in the same unpurged, adulterated, and superstitious state, in which the original reformers left them.(9) At least, the alterations that have been made since Edward VI. time have been few and inconsiderable. And the ve

reform radically the constitution, and to render it consistent with the true spirit of divine revelation, there is reason to tremble for the consequence. Private worth will never protect public and general depravity, from the punishment due, and the destruction denounced: the fate of a nation may, for a season, be suspended, till the Noahs, the Daniels, the Jobs, and the Josiahs, are taken out of the way

(7) Several of our church appendages are not only unneces. sary but pernicious. Cranmer speaks in strong terms against some, which he was obliged from the necessity of circumstances to retain. In a letter to Cromwell, he says: Having had expe. rience both in times past, and also in our days, how the sect of Prebendaries have not only spent their time in much idleness, and their substance in superfluous belly cheer, I think it not to be a convenient state or degree to be maintained and established. Con. sidering, first, that commonly a prebendary is neither a learner, nor a teacher, but a good viander. Then by the same name, they look to be chief, and to bear all the whole rule and pre-eminence in the college, where they be resident; by means whereof, the younger of their own nature, given more to pleasure, good cheer, and pastime, than to abstinence, study, and learning, shall easily be brought from their books to follow the appetite and example of the same Prebendaries, being their heads and rulers. And the state of the Prebendaries hath been so excessively abused, that when learned men have been adm into

room, many times they have desisted from their good and godly studies, and all other virtuous exercise of preaching and teaching."


There are many prophecies, which declare the fall of the ecclesiastical powers of the Christian world. And though each church seems to flatter itself with the hopes of being exempted, yet it is very plain, that the prophetical characters belong to all. They have all left the true, pure, simple religion; and teach for doctrines the commandments of men. They are all merchants of the earth, and have set up a kingdom of this world, abounding in riches, temporal power and external pomp. They have all a dogmatizing spirit, and persecute such as do not receive their own mark, and worship the image which they have set up:-- It is very true, that the Church of Rome is Babylon the Great, and the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth : But all the rest bave copied her example."

Hariley was not a Dissenter, but a most serious, learned and candid churchman, who wrote nearly fifty years ago.

Downham reckoned up 600 gross errors in the system of popery.

If any person will seriously consider the low and superstitious state of the minds of men in general, in the time of James I. much more in the reign of his predecessors, he will not be surprised to find, that there are various matters in our ecclesiastical constitution, which require some alteration. Our forefathers did great things, and we cannot be sufficiently thankful for their labours; but much more remains to be done; and it will be found a task of no ordinary difficulty, peaceably and quietly to reduce things to a pure evangelical state. But with danger, or without danger, the prophecies of Daniel being true, such a change must take place sooner or later.

(9) Cranmer, Bucer, Jewel, and others, never considered the Reformation, which took place in their own time as complete. They did what they could, and what the humours of men would then bear, and left to their successors to accomplish what was still Jacking:


ry last improvements, which took place in our ecclesiastical frame of things, except some few alterations and additions made in the public forms of worship during the reign of Charles II. were in the reign of that haughty, persecuting, wavering, and yet tyrannical bigot, James I. who would bear no contradiction, but established every thing just according to his pleasure.(80)

Indeed, the religion of Jesus Christ admits of no ciyil establishment at all. It is inconsistent with the very nature of it, and it was never designed to be incorporated with any secular institution whatever.(1)

(80) The conference at Hampton-Court shewed the over-bear. ing conduct of this pedantic king, and the fulsome fattery of court-bishops. Several persons were put to death, in this reign, for their religious opinions. Is not this one of the infallible marks of the beast?

The next serious effort for reformation in our church, was soon after the restoration. Charles II. behaved handsomely at first upon the occasion ; but acting under the controul of a number of bigotted and high-priestly bishops, whose minds were still sore with resentment, he afterwards forfeited all his merit, as the guardian of religious liberty, and became a vile and cruel persecutor. Is not this too, an indubitable mark of the beast?

After this a serious attempt was made to remove the things obo jected to in our church, soon after the revolution, under the aus. pices of Tillotson, Patrick, Tennison, Kidder, Stillingfieet, Burnet, and others; but being opposed by a larger number of bishops, all their efforts.came nothing. They had been accustomed to read mumpsimus all their lives, and mumpsimus it should be, they were determined; and the two houses of parliament were disposed to acquiesce in their papistical and superstitious views. We shall rarely have again, at one time, such a constellation of learned, pious, and liberal minded bishops, as then adorned the English church.

(1) The immense empire of China, which contains 333 millions of inhabitants has no established religion. And the gospel of Jesus Christ will never have its full and proper effect upon mankind, until it is completely disentangled from every human institution. Leave it to itself; let it have fair play; clog it not with civil pains and penalties; let it stand or fall by its own intrinsic worth; let neither kings nor bishops lay their officious hands upon it; and then see how it will make its way among men. The greatest possible motive, by which man can be animated, is the salvation of his own soul. If this will not move us, nothing else will be of any avail.

day, that while light, and knowledge, and liberality of sentiment

It is a curious circumstance in the history of religion in the present

It made its way at first, not only without human aid, but even in opposition to all laws, both civil and reli

. gious, which then prevailed in the Roman empire. This was the state of it for upwards of_300 years. It seems too, to be the intention of Divine Providence, to reduce it again to the same simple and unconnected state. America hath set the example. France, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland are going the same way. And it is highly probable, all the other states in Europe will, in due time, follow the same steps.

As things now are in this country, the religion of Jesus Christ, which was not only not to be of this world(2) but in direct opposition to it,(3) is certainly a temporal, worldly, civil institution. At least, it is a strange mixture of things secular and religious :(4) nearly as much so, as it is in the catholic countries.

(2) John xviii. 36, 37, where Christ claims the kingdom.

(3) Compare Mat v. 3—12, where he asserts the nature of that kingdom, and the qualifications of his subjects.

(4)One of our English poets, who was even a bignt of the church, hath expressed himself on this subject, in the manner following:

« Inventions added in a fatal hour,
Human appendages of pomp and pow'r,
Whatever shines in outward grandeur great,
I give it up-a creature of the state.
Wide of the church, as hell from heav'n is wide,
The blaze of riches and the glare of pride,
The vain desire to be entitled lord,
The worldly kingdom, and the princely sword.
But should the bold, usurping spirit dare,
Still higher climb, and sit in Moses' chair,
Pow'r o'er my faith and conscience to maintain,
Shall I submit, and suffer it to reign?
Call it the church and darkness put for light,
Falsehood with truth confound, and wrong with right?
No: I dispute the evil's haughty claim,
The spirit of the world be still its name,
Whatever call'd by man, 'tis purely evil,
'Tis Babel, Antichrist, and Pope, and Devil.”

« ПретходнаНастави »