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The writers of that day giver an animating account of the sensations of joy and exultation, with which the people of our own country received the Word of God. A Copy of the Bible was fixed by the Royal command to a desk in the Churches: and the people assembled in crowds to read it, or to hear 'it read. It is recorded that many persons learned to read in their old age, that they might be able to read the Bible.
A frequent Text of the Preachers of that time was that which we have chosen, “ And God said, Let there be Light; 5 and there was Light." For the light of truth shone upon them suddenly; and every where illumined the minds of men, almost at the same time. :( The distinguishing doctrine of the Reformation was “ Justification by Faith, alone.”'“ This,” said Luther,.“ is the ONLY SOLID & Reck."-" This Rock," continnes he,“ did “ « Satan shake in Paradise, when," he per« suaded our first parents that by THEIR OWN * wisdom and power they might become LIKE “unto God; and thereby induced them to “ renounce their faith in God, who had given së them life, and a promise of its continuance.” :-- In the same manner do many at this day renounce their faith in God, who hath promised life by his Son; and they seek Life by THEIR OWN wisdom and power. 'I" The king
*dom of Satan," added Luther, “is to be tre« sisted by this heavenly and all-powerful « doctrine. Whether we be rude or eloquent, * whether we be learned or unlearned, THIS © ROCK must be defended; this doctrine fimust be published abroad in animated “ strains." 01 Pare religion being thus restored, the first labour of our Church was to DO HONOR to the true and genuine doctrines of Christianity. And this she did by exhibiting them to the world in a form of sound words,” in the composition of our LITURGY, Articles, and HOMILIES; which we maintain to be the standard of sound doctrine unto this day. +
But an affecting and awful scene was to follow in England. The providence of God directed that the truth and efficacy of these *DOCTRINES thus set forth, should be PROVED. In like manner as at the first promulgation of the Gospel, its divinity was displayed by the marvellous constancy of the first MARTYRS ; so it was ordered that when tlie truth was published a second time, it should undergo, a similar trial. Many persons, of every rank, age, and sex, suffered death for the faith of Christ, “not accepting deliverance, that they might “ obtain a better resurrection,”. Heb. xi. 35. And thus there has been given to the Church, in these latter days, a recent and undeniable testimony of the nature and divine
* Preface to the Commentary on the Galatians.
$! And not we only's for though certain churches differ from us and from each other in form and discipline, they agree with us in DOCTRINE. The doctrines of our Church are acknowledged by the Protestant Churches on the contiWENT, by the Established Church of ScotLAND, and by the great body of Dissenters in our own Conntry:
of the TRUE DOCTRINE.
From that time the light of truth continued to shine in the Protestant Church for a long period ; with some intermission indeed, and in certain churches more intensely than in others. But it shone in some places as brightly, and probably endured aslong, as iteyerdid in any period of the Primitive Church. At length, however, by the combined operation of causes which are well known,* a spirit of indifference to religious
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By the association of SÁNCTITY' with the spirit of republicanism and rebellion during the Usurpation of Cromis well, that holiness of life which was enjoined by our Saviour, became a subject of scorn or contempt. The people passed over from one error to the contrary exireme. The bow was bent till the string was broken, and it has never been rightly strung again. The Nation being emancipated from a yoke which assumed a religious name, considered teligion as its enemy; and thus the spiritual faith of Christ became identified with fanaticism or enthusiasm and so it has remained in a great measure to this day. Political dissension, the most powerful engine in a free nation, has tended to keep this prejudice alive. As might be expected, the charge of faria
6,0019)10. biol. Ic truth began to manifest itself, not only in the established and national churches, but among all the other denominations of Christians. It is difficult to say where there was most apathy and langour. For though'“ the fortn of sound de Words" was still generally retained (in our own church in a written form, in other churches in an extempore form) and there were some eminent examples of piety and laudable zeal; yet it was most evident that in many places religion was sinking fast into' a lifeless profession; and that in some places it merely exhi
ticism is chiefly imputed to Dissenters. And thus both
parties have been kept IN BONDAGE during a long period, dreading each other's power, and doubting each other's puru poses, and taking the measure of each other's religion by their own fears and the horrors of a former age. The senter is a fanatic, and the Churchman is a bigot. And so absolute is this alienation in the minds of some, that the idea of an Union in any religious purpose, is considered to be so unnatural as to be displeasing to God himself. On this subjest neither Churchman nor, Dissenter will ever find ręst, until he shall bave been taught by the grace of God, the nature of that, CHARITY which our Saviour enjoined ;-“ A new Çommandment, I give unto you, that ye LOVE one ano,
ther; r even that charity which the Apostle Paul has so sublimely described in the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians : " Though I speak with the TONGUE of men and angels, and have not charity, I am
nothing.". And again; “ Though I have all FAITH, so " that I could remove mountains, and have not Charity, I
am nothing." Be a man, a LEARNED Churchman, or an ORTHODOX Dissenter, “ if he have not charity, he is nothing."
bited the body and external figure.. Even among those denominations of Christians, who were once distinguished by a name derived from PURITY, little fruit was to be found. They were in the state in which the prophet describes the remnant in his day; “ as the shaking of $6 an olive tree, two or three berries on the « top of the uppermost bough.” (Isaiah xvii, 6.) And not only was the spirit of religion nearly extinguished, but 'men began to be ASHAMED of their religion. All this while
* To this fact the chief Representative of the Church at that time has recorded the following testimony:
" It is a reproach, I believe peculiar to the Christians of this age and nation, that many of them seem ASHAMED of " their Christianity):--and excuse their piety as others, do "their vices.": Secker's Sermons, vol. I, 59.
The testimony of Bishop Butler, to the prevalence of in. fidelity, is very remarkable, “ It is come,” says he, " I know " not how, to be taken for granted, by many persons, that “ Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry : - but " that it is now at length, discovered to be fictitious; and
accordingly, they treat it as if in the present age, this were
an agreed point among ALL PEOPLE OF DISCERNMENT ; " and i hat nothing remained but to set it up as a "principal " subject of mirth and ridicule; as it were, by way of re" reprisals for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of o the world."
Preface to the Analogy, 1736. What must have been the state of the common people in general, when it was taken for granted that such were the sentiments of all people of discernment in the nation?