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Church and State. But that such a measure should be carried into effect on the spur of the moment, and without a severe struggle, is what no reflecting person can expect. Deeply-rooted prejudices, prepossessions, and partialities, must be encountered and overcome : those who have an interest in the maintenance of existing corruptions may be expected to cling to them, and urge plausible reasons for their continuance ; the timid and the fearful will be scared with the dread of innovation : the public mind requires to be enlightened on the subject, and this can only be effected by an exposure of the manifold evils that unavoidably result from this heterogeneous admixture of things secular and sacred, and especially its opposition to a kingdom which is not of this world. Even the present liberal administration, enlightened, as no doubt it is, in comparison of most that have preceded it, appears “ dull of apprehension,” as respects the principles of the dissenters. Some of its members have a deep stake in the existing ecclesiastical establishment, and cannot be expected to relinquish it, however antiscriptural and corrupt, to any thing short of a bold and determined demonstration of the public mind. Truly has it been remarked, that “ men have been very long in discovering, and even yet seem scarcely to have discovered, that true religion is of too delicate a nature to be compelled with the coarse implements of human authority and worldly sanctions. Let the law of the land restrain vice and injustice of every kind, as ruinous to the peace and order of society, for this is its proper
province; but let it not tamper with religion by attempting to enforce its exercise and duties. These, unless they be free-will offerings, are nothing; they are, in fact, worse than nothing. By such an unnatural alliance and ill-judged aid, hypocrisy and superstition may, indeed, be greatly promoted; but genuine piety never fails to suffer."*
The Voluntary Church Associations which have recently sprung up among us, I cannot but hail as the harbingers of incalculable benefit to the country, and eminently conducive to the cause of true religion. The discussions to which they naturally give rise, in connexion with the short and useful tracts issued by them, cannot fail to prove a powerful engine in dispelling the mists of ignorance and error that have for ages sat as an incubus on the mind of the nation. They will draw the attention of men to the inspired records, the oracles of God; and, under a Divine blessing, lead them to distinguish between truth and error-between the doctrines of Christ and the traditions of fallible men. Already is the inquiry gone forth, “ What has the compulsory system done for the cause of religion ? "A question which I humbly conceive may receive a full, explicit, and most satisfactory answer from the following pages-It has deluged the earth with human gore! The reader who shall take the trouble to peruse this volume will never need to ask where he is to look for “ Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus;" Rev. xviii. 5, 6. He will find the character of the church of Rome," holy, catholic, and apostolic,” as she assumes to be—“written as with a pen of iron and graven as with the point of a diamond.” And from this he may learn what all other national churches would be, were they not restrained, in the good providence of God, by legislative enactment.
* See Dr. Geo. Campbell's Lectures on Eccles. History, Lect. iii.
It has long appeared to me that one of the most successful means of awakening attention to “ the mystery of iniquity” involved in all national establishments of Christianity, is that of a faithful record of the atrocities to which they have given rise. With such a view, these Lectures were composed ; and I would fain persuade myself that they may not be without their use to such persons as will condescend to look into them.
The first six Lectures in the present volume are devoted to a sketch of the History of the Church of England, from the time of the arrival of Augustin and his associates to convert our Saxon ancestors and plant the standard of papal Christianity in the island, to the times of Wyckliff. To this part of the undertaking I was prompted by finding that, both among episcopalians and dissenters, the most deplorable ignorance of its history prevails. It is very true that these six Lectures relate to a period during which it was identified with the church of Rome. It has since then undergone certain modifications, and obtained a new title, by means of which, in the opinion of some of its stanchest
supporters, it has become immaculate ; but, to form a proper estimate of the amount of that reformation, the unprejudiced reader will be better qualified when he has attentively perused the third and concluding volume of these Lectures, in which he will find the subject prosecuted from the times of Wycliffe to the termination of the Stuart Dynasty, A.D. 1380—1700, when the Act of Toleration, passed by a British legislature, legalized the worship of the Most High (!) according to the dictates of their own consciences, to human beings, who in these matters are accountable to God alone, the righteous Judge of the whole earth.
The seventh Lecture in this volume is an attempt to furnish an epitome of papal Christianity in its leading features, and the reader would do well to compare it with the religion of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament, and exemplified in the churches planted by the holy apostles. The general subject is afterwards resumed and prosecuted, from the end of the eighth century, where the first volume terminates, in the narrative of the Cathari, or Puritans, in Germany; the Paulicians in the East; the Paterines in Italy; and more particularly the Albigenses in the south of France, and the Waldenses in Piedmont. The period allotted to this second volume may be justly regarded as so much of the reign of antichrist, or the man of sin, during which we behold the woman, or false church, having committed fornication with the kings of the earth, making the inhabitants thereof drunk with the wine of her fornication.
The third and concluding volume commences with the dawn of the Reformation, when the Lord began to consume that wicked power with the Spirit of his mouth, and whom he shall utterly destroy with the brightness of his coming. In this part of the work the reader is introduced to the labours of Wycliffe, and the sufferings of the Lollards, in our own country; the progress of the Reformation in Bohemia, with the martyrdom of Huss, and Jerome of Prague; the rise of Luther, and his intrepid opposition to the sale of indulgences; the arrogant claims of the papacy, and other abominations of the see of Rome; the joint labours of Zuinglius and Ecolampadius in Switzerland; of Farel, and Calvin, and Beza, at Geneva; of Knox and his associates in Scotland; and of Tyndal, and Cranmer, and Hooper, and Ridley, and the long train of reforming prelates in our own country, during the reigns of Henry VIII. and the other branches of his family and their successors, unto the abdication of the second James. In the contents of this volume the reader will notice the conflict or collision that raged between the two parties—the friends of Christ and those of antichrist, during a period of three centuries ; and while he here finds what must sicken his heart on the one hand, he will meet with enough to console him on the other, at viewing the triumph of truth over error. “Here is the patience of the saints ; here are they that kept the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”