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the life of Protestantism seemed to expire: many of her sons became exiles and wanderers; and alas, such is the depravity of man! many more, whose hearts were not whole with God, conformed their creed to the creed of the court, and changed their religious complexion, as the camelion does its colour from the food on which it feeds.
The great Head of the Church, 5 at this most remarkable epoch in our history, chose this country as the magnificent theatre of his wondrous love, and the Church, Reverend Brethren, whose ministers we are, as the highly favoured instrument of salvation to many generations. Ву the
power of His Spirit, and the brightness of His coming, Papal darkness fled, as chilling damps and noxious mists before the morning sun. Faithful witnesses stood forth, firm and undaunted, and offered up to God the sacrifice of their bodies on the altar of their faith. From the sacred ashes of this noble army of martyrs, arose, in divine grandeur and glory, our Reformed Church, and proved again the truth of the old adage, “ The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” No sanction, no favour, did pure reformed religion receive from the laws then in existence :- the very reverse ; for the courts of justice, in the reign of Mary, the Papist and the
& See Appendix, c.
Bloody, most gladly carried into prompt execution the sanguinary edicts of the Popish hierarchy, and endeavoured to extirpate the Protestant faith by the excision of the Protestant name. "
From past, we now turn to passing events. From the period above-mentioned, to the present, the old serpent has been casting out of his month a flood, to sweep our Church from off the face of the earth ; but God has hitherto raised up an ensign against him, and we still remain monuments of his stupendous mercy and all-protecting power. The different eventful periods in which the outstretched arm of God has been conspicuously manifested, must be fresh in all our memories. A new era is now opening upon our astonished view, perhaps more remarkable than any that has preceded it—The relapse of Englishmen into Popery! 66 Similar causes produce similar effects.” The evils which first gave rise to the man of sin, cause his revival amongst us“a falling away from sound doctrine and evangelical practice.” What is in the womb of time, God alone knows; what is before us, and at our very doors, is for our due consideration and seasonable warning. The melancholy truth cannot be concealed, that the votaries of Rome have greatly increased in our land, and particularly in
h See Appendix, D.
this town and vicinity. The dismaying fact stares us in the face :-we need not go far before we enter a temple consecrated to the host—" the abomination of our forefathers ;” there we may read an awful list of new proselytes; from thence mark a Popish procession, parading through our streets, to the great astonishment and deep concern of every true Protestant. '
Here it may not be improper to dwell for a few minutes on this painful subject — what I firmly believe, I must say in the presence of you,
Among the several circumstances which have lately tended to increase the influence of the Romanists in England, is one, to which the inspired penman ascribes the falling away of Israel to idolatry. They were mingled among the Heathen, and learned their works, and they served their Idols, which were a snare to them. A French Prelate, in a letter, says, “ That foreign education will soon proselyte England to the Romish Church.”
Another most powerful auxiliary is the intermarriages between the Roman Catholic and Protestant. If it be possible, a priest will allow of no such alliance, unless the advantage to be derived therefrom is apparently on the side of his church. Is not this being unequally yoked? The exhortation of Joshua is a seasonable warning on this head to Protestants :-“ Take good heed, therefore, unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God, else, if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you; know for a certainty, that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you."
Reverend Brethren, and of this congregation,That God is sending our people strong delusion to believe a lie, and that Satan is going forth to deceive the nations of the earth. A reaction from infidelity to superstition is commencing. Each of these, though at the extreme corners of a line, are more nearly related than at first view is discernible. The Church of England stands in the centre, equally remote from both extremes, stretching forth her hands to both parties, entreating the one to believe, and be saved, and the other to throw away her superadded articles of faith, which endanger her salvation.
“ The Christian religion in all its modes receives again the homage of the civilized world. The former system of opinions, which our fathers rejected after centuries of controversy, has been successfully revived, and on the continent of Europe, and particularly in our own country, Christianity is again identified with Romanism.”
An attentive observation on the growing spirit and opinion of the present age, together with our knowledge of human nature, may, in some measure, tend to unravel “ the mystery of iniquity.”
Irreligious indifference and infidel principles, increased by the abuse of Christianity, have for many years past been the bane of the Christian world, and brought down upon it the righteous judgments of God. The human mind, thus viti
ated, is prepared for the reception of every seed of false doctrine, sown by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Superstition, like the woodbine in the natural soil, not easy to be eradicated, strikes deep into the minds of the weak and prejudiced part of mankind; and, I am sorry to add, discovers its baneful influence among a class of persons from whose religious education better fruits might have been expected. Childish credulity, its inseparable companion, implicitly receives the idle tales of pretended miracles, industriously circulated by the interested agents of the Romish communion. Infidelity and credulity, superstition and fanaticism, are diseases of the mind, which the crafty Romanist, well versed in human nature, knows how to bend to his purpose, and to turn to the interests of his church. And we are not ignorant, that there exists a proneness to idolatry, arising from the grossness of the mind, captivated by a sensible and tangible worship, in preference to an intellectual and spiritual service: in proportion as men lose a relish for the pure Gospel, and the beauty of religion, they wish to compensate for the defect by outward show and ceremony.
The grand and scenic machinery of Romish worship is well calculated to gratify a carnal mind : and of all species of idolatry, that of the church of Rome is the most subtle and refined; of a texture so