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cession of Bishops, without interruption, so we have this advantage over it, that, together with he blessings of perpetuity, we have the happiness to be freed from the common errors and corruptions in which we were both equally involved, and from which we reformed, and returned to the original faith, which both churches professed nearly one thousand years before the Reformation.
It was in the iron age at Rome, when Papal darkness had overspread the land, “and gross darkness the people ;” when idolatrous superstition had arisen to its greatest height, and Antichrist stood forth known and read of all, who believed in the word of God, who with spiritual discernment traced his awful character, as pourtrayed in prophetic language. At this eventful and alarming epoch, our Church hearing as it were, the warning Apocalyptic voice, “Come out from her abominations ;” instantly became detached and separate. At the Reformation, the departure from Popery was (we repeat) a return to that purity of faith and doctrine which marked the early foundation of the Christian Church, and accompanied its first establishment amongst us. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors maintained nearly the same rule of faith and prayer that the Reformed Church of England now maintains. In a most earnest and pathetic manner do we find recommended,
the reading of the Sacred Writings. Christians were not excluded from making a just scrutiny into the nature and fundamentals of their religion: all might have free access to drink of the pure fountain of divine truth."
The monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation, destructive of all science, and revolting against common sense, was not thought of in the days of our ancestors : no idea prevailed amongst them of Papal supremacy. If any one of the apostles had a superiority in their esteem, it seems to have been St. Paul. He is spoken of with great eulogium, as the highest soldier of the heavenly army. In one of their Homilies, the testimony against worshipping saints and images is very expressive and remarkable. 66 Get thee behind me Satan, for it is written, man shall worship his Lord, and Him only shall he serve.” No title, no appellation, during these times, were given to the blessed Virgin, but those which the Church gave her in the purest ages, agreeably to her own
9 The ecclesiastical laws of King Canute, published by Sir Henry Spelman, Vol. 1, page 539.
r The Saxon Homilies of Archbishop Ælfric, in the reign of King Edgar, 960.
• In a Saxon Homily, in natale unius apostoli, St Paul is declared to be equal to St. Peter. Venerable Bede, Anno Domini 673, and his royal translator, Alfred, speak of him in a very high strain.
prediction in her divinely inspired Hymn. In a word, nothing of her merits and intercession ; not one prayer to her for any temporal mercy or spiritual blessing, nor apostrophe like a prayer to to her, was introduced into any offices of the AngloSaxon church, previously to the tenth century.'
From the above authentic documents, and other records still existing, we may trace the very germ and bud of Papal defection ; and produce each error from its first beginning to its utmost growth, and final excision. Thus may we retort on our adversaries the very accusation which they allege against us; of having departed from the tenets of our ancestors, and the primitive Church.
It is, indeed, Reverend Brethren, one of the greatest advantages we can boast of, that the Reformed Church of England, as to faith, worship, and discipline, and all that can make a rightly constituted Church, is the same with the primitive Church of our forefathers; and that the primitive Church of England was, as to substance, the same as the primitive Church of Christ. This is the glory of the Reformation: this is the satisfaction that we may derive from the venerable monuments of antiquity :— that from them we are enabled to deduce the agree
* In an ancient poetical calendar, written in the DanoSaxonic dialect, she is plainly called Mary.
meut of the reformed, and our ancient Saxon Church :that it is no new Church, but the
very same it was before the Roman Church as now corrupted, notwithstanding her boasts of infallibility, antiquity, and universality, was known, or had an existence in the world.
From what has been advanced, judge ye, as wise men, if there be any ground for the insidious and gratuitous assertion of the Romanists, that it is safer for a Christian to be a member of the Church of Rome than of the Church of England. This specious fallacy is made up from the liberality of our Church, and the uncharitableness of theirs :-" That Protestants allow a possibility of salvation to all believing Christians in the bosom of the Romish Church; but Romanists deny that Protestants can be saved in the English Church: therefore, it is a safer way to go over to that side to which parties agree, than to abide where one party stands single in opinion by themselves.” I must confess that I am not one of those liberal Protestants who think that persons are safe in the Romish communion. I perfectly accord with the sentiments of an eminent and ancient Prelate. “I am so far from thinking,” says Bishop Bull, “ that salvation is to be found in the unity of the Church of Rome, that, on the contrary, I verily believe they are in great danger who live in her communion, who
own her erroneous doctrines, and join in her corrupt practices.”
And this is the very important point to which, in the last place, I would call your attention :That we are safer in our Church, and have several advantages for obtaining comfort and eternal life, of which they are destitute who belong to the church of Rome. Safer, because, what we believe as an article of faith, has upon it the seal of truth, and stamp of antiquity; owned by all Christians, in all ages of the world, and plainly revealed in the word of God. Safer, because, in our worship, there is no taint of superstition : in our service, no stain of Idolatry: in our ceremonies, nothing but what is simple and edifying ; nothing that can draw away the mind from worshipping God in spirit and in truth. In its forms, our ritual has nothing unmeaning, and nothing superfluous. Man is a weak creature, and in his devotion, needs many aids which may arouse a slumbering mind, and sustain the soul on the wings of prayer. On this wise principle, our Church, by the decent vestments of its ministers,—by the interchange of reading, prayer and psalmody,—by retaining just so much ceremony as may fan the flame of devotion, without distinguishing it under the cumbrous load of absurd or unnecessary form,-has modelled her frame, without debarring it by external pomp and gaudy rites, the appen.