Abbildungen der Seite


awful maturity, have brought forth those bitter fruits, which we now taste and deplore.

At this eventful crisis of our Church, newly rising from a long night of error and superstition, some chosen vessels of mercy, noble spirits of a superior mould, resisting unto blood false doctrines and corrupt practices, were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. But of these worthies we shall have occasion, in the sequel, to speak more at large.

Another epoch in the history of our country calls to remembrance a scene, over which charity would fain spread a veil of oblivion. That dissent, to which I alluded, commencing with the very birth and rise of our Church, in its separation from that of Rome, continued to enlarge its baneful influence, till it had, at length, engulphed in its fatal vortex the whole land. The spirit of jealousy, the pride of emulation, deeply tinctured with the bitter root of religious fanaticism, inflicted the most grievous wounds on the cause of true religion. These animosities, augmented by


a The troubles at Frankfort, (to which place the English refugees fled, during the persecution in the reign of Queen Mary,) arose from a difference of opinion concerning church government. The prejudices of Calvin, in favour of his own system, rather increased than allayed the spirit of animosity; and the artifices of Rome were strongly suspected of adding fuel to the fire.-See Appendix, A.

[ocr errors]

the common foe, blindly impelled the Separatists to join in the cry against our Church, like the children of Edom against their brethren the Jews, “ Down with it, down with it, even unto the ground.” The agents of Rome were then in the field, exulting at the sight of Protestants biting and devouring one another.”

Here we may venture a seasonable remark, That in all the shifting scenes of politics, from the day that our Church separated from that of Rome— that in all the troubles which,

from the reign of Elizabeth to the present period, have convulsed this Protestant country, one and the same evil spirit rode in the whirlwind, and guided the storm. The crafty Jesuit-Tautóimo áreTyo Msuvnouwv— well versed

-παντόιησ απατησ μιμνησκωνin human nature, its foibles, its vanities, and its interests, was ever active in political commotions; an agent, indeed, invisible, but always sensibly present. With the clue of history in our hand, we trace the wily serpent in all his windings of intrigue, under all his Protean forms, and well-chosen masks of character ;

-at one time wrapt in the sombre cloke of a stern republican—at another, gliding under the protection of despotic power; and now assu

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

b The history of the Rebellion furnishes us with sufficient proofs of this fact.— See Appendix, B.

ming, like an angel of light, all the amiable and insinuating qualities of gentleness and urbanity, liberality and conciliation. The objects of all the changes and movements of this grand agent of Rome has been, and is, invariably one and the same- the downfall of our Protestant Church.With whatever fair speech, with whatever plausible words, it may suit his purpose to sooth the ear of mawkish liberality, and beguile the unwary and unstable, war is in his heart against every sound Churchman, and uncompromising Protestant, whom he designates as “obstinate

o heretics.”

It is no wonder that the professed members of the church of Rome unite their hands and hearts in the service of that cause, which, in all their lowest fortunes they have never suffered to be removed out of their sight: that they put on all the forms of complaisance and dissimulation, of civility and good humour, to inveigle us into our own ruin. This is nothing but what is worthy of themselves, and of that ehurch to the slavery of which they are devoted.

It is no more than what they fairly and publicly profess, if Protestants will but open their eyes and see it.

. But the wonder is, that so many who would be unwilling not to be called Protestants, much more, not to be called Churchmen, have shewn too great a readiness to join, some, their hands, some, their hearts, and some, their indifference, with the worst of enemies, in the worst of causes ; who are not only deluded themselves, but help to delude others to utter destruction, by the weakest and most groundless insinuations, by the most specious and insidious arguments, and by all the most absurd methods by which any cause was ever supported and propagated. Our minds, Reverend Brethren, in these matters, which very deeply concern us, ought to be stirred up, by way of remembrance and caution. The devices and designs of the church of Rome have, during many years of internal tranquillity and of foreign wars, slipped out of our memory, and we have passed insensibly into a perilous amnesty-into a hollow and insidious truce with our old and inveterate foe. Like an emeritus miles, our Church has been reposing herself in a dangerous slumber, in a vain imagination—that, rude donata, she has no further need to enter the lists of controversial war.

It is, however, full time for her to awake, unless she means to sleep the sleep of death. The enemy is within the gates of the citadel :

_" the Philistines are upon thee, Sampson.” If thy strength be departed from thee, they will put out thine eyes, bind thee with fetters of brass, and make thee grind in the prison house. God, in order to try and prove what was in the hearts

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of his ancient people, permitted the Canaanite to remain amongst them. Thus, as a test of our obedience, and “ love of truth,” has he left the Papists amongst us, as pricks in our eyes, and thorns in our sides, to vex us in the land wherein we dwell. Oft, in happier days, has our Church, by the word of God, and the force of truth, driven from the field the Papal antichrist. But, to use a figure, Antæus like, he rises from the ground of his past defeats, refreshed and cherished by the powers of his mother earth, and the God of this world. Collecting all his might, he now dilated stands, with his stature aspiring to the sky, anticipating fresh conquests over a foe, weak, wavering, and divided. It is no longer safe for our own interests, nor "faithful to the sacred trust committed to our charge, to rest upon our arms in supposed security. We must change the peaceful toga of our sacred office for the martial sagum of polemic theology. The thorny field of controversy is, indeed, neither pleasant nor profitable ; but it is our duty not to suffer our folds to be invaded with impunity, nor our lambs to be carried off the prowling wolf. Imperious necessity imposes upon us a painful task, and our sacerdotal oath binds it most solemnly upon our consciences. By our ordination vows, upon the faith of which we have been received into the ministry of the Church, it becomes our bounden duty to be ready,


« ZurückWeiter »