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cient, holy, and excellent,—the learning of past ages, with the improvement of modern times : what a constellation of talent,—what a clustre of virtues have shone forth from age to age among all ranks and classes of her children! Here may the mind rest without fear or doubt on matters pertaining to salvation. If the stamp of antiquity be required, she bears on her forehead the date of the earliest ages of Christianity. If the soundness of her doctrine,—if the purity of her ritual, be scrutinized, she fears not to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, nor to be measured by the standard of God's word.
The antiquity of our Church justly claims our notice. It is not, we allow, the antiquity of a church, which constitutes it a Catholic Church, for that may not have been always, or at all times from the beginning of Christianity:-otherwise the Church of Jerusalem would be the only Ca. tholic Church, since it was the first of all Christian Churches, but that Church is Catholic which holds all Catholic doctrines, that antiquity always taught in all churches with one consent. Such were the four most noted Catholic Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Antioch ; and such is the Church of England.
During the first nine centuries, in which eight general councils had met, it was never heard, or read, that the Roman Church was taken in any
other notion, or signification than as a singular and particular church, and a member of the Church Universal. That pure apostolical faith and religion the whole Catholic Church possessed, and with it the Church of Rome up to the second council of Nice, when invocation of saints, and adoration of images, were introduced and sanctioned. The faith which was sent by Gregory to our Saxon ancestors was comparatively pure and scriptural:— And here we must pay a tribute of gratitude to the church of Rome, not, indeed, as she is, but as she was.- In her golden age, and the days of her first love, the feet of those, who brought the glad tidings of salvation, appeared beautiful upon our coasts, travelling from the east-the very same, perhaps, from whom Rome herself received the first cheering message of salvation. The Church first planted in Britain continued and flourished, for a time, in purity of doctrine, and primitive simplicity ; till at length it immerged into one less pure ; for the church of Rome, in the days of Augustin, had already received the taint of worldly policy.
In the silver age of Rome, arose our AngloSaxon church; though not altogether, for the Saxons had their Bishops not only from the Roman, but from the Scottish church. Hence, as we are equal to the Roman church in a lawful succession 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 liad 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. “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.
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.