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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 vitiated, 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 wooly and artfully interwoven with Christianity, that it deceives the very mind of its votaries. The new proselytes perverted to the Romish commumon, will, upon inquiry, generally be found to have had their minds deeply tinctured with superxtitious notions, or sensual ideas of worship, ere they came in contact with its well-trained and veteran agents.
In the work of proselytism, there is always an apparent, extraordinary zeal for the spiritual welfare of the persons on whom the sinister arts of designing men are practised. This zeal obtains credit for sincerity ; hence a willing surrender of belief to any statement, made, with apparent sincerity, by one not previously suspected to exist in a perpetual atmosphere of falschood. A mind, from habits of early education, deeply imbued with prescribed principles, and trained to think and reason on a given data, may not be aware, that it is under a delusion, and consequently deludes all, who unhappily give ear to its erroneous principles and false deductions. We should, therefore, want candour, if we did
k The new proselytes, before admission into the Romish communion, are in their discipline enjoined a kind of Pythagorean silence; and, like the “ou peuvnuevoi" into Pagan mysteries, cry out, when pressed with what is termed forbidden arguments, Procul 6, procul este, profani. Thus all information and truth are stopped in ipso limine.
not give full credit to the Romish priests for their sincerity: we yield them the same credit as we would have given the worshippers of Baal, had we lived in their days, who verily believed that they were the true servants of God, and that Elijah was an heretic.
As the Romanists, in their plan of operations against the Protestant Church, employ different kinds of instruments and agents, suited to the place or district in which they are stationed, so do they introduce subtle and fallacious questions and arguments, adapted to the understanding and disposition of the several parties on whom they have to practise their arts, and to bring over to their creed. No questions do they argue with more subtlety and fallacy than those disputable points in theology—the unity, authority, and tradition of the Church. A thin covering of gold gives currency to adulteraté coin: a portion of truth often serves as an insidious vehicle for the reception of falsehood; and the artful compound affords facilities to the crafty Romanist in disseminating his specious fallacies.
The Romish Priests assert their church to be the only true church of Christ, because she is not distracted by schisms,' and alone preserves the
'The Romish Church, in charging us with variations of sects, forgets, that to these alone she is indebted for success order, and enjoys the tranquillity, of Christian concord, in divine fellowship of the Gospel of Christ; or, in other words, she possesses that unity which is the characteristic of a true church, and is exclusively her own. That she is a church “at unity in herself,” history, in abundant instances, clearly disproves. United in one point, most undoubtedly, to overturn the Protestant Church of England, but in every other respect she has as many schisms and variations of religious opinions, as we have sects and parties within and without our Church."
in her machinations against us. Following the Machiavelian policy, divide et impera, she places these divisions to her account. Had our Church been as “a city at unity in itself,” that of Rome would have found no ground whereon to rest her mighty lever, by which she is now gradually moving Protestantism out of the land. How ought this consideration to induce all, who wish well to our Zion, not to do, or say any thing which may further weaken her walls, dilapidate her battlements, and widen the breach, that the enemy may enter in with greater ease and success.
Unprofitable questions, and speculative points, which cannot, even if true, make men better Christians, disquiet unstable minds, and destroy the harmony of congregations, and break the unity of the Church.
m The writings of Romish divines contain nearly every doctrinal opinion which is agitated by our jarring sectariesArminianism, the doctrine of the Jesuits ; Calvinism, of the Jansenists; Quakerism, of the Franciscans. Socinianism, in all its gradations, was taught by the authors enumerated in the Roma Racoviama of Jameson.