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alive only to the dangers of outward dissent; nor of the miscalled Christian, who looks upon all creeds as nearly alike ; though these classes make up the majority of those who see “false burdens” and causes of grievance in the land:- I would seek to analyse that apathy towards the struggles and contests of the Church with her great enemy, manifested by others who profess to reverence religion under every garb, and to honor the truth by whomsoever held. Such persons one would expect to see most zealous in coming“ to the help of the Lord against the mighty;" but this is so far from being the case with many, that their zeal and their activity seem called forth by error in the inverse proportion to its magnitude.
This seems unaccountable, yea, so unaccountable, that it strikes our frail minds at times with a doubt whether Popery be really the grand Antichristian beresy, the mother and mistress of all the spiritual abominations of the earth. Were it not for those plain prophecies and denunciations of Scripture, which none but the wilfully deceived can mistake, the believer would sometimes be led to consider the controversy as one with which he had little concern, and bis zeal on the subject as misplaced and unprofitable. But, when he returns to that inspired volume, and finds so large a portion of its prophetic part occupied with the character, the extent, the duration, and the final subversion of this grand kingdom of darkness-at whose overthrow saints and angels are described as rejoicing, and a universal voice of praise and thanksgiving from all his holy creatures, ascending in blessed accord to the throne of the Great Judge-he returns again and says, “Thou art true O Lord, though all men should be liars.
The indifference which pervades this last-mentioned class seems to have its source in some peculiar views of religion, which, thoroughly to discuss, would lead to a controversy not in place here; but as many, who possess little leisure or talent for doctrinal discussion, shew an attachment to these views, which makes them, in my opinion, unjust to the interests of religion, a few passing observations may have as much effect upon them as a methodical train of argument, which they cannot or will not follow. The leading notion which pre-occupies such persons, and causes them to withhold their attention and sympathy from the general state of the Christian church is this, that unless men be in the truth, that is (as I understand it,) converted by the Spirit of God, it is of little importance, in any sense, to what outward profession of religion they belong. Now, in considering this opinion, I would suggest, that although to a man's own soul, at the time being, spiritual conversion is every thing, and outward profession nothing; yet that none can affirm that his professing true doctrines, and living in a scriptural communion, may not be made the means of future conversion to himself or others. Who will deny that it is highly conducive to the general interests of religion, that large bodies of men should hold the outward profession of the truth? For, in the first place, men are thus placed within the reach of the means of grace, and no human power withholds from them the opportunity of attaining the knowledge of God's will. Secondly, the kingdom of darkness, ignorance, and superstition is thus narrowed, and the thick fog of error that hangs over the nations in some measure lightened and diminished. It is meddling with things too high for us to say, that outward profession is of no importance; and that, if a man be not a true disciple of Christ, he might as well be a Mahometan. When do we hear of any of the followers of that false propbet forsaking the way of their fathers, and embracing the faith of the Son of God? And could we ourselves have believed on him without hearing ? and could we have heard without a preacher ? As we understand from prophecy, that true religion shall increase and prevail in the world, till the earth be covered with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea," we must also admit, that, during its progress, numbers will profess religion who, like the majority in all ages of the church of God, will observe outward ordinances while they are ignorant of spiritual things. Yet, according to our reasonable apprehension of the divine plans, this extended outward profession of the truth will greatly contribute to the increase of true converts; and will be the preparation for ushering in that blessed period, when none shall need to instruct another in the knowledge of God,“ when all shall know him from the least even to the greatest.” Is there not, and that too by the appointment of God, a natural as well as a spiritual fruit belonging to the Gospel? Is there not a growth, a progress, in that mystery of godliness which the latter age of the world shall see completed; during which false religion is weakened, shaken, and at last destroyed ? And shall we view with apathy any of these con. flicts wherein truth and freedom of conscience are engaged, because, amongst the defenders of truth, there are various degrees of knowledge, and even many kinds of motives ? We do not in this resemble St. Paul, who rejoiced that Christ was preached, even when those who preached him intended not peace, but strife and contention. Were it a question which related solely to the mental liberty of man, his freedom from the most hateful system of tyranny, superstition, and bigotry ever yet imposed on the understanding, ought we not to receive the freed captives with open arms ? should not the name Protestant be delightful to our ears? Shall we rejoice at the progress of inquiry and the acquirement of knowledge in physical science, while we regard with indifference the advancement of our fellow creatures in moral independence and religious light? Shall we exult to think that man now wields powers of art un. known to his forefathers, and hear with unconcern that his mind is released from the bondage of false systems in those higher matters which relate to his obligations towards his Maker and his fellow men ? Alas ! what is it, that thus renders men deaf to the dictates of reason and humanity--that makes them unfeeling to the progress of truth on those subjects where ignorance and delusion produce the most fatal effects upon the improvement and happiness of the human race ? Can that be a right view of Scripture truth, which makes a man an unconcerned spectator of the wickedness of his age and nation, and leads him to think, that, in the sight of
God, there is nothing peculiarly hateful in a land overrun with superstition and infidelity, and polluted with crime? Why are the prophets so full, so peremptory, in setting forth the indignation of the Lord against the Israelites, and his weariness with their sins, at times when their wickedness increased, and their idolatries overflowed ; and why are they so particular in declaring to us his judgments upon lies, oppression, robbery, and blood-shedding, but to show us that these are the abominable things which he hates, and for which we ought to mourn ? Doubtless these are the fruits of false religion. But then what is that religion which, in all times and ages
of the church, has been abundant in such fruits ? Is it one which differs somewhat in its definitions of faith from what we look upon as abstract truth? Is it one with which we have a quarrel of words and names ? No! it is one in which the key of knowledge is taken away from the people, and they are taught for doctrines the commandments of men; and in which carnal ordinances are substituted for that spiritual worship, which the Father of spirits wills we should pay him; till, in the end, knowledge departs both from priests and people, and “a strong delusion is sent unto them that they should believe a lie.” Such was the Jewish church in the days of the prophets, and such is the Roman church in our days; and in a country where this church has her millions, and an age where hosts of unbelievers unite with her most devoted children in promoting her interests and extending her dominion, is it a time for serious professors to look on with indifference, or to spend their zeal upon strifes of words?
Another consideration which should call the attention of professing Christians is this : thạt the antichristian kingdom is a subject which, as it is spiritually discerned, believers only can rightly apprehend and appreciate; and if these fight not the battle of Christian truth, by whom is it to be fought ? Do we look to see this work done by politicians, philosophers, and poets? We are deceived! It is a mystery not to be penetrated and laid open by worldly wisdom, mental acuteness, or excursive imagination. It is one of those things of the Spirit of God, which that Spirit only can reveal; but, with such teaching, “surely the least of the flock shall draw them out.” None, without this Spirit, will be found steady, consistent defenders of the right cause. Statesmen, politicians, and orators, led by mere human motives, will yield and turn round as expediency, interest, or vanity direct; but the true believer cannot yield : he cannot cease to think that a corruption of religion and an enemy of human happiness, which the word of God pronounces to be such. Men who are led by nature will admire and condemn more frequently according to passion and caprice than to reason ; their religious fancies will sometimes incline them to the love of what is simple and unadorned, sometimes of what is pompous and splendid; but they will never bow to the will of God in these things as His will. They only who are enlightened and upheld by the Spirit of truth, are able either to comprehend or to withstand the bewitching of these sorceries. Men of the highest intellect, without a spiritual knowledge of Scripture, are mere children in religious apprehension. Listen, for example, to the deceived and deceiving representation of Popish pride, pomp, and superstition, not to say idolatry, given by that famous modern traveller,* whose works have charmed all from the palace to the cottage : a picture which, if it remind the believer of any thing in Scripture, it is of Herod sitting on his throne, and receiving divine worship from the people. “At this instant a bell tolled, and throughout the whole of that vast multitude such a silence prevailed as one would have thought it impossible to produce without a miracle. Every tongue was still, and every eye directed towards the balcony. Suddenly the majestic and venerable figure of the pope, standing erect upon a lofty and self-moving throne, appeared through clouds of incense burning around him. As he advanced, his form became more and more distinct. All behind was darkness and mystery. The most costly robes decorated his body, a gorgeous tiara glittered on his brow, while enormous plumes were seen waving on all sides of the throne. As he approached the light, with elevated front and uplifted hands, he called aloud on the Almighty. Instantly the bare-headed multitude fell prostrate. Thousands and tens of thousands knelt before him. The military, with a crash, grounded their arms, and every soldier was seen with his face to the earth. A voice which pene. trated to the remotest corner of the area, then pronounced the benediction. Extending his arms, and raising them over the people, he implored a blessing upon all the nations of the earth. Immediately the cannon roared-trumpets screamed-music played -all the hills in Rome sounded--the guns from St. Angelo poured forth their thunder-more distant artillery repeated the signal, and the intelligence became conveyed from fortress to fortress throughout the remotest provinces of the empire. In my life I never witnessed a ceremony more awfully sublime. The figure of a virtuous and venerable man publicly appealing to Divine Providence for a blessing on the whole human race, is surely an object of the highest reverence.”
Open your eyes and ears to the perversions spread round the land by the daily publications of those who call themselves Christians and Protestants. Do they not tell us of the “innocent minds of those who enjoy the hilarity of saints' days," of the “true devotion” of those who worship the crucifix, and pour out their prayers to the queen of heaven? Does it not
Does it not appear that the purple and scarlet, the gold, and precious stones, and pearls, veil from the unthinking many, the abominations, the fornications, the filthiness hid underneath; and that the golden cup is too often the cup of inspiration to our modern poets, orators, and novel writers? And is it to such hands you will commit the cause of God and of true religion ? Undoubtedly God will defend his own cause, and the day of his judgment will come: but does not the Lord make use of human instruments in the execution of his designs? does he not try and prove his chosen by enabling them to withstand the temptations and to testify against the corruptions of the enemies of his church? Can they who neither feel nor resist, be prepared to join in the triumphant song of those who witness His judgments upon her who hath “made the inhabitants of the earth drunk with the wine of her fornication;" when with a loud voice they cry, saying, " Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments : for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.”
You who sit and smile unconcernedly, when you hear of the corruptions and triumphs of this enemy of Christ—if indeed your faith is so strong, and your communion with God so intimate, that the future victory of truth is now present with you
and sustains your joy-it is well! But if you are regardless of these monstrous evils, because no novelty is found in them, and no fame attaches to the character of their opponent; or because they come not, like some brother sect, too near the throne of your self-assumed infallibility ; or because the mass of your fellow-Protestants are, in your eyes, as infidels or Papists ; —then consider whether it be well or not. “ He that is not with me," saith the Lord Jesus Christ, “is against me ; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad."
R. F. C.
ON EPISCOPACY.-LETTER II. MY DEAR FRIỀND-In my last letter I gave you the scriptural authority upon which I ground my belief that the episcopal form of church government was that established by the apostles. In corroboration of that statement, I will now give you the irrefragable testimony of some of the early fathers, in support of the matter of fact I am investigating. And recollect, it is a matter of fact about which we are inquiring: if it was a question in reference to some speculative point of opinion, I candidly confess to you, that the declarations of the fathers would not have the same weight in influencing my judgment, because on these subjects it is highly possible contradictory statements might be deduced from their writings, which the close and attentive reader might perceive were only apparent, arising from slight shades of difference in their opinions. But in matters of fact (which if they did exist must be notorious to all) there can be no room for any ambiguity; would not we ourselves, if we went into a foreign country, be competent to prove, if we were asked there, what was the established form of church government in our country ? And if our