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tion of TRANSUBSTANTIATION, which separates the English from the Roman Church.
I stand before you, here, this day, the humble representative of the ancient preachers at Paul's Cross. It was in this manner, before " the Court and Magistrates of the city,"* that the mighty Jewel, and the great reformers of his age, with fervent zeal for the glory of God, for the cause of Christ, and the salvation of men, protested, at the peril of their lives, against this monstrous error, and the consequent corruptions of the Church of Rome. Like St. Paul, in the midst of Mars' Hill, at Athens, they persuaded our fathers, that they ought not to think the Godhead is like unto any thing wrought by art and man's device.t It was thus, as St. Paul had done against the Jews at Corinth, when they of the Roman communion opposed themselves and blasphemed, our reformers shook their raiment, and determined to be clean. They preached Christ crucified, and the resurrection of the dead; and our faith in these awful truths, to be the “ touchstone” of our wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and not this “ dogma” of the Church of Rome.
In imitation of their manner of exposing the Romish corruptions of the Catholic Religion, whereby they produced the Reformation of our Holy Church, I shall open the question to your consideration, by an appeal both to antiquity, and to facts unfolded in the page of history, even to the present day, that we may discern why we should adhere to the creed of our protestant fathers, for which they laid down their lives.
Throughout all the ages of the Christian Church, however her guides may have erred, not knowing the Scriptures, the highest love, devotion, reverence, and zeal, have * See Note B. + Acts xvii. 22, 29. Acts xviii. 1, 4, 6.
§ 1 Cor. i. 23.
ever been directed by pious men, to the observance of the Holy Sacrament. The language of the New Testament requires this, as well for the solemn fact which it commemorates, as for the blessings thereby communicated.
This reverence, however, by degrees degenerated into Superstition, and then degraded into Idolatry. So early as the fourth century, many changes were introduced into the public worship, which were disadvantageous to the true religion. New rites were added to the ancient Christian Form, “ more adapted to please the eye and strike the imagination, than to kindle in the heart the pure flame of genuine piety."* “In many places the bread and wine, in the Lord's supper, were for the first time, held up to view before their distribution, that they might be seen by the people, and contemplated with a certain religious respect ;"+ and this seems to have been the origin of the superstitious veneration of the elements which followed.
Curious questions arose in the ninth century, and subtle disquisitions, 6 concerning the manner in which the body and blood of Christ were present in the Eucharist. Hitherto it had been the unanimous opinion of the Church, that the body and blood of Christ were administered to those who received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and consequently, that they were present," but the manner how, was merged in the acknowledged omnipresence of the Holy Trinity.
Whatever were the speculations of individuals, as yet, there was not in the Latin church, any decision in support of Christ's corporeal presence, in the Lord's supper. Public authority was then opposed to the idea, and the defenders of the primitive faith, under its patronage, set * Mosheim, vol. i. p. 321, 322. + Mosheim, vol. i. p. 325
| Mosheim, vol. ii. p. 153.
the question at rest, for that time, by their unanswerable arguments against the new doctrine.*
The controversy concerning the corporeal presence of Christ, renewed in the eleventh century, was celebrated as well for the noble stand made by Berenger, who persisted “in teaching that the bread and wine were not changed into the body and blood of Christ,” as for his ignoble abjuration of his creed, for which he died in abject penitence.t
Then, when “three hundred years of benighted Superstition had brought down human intellect to the transubstantiation standard,”I the reigning Pontiff in the thirteenth century, obtained from the council of the Lateran, a decree, “that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are contained really in the sacrament of the altar, (under the species of bread and wine,) the bread being transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood of Christ."S
This is, in brief, the rise and progress of the question, which led to this monstrous “ dogma” of transubstantiation, for denying which, thousands have been persecuted unto death.
Without dwelling upon the multiplied additions to the external rites, the confessional, or the corruptions which followed this decree and increased alike the pomp and power of the Roman Church, suffice it to say, they altogether laid upon the Church Catholic, a yoke, which in the sixteenth century became too heavy for it to bear.
As the Lord heard the cry of Israel in Egypt, so did he see the affliction of his Church in England. The sovereign of that day,ll reigning as it seemed, for his own self-interest, was by Divine Providence, converted into a “Defender of the Faith,” indeed, (although that title was assumed for
* See Note C. + See Note D. Keary on Romanism. Dupin’s Ecclesiastical Hist. vol. ix. p. 9. Keary. || Henry VIII,
other purposes,) and a protector of the ministers of Christ, in the work of bringing all the abominations of the Roman Church to the test of Truth, and of supplanting them, eventually, with the Word of God. This brought about the REFORMATION.
The champions of the gospel of Christ now stood forth, at the hazard of their lives, to protest against the errors of Romanism, and the monstrous abuse of power by which they were upheld. There is, however, a great distinction to be noted, as well in their respective courses, as in the work wrought by the ministers of the Church of England, and the rest of the reformers.
Luther and Calvin, in their day, were burning and shining lights, who dazzled the admiring world with their zeal, their courage, and their knowledge of the Scriptures. Nevertheless, in advocating particular tenets of trifling importance in comparison of the great Cause of Christ and his Holy Gospel, they retarded the progress of the Reformation, and became Heads of two Sections in the Christian community, which, contrary to the characteristic of the Church of Christ,* assumed their names.
Their systems of religion have not prospered well. In many places, they have become dead to the saving truths of Christianity, and in these, there remains little but the Names of their Founders to give them lustre, or bespeak their life. The CALVINISTS of Geneva have too generally lapsed into the errors of SOCINUS ; and the LUTHERANS have rendered the word of God of none effect, by their false philosophy, called RATIONALISM.T
From this picture it is refreshing to turn away, and look upon the constitution of the Church of England. The CREEDS of Tindal, Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer, Hooper, Jewel, and the rest, not a whit inferior to the German * 1 Cor. iii. 10-12.
+ See Note E.
or the Swiss divines, are all mixed, like well-tempered mortar, in the Church, which, as wise master-builders, they Re-formed upon her sure Foundation,* Jesus Christ. His Name they exalted above every name; his Word they opened to the people; and they raised the Holy Bible to be the only standard and the test of Truth, and thus to be the Tower of the British Constitution.
It must here, however, be observed, (and that with deep regret,) that notwithstanding the Church was thus reformed by the existing authorities, still, as it had been debased aforetime by existing authorities, the people, ere time sufficient had elapsed for their instruction in the true principles of the freedom with which Christ had made them free, seemed to question whether any authority was just, and in abusing their liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, they were made again to drink deeply of the cup of affliction.
It is our happiness, as yet at least, only to look back upon the downfal of Independent Factions, which for the time, deprived the people of their liberty, and religion of the gospel. Under the mask of both, their leaders deposed their lawful Sovereign, and put him to a violent death. Just principles were then abandoned. Christianity was corrupted “by schism and hypocritical profaneness, insomuch that the Lord's Supper was for the most part discontinued; the Creed, the Lord's prayer, and the Ten Commandments, those instruments of faith, hope, and charity, were left out of the Directory.” Arbitrary orders and ordinances of the few who usurped by force of arms the title of a Parliament, were substituted for the known laws of the land; vague rules, by which the people could not shape their actions or obedience, were grievously squared to their actions, by those who had
* 1 Cor. iii. 10.