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assumed the power. The liberties of the people, and their properties, were made subservient to the will of the usurpers of the King's prerogative; the nation groaned under the oppression, and the people were unable any longer to bear the tyranny they had brought upon themselves.* The monarchy was then restored, together with the Church. A fresh attempt to reinstate the Roman communion, after 150 years of troublous times, from the date of the Reformation, produced the REVOLUTION.
Men's eyes were now open to see, that they who take the sword, for the gospel's sake, must perish with the sword ;t wherefore our Christian legislators joined hand in hand with Christian ministers, so to frame our laws, as to constitute the State to be the defender of the Church, not for her own aggrandizement, but for the discharge of her proper functions, as the Witness of Truth, and the Dispenser of true religion, for the nation's sake.
They knew the Constitution, formed on Christian principles, was surrounded with idolatry, superstition, and infidelity,—all inimical to its welfare. Thus, while by LAW, they set men free from pains and penalties for the public profession of their private creeds, they also made BY LAW, a barrier for the defence of true religion. They excluded from legislative and political office, such as refused the oath prescribed for its integrity, as it was established in the Church, and adopted by the State.
Then the Church had rest. Freely she soon dispensed instruction in the Word of God. Her laymen joined her ministers in forming Societies for promoting Christian knowledge at home, and for the spread of Gospel Truth abroad. Their labours have been carried on with so * Walker's History of Independency. + Matt. xxvi. 52.
The origin of the great Church Societies for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, bears date, A.D. 1698.
little ostentation, as to have been sometimes overlooked; but with such good effect, that by God's blessing upon them, and chiefly by their exertions, added to the foolishness of preaching, * we are become a wise and understanding people, and even at this moment that I have breath to give God the praise, above a million of the children of the poor are receiving at the Church's hands instruction in the Word of God. But the bulwarks of protection,t which were then provided BY THE LAW, are now BY LAW removed ; and the trial is nigh at hand, whether the knowledge of the Holy Bible, which the Church of England has put into the hands of the people, is defence sufficient for the Church of Christ.
The way is now open to the Tower of the Constitution. The Church is exposed by the State to the assaults of every adversary. How can she speed, but by fidelity in her watchmen? What can confound her enemies, but the sword of the Spirit? What shall summon her children to her defence, but the faithful and forcible appeals to Scripture and to common sense, which prick the hearts of men, and which we may pray God to bless ?
But we are troubled on every side ; without are fightings, and within are fears. Able defenders there are of Truth; and these, strong in their protestations against transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and the like, do well: still, as if it were not enough to contend against adversaries, for the faith as it is revealed in Holy Writ, and for things dear to every member of the Church of Christ, some of them have begun to contend against those of the same household of faith, for, at best, things questionable and indifferent. Whereas, from such a contest, nothing can be expected but fresh calamities and discordance, in the church, which dishonour our profession, and cast a heavy, though an undeserved reproach upon the true religion. In pursuing such a course as this, and in resuming the very questions of the ninth century, concerning the manner of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, which led to the heresy of Transubstantiation, it is to be lamented, that some of the modern divines of one of our Universities have provoked their brethren to anger, have cast a cloud about the Truth, and have done much service to the common enemy.* Oh that they would consider, that on such holy ground as this, the foot of curiosity must not presumptuously tread! Oh that they would bear in mind, man's wisdom cannot explicate the mysteries which God hath not unveiled to mortal eyes !
* 1 Cor. i. 21. † The Test and Corporation Act, and the Romanist disabilities.
As for our adversaries, their approaches were commenced at first with insidious caution. They strove, with sophistry, to smooth down apparent difficulties between the tenets of the Roman and the English Church ;t but when, in 1836, the chief of Roman teachers came, like Balaam from afar, to see how he could curse God's people here, he took a bolder course.
In his lectures on the real presence, repudiating “a middle system,” which, as it applied to former times, he styled “a jargon of bad metaphysical theology,'|| he took up his parable in “ biblical hermeneutics,” but God has not permitted them to do us harm. Herein, whatever may be thought of “the unity and authority of the church, or the supremacy of the pope,” as grounds of our separation from the Roman Church, he declares “ Transubstantiation” to be the “touchstone,” not only of our difference, but of * See Note F. + Peter Augustine Baines, D.D. Bishop of Siga.
Nich. Wiseman, D.D. Principal of the English College at Rome. § Lectures on the Real Presence, delivered in the English College, Rome, but published in London. Joseph Booker, 61, New Bond Street. . || Lect. I. pp. 11, 12, 16, 19.
our Christian creed itself, “so essentially does that dogma seem to involve the truth or falsehood of the entire religion.”*
This, Christian brethren, is the monstrous doctrine but now avouched anew. These are the records of its origin, its subversion, and the chance of its revival in these realms. These, added to the fact, that Popery is increasing in pretension, and encroaching upon Christian liberty, are reasons strong enough to justify the public discussion of this question,-a question which you may thus perceive to be of vital importance to the Christian community, since the truth or falsehood of our “entire religion,” is now, in the nineteenth century, declared to depend on the truth or falsehood of transubstantiation.t
It was to rescue the Church of Christ from this “dogma," which is at once the offspring of Superstition, and the parent of Idolatry, that our Reformers lifted up their voices like a trumpet, and especially, as on this solemn occasion, before all the people, and without the least reserve, I to preach Christ crucified, the grand doctrine of the atonement for sin by the death of Christ, and the Lord's Supper as the perpetual memorial of it. The nation thus received the Truth ; and to be the Witness of it, the Reformed Church of England was established. So, when of old, the Truth was called in question, the great Redeemer gave an example to his ministers, that they should follow his steps. I spake, said the holy Jesus, openly to the world : I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said nothing. Wherefore, I think I should ill discharge the obligation laid upon me, as a christian minister, if, at this hour of trial, when the truth or falsehood of our
* See Note G. + Lect. I. pp. 11, 12. Charge. § John xviii. 20.
holy religion is called in question, I were to shrink through fear, from the discussion.
If, moreover, there be a question of vital interest to the Church of Christ to be examined, the advocate of Truth, for the Truth's sake, as St. Paul before Agrippa did, may think himself happy * to produce his arguments before the Chief Magistrate of this Great City, and the Judges of the Land, who, being expert in all the rules of evidence, are competent to defend the people from the evil effects of False Testimony.
II. I shall now, therefore, according to the grace given unto me, proceed with my endeavour to make all men see what is our fellowship in the Lord's Supper, declaring the broad distinction between this mystery of our Holy Religion, as a Sacrament, and the error grafted thereupon.
That there may be no misapprehension of the terms used in the discussion of this subject, I would premise, 1st, that “ to give true worship to the true God, is religion; to give false worship to the true God, is superstition; to give true worship to a false god, is idolatry.” 2nd. That our attention, for the sake of perspicuity, shall be directed especially to the “bread,” used in the Lord's Supper, the argument affecting both the elements being equally valid.
Whatever there is of mystery in this Holy Sacrament, is veiled under the expression, This is my body. The institution itself is an ordinance of the Holy Jesus. In it, he is represented as Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us ; t so that we all have fellowship, or a common interest in it. It enjoins, moreover, on every adult Christian the performance of a certain solemn service, to be done in remembrance of Christ, so that every one ought to comprehend its meaning.
* Acts xxvi. 2. + 1 Cor. v. 7. Luke xxii. 19.