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which was sufficient to stamp it with eternal infamy. Yet when the news of this treacherous, barbarous, and every way horrible, butchery arrived in Rome, it was celebrated by the firing of cannon, the illumination of the city, the performance of high mass, and the keeping of a jubilee. If the “blood of the martyrs” be indeed “the seed of the church,” there must be bright days still in store for France ; for perhaps no country furnished more victims to the sword and the stake than she.
In Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, the doctrines of the Reformation had a wide spread, multitudes were emancipated from the thraldom of Rome, and incredible sufferings were subsequently endured in the maintenance of those civil and religious privileges which the Reformation had conferred. In the Netherlands, especially, the Spaniards—the obsequious servants of Rome, to whom that country was then subject_inflicted the most merciless cruelties. Father Paul admits that the Belgic martyrs amounted to fifty thousand ; but Grotius and others affirm, that there were a hundred thousand who suffered. Herein, however, Satan and his agents failed of their purpose ; for in the issue the people shook off the Spanish yoke, erected themselves into an independent state, held fast the blessings of the Reformation ; and, though often afflicted with thorny controversies and bitter contentions, Holland may be considered as one of the principal Protestant countries in
In Scotland, under the energetic leadership of the intrepid Knox, aided by certain pious noblemen and learned civilians, the Reformation took deep root; but not till much blood was shed, and innumerable hardships had been endured. Popery was, eventually, not only abandoned, but execrated, by the great bulk of the people ; and the presbyterian form of church government was adopted in fond preference to both Popery and Prelacy,—the common title by which they designated Episcopacy. The Bible was read by the shepherd while tending his flocks, by the weaver at his loom, by the maid at her spinning-wheel, and by Lords and Ladies in the still closet and the high baronial hall. A painstaking, and, to some extent, an itinerant, ministry spread themselves through the lowlands and the west country; and, wherever they laboured, a great inoral and religious change was visible. The Sabbath was kept with laudable strictness; and family worship_implying the reading of the Scriptures, prayer, and the singing of psalms--was extensively practised. But here, as in Switzerland, the greater part of the superstitious Highlanders hugged their chains, and remained the dupes of Popery.
In England the Reformation made many noble converts, and was defended by some of the ablest divines that ever preached or graced the cause of truth. It revealed many dark secrets and gross impostures connected with the monasteries and nunneries it suppressed. It had to struggle long and painfully with inconstancy, passion, and caprice in Henry VIII. ; with bigotry, perfidy, and cruelty in Mary; and with Popish plots and High-Church tendencies during the reign of Elizabeth. The number of those who suffered death during the short reign of Mary was two hundred and seventy-seven persons; of whom were five Bishops, twenty-one Clergymen, eight gentlemen, eighty-four tradesmen, one hundred husbandmen, labourers, and servants, fifty-five women, and four children. One of these children was born while its mother was burning at the stake; and some of the spectators snatched it out of the flames, and . would have preserved it, but the Popish Magistrate in attendance ordered it to be thrown into the fire and burnt with its heretical mother. In doctrinal belief the English Reformers were generally agreed ; but, in relation to ceremonies and modes of worship, they were widely at issue. Moderate men on both sides were not wanting in endeavours to harmonise the views of their more heated brethren ; but their counsels of peace were neutralised; and not only was the discipline of the Church left imperfect, but the glory of the Reformation was clouded by acts of proscription, imprisonment, and banishment. Cranmer, Latimer, and Hooper longed for a season of tranquillity, during which they might have annulled certain usages which they knew) bore hard on the consciences of some of their brethren; but they waited in vain, and in this particular died without their desire. Yet their works praise them : their memories are as precious ointment; and we inherit, not only the fruit of their labours, but privileges purchased by their blood.
Brethren, and sons of the Reformation, this course of Lectures is about to close ; but our work is only begun. Popery was defeated at the Reformation, but she has recruited her ranks and renewed her energies ; and, no longer acting on the defensive, she assaults Protestantism in Britain, which has been regarded as its strongest “ stronghold.” In this war she stakes not only her fame, such as it is, but her existence; and I wish to pledge you to take your part, and to do your duty, in repelling the aggressor. The Reformation wounded the head of the “Beast;" we must strike at its heart. By the blood of the martyrs, I call upon you to swear eternal hatred to Popery :--not hatred to those who are at once its dupes and its victims. No! one reason why we seek its destruction is, that they may be rescued from its fangs. The system, not its adherents, is the object of our hatred. And why do we hate it? Why, because we believe it to be the very “mystery of iniquity”-the master-device of Satanand a grand confederacy against the happiness and liberties of mankind. That its principles are unchanged, its creeds declare, and its advocates boastfully assert; and that it retains its ancient spirit of proscription and persecution, recent transactions in Madeira, Tahiti, Sardinia, and Rome itself, but too fully prove. Of forbearance and toleration it knows nothing, except as expedients for concentrating its energies, and selecting its opportunity to crush its unsuspecting prey. It complains of oppression at this moment, simply because it is restrained from acting the aggressor; and it not only scorns equality with other forms of Christianity, but it lays claim to absolute and universal supremacy-actually denying that there is any Christian church in this land but its own. While it proclaims itself to be the only true Church and the centre of unity, it has, more than all other churches, corrupted the purity of the Divine worship, departed from the truth as it is in Jesus, and violated the peace and charity of the Gospel, even to the shedding of the blood of the saints. Whether, therefore, we consider the terms of unmitigated condemnation in which it is denounced in the Scriptures, the righteous blood it has shed, the outrages it has perpetrated on the dearest rights of man, its inherent enmity to civil and religious liberty, or its positive hostility to the “ crown-rights” of our adorable Redeemer,—we feel it our solemn duty to urge you to do your duty and to take your part in seeking the overthrow of the system.
But, brethren, the war to which we summon you is a “holy war." Our weapons must not only be of heavenly temper, but the arm that wields them must move in unison with the aspirations of a believing heart. Religion, we have seen, was, in the Reformers, an inward life ; and this life they derived from Christ, through faith. This was the source of their strength, and the secret of their success. This raised them above the love of life and the fear of death. Therefore, as ye would be saved yourselves, and would save others, secure a personal and vital union with the Lord Jesus. Joined to Him, we shall hate error and love truth. We shall be qualified alike for counsel or for fight; for passing through evil report or good report ; for the communion of saints on earth, and for the society of Apostles, Prophets, and martyrs in heaven. Popery can wield the pen or the sword, as well as we; but it cannot withstand the preaching of the Cross, the prayer of faith, the fervours of personal piety, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. My expectation of success in this struggle does not rest on Acts of Parliament, but on the living God, and on the awakened zeal of His people in these lands. God only can destroy the “Man of Sin ;” and He will do it “ by the breath of His mouth, and the brightness of His coming,” in answer to the prayer and by the sanctified agency of His saints. May the “strong voice" of the mighty argel soon be heard saying, “ Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen : Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy Apostles and Prophets; for God hath avenged you on her!” Amen, and Amen.
THE PARLIAMENT—THE PUBLIC_THE CHURCH. Let the world be taken as we find it; but let members of the church of God strive to raise her to that normal state of purity and separation from the world which answers to the standard of holy Scripture. The church is not to be fashioned on a secular model, nor to draw her maxims of government and rules of action from the world ; but rather, as an “assembly of saints,” to exhibit holy example, and to sustain, everywhere, right principles of moral action.
Compare the church, under whatever denomination she may exist, with any secular association, and you will perceive points of contrast irreconcilable and perpetual-perpetual, at least, until the millennium. Take the British House of Commons, for example; the busiest legislative body in the world. It consists of good men and bad, men of principles the most repugnant to each other, representatives all of similar constituencies, and all bound by a common obligation, yet working in avowed antagonism to each other. Here are the free-trader and the protectionist, the Papist and the Protestant, the impersonations of all contradictions, political, moral, and religious. Their daily or nightly business is debate,- not cool deliberation, but debate. Their House has two sides. There is an avowed and even constitutional opposition. The work of their predecessors was imperfect, and therefore each session is busied in undoing what was done before, and building up what must of necessity be abolished at some future time. The defiant cry, Nolumus leges Angliæ mutare, “ We will not change the laws of England,” is lost amidst the clamours of each night, and the laws of England are in perpetual mutation. Fiscal regulations, in their influence on the fabric of society, their operation in domestic life, their impulses to enterprise, or discouragement and inequality towards vast masses of men throughout the empire, are great, magnificently great, for good or evil. Yet they are nothing more than temporary expedients. No one imagines that they will long survive the necessity, the occasion, or the
struggle that gave them birth. And the more exalted labours of human legislation are confessedly imperfect,-a truth of which the Statutes of the Realm are evidence. In short, the House of Commons reflects a progressive, but dissatisfied, turbulent, impatient, and divided condition of national society. Its temper, its forms, its usages, are still to be reformed : they are worldly, and not fit to be imitated in “the assembly of the saints.”
-the men of England. Truly they have one country, and ought to feel themselves united in a common bond of brotherhood. Their utterances are • said to be free. Their movements seem to be spontaneous. They are the vast tribunal to whom many make their last appeal for judgment—the jury from whom delinquents hope for a gentle verdict the multitude over whose myriads candidates for popularity pour out passionate supplications for a hearing, but cannot be heard by a hundredth part of them, nor understood by a hundredth part of them who hear. Their voice is the voice of many waters; grand, indeed, and solemn, like the deep, long roar of the “many-sounding sea,” hushed into a sweet murmur when the air is calm, but swollen into hoarse and terrible reboundings when the tempest has risen. Amidst such noise the voice of man is inaudible. The death-shriek, piercing as it is, dies upon the mountain-billows, is wafted away by the resistless wind; and the vibration of a whole park of artillery is insufficient to break through the barriers of confusion. The multitude, when not wrought up into action, is but an aggregate of beings, of whom each looks after his own affairs. The multitude, when so wrought up, obeys an impulse ; and one is glad to think that, the more of right and honesty there is in the impulsive force, the wider, the more steady, and the more enduring will the movement be. Still, there is an underlying depth, that no tempest moves, nor lead fathoms. But, after all, the people are sinners. Each member of this multitude was originally corrupt; the majority are utterly corrupt and ignorant to this very moment; and even of those who profess to be renewed and enlightened, to have tasted of the powers of the world to come, it is undeniable that a part,-how large a part no mortal can estimate,-although they have a name to live, are dead. It is agitation which heaves those waves, and propels the surges, and raises the tide, and hurls the foam, until the fury finishes in dashing and dying on a boundary that ocean cannot overpass. Wind and wave rise and fall together, because they have a mutual relation, and can freely mingle and act upon each other.
Now look at the church. Not this or that communion, professing and wishing to be a Christian church ; but the church which shall be presented to Christ at last “as a chaste virgin," uncorrupted “from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Of this church each member is regenerate, a new creature who has put off the old man, and is “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” One cannot transcribe from the sacred page the description of such a man without reverence : “ Elect of God, holy and beloved,” having put on “ bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering.” Such a man forbears, and, after the example of his Lord whose mind is in him, he forgives, too. Above all things, he puts on “charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” In his new heart reigns the peace of God, to which he and his brethren are “called in one body.” He teaches and admonishes; but using the word of Christ, which dwells in him with all wisdom, rather than echoing the
sentences of politicians; and with grace in his heart, not bitterness, his lips, which never curse, freely present to God the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of undistracted worship. Whatsoever he does, in word or in deed, in the vestry, the class-room, the shop, the congregation, or his neighbour's house, he does “all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him.”
Now, this does not describe a member of the promiscuous public, but of " the church of the living God,” which is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” When such holy persons come together into one place, it is with one accord. There, as in the first deliberative assembly for churchgovernment in Jerusalem, will be diversity of judgment as to the things to be done ; but not as to the truth to be believed, or the end which it is desired to attain. How to apply a general law in a particular case, or how to meet an exigency without breaking the law, or how to spread the kingdom of Christ without compromising His truth, must often, in such a world as this, be occasion of anxious and critical deliberation ; but here is no passion, no anger ; or, if passion and anger stir, they subside at the presence of Him of whom the saints in Jerusalem could say, “ It seemed good to The Holy Ghost and to us.” They could so speak, because they felt His influence. The “ assembly * of saints” cannot resemble the assembly of mockers. It cannot be a medley of good and bad. In it can be no antagonism of principle, as in a House of Parliament. There is no place within that circle for opposition-benches. Factions, of any kind, cannot send up their representatives. Deliberation may be heard ; but it must not degenerate into a puerile and godless imitation of parliamentary debate, the imitation being (as ever) far inferior to the reality. The law of this church is Divine, because it is a church of Christ, although it contends not for a Divine sanction on every form or every regulation of its own. This law cannot change. The ultimate objects pursued therein are not earthly, and therefore the proximate objects are not to be sought in a worldly spirit. The members can say with confidence, “ Our conversation is in heaven.” To confound this assembly with the multitude without, is equally impossible. They whose daily exercise is to look, not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen, who set God at their right hand that they may not be moved, and who habitually and successfully resist every movement of thought and of affection which is doubtful, not to say injurious, cannot be the sport of impulse. They cannot make common cause with the ungodly, nor be so conformed to the world as to ape its manners, and employ its arts. Or, if any who profess to be Christians fancy that they may innocently and safely mimic parliamentary debate, and plunge their souls into the depths of popular agitation, leaving the service of God to do the drudgery of agitation, let them follow out the line of comparison here briefly suggested,-compare clubs and factions in the state with the scriptural ideal of a Christian church. For thus it behoves all conscientious persons to “try the spirits, whether they are of God.”
* On reference to the Hebrew Lexicon of Gesenius, a remarkable collection of passages will be found in illustration of the word tid in the original of this highly descriptive sentence, “ The assembly of the saints,"_“An assembly of councillors, a council."