Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6

we dired our judgment, concerning History, by that maxim which Horace places as a boundary even to fable;

Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus. From this, or a similar view of things, it possibly was, that the judicious Author now before us, resolved on attempting the Naturalization, as it were, of our Ecclefiaftical History; and, as far as we may presume from that part of his work which hath yet appeared, the manner in which it is executed, will bring him no discredit.

This first volume contains eight books. The work itself is dedicated to the King; and from the Dedication we may select this passage.

-Notwithstanding all your Majesty's pious care, an & indifference to Christianity, among the higher order of your - people, is getting such an afcendant, and among the lower

there is such an increase of Popery and Enthusiasm, that fo * far as these ways of thinking have any influence, there is « reason to fear, that our Liberty may become Licentiousness, 6 and that our pure Religion may be turned into Superstition.'

Under this alarming apprehenfion, to which the breast of no good man can be a stranger, I thought I could not ac* quit myself of my duty to your Majesty, and my Country, ¢ in a work of more utility-having already contributed my

endeavours towards stopping the growth of Infidelity--than sto lay open the errors, the mischiefs, and the iniquities of % of Popery, in a clear and true detail of its tyranny and ufur

pation over the Englith Church.' : Our Author, in the parenthesis above, feems to allude to a late piece of his, intitled Bolingbroke; for some account of which, see our Review, vol. XII.

All that we shall lay before our Readers, from the Preface, is what follows. We

“There are some particular periods of our church history, it must be owned, which have been wrote by men of great abilities and character, such as the Antiquities of the British

Churches, by Bishop Stillingfleet; Dr. Inet's History of the * English Church, to the death of King John; and that most

excellent History of the Reformation, by Bishop Burnet. I ç have had very little asittance, from any other modern writers, sin compiling the following work. But then there HiftoFries reach only thro' fome certain periods, and are intermix

ed with many transactions in the ttate; or transactions { which relate to different nations, and to other affairs foreign f to the history of the church, Mr. Collier's, indeed, is a

“ general

general Ecclefiaftical Hiftory, to the death of Charles the fecond; and he is the only author, before me, who has ac

tempted it so far, in this large and comprehensive form, in which it is now offered the public. The character, howPrever, of this work of Mr. Collier's, I have no need to say, fris extremely lowal sit has been given the world by Bishop

Nicholson, in his Hiftorical Library, from whom I had ratither the Reader should take an account of it, than from me.

There are several paffages," says the Bilhop, " in this work, “ in which some special respects are paid to the Bishops and A See of Rome: and whatever were his views at his first set36 ing out, it is manifeft, that his business, in his second vo“ lume, was to compromise the differences between the fk Churches of England and Rome, and to establish a funda. ith mental hereditary right of fucceffion to the Imperial Crown

Swof this Realm, supported by Pallive Obedience and Non. crefistance.” 81 t I have spared neither labour nor expences, in searching

all the Authors, ancient and modern, of any name, who orhave wrote of our Church History, within the period I pro

posed. But I have omitted; purposely, through the whole, sany reference to the places from whence my materials bave

been collected: because I know of no other end it answers, as I deliver nothing new, than to break the thread of the story, sks and to make the pages inelegant, and confused. The fame 16 materials for such a work are common to every

and every fact in this Hiftory hath been already related, by some

or other : but yet all the facts that are here inserted, have • never been put together in any other History, nor many of

them been related, perhaps, in the faine language before:

whether the style and manner are altered for the better, the Reader is left to judge. The greatest part of the observa« tions, which are scattered thro the work, are such as the

facts suggested to my mind : and these obfervations, toge

ther with the characters that are given of the principal peris fons, being almost, all of them, peculiar to this History,

are enough, I believe, to distinguish it as an original work.

We cannot but with that our Author had rather disregarded, I what he calls the elegance of his page, than omitted those references to the original writers which, so far from inter- rupting any story, serve only to support and authenticate

it to the curious peruser; or, comparatively, to illustrate the judgment of the Compiler. We must, however, acknowclege, that he generally mentions his authors in the body of the work; and besides those taken notice of, in the extract above

from

writer ;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from the Preface, we can recollect, in this present volume, the names of Socrates, Theodoret, Eusebius, Bede, Gildas, William of Malmsbury, Matthew Paris, Cambden, Selden, Ulher, Leland; and, occasionally, tho' not as authorities, Mede, Sir William Temple, and Rapin. 1

Our Author, in his first book, after having given us a view of the Pagan State of Britain, endeavours to fix the time when, and the persons by whom, Christianity was introduced into it, the progress it made, the hardships it sustained, the state of the church, its connections with Rome, the Councils i that were held, the Herefies which arose, the measures taken for the establishment and increase of learning, the form of worship introduced into the Church, and the distress brought, upon the British Churches by the invasion of the Saxons, who were a heather people. This book leads us then; with rea. fpect to ecclefiafical affairs, through part of six centuries,

As to our circumstances under Paganism, Dr. Warner gives us this view of them.

Nations, like men, it has been observed, have their in-> fancy; and the few passages of that time which they retain, are not such as deserved to be most remembered, but fuch as

being most proportioned to that age, made naturally the « ftrongest impressions on their minds. It is certain, as to « Britain, that there never were any original monuments or « records, and that we are obliged to foreign writers for the

little light that we have of it in the earliest ages. This will (not, indeed, be wondered at, when we know that the Druids, ( who had almoit the sole management of all affairs in this

island, never committed any thing of their polity to writing.-« The Druids were not only at the head of religion, to whom « belonged the care of their public and private sacrifices, and

the interpretation of their mysteries, but they were held in < such great veneration among the people, that they had allo o the arbitration of all their differences. They not only pre« fided at the worship of Dis and Samothes, and at the facri<fice of their prisoners of war to Andate, the Goddess of « Victory, but no public transaction passed without their ap- : o probation, and a malefactor was not put to death without « their confent. Whatever offence was committed among the

people, whether it related to life, or property, or poffeffion, " these were the judges that were to determine; and whoso. cever refused to fubmit to their determination, whether he

was Lord or Valsal, they excluded from partaking of their religious rites. A man thus.excommunicated, was reckon

o ed

ed among the number of the wicked ; his company was a voided, he was deprived of the benefit of the law, and rendered incapable of any place of honour or trust. Front hence, it is very probable, that our ancient outlawries were

derived; for by the old English law, before men were outSlawed for debt, he, who lay under that sentencewas reck6 oned a more hideous monster than a man excommunicated sl in a Roman Catholic country; and, it is said, that it was leyal

| for any one to kill him.' Permit us here to observe, 'that there is a very strong refemblance betwixt the power and authority assumed by our ancient Druids, and that afterwards ufurped, and never yet disclaimed, by the Pontiff of Rome; and we wish, we could add, that in no Protestant Communions whatsoever, any remains of Druidical Policy, in this respect, fubfifted.

• The chief principles which were taught by these Philofo"iphers, and which the best writers concerning those times

have handed down, are, that every thing derives its origin 6 from Heaven; that the disobedient are to be fhut out from " the facrifices; that the foul is immortal, and after that • transmigrates into other bodies; that if the world is destroy"ed, it will be by fire or water; that, upon extraordinary

emergencies, men are to be facrificed; that prisoners of • war are to be hain upon the altars, or burnt alive, inclofed

in wicker, in honour of the Gods; that there is another 6 world, and they who kill themselves, to accompany their • friends thither, will live with then there; that all masters • of families are kings in their own houses, and have a power 6 of life and death over their wives, children, and slaves.

Tho' it is an opinion generally received among our later ( writers, that the first planting of Christianity among the • Britons, was in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, about feven 6 and thirty years after the birth of Christ' yet our Author seems, with higher probability, to fix this event, between

the time of Plautius's coming over, in the reign of Claudius, cand the battle between Boadicea and Suetonius Paulinus.' But with whatever accuracy our Author has settled this point, yet that day-spring from on bigh arose among us in such clouds, that not only the precise time of its dawn, but also the morning-star that ushered it in, are uncertain; fome have assigned this honour to James the fon of Zebedee, others to Simon Zelotes, others to St. Peter, others to Jofeph of Arimathea. Our Author examines these several claims, and more minutely that of Joseph; but finds nothing fatisfactory in any of them,

and

and something even ridiculous in that of the last. z. Under Stain, however, as it is, at what precise time, and by what

particular person, the Gospel was firft made known in Bria tain, yet there seeming to be good and sufficient evidence, that a Christian Church was planted here, and the inhabi

tants converted, by the Apostles; out Author, induced by the testimonies of Eufebius, Theoderet, and other writers of antiquity, unnamed, distinguishes St. Paul as the Apostle, not only of the Gentiles in general, but of the Britons in particular.

C9*. !!** isiq eit! The Gospel being planted about this time in Britain, la 5. Christian church continued in it, tho' not maintained with cequal zeal, to the perfecution of Dioclefian. 1389 1109

Dioclesian, and his cruel, furious colleague Maximian,

having the government of the Roman Empire in their & hands, stuck at nothing that would satiate their malice against

the Chriftians. So that how great an inclination foever Constantius had to favour them, whilft he was Governor of Britain, yet

it was not in his power to dispense with the edicts of the Emperors and tho those edicts against the Chrifti

ans were sent without his consent, yet he fo far complied, s as to pull down their churches. This, however, was for: given him, for his kindness afterwards, in putting an end to

the perfecution, as foon as he came to the empire, and, & tho'he died a Pagan, in giving the Chriftians the liberty of their religion, and protecting them from injury and abufei'

The first Christian King is said to be Lucius, who, about cighty years before the Dioclefian persecution, opened, it seems, some sort of correspondence betwixt the British Church and the Bishop of Rome. Great also, it is alleged, was the number of British Martyrs, who fuffered under Dioclefian's persecution, tho' the names only of three or four are handed down. B6 But the first evidence we meet with, of the settled con 4.dition of the British Churches, is the number of Bifhopš ( which went from Britain to the Council of es, in the

year 314.': They were three in number. It appears, from the Synodical Epiftle of this firft General Council of the Welt ern Church, to the Bishop of Rome, that the Supremacy of

the Pope, which has fince been founded fo very high in the Catholic Church, was a thing then unknown to the British Bishops, and their brethren. {{ 11

About eleven years after this, the Christian Church was • much disquieted, by the tumults and leditions occafioned by Arius, who affirmed, that.“ time was, when the Son of

« God

« AnteriorContinuar »