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*i*d con/twitted'. and which authority or council is the present standard of . 'aihniic orthodoxy- — You will, I doubt not, anticipate that un<•>,,,,_, standard to which your doctrines and discipline have been adapted, Thf Council Of TatNT:—you are, therefore, positively required to produce the record of this infallible council, duly authenticated, for the examination of the Imperial legislature, to enable them to discover, by actual inspection, whether those doctrines, injurious to the peace and security of man, which were either ge* tiera'tu or partially !:eJd, maintained, practised, or imputed, at any period, have been formally recited, condemned, repealed, and renounced, in order to remove doubu and to ensure confidence.' pp 269, 272.
Tbis appeal and this demand addressed to the Romish Clergy, a e entitled to serious consideration; they ought to be fairly n u i. Religion can never he at variance with the real interests of society; and if an authority is acknowledged as a religious authority by ' Catholics,' it is just to require satisfactory evideii<-e of its e itire separation from political obligation, an obligation exclusively under the cognizance of the State.
The Authur very forcibly endeavours to impress on the Roman Catholic Clergv, as essential and particular duties at the present moment, the 'Restoration of tlie Script'ires' to the people, and the ' Renunciation of the Papal authority.' The Letter is addressed to Lord Holland.
Art XI. 1. The Prntettant Reformati-m commemorated; a Sermon preached on Sunday Morning, viarch 1, 1818, at Aldermanbury Postern, London Wall By John Hawksley. 8vo. 1818.
2. The Reformation jrom Popery commemorated. The Substance of a Discourse delivered at the Independent Meeting House, Stowmarket, Not. 9. 1817. By William Ward. 8vo. 1818.
HAT EVER sentiments on subjects of ecclesiastical or civil polity, may be entertained by those who sustain the responsible office of the Christian pastor among Protestant Dissenters, we believe we run no fear of contradiction in asserting, that the pulpit is rarely if ever made by them the organ of political opinions. The great subjects of the evangelical mini-try, are rarely made to give way to topics of subordinate importance. An attendant upon the services of the Meetinghouse, might in many situations listen for years without hearing from the preacher any thing more than a passing reference to the peculiar tenets of Nonconformity. At an ordination service, such sentiments are, as a matter of course, formally introduced; but in a general way, this reserve has been carried to an extent which has left room for regret that the younger part of the congregation should be suffered to grow up uninformed as to questions of great practical importance.
The time was, when it was thought necessary to preach sermons against Popery. In the beginning of the last century, a course of sermons, having this avowed object, was undertaken by the London Dissenting Ministers, which are known under the title of Salter's Hall Lectures. We do not know that thaw is any immediate necessity for preaching against Popery now, or, indeed, for preaching against any species of error; but there is always need for preaching up the truth; and the great principles of the Protestant Reformation, as constituting a most important branch of truth, stand in as much need perhaps of being contended for, at the present period, as they have ever done. We are glad that the faint attempt which was made to turn the Third Centenary of that glorious era, to some moral account, liad at least the effect of directing the public attention in some measure to the subject. But the general apathy with which, in this country, the proposal to commemorate that event was received, contrasted with the interest taken in it by the Prote-tants of the Continent, might serve to convince those who are the consistent advocates of the great principles of the Reformation, that something more than an anniversary reference has become requisite, in order to rescue them from neglect or utter tbrgetfulness.
An earlier attention was due to the few sermons published on the occasion alluded to. Those which head this Article we can cordially recommend, as presenting a concise but comprehensive view of the principles of Protestantism, in a style well adapted to subserve the great purpose of religious instruction.
Mr. Hawksley has appositely taken for his text, or motto, Psalm Ixxvii. 11, 12. 'I will remember the works of the 'Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.' The first part of the discourse is devoted to a brief sketch of the rise, progress, and ultimate character of Popery. Under the second division, he expatiates on ' the advantages which have been con* ferred upon us by our deliverance from its bondage.' These he sums up in the following particulars: ' the unrestrained circulation 'of the scriptures :' ' freedom of thought and of profession in 'all the concerns of religion;' • a purer doctrine and greater sini'plicity of worship,' more especially the re-establishment of that grand article, (stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae articula) justification by faith alone! and, lastly, ' a more correct and widely 'extended morality.' Under the last head, he calls upon bit audience to make a suitable improvement of the circumstances in which as Protestants, and as Protestant Dissenters, they are placed; not scrupling to affirm that by no denomiation of Christians are the principles of the Reformation ' better understood, 'and more practically honoured, than by our truly apostical churches.' The points above enumerated admit of a fair ground of comparison. From this branch of the discourse, we select the following extract.
• Your first and most obvious duty is the exercise of gratitude to God. From him, the Father of lights, "cometh down every good gift and every perfect gift;" and his agency is therefore to be devoutly acknowledged in all the mercies we enjoy. If his " kingdom ruleth over all;" if it extend to the most minute occurrences of an individual's life; nay, if, as the Redeemer has assured us, " a sparrow falleth not to the ground without our Father," and " the very hairs of our head are all numbered ;"—very powerfully must we be impressed with a persuasion of the energy of his arm, in the great and mighty achievement we are now commemorating!
* We are justly habituated to admit the peculiar intervention of Heaven, when we reflect upon the rapid propagation of the gospel in the first ages. When we advert to the power and policy that were combined against ic; when we recollect the nature of the doctrine that was insisted on; and when we call to mind the character of the principal human agents—we are constrained to .exclaim, in dwelling upon its triumphs, " What hath God wrought!" pp. 26, 27.
* I call upon you, in the second place, to appreciate highly, and to maintain inviolate, the principles which you have received. The blessings we have been contemplating, as having emanated from the Reformation, are unquestionably of the utmost value. Let us, then seek to impress upon our minds a sense of their importance. Let us beware of profaning them. And let us be anxious that they may be known and enjoyed by others who have not yet acquired them. O! how much do we ourselves owe to their prevalence! We will pray, then, for their wider diffusion; and in our own separate spheres, will be concerned that they may be understood, and that they may be venerated. We will teach them to our childreu and associates. And we will be ready to protest against all arbitrary exactions which tend to impair or to obstruct them.
• I should deem myself highly culpable, if, on this occasion, and in addressing this audience, I did not advert to the topic of Protestant Nonconformity. It has directly flowed from the Reformation, and is indeed its genuine and legitimate result. It is a subject of no inconsiderable moment, and a subject which it is. especially desirable that our young friends should competently understand. It has long been lamented by many, that our principles as Dissenters are not so rally comprehended, or so highly revered as they once were, and as they still demand and deserve to be. And to this cause, principally, is to be attributed the secession of any from our churches; for in the humble estimation of the preacher, where the grounds of Nonconformity are really understood, they are sufficient to carry their own evidence.
'This want of acquaintance with the subject, is partly to be attributed to the neglect of domestic instruction; and partly to other causes. Dissenters have seldom been forward to obtrude their sentittentt on the public notice. They have generally acted upon the
defensive; and have been sedured into the arena of controversy only when they have been wantonly aspersed; or,—which1 has too ftequently occurred—when their opinions have been grossly 'nt»»ri presented. Some are too much disposed to treat the point as very in* different in itself, and to th'nk <md to speak lightly of it • Whilst others, with peculiar thoughtlessness, arc apt to charge with illrberality any who become its zealous advocates. And not a few are in* clined to remark, that where the pure gospel is preache-1 in the churches of the establishment, minor considerations are unworthy of serious regard.
1 I grently rejoice in the fact of the multiplication of evangelical and faithful preachers in the Church; and sincerely dn I abhor the spirit of bigotry wherever it may be found, and amongst whatever denomination it may prevail: but 1 cannot, on these accounts, fed less reverence for the principles of the Reformation, or cease to represent them with zeal as the demonstrated principles of truths Highly do I prize the combined efforts of different classes to advance the cause of the Redeemer, and cordially do co operate with them; but I cannot consent, for such a reason to compromise my own convictions, or allow them to be of trifling and inconsiderable moment.'
Mr. Ward's discourse enters more into the details of the History of Pojiery, and is higlilj deserving of circulation, on account of the information which he Uah compressed into the compass of a few pages. After illustrating the application of the New Testament prophecies respecting the aiiti-chrhitiun iiotver, in the Epistle* to the Thessalonians and to Timothy, to tin: Church of Rome,' the preacher proceeds, 1. ' to state the main principle* el' Po'pery; 2. to give a view of its rise;' and 3 to call ihe attention of his hearers to the leading facts and principles ot t.ie Reformation.
Among the pernicious effects of the papal apostacy, the si us of morals which it induces, is adverted to, and we are reminded in particular of the condition of Italy. The following uote is subjoined.
'Eustace in his account of Ttaly was influenced by party spirit. Hia private opinion of the It ^lian* in geuertl w:is bad indeed. A. gentleman who was often with him previous to his 1 -; •!!..• -, and at its commencement, told me. that when he took a nVil leave of nun, Eustace exclaimed with anguish 'You are going, Sir all the Eng> lish are going, the Countess of W is goinj;, and another noble family, and I shall be left alone with these rascally Italian*, not one of whom I dare trust." O! th-it a nation to eminent in tome respects was delivered from Popish bondage!'
Mr. Want tcnis up (he principles of the Reformation, in the following four particulars: 1. • the authority and sufficiency * of the scriptures;' 2. ' the right of private judgement;' 3. the doctrine ol justification by firth; as expressed in the- etereutb. Aiticle of the Cimrch ol i^glaud. 4. ' Regeneration by
'the Spirit of God, and necessity of holiness in heart and life, e in opposition to the Popish notions of baptismal regeneration, 'and of a mysterious sanctify given to places and persons by * outward forms.'
We transcribe the concluding paragraph of this discourse.
« But when we reflect on the peculiarity of this day, we are instantly reminded, that before another century has passed, before another centenary of the Reformation can be celebrated, we shall be in the world of spirits, and our bodies in the dust. What scenes we shall behold, and in what a new state we shall be, some advancing in the eternally rising progress of holiness, glory, and happiness, but, we fear, some sinking in eternal shame, depravity, and misery. When another centenary arrives, we shall have formed very different ideas from what we now have, of the worth and use of life. O! how completely nothing and vain will all that is merely earthly appear. Remember then to be active in improving your remaining days, not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; that one thing is necessary, the salvation of your immortal soul. Strive ye to enter in at the strait gate, live prepared for death and judgment, that as the summons comes to us in succession, we may be found ready. When we are dead, the cause of the gospel shall continue to triumph, for the Head of the Church lives. In this place, instead of the fathers may the children rise up, to be more zealous, active, and devoted to their Divine Master, than we have been. The time is hastening on, when all the mists and clouds of human corruptions in religion, shall flee away, before the increasing light of the Sun of Righteousness. Soon the mighty angel described in vision, shall cast the huge rock into the sea, saying, " So shall Babylon the great perish." Rev. xviii. 20, 24. xix. 1, 2, 3, 4. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgements: 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. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up tor ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia/