Page images

churches, such as the Gallican, less under the injurious dominion of the Pope, a Massilon, a Fenelon, a Bourdaloue, a Brydayne, and multitudes of others, have with perhaps unequalled eloquence and great effect, urged many of the truths of Christianity on crowded and admiring congregations. These helped to revive and maintain religion where they laboured, and do not furnish exceptious, but confirmations of our leading principles, that general decay and corruption are marked by want of preaching. In the decayed churches of Abyssinia, Ludolph mentions, there are no sermons at all; but only prayers, and reading the Scriptures. A similar state of things marks the decayed Christian churches in Travancore and in Palestine. The Rev. William Jowett, the valuable missionary of the Church Missionary Society, giving an account of his lately preaching among the christians in Palestine, says, "I dwelt briefly on the importance of the right exercise of the christian ministry, pointing out, that till the work of preaching is reanimated, there is no hope that these countries will be revived and raised from their present degradation, and shewed that this was manifestly the

"At half-past ten o'clock this morning, we went to the Cathedral....We saw the whole proceedings at High Mass-priests almost without end; incense, singing, music, processions, perpetual changes of dress; four persons with mitres, whom the people called the little bishops; a crowd of people coming in and going out, and staring around them; but not one prayer, nor one verse of Holy Scripture, intelligible to the people, not even if they knew Latin; not one word of a sermon; in short, it was nothing more, nor less, than a PAGAN SHOW."

He speaks again thus of Namur-" A city almost entirely Roman Catholic! Twenty thousand souls, and scarcely a Protestant family! Not so much as a single sermon that I could hear of in any of the parish churches throughout the day (Sunday) for the people of the town!"-See his Tour on the Continent.

calling and office of the ordained ministers of this country."

Preaching revived with the reformation, and our principle might be illustrated at much length by historical facts, of what then took place, and what has since. taken place, as true and scriptural preaching has revived or decayed through the Reformed Churches on the continent, and by the present state of those churches.*

In our own country, in the time of Henry VIII. after the Bible had been translated and printed, incumbents were directed to instruct the people by teaching them the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments in English, and by preaching to them a sermon at least once in a quarter of a year.

One of the first steps of the reformers, in the reign of Edward VI. was to provide for constant preaching: and as from the general ignorance of the clergy, there were very few competent preachers; the book of Homilies was prepared to assist in supplying this defect, while the most efficient preachers that could be found, were sent into various parts of the kingdom. The Bishops were also enjoined to give orders to none but such as were able to preach God's word, and would labour in it. The king's council thought frequent and discreet preaching the most effective way to promote good order, quiet, and good obedience. In this way, pure and scriptural religion was spread, and the foundation laid of that established church, which has so long been a national blessing. Yet "there were so few

Mr. Rose gives a very affecting view of the sad departure from the truth of many in Germany.-See,his State of the Protestant Religion in Germany.

↑ See Strype's Memorials, vol. ii, part i, page 262.

gospel preachers," Bucer says, "that many churches had no sermons in, five or six years or more."

Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign,* in order to suppress the reformation, commanded all her subjects not to presume to preach, or by way of reading in churches, or other public or private places, (except in schools of the universities,) to interpret or teach any Scriptures, or any manner of points of doctrine concerning religion, without special licence. An instructive supplication sent by the Norfolk and Suffolk men to the Queen's Commissioners, asking them, among other things, to render God's word again to the Churches, and to permit its free enjoyments, shews how in the time of greatest trial to the contrary, the principles of the gospel maintain loyalty. One extract only can be quoted, though the whole is worthy of careful perusal. "We profess before God, we think if the holy word of God had not taken some root among us, we could not in times past, have done that poor duty of ours, which was done in assisting the Queen. It was our bounden duty, and we thank God for the knowledge of his word and grace, that we then did some part of our bounden duty."+

Queen Elizabeth in the beginning of her reign, for political reasons, forbad preaching without a licence, for a short time, but subsequently much was done in her reign to promote the constant preaching of the word. "We send teachers," says Dr. Haddon, "to all the coasts and corners of our country to instruct the people." The Roman Catholics were against this. They said,

See the inhibition at length in Fox's Martyrs.

+ See the Supplication in Fox's Martyrs.
See Strype's Anuals, vol. i, parti, ch. 13.

"it was never a good world since the word of God came abroad." Still the Country was but inadequately supplied. Archbishop Sandys, (see Sermons, page 213) thus spoke of the need of preachers: "The mother city of the realm is reasonably furnished with faithful preachers : certain other cities, not many in number, are blessed too, though not in like sort. But the silly people of the land otherwhere, especially in the north parts, pine away and perish, for want of this saving food. Many there are that hear not a sermon in seven years, I might safely say seventeen."

Archbishop Grindal perceiving the ignorance of the clergy, and the great need of more frequent preaching for the instruction of the people, encouraged exercises in preaching in large towns. He was deeply afflicted when the queen forbad this, and sent her an admirable letter, which is printed in Strype's Life of Grindal. The whole letter is well worthy of attention: the following passages are extracted, as tending to illustrate and confirm the principles on which we are now insisting. --" Public and continual preaching of God's word, is the ordinary mean and instrument of the salvation of mankind. St. Paul calleth it the ministry of the reconciliation of man unto God. By preaching of God's word, the glory of God is enlarged, faith is nourished, and charity is increased. By it the ignorant is instructed, the negligent exhorted and incited, the stubborn rebuked, the weak conscience comforted, and to all those that sin of malicious wickedness, the wrath of God is threatened. By preaching also, due obedience to Christian princes and magistrates is planted in the hearts of subjects; for obedience proceedeth of conscience; conscience is grounded on the word of God; the word of God worketh his effect by preaching. So

as generally where preaching wanteth, obedience faileth."

[ocr errors]

The Archbishop illustrates this by facts that had then taken place, as follows. No Prince ever had more lively experience hereof, than your Majesty hath had in your time, and may have daily. If your Majesty come to the city of London never so often, what gratulation, what joy, what concourse of people is there to be seen? yea, what acclamations and prayers to God for your long life, and other manifest significations of iuward and unfeigned love, joined with most humble and hearty obedience, are there to be heard? Whereof cometh this, Madam, but of the continual preaching of God's word in that city? whereby that people hath been plentifully instructed in their duty towards God, and your Majesty? On the contrary, what bred the rebellion in the North? Was it not Papistry, and ignorance of God's word through want of often preaching? And in the time of that rebellion, were not all men of all estates that made profession of the gospel, most ready to offer their lives for your defence; insomuch that one poor parish in Yorkshire, which by continual preaching had been better instructed than the rest, (Halifax I mean,) was ready to bring three or four thousand able men into the field to serve you against the said rebels? How can your Majesty have a more lively trial and experience of the contrary effects of much preaching, and of little or no preaching? The one working most faithful obedience, and the other most unnatural disobedience and rebellion."

He adds the following striking remarks on the difference between preaching and reading the Homilies. The reading of the Homilies has its commodity, but is nothing comparable to the office of preaching. The

« EelmineJätka »