« EelmineJätka »
to its original inftitution as " a day of rest, to be kept holy to the Lord;" and to the authority of those Commandments which our Lord declared to be in force for ever. The practice of the primitive ages of the world, as far as we can learn any thing upon the fubject from the teftimony of profane, as well as facred writers, and of the early Christians, was appealed to, and shown to have been equally removed from the strictness of the Jewish Law, the feverity of Puritanical manners, and the thoughtless gaiety authorized and promoted by the Church of Rome. It is to be feared, that too many of our Proteftant brethren have been led to confider feftive mirth, and focial amufements, as at least a harmlefs employment of that part of the day, not spent in public worship; and it must be confeffed, that too many of all ranks in this nation often pass the whole in fecret riot and intemperance, or in open viola tion of the laws of God, and of their Country, Yet, however deeply we lament that one day in seven is not more generally dedicated to the business of Eternity, and the pleasures of Devotion, it must alfo be acknowledged, that a great proportion of the inhabitants of Great Britain devote this facred day to the duties of Religion, according to the doctrine of our Churches,
Churches, and the Spirit of our Laws. And when it is confidered, that we are principally indebted to the obfervance of the Sabbath, for the fenfe of Religion retained by the lower claffes of fociety (the reflection will indeed be applicable to all), and that ignorance has been ever found an easy prey to artifice; may we not venture to afcribe these novel inftitutions, at the critical time they were introduced into this kingdom, to the gracious interpofition of Him "who giveth wisdom," in order to check, by the increased diffufion of religious knowledge, that inundation of impious, rebellious, and licentious publications, which must have overwhelmed a lefs enlightened people?
It is furely to the intrinsic excellence of our Religion, as well as to the conviction of its infeperable connexion with the preservation of our civil liberties (a conviction which indeed demonftrates its excellence), that we must afcribe the zeal and diligence of the clergy and laity, which, especially of late, have been fo remarkably exerted in its defence. And the popularity of the works of those who have diftinguifhed themfelves in this caufe, fo incalculably important to mankind, inconteftibly proves, that Chriftianity is dear to Britons.
If the subject were not almoft too delicate to touch, we might appeal to Ireland for farther confirmation of this principle. It cannot however be mentioned as an exception; for it is an obvious truth, that the ignorance and bigotry of the Irish Roman Catholics fitted them, in a peculiar manner, for the purposes of Jacobinifm. But that fo vaft a majority of the people fhould have continued, for fo long a term of years, the flaves of Popery and Barbarifm under a Proteftant government, and with Proteftant minifters appointed to be the instructors of every parish in the kingdom, must be confidered as a phenomenon in history, which, whether viewed in a religious or a political light, Fact alone could render credible. Would the piety and wisdom of our Ancestors, who rescued Britain from these chains, have believed it poffible? I am aware that the philoSophized toleration of modern days will readily furnish
• Let me not be misunderstood; Chriftian toleration is equally remote from intolerance and indifference; it unites ardent zeal with perfect charity; it allows perfect liberty to every mode of worship; but forgets not the injunction, "to labour earnestly to propagate the faith" by every means which argument, and example, and encouragement, can furnish. And while it commands the protection of every individual perfon, and admits freedom of inquiry, it authorizes refraint upon actions, and the avowal of opinions inconfiftent
furnish á fpecious justification of what They would have esteemed indifference to the interefts of Religion. But furely it is high time to return to the genuine principles of Christianity. By their fruits ye shall know them."
confider it as "the men of
I fhall conclude this Chapter with an appeal to the Prophecy of our Lord, which has been already examined as far as it relates to past events, and fhown to refer with equal certainty to "the latter days." Is it poffible to read this Prophecy, and not in a peculiar manner directed to this generation," as a warning and confolation to the church in this awful period of time? "When ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, be not terrified, for these things must first come to pafs; but the end is not yet; for
consistent with the fafety of the Religious or Civil establishments of the State, and the prefervation of defenfive barriers for their fecurity. Upon this question I know it is common to urge, that Religion is itself invulnerable, and needs no defence from the civil power; for Religion is artfully confidered, either in the abstract, or as a political inftitution. But it may be asked, What would be faid of that general, who, by deftroying the outworks of a peculiar district, facrificed an army, and contented himself with preserving an impregnable fortress ?
See vol. i. p. 202.
nation fhall rife up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There fhall be figns in the fun, and in the moon, and in the stars [fymbols referring to churches as well as ftates], and upon the earth, diftrefs of nations, with perplexity; the fea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be fhaken. And they [the nations] fhall fee the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven [in judgment upon them as at the time of the deftruction of Jerufalem, and the victory over Pagan tyranny, which introduced the establishment of Chriftianity in temporary peace and glory in the Roman world f.] And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Many falfe Prophets [or teachers] fhall arife, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity fhall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. fhall wax cold. BUT HE
THAT SHALL ENDURE TO THE END, THE SAME SHALL BE SAVED.'
It requires no words to prove, that a great part of this Prophecy is actually fulfilling at
f See vol. i. p. 242-247.