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Julian Pe- country where he might happen to travel. When Christianity Asia Mian
its converts. The Bishop of Rome was soon enabled, by the
The political divisions of Italy in the fourth century copsi.
Another principal circumstance which contributed to the establishment of the power of the Church of Rome, was the removal of the seat of empire from that city, to Constantinople. The political influence always attendant on the immediate presence of the Sovereign, consequently ceased; and the principal magistrate at Rome was the head of its Church. The sudden power which was thus unavoidably, though unintentionally, conferred on the Pontiff, was increased by the abandonment of Rome and of Italy, by its principal senators. To this cause of influence we must add the progress of the conversion of the northern nations, and the grant of patriarchal power to Pope Damasus, by Gratian and Valentinian, over the whole western Church, sanctioning the custom of appeals to Rome. The renewal of this edict by Valentinian the Third, still furtber increased the power of the Pontift. The custom of pilgrimages to
Jian Pe- the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul-the introduction of the Asia Minor
he Asia Minor. od, 4799. Gregorian Litany-and, more than all these, the granting the ulgar Æra, title of Universal Bishop by Phocas, completed the worldly
structure of ecclesiastical ambition, which had now usurped tho
III. Progress and triumph of the Church of Rome.
The universal good wbich Christianity will eventually produce to the world, will be accomplished in that one only manner which results from our state of trial, the gradual overruling of evil. The freedom of man's actions counteracts for a time the designs of his Creator. The increasing divisions among pations, the general ignorance, the continued ambition of Rome, and the speculative pbilosophy which founded on words and imaginations, obscured the simplicity of the primitive Christianity. Every corruption was made permanent by the establishment of the power of Rome, by the authority of 'Pbocas. From this period, to the time of the council of Trent, the history of Christianity in Europe presents us with little else than a detail of increasing errors in its doctrines, gradual addition to the temporal dominion of the Roman pontiffs, and continued opposition to the falsehood which abounded on the one side, and to the encroachments which prevailed on the other.
Though many superstitious practices and unscriptural opinions bad debased the purity of the early faith, there can be no comparison between the state of religious error when the grant of Phocas conferred political power on the Roman Pontiit, and the extent to which the system of imposturc, deceit, and falsehood, subsequently attained, by the time when the council of Trent impressed its seal on the great charter of papal slavery. The published works of Pope Leo, who sent Augustine to England, prove that the religious faith of that day was essentially different in the most important doctrines, from the Creed which was sanctioned by the council of Trent. The parallel between the faith of the two periods has been drawn at some length by an eminent divine of the last century. I have elsewhere extracted from Bishop Stillingsleet the passage to which I reser (e). It will be seen that the doctrines of solitary masses, masses for the dead, transubstantiation, the supremacy of the pope, the equal authority of Scripture and tradition, the equal authority of the apocryphal with the canonical books of Scripture, the power of good works to deserve salvation, the confession of sins in private to the priest, communion in one kind, and the worship of images, were all condemned by Pope Leo: and were all decreed to be articles of faith, and as such to be implicitly received on pain of damnation, by the council of Trent. This remarkable fact destroys at once the truth of the assertion so generally made, that the Church of Rome has retained an unchangeable Creed. The faith of that Church is an embodied collection of true and false opinions; partly derived from misinterpreted Scripture, but principally invented in the course of the controversies and discussions which have ever prevailed in the world, and which would have escaped from the memory of mankind, with other absurdities of the age of ignorance ; if they had not been preserved, and sanctioned, and enforced, by the asserted infallibility of the most fallible Church on earth. Like the ghosts, and sorcerors, and witches, and magicians, of the midnight darkness, which the morning beams of our knowledge has dispersed, all would have fled for ever, if the usurper of the throne of God had not said, let there be night, and it was, and is night. The council of Trent, with the Gorgon look of
Julian Pe- an intellectual death, has gazed on the chaos which extends Asia Mix
superstitious practices, are frozen into one solid bridge; and
If the absurdities to which I allude had been harmless and
IV. The Reformation; its good and bad effects,
The friends of the Church of Rome had long endeavoured to effect its reformation, before the age of Luther. Iodigpant remonstrances, the most energetic appeals, the most affecting entreaties, the most bitter and galling satire, were alike in vain exerted to induce the removal of abuses. The natural reason of thinking men was shocked at the consequences of the papal doctrines. I could select from the writings of the Ro. manist divines themselves, a collection of recorded immoralities, the unavoidable result of the religious principles incui-. cated by the Church of Rome, which would not be credible if they had been related by a Protestant. In this state of tbings, the injudicious enforcement of one of tbe more objectionable doctripes of its absurd creed, elicited the spark whicb fired tbe long prepared train of public indignation. Permissions to conmit sin were publicly sold, under the pretence of remitting the penalties of the guilt which their commission would have contracted; the quarrel between the rival societies of monks, who were desirous of participating in the profits of this scandalous traffic, occasioned that gradgal, open, and indignant opposition to the Church of Rome, which ended in the alienation of its fairest provinces, and the restoration of tbat puro religion, and unsettered liberty of mind, wbicb it bad been among the original objects of Christianity to secure to its adherents.
Jolian Pe. We shall never be able to appreciate, to their full extent, the Asia Minor.
bad proposed, and confirmed. The Scriptures were opened.
The evil which has resulted from the Reformation is tho
I will not weary the reader with a detail of the battles which
V. History of Christianity since the Reformation, with the
The enactment of the decrees of the council of Trent, and the general adoption of Protestant Principles in Germany, Sweden, France, and England, occasioned long and fierce wars, and many opposite religious theories, systems, and confessions of faith. The federated republic of Europe was divided by a religious civil war, of which Spain and the Pope were the
Le pe leaders on the one part; and England and Holland the heads of Asis riod. 1799. the Reformation. It is not necessary to enumerate the various Vulgar Æra, collisions which took place between these parties on the Con. 96.
tinent, the efforts of the Jesuits, the wars of the league in France, the persecutions under Charles V. and Philip II. in the Netherlands, or the changes of fortune, and the fluctuations of opinion, which were the unavoidable result of religious contentions, and which, with all their evils, were infinitely preferable to the preceding darkness, and persecution, and ignorance. Sufficient of the history of any party, sect, or country, may be learned from the history of its chiefs. The review of the conduct of Elizabeth and of Spain, immediately after the principal question bad been discussed by the opposite theologians, will be sufficient to enable us to form a right estimate of the state of religion, at the completion of the Reformation.
On her accession to the throne, Elizabeth found three distinct religious parties, eagerly imploring the sanction of the state, the adherents of the old religion, the partizans of the establishment of her brother Edward, and the admirers of a system of ecclesiastical polity which had been lately invented by a learned theologian of Geneva. To all these the modern opinion of toleration had not yet become generally koown. It was a sentimeat wbicb some few men of enlarged minds bad endeavoured to recommend, but to which no attention bad been paid. Neither did either party desire toleration. They aimed at union in religious opinions, by promoting truth; and they so entirely considered truth to be with themselves respectively, that their efforts were wholly directed to the recommendation of their own doctrines. The Queen, as I have elsewhere attempted to shew, was not zealously attached to either creed. The temporal rights of princes were involved in the controversy, and Elizabeth decided on adopting the principles of the Reforma. tion, and restoring, with but few alterations, the establishment which had already received the general approbation of her people, under her brother Edward.
The testimony of any modern theologian, who may profess himself to be attached to the Church of England, will be received with jealousy and suspicion, on account of his supposed biassed preference. It may be only necessary therefore to refer to facts, and to avoid any onlargement on those reasons, which appear to compel an impartial enquirer to conclude that the form of Church government established in England is preferable to that of any other religious society, now claiming the approbation of an English Christian. It may be sufficient to remark, that the reformers, in the reign of Edward, wisely endeavoured to retain as much of the religion of their ancestors as possible, and to receive nothing as good, either because it was novel, or because it differed more widely from the Church of Rome. The consequence of this great moderation was, that the people were generally united in the reign of Edward in support of the Protestant Church ; and the union would have continued, if two unfortunate circumstances had not prevonted ; the obedience of the Romanists to the bull of the Pope, in the reign of Elizabeth, which commanded the people not to continue to frequent their parish Churches and the desire of the exiles who returned to England from the continent, after the death of Mary, to introduce the new, and, as they believed, the purer form of ecclesiastical regimen, which they had imbibed in the lecture room of Geneva.
I may be permitted to observe here, that the long controversy, wbich has been so frequently agitated between various