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but we do make a question whether it be usually sought by the mass of its advocates in a good spirit, or in a spirit likely to be ameliorated by success. At all events, while theological controversy was raging, and weakening the faith of the Bible ; while fanaticism was ever and anon bursting forth and disgracing the name of spirituality ; while the vast power of the house of Austria, and their employment of it in behalf of the church and of tyranný at once, made the liberals of the day of one party with the Scriptural religionists; Protestantism gradually grew, in its tendency to corrupt, into that infidelity which is not the mere negative of faith, but its positive contrary,—that independent completeness in self, which shuts out all that is beyond the range of one's own sense and intellect; which, therefore, in the bitterness of wounded self-conceit, not merely doubts of it, bui denies and hates and scorns it; which may infuse itself in various proportions into those pursuits and dispositions which at a hasty glance seem most alien from infidelity, and there long work disguised and unsuspected, but is adapted in its ripeness to explode all science even, all social order, all religion from the world. In Protestantism, almost from the first, there was thus much of the spirit we describe, that it flattered and elevated the individual, without the controul of reverent faith in any visible unity of the church, scarcely being able to shew him such a unity: and let us observe how this was fostered into the prevailing spirit of the present times. In this country alone, the ecclesiastical revolution was introduced at once, by the authority of the existing government. So little, however, did this harmonize with the spirit of the times, that the people must have a reformation of their own, more boldly innovative, more anti-papal, more popular in its tone and institutions. And so truly was this movement in society, from beneath upward, the strongest here, as well as throughout the West of Europe, that in this country, where it conquered last, it conquered most completely ; and the united cause of Puritantism and individual independence triumphed, in the destruction of monarchy and the establishment of the Commonwealth. Again excess, and the exhaustion of effort, produced a reaction; and the popular spirit took a breathing-time during the reigns of the last two Stuarts. The spirit of despotism, still papal, took so much advantage of the respite as again to force the other into action at the Revolution ;-in itself a mighty good achieved ; in the further excitement it gave to the independent or selfsufficient feeling throughout Europe, a vast and yet unexhausted evil, Meanwhile, the wild fanaticism and gloomy pharisaical habits of the Cromwellian times, the increasing suspicion cast on Scripture by controversy and speculation, the dissoluteness and irreligion of the next age, and the great tide of
VOL. 1.-NO, IV.
opinion and of affairs, still running strong in favour of subversion without establishment, had swept away almost altogether the faith of the upper ranks in this country ; left to the divines generally little more than a confidence in their accurate science in theology; nd, by occasioning much controversial writing against infidels, had filled the religious world, narrow as it was, with a religion of common sense, because argued on grounds chosen by the enemies of spiritual truth, and addressing itself, therefore, to the lower faculties, in which infidelity has its stronghold. In France, those in whom the energy of the national mind chiefly resided had before them English liberty and laxity of faith to admire and long to imitate ; under their eye, Popish mummeries and impostures to despise, and to confound Christianity in their hatred ; and last, not least, a theological literature which abjured the foolishness of preaching, and abandoned its power, to flatter and court the applause of the enlightened and the elegant; which boasted in the heartless pom posity of Bossuet and the heartless polish of Massillon, and sent forth its publications with prefatory eulogiums of players and Atheistical Academicians. Thus the most influential party in that kingdom where Protestantism and Popery had fought so long and so laboriously that the energies of both were almost worn out, retained, some, the name of Catholic; and some, of Protestant; but were the rightful and advancing successors of that school of literature we before described, the concentrators of the new political infidelity, the first-ripe specimens of fanatical devotion to the worst fiend from the bottomless pit that has visited earth. Then their poison wrought its way downward, to irritate and demonize an ignorant and oppressed populace; and the result was the French Revolution, and the general crash and chaos that followed. At that fearful period, what was the condition of the populace of this country? We need not attempt to describe it. And is this spirit extinguished among them? And is complaint, and ground of complaint, diminished among them? And is steadiness of principle so firmly seated at the helm of national management, as to give this country one solitary advantage over France? And will that useful knowledge, of which the French Academy was the fountain-head, save men from the principles and designs of which, too, the French Academy was the fountain-head ?-And, then, this is the Millennium; or, at all events, something almost as good, if not better!! What infatuation can threaten woe to a country, if these gratulations at such a season do not ?-But it is with the aspect of the religious world we have at present to do. We have seen how, since the
Reformation, all things have been favouring that principle of self-sufficing individuality in man, which is infidelity in the head, and self-worship in the heart, and liberalism in politics. Now, we have dwelt so long on this, because we believe that to this principle, which the church at the Reformation so mightily impelled because the necessity of her circuinstances could appeal to individual judgment only, the present condition of that portion of the church called “ the religious public” is mainly to be ascribed. Such a spirit, in its perfection, is absolute infidelity; in all its degrees, it is unbelieving. And if a religious party has almost no positive or dogmatic theology at all ;-if her strongest doctrinal propositions are negative ;-if
in answer to every question she give some such reply as, “ Calvin says this, and he is extravagant; Grotius says that, and he is heretical; truth lies somewhere between, and it does not belong to essentials to determine;"_if, when these essentials are inquired after, two or three Scripture phrases, whose meaning it is presumptuous to determine, are all the satisfaction that can be got;—if the Bible meet so little honest credence, that the very professing to understand its prophecies in their plain meaning is called a certain prophetical theory, and the understanding its doctrinal passages in their plain meaning is called a certain theological hypothesis ;-if it be in general a literal impossibility to get an answer to the query, What is Christianity the belief of ?-if the word of God be usually treated so, as that men would run the risk of being pistolled who should openly so treat the word of a worldly man of honour; then, incredulity has become a feature of the professing church. And this, alas! is the result of her controversies and divisions, her polemical skill, and her infection from a world she first infected. Her faith is palsied, and cannot close its hand on truth. -Again, this spirit will be compromising. It would be painful to give facts in proof that it is so in the religious world : but it is believed that men of no religion despise professors of spirituality far more now for inconsistency and easy yielding, than they ever did for that fanaticism, the fear of whose reproach has aided so much to bring on the present feebleness. That very creed of negatives we spoke of, is the result of mutual compromise in a party made of many parties, exhausted with disputes, and taught by weariness to care less about principles at issue than about the power of union, and the presenting to the world a creed sensible and moderate enough to be admissible by reasonable men. And certainly this does procure a rapid influx from the world ; and certainly, in this age of cultivated intellects, there are multitudes of candid and inquiring men, who had left little
gap in their knowledge for some religion to be picked up at leisure, who find that spiritual Christianity has been ground down and smoothed, in collision with the irreligious and in the mutual collision of religious parties, to a size and form that fits the space without trouble, and gives no disturbance
to the uniform surface of their sensible opinions : and these men are a valuable acquisition, and lend their influence to carry on the work of rationalizing, and concession, and compromise. And, then, the great centre-point of union is the grand scheme for regenerating the world, carried on by the religious public in common : of which we solemnly and deliberately assert, that so gross an instance of means toiled for and idolized as ends the world never saw; and all because the means, being worldly and visible things, lie within the range of that spirit of incredulity and sensibleness, and, being intelligible and calculable by the world, gratify the disposition to compromise with it, of which we spoke ; while the professed ends and the only efficient causes lie in that region which the natural man knoweth not, because it is spiritually discerned. The very profession of seeking spiritual ends is tacitly, almost, renounced by these societies. Ask about conversion, and you are answered with finance and economics; pounds, shillings, and pence; preachers, teachers, schools, chapels, tracts, Bibles. What are the means you employ? Establishing schools, sending missionaries, circulating Bibles and tracts.' Well, and what is the grand object you have in view?
Why, to circulate tracts and Bibles, to establish schools, and send forth missionaries.' You have been spending years of great activity in erecting, and improving, and extending a huge machine: do think a little about the moving power. You have been providing music for the deaf, and pictures for the blind : it is time to apply in spiritual earnestness to Him who can alone open their eyes and unstop their ears.
What is the motive for coupling so wide a range of historical inquiry with a description of so pious and philanthropic a portion of the community, which sounds so like a railing accusation? Simply this : An honest conviction, first, that while one effect of the Reformation was the infusion of much spiritual truth into the mind of Europe, it was, in another aspect, the grand precursor and pioneer of that ascendancy of the infidel spirit soon to be manifested : secondly, that the examination of what is called the recent progress of religion, shews it to be partly a product of the worst influences, to which it is nominally opposed, and altogether a most inefficient counter-agent: and, lastly, that, notwithstanding all we have said of what is felt at present of the evil consequences of the Reformation, there is no antidote but the principles of the Reformers. Under this impression we shall proceed to adduce proof of the true character of the Reformation, and to shew that the doctrine of Luther and his brethren, on spiritual points, was more remote from what is now held up as the same in substance, than was the doctrine opposed to it by the Council of Trent.
ALEXANDER J. SCOTT.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES, AND THE CHARACTERISTICS
OF THE CHURCH,
(Communicated by the Rev. Edw. IRVING.) Our Lord and his Apostles, when speaking of his coming to judge the Gentiles and manifest his kingdom, do so implicate and involve the prophecy thereof with the destruction of Jerusalem and the downfall of the Jewish economy, that it is an exceedingly difficult, if not an impossible, matter to separate the one from the other; insomuch that many commentators see in those predictions nothing more than highly figurative language descriptive of that event. The truth, however, is, that the one event is a sign of the other ; and therefore the language of the one is proper to express the other. And this is not peculiar to the downfall of Jerusalem only, but to the downfall of all great empires which the Lord hath set up and cast down again. The prophecies, for example, of the downfall of Egypt (Ezek. xxxii. 7); of the downfall of Babylon (Isai. xiij. 10); of the downfall of the Ten Tribes of Israel (Amos viii. 9); and many more besides, are all expressed in language similar to that which our Lord uses in the xxiv th of Matthew, when describing the downfall of the Jewish state and of the Gentile kingdoms (Matt. xxiv. 29): “ Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” The reason of this identity of language in describing events so far asunder, is, that, though far asunder in time, they are not far asunder in the purpose of God; but each one so ordered and so executed as to embody the oneness of his counsel and judgment, and to typify the last great judgment of the quick, which shall be executed by the Son of Man. In like manner, to go farther back, Enoch, when warning the antediluvian world, doth it in language which Jude applieth to the apostasy which he saw forming, and which we see well nigh consummated in the Christian church. The same also may be said of all other events in the providence of God; otherwise experience of the past were no help towards wisdom for the future. But especially may it be said of all those events of his providence which God hath been pleased to record, or to foreshew, or to interpret in his blessed word. Wherefore are they written? They are “written for our learning,"not so much in the past as in the future--for our learning, “ that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” But of all the events recorded in Scripture for the edification of the church, that certainly upon which the greatest stress is laid, by our Lord and his Apostles, is the casting out of the Jewish