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cause, and, especially, by the printing and dissemination of the Holy Scriptures, the separation became, with respect to the great body of the people, not a political, but a cordial separation. Under a decided conviction of the idolatry and corruption of the Church of Rome, they forsook her communion, and, enlightened by the Word of God, avowed and embraced the Protestant doctrines. Such a revolution, however, in the public mind, was, of course, a work of time. A strong party still remained attached to the old superstitions, and had recourse to all the means which stratagem, or even force, (whenever force was in its power,) could furnish for opposing the progress of the new opinions. Nor Ce... it be denied, that the cause of the Reformation was greatly checked and injured by the abuse to which that liberty of conscience, on which it was professedly established, was carried, through the excess and extravagance of many, and even the hypocrisy of not a few of its advocates. So that, amidst these conflicting circumstances, which operated with more or less influence throughout nearly the whole of the dynasty of the Stuarts, Protestantism, though gradually gaining the ascendancy, can hardly be said to have completely effected its object, and to have accomplished such a decided separation from the Church of Rome in this coun
try, as utterly precluded all hope in its friends of a re-union, till the Revolution in 1688. In this long period, however, which had elapsed since the reign of Henry the Eighth, there is no reason to doubt but that, in spite of these opposing causes, there was much real piety diffused throughout the nation. The pure doctrines which the Reformation had introduced into the country, were productive of much genuine religion; and, notwithstanding the enmity which opposed them on the one hand, and the extravagance which degraded them on the other, they became a vigorous principle in the hearts of numbers, and brought forth much Christian fruit to the glory and praise of God.
RETROSPECTIVE AND COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE
STATE OF ENGLAND DURING THE GREATER PART
OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
Though the Revolution of 1688 had effectually secured the Protestant ascendancy, yet, in the mean time, the profane profligacy of the court during the reign of Charles II., combined with other causes, had proved so injurious to the interests of real religion ; that the principles on which England had founded her separation from the Church of Rome, had insensibly lost much of their original hold on the hearts of the people. And, as the succeeding century advanced, the extent of the evil became fatally apparent. The pure and peculiar truths of Christianity were less frequently and distinctly sounded from the pulpits, than they had formerly been. The doctrine, especially, of Justification by Faith only, which had been the great doctrine of the Reformation, as also that of the Agency and Influence of the Holy Spirit, were, by degrees, misrepresented and mutilated, and, at length, in a very considerable degree, excluded. The great body of the clergy became secularised in their views and conduct, unmindful of their specific office, and negligent of their flocks. The consequence was, that a general declension in religion imperceptibly followed. The form of godliness, indeed, remained; but the power was, for the most part, gone; and a spirit of apathy and Laodicean lukewarmness now occupied the place of that zeal and warmth, which had distinguished the period and progress of the Reformation: while the effects of this decline in the national religion displayed themselves in several particulars, which evidenced, during the period in question, the depressed state of public morals. It was in this century that political corruption came to its height, and was reduced almost to a system. With the influx of wealth, its usual concomitants, luxury and dissipation, greatly increased. A spirit of gambling was publicly countenanced and excited, by the introduction of annual lotteries. The morals of the great mass of the population were left to deteriorate, without any adequate attempts to arrest the progress of corruption. Our territorial acquisitions in the East Indies were enlarged by wars unjustly undertaken for the purposes of ambition or gain ; provinces were plundered, and whole districts desolated by famine or the sword, to enrich rapacious individuals, who were suffered to escape with impunity the punishment of their crimes. In the mean time, the conquered countries experienced nothing of that treatment, which, from a nation professing the Reformed and Protestant religion, they had a right to expect. No systematic efforts were made to improve their moral or political condition. No national measures were adopted for bestowing upon them that greatest of boons, the Blessing of Christianity; for compensating them for the many injuries they had sustained, by communicating to them the knowledge of that Gospel, by which life and immortality are brought to light. England, blind to her duty, insensible to her obligations, and regardless of the great design with which Providence had subjected to her power so many millions of wretched idolaters, suffered them to continue in their dark and degraded state, without attempting to break the chains of that dreadful superstition by which they were enslaved. Nor in her Western empire, and in her connection with devoted Africa, was her conduct, if possible, less unchristian. She took the lead, without the slightest compunction or remorse, in all the horrid iniquities of the slave-trade. Scarcely a voice was raised in condemnation of those atrocious practices;