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    THE introduction of the gospel system was a most glorious and important event. At the time the Sun of Righteousness arose upon the world, it was in a state of profound ignorance, and the deepest moral misery.

    The Jews, the ancient people of God, had generally departed from the piety of their ancestors, and were sunk into formality and hypocrisy. The Gentile nations, whether barbarous or civilized, were involved in the grossest idolatry; their deities were multiplied to an extravagant degree, almost everything in creation was worshipped, and the enlightened city of Rome contained, at one time, thirty thousand different deities, which had been collected from the conquered nations. A magnificent temple, called the Pantheon, that is, the temple of all the gods, had been erected, in which this mighty host of divinities was assembled.

    Towards the conclusion of the reign of Herod the Great, the Son of God, who had long been foretold by the ancient prophets, descended upon earth. Although the world was involved in darkness at this time, yet the nations were generally in a state of tranquillity and repose. The vast Roman empire, in which Palestine was then included, was less agitated with wars and tumults at the birth of Christ, than it had been for many years before. And, indeed, some historians have maintained that the temple of Janus 1 was then shut, and that wars and discords absolutely ceased throughout the world.

    The manner in which the Messiah appeared, his ministry and death, and all the affairs of his kingdom and people, for many years after he ascended on high, are recorded in the New Testament. His disciples began to congregate into churches, soon after he left the earth. The church at Jerusalem was formed the evening of the glorious day of his ascension, in an upper room, and consisted of about a hundred and twenty believing men and women. The persecution, which arose about the time of Stephen’s death, caused all the disciples of Jesus, except the apostles, to leave Jerusalem. They proceeded out every way like the radii of a circle from the center, and formed churches in many places, first in Palestine, then in other parts of Asia, next in the Asiatic islands, and lastly in Europe.

    Mr. Robinson has shown that the apostles and primitive preachers gathered churches in between sixty and seventy different cities, towns, and provinces, and in many instances a number were gathered in each. These churches were all composed of reputed believers, who had been baptized by immersion on the profession of their faith. Their bishops and elders were merely overseers of their spiritual flocks; they claimed no right to lord it over God’s heritage; every church was an independent body, and no one claimed a right to regulate the affairs of another. If they met in council, as they did at Jerusalem, it was to advise, not to give law.

    The church of Christ has always been taught by the conduct of the people of this world, that this is not her home. She was persecuted at first by the Jews, then by the pagans, and next by monsters under the christian name.

    Christianity prospered greatly under the ministry of the apostles and primitive preachers, and in a short time was carried to most parts of the Roman empire, which extended in length above three thousand miles, from the river Euphrates in the east, to the western ocean; in breadth it was more than two thousand miles, and the whole consisted of above sixteen hundred thousand square miles. This vast empire was an assemblage of conquered kingdoms and provinces, and comprehended, at the commencement of christianity, most of the civilized world. And at this period, it is said to have contained, one hundred and twenty millions of souls. Providence seems to have chosen this vast dominion, for the scene of the first gospel laborers. The multitude of languages amongst its inhabitants was no obstruction to them, for they were inspired to speak with other tongues. Opposition they frequently met with, but this fell out to the furtherance of the gospel; for when persecuted in one city they fled to another, and carried with them the light of truth. The Lord gave the word to his servants, and great was the company, who published it abroad.

    It would be difficult to form any probable conjecture of the number of converts to christianity in the early ages of the church, but it must have been immensely great, for it is supposed that three million were sacrificed in the three first centuries, to the rage of pagan persecutors. In these three centuries there were ten general persecutions, fomented by so many cruel pagan emperors. They did not reign, however, in regular succession, and in the intervening spaces between their reigns, the empire was governed by princes, who entertained a great variety of opinions respecting christianity. Some turned it into ridicule, others showed some degree of clemency towards the christians; some repealed the persecuting laws of their predecessors, while others left them to their destructive operation.

    But the pagan priests continually employed their malicious eloquence to defame the disciples of Christ, and to rouse the persecuting sword against them. They laid to their charge the earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and conflagrations, and all the national calamities which happened where they resided. And they persuaded the magistrates that the gods sent down these judgments to avenge their lenity towards the christians.

    The first of these tell persecutions was begun by the abandoned Nero. He was the first emperor who shed the blood of christians, and it is said that Peter and Paul were of the number. The city of Rome took fire, and a considerable part of it was consumed. The perfidious Nero was thought to have kindled the fire, but that cruel prince accused the innocent christians of the horrid crime, and avenged it upon them in a most barbarous manner.

    He caused some to be wrapped up in combustible garments, which were set on fire; others were fastened to crosses, others were torn to pieces by wild beasts, and thousands suffered death in the most horrid and cruel forms.

    The persecutions under all the ten emperors, were similar in many respects; some of them were but short, and others of longer duration. The christians suffered every privation, and were put to death by all the excruciating tortures, which infernal ingenuity could invent. Multitudes were confined in theatres, where wild beasts were let loose upon them, and they were worried and devoured, for the diversion of thousands of barbarous spectators, who sat elevated above the reach of harm.

    The third persecution was under Trajan, a prince renowned for many excellent qualities, but who was, nevertheless, a dreadful scourge to the disciples of Christ. The letters which passed between him and Pliny, the governor of Bythinia, I shall here transcribe.

    C. PLINY TO TRAJAN EMPEROR, HEALTH “IT is my usual custom, Sir, to refer all things, of which I harbor any doubts, to you. For who can better direct my judgment in its hesitation, or instruct my understanding in its ignorance? I never had the fortune to be present at any examination of christians, before I came into this province. I am therefore at a loss to determine, what is the usual object, either of inquiry or punishment, and to what length either of them is to be carried. It has also been with me a question very problematical, whether any distinction should be made between the young and the old, the tender and the robust; whether any room should be given for repentance, or the guilt of christianity once incurred is not to be expiated by the most unequivocal retraction; whether the name itself, abstracted from any flagitiousness of conduct, or the crimes connected with the name, be the object of punishment. In the mean time this has been my method, with respect to those who were brought before me as christians. I asked them whether they were christians? If they pleaded guilty, I interrogated them twice afresh, with a menace of capital punishment. In case of obstinate perseverance, I ordered them to be executed. For of this I had no doubt, whatever was the nature of their religion, that a sullen and obstinate inflexibility called for the vengeance of the magistrate.

    Some there were infected with the same madness, whom, on account of their privilege of citizenship, I reserved to be sent to Rome, to be referred to your tribunal. In the course of this business, information pouring in, as is usual when they are encouraged, more cases occurred. An anonymous libel was exhibited, with a catalogue of names of persons, who yet declared, that they were not christians then, or ever had been; and repeated after me an invocation of the gods and of your image, which, for this purpose, I had ordered to be brought with the images of the deities, performed sacred rites with wine and frankincense, and execrated Christ, none of which things, I am told, a real christian can ever be impelled to do. On this account I dismissed them.

    Others, named by an informer, first affirmed and then denied the charge of christianity, declaring that they had been christians, but had desisted, some three years ago, others still longer, some even twenty years ago. All of them worshipped your image, and the statues of the gods, and also execrated Christ. And this was the account which they gave me of the nature of the religion they once had professed, whether it deserves the name of crime or error, that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and to repeat among themselves a hymn to Christ as to a God, and to bind themselves by an oath with an obligation of not committing any wickedness, but on the contrary, of abstaining from thefts, robberies, and adulteries, also of not violating their promise, or denying a pledge, after which, it was their custom to separate, and to meet again at a promiscuous, harmless meal, from which last they yet desisted, after the publication of my edict in which, agreeably to your orders, I forbade any societies, On which account, I judged it the more necessary, to inquire by torture from two females, who were said to be deaconesses, what is the real truth. But nothing could I collect, except a depraved and excessive superstition. Deferring, therefore, any further investigation, I determined to consult you. For the number of culprits is so great, as to call for serious consultation. For many are informed against of every age and of both sexes, and more still will be in the same situation. For the contagion of the superstition hath spread not only through cities, but even villages and the country. Not that I think it impossible to check and correct it: The success of my endeavors hitherto forbids such desponding thoughts; for the temples once almost desolate, begin to be frequented, and the sacred solemnities, which had long been intermitted, are now attended afresh; and the sacrificial victims are now sold every where, which once could scarce find a purchaser. Whence I conclude, that many might be reclaimed, were the hope of impunity on repentance absolutely confirmed.”

    TRAJAN TO PLINY “You have done perfectly right, my clear Pliny, in the inquiry which you have made concerning christians. For truly, no one general rule can be laid down, which will apply itself to all cases.

    They must not be sought after. If they are brought before you and convicted, let them be capitally punished, yet with this restriction, that if any renounce christianity, and evidence his sincerity by supplicating our gods, however suspected he may be for the past, he shall obtain pardon for the future, on his repentance. But anonymous libels in no case ought to be attended to; for the precedent would be of the worst sort, and perfectly incongruous to the maxims of my government.”

    This letter of Pliny’s was written about 106 or 107. It suggests many remarks, which have been judiciously made by the late Rev. John Newton, They are found in the sixth volume of his works, New York edition.

    Notwithstanding the violence with which persecution raged in the three first centuries, yet christianity never prospered more than in these trying times, The constancy of the christian sufferers emboldened their brethren to persevere, and led many to examine into the nature of that religion, which exposed its professors to such calamities, and which, at the same time, inspired them with such holy fortitude, amidst the torturing agonies of death. And their enemies soon found that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.

    We are now about to take a view of the christian cause, under circumstances very different from those which have been related.

    A little more than three hundred years after the birth of Christ, the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, embraced the christian faith, and not only abolished all the persecuting edicts of his predecessors, but established religion by law. And under legal establishments of different kinds, the great mass of christian professors have been included from that inauspicious period to the present time. The conversion of this emperor was effected by the miraculous appearance of a cross ill the heavens, while he was marching at the head of his armies. This story has, however, been considered, and not without just grounds, a fabulous invention of after- times. And, indeed, the sincerity of this royal convert has never been fully established. But so it was, that either from motives of civil policy, or from a genuine conviction of its truth, he espoused the christian cause, and established it as the religion of his empire. This was hailed by most as an auspicious and promising measure; but it proved in the end to be a dangerous favor, big with calamity and harm. It was indeed a desirable thing to be freed from the rage of a persecuting power; it was also a pleasant sight, to the worshippers of the true God, to see the whole system of paganism, which had been the pride of ages, gradually dissolved and sinking into insignificance and contempt. And had Constantine repealed all persecuting laws, and left religion to stand upon its own foundation, he would have done essential service to the church of Christ, and every christian would have reason to respect his memory. But when princes undertake in religion, they either do too much for it, or against it. “This zealous prince, (says Mosheim) employed all the resources of his genius, all the authority of his laws and all the engaging charms of his munificence and liberality, to efface by degrees the superstitions of paganism, and propagate christianity in every corner of the Boman empire.” 3 “Nothing (says Milner) can be more splendid than the external appearance of christianity at this time. An emperor, full of zeal for the propagation of the only divine religion, by edicts, restores every thing to the church of which it had been deprived, indemnifies those who had suffered, honors the pastors exceedingly, recommends to governors of provinces to promote the gospel — he also erects churches exceedingly sumptuous and ornamental, with distinctions of parts, corresponding in some measure to those in Solomon’s temple; his mother Helena also fills the whole Boman world with her munificent acts in support of religion, and so on.” Many were dated beyond measure at this external prosperity and magnificence: but the old veterans in the christian cause, foresaw the evils which were brooding over them. They judged rightly when they suspected that these splendid benefits were purchased at too dear a rate, for the emperor, who had taken the church into his princely favor, claimed the privilege of regulating its affairs.

    Now religion assumed a prosperous appearance, but very little of the spirit of godliness was to be seen. Now the bishops and pastors, especially those in populous cities and towns, were exalted to a pitch of worldly grandeur, in consequence of the princely endowments which their churches had received. Now multitudes came swarming into the church, in pursuit of the emoluments which it offered them. Now blasting errors, augmented superstitions, and pompous and unmeaning forms of piety, which had long been gaining ground, ripened apace, and soon arrived to a dreadful maturity. In a word, everything in faith and practice, that was opposite to the pure religion of Jesus, came pouring in like a flood, and this heavenly system was disrobed of its primeval beauty, and sunk beneath an oppressive load, from which it has never yet fully recovered.

    The Bishop of Rome soon rose to preeminence among his brethren, on account of his local situation, and the foundation for the magnificent papacy was laid. The bishops of Antioch, Alexandria, and of Constantinople, were soon exalted to superior dignity. Next came Archbishops, Patriarchs, Exarchs, Metropolitans, Suffragans, Popes, Cardinals, Monks, Nuns, Synods, Councils, Anathemas, Dungeons, Gibbets, Flames, and Death, all for the glory of a God of mercy, and the honor of his holy name.

    We have now opened to a wide field, and a mighty mass of materials presents itself, which, however, we call but just glance upon without extending this article farther than would comport with its design.

    In farther pursuing this subject, I shall relate, under separate heads, accounts of some of the most distinguished bodies of professed christians, and also of the most striking events which have occurred in the christian world.

    THE CHURCH OF ROME “THE Church of Rome is now a phrase of magnitude and splendor, yet at first it stood for no more than an assembly of converted Jews, dwelling at Rome, who met for worship in the hired house of Paul of Tarsus then a prisoner.” The early history of this church is covered with obscurity, but the deficiency of historical facts has been supplied by Papist writers with a multitude of fabulous tales. But it is sufficiently evident, that the church of Rome remained for a long time a small body of christians, who were but little known to the rest of the people of this great city. The bishop of Rome preached in a private house, and merely superintended the care of his little flock, and doubtless never expected his successors would arise to the highest summit of blasphemous eminence, and hurl their anathemas to distant nations, dethrone kings and emperors, and make them bow at their feet.

    Sylvester was bishop of Rome in the reign of Constantine, and Catholics pretend that he was the thirty-fourth in succession. In the days of Sylvester, it is believed, that the people, who were afterwards called Waldenses, began to separate from the church, which had become a tool of state, and was fast plunging into error and superstition.

    The bishop of Rome arose by gradual steps to eminence and authority, until he acquired the title of Universal Bishop. 6 This title was conferred upon Boniface III by the emperor Phocas, in 606; and from this period writers generally date the rise of Antichrist. If this be correct, his reign will end, or the 1260 years will expire about fifty years hence.

    From the time of Boniface III to that of Gregory VII a period of a little less than five hundred years, there were no less than a hundred and fourteen pontiffs elevated to the Papal chair, 7 and from the outrageous reign of the last mentioned pope, to the present time, the number of these antichristian bishops has been peculiarly great, but I am not able now to state it.

    The history of the Roman pontiffs is replete with everything shocking to the feelings of piety and humanity. Notwithstanding their high pretensions to sanctity, many of them were the most flagitious monsters that ever walked the earth; their scandalous amours were notorious throughout their dominions, and many of their illegitimate children have cut distinguished figures in the world. Their ambitious projects set the world in commotion; their avarice drained the coffers of their blind devotees, and Sixtus V left behind him at his death, above five millions of gold. Some of those spiritual potentates were respectable as earthly princes, but others were the most violent and perfidious wretches that ever swayed a scepter. And in their quarrels with surrounding sovereigns, they had the advantage of adding to their military forces, their thundering anathemas, by which princes were deposed from their thrones, their subjects absolved from their allegiance, and promised with pardons for rebellion, and heaven for success.

    Although the popes had arisen to the highest summit of splendor and magnificence, and had, according to their pretensions, the spiritual destinies of all at their disposal, yet the first who became a temporal prince was Zachary I. The manner in which earthly dominions were attached to the papacy, is described by Mosheim in the following manner. “The honors and privileges, which the western nations had voluntarily conferred upon the bishops, and other doctors of the church, were now (eighth century) augmented with new and immense accessions of opulence and authority. The endowments of the church and monasteries, and the revenues of the bishops, were hitherto considerable; but in this century a new and ingenious method was found out of acquiring much greater riches to the church, and of increasing its wealth through succeeding ages. An opinion prevailed universally at this time, though its authors are not known, that the punishment, which the righteous Judge of the world has reserved for the transgressions of the wicked, was to be prevented and annulled, by liberal donations to God, to the saints, to the churches and clergy. This new and commodious method of making atonement for iniquity, was the principal source of those immense treasures, which from this period began to flow in upon the clergy, the churches, and monasteries, and continued to enrich them through succeeding ages down to the present time. “But here it is highly worthy of observation, that the donations, which princes and persons of the first rank presented, in order to make expiation for their sins, and to satisfy the justice of God, and the demands of the clergy, did not only consist in those private possessions, which every citizen may enjoy, and with which the churches and convents were already abundantly enriched; no: these donations were carried to a much more extravagant length, and the church was endowed with several of those public grants, which are peculiar to princes and sovereign states, and which are commonly called regalia or royal domains. Emperors, kings, and princes; signalized their superstitious veneration for the clergy, by investing bishops, churches, and monasteries, in the possession of whole provinces, cities, castles, and fortresses, with all the rights and prerogatives of sovereignty that were annexed to them under the dominion of their former masters. Hence it came to pass that they, who, by their holy profession, were appointed to proclaim to the world the vanity of human grandeur, and to inspire into the minds of men, by their instructions and their example, a noble contempt of sublunary things, became themselves scandalous spectacles of worldly pomp, ambition, and splendor; were created dukes, counts, and marquises, judges, legislators, and sovereigns; and not only gave laws to nations, but, also, upon many occasions, gave battle to their enemies at the head of numerous armies of their own raising. It is here that we are to look for the source of those dreadful tumults and calamities, that spread desolation through Europe in after-times, particularly of those bloody wars concerning investitures, and those obstinate contentions and disputes about the regalia.” The domains which were bequeathed by princes to the Holy See, were afterwards claimed by their successors, and by this means a foundation was laid for perpetual quarrels between the popes and many of the European sovereigns.

    The pontificate was elevated to its highest pitch of worldly grandeur in the eleventh century, and the Man of Sin appeared to have attained the summit of arrogance and blasphemy in the person of Gregory VII. This pope was a monk before he was elevated to the papal chair. His name was Hildebrand; Firebrand, he might more properly be called. He assumed not only the appellation of Universal Bishop, but also those of Sovereign Pontiff, Christ’s Vicar, Prince of the Apostles, God on earth, Lord God the Pope, His Holiness, King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince over all nations and kingdoms, The Most Holy and Most Blessed, Master of the Universal World, Father of Kings, Light of the World, Most High and Sovereign Bishop, etc. etc. 10 Gregory VII was undoubtedly the most audacious pope that ever sat on St. Peter’s throne, and his whole pontificate was a continual scene of tumult and bloodshed. He impiously attempted to submit to his jurisdiction the emperors, kings, and princes of the earth, and to render their dominions tributary to the See of Rome. He dethroned the emperor Henry IV and then excommunicated him from the church, and obliged him to stand three days barefoot before the gates of Canosa on the Appinees, where he was regaling himself with his mistress Matilda, before he would grant him absolution.

    This was the first instance of a prince being deposed by the pope; but this served as a precedent for many others, which the limits of this sketch will not permit us to name.

    It may seem altogether incredible now, to those who have not studied the history of ancient times, that emperors, kings, and princes, should be hurled from their thrones, and disrobed of the functions of royalty, by the anathemas of the pretended vicar of Christ. What regard would the sovereigns of Europe now pay to the denunciations of Pius VII? But the case was far different when Antichrist was reigning in the meridian of his strength. Then all the world were wondering after the beast, and the voice of St. Peter, by his pretended vicegerent on earth, was regarded as the voice of God. Sovereigns might spurn at the thunders of the Vatican, but their subjects regarded them as the mandates of Heaven; kingdoms were soon filled with rebellion; the lives of princes were in danger from those about them; for the bulls of his Holiness must be obeyed; kingdoms were laid under interdicts; every thing was thrown into confusion, and in these dreadful circumstances, the proud, imperious princes of the earth, were reduced to the humbling necessity of bowing to the feet of St. Peter’s successor, and becoming reconciled in the best manner they could to their spiritual master. And having gained the friendship of his Holiness, their subjects returned to their allegiance, and their kingdoms were restored to order. It was, however, certainly unfair for the popes to interpose the charms of their spiritual influence, in their quarrels with princes about worldly things.

    The pope was surrounded by ten thousand satellites, all receiving their light, or rather their darkness from him. But above them all, were seventy- two cardinals, by whom he was elected. Armies of monks and ministers stood ready to obey his summons, and were dispersed ill every country to execute his high commands. These emissaries were constantly employed in the affairs of princes, in the intrigues of courts, and, many of them were elevated to the highest summit of worldly grandeur. “Cardinal Ruixoga, archbishop of Toledo, in Spain, had, under his command in 1764, the chapters of a hundred and eight cathedrals, the members of three hundred and twelve colleges, the governors and officers of two thousand and eight hospitals, the parish priests of more than twenty one thousand cities, towns and villages, the officers of all the courts of inquisition, and of the chancery of Castile, etc. But this great man was nothing but a tool of the pope. It would make too many heads to consider separately every article which it may be proper to notice. We shall, therefore, throw together, in as much order as can be done, some of the most striking events which have occurred in this astonishing body of professing christians.

    The church of Rome for many centuries prevailed generally throughout most of the European kingdoms, and its emissaries also made large conquests in many remoter regions; and this corrupt and idolatrous communion is now thought to embrace not far from a hundred million of souls. The religious orders of priests, monks, nuns, friars, and so on, form an innumerable company of lazy, ambitious, and unprofitable beings.

    The history of the monastic orders would, of itself, make a voluminous work; but it is sufficient to observe that they began in early times, in a mistaken manner of weaning the mind from sublunary things. The first monks were merely religious hermits, who, in the third century retired to the solitary deserts of Egypt, both to avoid persecution, and to enjoy religious repose. In the persecution under Decius, one Paul fled to the deserts of Thebais, where he spent ninety years in religious solitude. This kind of hermitage becoming popular, thousands fled to the wilderness when they might have remained in society. At first they lived a vagrant life, and were scattered throughout the deserts; but in the fourth century one Anthony began to form them into societies, and from hence-forward they erected habitations, which were called monasteries, and everything was regulated by laws punctilious and absurd. From the east the monks came swarming into the west, and finally overspread the christian world.

    From the monastic orders were elected most of the cardinals, popes, legates, and other dignified ecclesiastics in the church of Rome.

    As so many of the brethren had taken it upon them to live a single life, a corresponding number of sisters, finding they must live alone, took upon them the vows of chastity, were called nuns, and were collected in habitations called nunneries. And so great was the rage for retirement, that in many countries, a large portion of the inhabitants were associated in these irrational and sanctimonious communities. But the monks and nuns, although under vows of perpetual chastity, did not always keep apart, and many shocking things are related of the horrid measures which they took to conceal their iniquity, and dispose of the fruits of their infamous commerce.

    The celibacy of the clergy was a practice early introduced in the church of Rome. “Marriage was at first permitted to all the various ranks and orders of the clergy, high and low. Those, however, who continued in a state of celibacy, obtained by this abstinence a higher reputation of sanctity and virtue than others.” 12 But Paul foretold that in the reign of Antichrist marriage would be forbidden, and accordingly, in due time, the celibacy of the clergy was enjoined by law. This law was, however, never carried into general effect. Some took wives in a lawful manner and lived like other men, and the answer which some of the clergy in France made to the legate of GregoryVII is full of humor and spirit. Gregory forbid the people to hear mass from the married priests, and gave orders that celibacy should be religiously observed. The priests utterly refused to obey this command, and “if the pope persists in it,” added they, “we will rather renounce our priesthood than our wives, and he may find angels to govern his churches.” This clerical celibacy was no friend to virtue, but it was, on the other hand, the means of a torrent of lasciviousness, debaucheries, and crimes.

    Uncleanness prevailed, not among all, but among every order of these holy men, who pretended to live like angels upon earth. Many of the popes were the illegitimate children of popes who had gone before them. Henry, bishop of Leige, in the eleventh century, boasted in public, that he had been the parent of fourteen children, within two and twenty months. Pope Gregory VII reproved this bishop for squandering the revenues of the church on his bastard children, but he did not depose him from his holy office. It is not strange that Gregory was so indulgent to this amorous bishop, as he was himself then carrying on a scandalous amour with Matilda, the countess of Tuscany, by which he obtained a vast estate for the Holy See. “Illiterate prelates habited in purple robes, converted nunneries into stews, and had parks for seraglios. Some few pacified their scruples by private marriage, but by far the greater part either committed fornication and adultery promiscuously, or kept mistresses whom they called vice-wives. It must not be understood that all were sunk to this deplorable state of wretchedness and vice. There were sober bishops, who looked with grief and shame, on the intamous conduct of their clergy, and tried to resist the torrent of concupiscence, with which their diocessea were overwhelmed. But their headstrong clergy paid no attention to their remonstrances. Incontinence was a tide which could not be stopped, and the first council of Toledo, to their shame, rather than permit the clergy to marry, made a law to allow them concubines. 14 So blind and invincible is superstition, when established by custom and laws.

    COUNCILS THE custom of holding councils, according to Mosheim, commenced in Greece in the second century. They were, by the Greeks, called synods.

    Councils were, at first, mere provincial assemblies, collected together for the purpose of regulating the affairs of particular districts; but they soon arose to the most august and powerful assemblies, and assumed the supreme command of the whole catholic world.

    The popes frequently attended councils in person, and at other times, they were represented by their legates and nuncios. Some of them were called by the pontiffs, at other times, they were afraid of their power, and tried to hinder their meeting, or dissolved them when assembled.

    The first general council was held at Nice, in Bythinia, in 325, wherein the deputies of the church universal were summoned by the emperor Constantine, to put an end to the Arian controversy, which then began to rage extensively. At this council upwards of three hundred bishops were assembled; it held about a year. Some of the catholic councils sat many years, and assembled a standing army of bishops and ecclesiastics, who stood ready to suppress every heretical whisper.

    The council of Placentia, was the most numerous of any that had been hitherto assembled, and was, on that account, held in the open fields.

    There were present at it, two hundred bishops, four thousand ecclesiastics, and three hundred thousand laymen. The council of Constance was begun in 1414, and was held four years. It was opened by pope John XXIII and was ended by Martin V. At this council were assembled, (says Millot) a prodigious number of cardinals, prelates, and doctors; above a hundred sovereign winces of Germany, with the emperor at their head; twenty seven ambassadors, and innumerable deputies from all the different states and communities of Europe, and among the rest a crowd of minstrels, courtesans, etc. All Europe was in commotion about this council; it was summoned at the instance of the emperor Sigismond, for the purpose of reforming the church, and checking the ambition of the pontiffs.

    The papal chair, at this time, was deputed by three ambitious rivals, who had assumed the names of John XXIII, Gregory XII and Benedict XIII.

    But during the sitting of the Council, all the rival popes were deposed, and a new one was elected by the name of Martin V. John had been a corsair, that is a pirate, in his youth; a profession, says Millot, more suited to his temper, than the functions of an ecclesiastic; in the habit of a postillion, he escaped from Constance, to avoid the vengeance of an enraged populace. The famous council of Trent was held eighteen years, and during the lives of five popes. It commenced in 1545, some time after the reformation was begun by Luther. The resolutions of a general council, as well as the decisions of a pope, are, by the Catholics, considered equal to scripture commands; but it is an unlucky circumstance that both popes and councils have passed decrees, not only different from, but in direct opposition to each other.

    The Romans borrowed councils from the Greeks, and Protestants borrowed them from the Romans; and Presbyterian Synods and Congregational conventions, are considered by some as vestiges of the august and imposing councils we have thus briefly described. And, indeed, the meetings, called councils, among the Baptists, are thought by some to be branches of the same corrupt tree. I know not what Baptist councils may arrive to, but at present they are certainly very harmless things. A church calls a number of neighboring elders and brethren, to give them their advice in matters of difficulty. This advice is often received and proves highly beneficial; but it may be neglected, as it often is, and still no breach of fellowship, no interruption of communion between the advisers and the advised is occasioned thereby. But it must be acknowledged that churches founded a congregational and independent principles, cannot consistently have much business for councils, and I think the fewer there are among the Baptists the better. Our churches do undoubtedly sometimes refer difficulties to councils, which they might easy enough settle themselves.

    CRUSADES OR HOLY WARS IN the eleventh century an attempt was made by the church of Rome, to recover the holy land from the possession of the Mahometans, and incredible numbers volunteered their services in these holy expeditions, But almost everything under the name of religion, was at this time profligate and vile. The popes of Rome, from the time of Sylvester II had contemplated the holy wars, but the troubles of Europe long prevented the execution of their arduous designs. Gregory VII boasted that upwards of fifty thousand men were mustered to follow him in a holy war, which he intended to conduct in person, but was prevented by his quarrel with the emperor Henry IV. At length the long premeditated war was undertaken.

    A monk of Picardy, commonly called Peter the Hermit, at his return from Jerusalem where he had been on pilgrimage, represented the oppression of the holy city, and the cruel treatment which the christians suffered, in such striking colors, that Urban II thought proper to set both kings and people in motion to recover it. This hermit of a hideous figure, covered with rags, walking barefoot, speaking as a prophet, and hearkened to as such, inspired the people everywhere, with an enthusiasm similar to his own.

    He went through all the countries of Europe sounding the alarm of the holy war against the infidel nations, and with a view to engage the superstitious and ignorant multitude in his cause, he carried with him a letter which he said was written in heaven, and addressed to all true christians, etc. Success everywhere attended the declamations of this ragged orator, and innumerable multitudes of all ranks and orders offered themselves as volunteers in the sacred expedition. They all received from the pope or bishops a cross of red stuff, which they wore upon their shoulders, and hence they were called crusaders, or cross-bearers, and the expedition was also from this circumstance denominated a crusade. The red cross procured a dispensation from all penance; but, when once taken, the wearers were obliged to set out under pain of excommunication. But few, however, were inclined to draw back, for they never doubted that the riches of Asia would recompense them a hundred fold; and if they died in the attempt, they were sure of heaven as the reward for their meritorious services. Cotemporary writers make the number of the first crusaders to exceed six million; but the best authors make it only about one million and a quarter. This army, says Mosheim, consisted of a motley assemblage of monks, prostitutes, artists, laborers, lazy tradesmen, merchants, boys, girls, slaves, malefactors, and profligate debauchees, who were animated solely by the prospect of spoil and plunder, and hoped to make their fortunes by this holy campaign. Eighty thousand of this miserable rabble set out under the command of Peter the Hermit, and Walter the Needy.

    The rest followed under different leaders. They committed dreadful ravages in passing through Europe, and multitudes perished before they arrived in Asia. We cannot here give a history of the progress of this mighty army of pilgrims, but it is sufficient to observe that but a handful of them lived to return.

    A second crusade was preached up by St. Barnard, the Abbot of Clairval, whom Mr. Milner has tried to make out, a humble and holy man. He is represented by historians as running from town to town, performing numberless miracles to promote the cause of the holy war. The miracle of miracles, according to him, was his prevailing on the emperor Conrad III to take upon him the cross, which he was not inclined to do. The second army of cross-bearers was not numbered, but it was immensely great. It was led on by the emperor Conrad, and most of them perished in the expedition.

    Notwithstanding these unsuccessful campaigns, a blind infatuation prevailed, and a third crusade was undertaken by the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Richard I, king of England was engaged in this crusade.

    A fourth crusade was undertaken by Baldwin, count of Flanders; in this expedition Constantinople was taken, which was then inhabited by christians.

    After this, a holy war was proclaimed in France against the poor innocent Albigenses; and thousands of them were slain by a band of bloody cross, bearers, for the glory of God, and the good of the church. Multitudes of Baptists perished in this bloody scene, as we shall show more fully when we come to their history.

    These wars, impiously called holy, were carried on in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; they set all Europe in commotion; they drained kingdoms of their inhabitants, and filled the east with wretches, rapine, and blood. But we can pursue their history no farther. From the crusades a number of the orders of knighthood arose.

    INDULGENCIES THE sale of indulgencies was one of the most impious and infamous kinds of traffic, practiced by the church of Rome. The bishops had long made a trade of the vices of mankind; that is, they compounded with transgressors, and for certain sums remitted the severe penances, which they had been sentenced to endure; and sinners, especially rich ones, finding it less troublesome to pay their money than to repent of their crimes, the bishops soon established a gainful trade. Every order of ecclesiastics had their peculiar modes of fleecing the people. The monks could not sell pardons, but they carried about the country the relics of the saints, and permitted the deluded multitude to see, touch, and embrace them, at certain fixed prices. And thus the monastic orders gained as much by this rare-show, as the bishops did by their indulgencies. But at length the popes engrossed this profitable traffic to themselves; and Leo X who afterwards hurled his thunderbolts against Martin Luther, for the purpose of replenishing his exhausted coffers, employed certain monks to travel abroad, to promote the sale of indulgencies.

    Among these detestable characters none acted a more conspicuous part, than a Dominican friar, named John Tetzel. He traveled through Germany, proclaiming the pardons of the pope, promising to sinners of every description, for fixed prices, a full remission of all sins past, present, and future. In describing the efficacy of indulgencies, he, among other horrid expressions, declared that, if any one had deflowered the mother of God, he had power from the pope to efface his guilt. He further boasted that he had saved more souls from hell by these indulgencies, than St. Peter had converted to christianity by his preaching. SUPEREROGATION CARDINAL Cajetan declared that one drop of Christ’s blood was sufficient to redeem the whole world, and that the remaining quantity, that was shed in the garden and on the cross, was left as a legacy to the church, to be disposed of by his vice-gerent on earth. The doctrine of supererogation had been invented long before this time.

    This doctrine was founded upon the false supposition, that the superabundant good deeds of the saints, had procured a boundless treasure of merit, which might, by the pope, be applied to the benefit of others.

    The preaching of Indulgencies in Germany, opened the eves of many, roused the zeal of Luther, and the reformation in the sixteenth century immediately succeeded. SOME ACCOUNT OF THE PERSECUTIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN CARRIED ON BY THE CHURCH OF ROME.

    This church, among other enormities, is covered with the blood of saints, which is crying for vengeance on its polluted head. The murders and cruelties of which this bloody community has been guilty, can be but briefly touched upon here; but it is supposed, if I mistake not, that three million lives have been sacrificed to the persecuting rage of the papal power. Among these, upwards of a million were of the people called Waldenses or Albigenses.

    On the fatal night of St. Bartholomews, August 24, 1572, about seventy thousand persons were murdered in Paris, in the most barbarous manner, by the influence of the pope, and by the instrumentality of the bloodthirsty Charles IX. Within thirty years, there were murdered in France 59 princes, 148 counts, 234 barons, 147,518 gentlemen, and 760,000 persons of inferior rank in life, but whose blood equally called for justice. Three hundred thousand of these were murdered in a few years, by that furious catholic, Charles IX. The massacre of St. Bartholomews happened in the following manner; a match was concluded between Henry, (afterwards Henry IV) the young king of Navarre, a protestant, and the French King’s sister. The heads of the protestants were invited to celebrate the nuptials at Paris, with the infernal view of butchering them all, if possible, in one night. This horrid scene is thus described by the author of the Trial of Antichrist: “Exactly at midnight on the eve of St. Bartholomews, (so called) 1572, the alarm bell was rung in the Palais Royale, as the signal of death. About five hundred protestant barons, knights and gentlemen, who had come from all parts to honor the wedding, were, among the rest, barbarously butchered in their beds. The gentlemen, officers of the chamber, governors, tutors, and household servants of the king of Navarre, and prince of Conde, were driven out of the chambers where they slept in the Louvre, and being in the court, were massacred in the king’s presence. The slaughter was now general throughout the city, and as Thuanus writes, “that the very channels ran down with blood into the river.” This was, however, magnified as a glorious action, and the king, who was one of the most active murderers, boasted that he had put 70,000 heretics to death. I might quote the words of a French author, who wrote the history of France, from the reign of Henry II. to Henry IV. and say, “How strange and horrible a thing it was, in a great town, to see at least 60,000 men with pistols, pikes, cutlasses, poniards, knives, and other bloody instruments, run, swearing and blaspheming the sacred Majesty of God, through the streets and into houses, where most cruelly they massacred all, whomsoever they met, without regard of estate, condition, sex, or age. The streets paved with bodies cut and hewed to pieces; the gates and entries of houses, palaces, and public places, dyed with blood. Shouting and hallooings of the murderers, mixed with continual noise of pistols and calivers discharged; the pitiful eries and shrieks of those that were murdering. Slain bodies cast out of the windows upon the stones, and drawn through the dirt. Strange noise of whistling, breaking of doors and windows with bills and stones. The spoiling and sacking of houses. Carts, some carrying away the spoils, and others the dead bodies, which were thrown into the river Seine, all now red with blood, which ran out of the town and from the king’s palace.” While the horrid scene was transacting, many priests ran about the city, with crucifixes in one hand and daggers in the other, to encourage the slaughter.” In the short reign of the ever to be execrated popish Mary, queen of England, there were burnt in that kingdom, one archbishop, four bishops, twenty-one preachers, eight gentlemen, eighty-four artificers, a hundred husbandmen and laborers, twenty-six wives, twenty widows, nine unmarried women, two boys and two infants.

    Forty thousand perished in the Irish massacre, in 1641.

    In a very short time, there were hanged, burned, buried alive, and beheaded, 50,000 persons in the Netherlands.

    The single order of Jesuits alone are computed, in the space of thirty or forty years, to have put to death 900,000 christians, who deserted from popery. And the Inquisition, the bloody instrument of papal vengeance, in the space of about thirty years, destroyed, by various torture, 150,000. We shall now take leave of this corrupt and bloody church. It has evidently been declining between two and three hundred years. The pope, its once furious and powerful head, is now reduced to a state of humiliation and dependence. But the instrument of his reduction has become so unpopular, that christians generally do not appear to regard with much interest, the astonishing change of circumstances in this troubler of nations, and bloodthirsty enemy of the church of God. THE GREEK CHURCH THIS name is given to a very large body of christians, who reside in the east. The Greek church is said to be as large or larger than the Roman, and is probably as much loaded with unnecessary ceremonies; but it is not sunk so deep in absurdity and blood.

    The history of the Greek church is covered with obscurity, and but a very brief view of it can be given here. Multitudes of the first converts to christianity resided where were once the ancient republics of Greece, and spake the Greek language, in which the New-Testament was written.

    Constantine, the Roman emperor, soon after he had embraced christianity, removed the seat of empire from Rome, in Italy, to Byzantium, in Thrace, and having enlarged, enriched, and adorned it, solemnly conferred on it his own name, and called it Constantinople, that is, Constantine’s city. It still remains one of the most magnificent cities of the east, and is now the seat of the Turkish emperor.

    Eusebius was the bishop of Constantinople in the time of Constantine, while Sylvester was bishop of Rome. As the new metropolis arose in grandeur, its bishop experienced a proportionable increase of dignity and opulence, and the bishop of Rome soon found in him all ambitious and powerful rival. These two imperial bishops struggled hard for dominion; each claimed the whole, secured what they could gain, and in the end divided the command of all the churches in christendom, or at least of those who would submit to their authority.

    The bishop of Rome took the name of Pope, from the Greek word papas, which signifies father ; the bishop of Constantinople assumed the Old Testament title of Patriarch, and by this appellation he is yet distinguished. The struggles between the Roman pontiff and the Grecian patriarch, for preeminence and power, were long and obstinate; both claimed the title of Universal Bishop, which was finally conferred on the pope, in 606, by the emperor Phocas, and thenceforward the bishop of Rome arose superior to his rival in dignity and crimes.

    Constantinople and a considerable part of the ancient dominions of the Greek church, has, for a number of centuries, been in possession of the Mahometans, and the patriarch himself exercises the high functions of his office, merely by the toleration of the disciples of the prophet of Mecca.

    The bishops of Rome and Constantinople continued their rivalship, and reciprocal accusations, without coming to an open rupture, until the eleventh century. Then a war of anathemas commenced; they hurled their thunderbolts at each other, and a total separation took place between the Greek and Latin churches, which, notwithstanding the soothing artifices of the popes and Jesuits, has never been healed.

    Besides the patriarch already mentioned, there are three other Grecian bishops, distinguished by this high appellation. They reside at Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria. But the patriarch of Constantinople is the head of the Greek church; all the other patriarchs, and all the Episcopal dignitaries are nominated by him.

    The government of the Greek church is reputed a mild aristocracy. The patriarch of Constantinople is elected by twelve bishops, who reside nearest that famous capital; but the right of confirming his election, as well as of the other patriarchs, belongs only to the Turkish emperor, After the patriarch is elected, he is presented to the Sultan with a handsome fee. The Sultan’s approbation runs in some such style as this; “I command such an one to go and reside as bishop, etc. according to the ancient custom and idle ceremonies of those people.” The patriarchs of Alexandria have always avoided this submission to the Mahometan Sovereign. The rest yield to it; and on these terms more than two hundred thousand christian Greeks reside unmolested in Constantinople.

    One of the largest branches of the Greek church is in Russia; the millions of that empire are included in this extensive community, and are under the superintendence of the powerful patriarch of Constantinople.

    Some further account of the Greek church, of its boundaries, etc. and also of the Oriental churches, will be given in the succeeding chapter.

    The Greek church has never carried persecution to any great extent; this may be owing to the mildness of its spirit, but probably more to its external circumstances, for it has, for many ages, been hemmed in, and restrained by the Mahometan powers.

    Thus we see that the Greek and Roman churches have always embraced by far the greatest part of what is called the christian world. In these two great establishments, there are probably contained one fifth, and perhaps one fourth of the inhabitants of the globe. In these extensive communities we find popes, patriarchs, bishops, archbishops, rites and ceremonies in abundance; but the humble followers of Jesus have generally been found in every age, among those who have dissented from them.

    The dissenting sects, both in the Greek and Latin churches, have been numerous; some were doubtless wild and fantastic, others were humble and devout; but they have all been branded with the odious name of heretics, thrown by historians into one common mass of refuse, and devoted to infamy here and misery hereafter. This vast pile of heretical lumber has been rummaged over by every protestant sect, in search of their sentimental relatives and friends. All have succeeded in their own estimation, and the success which the Baptists have had will be related when we come to speak of our brethren in foreign countries and ancient times.

    Before we leave this subject, it may be proper just to observe, that there was a large body of dissenters among the Greeks, called by the general name of Massalians and Euchites, the one a Hebrew and the other a Greek name, both signifying a people that pray, because they placed religion not in speculation, but in devotion and piety.

    The Euchites among the Greeks were similar to the Waldenses or Waldensians among the Romans. The terms, Waldenses, Valenses or Vadois (all of the same import) signify the people of the valleys, and were applied in early times to those, who, tired of tyranny, pomp, and oppression, retired to obscure retreats where they might enjoy gospel purity and religious freedom. And in the end, all of their sentiments, and many who were not, were called Waldenses, whether they dwelt in rallies or on mountains, in cities or in caves: Just as a sect of christians are called Moravians, whether they dwell in Moravia, in England, in Greenland, or the West-India Islands. And the terms Euchites and Waldenses answered to that of Non-conformist in England, which every reader will understand.

    Among the English non-conformists, are comprehended Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, and so on. And so among the Greek Euchites and the Roman Waldenses, were a great variety of sects, who maintained a great diversity of opinions and practices, and among them were many who would be called Baptists, as we shall attempt to show in the next chapter but one.

    PROTESTANTS LONG before the time of Luther many had attempted to shake off the papal yoke, and revive the spirit of godliness among the multitudes, who were groaning beneath an oppressive load of absurdities and superstitions.

    Among the principal men of this character we may reckon Claude of Turin in Piedmont, Peter de Bruys and Henry his disciple, Peter Waldo of Lyons in France; Wickliff, the morning of the Reformation; John Huss, and Jerome of Prague; either of these men, had the time arrived for the pillars of Babylon to be shaken, and had Providence seconded their views, might have done as much as was performed by Luther. They successively made noble stands against the man of sin, and sometimes struck terror even to the seat of the beast; and by their evangelical exertions, multitudes of their fellowmen were enlightened, and led into the paths of salvation. But the Dragon was permitted to make successful war against them, and most of them fell victims to his rage. Their followers were either destroyed or dispersed, and their names and principles were covered with infamy and disgrace. Wickliff was hunted with violence at first, but he outlived the persecuting storm, which had been raised against him, and died in peace at the parish of Lutterworth in England in l387. But forty years after, his bones were dug up by order of the council of Constance, and publicly burnt. Wickliff’s followers were called Lollards, and among them were many Baptists, as we shall show when we come to treat of their history.

    But while the Roman pontiff slumbered ill security at the head of the church, and saw nothing throughout the vast extent of his dominion but tranquillity and submission; and while the worthy and pious professors of genuine christianity almost despaired of seeing that reformation on which their most ardent desires and expectations were bent; an obscure and inconsiderable person arose, on a sudden, in 1517, and laid the foundation of this long expected change, by opposing, with undaunted resolution, his single force to the torrent of papal ambition and despotism. This extraordinary man was Martin Luther, a native of Aisleben in Saxony, where he was born in 1483. Luther was a man of a bold and fearless spirit, and well qualified to hear undaunted the terrific thunders of the pope, and to execute the work, which, we cannot hesitate to believe, he was raised up by Divine Providence to perform. But although his virtues were many, his failings were great; and his temptations to think more highly of himself than any fallible man ought to think, were many. Soon after he began his successful career, he drew the attention of most of the European world, not because of his own personal greatness, but on account of the glorious work in which he took the lead. Pope Leo X and all his creatures, both ecclesiastical and civil, fixed their jealous eyes on this threatening innovator, and leveled their vengeance against his devoted head. On the other hand, all the pious, who groaned in bondage, looked up to him with the most lively hopes and expectations. The powerful Elector of Saxony, soon took him under his patronage; other princes of Germany became his admirers and defenders, and the sovereigns of other kingdoms invited him and his associates, into their dominions. With all these stimulations to pride, with all these attentions from enemies and friends, it is not altogether strange, that Luther became conceited and dogmatical, and discovered a portion of that intolerance towards others, which had been exercised towards him. Had Luther possessed, the mild and yielding spirit of Melancthon, his cotemporary and successor, he might not have withstood, with such heroic fortitude, the vehemence of the papal power, but he doubtless would have treated with more condescension, those who importuned him to carry the reformation farther than he did, and especially the German Baptists, who vainly hoped to see a reformation in the article of baptism.

    But it is not my intention or desire, to detract one particle of merit from this distinguished reformer; nor will the limits of this review permit me to make any further strictures on his character. He was educated an Augustine monk, and in the monastic habit, under the vows of celibacy, he began that mighty career, which elevated him to the pinnacle of fame, and terminated in essential and abundant good to mankind.

    The traffic of indulgencies, which was carried to a most scandalous and impious height, by the famous, or rather infamous Tetzel, provoked his resentment and aroused his zeal. At Wittemberg, in 1517, he began by declaiming against the sale of popish pardons; his censures were at first leveled against Tetzel in particular; next against the whole band of infamous taxgatherers, who were fleecing the multitude by the most iniquitous and detestable means, ever devised by ecclesiastical avarice; and finally he proceeded to attack the authority and supremacy of the pope.

    And thus by gradual steps proceeded forward that memorable revolution in Europe, called the Reformation.

    Luther does not appear at first to have had anything more in view than to oppose the abominable traffic of indulgencies, and to reform some of the superstitions and errors of popery; but he was carried forward by the ardor of his own zeal much beyond the bounds he had contemplated; and in the end was driven, by the thundering vehemence of the Roman pontiff, and his insolent emissaries, to a total separation from a church, so full of vengeance and corruption.

    About three years after Luther had began his new course of writing and preaching, he was solemnly excommunicated by the pope; but this terrible sentence he treated with the utmost derision and contempt, and “on the 10th of December, 1520, he had a pile of wood erected without the walls of the city Wittemberg, and there, in the presence of a prodigious multitude of people of all ranks and orders, committed to the flames both the bull which had been published against him, and the canons and decretals relating to the pope’s supreme jurisdiction.” From this period Luther formed the project of founding a church in opposition to that of Rome; his bold and successful attempts flew on the wings of fame to distant regions, multitudes were encouraged by his example to throw off the popish yoke, and rally round the standard of the Saxon Reformer, and the principles of the reformation were henceforward propagated with an amazing rapidity through all the countries of Europe. But still Luther was in imminent danger from the emissaries of Rome; he was conducted by his patron the Elector of Saxony, to the Castle of Wartenberg, where he resided in safety ten months, and employed his time in writing and translating the scriptures. From this retreat, which he called his Patmos, he again repaired to the city of Wittemberg, and in a short time, he, with the assistance of other learned men, completed the translation of the Bible in the German language. This being spread abroad among the people produced sudden and almost incredible effects, and a prodigious number of persons in different regions received the light of truth.

    Hitherto the principles and progress of the reformation appear pleasant and commendable. But we must now leave, for a while, the humble promoters of evangelical piety, and listen to the din of arms, and behold with grief and sorrow the sanguinary conflicts of contending religious parties.

    The reformation soon became a thing of political consequence, and was prostituted to purposes altogether foreign to the genuine spirit of christianity. Many of the German princes seconded Luther’s exertions from motives of civil policy; they were glad to free themselves from the power of the pope, which they had long found troublesome and oppressive: they therefore declared in favor of the new religion; their subjects followed their example, and whole provinces and kingdoms were at once in arms against popery, and enlisted on the side of the great Reformer. These princes formed a confederacy, and in connection with Luther and his associates, in 1529, entered a solemn Protest against the oppressive measures of the papal power, and hence arose the denomination of Protestants, which from this period was given to all who espoused the principles of the reformation, whether they did it from evangelical motives or from worldly policy. Soon protestants and papists became two powerful contending parties; many reasoned and debated, but princes and all who would follow them, decided their controversies in the field of battle. But we cannot pursue, any farther, an account of the religious commotions, which now began to agitate the kingdoms of Europe.

    It is sufficient to observe, that under Luther, a church arose, which was called after his name, and which has, for almost three hundred years, been the established religion of a considerable part of Europe. But the Lutheran church is acknowledged to be the least removed from popery of any of the protestant churches; the church of England not excepted. Luther did much, but he left much to be done. He opposed and rejected some of the superstitions and absurdities of popery; but he still retained many of them in his creed. The pope’s supremacy, and all the prerogatives of the papacy he renounced, together with the doctrines of purgatory, transubstantiation, and so on. But he established, or took the lead in establishing a national hierarchy to be fenced round and protected by the civil power. He seemed to have no notion of founding churches of visible believers only, but all who were comprehended within certain bounds, and who assented to his creed, were admitted to communion. Luther rejected transubstantiation, but he substituted in its room what he called consubstantiation, a word almost as long, and which conveyed ideas just as unscriptural and absurd. The Lutheran church has its Augsburg confession, its liturgies, its holy days, its bishops, superintendents, and so on. It has but one archbishop, and he is the primate of Sweden. But Luther’s exertions were, notwithstanding, of essential service to mankind; for in opposing the doctrines of popery, he warmly advocated the sufficiency of revelation to instruct mankind in all the duties of religion. This main principle of all reformations, Luther maintained more clearly in theory than practice, and multitudes by following his maxims up to their legitimate consequences, carried forward the reformation, much farther than he had done.

    Out of the Lutheran church arose another, which was called the reformed, and which was founded by Ulrich Zuinglius, a native of Switzerland.

    Zuinglius began a successful opposition to indulgencies, and to the whole fabric of papacy in Switzerland, about the time that Luther began in Saxony. The Swiss reformer differed widely from Luther in many articles, and was much more evangelical and consistent in his views of the eucharist, and of other matters both of faith and practice. But he fell in the battle that was fought in Urich, in 1530, between the protestants and catholics. Calvin began his course a little after Luther and Zuinglius. He was born at Noyon, in Picardy, in France, ill 1509. Luther, Zuinglius, and Calvin, became the heads of three distinguished parties, which were called after their names. They acted at first in concert, in the great business of the Reformation, but soon they clashed most violently with each other both in their sentiments and measures.

    Besides these three reformers, there were a number of others who engaged with much zeal and success in the protestant cause, and were distinguished in their day for various qualities and performances, and for a common principle of opposition to the church of Rome. Among these we may reckon Melancthon, Carolostadt, Bucer, Erasmus, Menno, Oecolampadius, and others. Luther and Calvin, however, have shared most of the glory of the great and important change which was effected in the religious world in the beginning of the sixteenth century. But Calvin surpassed not only Luther, but all his cotemporaries in learning and parts, as he did most of them in obstinacy, asperity, and turbulence. Luther fixed his stand at Wittemberg in Saxony, and was succeeded in the general care of the great hierarchy, which he established, by the soft and complying Melancthon. Calvin made his stand at Geneva, on the confines of Switzerland. Calvin is famous for his defense of predestination and absolute decrees, and also for his opposition to the Anabaptists. From Calvin’s followers originated the Presbyterians; and many other sects, who have adopted either in full or in part, his notions of predestination and grace, have consented to be called by his name. The Church of England assumes the name of Protestant, although multitudes have protested against her on various accounts. This church arose about the time of the terrible tumults of Munster, which have been so uniformly and exultingly, but falsely ascribed to the German Anabaptists. It was founded by the amorous Henry VIII a prince, who, in vices and abilities, was surpassed by none who swayed the scepter in his age. Henry at first opposed with the utmost vehemence, both the doctrines and views of Luther; but because the pope would not grant him a divorce according to his mind, he renounced his jurisdiction and supremacy, and was declared by the parliament and people, Supreme Head, on earth, of the Church of England. Henry put down one thousand, four hundred and forty eight popish religious houses, and seized on their lands, amounting to one hundred and eighty three thousand, seven hundred and seven pounds per annum; he gave his subjects an English translation of the Bible, but ordered all such books to be destroyed as might help to explain it to them. The same monarch, who renounced the dominion of Rome; yet superstitiously retained the greatest part of its errors along with its imperious and persecuting spirit. Henry, in a word, renounced the dominion of the pope, that he might become a pope himself, and the Church of England, as established by law at this time, was not a new church, but an old one fitted up in a new fashion. It underwent some improvements in the reign of the young and amiable prince Edward VI the son and successor of Henry. But still there is, in the opinion of many, great room for improvement in this ecclesiastical body. Whoever sways the British scepter, whether male or female, is of course the head of the English church, and. the hopeful Prince of Wales will, probably, according to the course of nature and law, soon succeed to this important station.

    In the reign of Edward VI but more especially in that of his sister Elizabeth, the successor of the furious and implacable Mary, many were desirous of a purer church than had hitherto been established. These persons were called Puritans, and under this denomination was, for a long time, comprehended a large body of English dissenters and non- conformists, among whom there existed a great variety of opinions and practices. From the Puritans originated the Independents, and many of the Baptists in England, the Congregationalists of America, and a multitude of other sects and parties, whom the limits of this work will not permit us even to name.

    To close these brief sketches, it may be proper to observe, that the great body of christians who protested against the church of Rome, and who, for that reason, received the general name of Protestants, preserved a common bond of union, so long as they were oppressed and endangered by the church of Rome. But when they arrived beyond its power, they filed off into a multitude of parties. Some stood by their Augsburg confession, their Helvetic and Genevan creeds, their English liturgy, and so on, and resolved to remain by the standards their leaders had set up.

    Others went in pursuit of farther light, and those, who took the Scriptures for their guide, actually found it, while those who followed their mistaken impulses, and capricious fancies, ran wild into the mazes of error and deception, and exhibited to the view of astonished beholders, the most fantastic reveries and delusions. The stronger sects of Protestants forged chains for the weaker, and prepared dungeons and flames for all, who would not wear them.

    It could not be expected that a people lately come out of Babylon, should, all at once, understand the principles of religious freedom. The old popish idol of uniformity was set up in Protestant countries, and all were commanded, under penalties of different kinds, but always severe, to bow down and worship it. But a milder policy has succeeded, and we trust the period, will arrive, when not only the righteous principles of religious freedom, but the glorious system which contains them, shall prevail from the rising to the setting sun, and the knowledge of the glory of God, cover the earth as the waters do the sea.

    MISSIONS THE apostles and early preachers were almost all Missionaries, and their evangelical journeys were performed on missionary ground. They had no regard to parish lines, nor ecclesiastical districts; they asked not for licenses, they waited not for appointments, they sought no emoluments, but by the call of God they went forth, dependent on the treasury of heaven they journeyed, and aided by the common succors and miraculous influences of the Holy Spirit, they went everywhere preaching the word and performing wonders in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    The church of Rome has done much in the missionary cause. Multitudes have been sent forth in every age by that august community. Some of them were doubtless better than their masters, and rendered essential service to mankind, while others were artful and ambitious men, full of everything vile and detestable, and destitute of every thing good; and having imbibed the spirit of their masters, labored more for the glory of the See of Rome, than for the everlasting benefit of the heathen.

    The priests at Rome, in many instances, drew geographical lines of parishes and bishoprics among the pagan nations, and sent forth booted apostles with military fame, to dragoon the perishing heathen into a belief of christianity, and nations were baptized at the point of the sword.

    In 1622, there was founded at Rome by pope Gregory XV an institution called The Congregation for propagating the faith. It was enriched with ample revenues by Urban VIII and an incredible number of donors, who were emulous to excel each other in munificent acts. By this Congregation a vast number of missionaries were sent forth into the remotest parts of the world; and multitudes of persons, in the fiercest and most barbarous nations, were converted to the profession of the Catholic faith. In India and the inaccessible regions of China and Japan, many thousands were won over by the artful and industrious Jesuits and monks. But these insidious men temporized and dissembled, and it is more proper to say that they were converted to paganism, than that the pagans were converted to christianity. But their boasted career was of short duration.

    By interfering in political affairs, they fell under the suspicions of the jealous emperors, were furiously expelled from their dominions, and many thousands of their converts perished by the sword, and the rest returned to paganism, if returning it might be called.

    But leaving the church of Rome, we will take a short view of the Protestant communities which have made laudable exertions for the promotion of missions. And among these the Moravians deserve first to be mentioned. It is said by Dr. Haweis, that no denomination of Protestants has displayed an equal degree of zeal, or met with equal success in their missionary labors. To a number of the different tribes of the American Indians; to many of the West India Islands; to the frozen regions of Greenland; to the coast of Coromandel; and to the ignorant and brutish Hottentots, the zealous Moravians have carried the word of life, and many thousands have, by their means, been converted to the Lord.

    The Danish nation began in the missionary cause, about a hundred years ago. Their labors have been directed to Greenland and the Malabar coast, and multitudes have been converted to the profession of christianity at least.

    The Church of England possesses ample revenues for missionary purposes, but she has hitherto done but little.

    But within a few years past a remarkable missionary spirit has prevailed on both sides of the Atlantic. The Evangelical Missionary Society of London has done much and promises to do much more. The Baptist Missionary Society of England is a most important establishment, and will be noticed in its proper place. Many noble exertions have been made in the Missionary cause by the American Pedo-baptists; and the American Baptists have not been idle in this important cause, as will be shown towards the close of this work.

    The present is an eventful period. The nations of the earth are convulsed, and are dashing against each other with furious rage. On the one hand we hear nothing but the clangor of arms and the rage of battle. The devoted fields of Europe are drenched with human gore, and covered with the carcases of the slain. The god of war is driving his crimson car amidst carnage and blood. But the God of armies is riding in his chariot of salvation, and gathering his elect from the four winds of heaven, and increasing exceedingly the number of redeemed souls. May the time soon come, when he whose right it is to reign shall come, and when all nations shall bow to his scepter.

    I have extended this article to a much greater length than I at first intended, but still it is but a very brief view of the extensive subject of which it professes to treat. It has been selected mostly from Mosheim, Milner, Robinson, and Millot. I have not referred to all the parts of these works from which I have made quotations. This would have made an abundance of references, and was, I conceived, altogether unnecessary, as I have stated no facts, nor advanced any sentiments which can be disputed.

    This Compendium is intended to be introductory to the chapters, which will immediately follow, and may serve as a key to many events and circumstances, which will there be referred to.


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