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In producing a volume announced for publication upwards of three years ago, the Editor feels that some apology is due for the delay which has occurred in carrying the object, then proposed, into execution. He might perhaps have ventured to say somewhat of continually increasing engagements, both of a domestic and professional nature; and somewhat more of the amount of pains bestowed upon the undertaking, far beyond what he had originally contemplated as necessary. But he is content to rest his expectation of indulgence on the fact, that to himself the interval which has elapsed, long as it may seem, has been, almost without cessation, a season of bodily and mental suffering, the result of carefulness about too many things, and of labour protracted to, or rather beyond, the remotest limits of exhaustion. To these might still be added other circumstances of interruption, connected with the embarrassments of commerce during the past and present years; a state of business which has led to the suspension, if not eventually to the abandonment, of many a project, of literary interest and value.
Such as it is, through the mercy and kindness of God, the work now appears ; certainly not completed without many anxieties, and possibly still marked by many imperfections : yet accompanied by some faint hopes and many fervent prayers, that, according to the measure of grace vouchsafed, it may be blessed to the establishment of the Church of God in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, at a most critical and solemn juncture of affairs.
Never, since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, were the principles of the Protestant Reformation brought more prominently into discussion, whether for disparagement or for defence, than at the present day. Assailed both from without and from within, a general desire of investigating more accurately the character of that memorable transaction has directed the attention of wise and pious men to the authentic records of a period, big with the most momentous consequences to the honor and prosperity of Christendom.
It were but reasonable to suppose, that, in the warfare that exists from generation to generation between those who are born after the flesh and those who are born after the Spirit, the elect of God should often be compelled to tread the old paths over again, and, on the same field, and with the same weapons, to fight anew the battles of their forefathers. Thus far, all is well; or, if not actually well, at least not worse than rnight and should have been anticipated. Those who, while in words they profess religion, yet hate the light of the gospel of grace, will naturally feel a sort of suspicious jealousy of a work of God like the Reformation, and cultivate a kindliness of feeling, very far beyond mere indifference,* for Papal formality and superstition. These are the
The testimony of the Church of Scotland, in the Preface to the Confession of 1581, (now transferred from the Appendix to the body of the Harmony,) stands forth in beautiful contrast with the faint and feeble voice yet raised in many quarters against the pretensions of the Church of Rome. “To the which confession and form of religion we willingly agree in our consciences in all points, as unto God's undoubted truth and verity, grounded only upon his written word. And therefore we abhor and detest all contrary religion and doctrine, but chiefly all kind of Papistry, in general and particular heads, even as they are now damned and confuted by the word of God and church of Scotland. But especially we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman antichrist upon the scriptures of God, upon the church, the civil magistrate, and conscience of men: all his tyrannous laws, made upon indifferent things, against our Christian liberty: his erroneous doctrine against the sufficiency of the written word, the perfection of the law, the office of Christ, and his blessed ngel: his corrupted doctrine concerning original sin, our natural inability and rebellion to God's law; our justification by faith only; our imperfect sanctification and obedience to the law; the nature, number, and use of the holy sacraments : his five bastard sacraments, with all his rites, ceremonies, and false
enemies of the cross of Christ, and can be known and recognised only as such.
But the Editor cannot withhold his deliberate and growing conviction, that, even with those who are distinctively termed Evangelical among the ministers and members of the Church of England, there is a disposition, but too extensively apparent, to retire from the high and holy ground assumed in the declarations of the Reformers; and, for want of clear and decisive views on the fundamental article of justification by faith without the works of the law, to fall into an indistinct
doctrine added to the administration of the true sacraments, without the word of God: his cruel judgment against infants departing without the sacrament, his absolute necessity of baptism, his blasphemous opinion of transubstantiation or real presence of Christ's body in the elements, and the receiving of the same by the wicked, even in the bodies of men: his dispensations with solemn oaths, his perjuries, and degrees of marriage forbidden in the word: his cruelty against the innocent divorced : his devilish mass, his blasphemous priesthood, his profane sacrifice for the sins of the dead and the quick: his canonization of men; calling upon angels, or saints departed; worshipping of images, relics, and crosses; dedicating of churches, altars, days; vows to creatures : his purgatory, prayers for the dead, praying or speaking in a strange language; with his processions, and blasphemous litany, and multitude of advocates or mediators: his manifold orders, auricular confession : his dispersed and uncertain repentance, his general and doubtsome faith, his satisfactions of men for their sins, his justification by works, opus operatum, works of supererogation, merits, pardons, peregrinations and stations : his holy water, baptizing of bells, conjuring of spirits, crossing, saning, anointing, conjuring, hallowing of God's good creatures, with the superstitious opinion joined therewith : his worldly monarchy, and wicked hierarchy: his three solemn vows, with all his shavelings of sundry sorts: his erroneous bloody decrees made at Trent, with all the subscribers and approvers of that cruel and bloody band conjured against the church of God. And finally, we detest all his vain allegories, rites, signs, and traditions brought into the Church, without or against the word of God, and the doctrine of this true Reformed Church: to the which we join ourselves willingly, in doctrine, faith, religion, discipline, and use of the holy sacraments, as lively members of the same in Christ our head; promising and swearing by the great name of the Lord our God, that we shall continue in the obedience of the doctrine and discipline of this Church, and shall defend the same according to our vocation and power, all the days of our lives, under the pains contained in the law, and danger both of body and soul in the day of God's fearful judgment.”pp. 2, 3.
ness of statement upon other points, neither honourable to God, nor serviceable to the souls of men. If this be so, then is he well aware that it is neither solely nor mainly in the study of the acts and monuments of the giants of other days, that the foundations of the fabric they were blest in rearing, must be laid again : but rather in learning as they learned, living as they lived, and praying as they prayed ; in a more practical and realising apprehension of the sacrifice and covenant of grace; in deeper thoughts of the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ ; in an increase of constancy and confidence in pleading before God for the communications of His Spirit; in a more general diffusion of love, for Christ's sake, towards all who love Christ, without respect of persons; in a fuller withdrawal from the principles of the world, and the practices of the worldly-minded; and, above all, in a settled and sanctifying abhorrence of the wickedness of consenting, on any considerations of easę or expediency, to the slightest departure from what is once ascertained to be the will of God. Little can it avail us to hold the form of sound words, while destitute of the Spirit of truth; to have the candlestick left in its place, when the light of life and glory is gone out. It is only as we acknowledge, in the word of God, the rule of all faith and of all obedience; and as we labour, in the grace of God, to walk honestly, wisely, holily, as dear children ; that we can recur with profit, or even without peril, to the systems devised, in the assemblies of the saints of old, for the exhibition of the mind of the Holy Ghost to the Churches.
Of the documentary publications, connected with the history of Ecclesiastical Reform in the sixteenth century, certainly one of the most important is that now presented to the reader: not only as bringing together, within a moderate compass, the deliberate decisions of almost every Church in Europe; but as proving, moreover, what the enemies of divine truth have ever pertinaciously denied, that, notwithstanding matters of difference on some points, (which may the Spirit of God speedily bring into reconciliation !) there is a substantial HARMONY existing throughout the whole body