though perhaps this very thing was no faith of Athanafius." Archbishop Tillotfon wifhed the church was well rid of the creed *. Many of our modern dignitaries, it is well known, diflike every part of it, and I believe there is hardly a clergyman to be found, who will be bold enough to attempt a vindication of its damnatory fentences and yet all thefe men have folemnly fubfcribed the whole of it, and it is ftill ordered to be read, thirteen times every year, in every parish church in England and Ireland.'

Out of fifty thousand of the clergy, who are fuppofed to have fubfcribed the articles fince the paffing of the act of Uniformity †, Mr. Flower, by a computation grounded on the authority of Bishop Burnet, calculates that not more than two thousand have fubfcribed in the genuine original meaning of the compilers; and from the manner in which he addreffes them, he feems to think that even the clergy of this clafs, the Calvinistical, cannot, in the present day, fubfcribe with a perfectly fafe confcience:

But, gentlemen, the queftion at prefent is not, what were the fentiments of the reformers, but what are your own fentiments concerning your fubfcription? You have folemnly, in the prefence of that God, who fearches the heart, and who abhors all prevaricationin the presence of his holy angels-in the face of the church-declared your "unfeigned affent and confent to all and every thing

Hints, &c. fubmitted to the ferious attention of the clergy, nobility, and gentry, newly affociated; faid to be written by his Grace the Duke of Grafton, p. 33, 34.' For our account of this publication, fee vol. ii. p. 343. New Series.

+ Of the indecent precipitation with which this act, (the bafis and authority on which fubfcription is founded,) was carried into execution, Mr. Flower gives a ftriking picture from Bishop Burnet's history of his own times; and he clofes the account with the following fhort obfervations from the great and good Mr. Locke: "Bartholomew day was fatal to our church and religion, by throwing out a very great number of worthy, learned, pious, orthodox divines. So great was the zeal in carrying on this church affair, and fo blind the obedience required, that if you compute the time of paffing this act, with that allowed for the clergy to fubfcribe the book of common-prayer thereby established, you will find it could not be printed and diftributed, fo as that one man in forty could have seen and read the book they did fo perfectly affent and confent to."

The unrelenting cruelty with which the act was afterward enforced, forms a perfect contraft to the conduct of the French legiflators. In England, the ejected minifters, to the number of two thoufand, were left without a fhilling, and were even prevented, by farther perfecution, from procuring a fubfiftence for themselves. by their own labours out of the church. In France, the legislators have not only charged the nation with the debts of the clergy, amounting to four millions fterling, but have appropriated the fum of three millions fterling for their penfions.

U 4


contained in the articles and in the book of common-prayer." Forgive me for prefuming to afk you, (or rather for requesting you to afk your felves,) on fo very important a fubject-Do you unfeignedly give this affent and confent to all and every thing? What, is there not one propofition in all the thirty-nine articles-Not one thing in the whole book of common-prayer-Not one fentiment either in the office of baptifm, or in that of vifiting the fick, or in the burial fervice, as it is indiscriminately used-Not one apocryphal leffon which you are ordered to read-Not a fingle thing in the whole liturgy which you difapprove, and to which you do not give this affent and confent? Impoffible! You must diffent from and disapprove of many things, because you are poffeffed of common fenfe, common honesty, and common chriftianity.'

Mr. Flower thus clofes his arguments against this unwife, pernicious, and difhonourable practice.

Let us now draw the neceffary conclufion from the evidence we have produced; and fhocking as it must be to the feelings of every friend to truth or virtue, the fact must be declared, that the heavy charge, grofs prevarication, lies on the whole body of the clergy. Yes, gentlemen, whatever office you may hold in the church, from an archbishop to a curate-whatever you call yourfelves; Calvinifts or Arminians, Arians or Socinians, Trinitarians or Unitarians- High churchmen or Low churchmen; Methodists, Awakened clergy, Gofpel preachers, or Rational preachers-If you have declared that you unfeignedly believe what you do not unfeignedly believe, there is one indictment to which you must all plead guilty; you have entered into the church at that door by which Annanias and Sapphira were turned out; you are prevaricators in the fight of God; and as long as you continue in the church, holding any office or emolument whatever, by virtue of a declaration which you do not fully affent to, religious prevarication rests upon your fouls!!!'

When Mr. F. comes to treat of the extenfion of religious liberty in France, he apprehends that his own words would convey but a feeble idea of the admiration and gratitude due to that affembly, which has exalted toleration to its prefent height of glory.'


Upon fuch a topic, I lament I cannot fufficiently exprefs my feelings I muft borrow the language of one of thofe extraordinary men, who seems to have been endowed with an Angelic intelligence, who in profe as well as in poetry ranged "beyond the visible diurnal sphere;" and who one would imagine forefaw not only the revolution which has recently taken place, but the furprize and difmay which it excites in furrounding nations. "Methinks (fays the great Milton) I fee in my mind a noble and puiffant nation roufing herself like a ftrong man after fleep, and fhaking her invincible locks methinks I fee her as an eagle mueing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam; unfcaling her long abufed fight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noife of timorous and flocking



birds, with thofe alfo that love the twilight, flutter about amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble, prognofticate nothing but fects and fchifms."

The pleafing account of the happy effects produced by this liberal and enlarged fyftem of toleration, muft be perufed with fatisfaction and joy by every one who values the name and privilege of a Proteftant:

The first privilege which the diffenters from the established church have been eager to embrace is, The public profeffion of their religion. In the growing neglect of public worship in this country, proceeding from a variety of unhappy caufes, this privilege may, by many, be lightly esteemed. Those alfo, who attend divine fervice principally from education or cuftom, cannot form any proper eflimation of what affords them fo little pleafure. But thofe happy few, who find in the fervice of their God, duty and privilege equally united, need not to be told how great the bleffing is of religious affemblies. To fuch perfons I fhall make no apology for giving rather a minute account of the opening of one or two places of worship in a country, which, previous to the revelution, fuffered no religion but what was established.

The first church which I fhall notice, is that which was opened at Dunkirk, an account of which, although it has already appeared in one of our public prints, is too valuable, not to be still more extenfively circulated. The writer thus expreffes himfelf: "We now begin to enjoy the best benefits of the new conftitution, in the exercife of our own worship. On Sunday laft an English Proteftant church was opened here, an object that has been long in contemplation, but never before accomplished. The number of Proteftants in this place is very great; the church was fo full, that many ftood in the paffage throughout the fervice, while others returned for want of room. We have every appearance of forming a large and refpectable fociety, for the plan that is adopted has in view the union of all Proteftants; Epifcopalian, Prefbyterians, or other diffenters. The church of England fervice is made ufe of, reformed upon the plan of the late Dr. Clarke, Rector of St. James's, in which the exceptionable paffages of the common-prayer are omitted. It is a plan that gives general fatisfaction, and many of all parties intereft themfelves greatly in the caufe. The National Affembly has provided very generously for those who diffent from the eftablished church. All fects have the liberty of conducting baptifms, marriages, and burials, according to their own forms, and a regifter of them is kept in the chamber of the tribunal *."

In the fame town another church has been opened by a clergyman of the church of England, in which the common fervice is used. A mistake was, however, made, which, as it was the first of the kind in France, I wish it may be the laft. The minifter, unluckily, brought over fome of his high church prejudices with him, and attempted to fow his tares amongst the wheat, by urging fome

*Extract of a Letter from Dunkirk, dated Auguft 10, 1791. of

of the congregation not to be married by their own minifter, because he was not ordained by a bishop. This wife admonition was treated as it deserved, and served only to create a fmile. I have thought it right to mention this circumftance, as I am a meft fincere friend to the fpread of Chriftianity, under any of its forms. Any thing of religion is better than indolence, vice, and that ftupideft of all ftupid ignorance, attachment to prejudices because they are prejudices. With my beft wifhes, therefore, of fuccefs to any of the clergy of the church of England, who may endeavour to spread the reformed religion in France, I have only to express my hope, that they will carefully avoid the blunder of their Dunkirk brother.

In the fame town there are a number of Quakers, who have lately opened a place for religious worship, which I am informed is refpectably attended.

At Bologne fur la mer, an English church has lately been opened: the minifter preached his firit fermon from those appofite words in Revelations, chapter iii. verfe 8. "Behold I have fet before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."

To the foregoing fpecimen of the indulgence granted to English proteftants in the provinces, we fhall add Mr. Flower's account of the opening of one of the French proteftant churches in the capital, of which he himself was a witnefs:

Amongst the various reforms which have been made in the religious eftablishment, is that of reducing the number of parishes, confequently of churches. Every body knows that in the Catholic countries, there are numbers of churches more than are necessary. At Paris, there are eighteen which have been fhut up, and adververtised either for fale, or hire, to any religious community. The Proteftants at Paris, as foon as toleration was granted them, loft no time in affembling themselves together; their first meetings were held in a fpacious room in one of the hotels; this was found too fmall; as foon therefore as the churches were to be difpofed of, they hired one for their greater convenience, and for conducting their worship in a more public manner. The church fixed upon. was that of St. Louis de Louvre, a handsome oval building, formerly ufed by Louis the Fourteenth, and fituated clofe to the palace of the Thuilleries, as well as to that of which it bears the name. A few days previous to its being opened, notice was given to the department, who iffued proclamations to the people, exhorting them to conduct themselves like citizens of a free and enlightened nation. In this proclamation it was aflerted, that the liberty now granted to the Proteftants was not a matter of favour, it was only the re. floration of a right of which they had been long deprived. As this, however, was the first time of an affembly of Proteftants meeting for public worship, for this century pall, and as their place of meeting was a church which had been uniformly devoted to the eftablished fervice, it was thought proper to order a detachment of the national guards to prevent any disturbance; a precaution,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

which though prudent, was afterwards found unneceffary.
was Sunday the twenty-fecond of May, which was devoted to this
triumph of reafon, philofophy, liberty, and religion.

Previous to my entering the church, I obferved the following infcriptions on the front of it:

L'an de Jefus Chrift 1791. Le fecond de la liberté.
Edifice confacré à un culte religieux, par une focieté particuliere.

On entering the church, I perceived that piery and prudence had united to prepare the place fuitable for the audience. The pictures, with other inftruments of idolatry, had been removed, but their vacancies were all filled with fomething ufeful and edifying. Over the main altar were placed The ten commandments of God; and in different parts the Lord's prayer, the Apostle's creed, the Declaration of the rights of man, and the Duties of the citizen. I had taken my ftation only a few minutes, before the church (which conveniently holds about feven hundred people) was completely crouded. I was afterwards informed, many hundreds went away, who were not able to gain admittance.

It may not, perhaps, be ufelefs to inform fome of my readers, that the manner in which the French Proteftants conduct their worfhip, is fomething between that of the members of the establishment, and the diffenters in this country, and what fome may think an improvement on both. They have their liturgy, containing fervices for the offices of baptifm, marriage, &c. and various forms of prayer, but they are by no means confined to them. Their confeffion of faith and catechifm are calviniftical, and the French Protestants have in general been, what are called moderate Calvinists. The first part of the fervice (performed by the clerk) confifted in reading the Scriptures, and in finging, the latter accompanied by the organ. The eighth chapter of the first book of Kings, and the fecond chapter of St. Luke, were among other portions of Scripture read; and the eighty-fourth and the hundred and twentyfecond pfalms were fung on the occafion. A circumstance, which though many may think trifling, gave me fo much pleasure that I cannot help mentioning it. It being the first time of affembling in this public manner, there was a fcarcity of pfalm books. I perceived many lending their books to others, at the fame time withOut inconvenience to themfelves. They had the pfalms perfect in their hearts, and fang them with their lips, without difficulty. Many, I doubt not, then prefent, had made the Pfalms of David their fongs in the houfe of their pilgrimage. The ten commandments were read, during which the minifter (Monf. Marron) afcenced the pulpit. After finging another pfalm, he offered up a prayer expreffive of gratitude to the Deity for the mercies then vouchfafed, and entreating his prefence and bleffing. The fermon

How would our populace in many parts of the kingdom behave, were the churches to be let to the Prefbyterians?'

The two latter fentences are ordered to be placed on the front of every church which is not of the establishment.'


« VorigeDoorgaan »