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three hundred persons presented themselves as converts from Popery, anxious to be admitted into communion with their Protestant brethren.
The Christian Observer" of April 1833, speaking of the symptoms of revival in another quarter at that time, says, "On every side are chapels and churches dedicated to Papal saints; and the true worship of God had been superseded by the grossest idolatry. Lately, however, some Bibles have penetrated the place, and the perusal of them has been conspicuously attended by the blessing of God. M. Renous, a pious Protestant minister, hearing that some of the people were assiduously studying the Word of God, and were even preparing to throw off the yoke of Popery, repaired to the place, and has been labouring diligently among them in preaching the doctrines of salvation. The attendance at his discourses has already increased from twenty to two hundred; thirty heads of families have sent in a declaration to the mayor, that they are determined to live and die Protestants, and have demanded the protection of the laws as a religious body. M. Renous describes his discourses as being interrupted with the frequent exclamations of his astonished and delighted auditors; contrasting the blessedness of Christian truth, and the offer of free pardon through the blood of the Saviour, with the follies and penances to which they had been accustomed.”
Whatever difficulties the Evangelical Societies of Paris and Geneva may, in common with all similar institutions, have to struggle with, the cause of home evangelization is growing in interest and importance. In three months the Paris committee have received two hundred and fifty applications from different quarters, for spiritual labourers. The funds of the religious institutions of Protestant France have tripled in two years, and it is estimated that the two societies together employ two hundred Christian labourers of one kind or another-making, with the faithful pastors of the Church, a little band of four hundred soldiers of the Cross; surely the indication of a decided revival.
Such a state of things as this-and what has been recorded is only a specimen-could not be allowed to go on without opposition. There would be a strong presumption that the work was not sound, if Infidelity and Popery could look tamely on at its progress. Accordingly, persecution, so far as the law will allow, is beginning to appear anew. Many men imagined that the Revolution of 1830 was to seal for
ever the triumph of religious freedom, and that after the article in the charter, declaring the Roman Catholic to be the religion of the State, had been abolished, there could be no possible pretext for oppressing evangelical communions; but the truth is, that persecution has a far deeper foundation than the accidental circumstance of whether a particular Church is or is not recognized by the State. It is founded in the depravity of human nature-in the hatred of Popery and Infidelity to the holy truth of God. Persecution will show itself whether Churches be established or not. Witness the persecutions of the truth by the unestablished Popish Church of Ireland at this moment: so in France. Two years ago a faithful minister relying on that article of the constitutional charter, by which it is declared that all Frenchmen may profess their religion with equal freedom, opened a chapel at Metz, in Lorraine. For this he was prosecuted by the mayor; and after an appeal to the highest court-that of Cassation it was found that the previous leave of the mu nicipal authorities is indispensable to the opening of a place of worship. And what was the ground of objection in this case? It does not seem that the mayor had any himselfhe may even have been friendly to the chapel-but the preacher had offended the rich Jews by some publications on the subject of Judaism, and it was they who were the persecutors-men who but lately had been themselves the victims of oppression! Had they not succeeded in this legal objection, it is certain that a thousand other modes of annoyance and oppression would have been employed. preacher was fined. Various other and more serious cases have occurred since so much so, that the writer in the "New York Observer" remarks-"The French Cabinet shows hostile feelings against religious sects, and seems disposed to tread in the steps of the Ministers of Charles X." **** "Facts evince that the French Government have adopted a systematic plan of judicial prosecutions against the liberty of worship." Any one who is living in such personal danger as the present monarch, would need a more enlightened faith than it is to be feared Louis Philip possesses to preserve him from the temptation of leaning to the priests who surround him. But these incipient persecutions show that divine truth is making progress. It would not be worth while to attempt forcibly to restrain what was not worth fighting with, or what threatened no danger.
The following are extracts from an interesting letter which
I have received from the Rev. Fr. Marzials, the Protestant minister of Lille in the north of France. They shortly describe the condition of the Reformed Church at the present moment: "Most likely you are aware that the French Government has communicated lately to our high consistories a plan of constitution for our churches. The confessed motive of it is to get us out of the anarchy in which we are as a body; and the real motive is, as much as possible to prevent true Christian principles to exercise any influence over the nation. This is the conviction of our pious clergymen ; and I do not see how any other view can be entertained on the matter. Who is the real author of this plan we do not know; we only guess that the Rationalist party of our Church has much to do with its origin, and that the Popish influence has found its way to it. This plan has three abominable leading principles: 1st, It makes our Church, in every respect, the humble servant of the Government; 2d, It prevents our Church from ever becoming a Missionary Society for France; and, 3d, It establishes a few rules of interior discipline, which are really nothing more but an insult to the spirit and sense of our Protestants." * *
"A nobleman of great repute, as a statesman, a faithful citizen, and a Christian-the Comte de Gasparin-has writ ten a pamphlet in answer to the letter of M. Coquerel, in which he plainly says, as his most decided conviction (and he is in a position to know the true state of things,) that this plan has originated in the desire to shut, in the narrowest bounds possible, our Church and its influence. No wonder at this: the Spirit of the Lord is blowing upon the dry bones; and the Rationalist party, and the Popish party, feel their cause to be in such a peril by this slow but sure revival, that they are decided to use all means to put a stop to it. Nay, but the Lord reigneth-there is our rock, our foundation. From this movement I cannot but infer two or three reflections:
"1st. It shows that the Lord is amongst us for good. Nobody, I think, can deny this. If I was going to choose a part of France as a proof of this, I would tell you to look at this departement-Le Nord. By the blessing of God upon the Bibles distributed, the tracts sold, the preaching of his servants, nearly ten new churches have been formed, mostly in towns and villages where, ten years ago, there was not to be found one Protestant. I remember well, dear Sir, the time I had only sixteen hearers in my Church; and now
by the grace of God, the church is too small-so much so, that the Government has granted us sufficient money to build three galleries in it, which will be begun in a few days. Perhaps I am below the truth when I say that eighty Catholics in this town have embraced our views, and many of them, I trust, the truth as it is in Jesus. What I say of this departement I could say of many other parts of France.
2d. That the Catholic priests are annoyed at this revival. Last year the bishops of this Church published in their mandements strong and bold anathemas against our Bibles, our colporteurs, and our tracts; and two of them this year have gone further; their mandements are as violent as possible; this is specially the case with the bishop of Arras. Their newspapers bear also large proofs of their dissatisfaction. No doubt, therefore, that they exert all their power and influence with the Government to have our liberties curtailed as much as possible.
"3d. All this agitation about the plan of the Government shows, according to my humble views, that our Protestant people themselves are not satisfied with our present laws as regards the Church. Indeed, how could they be satisfied with a law which makes us the mere slaves of temporal authorities? I do not say much on this point, because every body amongst us acknowledges it." It is to be feared that the Erastian interference of the civil with the ecclesiastical, is one of the stages of persecution through which the Church of Christ is destined to pass on the way to the happy era, when He is to be universally acknowledged "King of kings and Lord of Lords."
CONTEMPORANEOUS HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, FROM 1792 TO THE PRESENT TIMES-1840.
In the last chapter, on the Church of Scotland, I directed the attention of the reader to the wide-spread religious declension of the latter half of the eighteenth century, and to the spirit of thoughtfulness and revival which was awakened by the shakings of the French Revolution in 1792. Before tracing the history of the Church from that date to the present, it may be well to point to a few additional proofs of the irreligion which so extensively characterized the Church of Christ in this land, and the infidelity which marked the
world. It is desirable to know from what a "horrible pit and miry clay" our country has, in some measure, been delivered. This will naturally excite gratitude to God, and lead the Church, at the present day, to humble and abase herself before Him for her past unfaithfulness. Thus, too, will she be armed with the greater vigilance and resolution against the revival of that ecclesiastical policy which would restore days of former darkness and degeneracy.
The eighteenth century had its ample share of the mental excitement which war is supposed to carry along with it. In the first ninety years of the century, before the wars rising out of the French Revolution had begun, there were not less than thirty-five years of warfare, which, not to speak of the loss of life, cost the nation three hundred and seventyfour millions of money-almost one-half the present national debt: I allude to the wars of the Spanish succession in 1702 -the war of Spain in 1739-the seven years' war in 1756— and the war of American independence in 1775: but all this loss of men and treasure does not seem to have been sanctified, nor to have stirred the national intellect and conscience. The science and literature of the period appears to have partaken of the same character with its religion. The Edinburgh Review*-a very competent judge on such questions-comparing the authors of the eighteenth with those of an earlier century, makes the following statement:Speaking generally of that generation of authors, it may be said, that, as poets, they had no force or greatness of fancy, no pathos, and no enthusiasm; and as philosophers, no comprehensiveness, depth, or originality. They are sagacious, no doubt, neat, clear, and reasonable; but, for the most part, cold, timid, and superficial." Such was the character of the authorship when true religion was rapidly declining. How great the contrast with the state of things which obtained when the Church and country were decidedly evangelical! The same high critical authority says, in the same paper "There never was any thing like the sixty or seventy years which elapsed from the middle of Elizabeth's reign to the period of the Restoration. In point of real force and originality of genius, neither the age of Pericles, nor the age of Augustus, nor the time of Leo X., nor of Louis XIV., can come at all into comparison; for in that short period we shall find the names of all the very great men that this nation has ever produced-the names of Shakspeare, Bacon Spen* Vol. xviii. p. 275.