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Or again, if any of you have a garden, with its trim beds, and tidy walks, showing the attention you bestow on it If you neglect that garden, thorns and thistles will soon overrun your walks, and destroy your flowers. again cultivate your plot of ground, restore its order, and remove its weeds, you do not tell your neighbours, who congratulate you on the completion of your task, that you have a new garden; but that you have re-made, re-newed, and re-formed it. So it was at the Reformation. There was no new religion. The Church of England was healthy in declaring the truths of the Scriptures, in preaching the religion of Christ, in maintaining the doctrines of the Apostles. The Church of England became sick in holding the traditions of men, in propagating Popish legends, in withholding the Word of God. The Church of England at the Reformation became, as the garden re-made. She was restored to her former purity, refreshed with her early piety. She taught no new ? truths, but re-established, in greater conformity with the Scriptures, that religion for which, centuries before, many of her earlier sons had witnessed a good confession with their blood.
Neither was there, my brethren, any change at this time in the persons who composed the Church of England. I particularly beg you to observe this point.
The property of the Church did not change hands. It was not taken from one set of men, and given to another. The fact was this:- The men who held the property still continued to hold it. There was no change in the men, but in the opinions. The King and Laity in their Parliament, the Bishops and Clergy in their Convocation, consented to receive the new Prayer-Book. They agreed to omit the things altered by the Reformation. There was some murmuring and discontent, but no schism, made in the Church, at the time of Henry VIII. The whole Church and realm acquiesced in his arrangements.
So, also, it was under Elizabeth. The whole hierarchy and commonalty of the land accepted the reformed Prayer-Book of
1 “Be it known, therefore, to all the world, that our Church is only reformed or repaired, not made new. There is not one stone of a new foundation laid by us; yea, the old walls stand still; only the overcasting those ancient stones with the untempered mortar of new inventions displeaseth us. Plainly set aside the corruptions, and the Church is the same."-Bishop Hall's WORKS, Vol. ix. 315.
Queen Elizabeth. It is a well authenticated historical fact, that every one, however great his attachment to the old system, did frequent the churches, and did conform to the reformed ritual of the Church of England, for the first eleven years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. It is, I repeat, a wellknown fact, that every denizen of England, during the first
of this Queen, did alone worship in this country according to the ritual of the Church of England.
At this date it was, that the then Bishop of Rome, for the first time, published a Bull, condemnatory of the Reformation of Elizabeth; and at this date, in consequence of this Bull, those who retained more affection for the Pope than for the alterations then permanently established in the Church of England, seceded from her pale, renounced her communion, and first commenced that community of Christians in this country, who acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome in preference to the Bishops of the National Church, within which the providence of God has placed them.
This Bull of the Bishop of Rome, issued at this time, gave rise to the Plot from which we celebrate this day, the deliverance of our nation.
The party which acknowledged at this time the authority of the Pope, was powerful by their numbers, and by their union, and by the aid imparted to their plans by the avowed sympathy of all the nations then exercising political influence in Europe. The Romanists were constantly engaged, during the lifetime of Elizabeth, in treasonable plots and serious conspiracies against her crown, with a view to place a sovereign on the throne who should re-attach the English Church to the Pope. These plots were all discovered and repelled ; and when James I. peacefully ascended the throne of this country, and in his numerous family gave a guarantee to the nation of a settled succession, then this party contrived the Plot on this day remembered, to destroy the three estates of the realm, in the hope that, in the confusion which would ensue, they might obtain the object of their machinations in the appointment of a Popish Sovereign to the throne.
I know, indeed, my friends, that it is the fashion of a cer
Queen Elizabeth, in her instructions to Sir F. Walsingham, her ambassador to France, dated August 11, 1570, speaking of the leading Romanists, says, “ They did ordinarily resort from the beginning of her reign, in all open places, to the Churches, and to divine service in the Church, without any contradiction or show of misliking."
tain party among us, in the present day, to deny the existence of this Piot, and to ridicule its annual commemoration ; but I am sorry to say that, after a most careful investigation of the evidences by which it is supported, I must express my full conviction of its truth. It is supported by every evidence which can be looked for in testimony and corroboration of any great national event. The letters of those who planned the plot; the avowals of the actors themselves, who executed it; the confessions of others, who, in expectation of its success, were prepared to rise in insurrection at a distant part of the country; the fact that, at the very time, a national custom, commemorative of the event (I allude to the custom of searching the vaults, by the officers of the House, on every meeting of a new Parliament), was commenced, and has continued ever since. All these circumstances afford such an abundant testimony to the fact of this Plot being planned, and nearly carried out, that I, for one, am compelled to give my credence to it. Neither, indeed, can I, in connection with this subject, forget that history brings the testimony of her verdict in corroboration of the possibility of this deed of guilt. For the Church which, in other lands, through a mistaken zeal for religion, and in furtherance of political views, could plan the horrors of the Sicilian Vespers, and the cold-blooded carnage of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, would not hesitate (I must believe) to remove, by one stroke, the Government of a nation which had opposed its plan, and renounced its authority. Impressed with these sentiments, I, for one, must continue my commemoration of this day; and assist, as opportunity may allow, in calling on my countrymen to be grateful in the recollection of the mercies as on this day awarded to their country.
It is not, my brethren, my usual custom to make direct allusion from this place to the opinions of other religionists living with us in this island. I am content generally to set before you “the whole counsel of God," as attested by the teachings of the Church of which you are members, and in which I am called upon to minister. But on the present occasion, I purpose to depart from the rule which I had laid down during the time of my ministering among you, for my adoption. When, indeed, I consider the strange circumstance of the day in which we live—that men, who have lived in the full light and knowledge of the open Scriptures—that men, who have had, or who ought to have had, by their position as
authorized teachers, the power to give a reason for the hope that was in them—that these men have been guilty of the grievous sin of apostacy, that they have deserted a Church which giveth the living oracles of God, for a Church that teacheth lying fables: when I consider this strange circumstance, the peculiar characteristic of the day in which we live, I think that I should not be doing my duty, whether as preaching before you on this day, or as speaking to you a farewell exhortation, if I did not at this time make some allusion to the opinions of those, from whose machinations three centuries ago, we now commemorate our deliverance.
I purpose, then, to give you a general test, an universal rule, by which you may distinguish the certainty of Christian and Catholic truth; and then, to consider briefly, some particular errors adopted and maintained by the authority of the Bishop of Rome.
There is then a general rule, an universal test, by which we may establish the certainty of Christian truth against the conflicting teachings of Churches, or the multiform variations of human opinion. All matters of faith and practice, may in the first place, be referred to the law and to the testimony.” Everything that cannot be found in the Scriptures or proved thereby, may be rejected. So far, all will consent. But this test will not be sufficient; for when the Scriptures seem to oppose each other, when human interpretations clash, and each claims the sacred text, as authorising his individual version, then, what general rule can be established for the end of controversy ? Now, here, my brethren, I boldly avow that that rule, and that test, adopted by the Church of England, will be sufficient for this purpose, and that (when accepted) it does and will establish the certainty of Christian and Catholic faith.
The Church of England takes the Scriptures as the main foundation of all her teaching, and at the same time enjoins on her ministers the necessity of preaching nothing that was not held nor maintained by the first four General Councils of the Christian Church. Here, then, we obtain a test by which to secure the certainty of Christian or Catholic truth. “That is true which was first, that is false and adulterate which is later." The first four Councils were large Ecclesiastical Assemblies, composed of Bishops from every part of the world ; from the East and West, from Africa, and Asia, and Europe. Of these men each knew what was the teaching of his own Church ; and the aggregate teaching of these Churches, the sameness of doctrines universally held by them all, were expressed in Creeds, drawn up in Councils, and promulged in Canons. These are yet extant. These, consistent themselves with the Scriptures, formed in early times the summaries of the Christian faith, the tests of admission to Catholic fellowship and communion. These still, with the Holy Scriptures, form the test or rule by which to judge the certainty of Christian faith - and that Church, which refers all her teachings to the sacred Scriptures, to the assertions of the Creeds, and to the decrees of the first four General Councils, secures to her people the blessings of a Scriptural faith, of a Catholic creed, and of an authoritative Teaching.
To this test we are content to refer all the matters of controversy between us and the Church of Rome. As far, indeed, as the Church of Rome teaches Catholic doctrine, as far as she teaches doctrines sanctioned by the Scriptures, by the early Creeds, and by the first four General Councils, so far do we agree with her: when she departs from this teaching, and asserts her peculiar errors, in opposition to the generally received faith of the first four centuries, then do we depart from her, and protest against her. We take our stand against her on the twofold ground that the errors maintained by her are opposed by the Scriptures, by the Three Creeds, and by the concurrent teaching of the first four Christian Councils. This was the principle acknowledged by Bishop Jewell, when he stood at Paul's Cross, and, in the presence of the
assembled citizens of London, gave his public challenge :: “ That if any one peculiar tenet of the Romish Church could be proved to have been held in the first six centuries, he would forego the reformed religion, and join his countrymen in their continued allegiance to the Pope.” This was the conviction which led
1 Cf. VI Article.
? Cf. VIII Article, 3 Cf. Hooker's Eccles. Polity, Book viii. c. ii. sec. 18.--"Wherefore not without good consideration the very law itself hath provided, “That Judges Ecclesiastical shall not adjudge for heresy anything but that which heretofore hath been so adjudged by the authority of the Canonical Scriptures, or by the first four General Councils. These were the words of an Act of Parliament, in first year of Elizabeth." The Canons of Archbishop Parker, 1571, give the same directions to Preachers. Concionatores. “Inprimis vero videbunt, ne quid unquam doceant pro concione, nisi quod consertaneum sit doctrinæ Veteris aut Novi Testamenti, quodque ex illa ipsâ doctrinâ catholici Patres, et veteres episcopi collegerint."'CARDWELL'S SYNODALIA, Vol. I. p. 126.
• In a sermon preached at St. Paul's Cross, on the Sunday before Easter, March 11th, 1560. - Cf. Isaacson's LIVE OF JEWELL, p. 44.