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dwelt upon with the fond feeling of the poet mourning over the ruins of Troy. Nothing is seen in these portions of our history, whilst the “ man of sin” held dominion, but beauty and glory. A nation covered with monasteries, cloisters, religious houses, and filled with idle and dissipated monks and nuns, is the beau ideal of religious prosperity and perfection in the opinion of—“ tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon ! ”—the Oxford theologians, educated, honoured, and endowed to teach Protestant doctrine in the Protestant Church of these realms! Whilst all the charms of poetry and eloquence are called up to paint the glories of Popery in the gorgeous tints of unmixed beauty and happiness, equal labour is employed, though in a very different style, to exhibit the period to which our remarks refer, as that of unmitigated ignorance and barbarism. It is described as the iron age of our beloved country ; and, as to religion, it is sketched as the very night of the world, without one radiant beam, one glittering star, one ray of blessedness, to relieve the dismal gloom. The meaning of all this is clear enough. An impression is intended to be made, especially on the minds of our legislators and the higher classes, that nothing but a more stringent system of religious law and clerical authority, accompanied by a corresponding apparatus of superstition, can possibly conserve the nation from the imagined evils resulting from freedom of thought and worship. We demur to these assumed facts, as well as the reasoning founded upon them. On the contrary, we believe, the brightest moral epoch of our history lies within the limits of the much-maligned period in question.
It will not, however, suit the occasion, to go into any thing like a general proof. Let us limit our evidence to one fact only,—evangelical enterprise. The past century has seen more done for the conversion of the world, than has ever been witnessed in a similar period of time : may we not say, than had been witnessed during the whole period, from the age of the Apostles down to the commencement of the era referred to ? If the past century had been so entirely destitute of all Christian truth, piety, principle, and charity as is represented, how came this to pass? We have beheld the light of Christianity emanating from our shores to bless nearly all nations. Is this term too general ? Then we have seen all the agencies which Christianity can employ, engaged to bless the world, on a much larger scale than in any former period. Are we to be driven, by this new mode of tactics, from the recollection that the blessed Bible has been translated into a great number of languages and dialects; that a mighty apparatus of education for the benefit of all nations, has been put in motion; that, above all, the Gospel has been, and is now being, preached to an indefinite extent in every climate, and on every shore ; and, despite the derision of vain and supercilious men, churches, true Christian churches, -embracing tens of thousands who have as much right to the Christian name as any others, have been planted ? If this is not religion, then we ask, What is it? Now, will the parties who are so anxious to fix on what may be called the Methodistic epoch of our history the charge of religious indifference, or only a mischievous activity, have the goodness to tell us how they account for this one fact? Their friend and co-worker, Dr. Wiseman, cuts the knot at once, by denying that any success has attended these evangelical exertions.
But, passing over this denial as it deserves, and assuming the truth of the statements contained in the reported statistics of our respective Protestant churches, we infer that a deep and powerful religious principle has been at work. That spirit and agency which has voluntarily reared so many noble structures for Christian worship in this country, furnished so great a number of able men to preach the truth, trained up myriads of immortal spirits in wisdom, piety, public virtue, and divine love, and diligently attended to the wants of the young and the poor,—when endowed indifference allowed them to remain in ignorance and sin,—could be no other than religious and divine, unless moral principle has changed its nature, and evil has become good. And, moreover, the charity and zeal which devised the means, and prompted the men to descend into the depths of darkness and misery presented by enslaved Negroes, savage Pagans, and wandering hordes of destitute men, in order to reclaim them from their barbarism, and lead them to Christ,—could be no other than Christian. It would be cowardice in us, my dear brethren, nay, it would be unfaithfulness to God, not to vindicate his own work against the malevolent aspersions of its bitter enemies.
But why do we dwell on this? Because the policy is to decry, not merely Methodism in its organized form, but the spirit, the origin, and the spring of the great movement of which the name is the mere type. In opposition to this, we hold it to be divine, because so sanatory and useful in its operations. We prove this by the fact, that, in addition to the life and health imparted to its actual disciples, it has withered nothing in which moral life was found. The nation and the world have advanced in all the blessings of civilization; all the evangelical Dissenting churches have manifested a new spring of life and power; the Establishment has shaken herself from her slumbers, and has "put on her beautiful garments ;” and, it is extremely probable, that, but for the awakenings of this revival of religion, even the men who are now so actively zealous in opposition to its progress and growth, would have been quiet enough in the slumbers of a common moral death. It is in the order of things, that the same glorious sun which, by his genial beams, draws forth all the beauties and fertility of naturę, also warms the viper into life. Whether ecclesiastical and other authorities are prepared to allow the fact or not, yet the annals of the period under consideration cannot be expunged, and impartial history must make known two undeniable truths ; namely, that at the time the instruments of this work began to proclaim the doctrine of an evangelical faith, the church and nation were in a very degraded state as to religion and morals, and that, concurrently with the teaching of this truth, a great and important change has been wrought, embracing the growth of a powerful religious principle, an elevated tone of morals, and, also, on the whole, a vast improvement of the nation, at home and abroad, in all the characteristics of freedom, order, knowledge, wealth, and greatness.
(3.) We behold the simple truth, which produced so great a change in the Church and nation, operating in the midst of the most profli. gate, rude, and immoral masses of the people, and gathering beautiful and glorious fruit.
That great changes followed when men were visited by the Preachers of faith in the crucified Saviour, were offered a free and gratuitous pardon through his blood, and pressed to enter into the kingdom of God, is a fact attested by undeniable evidence. That a vast number of individuals and families, in the most destitute localities,—as colliers, miners, boatmen, working manufacturers, mechanics, peasants, farmers,—were roused from their slumbers, awakened to serious reflection, became devout in their spirit, and pure in their lives, is a matter of history. A social change followed the religious one. These individuals and families were improved in their habits, became sober and industrious, were employed in places of trust, gradually accumulated property, and became the pillars and the ornaments of society. It is impossible to conceive what the condition of these classes must have been, as to morals and civil order, had not this much-maligned system sought them out in their wretchedness and sin. Did either the church or the nation care for the souls of these wandering sheep ? Were churches built, endowments bestowed, Pastors sent, the Gospel preached, and religious education provided, for these accumulating masses of human beings ? It is notorious that for at least two generations, ours was nearly the only body who felt the urgency of their case, and made some humble efforts, as means could be obtained, to meet the growing necessity. We are now reproached on account of these exertions. Our labours are considered rebellion, and our uniting these poor outcasts in Christian communion as schism.
The result is both our reward and defence. A countless multitude, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” are now before the throne of God: many of their descendants, after emerging, by the force of those principles which religion implanted, and its habits taught, from the low and common level of society, are now filling honourable and useful posts, though no longer with us. A seed has been left, however, which has greatly increased in number, influence, and usefulness ; spacious and commodious places of worship have been reared, and means provided, for the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of its ordinances ; and, above all, we have reason to rejoice, that great multitudes of the present generation of the classes above mentioned are worshipping God in spirit, and rejoicing in possession of all the privileges of grace.
What produced these results ? The simple doctrine of salvation by faith. It came upon the slumbering age with the impressiveness of a new revelation; it flew, as news of strange but of transcendent importance, that man might know his sins forgiven, be “born again," and enjoy the love of God; the arrested and awakened multitudes transmitted the intelligence from place to place, till it reached the utmost verge of the nation ; the saved of the Lord bore an experimental testimony to what their eyes had seen, their ears heard, and their hearts felt and enjoyed ; and, in the end, though agitation, tumult, confusion, and opposition attended the process, large bodies of the people were upheaved from the depths of degradation in which they had sunk, and were presented to the beholder, like a submerged island raised in all the beauty and fertility of spiritual life.
If the doctrine of salvation by faith only be called in question,which is now, and ever has been, the fact with unspiritual men,have no objection to put the proof of its efficiency on the effects produced in the case under consideration. Cures wrought in the most inveterate instances of disease are rightly considered the best possible evidence of the skill of the Physician and the efficacy of his remedies. It has often, as at present, been the reproach of our body, that the educated, intellectual, scientific, and polite classes of society are rarely, if ever, brought to embrace our tenets and join our community. It may be so, and yet be no reproach to us. The question is not, whether our system of doctrine and communion is palatable to those who are “whole and need not a Physician ;” but, What has been the effect of the teaching and grace ministered by this church upon the diseased, who seek healing for their wounded spirits ? It is stated, that none but the ignorant condescend to place themselves under its ministry and ordinances. Does it leave them ignorant ? if not, where is the sting of the sarcasm ? Let the answer be the glorious fact, that nearly the whole community, from the beginning to the present time, Ministers and people, belonged to the poorer classes, many of whom are now, and long have been, walking in the paths of truth, and of elevated, practical, useful, and especially religious, knowledge. The objection is reiterated in another form; and it is said, that the vicious and wicked are chiefly operated upon. Are they left wicked? It is obvious that these persons, being in the most desperate
circumstances, need the most pity and care. And, undoubtedly, Methodism has gone down into the lowest depths of sin and misery. It bas planted its ordinances, and poured forth its healing waters, in the midst of the poorest and most wicked and polluted portions of the population ; and from amongst these destitute and neglected classes it has gained some of its most glorious triumphs. Even the modern Methodists themselves, who now worship God in their peaceful and quiet chapels, and live in the midst of cultivated religious society, can scarcely conceive the extent to which this was the case in the beginning. If this is our disgrace, we hail and welcome it ; or, rather, we adore God for his goodness in permitting us to bear reproach for his name's sake. And we take courage, and gather consolation from the conviction, that the doctrine of salvation by faith only, which has thus saved, purified, elevated, and made myriads of the most miserable families holy and happy, cannot but be both true and divine.
(4.) But, above all, the efficiency of the doctrine of salvation by faith only, is most fully illustrated by its success amongst the dark and idolatrous heathen nations.
The brightest demonstration of the transcendent value and importance of this divine truth, is to be sought on pagan ground. Here, if any where, it might be imagined, the experiment must fail. The simple doctrine of salvation by faith, it might be objected, cannot possibly meet evils and wants so complex as those found in the dark and bewildering superstitions of these besotted nations. - Will
you pretend,” it has been tauntingly inquired, “ to wean the people from their idolatry, break down their superstitions, dry up the fountain of their corruptions, and superinduce a new and Christian state of things, by your fond fancy, your fanatical preaching of Christ crucified ?” Let the result be the answer. This doctrine was proclaimed to slaves in Heathenism ; a class the most degraded, bought and sold like beasts of burden, their intellectual condition corresponding to their civil state, and, moreover, their morals low as sin could possibly reduce them. The messengers of our church visited them in these circumstances, and preached this truth; and this was their only instrumentality in seeking their conversion,—they possessed no other. They were without power, and, had they been disposed to employ it, possessed no means of coercion they were without friends, and could not, had their principles urged them to it, put the Negro race under a long course of preparatory education and training; they were opposed, despised, and persecuted, and had not the opportunity, on account of the condition of the slaves, even of exercising a perfect discipline, or regularly administering the sacraments. All that was left them in this region of oppressive misery and sin, was to scatter, as casual opportunities occurred, the