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ITS PRESENT PROGRESS, ITS FINAL FALL, AND THE
DIFFICULTIES AND DUTIES OF PROTESTANTS
IN THESE DAYS.
TO A VOLUME ENTITLED
• The Testimony of the Reformers.'
BY THE REV. E. BICKERSTETH,
RECTOR OF WATTON, HERTS.
THIRD EDITION, ENLARGED.
PRICE ONE SHILLING EACH, OR 12 FOR 10$. 6d.
Art G. - 26
The Gospel intrusted to Minis- 4. Its extreme adaptation to us54
3 5. Corrupted Protestantism ..56
5 IV. SOME ADVANTAGES.......58
GRESS OF POPERY... 27 1. Prayer and Watchfulness62
3. Its connection with Dissen-
PROGRESS OF POPERY,
The 'glorious gospel of the blessed God, committed to the trust of his ministers (1 Tim i. 11), is the richest treasure which they can dispense to men. In proportion to the excellency of the treasure is the responsibility of faithfulness to their trust.
How rich that treasure is, what tongue can utter! It is the good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, that there has been born for us, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. It is the faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the very chief. It is the good news, that, though our God is beyond compare pure and holy, just and righteous, he so loved the world, the sinful, rebellious world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
By simple faith in God's testimony concerning his Son, we enter into the most delightful of all feelings, that God loves us, though vile and sinful, and is our most tender and merciful Father, and thus we bave the rich privilege of being his children. This faith is its own evidence in the peace, joy, love, and gratitude with which it fills the bosom of the Christian, and the holiness which it produces in his life. He that believeth hath the witness in himself. In his very coming to Christ he knows that he is among the elect, and has been drawn of the Father to come ; all that the Father giveth me shall come unto me: no man can come to me, except the Father draw him: my sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Under the blessed influence of these truths, and by the new creating power of the Holy Ghost, the Christian loves as his tender Father the great God, loves his Saviour Jesus, and all bis fellow-men; and in the diligent use of all God's appointed means of grace, he is daily conformed, more and more, to his heavenly Lord, and becomes meet for his everlasting inheritance.
Satan, the God of this world, seeing this blessed effect of the pure gospel of Christ, has ever bent his strength from the very beginning, to mar and adulterate it. We see this in the necessity of the first council at Jerusalem, and in the epistles generally, especially those to the Romans and Galatians. The Lord who foresaw that Rome would be one grand instrument employed by Satan to obscure and overthrow the gospel of the grace of God, in his infinite wisdom and love provided the most complete, systematic, full and orderly statement of salvation by grace, addressed specially to the Romans, that it might be their guard from these devices of that enemy.
To maintain the purity of the gospel, to be full of zeal and godly jealousy on this point, is a great part of our fidelity as stewards of the mysteries of Christ. Especially does it become us to be so when there is reason to think that the grossest corruption of the gospel that the world has ever yet seen, is again reviving among us.
We live in most awful, heart-stirring and fearful times, from infidelity as well as from popery. We cannot indeed be blind to the fact, that INFIDELITY is a more open enemy to Christ than popery, not even pretending to hold one of the truths of the gospel, and in its very nature excluding altogether the hopes, the joys, and the holiness, the present and the everlasting happiness of delighting in God, which comes by Christ our Saviour. Nor can we be blind to the fact that there are said to be thirty congregations in London where infidelity is regularly preached, and that the worst works of infidels, and those most adapted to delight man's fallen mind, are widely circulated. The writings of infidels on the continent fearfully embody now all kinds of blasphemy. In the language of Cecil, • The infidel conspiracy approaches nearest to popery. But infidelity is a suicide. It dies by its own malignity. It is known and read of all men.
No man was ever injured essentially by it who was fortified with but a small portion of the genuine spirit of Christianity, its contrition and its docility. Nor is it one in its efforts; its end is one, but its means are disjointed, various and often clashing. Popery debases and alloys Christianity ; but infidelity is a furnace, wherein it is purified and refined. The injuries done to it by popery will be repaired by the very attacks of infidelity.' Yet Mr. Cecil said, “The church has endured a pagan and a papal persecution. There remains for her an infidel persecution,-general, bitter, purifying, and cementing.'
We must not then overlook this foe, as one also to be met: and it can only be met by the same bright, holy, joyful, and heavenly light of divine truth shining in our principles, in our words, and in our lives; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.
POPERY is a more dangerous enemy because it pretends to be the warmest and only real friend of Christ. Believing what protestants do of popery, its state and progress cannot but be a matter of deep interest and concern. If we love, as we do from the heart, papists who as our fellow men, are with ourselves the objects of the love of the same God and Father, (John iii. 16.) who are with ourselves redeemed by the same divine blood, (2 Cor. v. 19.) and who have the same promises of the Holy Spirit as ourselves, (Luke xi. 13.) how can we but see, with