« PreviousContinue »
Members of the Established Church,
THE YEAR 1839.
PUBLISHED BY J. HATCHARD AND SON, PICCADILLY.
The field of research of a Christian Observer extends to the church and to the world :-to the former as the visible temple of the Lord; the abode upon earth of some portion of heavenly blessedness; a congregation of redeemed, justified, regenerated, and sanctified men, gathered from the wilds of our guilty and care. word fallen nature, to be replenished with the word and ordinances of divine grace for their spiritual sustenance and enjoyment :-to the Intter, chiefly in its connexion with the former; regarding things temporal as they bear upon things eternal; and the kingdoms of this world as they have to do with the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, who shall reign for ever and ever.
But this survey is too wide and lofty for a passing glance. Let us restrict the field of vision. Let us pass by the hundreds of millions of heathens and Mohammedans—not indeed in our prayers or efforts for their conversion, but in order for a moment to fix our eye more intently nearer home. Let us move back upon Christendom; and there, still concentrating our gaze, let us bring it to rest on that portion of its inclosure with which we are directly connected. Let us forget also the complicated secular affairs of the vast family of nations ; and confine our present rapid survey to our own beloved country. We have thus brought our glass nearer to a focus; but the image is still vague and indistinct; and would that we could say it presents one bright spot of pure light and radiant warmth !
What then is the present aspect of Great Britain, in her spiritual and civil relationships? There is sunshine, and there are clouds; and the one or the other will seem to prevail according to the frame of mind or the point of vision of the spectator. We are not among the most gloomy prognosticators ; but we see much to cause sorrow and alarm; and though we do not adopt those views of prophecy which make the Gospel dispensation to terminate in blackness instead of hope and joy, we do see, both in the sacred page and in the aspect of the times, much that leads us to think that the nominal church, which requires to be purified, may be made to arrive at its purification through a refiner's fire heated seven times hotter than it has yet been heated.
Let us cast our eye upon the state of religion in this our beloved land. Of those who worship not in our communion we will say little. Popery has increased, is increasing, and seems likely to increase, by reason of its inherent adaptation