Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

any other kingdom alone, in which these controversies and discussions among Christians prevailed, the remedy for the hatreds which result from them might be safely left to the Legislatures and the Churches of their respective countries. If the agitations of the Popery and Protestantism of England and Britain were left to the British people alone—if the Jansenism and Jesuitism, the Romanism and Protestantism of France were confined to France alone-if the disputes between the old and new inhabitants of America were unknown beyond the districts where they occur—if the opposition in Russia between the Romanists in the Polish provinces and the Greek Church, over which their Emperor presides, were limited to the Russian empire—if the contests between the Jesuits and the Calvinists of Switzerland penetrated no further than their own rocky cantons—if the collisions between the movements in Prussia excited no interest beyond the boundaries of the districts which they agitate ; then, then the quieting of the various commotions which disturb these communities might be safely left to their own civil and ecclesiastical authorities, to popular control, approbation, or contempt, or to the public law of the countries in which they respectively arise ;- but the disease is neither partial, nor local, nor limited : it is universal.— The hatred of Christian to Christian endangers the general peace, and threatens perpetual war to every European community.-A river flowing through many and various provinces, so long as it is restrained within its banks, benefits all with its commerce, and pleases all with its beauty ; but when it breaks its barriers, and overleaps its boundaries, no distinction is then made between the invisible lines and nominal divisions which separate kingdom from kingdom, and the possessions of the peasants and people of one language, from the possessions of the peasants and people of another language.-So it is with religion. When the river of the water of life commenced its course from Jerusalem, freely flowing between its banks of Scriptural truth, and Catholic union, it blessed and cheered the heathen lands it first began to move in; but when those holy banks and barriers were broken through, neither the order of the Churches, nor the landmarks of states and provinces, preserved them from the deluge of hatred and error, which has not yet subsided. The Arianism of Alexandria, could not be entrenched within the borders of the diocese of its birth. It convulsed the Roman Empire.-The decisions of the Bishops of Rome desolated Europe and Asia, The new discipline of Calvin in Geneva, gave civil wars to France, long agitations to England, perpetual divisions to Scotland, and ceaseless vexations to every part of Christ's Holy Church, where its claims to favour are mooted. Now, even now, the assumption of universal supremacy on the part of Rome, sometimes appealing to the people against their rulers, sometimes appealing to their rulers against the people ; now upholding, as in Ireland, remembrances, which, but for the leaven of perverted religion, might gradually become obsolete and forgotten ; now flattering, as in France, national prejudices, which might be insensibly removed, under the joint influence of a paternal government at home, and the peaceful neighbourhood of England abroad ;-so prevents the present possibility of union, that the squabblings of its rashest subjects, in a petty island in the Pacific, endanger the tranquillity of all Europe, because the cry of

religion is heard on both sides, and the national honour is mistakenly identified with attachment to clashing creeds. Our divisions, like fevers, arise from marshes, but they desolate cities. They are invisible in their origin, but they are deadly in their effects. Like Milton's morning mist in Eden, an evil spirit is in them; and peace and happiness are banished from the children in the garden of the Church; as peace and innocence were banished from their parents in the garden of that original Paradise.


Some power to lessen these evils is given by the Providence of God, to the Christian

Sovereigns, who have succeeded Constantine in his Empire. Is there then no remedy ? none, none whatever for this state of things ? Must the quarrels of Churches continue for ever ? Has the Providence of God, which governs the civilized, and moral, and Christian world, commanded His servants, the Prophets, to predict the coming of the day when the kingdoms of the world shall so become the kingdoms of Christ, that He, the Prince of Peace and Truth, shall govern them, and of His dominion there shall be no end? and shall there be no means of checking the bitter hatreds which now make those kingdoms the kingdoms of the evil one ? Shall the world have hitherto been ruled by that Providence, upon the principle that God from evil produces a greater good, than if that previous evil had not existed ; and shall we never hope to see the dawning of the predicted day, when this monstrous evil also shall be overruled for good ? Shall we never see one ray of light beam from Heaven, through the darkness of this chaos ? Shall the man who hints only at the possibility of peace among Christians, be still thought the weakest of fools, and the suggestion of any plan of peace be deemed a proof only of insanity resulting from benevolence, which, though it elicits approbation, compels a smile? It cannot be. There must be some remedy in the dispensations which God's Providence ordains, for all the evils which God's Providence permits ; and it is our duty, as it is our privilege and happiness, to endeavour to discover that remedy, and to promote, to the utmost of our power, the reunion of Christians.— I judge of others by myself; and I believe, therefore, that the secular powers of Europe would be actuated by the same motive, and be anxious to discharge the same duty. I believe also, that as it is the bounden duty of the Imperial, Regal, and Electoral rulers of Christendom, to accomplish this great benefit to their subjects—and no attempt has hitherto been made by them to diminish or to assuage the mutual hatreds which alienate Christian from Christian,- I believe the reason of such seeming neglect of their highest and noblest duty, to have proceeded from no indisposition to consider the best mode by which their worthy object may be effected; but from the fact that no scheme or plan for the union of Christians has been hitherto suggested, or submitted to their consideration. I believe that if any mode could be devised by which the mass of religious dissension and fierce hatred could be lessened; neither the humility nor the obscurity of the proposer, nor any partial objections, nor any selfish opposition from whatever quarter it might proceed, would or could prevent the final consideration, and the eventual adoption, of some such plan. I venture then to make one humble effort to supply this deficiency, and to solicit the attention of all the three great classes of mortal, sinful, dying men, who are interested in the promotion of this useful object; the People, the Priesthood, and the Rulers of the civilized and Christian world.—And I implore them all, before I presume to submit to them the draft of the project for the reunion of Christians, which I believe might be wholly or partially adopted by them all; to permit me to mention to them that one, one principal foundation of my hope, which appeals alike to them all, and which forms at once the best apology for the writer, and the best reason for thoughtful contemplation with the reader.

The foundation, then, of the appeal which I presume to make to the people and to the priesthood, but more especially to the secular powers within the Church of Christ, is, the remembrance that one, one only remaining bond in spite of all their divisions and their hatreds, still binds them together. It is this, that whatever be their titles of distinction, difference, division, and alienation, one, one holy name remains, which is alike' common to them all; which is the pride of all, the boast of all, the hope of all. It is the banner under which they fight; the epithet by which they are willing to be described; the appellation by which they express their love to God, their duty to man, their

respect for themselves, their patriotism to their country, and their benevolence to all mankind :—that name is Christian. Their Religion is the Christian Religion; their Faith, the Christian Faith ; their God, the Christian God; their present duty, the Christian duty ; their future confidence of the happiness of that immortality in which they will remember the actions and principles of their lives, is the Christian confidence of immortality, which is established upon the conviction that “their common Redeemer liveth." This is the foundation of my presumption.- What, what I ask, is implied by the retaining of the one holy name of CHRISTIAN, by the mortal, sinful, dying, accountable race around me, whether they be the Laity, the Priesthood, or the ruling class of mankind; who, whether they be called of the Greek Church, or Lutheran, or Calvinist, or Protestant, or Romanist, or Papist, or Tramontane, or Ultramontane, or by any other title of separation, still, still boast of the common name of Christian ?-Does the common word denote a common Faith? If so, what is that Faith? Does it denote a common Deity? If so, what is that Deity? Is there a Christianity independent of the names, Lutheran, and Calvinist, Protestant, or Papist? If so, what is that Christianity? What is that mass of truths which is common to all Christians ? and cannot that mass of common truths be made the solid foundation of the one common duty, Peace, Peace and Union ?-If there be one Christianity, one mass of truths, common alike to all Christians, upon which the hope of peace and union among those Christians may be founded, and if our dissensions, divisions, and hatreds still continue; to whom must the distracted nations look for the realization of that hope, but to their Secular Rulers; whose prosperity is founded on the happiness and morality of their People, whose interest it is to promote the union of Christians; and whose holy name of Christian reminds them as much, as constantly, and as certainly of their duty to their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, as it reminds the humblest of the Priests, or the meanest of their People ?The Christian rulers of Christian Europe must be the originators of Christian union among the Christian people of Europe. Their subjects cannot originate this union. Their subjects are guided by their respective Priesthoods, or they are guided by their own conclusions; but they have neither the

of miracle to convince, nor of authority to control each other. They may possess the freedom to form opinions, the talents to invent them, and the learning to defend them. They may proselytize many or few, but their best efforts will be neutralized by those who are interested to oppose them, unless the conclusions to which they arrive in support of union be enforced or recommended by a higher authority than that of the most learned private individual. The Priesthood cannot originate such union. The Priesthood, the Christian Priesthood, the Ministry which Christ appointed, shines, it is true, like the sunbeams upon the palace without honour, and upon the cottage without degradation ; but the dark clouds of their respective divisions have lessened their glory and obscured their light; and if the divided Priesthood of any one country in Europe could unite in recommending to their equally divided countrymen the adoption of any new plan of union among themselves; that recommendation would be regarded only as a pious opinion. It could not bear the authority and force of law, unless it possessed also the sanction and decree of the secular legislature. If, too, it were possible that the Priesthood and the Legislature of any one country were to unite in upholding such union among themselves; they could not enforce the adoption of the same plan upon the Priesthood and Legislature of the countries that surround them.-If, too, even the whole Christian Priesthood of Europe could unite in proposing and urging upon the People one great scheme of Christian Union, such Christian wisdom and conduct would be entitled to, and would receive, the utmost attention and respect; but it could not become the law of Europe unless the Christian Legislatures of Europe welcomed and enacted its adoption as a part of their universal international code. But this, this is the union, which the Christian should desire to establish. It is the union of the People, the Priesthood, and the Princes of Christian Europe in one universal international Christian fusion of divisions, hatreds, and opinions. As the European, American, and Asiatic states, are already united and bound together by one general, universal, international, beneficial mass of regulations, respecting commerce, war, peace, prevention of revolutions, invasion of neighbours, piracy, slavery, criminals, and other matters of the like nature; so also may there be (aye, and so on one day there will be,) an universal, international, beneficial mass of regulations, respecting the Christian happiness, the Christian peace, the Christian union of all the believers in Christ's Holy Faith.—And as the former international system could not have been effected by the councils of statesmen without the decision of the Christian legislatures they instructed, so also it is that the latter international system cannot be effected by the opinions of the Priest


hood without the decisions of the Christian legislatures, whom they thus counsel and persuade. Therefore it is, that the nations of Christian Europe must anticipate the bonds of their Christian union from their secular Christian governments, and not from the authority of the irrespective Priesthoods.—"I appeal unto Cæsar," said the great Apostle of the Gentiles when the divisions between himself and his countrymen threatened alike his own life and the public peace; and the successors and followers of that Apostle, must still say in the midst of their convictions of the value of the Christian Priesthood, I appeal unto Cæsar.-I appeal to the universal secular Christian powers, that they combine to protect their subjects from the consequences of their subjects' divisions. In this sense, and in this spirit, do I now make my appeal to the united Sovereigns of Europe. I appeal as a Christian, to Christians; as a believer in Christ's Religion, to the believers in the same Holy Faith ; as one who must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to others who, whatever be their rank and greatness upon earth, must no less die, and be buried, and appear before the same tribunal.-All this is implied by the one common name of Christian. As an European Christian subject, I appeal to the European Christian Cæsar. Nor will I, nor can I believe, however long the interval may be between the suggestion and the adoption of some such plan of union among Christians as that which I am about to submit, that it will be finally and perpetually disregarded. I cannot believe that the answer which some princes might possibly be inclined to give, when their participation in the endeavour to restore peace to the Christian Church might be urged upon them, will always be the only reply which shall be made to the appeal of a brother Christian. I cannot believe that the answer of the Christian sovereign will always be“ Away, away, I can do nothing, nothing in this matter. The Providence of God indeed has invested me with the purple robe, the golden crown, and the * jewelled sceptre ; but I in return for His bounty can do nothing, no, nothing for His glory. I rule over a divided people, and I lament their divisions, but I

can do nothing, no, nothing to promote that union among them, which Christ “ predicted, for which He prayed, and for which He died. I am contented to “provide for the temporal happiness of my subjects, to extend their commerce, “promote their comfort, secure their protection, defend the public peace, and

study their worldly welfare ; and though I acknowledge that union in religious “ conclusions would aid every effort, and strengthen every law which aimed at “the perpetuation of these blessings; yet long experience has taught me to

despair of being able to contribute by any effort to such union; and I can do

nothing, and I will do nothing, therefore, to remove the hatreds and divisions “ of my people, and reconcile Christian with Christian. I leave their souls to

God, their opinions to the Priest, their conduct to the law; and though I know “ that such answer befits rather a heathen ruler than a Christian prince, so

numerous are the difficulties, so obstinate the divisions, so fierce the hatreds, “ between Christian and Christian, that I will make no effort, no attempt to

remove them, though I bear the Christian's name, believe the Christian's “ faith, and expect the sentence of the Christian's Judge." It is impossible, I say, that such language should be held uniformly, and for ever and for ever; and



[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »