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appreciate the efforts of their Sovereigns, that we may believe the result of the recommendations of such Council would be the same with that which followed the Council of Jerusalem and of other Councils before the Synod of Nice. The one great error of Constantine was, that, in consequence of the divisions among his Christian subjects, he made the canons and decisions of Nice a portion of the civil law, His policy should have been to have commended to his people the decisions of the Council, and not to have enforced them by the sword'. The influence of the combined Sovereigns on their courts, their nobles, and their governments, would descend upon their people, so that not only the individuals of a separate State could pray together ; but that Christians of all nations, wherever they travelled, and wherever they assembled, might pray together and love one another as the children of the same God, and followers of the same Blessed Saviour. The Council of Nice was summoned by the secular ruler of the Christian world, not for any partial purpose, but for the general benefit. The opposition to its conclusions, in consequence of their being enforced by the sword, undoubtedly weakened and desolated the empire. That opposition has now, for the most part, ceased among Christians. The extent, therefore, of its decisions has been equal with the progress of the Christian Church. From the Greek Church in Asia to the extreme borders of America, the decisions of Nice have been and are received. Its influence has already continued more than fifteen hundred years. In every Church from Constantinople to Britain, from Africa to Gaul and Tyre, every Christian who adhered to the conclusions of the Council of Nice, was welcomed as a brother by his brethren. All the Churches were open to the believers in the divinity of Christ, and the upholders of the Apostolical holders of government. If the secular rulers of the world shall declare that all persons who receive the decisions of the proposed Council shall be deemed to be Christians ; that the Churches shall be mutually open to all; that those who worship in those Churches, shall be regarded as adherents to the common faith of Christians; that they shall be entitled to partake of the Sacraments, and that their authority, like that of Constantine, shall carry into effect the decisions of the Council; there can be no doubt that the great majority, at least, of the nobles, the gentry, the clergy, the rich and the poor, who love the peace of the Church, and the glory of Jesus Christ, would rejoice to regard each other as members of the same Holy Catholic Church. We want no other reformation. We ask only the rulers of the world to endeavour to Christianize and unpoperize their people, and the Sovereign of Great Britain to attempt to commence the honourable work.
3 See Ecclesiastical and Civil History, philosophically considered with reference to the Reunion of Christians, vol. i.
The effects of the Council upon Popery, Sectarianism, and Episcopacy, upon
personal piety, and general peace.
The Effects of this extension of the influence of the Council upon Popery, Sectarianism, Episcopacy, the personal piety of Christians, as well as on the peace and good-will which ought ever to have existed in the Catholic Church of Christ, would be—the commencement of that great era, of which all the Prophets have spoken, for which all controversialists have contended, for which the Church of God was established, for which Christ died, and for which Christ prayed.
Its effects on Popery would be, that that great and intolerable evil, which now divides and torments society in every nation where the Papal supremacy has been received, would be abolished; that is, the wretched excommunication would tacitly cease,
which now alienates the present adherents of the Church of Rome from those members of the Universal Church, who are compelled by their very knowledge of the faith of the Primitive Churches, and by their own love to Christ Himself, and by their hopes of a blessing from the only Mediator, to withhold their approbation from the pretensions of that Church. The power of the secular Sovereigns would be so restored, that a law promulgated by one only of their number, namely, the Bull of Pope Pius, would be no longer permitted to be a law to all their people. The hearts of Christians might be turned to the Papists in love, and not in hatred, if the princes of the world, by their new laws of a new council, would command the utter abolition of all the old, foolish, mediæval forgeries of the persecuting decretals, and persecuting canons, which are still rusting in the armoury of Rome. Controversies, it is true, would continue, (and God forbid they should ever be annihilated, for controversies are but the efforts of mind to discover more and more the truth of disputed propositions,) but they would not be attended with the bitterness of persecutions, with the sufferings of martyrdom, with the triumph of the Inquisitor, with the silence of the timid, or with the hypocrisy of a compelled uniformity.
The effect on Sectarianism would be no less obvious. The Gospel was first preached to the poor. The universal diffusion of its precepts and influence has caused its reception by the royal, the noble, and the rich. Sectarianism principally proceeds from two sources; one the partial reception of truth ; the other, an undefined and undefinable suspicion or feeling, that as the Gospel was first preached to the poor, it must be confined to the poor ; and that the secular princes, the higher classes, the rulers and elders of the Christian States and Churches of the Catholic Church, are indifferent to truth, careless of the Christian union of their people, and without part or lot in this matter. The first cause of Sectarianism can never be wholly removed, so long as the laws of mind, and the inequalities of education remain ; but the second cause would be immediately removed, if Princes would regard themselves as much responsible to God as the peasant, and aim at doing their duty in the station in which God has placed them, as much as the humblest of their people. The Kings of the earth are but dust; they are all mortal, dying, and accountable, as others are ; and if the promoting of the union of Christians be a possibility only, the attempt to change that possible into the probable is as much a part of their duty to their Creator and their Saviour, as their obedience to any of the more easy of the Gospel precepts.
The effect on Episcopacy will be considered in the Dedication to the Bishops in the next Number of this work. I shall only say now, that one effect of a Council, or of a Congress, by the Princes of the Universal Church, if the Bishops of the Churches act with their Rulers to commend peace and truth to their people, will be—the turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, in such manner, and to such extent, that God will not smite the earth with the curse of that universal war which now seems to impend over the world, as the result of the disgraceful and deadly hatred of Christian to Christian.
The effect on personal piety would be, that as the hatred of man to man was lessened, there would be hope of a return to that happy state, when " those who feared the Lord, spake often one with another.” Piety is lessened by the destruction, and increased by the preservation, of Christian communion. Those only can build up each other in holy faith and holy living, who can pray together, and "walk together," because they are “ agreed.”
The effect on the general international peace of nations, and on the good will of man to man, which would result from the commending of an international and Scriptural creed and government of the Catholic Church to the Christian nations of Europe and of the world, are described at great length in the prophecies, which do but anticipate the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah.
The present appearance of the civilized world, if we did not believe in such prophecies, would declare their fulfilment to be an impossibility and a dream. I shall not quote them; but His name, among other glorious titles, is “the Prince of Peace,” not only to the souls of men within, but to the nations and people of His Universal Church. Even now the final contest between good and evil has visibly begun. Even now the question is, Whether a free press, an open Bible, representative governments, and the example of our own great country, in upholding at once unlimited toleration, a reformed episcopacy, and an anti-papal Christianity, shall successfully or unsuccessfully contend with the usurpations of an unprimitive medieval apostasy? The time has come when the secular sovereigns of the Catholic Church may wisely and usefully deliberate on the questions VOL. II. PART V.
which divide their people, and occasion so much misery. Is not the time, therefore, at hand, when the Christian Sovereign of Great Britain may attempt to complete the great work which the providence of God permitted to be begun by the illustrious ancestors of your Majesty, when they rescued the civilized world from the Papal ascendancy, from irresponsible monarchy, and from democratical infidelity? Is it not possible that some effort may be made to restore “the old waste places ;' to build up the true Catholic Church of Christ; to bind the Christian people of the earth together by a more perfect international religion ; and to increase the happiness of the world, and the reception of Scriptural Christianity, by promoting the reunion of Christians ?
I have the honour to be,
Since the above Dedication was written, all Europe has been convulsed with revolutionary movements. Nothing has shaken the conviction I have expressed in my Dedication of Part III. of this work to the last Bishop of Rome—nor in that of Part IV. to the Sovereigns of Europe--nor in the above Dedication of Part V. to the Queen—that “the Lord reigneth"—that His providence will overrule all for good; and that good will be accomplished by the revival of the Primitive Antipapal Christianity, when the Bishop of Rome shall have repealed the monstrous usurpation by which the will of one of his predecessors, unauthorized by the Council of Trent, though speaking in the name of that Council, enforced a novel creed upon the nations ?; and when the Rulers and Sovereigns of the Christian world, by whatever name they are called, shall imitate the example of the first Christian Emperor, and consult the peace and truth of the world, whether with or without the Bishop of Rome. I believe that our own great, and free, and good country will probably be the modern Judea, under whose influence this holy work may be begun. We will consider in the Dedication to Part VI. the manner in which the Universal Episcopate, and the influence of Christ's Gospel upon Christians, may expedite the effort of England; and promote the common faith. Christianity alone, is, and will be, and must be, the true remedy-for all the evils of the godless democracy, the papal usurpation, and the infidel wickedness, which is cursing, and corrupting, the nations. God's judgments are abroad in the earth; and the inhabitants of the world must learn the righteousness of God. This sentence is now upon them. “ They “ gnaw their tongues with pain, and blaspheme the God of heaven *;" and this pain of their political misery shall not cease, till their blasphemy cease ; and they worship in truth, and union, that God of heaven.
1 Dedication to the Pope, Part III.
2 Dedication to Part IV. 3 Dedication to Part V.