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intermixture of the earthly politics of the world with religious concerns, and from the inevitable and difficult question of the disposal of the ecclesiastical revenues.

But what was then the benefit that mankind was likely to receive which might compensate for the evils to which they were to be thus exposed ? The benefit that it was probable would result was above all price; it was this : that they who disputed the doctrines of the Romish church, however they might for a time appeal to the pope or general councils, must at length appeal to the Bible itself; that the sacred text would be therefore examined, criticised, and understood ; that however violent or unjust the force which the hierarchy or the civil magistrate might attempt to exercise, still, as the human mind was capable of the steadiest resistance, when animated by the cause of truth ; as men were equal to the contempt of imprisonment, tortures, or death, for the sake of . their religious opinions; as history had borne sufficient testimony to the exalted constancy of our nature in these respects; —that therefore, the reformers must in all probability succeed in establishing a purer faith, and must at all events contribute to improve both the doctrines and the conduct of their opponents ; that from the general fermentation which would ensue, it could not but happen that the Bible would be opened ; that doctrines would no longer be taken upon authority; that religion would no longer consist so much in vain ceremonies and passive ignorance; that devotion would become a reasonable sacrifice; and that the gospel would, in fact, be a second time promulgated to an erring and sinful world.

Now, what further benefit might attend this emancipation of the human mind from its spiritual thraldom, it might have been difficult at the time properly to estimate. But this new gift of Christianity to mankind was a blessing in itself sufficient to outweigh all temporal calamities, of whatever extent. To be the humble instruments, under Divine Providence, of imparting such a benefit to the world, was the virtuous ambition, the pious hope, of the early reformers. It was this, that gave such activity to their exertions, such inflexibility to their fortitude. This sacred ardour, this holy energy in the cause of religious truth, is the remaining principle which, in

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LECTURE X.

REFORMATION.

.

I

ENDEAVOURED in my last lecture to describe the

evils to which mankind would probably be exposed by any attempts to produce the reformation of religion, and the benefits by which such evils were likely to be overbalanced.

I must now consider how far, in point of fact, such evils and such benefits were really experienced.

And here it is necessary for me to remind you of one of the difficulties which I announced to you in my introductory lecture, as more particularly belonging to all lectures on history; the impossibility that a lecturer must find of presenting to his hearer all that has passed in review before his own mind, and the blank that must therefore be left, till the subsequent diligence of the student has furnished him with the same materials of judgment which the lecturer had before him. Thus, in the present instance the opinions which were presented to your reflection, in the lecture of yesterday, were suggested by a vast assemblage of facts, an assemblage which in reality constitutes the history of the Reformation. How, then, are these to be presented to you? The history cannot be given here, nor any part of it: a few allusions and references are all the expedients I can have recourse to. These will at present convey to your minds little that can operate upon them in the way of evidence, but you must consider them as specimens of evidence; you must recollect that nothing more can be now attempted, and you must be contented with expecting to find, as you certainly will find hereafter, when you come to read the history for yourselves, that the general import of the facts has not been misrepresented, and that the theories I have proposed might have been very amply illustrated, if the proper incidents and transactions could have been conveniently exhibited to your consideration.

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conjunction with those I have mentioned, will be found to have actuated mankind during the ages we are now to consider. As the principles before mentioned gave occasion to all that was dark and afflicting in the scene, so did the principle now mentioned give occasion to all that was bright, and cheering, and elevating to the soul; united, they may serve, when followed up through their remote as well as immediate effects, to explain, as I conceive, the events of the Reformation, and for some ages all the more important part of the history of Europe.

LECTURE X.

REFORMATION.

I

ENDEAVOURED in my last lecture to describe the

evils to which mankind would probably be exposed by any attempts to produce the reformation of religion, and the benefits by which such evils were likely to be overbalanced.

I must now consider how far, in point of fact, such evils and such benefits were really experienced.

And here it is necessary for me to remind you of one of the difficulties which I announced to you in my introductory lecture, as more particularly belonging to all lectures on history; the impossibility that a lecturer must find of presenting to his hearer all that has passed in review before his own mind, and the blank that must therefore be left, till the subsequent diligence of the student has furnished him with the same materials of judgment which the lecturer had before him. Thus, in the present instance the opinions which were presented to your reflection, in the lecture of yesterday, were suggested by a vast assemblage of facts, an assemblage which in reality constitutes the history of the Reformation. How, then, are these to be presented to you? The history cannot be given here, nor any part of it: a few allusions and references are all the expedients I can have recourse to. These will at present convey to your minds little that can operate upon them in the way of evidence, but you must consider them as specimens of evidence ; you must recollect that nothing more can be now attempted, and you must be contented with expecting to find, as you certainly will find hereafter, when you come to read the history for yourselves, that the general import of the facts has not been misrepresented, and that the theories I have proposed might have been very amply illustrated, if the proper incidents and transactions could have been conveniently exhibited to your consideration.

R

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