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darkness of the shadow of death in their souls, they prostrated themselves to their saints, or their "queen of heaven;" nay, to painted images and toys of wood or wax, to some ounce or two of bread and wine, to fragments of old bones, and rags of cast-off vestments. Hither they came, when conscience, in looking back or pointing forward, dismayed them, to purchase remission with money or atoning penances, or to acquire the privilege of sinning with impunity in a certain manner, or for a certain time; and they went out at yonder door in the perfect confidence that the priest had secured, in the one case the suspension, in the other the satisfaction of the divine law. Here they solemnly believed, as they were taught, that by donatives to the Church they delivered the souls of their departed sinful relations from their state of punishment; and they went out of that door resolved, such as had possessions, to bequeath some portion of them, to operate in the same manner for themselves another day, in the highly probable case of similar need. Here they were convened to listen in reverence to some representative emissary from the Man of Sin, with new dictates of blasphemy or iniquity promulgated in the name of the Almighty; or to witness the trickery of some farce, devised to cheat or fright them out of whatever remainder the former impositions might have left them of sense, conscience, or property. Here, in fine, there was
never presented to their understanding, from their childhood to their death, a comprehensive, honest, declaration of the laws of duty, and the pure doctrines of salvation. To think, that they should have mistaken for the house of God, and the very gate of heaven, a place where the Regent of the nether world had so short a way to come from his dominions, and his agents and purchased slaves so short a way to go thither. If we could imagine a
momentary visit from Him who once entered a fabric of sacred denomination with a scourge, because it was made the resort of a common traffic, with what aspect and voice, with what infliction but the "rebuke with flames of fire," would he have entered this mart of iniquity, assuming the name of his sanctuary, where the traffic was in delusion, crimes, and the souls of men? It was even as if, to use the prophet's language, the very "stone cried out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber answered it," in denunciation; for a portion of the means of building, in some of these edifices, was obtained as the price of dispensations and pardons.""
Utterly different to this, which is like the rich carving and elaborate tracery of the screen of some old minster, is the following description of
"The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests.Not content with acknowledging, in general terms, an over-ruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him, was with them the great end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul.Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on the intolerable brightness, and to commune with him face to face. Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinctions. The difference between the greatest and meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from Him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognised no title to superiority but His favour; and, confident of that favour, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets,
they were deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they felt assured that they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels had charge over them. Their palaces were houses not made with hands; their diadems crowns of glory which should never fade away! On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt: for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier haud.
"The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance belonged-on whose slightest action the Spirits of light and darkness looked with anxious interest-who had been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away. Events, which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been ordained on his account. For his sake empires had risen, and flourished, and decayed. For his sake, the Almighty had proclaimed His will by the pen of the Evangelist, and the harp of the Prophet. He had been wrested by no common deliverer from the grasp of no common foe. He had been ransomed
by the sweat of no vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It was for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had arisen, that all nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring God.
"Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men; the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion-the other proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in the dust before his Maker-but he set his foot on the neck of his king. In his devotional retirement, he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears.— He was half maddened by glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the lyres of angels, or the tempting whispers of fiends. He caught a gleam of the Beatific Vision, or woke, screaming, from dreams of everlasting fire. Like Vane, he thought himself entrusted with the nial year.
sceptre of the millenLike Fleetwood, he cried, in the bitterness of his soul, that God had hid his face from him. But, when he took his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh at them; but those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or in the field of battle. These