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In looking back on past ages we do not find that the most important reformations in the moral and religious condition of mankind have beett effected by the sluggish apparatus of establishments , which keep their functionaries in action by the mechanical impulse of duty and custom , but have , almost without an exception , be ^ n owing to the spontaneous and enthusiastic exertions of men who have found , in the benevolent arid holy promptings of their own hearts , a call as from heaven to devote themselves to the service of
their fellow-creatures . This consideration may furnish a reply to the argument , on which great stress has been laid by the advocates for establishments , that , although Christianity may be able to maintain itself in populous districts and large towns , where wealth is accumulated , and knowledge and civilization are already diffused , yet , without some aid from the state , no provision could be made for the religious instruction of remote and
thinlypeopled districts . The spirit of religious zeal , when once excited , has an energy and impulse which surmounts all obstacles , penetrates into the remotest quarters , and quickens into life the regions which are drooping in the shadow of death . Christianity , after the age of the apostles , encountered the terrors of Heathenism and diffused itself over the world , unaided by any power but a deep conviction of the truth , and an earnest devotedness to the service of God and man . In Wales and Ireland , * and even in the remote
and solitary islands of the western coast of Scotland , while religion was perfectly free and maintained itself , it does not appear , if we may trust the accounts of historians , that there was any want of able and zealous pastors , of exemplary bishops , and of unwearied missionaries , who traversed distant countries for the sole purpose of instructing and improving their fellow-creatures . The religious state of the Vaudois , who have preserved their independence and maintained their pure and simple worship amongst the Alps
of Savoy , in the heart of a Catholic country , and in defiance of all the machinations of the Church of Rome ; the indefatigable exertions of our own Methodists in reforming the morals of the most depraved and ignorant portion of our population , unaided by any means but what are raised by the voluntary contributions of the pious , may serve to strengthen the conviction that religion is a feeling too deeply seated in our nature ever to want friends
and supporters , when the zeal which it awakens id not either checked or perverted by the unhallowed interposition of a power with which it has no connexion ; and that , whatever may have been necessary once , in times of peculiar peril and disorder , yet now , the firm footing which Christianity has obtained in the world , the invention of printing , and the wide diffusion of education and knowledge , are a sufficient guarantee for the continuance of
* " Les homines d' Erin , de m&me que les Bretons de la Cambrie et ceux de la Gaule , ayant organist 8 pontane * ment le Christianisme dan * teur pays , sans se conformer en aucune maniere a 1 ' organisation officfelle d £ cret 6 e par les empereurs Romains , ne connalssaient point de sieged 6 piscopaux fixes , et leurs er&ques n ' e * taient que de simples pr&tres aux quels on avait confie * , par Election , la charge purement
honorifique de surveillants ou de visiteurs des Gglises . "— " Jomssant ainsi d ' une pleine independahce a 1 'egard des dglises e * trangeres , et admin is trde coimne toute socie ' te" libre par tes dignltairea tkctffi et reVdcables , cette e " gllse fut de bonne heure traitec de schismatique , ' * &e . Histolre de la Conqtrdte de TAritfleterre par les Normands , par A . Thierry , Tome III . pp . 237 , 238 .
<* Les prgtrcs de Hie d'JErin e * taient tellement ze * l £ s pour la foi Chrctienne que leur patrie etait surnomme * e 1 'ile des saints . "— " Columban avait commence * sa carriere de pre * dicateur Chretien par traverser les lacs de la Bretagne geptentrionale , afin de visiter , au nom du Christ , la race aauvage de » Montaguards . " Ibid . Tome 1 . » . 8 J .
Spirit and Tendency of Religious Establishments * \ 9
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1828, page 19, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2556/page/19/