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IN RELATION TO
Education, the Eclipse of Faith. Revivals, and
JOHN WADDINGTON, D.D.,
AUTHOR OF “CONGREGATIONAL HISTORY, 1200 -- 1567," AND
“ CONGREGATIONAL HISTORY, 1567 -1700.”
In the present work and in the two preceding volumes, I have attempted to give the history of Congregational Churches, more especially in England and America, with an account of the times through which they passed, and the influences by which they were surrouuded.
The method I have adopted has been-first, to ascertain the facts from authentic and original documents, collected from every available quarter, likely to afford light on the subject; and then, with due regard to order, sequence, and interdependence, to narrate them without exaggeration on the one hand, or dishonest omission on the other.
To be satisfied on one point in this historical enquiry—that of the relations of Congregational Churches with the Government—I have carefully gone through all the Papers in State Records, sent to the Home Office for the Eighteenth Century, several thousands in number; and as the result of that investigation, continued for many months, I am in a position to affirm with confidence that no proof
can be found in them of the slightest disaffection in any Church of the Congregational order holding Evangelical principles, nor yet in any individual member of such a Church; but, on the contrary, the most ample evidence that when the High Church party were seeking, by plots, intrigues with the Pope, riots, mobs, and actual rebellion, to overturn the throne, and to set up an Anglican Establishment co-ordinate with a Romish Hierarchy, the King and his Ministers of State found in Congregational Churches the most steadfast friends of order, combined with constitutional liberty.
Nothing has more surprised me, in this careful and prolonged research, than the light thrown on the origin, course, and practical issue of the New Philosophy, adopted by the self-styled “Rational Dissenters,” who predicted a millennium of
peace, freedom, and happiness. The result of their persevering efforts, as seen in the condition of America after the War of Independence, and in the horrors of the French Revolution, as well as in the extinction of Churches and educational institutions in England, was that of the most disastrous and ignominious failure.
The distinct and oft-repeated testimonies of Dr. Priestley on this subject—especially when deserted and left to endure the miseries of virtual banishment at Northumberland, in Pennsylvania-should be carefully examined and deeply pondered.
This enquiry into the progress and influence of Rationalistic views needs to be carried on much
further, particularly in relation to the Churches in
I am encouraged to renewed effort by the assur-
I began this service under many disabilities and