Church and People, 1789-1889: A History of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux Mundi"

Church and People, 1789-1889: A History of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux Mundi"

Church and People, 1789-1889: A History of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux Mundi"

Church and People, 1789-1889: A History of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux Mundi"

Excerpt

The history of our own time begins with the French Revolution. In England the repudiation of Papal authority in the sixteenth century, the Elizabethan Settlement, the Puritan Era, the increase in the power of Parliament and the creation of a Constitutional Monarchy had in turn dealt tremendous blows at the old order, but even in England the long process of the Reformation was not over until not merely Shakespeare and the Carolines but even Swift and Dryden had been replaced by Pope and Johnson. On the Continent, above all in France, the Middle Ages themselves can almost be said to have endured to the end of the eighteenth century. With the French Revolution the last remains of the old world were broken up. The three watchwords, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, were screamed aloud in the ears of an astonished world, and the Grand Monarchy, supreme example of magnificence and privilege, was dissolved as in a night.

The storm had been gathering for generations, but, when it burst, it was so dramatic, so apocalyptic, that pious observers could not but quote the words in which the prophet Ezekiel had celebrated the fall of Tyre, once "perfect in beauty," or those in which a later seer had pronounced the doom of "that great city, Babylon." It did not seem unfitting to exclaim, "Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to naught." Even sober divines like Horsley and Porteous believed that the mystery of iniquity was at work and that the Day of Antichrist must be at hand.

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