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SKETCH OF THE PRINCIPAL RELIGIOUS

DENOMINATIONS.

JEWS. JUDAISM is the religion taught by God to the descendants of Abraham. A complete system of which is contained in the five books of Moses, their great lawgiver by divine appointment.

The principal sects among the Jews, in the time of Jesus Christ, were the Pharisees, who placed religion in external ceremony; the Sadducees, who were remarkable for their incredulity; and the Essenes, who were distinguished for their austere piety. It is scarcely necessary to add, that before the time of our Saviour the Jews believed in a future Messiah, but that now he is almost universally rejected by them.

MAHOMETANS. MAHOMETANISM is the religion of Mahomet, who was born, in 541, at Mecca, a city.of Arabia, and whose system is a compound of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity; the Koran, the Mahometan's Bible, is held by them in great veneration. The principal doctrine of Mahometanism is the Unity of God, but the whole of its tenets form a compound of absurdity; yet so adapted to the varying opinions and habits of Jews, Christians, and Pagans, that it soon spread over the greater part of the eastern world ; and indeed the converts that could not be gained by persuasive arguments or proinised indulgences, were compelled by the sword to become proselytes to this military apostle.

CHRISTIANS. CHRISTIANITY, in the general sense or common acceptation of the word, signifies a true belief in Christ and his doctrine, in opposition to idolatry and paganism. But, it more strictly implies, not only a bare belief in Christ, but a constant perseverance in all good works; and an abhorrence of, and abstaining from, every thing that is evil, according to the doctrine and examples which both he and his apostles taught and practised, and which are so evidently set forth to us in the holy Scriptures. He who does this is a Christian indeed, without paying any regard to the doctrines and ceremonies of any particular national church, sect, or people; the manner of worship being only the mode of religion, but not religion itself: for all Christians, of all persuasions whatever, acknowledge that there is but one way of worshipping God—that is, in spirit and in truth. See St. John, chap. iv. ver. 24.

CHURCH OF ROME. The following are the principal tenets of the church of Rome:—They say or believe, 1. That Jesus Christ is one of the persons of the most holy Trinity; that he came from heaven, took our nature upon him, and suffered death upon the cross. 2. That before he ascended to heaven, he invested the apostle Peter with the power of infallibility, and gave him the keys of heaven and hell, with a full power of remitting or retaining the sins of men. 3. That in the year of Christ 42, the apostle Peter went to Rome, and governed the church there as supreme bishop above 24 years, and was at last crucified with his head downwards. 4. The Roman Catholics believe, that the same power and autho. rity which was vested in the apostle Peter, descended to every succeeding bishop or pope of Rome, by an uninterrupted succession; who, they say, is God's vicegerent, and supreme head of all nations, and of every nominal church on earth; and has a power to create or set up kings, and to depose them, and to ordain bishops and priests, and excommunicate them at pleasure. 5. They believe that the pope has a power to grant indulgences. 6. They believe in a purgatory, or place of fire, to purify the souls of the departed; and that ihe priests, by offering up or saying mass, can deliver their souls from ihis state of prison and misery, and transfer them into joy and bliss. 7. They believe that Jesus Christ, after he was crucified, descended personally into hell, and released from thence all the souls of the former saints. 8. They assert that the blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of God, and that she atones for the souls of them that adore and worship her on earth; therefore her picture, with the pictures of other saints, ought to be held in great respect and veneration. 9. They profess to do works of supererogation. 10. Some of their mendicant priests go in a mean dress, to make the laity believe what poverty they suffer for the name of Jesus, though at the same time they are very rich: and by this they excite pily and compassion, and get a great deal of money. 11. They believe there are seven sacraments, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Marriage. 12. They forbid the eating of Aesh in the time of Lent, and on certain fast days; but notwithstanding their strict orders of abstinence and fasting, some will eat fish and other things. 13. They believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation ; that is, after the priest has blessed or consecrated the bread and wine in the sacrament, the symbols or elements are no more bread and wine, but really the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ : and are very jealous and zealous in the cause of their religion, making it a heinous sin in all such as will not adhere most strictly to their dictates. 14. They are exceedingly assiduous to gain converts, by a particular method, and a long unwearied patience and diligence, in every country but iheir own, to bring over souls by fair promises : but it is not so where they have power, for there they insist upon a belief and compliance with every thing; otherwise their love is turned into cruelty, their zeal into inhumanity, and their persuasions into punishments. Lastly, these, and many other ridiculous, impositions, were continually imposed upon the consciences and persons of men in all nations; which occasioned a large body of people to dissent, separate from, and protest against, popery, or the Romish church, who are therefore called Protestants, be they of what sect or denomination they may; and the church of Rome, without distinction, calls all such Protestants heretics, and they all partake of her anathemas.

The church of Rome has lost ground, and has been sinking in its power, ever since the glorious Reformation under Martin Luther, in the reign of Henry VIII. in the year 1517. Read Henry and Whiston, as also the margin of Queen Elizabeth's Bibles, on the xiii. xiv. xvi. xvii. xviii. and xixth chapters of the Revelation.-But in the present age it more particularly seems to have received its death

blow.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND. This is the religion and worship of the people of England, as by law established: it is governed by two archbishops, besides bishops and inferior clergy, of whom the king is supreme.

You may see the principles of this church very particu

larly set forth by, and in the thirty-nine articles, printed and published in their Book of Common Prayer, or forin and ceremonies of worship.

The following is a summary of its principles, and manner of worship: 1. The church of England has thirty-nine articles, of which some contain the matter of faith relating to the church of God, and others are civil articles, relating to its government, order, and discipline. 2. The 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th articles set forth, that there is but one live ing and true God; that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all equal in power, majesty, and glory; that the second person in this Trinity took our nature upon him, and is both God and Man united in one Christ, that he was crucified for us in the flesh, was buried, rose the third day from the dead, according to the Scriptures; that he ascended into heaven, and there makes continual intercession for us. 3. They own (in article 9) original sin, and that by Adam's first disobedience, or transgression, all mankind are tainted or infected with evil, have a natural inclidation to sin, and therefore are obnoxi. ous to the wrath of God; and (in article 10) that man's condition since the fall is such, that he has no power, or free will of himself, to do good works, acceptable to God, without the grace of God working with him. 4. The Ilth article affirms, that we are justified by faith only, and are accounted righteous before God, for or through the merits of Christ only; but the 12th recommends' the practice of good works, as the only proofs of a true faith. 5. This church teaches us, in article isth, that works done before justification, or before grace is given, cannot be pleasing to God, nor do such works make us meet to receive grace, as they spring not from a true and lively faith: and the 14th Aatly denies the works of supererogation, and acknowledges, that when we have done all we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants. 6. The 17th article treats of the doctrine of election and predestination. 7. The 18th article says, that the church holds all persons accursed who will presume to say that any man is saved by the law, or by any sect, profession, or persuasion : and the 22d depies the Romish doctrine of purgatory, paying adoration to angels, and relics of saints. 8. The 27 th and 28th articles acknowledge two sacraments only, namely, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and say, that after consecration the bread and wine are unchanged, and both are to be received by the faithful only, in commemoration of the body and

plinge church of Englang upon his name short prayene

blood of Christ, broken and spilt upon the cross. 9. The church holds infant baptism, requires godfathers and godmothers, and marks the child in the forehead with the sign of the cross. by the finger at the font. 10. These are the articles relating principally, though not wholly, to the tenets of the church of England : the other articles contain only rules and orders concerning its government and discipline.. • The church of England worships God, first, by confession of sins, then calling upon his name in prayer, praises, and singing of Psalms. The Collects are short prayers used by the minister and people, and are allowed to be well suited to almost all occasions; and the whole way and manner of worship is regularly and explicitly laid down in the Book of Common Prayer.

As the Romish church calls all people heretics who separate from her communion, so the church of England calls all those who separate from her communion schismatics.

As the Protestants separated from the doctrines of the church of Rome, on account of its errors and superstitions, so a certain set of men (formerly called Puritans) separated from this church, under the notion that several of its forms and ceremonies were unwarrantable, and that their conscience could not bear them.

All other sects who profess Protestantism in England, but dissent from the established church, are called Dissenters.

The Dissenters are divided into many sects, namely, Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Arians, Arminians, Antimonians, Socinians, Unitarians, &c.

PRESBYTERIANS. PRESBYTERIANS are those persons who deny episcopacy, or the government of the visible church by bishops ; or those that assert that the church should be governed by elders or presbyters. : · They choose their ministers by making choice out of several persons, whoin the elders first examine in principles and abilities; and when they have fixed upon a pastor, teacher, or minister, they nominate, elect, or ordain him, by fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands.

All common affairs in every particular church or assembly are regulated by their ministers and elders. If ques

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