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THE EVANGELICAL SCHOOL,
Y the time at which we are now arrived, the
Church had fallen into the lowest depths of apathy and indifference, and the State was learning, in the increase of crime and the prevalence of ungodliness, the consequences of its injustice to the Church. A decay in religion had produced a corresponding decay in morality, whilst the Church looked on with folded arms; the Clergy enjoyed but little influence over the people ; truly the salt had lost its savour.
But in the closing years of the eighteenth century, just when the Church had sunk to its lowest ebb, and everything seemed dark and hopeless; at the very time when there was too good reason for alarm lest the horrors of the French Revolution should communicate themselves to England, signs of returning life began to manifest themselves within the Church. The spirit of John Wesley at length animated the Church, and fanned into life its smouldering embers; and Evangelicalism, a form analogous to, although not identical with, Methodism, and springing out of the teaching of Whitfield rather than that of Wesley, arose, as a natural con
sequence within the Church of the work which the Methodists had effected independently of it. From the end of the eighteenth throughout the first quarter of the present century the Evangelicals, as they were called, although never equal to those who were in contradistinction called the Orthodox party, either in numbers or purely intellectual force, and never numbering in their ranks the highest dignitaries of the Church, yet in their duties as Clergymen were the most zealous and influential, and maintained an almost undisputed pre-eminence amongst the masses of the population.
In the present day people are apt to disparage and undervalue the Evangelical movement. Faults those Evangelicals no doubt had, but they were faults not of the heart but of the head. No one man of commanding genius laid the foundation of the new spiritual dynasty. No scholars arose among them illustrious for learning, nor any authors to whom the homage of the world at large has been rendered. With the exception of the poet Cowper, it produced no writer whose works were extensively read in general society. The terms of membership were never definite or severe ; and in a few years the discipline of the school imperceptibly declined, and errors coeval with its existence exhibited themselves in an exaggerated form. When country gentlemen and merchants, Lords spiritual and temporal, and fashionable ladies of the world, gave in their adherence to it with feelings strangely