Full text: Religion, colonising & trade

Religion has never exercised such concentrated 
strength in the New Empire as it put forth in the Old, 
never so much in the Old Empire after 1660 as before. 
This does not mean unmixed praise for the earlier 
years of the Old Empire as compared with later times. 
There is the criticism to be made that the driving power 
of religion in England was greatest when it was most 
directed to enmity and severance, and when there was 
least toleration. But the same might be said with 
equal truth of all countries and, whether religion made 
for good or harm, there can be no doubt as to its 
strength as a driving force in the Empire prior to 
1660. It may have been the perpetual antagonism of 
Protestant sects to one another over and above their 
standing antagonism to popety, which diverted their 
attention from the duty of preaching the Gospel to 
the heathen. ‘This was the greatest sin of omission in 
the Old Empire, as trade was the source of its greatest 
positive crimes.

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