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holds out salvation to the vilest of the human race, without merit on their part, must operate as an encouragement to sin. Now, the popish mode of granting pardon and indulgence possesses no such divine influence; nor makes provision for renewing the sinner to holiness; with them there is no regeneration but that which is effected by baptism; the pardoned and indulged sinner remains as great a sinner as ever; and his pardon and indulgence, so easily obtained, must without doubt operate as an encouragement, and have all the effect of a permission to commit sin.
AMICUS VERITATIS alludes to the pardon of sin which the Almighty promises in scripture; and takes advantage of this in order to justify the popish practice of granting indulgences, even though they were to extend to the plenary remission of all the crimes of the sinner, and of all the punishment which they deserve. “Now," says he, (Part I, p. 43,) “surely your correspondent would not be impious enough to assert, that when the Almighty, in the sacred scriptures, promises to give the truly penitent a plenary remission of his sins, and of all the punishment which they deserve, he means to grant him permission or indulgence to commit sin.” Indeed, I would not hesitate to assert, that this would operate as a permission to commit sin, if the Almighly promised and granted pardon as the Papists do. If the Almighty were to promise and grant pardon of sin, without reference to the great atonement, and without making adequate provision for the future holy life of the sinner, it would appear to the whole universe that he thought lightly of the evil of sin; and such is the depravity of human nature, that such procedure would be considered as a connivance at sin, and an encouragement to live in all manner of wickedness. Nay, such is the depravity of human nature, that could we suppose it possible that a man were truly penitent to-day, and that he had received the full pardon of all his sins, if he did not receive at the same time a new heart and a right spirit, he would before to-morrow be plunged as deep in the mire of iniquity as ever.
Now, when a popish priest pardons sin by the sacrament of penance, according to the Douay Catechism, there is no reference whatever to the great atonement, or satisfaction for sin by the death of Christ. In answer to the question, “ What is satisfaction ?" we have for answer, “A faithful performance of the prayers or good works enjoined us by the priest to whom we confess." And, as for any radical change of heart and character, any provision for the future holy life of the pardoned sinner, popery knows nothing of the inatter: it would be held heretical to speak of any regeneration but what takes place at baptism. Without doubt, then, the popish system of pardon and indulgence is in effect nothing less than an indulgence to commit sin.
The matter comes shortly to this issue ;-Popery professes to grant pardon of sin, and to release from the punishment which it deserves, while men are yet in love with sin, and thirsting for the commission of it; while they are, as Bellarmine says, accustomed to perjury and blasphemy almost every moment of their lives, and in the practice of committing every crime. Pardons and indulgences granted to such, and while they.continue such, must be an encouragement to wickedness. But the gospel of Christ professes to grant pardon to the chief of sinners, along with a new heart—along with a hatred of sin, and a
love of righteousness, with the continual presence of the Holy Spirit to lead them in the way of holiness. This cannot be an indulgence to commit sin; it is a doctrine according to godliness. The grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously in this present evil world. (See Titus ii. 11, 12.) The gospel performs all that it promises. It produces therefore real holiness of life. He that receives it is created after Christ Jesus unto good works, (Eph. ii. 10.). Let not Papists therefore lay the pernicious consequences of their own errors at the door of divine mercy. The salvation of the gospel is salvation from sin as well as from punishment: this is worthy of God. The indulgence of the Papist professes to release from punishment men who are full of all iniquity, and who cannot cease from sin: this is the delusion of the devil.
The language of divine mercy to sinners is.--and it is verified in all who believe in Christ,-" Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.”—“ I will save you from all your uncleannesses." Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations." (Ezek. xxxvi. 25—31.) This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least even to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." (Heb. viii. 10–12.)
In these divine promises it is provided that he whose sins are pardoned shall be truly penitent. He shall loathe himself in his own sight: that he shall be cleansed from the pollution, as well as saved from the guilt, of sin.—He shall be sprinkled with clean water, and shall be clean; that is, he shall enjoy the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit: that the law of God shall be written in his heart, and he shall be enabled in some measure to keep it: that, in short, a new heart and a right spirit being given to him, he shall live the rest of his life in the fear of God. Such a dispensation of grace and holiness can never operate as an indulgence to commit sin.
But the popish system possesses none of these qualities. Let my popish readers, therefore, who seek no other pardon than that which their priests can give, seriously consider, whether it will be such as will acquit them before the Judge of the whole world, when none will be accepted but those who have fled for refuge to the blood of atonement, and who have been born again,-born of water and of the Spirit; that is, made subjects of the gracious sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost. I intend, in my next number, to discuss the subject of the indul
gences which Amicus Veritatis says were granted by the church of Scotland.
REPLY TO THE CHARGE OF AMICUS VERITATIS, THAT THE PROTES
TANT CHURCH GRANTS INDULGENCES. TIIE PRACTICE REFERRED TO ACKNOWLEDGED TO BE INCORRECT; BUT THE INFERENCE DRAWN BY A. V. NOT LEGITIMATE. ANY THING IN PROTESTANT CHURCHES ANÁLOGOUS TO INDULGENCE, MAY BE TRACED TO THE CHURCH OF ROME. DISCIPLINE IS NOT PUNISHMENT, stricTLY, BUT THE ADMONITION OF LOVE. THE CHURCH HAS NO AUTHORITY TO PUNISH.
SATURDAY, November 21st, 1818. last number I endeavoured to show that the doctrine of indulgences, as taught by the Douay Catechism, has a natural tendency to encourage the commission of sin. I proceed now to answer the question of Amicus VERITATIS, with regard to indulgences, which, he says, are granted by Protestant churches, and particularly by the church of Scotland, as I understand him to mean in the following pas sage:-“ I shall next ask your correspondent, · Did not the Protestant church exercise the power of granting indulgences? If he would deny this, I would recall his recollection to the notorious cutty stool,.whereon, if a person was condemned to stand for a certain great crime, he might be, and often was, exempted from undergoing that punishment, by paying a certain sum of money. Is not this an indulgence? Is not this a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin ?"
If I were to argue like a Papist, I would say, that it never was a doctrine of the church of Scotland, that a sum of money should be received from a sinner as a commutation for the necessary discipline of the church. It is certain that I have not been able to find such a doctrine in
any of her public standards. I might, therefore, dismiss the subject with a broad denial; and maintain that there was no such thing. But I could not conceal from myself, or from the world, the plain fact, that facts are against me; and my popish opponents might bring, perhaps, five hundred credible witnesses to testify that their pockets had suffered, that their persons might escape the shame of a public exposure. Now, whatever a. Papist, who does not value his reputation, might say on such an occasion, I frankly confess that I could not endure the shame of denying what is well known to be true; and though the same could not be a doctrine of the church of Scotland, if it has become a pretty general practice, I must hold it as good as a doctrine; and whether the thing be right or wrong, its existence will not be denied.
I admit, therefore, that of late years, a practice has crept into this church, which resembles that of the church of Rome; or which at least resembles that in which indulgences originated. Up to the twelfth century, it appears from Dupin, that public penance was enjoined for public sins. During this century it became rare, because the remission of sins was to be obtained by other ways, chiefly by the crusade and pilgrimages: and, writing of the fifteenth century, he says indulgences granted by the pope were more common than ever,—they
had become a kind of traffic, meaning that they could be had for money. The reader will observe it is the remission of sins of which Dupin speaks, and not the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven, as the Douay Catechism has it; and Dupin, a popish historian of great note, must have known the doctrine of his church, at least as well as the Douay doctors. Now, in this respect, there is nothing in the practice of the church of Scotland which in the least resembles that of Rome. The former never professed to forgive sins for money, though they do hold and declare the evangelical doctrine of forgiveness of sins, through the blood of Christ, to all who really repent, and absolve from church censures those who have come under them, and have given evidence of their repentance. It is on the point of public penance, as it is called, and of releasing the sinner from this, in consideration of something else, that I think there is a resemblance of that in which the popish indulgences originated. The mode of censure enjoined for a certain sin in Scotland, is to be rebuked by the minister, in the presence of the congregation; but I believe, in most cases, the sinner is now exempted from this on paying a sum of money to the poor.
I do not know whence it comes, that only one species of sin is generally understood to incur the above sentence. In former times, any gross immorality subjected the sinner to the same discipline. In the early days of the church of Scotland, to give countenance to popery was considered a gross immorality, and incurred the public censure of the church. " The countess of Argyle,” for instance, “ being cited to appear before the (general) assembly, for assisting the baptism of the king, (James VI.) and giving her presence at the papistical rites then used, did submit herself to censure, and was ordained to make public satisfaction in the chapel of Stirling, where the offence was committed, upon a Sunday after sermon, in such manner, and at such time, as the superintendent of Lothian should appoint.” Spottswood, page 214.
I should like to see such members of the church of Scotland, in the present day, as have given countenance to popish worship in Clyde street, brought to a state of mind like that of the worthy countess; and make public satisfaction before their respective congregations.
But to return to the proper subject of this number; admitting it to be as AmicuS VERITATIS asserts, I am not accountable for it. My work was not undertaken with the view of defending the church of Scotland, or any other church. I took my stand upon the true Protestant doctrine of the Bible, and the Bible alone, as the foundation of my religion; and what I find not authorized by the Bible, if it should be in the church of which I am a member, or any other, I am ready to disavow it as antichristian. Popery has taken so fast a hold of the human mind throughout all Europe ; it had insinuated itself so much into all the feelings, and principles, and practices, of the people; its influence has so descended from one generation to another; and it has become so interwoven with our modes of thinking, and speaking, and acting, that I question if there be any visible organized church in the world that does not possess less or more of the antichristian leaven. When the cry shall be made, “Babylon the great is fallen! is fallen!". there will be found, perhaps, some in every church, “crying, alas! alas!" for something that they have lost.
But with regard to the point in hand, I am not guilty of self-commendation when I say, that I consider the church of Scotland to be, in constitution and doctrine, nearer the divine pattern exhibited in the Bible, than any other established church in the world. And, perhaps, I may say it to the praise of this church, that I am sure I give no offence to any of her members when I say, that I do not look upon her as perfect or infallible. Neither will it be offensive to the candid and enlightened part of that body, that I give my opinion against that part of her practice, the commuting of public censure for a pecuniary mulct; that I consider this antichristian; that, in short, it came from Rome, and the sooner it is sent back the better.
I do not object to the imposition of a fine. The sin to which this discussion refers, is a crime against the state, as it is subversive of the good order and happiness of civil society. It is, therefore, a proper subject of punishment by the civil magistrate, either by fine or otherwise. It seems to have been so understood, in the reign of James VI, when the following severe law was made against it:
“All persons who commit the filthy vice of fornication, and are convicted thereof, shall be punished in manner following: for the first fault, the man, as well as the woman, shall pay the sum of forty pounds, (Scotch, I suppose,) otherwise both shall be imprisoned for the space of eight days, and be fed on bread and small drink, and afterwards shall be presented at the marketplace of the town or parish bareheaded, and there stand fastened for the space of two hours: For the second fault, they shall pay the sum of an hundred merks, otherwise the days of their imprisonment shall be doubled, and their food shall be bread and water allenarly; and in the end they shall be presented at the marketplace, and the heads of both shall be shaven: For the third fault, they shall pay an hundred pounds, or else their imprisonment shall be tripled, and their food be bread and water allenarly; and in the end they shall be taken to the deepest and foulest pool of water of the town or parish, and be there thrice dowked, and afterwards banished the town or parish for ever. The pecunial pains which shall be received, shall be keeped in a close box, and converted ad pios usus in the parts where the crime was committed.” James VI. 1567, 1649–12.
“All laws and acts of parliament against fornication and uncleanness renewed and confirmed.” W. and M. 1690.
“ All laws and acts of parliament against fornication and profaneness again revived and ratified, and persons guilty of it ordained to be prosecuted, and the fines imposed to be instantly paid to the parish collectors for the poor, or the party to be imprisoned till sufficient caution be found for the payment of them; and no pretence of different persuasions in matters of religion, shall screen the delinquent from being censured and punished for such immoralities.” W. 1696, Oct. 9th.—Purdivan, p. 224; edit. 1802.
Thus the crime was viewed in a civil light, and civil pains and penalties were imposed. Whether the penalties were in all instances worthy of the dignity of legal enactment, is another question. By sundry acts of the general assembly of the church of Scotland, as referred to by PURDIVAN, especially those of 1707, I find that swearing, cursing, profaning the Lord's day, and drunkenness, are mentioned, as