« ПредишнаНапред »
pists of his day to asses. I am aware that my paper will not rise in dignity by descending to use the language of the reformer in this instance; but really I cannot help thinking the asses are dishonoured by the comparison; for I defy the church of Rome to produce an ass that will refuse the evidence of his own senses—that will be so stupid as to mistake a bundle of hay for a human body; yet such stupidity is exemplified by Papists every day, in their sacrifice of the mass, and their doctrine of transubstantiation.
IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT OF THE LAST SEVEN CHAPTERS. CONSEQUENT DUTY OF
WITHDRAWING FROM THE CHURCH OF ROME. EXAMPLES OF THE PRACTICE OF PA
PISTS, SHOWING THEIR APPREHENSIONS OF THE GENERAL CIRCULATION OF THE BIBLE. MEMORANDUM IN A SPANISH NEW TESTAMENT, BY GRANVILLE SHARP. LETTER FROM PARIS. REPORTS OF THE HIBERNIAN SOCIETY. INTERESTING FACT RELATED BY
THE ANCIENT FATHERS HAD A CONTRARY OPINION FROM MODERN PAPISTS CONCERNING THE UTILITY OF READING THE BIBLE. VIEWS OF ST. AUGUSTINE, ST. GREGORY, AND OTHERS.
Saturday, March 27th, 1819. I DARE say I have written more than enough to convince every reader, that the church of Rome is hostile to the circulation and the reading of the holy scriptures. The avowed doctrine of that church, as laid down by the last of her general councils, a late bull of the pope, and the writings of modern Papists, as quoted in my late numbers, all go to establish the fact, that the church of Rome is against the word of God. It follows, as a thing of course, that the word of God, and God himself, is against the church of Rome; and that, though she may maintain her ground for a while, like the heathen parts of the kingdom of Satan, she must ultimately be consumed by The Spirit of his mouth, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming.
The subject of withholding the word of God, has occupied seven numbers of my work. I hope my Protestant readers will not think I have given it more space than the importance of the subject required, for it is really a fundamental point; and having convicted the church of Rome of direct hostility against the divine testimony, I hope it will be allowed that I have succeeded in proving her to be the antichrist that was spoken of by the apostles of Christ, as to arise in the latter days; and if there be any persons at present within the pale of that church, who regard the salvation of their souls, the command of God to such is, to come out of her, that they be not partakers of her sins, and that they receive not of her plagues.
I have not the vanity to think, that what I have written will make much impression on the minds of such persons as Dr. Milner and Mr. Andrews, and the other writers of the present day, who oppose
the circulation of the holy scriptures. My labour, however, will not have been in vain, if I have put the public in general upon their guard against the pretensions of those men, who advocate the cause of the church of Rome, and who endeavour to soften down all the monstro
sities of the system; but who, while they oppose the circulation and the reading of the Bible, show enough of the cloven foot to make it manifest that the authority under which they act, is that of the prince of darkness. I hope I have shown also what we may expect whenever Papists shall acquire power and authority among us: the Bible will be prohibited; and those who presume to read it, will be punished according to the decree of the holy council of Trent..
I believe it is usual, in writing upon religious subjects, as well as in preaching, to connect doctrine with practice: following what I take to be a very good rule, I shall now proceed to the practical improvement of my subject, that is, to adduce certain instances of the actual practice of Papists, even in the present day, of withholding the word of God from the people in general, and making it a crime to have it in possession, or to read it, or even to acquire the art of reading, so as to have access to it.
In the library of the British and Foreign Bible Society, is a Spanish New Testament, printed at Venice, in 1556. It had no doubt been printed without the knowledge of the church, or holy Inquisition; as there is no record of their having granted permission for such an undertaking. On the title page is written "Granville Sharp," and a remarkable memorandum is prefixed with his own hand, as fol. lows:-“ Mem. Several years ago, I presented this Castilian Testament to an eminent Spaniard, a merchant of Bilboa, who was delighted with it during his temporary abode in London ; but, just before his departure for Spain, he returned the book, being afraid to carry it with him, lest it should be discovered by the searchers of his baggage, and occasion the forfeiture of all his goods, G. S.” Correspondence, foc. between Messrs. Gandolphy, Blair, fc. p. 87. Such was the hostility known to exist by this Spaniard among his countrymen, against the word of God, that he durst not carry home a copy in his own language. What must be the state of things in Spain, with regard to religion, when a respectable individual of that country is led to make such a humiliating declaration? In Spain popery is to be seen in its true character. There it has received no softening from Protestant influence, and it is as it appears there that we ought to judge of it; for the apparent amelioration of the system in this country, is merely accidental; and if the causes which have produced such amelioration were removed, it would appear in Britain as bad as it is in Spain. From the open declarations of Bishop Milner, and the orthodox journalist, against the Bible, and their incessant outcry about the danger of reading it, there cannot be a doubt that they would, if they were able, prohibit the book and the reading of it, under a penalty, perhaps heavier than the confiscation of goods.
The following extract of a letter from Paris, of date the 25th ultimo, which appeared in the London Star of the 1st of the present month, will show the hostility which exists among certain clergy of that country against education and reading the Bible :-"We have, with some difficulty, procured M. Durand's Lent Mandement or Homily: he is the capitulary vicar general of Besancon. M. Durand warns every one to avoid penetrating into the mysteries of the gospel; and he triumphantly asks, who would believe in God if it were necessary to comprehend him ? In his holy zeal the vicar general declares the
Lancasterian schools an invention of the devil; and cautions all his flock to beware of sending their children to them. If they do, they will incur excommunication here, and damnation hereafter. He invites with Moloch ferocity, his diocess to exterminate the heretics, (that is the Protestants.) It is, he says, a mark of grace; its omission is a mortal sin."
There are many thousands of Papists, chiefly Irish, who reside in St. Giles', and the neighbouring parishes in London, whose children are suffered to grow up in the grossest ignorance and vice. A few years ago, some benevolent individuals established schools for the gra'tuitous education of such children, in the arts of reading, writing,
&c. : that no alarm might be excited in the minds of the parents, or their priests, it was expressly stipulated, that no catechism should be used in the schools, and no means used to make the children Protestants; that, in short, nothing should be admitted on the subject of religion, but the plain simple letter of the English Bible. But this benevolent plan met with the most determined opposition from the priests, some of whom plainly declared before the committee of the house of commons, that it was much better for the children not to be able to read, than to learn this art, without learning, at the same time, their popish catechism. See proof of this, at great length, in the report of the committee, printed in 1816.
The last report of the Hibernian society furnishes numerous instances of the opposition of the priests in Ireland to the reading of the scriptures, and even the instruction of the children in the art of reading, when it is understood that the Bible is used in the schools. One of the teachers writes as follows:-“ January 10th, 1818. I herewith send you the protest of two priests against the use of the scriptures in schools. It is taken verbatim from the book, which lies on the table for the remarks of the visiting committee. The priests continue exceedingly angry with the parents who persist, at least many of them, to send their children to the schools, notwithstanding all that they have said and threatened.” The following is the protest of the said priests : “ Having observed that the children of our communion are obliged to read the Protestant version of the New Testament, we protest against the introduction of any version ; and we are determined to withdraw the children from the school, by every means in our power, unless the rule which prescribes a portion of the holy scriptures to be daily read be annulled. Signed, J. P. J. R. A true copy, T. G." Report for 1818, page 40.
Another teacher writes as follows :—“ June 23d, 1817. Some time ago, I apprehended much injury would be done to the society's schools under my care, in consequence of the Catholic priest opening a free school in his chapel, and charging his flock to send their children to it, or else they would be finally ruined. He publicly lectured on this subject for three successive sabbaths; notwithstanding which, only one of my pupils left me. This child had been very sick for some time, and its parents were made to believe, that it was a judgment sent on the child, for being at the society's school. Since then, as a child at the priest's free school was reading in a Testament which he took with him to the school, the master struck the child a violent blow, took the Testament from him, cursed the child, and asked if he was
going to turn a heretic.
The child told this to his parents ; upon which they withdrew him and his sister from the priest's school, and put them both to mine; at which they would learn to read the word of God.” Page 72. This is the way in which the people ought to treat their priests, and every body else who would hinder them or their children from reading the Bible. It is gratifying to see the manifestation of such a spirit; there are not a few instances of it now in Ireland; and if it shall become general, as I hope it will by and by, Ireland will be prepared for a much more important emancipation, than that which Papists are thinking of, and demanding with so much clamour;she will be emancipated from the slavery of superstition and error, raised to the enjoyment of rational liberty; and every hamlet and cabin will be accessible to the word of God, and the salvation which it reveals.
In these reflections, I am happy to have the concurrence of some of the Irish of the Roinish communion. One of the society's inspectors of schools writes as follows :—“ May 25th, 1817. The few days I have been in this neighbourhood, I have had frequent conversations with many of the Catholics, who exclaim greatly against their clergy, for prohibiting the reading of the scriptures. One man, in particular, said that, if all mankind were of his opinion, superstition, idolatry, and the fear of man, would soon cease, and scripture knowledge would prevail and flourish gloriously in the world." The same inspector gives the following account of one of the schools, and of its teacher :" Visited F—'s school at R— He had 88 pupils assembled; 16 of whom read the 2d of Ephesians, and gave pertinent answers to questions from it. I am glad to say, that both masters and pupils, in this country, are progressively advancing in the knowledge of the scriptures : and I perceive that when the pupils are enlightened with this knowledge, the masters of such are much affected with the necessity and importance of it. I greatly rejoiced to hear Mr. F- (whom I knew to have been brought up in the church of Rome) explain, from the scriptures, the gospel very clearly. He said, I bless the day that Mr. B- gave me a Bible, and advice how to read it. He added, I brought it home, but did not dare to read it, except in private, lest my friends or the parish priest should hear of it: but, in the course of some time, I lost the fear of man; and now I can say, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ : for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. I acknowledge to all around me, that the scriptures are the true word of God. This declaration made me many enemies in the country; and even my nearest friends and acquaintance were against me; but especially the priest of the parish, who used every exertion to prevent and stop me.” Pages 47, 48.
The report before me contains many such instances of priestly opposition to the Bible, and of the determination of the people not to submit to the control of their ghostly guides. One priest, besides a heavy penance, laid a poor woman under an obligation, on pain of inevitable destruction, never to open a Bible, or converse with a Protestant on the subject of religion. All this, however, did not do; for though, while terrified and intimidated by the threats and injunctions of her confessor, she had unwillingly promised obedience, she relapsed in a few days, and returned to her Bible." Page 22. I do not expect
that my work will speedily reach the remote parts of Ireland, which are held in bondage by these priests of the god of darkness, else I would entreat the people who have access to schools and to the Bible, diligently to improve the opportunity of acquiring the knowledge of that blessed book, which they may rest assured will do them no hurt, and which may be the instrument of conveying to them the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, which is eternal life.
Though I have not access to the benighted parts of Ireland, I am happy that many Irishmen and other Romanists in this country read my papers. Let me entreat such to read the Bible. I propose to myself no higher aim than this. I will be glad if my work is laid aside, and never thought of again, if it shall only be the means of exciting my readers to read and study the word of God. Let me entreat, also, that those who can read, will advise those of their acquaintance who cannot, to avail themselves of the opportunities afforded for acquiring that most neces essary art.
There are many schools now established in Glasgow, for educating the old as well as the young; and both old and young are made welcome to receive, without money, and without price, ihe benefits of education, as well as the blessings of religion.
I believe an idea prevails very generally among Protestants, that the reading of the scriptures is not so much calculated to convert sinners, as the preaching of the gospel; and I doubt not the experience of past ages will be found to confirm the doctrine of the Westminster divines, that “the Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners.” But I stay not at present to inquire whether this arises from something in the nature of preaching more than in that of reading? whether there be any scriptural ground to expect more from the one than from the other? or whether it be not enough to account for the fact, that the experiment, with regard to giving the scriptures and reading them, has never yet been so extensively made as that of preaching has been? It is enough to know that conversion is the work of God; and that, in ordinary cases, he effects it by means of his word, revealed to the heart and understanding, through the medium of hearing or reading. Of the blessed effects of the latter, we have many recent instances, of which the following is a specimen “ Dr. Carey, in one of his letters, speaking of nineteen natives who had come to him to request Christian baptism, mentions, that eighteen of them had become converts to Christianity, by reading of the Bible alone, having never heard the missionaries preach: their acquaintance with Christian truth and doctrine was derived entirely from the solitary and unaided perusal of the scriptures." See Third Report of the Calton and Bridgeton Association for Religious Purposes, p. 71.
I recommend to my readers of the Romish communion the perusal of the Bible, with the more confidence of being attended to, seeing I have the concurrence of some of the greatest of their own saints and fathers. The council of Trent, the present pope, and all the modern authorities, down to Dr. Milner, have actually departed from the ancient doctrine of their own church. This I will prove by reference to St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and others, who spake of the Bible as if they had been English Protestants.