Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

those of Sancho Panza had upon him, when he applied his whip to the trees instead of his own back. The fact is, Mr. Andrews overdoes his part. He throws out his abuse in such quantities, and so thick, that none of it will stick.

It is known in a very extensive circle that I am not the monster of wickedness which he represents me to be; and people knowing that his abuse is unmerited, are the less disposed to attend to any thing that he writes.

Before I have done I must have a word or two with Mr. Simeon, who is better known to my readers under the name of Pax. It was never my intention to descend to personalities: and those who have forced me to speak of them personally have themselves to blame. Mr. Simeon knows what hand he had in originating this controversy; and had he and his brother Amicus VERITATIS received with becoming humility, a gentle rebuke for representing a Protestant assembly as worshipping their chapel, the world would not have been favoured with such a work as the present; and Papists would have been spared the agony which they have suffered from the lucubrations of The Protestant. I would not, even now, have mentioned Mr. Simeon by name, if he had not thrust himself forward, as if with a view to make himself a conspicuous agent of Rome, and of Mr. Andrews. Had he come to me as an honest man, to receive the evidence which I had promised to give, and which he professed to seek; to weigh that evidence, and give a candid opinion upon it, I would have thanked him for his pains. But he came to inveigle me with ensnaring questions, not to ascertain the truth, but to endeavour, by artifice, to convict me of falsehood, I know nothing of that French politeness, which says, “ My dear friend,” to my known enemy.

Mr. Simeon must not therefore be surprised by my rudeness, when, at any time, I shall speak of him as I think of him.

CHAPTER LI.

SUBJECTS THAT REMAIN TO BE DISCUSSED.

THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN THE CHURCH

OF ROME AND PROTESTANTS INVOLVES THE QUESTION, WHO IS THE SAVIOUR OF SINNERS? PAPISTS TRUST IN THEIR OWN MERIT, AND THE MERIT OF SAINTS. THIS IS A VIRTUAL RENONCIATION OF CHRIST. FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE OF THE REFORMA.

TION.

FALSE LIBERALITY.

THE POPISH ARGUMENT OF ANTIQUITY AND UNIVER

BALITY CONSIDERED.

SATURDAY, July 3d, 1819. On entering upon a second volume, I may be permitted to take a short retrospect of what is past, and to glance at what may be expected to follow, I find that I am engaged in a greater undertaking than I at first contemplated. Originally, I had no object in view but to expose the misrepresentation contained in a single paragraph in the Glasgow Chronicle, supposed to be written by one of our Papists. The defence of that paragraph by two writers of the Romish communion, led me to enter more fully into the subject than I at first intend.ed; and the attack made by one of them upon the principles of the reformation, and the character of the reformers, determined me to devote a part of my time to the investigation of a subject, which I

considered of great importance, and which I knew to have been much neglected by all classes of the community for the last thirty years.

I thought I' would be able to accomplish my object in the course of a few months, by a series of weekly papers; and I touched at first but slightly on certain prominent parts of the popish system, having, at the lime, litle more in view than to expose the errors and misrepresentations of my newspaper antagonists. This will account for the very cursory manner in which I passed over some very important maiters, such as the doctrine of transubstantiation, the supremacy of Peter, the term catholic, as claimed by the church of Rome; and the bloody wars and persecutions which have been excited by that church, within the last fifteen hundred years.

Finding, from the high degree of approbation with which my papers were received, that the public were willing to receive such information on the subject as I was able to give, I formed the idea of taking a more extensive range; and of writing a treatise on every one of the points by which the church of Rome is distinguished from the true church of Christ. I have not yet discussed more than four of these points; namely, church discipline, commencing with my nineteenth number; the lawfulness of breaking faith with heretics, commencing with my twenty-fourth, withholding the scriptures from the people, which is discussed in numbers thirty to thirty-eight inclusive; and the idolatry of the Romish church, which I have not yet finished. While discussing the first of these four points, The Catholic VindicaTOR made his appearance; and, as he seemed to attach to my work the importance of a national concern, I was induced to enter still more fully into the subjects of difference between the church of Rome and the reformed.

The subjects slightly touched upon in my earlier numbers, will probably come again under review; and besides these, there are some which I have not yet touched upon at all, which will furnish matter, I hope, for a volume at least as large as the first. These are, the idolatry of the mass, purgatory, prayers for the dead, auricular confession, clerical celibacy, extreme unction, cruelty of the Inquisition, villany of the Jesuits, &c. &c., together with doctrinal errors, such as justification by works, merits of saints, works of supererogation, &c. &c. When I have gone over these subjects, which I do not promise to do in the order here enumerated, I will, Deo volente, take some notice of The Catholic VINDICATOR ; and prove, from his writings, that the very worst features of popery are exhibited to view in the present day; I shall endeavour to vindicate our reformers from the aspersions of this writer, and AMICUS VERITATIS; and last of all, as of least importance, I shall vindicate myself and my writings from the numerous misrepresentations of The Catholic VINDICATOR.

There is one thing which I desire not to lose sight of, and which I wish my readers to keep always in remembrance; it is, that the foundation of the controversy lies deeper than any thing that meets the eye in the external fooleries and superstitions of the church of Rome. The grand fundamental question ai issue is no less than, Who is the Saviour of sinners? I call the church of Rome the antichrist, because she is opposed to Christ on this fundamental point. There is no truth more clearly revealed in the word of God, ihan that Christ alone is

the Saviour; that our salvation is entirely of him, without the assistance or co-operation of any creature whatever ; that our justification before God proceeds entirely upon the ground of his merit, or, what is a more expressive word, his righteousness, to the absolute exclusion of all merit or righteousness whatever on the part of creatures. This is so distinctly laid down in the holy scriptures, especially in Paul's epistles to the Romans and Galatians, that I hold it as a first principle of divine revelation, that Christ is to a sinner, a whole Saviour, or he is not his Saviour at all; that if we do not trust in him alone for salvation, we do not trust in him at all; and that if a sinner put the smallest degree of trust in any thing else, be it what it may, though he should still profess to put greater trust in Christ, he is in fact completely turned away from Christ, and he is making a saviour of that something else in which he places his little trust.

Now Papists openly and avowedly trust, at least in part, in their own merit, and the merit of saints; and though they profess also to trust in Christ, or perhaps to put greater trust in him, yet they do most effectually renounce him, by dividing their confidence between him, and themselves, and other creatures. What Papists consider their own merit, consists in some fancied conformity to the whole, or to some part of the divine law. Now the apostle tells us plainly, that if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain, Gal. ii. 21; a most horrible supposition; but it is realized in the mind of every man who expects to contribute in the smallest degree to his own salvation, by his obedience to the law, that is, by his fancied righteousness; and the same apostle tells us, Gal. v. 4, that whosoever is justified by the law, he is fallen from grace. The very attempt to seek justification in this way, is to renounce Jesus Christ as the Saviour, and to make a saviour of their own merit; and hence it is that I maintain that my controversy with the Papists involves no less than this fundamental question,-Who is the Saviour of sinners ?

I do not intend to enter at present upon a discussion of this subject, .but I allude to it, in order to remind my readers of what I consider the root and origin of all the errors of popery. It is the self-righteous bias of the human heart, and its deep-rooted hatred of the grace of the gospel. From this proceeds all the idolatry which I have been describing, and intend yet farther to describe; for creature confidence leads as naturally to creature worship, as confidence in God leads to worship him: and though we could persuade Papists to give up transubstantiation, and all their mummery and nonsense, they would stand upon no better footing with regard to a future life, unless they gave up also their fundamental doctrine of human merit, * and were led to trust in that of Christ alone for the salvation of their souls.

It was the glory of the reformation and of the reformers, that notwithstanding their imperfections and mistakes on some points of order

* The following epitaph is inscribed upon a monument in one of their chapels, in the city of Cork : " I. H. S. Sacred to the memory of the benevolent Edward MolJoy, the friend of humanity, and father of the poor; he employed the wealth of this world only to secure the riches of the next; and leaving a balance of merit on the book of life, he made heaven debtor to mercy. He died 17th Oct. 1818, aged 90. R. I. P." Philanthropic Gazette, June 16th, 1819. This is the popery of the nineteenth century. The editor justly condemns the daring impiety of making the Creator debtor to his creature; but this is inseparable from the doctrine of human merit.

and discipline, they clearly apprehended, and publicly taught, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, upon the footing of Christ's perfect righteousness: that is, that men are justified and saved not by what they have done, or can do, but by what Christ has done and suffered in their stead; and that they become interested in this by faith; that is, by believing the testimony of God in the scriptures concerning his Son. On this point Luther, and Calvin, and other leaders of the reformation, were entirely of one mind, though they differed on some subordinate articles; and the German reformer had such a deep conviction of the fundamental importance of this truth, that he called it the article, by holding or rejecting which, a church would stand or fall. It was some time before Luther could reconcile the doctrine so clearly taught by Paul, with that of James in his epistle, which led him to doubt the divine inspiration of the latter ; but as his mind opened to the understanding of divine truth, he perceived, what every Christian peasant now perceives, that the doctrine of the one apostle is perfectly consistent with that of the other.

But the scripture doctrine respecting justification, or, which is the same thing, the way by which alone a sinner can be saved, is absolutely unintelligible to our Papists. They will rather go without salvation than accept of it in the way of divine appointment. Like the Jews, in the days of the apostles, they will not submit to the righteousness of God; that is, they will not receive salvation as a free gift through the righteousness of Christ; and their masses, their pilgrimages, their penances, are nothing else than a going about to establish their own righteousness, as the Jews did by their ceremonial observances.

Now it is a great mistake to speak of this as if it were merely one of the many modifications of the Christian religion; for, besides the error of representing the Christian religion as having many modifications, which it has not, the system of seeking salvation by human merit, is not only not of Christianity, but is absolutely inconsistent with it. It has no more to do with the religion of Christ, than darkness has with light; than the service of Baal with that of the true God.

I know it is fashionable in certain Protestant circles to speak of Rome as a true church, nay, as the mother church, from which it was, indeed, lawful to separate, on account of her many corruptions. Nay, if the public journals give a fair report of the speeches of some of our senators on a late discussion of what are called the Catholic claims, it was distinctly maintained, that, unless the religion of Rome were admitted to be a true religion, we could not maintain the truth of our own. It is the design of my present remarks, to show that this is a great and a dangerous error. If our own religion be, that we can contribute to our own salvation by our own merit, then, indeed, it is the same as that of Rome; but if our religion be that which Christ and his apostles taught, " By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast," Eph. ii. 8, 9; then our religion is not the same, but the very opposite of that of Rome. It is the very opposite, not merely in modes of worship, and subordinate points of doctrine; it is radically and fundamentally another religion; and that of Rome is as much opposed to that of

Christ, as any system of heathen idolatry practised in ancient or modern times.

It is time to have done with that spurious liberality that confounds right and wrong, in matters of divine revelation. Let not our Protestant population, especially let not our Protestant senators, halt between tiro opinions. If Baal be God, serve him. If popery be Christianity, let them go over to it. If it be not Christianity, let it be regarded as it ought, as a system of delusion, invented by the devil, for the purpose of counteracting and opposing the religion of Christ, which gives the most glorious display of divine mercy for the recovery of a ruined world.

One main argument which Papists use to show that theirs is the true religion, is, that if it were not so, God would not have allowed it to prevail so extensively, and to continue so long; and this argument has some weight with our Protestant politicians. They suppose that surely that must be Christianity, which alone appeared in the world as such, for more than a thousand years; and they are seduced by the vague use of the word Christendom, a term which will be found to have no meaning, if we attempt to explain it upon Christian principles.

But there is a fallacy in the argument, which might be detected by any child who reads his Bible. How does it appear that God would not suffer a system of error to prevail extensively, and continue for hundreds of years? Has he ever promised to force the human mind, so that those who love error shall not be allowed to embrace it ? Certainly there is no promise to this effect in the word of God; but there is a threatening that the very contrary shall take place. “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world; and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” John iii. 19. The light of the gospel shone in Rome for a time, as well as in many other places. The first believers there were distinguished for the steadfastness of their faith, which was spoken of throughout the whole world. Rom. i. 8. These were either murdered by their heathen persecutors, or died a natural death. The same happened to their immediate successors; and, after two or three generations, the Christians in Rome, like those in other places, began to depart from the faith and the holy practice of their fathers. This arose from the corrupt bias of their hearts. It was because they loved darkness rather than the light. They made their choice of error, and God left them to the influence of that which they had chosen. Now this is precisely what he said he would do in such a case, and what he would do to the church of Rome; for it is evident that the passage applies to her almost as clearly as if she had been mentioned by name :-“ Let no man deceive you by any means : for that day" (the day of Christ's second coming) “shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not that when I was yet with you, I told you these things ? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he that now letteth (or preventeth) will prevent, until he be taken out of the way:"—that is, the pagan imperial power must be removed, ere the

« ПредишнаНапред »