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I would farther advise W. D. not to meddle with the high doctrine of liberty and necessity, or fate and free will, at least till he has become acquainted with the plain and simple truths contained in the Bible. Let him not imagine that he may safely do evil from a belief that he was predestinated to do it. The church of Scotland never taught such doctrine; and if this was the cause of his leaving her, he ought to return and confess his mistake, and be reconverted back again."
My correspondent is much offended by the charge of idolatry which I bring against his church; but I appeal to himself whether I have not proved her guilty, to the conviction of every one who believes the testimony of his own senses; and there is no possibility of proving any thing to persons who do not believe their senses; for though I were to set down a mathematical demonstration in every page, they would not be sure that they saw it. What I made and meant for a square, they might call a triangle or a circle; and what I knew to be good black ink, they might maintain to be buttermilk. There was, however, a time when W. D. believed his senses, if he was, as he says, a member of the church of Scotland. He cannot have forgotten this. If, then, he had seen a man adoring a piece of bread, he would have called him an idolater. If the worshipper should have told him it was not bread, but the God that made him; instead of being convinced, I suppose W. D. would have called him mad as well as idolatrous. Now, though W. D. himself has become a believer in the wonderful conversion of a piece of bread into the real substance of the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ, and of course sees no idolatry in worshipping it, he must allow those who do not believe this doctrine, to think of the worship of a piece of bread as he once thought of it, that it is downright idolatry. This, I think, I have proved in some of my late numbers, to which I refer him, if he is willing to believe his own senses; if not, he may save himself the trouble, for it will be of no avail. He cannot be certain whether he is reading my print or his own manuscript.
I know that Papists disclaim idol worship, and that they do so with the most bitter cursing, of which W. D. has given a specimen from Gother's Papist Misrepresented and Represented; but this is no more than heathens do, except the cursing part of the disavowal, which, I suppose, is peculiarly popish. No man professes to worship an idol, believing it to be an idol, but because he believes a divinity to reside in it, or that it is itself a divinity. Every man who worships a creature is an idolater; and he is not the less so, because he believes it to be the Creator; and though he should pronounce ever so many curses against idol worshippers.
My correspondent proceeds upon a mistake, into which he, and, I suppose, all his brethren, have fallen,—that the church which Christ purchased with his blood, and of which he promised that the gates of hell should not prevail against her, is the visible organized church of Rome. This they all seem to take for granted; but it is a mere assumption, without a shadow of reason to support it. The church of Christ are the redeemed of all nations and of all ages; and the gates of hell shall never prevail so as to prevent the salvation of any one of them. Those of them who are upon earth are scattered among a number of visible organized bodies, which, in an inferior sense, are
called churches. The church in Rome was one of these, while she held the true faith and pure worship, as instituted by Christ; but in her purest state she had no superiority over other churches; she never had any right to call herself by way of eminence, much less exclusively, the church. Christ never gave to her, or to any national, provincial, or particular church, a promise that the gates of hell should not prevail against it; but he gave warning to all, that if they departed from the faith they should be cut off. This has been notoriously the case with Rome; and though she retains the name of Christian, she has become the reverse of what the name implies; and is conspicuously the place where Satan has his seat.
In short, the promise of Christ holds out no security to either churches or individuals, but in the way of persevering in faith and holy practice. Christ said to his disciples, on one occasion, " Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke xii. 34. Now, if Judas had argued as Papists do, he needed not to have thought himself in danger of perdition, though he had betrayed his Lord. He might have said, if Christ's word be true, I am sure of the kingdom of heaven. But Judas had not the presumption to reason like modern Papists. He apostatized, and he perished; yet Christ spoke the truth, and his word will be verified in The salvation of all true disciples. The church of Rome also apostatized; and though Christ promised that the gates of hell should not prevail against his church, he has suffered them to prevail against that of Rome. He has removed the candlestick, that is the branch of his church that was once in Rome, out of the place, as he did to many other churches, for the same reason. Of some, indeed, the memory is perished from the earth; but for reasons known fully to himself alone, he suffered the church of Rome to retain a name and a visible form, after the Spirit was gone, and to become the antitype of Babylon, the oppressor
persecutor of the church of God. To know that a church is in error, it is not necessary to prove when, and by whom, the error was first broached; yet W. Ď. seems to express great triumph, because nobody can tell who said the first mass. Had he been a servant of the husbandman in whose field tares had been sown and had sprung up, he would not have believed that tares were in the field, though he saw them with his own eyes, unless somebody could tell who sowed them. To the master and the wise servants it appeared that the tares were sown while they were off their guard, and that it was the work of an enemy. This was evident from the actual state of the field, though they could tell no more about it. So the church of Rome is now fuil of errors, though it be not easy to fix the precise time, or to name the persons by whom they were all introduced. She has departed from the unerring standard, she is many degrees distant from it; we are therefore sure that she has erred, though we should not be able to tell who made the first wry step.
A few farther remarks on W. D.'s letter in my next.
FURTHER REMARKS ON W.D.'S LETTER.
CASE OF A POPISH HUSBAND BREAKING HIS FAITH WITH HIS PROTESTANT WIFE; IN A LETTER FROM A CLERGYMAN. CASE OP MALTREATMENT EXPOSED IN GLASGOW POLICE OFFICE..
SATURDAY, Nov. 20th, 1819. My correspondent, W. D., whose letter I gave in my last number, refuses to admit that the church of Rome is in any error, because no Protestant can tell him who was the first that erred, or who said the first mass; to which I replied, that we found her far removed from the unerring standard; and that, therefore, we were sure that she had erred, though we could not tell who made the first wry step. I shall illustrate this by the following incident:
I happened to be in Greenock a few weeks ago, in a very foggy night, when some gentlemen hired a boat to ferry them over to Helensburgh. They could not see above ten yards round them, and they had no compass. The men rowed with all their might for about two hours, when they made land, supposing it to be Helensburgh; but it turned out to be Cartsdyke, on the Greenock side of the river, and not half a mile distant from the place from which they started. Now, had W. D. been one of the company, he must, according to his mode of reasoning, have maintained that Cartsdyke was Helensburgh, unless somebody could tell which of the rowers had so gained upon the other as insensibly to turn about the boat. But the sensible part of the company seeing how matters stood, would confess that they had erred from their course, though they could not tell who gave the first stroke of the oar that led them astray.
In the thick and long continued darkness of Europe, it is not surprising that the great body of the people went astray from the truth, and wandered in the mazes of error. Indeed, it could not have been otherwise, without a perpetual miracle. But W. D. will admit of no error having been broached, unless we can produce a distinct record of its introduction; while the very darkness which facilitated the propagation of error, rendered it difficult, if not impossible, in many instances, to preserve such record: yet, this writer most confidently assures us, that “there is no heresy whatever, nor any point of discipline that is, or ever was, practised in the church of Rome, or any other church whatever, but what is recorded by some historian; but we have no such records of the supposed errors of the church of Rome.” It is impossible that W. D. can know what he asserts in the first part of this sentence without inspiration; therefore we may let this pass till he shall make it appear that he is possessed of the gift: and as for the errors of the church of Rome, we have enough on record to show us when some of the principal ones came to be publicly acknowledged as what is called catholic doctrine. This is well known to every reader of church history, but I am afraid I cannot rank W. D. among the number. Let him read Milner's Church History, or even his own Dupin, and he will see reason enough to be “reconverted back again.”
He speaks of the succession of popes from Peter, who, he says, was the first of them, with as much confidence as if it were a thing as clear
and undispnted as the succession of our royal family from King James the First; but, if he be not a novice indeed, he must know that this is all nonsense. I defy him, and the whole church of Rome, to produce a sentence from the genuine writings of any one of the fathers, which distinctly proves that Peter ever was in Rome, much less that he was bishop of that see. But as I intend to discuss this subject at length in some future numbers, I shall not enter farther upon it here. My correspondent gives a list of fathers, whose writings, he says, he has seen; but if I may judge from the manner in which he writes English, I suspect he cannot read these fathers in the original languages. He must trust, therefore, to mere garbled scraps of translations, or barefaced forgeries, such as his priests are pleased to show him, and which are of no authority whatever. It is well known that the church of Rome has, by her Index Expurgatorius, expunged from the works of the fathers every passage that she judged contrary to her own doctrine; and that she has actually foisted into the blank spaces which the Index made, words which the authors never wrote, expressing sentiments which they never held. From such corrupted editions of the fathers popish writers make their quotations. Indeed, if they were to use other editions, and give the genuine words of the fathers, it would be at the peril of falling under the vengeance of the Inquisition, if they should ever come within its reach. If W. D. did not know of the existence of the Index, I hope he will thank me for the information; and as the fact is as notorious as the existence of the fathers themselves, I hope he will hereafter pay little attention to what his ghostly guides may please to present him from St. Irenæus, or any saint of the pope's making; and that he will have recourse to his Bible, which will not lead him astray.
He quotes, apparently with approbation, Gother's curses upon those who believe, or do not believe, certain matters, or whose worship is not perfectly according to rule; thus, for instance, “ Cursed is he who worships any breaden god, or makes gods of the empty elements of bread and wine;" and the respondent is taught to say, “ Amen." This great curse leaves room enough for worshipping what appears to be bread and wine, though not as bread and wine; just as the curse pronounced upon every goddess worshipper, leaves persons at full liberty to worship the Virgin Mary, provided they do not put their trust in her more than in God, or suppose that she is above her Son, or can command him. These are mere quibbles, intended to deceive simple Protestants, and to conceal the notorious fact that Papists do worship idols; and their denying the fact with such bitter cursing, only shows that they have no honest way of clearing themselves. We do not read that ever the apostle Peter had recourse to cursing, but when he was guilty of another great crime, and wished to conceal the truth.
In this article the church of Rome shows herself to be the very opposite of the true church of Christ, whose motto is, “Bless and curse not." The promise of God to Abraham extends to the whole church -“ I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing." She looks with a benign aspect towards the whole human race. She prays, and labours, that all men may be brought into the fold of Christ, that they may enjoy the blessing of Abraham, which is come upon the Gentiles. But if men will not come into the fold, in the way of believing in Christ,
as God has commanded ; if they will continue heathens and idolaters, Christians pity them, and pray for their conversion, but they are by no means warranted to curse them. I suppose W. D. thinks it his duty most devoutly to curse " THE PROTESTANT," in imitation of his brethren here, by whom he was, about a year ago, most heartily cursed, even from the pulpit; but I should reckon myself guilty of a great crime, were I to curse either him or them. I shall be told, perhaps, that an apostle says, “ If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.” An apostle does, indeed, say so; but he is speaking by inspiration, and declaring the righteous judgment of God against the enemies of Christ, which shall be executed upon all the finally impenitent; and the company of the saved will cordially acquiesce in that sentence; but this is not a rule by, which we are warranted to deal with fellow-creatures in this world; or an example which we are to imitate, by cursing all whom we believe to be in error.
One remark more on this letter, and I shall have done with it. The writer very kindly advises me to give the religion of Papists from their own books, without misrepresentation, and then condemn them, if I can, with cool reasoning and fair argument. Now this is the very thing I have done all along. I have in no instance, so far as I recollect, ascribed any doctrine to the church of Rome, at least no one of any importance; and I have founded no argument upon any doctrine ascribed to her, without laying down the doctrine in the very words of her own authors. I have been very liberal in my extracts from these ; but when any fundamental doctrine was in question, I have not satisfied myself with the authority of any individual author, however high in rank and reputation, though this should be enough in a church, in which the faith of one is declared to be the faith of all; but I have given the authority of councils, and colleges, and catechisms, which are admitted to contain and express the real doctrine of the church of Rome. On the subject of not keeping faith with heretics, I gave the words of the council of Constance, and showed how the doctrine was practised under the sanction of that council. On the subject of withholding the Bible from the common people, I gave the words of the college of Rheims, and of the council of Trent, and of several modern authors. On the subject of worshipping saints and images, I gave a number of extracts from approved books of devotion: and on transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of the mass, besides the words of several catechisms, I cited the supreme authority of the council of Trent. From such authentic sources I have carefully given the doctrines of the church of Rome; and I defy W. D. to show that I have misquoted a single sentence..
In some instances, indeed, I have given the words of popish authors as quoted by others; by such men, for instance, as Archbishop Usher and Archbishop Tillotson, whose names are a sufficient security against imposition; and, in a few instances, from the author of "Free Thoughts," who, though he chose to publish his work without his name, is well known to have been a respectable Presbyterian professor of divinity, and in nothing that became a minister of Christ inferior to the abovenamed primates of England and Ireland. I do not, however, rest so much upon the personal character of these great divines, as upon the