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Chap. III.) THE BIBLE THE ONLY RULE OF FAITH AND PRACTICE.
Christ or his apostles; and were not received by the early Christians in the apostolic and subsequent age.
As the canonical scriptures have been proved a divine revelation, it inevitably follows that we are bound to receive them as such, and to believe all the declarations which they contain.
a) Some of these declarations represent this revelation as a rule of faith and practice.
b) Other passages declare it to be a sufficient rule :: not one which will put an end to all controversy or produce absolute uniformity of views among men, but a rule sufficiently clear for the sincere inquirer.
c) Others declare it to be the only infallible rule.3
d) Others record the appointment of an order of men as teachers of this religion ;4 but 1) bind them to study the Scriptures and teach according to them:6 2) mention certain teach
1 2 Tim. 3: 16. 17. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. John 5: 39. Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me. Matth. 22; 29. Jesus answered and said unto them, ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.
2 2 Tim. 3: 15. And from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are ABLE to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
3 Isaiah 8: 20. To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them. 2 Pet. 1: 19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth into a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.
4 2 Tim. 2: 2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same cominit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Matth. 28: 18–20.
51 Tim. 4: 15. Meditate upon these things (the things among others taught in that epistle); give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all.
6 Gal. 1:8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach (announce) any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached, (published, orally and in this epistle) let him be accursed.
ers, whose, doctrines were false ;1 and 3) Require the hearers to compare the instructions of their teachers with the written revelation of God ;2 and 4) Pronounce the most awful curses on those who either add to, or subtract from the things taught in the inspired volume.3
From all these considerations we perceive the absurdity, as well as the wickedness of the Roman Catholic church, which maintains, that the scriptures do not teach all the necessary features of true Christianity, that God's own word is not sufficiently clear to serve as a rule of faith and practice to Christians generally; and that her popes and councils and priests are indispensable and infallible interpreters of what the scriptures mean!!
The principal modern versions most extensively used are the German translation of Luther, and the English published in the reign of king James I. of England, about two hundred years ago. In preparing his version the illustrious reformer received much assistance from the learned Melancthon. Further to ensure its accuracy Luthier invited a select party to meet at his house
1 2 Pet. 2: 1. 2. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their pervicious ways, by reason of whom, the way of truth will be evil spoken of.
2 2 John 10: 11. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrive (that taught in this epistle) receive him not unto your house, neither bid him God speed; for be that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds. Acts 17: 11. These were more poble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.
3 Rev. 22:18. 19. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away of the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book :
daily, and aid in the revision of his work. Melancthon collated the Greek, Cruciger the Chaldee, and other professors the Rabinical writings. Justus Jonas, John Buganhagen, and Aurogallus also lent their aid. The work was published in detached parts ; but the New Testament was finished in 1522, and the entire bible was first published in 1530. The language of Luther's version is remarkably pure and elegant, has justly been ranked with the German classics, and is at the present day entirely intelligible to the popular reader. The English version is the joint production of forty seven distinguished divines, who completed their work in 1613. It is a very correct and able version ; but too rigidly literal to be entirely perspicuous.
The sacred volume has been translated into many other languages, ancient and modern ; and by the pious efforts of different bible societies of the present day alone, into more than one hundred and fifty languages and dialects.
THE CORRUPTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,
AND REPUBLICATION OF ITS DOCTRINES BY THE
The religion inculcated in that volume, the evidences of whose divinity we have been reviewing, was taught with various purity in the different ages which have elapsed since its publication. In the first few centuries, the church retained much of her apostolic beauty and purity, until her unhallowed union with the civil governments wás effected by the Emperor Con
stantine and his successors, and the papal hierarchy was gradually formed; when one corruption succeeded another, until the lustre of the church was almost entirely buried in the midnight gloom of the dark ages.
In due time however, the great Head of the church commanded light to shine out of the darkness. Wickliffe, in the fourteenth century, and Huss and Jerome of Prague, in the earlier part of the fifteenth, began to expose the abominable corruptions of the Roman Catholic church, and paid the forfeit of their lives for their zeal in the cause of their Redeemer. But in the sixteenth century, the great Head of the church raised up Martin Luther and his immortal coadjutors, who shook the papal throne to its very foundation; and, guided by the hand of Heaven, effected the glorious Reformation. This regeneration of the church bas since been extended over the major part of Europe, and to it are we also indebted for the liberty, civil and religious, which distinguish this favoured land. In the progress of their work, and under circumstances peculiarly interesting and imposing, the Reformers were called on to declare their fundamental views of the Christian religion, and thus framed the mother symbol of the Reformation.
The Augsburg Confession was prepared for the twofold purpose of rebutting the slanders of the papists, and of publishing to Europe, the doctrines of the Reformers. The Emperor Charles V., in order to terminate the disputes between the Pope and the princes who favoured the reformation, which tended to distract his empire by civil discord, and threw a formidable barrier into the way of his ambitious projects, had ordered the convention of a diet, at Augsburg, and promised hispersonal attendance. The Pope also, who had long been pressing on the Emperor the adoption of violent measures to suppress the obstinate heretics, as the holy father termed them, cherished the flattering expectation that this diet would give a death blow to the Protestant cause. Encouraged by the promise of impartial audience from the Emperor, the Elector of
Saxony charged Luther, Melancthon, Bugenhagen, and Jonas to make a sketch of their doctrines to be used at the diet. Such a summary was written by Luther in seventeen sections, termed the Torgan Articles. The Emperor, however, instead of reaching Augsburg on the 8th of April according to promise, did not arrive until the 15th of June. Melancthon in the mean time expanded these Torgan Articles, into what is now denominated the Augsburg Confession. This enlarged work was then submitted to Luther at Coburg, and received his cordial sanction.
On the 25th of June, therefore, at 3 o'clock, P. M. this memorable Confession was publicly pronounced in the presence of the Emperor, his brother king Ferdinand, the electors John of Saxony, with his son John Frederick, George of Brandenburg, Francis and Ernest, dukes of Luneburg and Brunswick, Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, Wolfgang, prince of Anhalt, and about two hundred other princes and divines. The Chancellors of the Elector, Baier and Pontanus arose, the former holding in his hand the German copy and the latter the Latin original. The Emperor desired the Latin to be read; but the Elector remonstrated, alleging, that as the diet was assembled on German ground, it ought to use the German language. The Emperor having assented, Dr. Baier read the German copy, and, it is said, pronounced it with such an emphasis and so powerful a voice, that every syllable was heard not only by all in the hall, but also by the vast multitudes who had crowded around the doors and windows of the spacious edifice.
This Confession, although it did not change the predetermined purpose of the politic Charles, exerted a prodigious influence in favour of the reformers in the minds of the numerous princes, divines and literary men, who had assembled from a distance on this memorable occasion. It was soon after disseminated throughout Europe, and has been translated into the Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, Belgic, Italian, Slavonic, French and