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ture teaches us, that there is no such thing as human merits, that it is Christ's righteousness which saves us.
The Church of Rome teaches, that the merits of the saints, united with the merits of Christ, are the means of salvation! The Virgin Mary is actually invoked in terms of blasphemy; and she not alone, but in company with a host of wild enthusiasts, now canonized by authority equally wild. Modern times have shown what kinds of beings these saints are; for even yet saints are on earth, who, when dead, will be worshipped! Prince Hohenlohe, as an example, and Mr. Butler, as an historian, afford us a field on which to try the subject. But what is this to the worship of relics? The absurdities of that are scarcely credible by Protestant Christians, who hardly give assent to the existence of such folly and imposture. We say not that all defenders of such things are insincere; education, custom, and blind submission, must be allowed as excuses—but what excuses! Though St. Paul expressly condemns the practice, with an effrontery only equalled by the obtuseness which produces it do the defenders of this doctrine explain St. Paul's assertion so as to suit their views upon a point, which he allows not under any bearing. Yea, even do they make his advice to have relation to the worship of evil spirits, as if the Christian needed such an admonition! It was a voluntary humility of worshipping angels St. Paul warned us against, because it was derogatory to the worship of Christ," who is the Head over all things to his church.” The Scriptures on this, as on all other subjects, are the only authorities; would Roman Catholics consult them, they would abjure the tradition which even they do not defend against the Scriptures, and which entail on them the tremendous charge of sinning wilfully against the truth. Then, indeed, would brighter days dawn on the world, and the Church of Christ arise in the pristine holiness and majesty of truth.
Another of the iniquities of Papal Rome is image worship. In this it follows the Jews, and, like them, offends against the positive commands, and express prohibitions of Scripture. Yet the Council of Trent had the impudence to declare it an “apostolical" tradition. Now amongst the other charges against the early Christians, is one in Juvenal, that they did not yield to a custom common in all heathen lands. Moreover, would the Jews, who persecuted them for their religion, have suffered such a charge, if deserved, to have been forgotten? The negative testimony of Pliny, in his famous Letter to Trajan, acquits the Christians of the offence in his day. It must, then, be a more recent invention. If there were no fraud in it, why should the second commandment be suppressed, and so weakly evaded as it is? They say, it is a relative worship which is paid to them, and to relics also: this proves its heathenish origin. The histories of miraculous images are recorded in strains of pagan adulation. But paganism itself cannot parallel the audacious imposture of “our Lady of Loretto," save in the marvellous devices of the great goddess of Ephesus. As to the Virgin, there can be no defence offered. She was a good creature it is true, and the heathen gods were evil ones; but in both cases it is direct idolatry. Mr. Horne justly calls it a debasing and a demoralizing superstition, only equalled by the “ atrocious doctrine of exclusive salvation.” But the inquiry rests not alone upon the Romish communion. The Popish missionaries in America, and in India, and elsewhere, may in vain labour to convert the heathen; and Mahometans most naturally object to Christianity, when it is offered under so revolting an aspect. It is not too much to believe that they remain Mahometans, because they cannot conscientiously become Popish Christians. From her corruptions sprung too, in the last century, that host of infidels who deluged France with tears, and Europe with blood; and who were only prevented wiping religion from off the face of the earth, by the restraining hand of God. It was against the absurdities of the Romish faith, that the French Revolution was directed; and though (as we shall show at large, in our next Number, by extracts from her Ecclesiastical Code), the Romish Church has again asserted her supremacy, the same evils remain, and may, for aught we can see, produce (if not Protestantized) a similar catastrophe. As to the quotation about the gates of hell not prevailing against the Church, and by what means it has happened that there has always been a pure Church in all ages, we have nothing to do with this in these inquiries. The only thing is to show, our justification in separating from Romanists; for EITHER WE ARE IN SINFUL SCHISM, OR THEY ARE IN DANGEROUS APOSTASY FROM THE TRUTH." If they can defend themselves from Scripture, without tradition, then we will give in the point, and return; if not, the “ Reformation was imperatively necessary." There are also other minor points of justification in the secession from Rome; such as purgatory, masses for the dead, indulgences for sin, auricular confession, absolution and penances, &c. &c.; schemes invented to aggrandize and exalt the earthly power of the priesthood, but which even tradition itself cannot defend. Mr. Horne has thus successfully shown, that it was not a secular object which the Reformers had in view, but a strict and religious separation from an iniquitous and unscriptural system of ecclesiastical corruption. The benefits which have since arisen to the Established Church are certainly great, but they were not contemplated by the founders of it. God has wonderfully protected it; but the defence of her authority lies not in temporal power, but " in the whole armour of God." It is right for conscience sake“ to bow to the law;" but it is in the Scriptures that we shall find our
only authority, our only arguments. Thus this important question is disposed of, and the spirit of the Reformers vindicated from every objection and every charge.
The volume before us does not, however, quit the subject here. Mr. Horne not only has defended the Church from Romish revenge, but has endeavoured to prove, that the Reformation ended at a point beyond which it ought not to have proceeded, and, therefore, that the innovations of many of the Protestant Dissenters are heretical, and that it is probable that a time may come, when they will return into the bosom and communion of the Church, purified, as it is, from errors and from guilt, which cannot be defended.
Without entering upon any lengthened discussion, it may be useful to state, that the differences which obtain between some of the sects of Protestant Dissenters and the Church, are less differences in essential points of faith, than in matters of indefinite and unessential character. Others, it must be lamented, “ have made shipwreck of their faith, and with them undisguised heresy is the palladium of their schism." The former, it may be hoped, will, one day, under varying circumstances, see their error, and return. There is much to excuse this error; the excitement created by emancipation from the shackles of Papal tyranny, doubtless, led the way to intemperance in asserting freedom, and a certain intolerance of power; and this has been exhibited in those communions, most particularly, against whom the Church of Rome was most severe. Under such circumstances, the chief object of the Reformation was occasionally overlooked, and new objects supervened. But in our own highly-favoured land, the Reformers were found amongst men of the highest rank and learning. Their object was to purify and to restore; their authority and their means were the Scriptures, and such “ tradition" as illustrated, and was allowed by, them. Points of doctrine not exactly determined, and not clearly understood by any one, separate us from some classes of Dissenters, whose chief objections lie against church government; but there is as much intolerance of this kind in as out of the church. We must not, therefore, be severe in the exercise of authority against such as differ conscientiously; although sincerity is not, as some suppose, a sufficient ground to justify dissent; for, we doubt not, even Atheists and Deists think themselves sincere. The only evidence in each case of Churchman or Dissenter is the fruits of faith, the proof of their sincere attachment to the Gospel, by obedience to its commandments. On the subject of Bishops, one great grievance in the eyes of a Dissenter, there is little doubt that Bishops ruled in the Church of Christ till the sixteenth century, when Calvin introduced a different system. The whole question hinges on the plenary authority of Christ's immediate successors. They who admit this, cannot deny the authority of Bishops; and they who deny this authority are bound to disprove that of the Apostles.
To discuss the point further is out of our purpose; but we cannot resist the following quotation :-
But when an institution is plainly recognised in scripture, attested by the most ancient and authentic history, and universally received throughout the world in every Christian church founded by the apostles or their immediate successors, we have the utmost certainty which reason can demand or the nature of things admit, that it is a genuine apostolical tradition; and if we respect the authority of the apostles, we are bound to receive it, though not expressly commanded.
And such evidence we have concerning the institution of episcopacy, which has uniformly prevailed in every branch of the universal church, whether orthodox or corrupt, from the western frontier of Europe to the most remote regions of Asia, in which the gospel has been preached, from the Arctic ocean to the torrid zone, including that extremely interesting member of the Christian community, far separated from the parent stock, and surrounded on all sides by the darkness of paganism, which modern researches have brought to light in the Syrian church of Malabar.* This primitive branch of the universal church, which had retained its faith and apostolical order unchanged, without external support or communication with any other, except, indeed, the persecution which in inodern times it had endured from the agents of Rome, comes forward in these late ages, to confirm, by a testimony beyond all exception, this important truth.—Pp. 288–290.
Calvin grounds his objection on the abuse of the office; but surely, if this be admitted, every office must be abolished! In our land, no necessity existed to resist episcopal authority, because Bishops themselves were foremost in the army of martyrs. It must be admitted, from the obstinate resistance to this authority, that, with some Dissenters, “party zeal is stronger than the love of truth.” Some of them charge us with a leaning to Popery, because we allow prelacy; a weak and unworthy argument. We refer objectors to “Father Paul's History of the Council of Trent,” and to “ the Roman Catholic oath of fealty to the Pope," still taken, to be convinced, that it is Rome alone which desires to submit to episcopacy what is not its due.
They who wish to see how Papacy is opposed to Reformation, and how abject is the slavery which it entails on men, are referred to Fenelon, Massillon, and others of the Gallican church, whose zeal real religion would have been sacred, had they dared to impeach the flagrant abuses of the authority of the Church, which they so gloriously laboured to purge from its corruptions.
Prussia shows what danger arises from the degradation of episcopacy; and the anarchy introduced into some Protestant sects, exhibits the fearful injury done to the Church of Christ, by the abolition of the only true bond of unity, the authority of a head of the communion. Men who appeal to God alone,
Vide Buchanan's Christian Researches in Asia.
ought to evidence that they understand the awful nature of such an appeal; instead of pleading liberty of conscience" as the comprehensive apology for the most dangerous aberrations of heterodox presumption." It is much to be feared, that a desire of earthly distinction, assisted by vanity, and a great fluency of speech, have caused many preachers of novelties to be considered teachers of wisdom, and that, so, new sects have frequently arisen. Our Dissenting brethren are not greater favourists of Popery than ourselves; but they forget, that they strengthen the hands of Papists by their inconsistencies and levity. If this levity could be justly charged against all seceders from Rome, then, indeed, would the charge of Romanists be true. “But, blessed be God, these are but small blemishes upon
the surface of the system.” They are not arguments against the Protestant cause ; only against those who have, under her supposed sanction, departed from the apostolical institutions of the Church of Christ. It is to be wished, that these things were considered by them.
And for us there is no ground of pride-on the contrary, reason for fear : for our emancipation from Popery, and God's blessing on our Church, are additional and weighty reasons for a double circumspection ; especially in those who, whether already invested with, or about to put on, the sacred office, are set forth as the defenders not only of the Church of England, but of the laws of the Head of the Church which is in heaven.
Concerning those (says Mr. Horne,) whom we yet regard as brethren in Christ, although we have renounced their communion, because they had defiled the truth with the intermixture of gross and sinful corruption, and those, on the other hand, who have departed in the opposite extreme from the apostolic standard of doctrine and government which we have retained, it behoves us to hope the best, and to think the most charitably; to respect sincere piety whereever we see it, and to remember, after all, that an unholy life is the worst heresy.
Great is the power of truth; and although its progress may be retarded for a while by obstinate prejudice, and its light obscured by the mists of sophistry, we must patiently wait for God's good time, pray for his blessing upon the endeavours which are used for its advancement, and never doubt of its final prevalence over all opposing errors.
In the mean while, equally rejecting the spurious liberality which regards all creeds and all forms of worship with the same complacency, and guarding against the intolerant presumption which bars the gates of mercy against all but the members of its own community, let us, according to the command of the Lord by the Prophet, “ seek the old paths and the good way, and diligently walk therein, that we may find rest unto our souls;" remembering that holy scripture, which was given for the instruction of all, is of “no private interpre tation," and that no doctrine of modern invention can be true, consistently with the faithful promise of our Lord to his apostles, and in them to all who should believe in his name through their preaching, “ that he would send his Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, to teach them all things, and to abide with them for ever."t-Pp. 308—310.
• 2 Peter i. 10.
† John xvi. 13, &c. xiv. 16, &c.