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only dwelling-place of wisdom, had been able to afford the world, whose aberrations they had so vainly striven to correct, some tolerable proof that they have been themselves of one mind, and themselves somewhat suitably affected by the doctrines of which they profess to be the special guardians. But the fact is, that no church has ever nourished such a motley host of heresies in her bosom as the church of Rome ; nor has any priesthood ever resorted to so much that is grossly and flagrantly unchristian in the avowed support of a christian cause. The whole scheme, therefore, is evidently grounded on an impious presumption, and the superstructure is worthy of its basement. It is man coming out, and, unbidden, taking the place of God; and that man, in the name of God, so far enslaving the capacities of his fellows as to become, in no few instances, the most efficient instrument of Satan, while claiming to be the special vicegerent of Jehovah. It is despotism in the place of liberty, and a despotism descending to all the secret places of the soul, affecting all that constitutes us men. Some taste of freedom may be conceded, under special circumstances, even to the children of bondage; but this limited good, wherever it exists, we number among the benefits indirectly conferred by the genius of Protestantism. To see Popery as it is, we must view it when unchecked by Protestant vigilance and inspection. In every such region it stands forth as the Man of sin, who, sitting in the temple of God, exalteth himself above all that is called God, uttering great words of blasphemy. 2. We notice in the second place the prominence assigned in the New Testament to the doctrines which respect the fall of man, his redemption by the atonement of the cross, and his renovation by the word and Spirit of God.
We learn from Holy Writ, that the original state of man was strictly conformable to the law of God. We learn also, that by transgression, he not only contracted guilt, but fell under the dominion of those selfish passions which becloud the understanding, and produce hostility with respect to God and the creatures of God. From the guilt thus incurred, there is no redemption, either partially or entirely, except by the sacrifice of Christ; and from the darkened and depraved state of spirit thus induced, there is no escape, except by the agency of the Holy Ghost operating on our impaired faculties, by means of the truth recorded in Holy Scripture. It is at the same time declared, that those who look by faith to the atonement of the cross, are justified from all things; and that on those who really seek the enlightening and cleansing energies of the Divine Spirit, they are assuredly conferred.
Now the sin of the church of Rome, does not consist in wholly discarding these branches of Christian doctrine; but rather in maintaining them with such modifications, and with so many superstitious appendages, as to deprive them of their proper meaning and efficacy. They look to the cross, but it is to gaze upon an auxiliary in the work of salvation more than upon its author. They speak too of the washing of regeneration, but it is under the dreaming apprehension of some mystic change effected by the waters of baptism. They have the phrase of orthodoxy, and some of the technicalities of evangelical truth; but while this exterior resemblance remains, the reality has fled! The form indeed is there, and many things intended as ornaments are clustered around it; but still, it is a mere form,---cold, unconscious, and spiritless, and evidently yielding to decay. To those parts of their creed and observances, in which they approach the one Mediator with their mouths, and honour him with their lips, there are others annexed, which have no tendency but to estrange the heart of the multitude far from him. This estrangement is the natural and the necessary consequence of raising the Virgin Mother to the place of Deity; and of allowing the mind to be diverted from him who is a priest for ever to a host of subordinate intercessors. The Scriptures teach us, that as the most entire devotedness to God is no more than is strictly due to him, the being performing it, whether man or angel, is no more than an unprofitable servant. But the members of the church of Rome have been taught through many generations to believe, that a nameless multitude of saints have performed more virtuous deeds than were necessary to their own salvation, and that the merit of those supererogatory, or unrequired services, has been deposited, so as to constitute a vast spiritual treasury, from which the poorest culprit may be suddenly enriched at the pleasure of the Pontiff or his delegates. You will judge, brethren, as
to the consistency of this motly scheme, with those Scriptures which teach us, and in almost every form of language, that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and so far sinned, that all who are justified are declared to be “ justified freely by his grace, through the redemption there is in Christ Jesus — not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The fiction of superabundant merit may be frequently discarded by the modern Catholic; but he is indebted to the zeal of Protestants for the liberty to do so. While many generations came and passed away, and kingdoms rose and disappeared, this impious device, involving, as it does, an open rejection of the first elements of Christian truth, continued to form the theological creed of provinces and nations. It may also be true, that in the more acknowledged formularies of Catholics, the Virgin Mother and departed men are introduced as the objects of prayer, and spiritual reliance, only in connexion with the persons of the Godhead, or indeed as subordinate to them. But to what does this explanation amount? Does not the custom still present itself as a profane intrusion of mortals on the province of the Deity ? Nor is this the end of the impiety arising from the practice of saint worship. Wherever the Romish faith has become at all dominant, these new divinities are evidently allowed to supersede, almost entirely, the higher and the only proper object of trust and adoration, The creature supplants the Creator. This must be the result when, as with respect to pardon,
renovation, and the assurance of immortality, the thoughts of the worshipper have more to do with the official announcements of the priest, who is before him, than with any thing that may be known respecting the nature or the purposes of “ Him who is invisible.” It will not be denied, that men considerably enlightened on the subject of Christian doctrine, are sometimes found within the pale of the Romish church. But we must nevertheless affirm, that the direct tendencies of the doctrine sanctioned by that church, have been to diminish the evil of sin, and to impair the dependance of the guilty on the sacrifice of Christ. We must add, also, that it has left the great mass of those who have bowed to its authority, totally insensible to the nature of that change of heart which must precede an admission to heaven, and ignorant of the only means by which it is to be produced. To this day, it is the manner of the Romanist, to describe the licentiousness of Protestant communities as arising—and as arising most naturally—from our doctrine of justification by faith; and to treat our opinions respecting the new birth, as including the seeds of all spiritual phrensy. The founders of the Inquisition, the abettors of massacre in instances which no pen can record—in a word, the men who, as an order, have supplied to this world's history, its most finished specimens of depravity-these are they who can talk of solicitude for public morals; and these are they who, having preferred whatever was delusive in heathenism, to whatever is real in the Gospel, can appear to be shocked