Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ought, by publike authoritie either spiritual or temporal, to be chastised and executed.On Matt. xiii. 29.

Is not this, Sir, a most comfortable doctrine, and a decided improvement on the exposition of our Saviour, who tells us that this judicial infliction is to be deferred to the end of the world: In England and Scotland, it seems, where the Roman Catholics form a small minority of the population, it is a point of duty, or at least of prudence, to be quiet; but in France or Ireland, where they are in the majority, they may proceed in a more decisive and vigorous way! Even Mr. Charles Butler himself will hardly deny, that if allt Queen Elizabeth's Romanist subjects had entertained such execrable sentiments as these, scarcely any penal enactments could have been too severe for them.

To multiply extracts of this character would be endless, for there is hardly a page wherein the same atrocious spirit is not manifested in a greater or less degree. To the critic and the theologian this Rhemislı commentary is perfectly useless. It would be as vain to look in it for profound skill in philology, or happy elucidations of dark passages, as for enlightened, liberal, and tolerant sentiments. The editors had two great objects in view,-one to render the text as obscure as possible, and the other to inspire their readers with a deadly liatred of their Protestant fellow countrymen; and, whatever their success may have been, their endeavours at least were industrious and persevering. Whether their work was approved or disapproved by the great bulk of those to whom it was addressed, is more than I will undertake to determine; but, such as it is, it remained for nearly a hundred and fifty years, the only accredited exposition of the New Testament to which the mere English Romanist had access; and, as it has never been suppressed or prohibited in this country, it may, for aught I know, still influence the sentiments and direct the conscience of thousands. And I now, Sir, take the liberty of asking you, who were pleased to condemn Protestants in the mass, on the ground of a few alleged corruptions in Scripture, whether we inay not, with equal fairness, judge of the faith and princi. ples of the English Romanists by the work which I have been examining. You will not, I think, venture to affirm, either that the editors were not accredited expounders of Scripture, or that their labours were unauthorized by those whose province it was to sanction them. Suppose then, we should, for a moment or two, assume this work as a criterion of Romish doctrines and practices, and apply to it those profound canons of criticism, so happily exercised by yourself and your learned co-adjutor Mr. Thomas Ward, upon our Protestant translations, by the aid of which you detect heresy, schism, and corrupt motives in every discrepant rendering, and every various reading. Might we not, if we chose thus to turn your poisoned weapons against yourselves, say, “Those accredited Romish translators, have, in a certain verse in Galatians, omitted all mention of the Spirit, which is a plain proof that they were Macedonians. In another text in Hebrews, they have corruptly and heretically departed from the authentic Vulgate, by describing Christ as the Son only, instead of the Son of God, which clearly shews that they were either Arians or Sociniuns. In another place in the Acts,

+ That many of them held such opinions, was sufficiently proved by their conduct; nor was there any thing to prevent the whole body from embracing them, if they had thought proper to do so. The very same maxims are inculcated in Papal Bulls, General Councils, and the Canon Law; they have been vigorously maintained by Bellarmine, and many other Popish writers of the highest reputation, and acted upon wherever the Papal system was dominant. They may be somewhat out of fashion now, but, if the fashion were to change, all the Roman Catholics in the world might adopt them with. out any imputation on their orthodoxy. They might thereby become worse Christians, but they would not be worse Romanists. VOL. I.

od

they malignantly omit the declaration of St. Peter that the Apostles were witnesses pre-orduined of God, which is tantamount to a denial of their divine commission, and levels a deadly blow at the primacy oi Peter himself. And in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, they talk of the power of the congregation instead of that of their pastors, which false and inischievous interpretation could only proceed from an insidious desire of diminishing ecclesiastical authority. Yet this work, with all its corruptions on its head, was regularly ushered into the world with the permission of superiors, which proves that all the above heresies and abominations are encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church. And, as many hundreds of their interpretations have been, for very shame, abandoned by later translators, is not this a clear demonstration that the entire version is false and indefensible, and cannot be relied upon in any passage whatever mu

All this we might say, and I do not see, Sir, how you, who have con-. descended to employ the very same sort of reasoning, could equitably object to our arguments; but we cordially despise all such mean and petty arts of controversy, and leave them to those who are weak enough to need, or disingenuous enough to use them. We do not say that the Rhemish editors were either Arians, or Socinians, or Macedonians, or subverters of ecclesiastical authority,—but we do say, and have good reasons for saying it, that they were often negligent, generally ignorant, always malevolent, prejudiced and dishonest. We charge them with blending the poison of asps with the sincere milk of God's word,—with planting bitter and noxious weeds round the margin of the well-spring of life, -with converting that Gospel, which was given to promote peace on earth and good-Ivill towards men, into an engine of malice and à tire-brand of contention. We say that they have, with great pains and exertion, erected a lasting monument to their own shame, and to the shame of the body to which they belonged; and that it is high time for the English Romanists to remove this stigina from them, by unaniinously coming forward to disown and condemn a work which is, is every point of view, so discreditable and so atrocious.

But, it may perhaps be said, that the annotations in question do not express the sentiments of the present race of Roman Catholics, and that they have recently been condemned in Ireland for "harsh language, absurd reasoning, uncharitable sentiment, and doctrines disclaimed by Roman Catholics on oath.” We may also be told that some excuse may be made for the writers, who lived in times of persecution and irritation, and who have published their own exasperated feelings, instead of the genuine sentiments and maxims of the Church. If so, we demand, Why has the Church never disavowed and condemned those audacious perversions of her doctrines? Why were they sarctioned by the foreign Universities? Why have they been allowed, from the time of Qucen Elizabeth to that of George IV., to circulate without caution or restriction, and thus to poison and prejudice the minds of so many generations of English Roman Catholics? And, if your commentators of the nineteenth century, with the sanction of their superiors, obtruded on us their own passions and prejudices, instead of the pure doctrines of Catholicism, what security have we that their successors may not follow their evil example? We have been told again and again, that the bare letter of Scripture is nothing, and that the sense put upon it by the Church is everything ; but how are we to know that the accredited organs and mouthpieces of your Church, your expositors, lecturers, and preachers, discharge their duty faithfully, and never give us their own sense instead of the sense of the Church? They do not now, you will perhaps say, manifest the same ferocious and vindictive spirit as their predecessors; but, if they have less of the wolf and the tiger, may not they hayo

more of the fox and the serpent? If the sense of recent losses and injuries inade the Romanists of old harsh, and uncharitable, and bigoted, and intolerant, may not the hope of retrieving what has been lost make those of the present day, who have equally the passions and imperfections of men, disingenuous, and dissembling and intriguing? Though they have the benefit of an infallible guidance, may they not perversely refuse to follow it themselves, and also prevent others from doing so? Though they have a monopoly of the light of truth, may they not sometimes shut their eyes against it, or purposely hide it under a bushel, and allow those who trust to their guidance to pursue a delusive ignis-fatuus over bogs and briars?

I put these questions hypothetically; not with a view of reflecting personally upon you or any other living guide of the faithful. If you can demonstrate satisfactorily that though such things have happened, it is impossible they can ever happen again; that the path of truth and integrity is now so well defineil, and so carefully fenced, that the spiritual instructors of the Romanists can neither lose it by mistake, nor depart from it by design, you will do your brethren a signal service, and effectually reinove a leading cause of jealousy and uneasiness, from the minds of Protestants. Until this is done, we shall take the liberty of thinking that Romish and infallible are not quite synonymous; that the arro, gant claims of such divines as the Rhemists, to be considered as faithful end unerring depositaries of divine truth, are poorly established by argunent, and fully refnted by experience. We have ample proof that some of them, at least, can both corrupt the word of God, and pervert it to a sense as opposite to its true meaning as light is from darkness, ard, in defiance of all reason and common sense, draw arbitrary inferences from it, which it was never intended to convey. We know too, that this race is far from being extinct, that there is still a numerous tribe of Romanists who have inherited the very spirit and temper of Gregory Martin and his coadjutors, who torture the word of God to make it speak their own language, who hash up and retail the falsehoods and calumnies of Sanders, and Ward, and Father Persons ; who give all possible circulation to Baddeley's Sure Way, and Protestantism Calmly Considered ; who pass off the daring falsifications of Dr. Milner as unanswerable truths, and extol the impotent and virulent ravings of William Eusebius Andrews to the very skies. Such men are generally as ignorant, as they are dishonest, and presumptuous; we shall, therefore, continue to treat their lofty pretensions with contempt, until we can see them better established; we shall repel their furious assaults with firmness, and expose their falsehoods to public scorn, and shall disregard every thing they are pleased to say, until they can learn to speak the language of soberness and truth.

I am, Sir, Yours, &c.

A LANCASHIRE CURATE.

SPECULATION IN THE APOSTOLIC FUNDS.

To the El of the Protestant Guardian. Sir,-"Having gone one day,” says Dr. Geddes, * “ with the Envoy of England, to see the Church of St. Loio near Lisbon, the rector showed us a tomb-stone, under which he said there lay a great saint of

Miscellaneous Tracts. volji, p. 121.

that house, who, since his death, had wrought many miracles. And being asked by the Envoy whether he had been canonized? He said, he had not ; but that their Order had long endeavoured to have had it done ; and that it had cost the convent so much money, that they were not able to go on with the new buildings which they had begun. And the Envoy seeming to wonder at that, the Prior said, very honestly, Were he but once canonized, we should be reimbursed with interest."

It appears from this anecdote, that Cardinal Borromeo's cousins were not the only persons who had to deplore the cost of a Papal patent of sainthood. And if our worthy Prior and his brethren were desirous of indemnifying themselves for the expence incurred by speculating in the Apostolical Funds, surely wordly wisdom cannot condemn them. That mammon was an active agent in the promotion of these transactions, is very evident; but whether the honor of God, and the spiritual edification of the faithful formed any considerable portion of the motives, is quite another question, and one which I should hesitate to answer in the affirmative.

EUELPIS.

QUERY ON THE TERM “CHURCH.”

To the Editor of the Protestant Guardian. SIR, -The expediency and utility of fixing, in limine, the meaning of the fundamental and more prominent terms employed in controversy, must be sufficiently obvious to all who have been in the habit of engaging therein. With this impression, I beg leave to express a hope that some one of the learned and ingenious divines of the Romish communion, who reside in your neighbourhood, will be pleased to favonr the public, through the medium of your most instructive periodical, with a precise authoritative definition of the term Church;" and, at the same time, shew how far that definition is sanctioned by the Sacred Scriptures, and the writings of the Fathers of the first four centuries. The necessity of such a definition in all controversies on the subject of the reputed infalli. bility of the Church of Rome. A preliminary controversial subject of singular importance need not be insisted on. I am, Sir,

Your faithful humble Servant.

RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO READ THE SCRIPTURES.

To the Editor of the Protestant Guardian. Sır,--In the Protestant Guardian for August, a correspondent proposes a few subjects for inquiry, one of which is-" The right of the people to read the Scriptures for themselves, and to judge of their sense.". The following extract has been so satisfactory to my own mind, that, should you deem it worthy a place in your valuable publication, it is quite at your service.

G. W. Had the people who existed at the time of our blessed REDEEMER, an unquestionable right to hear Him promulgate his doctrines, or had they not? If they had not, for what purpose did He come upon earth? Does the New Testament contain a statement of doctrines promulgated by Him, or does it not? If it do not, it is a forgery! If it do, has not every generation of mankind an equal right to acquire a knowledge of those doctrines by reading them in their written shape, as that generation which had the means of hearing them orally delivered ? Supposing they were to be delivered now again, orally, would any body of men, ordained,” or unordained, presume to say, we alone are to have the privilege of hearing these doctrines from the mouth of the speaker, and the rest of our species shall only become acquainted with them through our report? If they made such a claim, would it be granted or rejected? If no body of men could be permitted to usurp such an authority, supposing them to be sufficiently insane to lay claim to it, under what pretext can any person, or assemblage of persons, assume a power of preventing any individual who can read, from reading that doctrine reduced to writing, which it would have been his undeniable right, his imperative duty, to bave listened to, had he been within reach of the deliverer of it? Has not every being who either reads or hears read, the written word, the same right, the same obligation, to intcrpret it for himself, as he would have had with regard to the spoken word, if he had heard it frou the mouth of the speaker?"$

The answer to these questions will, I think, meet the inquiry, as to the right of the people to read the Scriptures for themselves, and to judge of their sense."

RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.

SOCIETY FOR

PROMO

BRITISH

in Ireland, and the first number of TING THE RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES a series of Quarterly Extracts, in

OF THE REFORMATION. which it is intended to put their This Society, as our readers are Subscribers and Friends in possesaware, originated in the important sion of some of the various sentichange which has recently taken ments and facts which, from time place in the religious circum- to time, camne before the commitstances of Ireland, and was form- tee, in the details of corresponed in London, on the 21st of dence, and these more especially May, 1827, with a view to the from Ireland. They likewise purreligious improvement of Ireland pose, in these periodical sheets, generally. The committee has to notify the more remarkable ocsince issued an address to the currences, which may relate to British public, on behalf of the the history and the proceedings of Institution, together with an ad- the Society. dress to the Roman Catholics of From the papers referred to, Great Britain and Ireland, inviting which we regret that we have not their attention to an exposition of been able to notice sooner, we their principles and objects. They shall endeavour to present our have also published an exposure

readers with a summary of the of Roman Catholic mis-statements more important statements ; and respecting the recent conversions in a future number we may pos

It is scarcely necessary to add the testimony of Scripture ; since we are there com. manded to "prove all things," to search the Scriptures." And when our Saviour says, " Why even of yourselo es judge ye not what is right," does he command us to believe with out inquiry, and to receive the doctrines of others, without using our own reason or judgment? Sec also, Isaiah viii. 20, Acts xvii. 11, &c. &c.

« AnteriorContinua »