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the doctrine of the Trinity, which I cannot fully comprehend, because I see it in the scriptures, and because I am wont to trust the evidence of my senses. In fact I find it to be the evidence and the only evidence which it has pleased God to give me, that such a mystery exists, and if I did not see certain passages in the Bible, I should not believe the doctrine of the Trinity: Were I arguing with a Socinian on this point, it would be fair to appeal to his senses, in order to prove that which his senses could not contradict, though his understanding may not comprehend it; but the case is different when an appeal is made to the senses for the proof of a fact which the senses deny. In the case we are discussing, you tell me that you have before you, the very same body which was born of the Virgin, suffered on the cross, and rose from the sepulchre. You will recollect that when it was actually raised, and our Lord saw fit to prove his real presence to his doubting disciples, he said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see.” By this appeal he did not seem to allow that substances might be changed while all their accidents and appearances remained the same; he appeared to think that the disciples might trust, and should be satisfied with, the evidence of their senses. They thought so too, and appear to have considered their testimony as receiving weight from the consideration that it related to "that which they had heard, which they had seen with their eyes, which they had looked upon, and which their hands had handled.” But I need not tell you that “ faith cometh by hearing;"that miracles, prophecies, traditions, the Law of Moses, and the ministry of Christ, all the acts and epistles of his apostles, and his disciples, were addressed to the eyes and ears of men ; let me rather repeat my question, can you show me in the Scriptures, or elsewhere, any miracle which did not appeal to the senses of men, and can you point out any criterion but the evidence of my senses by which I may know, in any given case, whether a miracle bas or bas not been performed?
We agree with our valued correspondent that the idea which he has so ingeniously developed in his dialogue, involves a very strong and unanswerable argument. To discredit the evidence of the senses is to sap the very foundation of all evidence,-and what can do this more effectually than the absurd hypothesis by which the doctrine of Transubstantiation has been supported? Here, in the simplest question of evidence, and where there are no difficulties in the way of investigation, all men are required to believe that nearly all their senses deceive them ;-1 may well then distrust my eyes when I read, and withhold my confidence from a fere individuals who profess to have been eye and car-witnesses of what they record. Nothing in fact can so completely involve the whole question of evidence, and we must therefore regret that even Protestant writers appear at times to attach too little importance to the particular argument which arises from the irrationality of the Romanist hypothesis. To say that a positive declaration on the part of our Lord demands implicit credence, is to beg the question :-" This is my body.” In what sense? Let this be determined, and your principle is granted.-We regret that our friend has omitted this link in his argument, or rather that he has not referred to the Protestant interpretation of the passage. To a cursory reader it suggests a difficulty at the outset, and throws some obscurity over the subsequent steps. "If the figurative sense be first established from Scripture and the Fathers, the reductio ad abturdum seems to follow with advantage, and lastly, with still greater effect, the charge of dangerous consequence. We regret that Nr. Faber's argument on this question in his “Difficulties of Romanism” is so entirely exclysive.
TOPICS OF INQUIRY.
To the Editor of the Protestant Guardian. SIR,- In your endeavour to enlighten your neighbours and friends. respecting the true nature of Protestantism and Popery, I heartily wish you success; and as you are surrounded by many gentlemen of literature and talent, who are able to render you valuable assistance, I will take the liberty of suggesting a few subjects for their consideration. In every controversy, there are some turning points; permit me to enumerate a small number which concern the debate with Roman Catholics, and request your able correspondents to take them up.
The first relates to the Bishops of Rome. It is asserted that the Church at Rome was founded by Peter; of this there is very little proof, but be that as it may, I wish some of your learned friends would bring forward a good paper on the Succession of the Bishops of Rome in the early ages. It wants nothing more than a little investigation to shew that Peter never was Bishop of Rome, that the high sounding assumption of the Roman Catholics, when fairly examined, utterly fails; they cannot secure the first link of their chain, and in consequence, all the specious claim of Apostolic succession falls in a moment.
Again, it would conduce much to the edification of many, if some of your learned friends would give you a good essay on Apostolic authority and succession, generally considered.- Before a claim can be made by Bishops of Rome to any Apostolic authority, it should be proved that a succession of men was appointed by our Lord, who should possess such authorityBut here comes forward these important questions :—Could the Apostles have any successors ? —Did not their office die with them, as a matter of course, and was it not designed to do so ? — Have the peculiar evidences and “signs of an Apostle” been manifest in the Bishops of Rome? If so, some proof can be exhibited; for it cannot be expected that we should take any man’s mere word for it, nor that we should make a merit of believing that, of which there is not sufficient evidence,
This inquiry stands near relation to another, which is, the power of the Priesthood.-Catholic Clergymen are taught to lay claim to a power, which the Ministers of no Protestant body ever think of doing. Now, Mr. Editor, it would be very desirable that some of your learned friends should investigate this matter, and clearly state, what is the authority committed to the Ministers of Christ? As Christians this is of consequence; for the Ministers of Christ should not claim more; and the Christian Church should not render them less than their due, whatever that may be; and as Pro. testants, this enquiry is of vital importance, for if the claims of the Ministers of Christ do not come up to the standard of the Church of Rome, the contest is at an end. The power of the Popish Clergy is an assumption, and should be resisted accordingly.
Another subject of enquiry is, the right of the people to read the Scriptures for themselves, and to judge of their sense.-On this
point many things demand consideration ; whether the Scriptures as they were originally written, were sent out, subject to note and comment ?-whether they were or were not directed to the people, that is to the Members of the Churches to whom they were addressed, and for whose use they were composed ?--And, which part of the sacred volume was sent forth 'fettered with the injunction, that it was only to be read by those to whom the priest gave permission; and then, understood only in the sense he affixed to it? When this subject is fairly canvassed, and, when the expression of the Apostle Peter, that no "prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation," is fairly examined, it will then be seen, whether Protestants have any reason to sear they are doing wrong in their using learning, reason, and common sense while they endeavour to discover its sense for themselves; or whether they ought to take the explanation of the Church of Rome, whatever be its quality, and wherever it may conduct its votaries! That is, in other words, what evidence is there, that the Romish Church possesses the right of interpretation,--who, of that Church, is the interpreter,—where does he reside, and how are we to obtain his infallible decision? It is utterly in vain to tell us, that infallibility exists in the Church, without informing us how we are to become acquainted with it in its purity.
There is also another subject of important enquiry, and that is Tradition.-If the written Scriptures are the only rule of authority by which faith and conduct ought to be regulated, we know where to look ; but if there is another rule in addition to the written rule, and which was not written till after the time in which “ holy men of old ” wrote, “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” what proof have we of the accurate preservation of that unwritten word, and how can it be ascertained that it really did proceed from inspired men at all?
We have been told, that we have received the scriptures them. selves, only by tradition; and the name of Augustine has been brought forward in support of this representation. But is not the term tradition here used in a different sense, than when it is applied to the unwritten word? Do we receive the writings of Homer, and Virgil, and Livy, and the other classical works of antiquity by tradition? That, in part, we owe to the Christian body the preservation and repeated transcription of the Scriptures, may be granted, because it was the Christian party that valued, and therefore took care of the holy books; but do we receive these Scriptures because, ancient Christians in their Ecclesiastical capacity as the Church, have delivered them to us? This is another point of real consequence in the controversy with the Romnish Church, to which I hope your learned correspondents will turn due attention.
Besides all that I have enumerated, give me leave to add another question. Ought prayers to be offered to Saints at all ?--and especially, ought prayers to be addressed to Saints, while the parties are bowing down, or using any external act of worship before their images ? ---Your learned friends will here, of course, give us a definitioir of worship; that we may know what acts are worship, and what are not. "We then may expect that they will inform us, whether the Apostles, and Christians of their time, did pray to deceased Saints, and entreat their prayers on their own behalf; and whether, in their churches and private houses they had pictures and statues of those saints, and bowed down before them, and entreated those whom they represented to intercede for them, that they might through their means enjoy an increase of spiritual blessings? And further, if this practice can be proved Apostolical, how it is that Jeroboam, the son of Nibat, is continually branded with the title, of the man who taughi Israel to sin, since the worst thing he ever did was nothing more than teach Israel to worship the true God, by paying their devotions to him, under the form of an Image?
Many other inquiries might be made, for instance, respecting Transubstantiation, and the Sacrifice of the Mass; the character and conduct of the Popes, with other things connected with these subjects. It is true, Roman Catholics have confessed that the Court of Rome is corrupt, while they contend that the religion of Rome is pure. How this is to be made out, does not manifestly appear. But at present I only suggest these as subjects of investigation.
Each of the inquiries now presented to view is of vital importance in the discussion between Protestants and Roman Catholics. . If your Protestant correspondents fairly prove the Romish Church erroneous in any one of them, they inflict a fatal wound on the Roman Catholic systein ; much more if they succeed in proving the whole. The appeal lies to Scripture, to Reason, and to Ecclesiastical Antiquity. All your readers have means of investigation within their reach to a certain extent, and some can go the full length of the necessary inquiries. Let them be made with calmness, with temper, and with research; and then we need not fear that at least a valuable portion of truth will be elicited. I am, Sir, your humble Servant,
Difficulties of Romanism, by George Stanley Faber, B. D., Rector
OF LONG-Newton.-8vo. pp. xl. and 391. London, 1826. In the preface of this learned work Mr. Faber says, that his attention had been turned for some years to that part of the Latin controversy which respects the evidence afforded by the early ecclesiastical writers ; and that he was wishing for an opportunity of comparing the sense of those writers with the doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome, as represented by some esteemed and responsible Latin,-when the desired occasion presented itself to him.
A work of M. Trévern, formerly Vicar general of Langres, and now Bishop of Aire, entitled “Discussion Amicale sur l'Eglise Anglicane et en general sur la Reformation, dediée an Clergé de toutes les communions Protestantes, et redigée en forme de Lettres,” had been extensively circulated, and had caused a considerable sensation, among the English travellers in the south of France. A copy of this work was sent by an English gentleman to Mr. Faber, and a wish was expressed that the English laity might be enabled to answer certain questions, which were repeatedly and triumphantly put to them, grounded, as it seems, upon the supposed veracity of the Bishop of Aire's statements respecting the antiquity of the peculiar tenets of the Church of Rome.
Mr. Faber has put it into the power of his countrymen to give the most satisfactory answers to those questions; and to propose others in their turn, if they should choose to do so, to which no satisfactory answer can ever be given.
Mr. Faber says in the preface, that he was desirous of comparing the sense of the Fathers of the Christian Church with the docirines and practices of the Church of Rome “not according to the allegations of a Protestant polemic, but according to some accredited exhibition of them by an esteemed and responsible Latin.” We agree with Mr. Faber that the principles of the Church of Rome are not to be sought in the representations of her adversaries, but we do not agree with him in taking the representation of a Latin, however esteemed and responsible, as an“ accredited exhibition,” strictly speaking, of those principles. By the religion of Roman Catholics we do not understand the doctrine of Bellarmine or Baronius, or of any other private man among thein; nor the doctrine of the Jesuits or Dominicans, or any company of men among them; but that wherein they all agree, or profess to agree-the doctrine of the Council of Trent. We are glad to learn from Roman Catholics from time to time what changes may have taken place in their senti. ments, but we must be careful how we admit their expositions of their opinions as “accredited exhibitions ” of the principles of the Church of Rome. How safe it would be to regard the Declaration lately put forth by “the Roman Catholic Bishops, the Vicars Apostolic and their Coadjutors,” as an accredited exhibition of the principles of the Church of Rome, Mr. Townsend in his Review of that Declaration has sufficiently shown.
We shall now introduce our readers into the interior of this valuable work. It is not, as might be expected from the preface, simply a comparison of the tenets of the primitive Christian Churches with those of ihe present Church of Rome, (though that comparison occupies a prominent place in the work,) but also a comparison of the sense of the Scriptures with the doctrines, practices, and claims of that Church, and an application of the evidence of Ecclesiastical History to the subjects in dispute. The first of the two principal divisions of the work is upon “The difficulties attendant on the Church of Rome in regard to her peculiar doctrines and practices ;" the second on “ The dificulties attendant upon the Church of Rome in regard to her claim of Universal Supremacy.”
“Under the hands of the Bishop of Aire," says Mr. Faber in the introductory chapter, “Romanism appears in its most captivating habi. liments. Whatever' might offend the prejudices of an English layman is gracefully and decorously explained ; doctrines and practices which he had been taught to view with unutterable dislike, are shown on the professed score of primitive antiquity to be not only innocent but even venerable and obligatory: and that alone Catholic Church, which the distempered imagination of panic-struck Protestantism had pourtrayed as a misshapen and ferocious monster, turns out,” in the Bishop of Aire's representation, to be, according to one of our own poets, “ a harmless Hind.”
“The rest amazed,
Dryden's Hind and Panther.