Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

PRIESTCRAFT.

assertion of a system which claims his implicit obedience. The poor pervert is required to give over his will, his conscience, and his deepest feelings to the keeping of his socalled "priest" or to the Church, and is expected to go away unburdened and at peace. Some there are, it is true, who actually declare that they have peace by this means; but what peace it is, and of what kind, I know not.

Supposing that I was in debt and anxiety, and a man who had no money, but plenty of assurance and brass, came to me and sympathized in my trouble, saying, "Do not fear-trust me; I will bear your burden, and pay off your debt"—if the manner of the man was sufficiently assuring, it would lift up the cloud of anxiety and distress; but, for all that, the penniless man would not, and could not, pay my debt. I might fancy he had done or would do so; and then, when it was too late, the debt, with accumulated interest, would fall on me, to my overwhelming ruin, even though I had been ever so free from anxiety before. So it is with these deluded ones, who go to the priest instead of to Christ, and take his absolution instead of Christ's forgiveness.

273

Any one who carefully reads the Word of God may see that the Church of Rome has no such priesthood as she claims, nor power to forgive sins, as she professes to do. The whole supposition is based on a misunderstanding of the text, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John xx. 23).

The disciples (some of them not apostles) who received this commission or privilege, never understood that they were by these words (men and women together) empowered to be absolving priests. Even the very apostles never knew that they had any such power; and it is certain they never exercised it. They were perfectly innocent of being priests

after the Romish type, and never dreamed of offering a propitiatory sacrifice. They simply believed that Christ had completed the work of propitiation once for all; and that there is now no more sacrifice for sin-that Christ only can forgive sins. Therefore in the words of St. John we are told, that "if any man sin (apostles and people alike), we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John ii. 1, 2).

The apostles and early Christians never understood that the power of the keys meant the exercise of mere priestly authority, neither was the doctrine known for several centuries after their time; therefore we may be sure that the peace which perverts have, if it professes to come from that source, is a delusion. No true remission or peace is, or can be given, but by direct and personal transaction with Christ Himself.

I am perfectly convinced that the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians are the answer to all the pretences of the Church of Rome, and that a man who will not read and follow them deserves to be misled. God is perfectly justified and clear on this point.

During that winter six of my friends joined the Church of Rome. One I have already told about, who died, I am sure, from grief and disappointment.* Another became bigoted, and with a sullen, dogged pertinacity, set himself to work for Rome, looking very miserable all the time, although he used once to be happy in the Lord's work. The others, without exception, went back into the world, and made no secret of their conformity with it, its ways, and fashions.

See page 271.

275

A WORCESTERSHIRE MISSION.

This was a time of trouble in more respects than one. These secessions to Rome brought great discredit upon the work, and especially on the effort to promote Catholic truth, and higher Church life. I found my own refuge and comfort was in working for God, and therefore went out on mission work whenever and wherever I could.

Early in the spring of this year I went on a mission to Worcestershire, and there the Lord vouchsafed a great blessing, which has more or less continued to this day; though I grieve to say the present vicar has no sympathy with it. The work is still carried on in an Iron Room, out of church hours, by people who continue to go to church.

The vicar of that time asked me to go and visit a farmer's wife, who was under deep conviction, and wished to see me. I did so, and as we approached the door (which was open) the first thing we heard was this individual saying, in a very high-pitched voice, "Confound

""

[ocr errors]

Seeing us, she suddenly stopped. "Go on with your text," said the vicar, quietly, "Confounded be all they that serve graven images;' is that what you mean ?”

"No," she replied; 66 come in, I am so wretched that I don't know what to do with myself; it has made me cross. Do come in and pray with me."

We at once consented; and on pointing her to Jesus, she found peace. Not content with praising God alone, she opened her house for a meeting for the people in the neighbourhood. This being situated on the confines of the parish, brought us into collision with the rector of the next parish. He was most indignant at our coming (as he said), "to entice his people away."

I tried my best to conciliate this gentleman, but nothing

would do, particularly when he heard that I was thinking of settling down in the district. This plan was however frustrated in an unexpected manner, and I was not permitted to remain there.

One day, when I was praying about the matter, a letter was put into my hand from a lady who had been asking the Lord for nearly six months that I might be appointed to her late husband's church. She had applied to Lord Palmerston, who was the patron, and though she had received no answer, yet she had continued to pray.

At last there came a courteous letter from his lordship, apologizing for having delayed his reply, adding that he "had mislaid the application of her nominee; if she would oblige him with the name and address of this person, the appointment should be made out immediately." She gave my name and address, and sent his letter on to me. I immediately wrote to his lordship, saying that I had not applied for the living, nor did I want it; but, for all that, I received by return of post the nomination; and actually, it was to go back to the diocese of Exeter! I did not think the Bishop would institute me, as I had committed a great many irregularities since his lordship had taken off my harness. But he did.

Somehow I was unwilling to go to this living, but was put into it in spite of myself. Here I had a good house, garden, and church, provided for me, with so much a year. I wondered whether God was tired of me! He had provided for me and my family during the past year wondrously, and I began to like "living by faith," and trusting in Him only. I have great doubts whether this appointment was altogether in accordance with God's will. Anyway, I had very little liberty or success in preaching, and could not settle down to work with any energy.

In the beginning of the summer, as usual, I had my

277

HAY FEVER.

attack of hay fever, which completely incapacitated me,

in this place of much grass. If I went to a town or the sea-side, it was well; but the moment I returned to the country I was ill again. Altogether, it was a dull and distressing time; but God was preparing me for a special work.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »