« 前へ次へ »
presumption; to disbelieve her doctrines, is heresy; and heresy is punished with temporal death, and everlasting damnation.
What a contrast between popery and pure Christianity! The religion of the Church of Rome is supported and propagated by methods quite opposite to those, by which the Christian religion at first was made known and diffused. The apostles, and their immediate successors, who extensively planted Christianity, watered it with no other blood than their own. The gospel had no consuming heats, but kindly cherishing influences. The preachers did not make converts with sword and pistol, but by conclusive arguments, and affecting persuasions. They did not enlighten men's understanding with fire and faggot, but with luminous evangelical truth, and evident reason. The Christian religion has the most direct tendency to conciliate the affections of men, to compose their jarring passions to harmony, and to promote universal peace. The precepts and motives of this system of faith discountenance all fierceness and cruelty, bitterness, and wrath, strife, and variance. The teaching and example of the Author and founder of our religion show, that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them ; to take away the hard and stony heart, and to reconcile them to God, as well as to each other. He consented not to the shedding of any man's blood but his own, and taught no ambition but that of being great in the kingdom of heaven. He furnished his disciples with no other commission but miracles and instruction, and with no other revenge but prayers and intercessions. The apostles declared, that the weapons of their warfare were not carnal; that the servant of the Lord must not strive; and that the strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. From the beginning to the
end of their ministry, both Christ and his apostles breathed nothing but the purest love, and evinced the most fervent charity.
These pernicious tenets of popery are quite the reverse of the righteous and merciful principles of the gospel ; and, so far as they take effect, entirely destructive of its design. Nothing, therefore, can be more grossly absurd, and shamefully inexcusable, than for any person to embrace, and act agreeably to such doctrines, and, at the same time, to make a profession of the religion of Christ. The persons who do this, may pretend, if they please, to a more than common zeal for religion, or they may appropriate it to themselves, which is a general thing among the members of the Church of Rome: but while they act in such direct opposition to the great and evident design of revealed religion, every one of the least consideration must see the manifest hypocrisy and daring impudence of their pretences, and that the spirit which actuates them is as different from that which Christianity infuses, as hell is from heaven.
While we attend to the spirit of popery, and point out what has been the practice of its adherents, it is but justice to say, that many individuals of that community, have risen above its peculiarities and usages, and imbibed the gentleness and benevolence of the gospel of Christ. The pious Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray, with great fidelity and force, observes, “ Had we composed the gospel, we should, perhaps, have been tempted to soften it, in order to accommodate it to our own remissness, but God has not consulted us in writing it, but has given it to us such as it is, and left us no hope of salvation, but by fulfilling that sovereign law, which is equally binding in all conditions of life. Wo to those priests that dare to lessen its force, and soften it to us by their glosses !
It was not they who made the law; they are only the repositories of it. This law is as much to be feared by them as other men, and more so, because they are accountable for its being observed by others, as well as by themselves. Wo to the blind that lead the blind, they shall both, says the Son of God, fall into the ditch. Wo to the ignorant, dull, and flattering priest, who would enlarge the strait way. Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction." a
While some of the clerical order would entirely deprive the laity of the privilege of reading the holy Scriptures, others are inclined to encourage them in that important duty. On the distribution of French Testaments, at New Orleans, among the Catholics, the distributors were highly gratified with the following instance of candour and liberality in the bishop :-A poor woman called on him, and with much anxiety, presenting him with a book, inquired—“Good father, what book is this?” “ It is the history of the evangelists—the gospel.” “But is it a book
you would recommend to your people ?” “It is a protestant version, (replied the bishop) such as Calvin would have translated." “ Good father said the woman) keep the book.” “My child, you may retain the book, if you please. Read it with care, and, should you find in it any thing contrary to the catholic faith, you will bear in mind that it is a protestant version.” The bishop regretted that this edition was not taken from the version printed at Boston, in 1810; but added, that he would
prefer to have the present version in possession of his people, rather than to have them remain entirely ignorant of the sacred Scriptures.”
Connect this Christian liberality with the ground of usefulness of the holy volume, as stated by another prelate of the same church. Archbishop Fenelon says, “ To what purpose would the outward word of teachers be, and even of the Scriptures, if it were not for the inward voice of the Holy Spirit, which gives them all their efficacy? The outward word of the gospel itself, without this living efficacious word within, would be but an empty sound. It is the letter that alone killeth, and the spirit that alone giveth life. It is not only the outward law of the gospel, which God shows us inwardly by the light of reason and faith, it is his Spirit that speaks, that moves us, that operates in us, and animates us; so that it is this Spirit which does in us all the good we do, as it is our soul that animates our body, and regulates all its motions.” Wherever these sentiments and temper prevail, there dwells the Spirit of Christ.
POPERY COUNTERACTED IN ITS DOCTRINE, INFLUENCE, AND AUTHORITY, BY THE REFORMATION AND REVO. LUTION.
" Whether we consider the seemingly, accidental causes from which the Reformation originated, the inconsiderable source from whence it flowed, the slow but irresistible progress it made, and the beneficial revolution it effected in the sentiments of mankind, it is impossible not to perceive reasons for astonishment and joy."-Cox's Life of Melancthon, p. 2.
What a wonderful and interesting change has taken place in this church, since the commencement of the Reformation from Popery! We may very accurately ascertain what was the aspect of this sacred edifice, when occupied by papists, from the account given by a modern traveller of their churches on the Continent. He says,
66 Their churches are noble structures; and when you enter them, the lofty roofs, the massy pillars, and the long-drawn aisles, impress the mind with reverential awe; and you are led involuntarily to say,
Surely this is the house of God !-But this solemn feeling is soon painfully disturbed, when you look around,