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But it may be asked whether there is not at least one passage in the New Testament, in which the observance of unwritten tradition is expressly enjoined :—I refer to the direction of Paul to the Thessalonians to stand fast, and hold the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word or epistle.” The answer to this inquiry is that this direction had respect to the canon of scripture while it was yet incomplete ; and at the time the epistle which contains it was written, upon a liberal allowance not more than one-third of the books which now compose the New Testament, were in existence. Under these circumstances it requires no great stretch of credulity to suppose that the things which Paul had delivered, were subsequently, in the providence of God, committed to writing; and that the entire canon of scriptạre includes the very things which are referred to in this passage as oral traditions. But even if this were not insisted upon, we could never concede the claim of the Romanists in regard to this apostolick direction, until they had established the perfect identity of their traditions with the traditions of the Apostle ;-a task which we may safely say it will require more learning and ingenuity than have ever yet been applied to it, to perform.
2. Romanism prohibits the reading of the Scriptures by the common people : Protestant Christianity extends this privilege to all.
In the fourth Rule of the Index of prohibited books it is thus decreed :-"Inasmuch as it is manifest from experience that, if the Holy Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue, be indiscriminately allowed to every one, the temerity of men will cause more evil than good to arise from it, it is on this point referred to the judgment of the bishops or inquisitors, who may, by the advice of the priest or confessor, permit the reading of the Bible,
translated into the vulgar tongue by Catholic authors, to those persons whose faith and piety they apprehend will be augmented, and not injured by it; and this permission they must have in writing. But if any one shall have the presumption to read or possess it without such written permission, he shall not receive absolution until he have first delivered up such Bible to the ordinary. Booksellers who shall sell or otherwise dispose of Bibles in the vulgar tongue to any person not having such permission, shall forfeit the value of the books to be applied by the Bishop to some pious use, and shall be subjected to such other penalties as the Bishop shall judge proper. But regulars shall neither read nor purchase such Bibles, without a special license from their superiors.” In perfect accordance with this decree, the late Pontiff Leo XII. in a Circular Letter, dated May 3d, 1824, and addressed to all Patriarchs, Primates, Arch-Bishops and Bishops, holds the following language: “We alsu, venerable brethren, conformably to our apostolical duty, exhort you diligently to occupy yourselves, by all means, to turn away your flock from these deadly pastures.”—And what do you imagine these “deadly pastures” are ?—Why nothing less than the Bible which we protestants use and circulate, and which this arrogant pontiff had just before termed “a gospel of the devil !”
Attend now to what the Scripture saith on this subject, and see whether it is most in accordance with the doctrine of the Romanists or of the Protestants. "Search the Scriptures" is the direct command of Jesus Christ; a command which, from its very nature, as well as from the circumstances in which it was delivered, is equally binding upon all men. Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, charges them that his epistle be read to all the
holy brethren." In his epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians and the Ephesians, he distinctly recognises the fact that he is addressing, not the officers of the churches only, but “all that call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James addresses his epistle
to the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad :" Peter his first epistle “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia ;" and his second epistle “ to all that have obtained like precious faith with us." Now I ask what stronger evidence the Apostle could have given that he designed these epistles to be read by all Christians indiscriminately, than is found in the fact that they were addressed to all? And how comes it to pass that the Bereans were commended by apostolick authority for the diligent searching of the Scriptures, if, after all, it is a sin to search them, unless by the special permission of an inquisitor?
3. Romanism enjoins the worship of saints and images : Protestant Christianity maintains that God is the only proper object of religious worship.
In the creed of Pope Pius IV, it is thus written :“I also believe that the saints who reign with Christ, are to be worshipped and prayed to; and that their relicks are to be venerated.” And again, “I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, and of the mother of God, who was always a virgin, are to be had and retained; and that due honour and worship is to be given to them.” And the Council of Trent declares that it is lawful to represent God and the Holy Trinity by images; and that the images and relicks of Christ and the saints, are to be duly honoured, venerated or worshipped; and that in this veneration or worship those are venerated which are represented by them.”
And what saith the Scripture in respect to the object of worship? It saith - Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” It saith farther, Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them.” And God says by his servant to the people of Israel, “ Take ye, therefore, heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire,) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female.” The whole tenor of Scripture on this subject is in full accordance with these passages : judge then whether the doctrine of the Romanists or of the Protestants is the doctrine of the Bible.
4. Romanism prescribes the celebration of religious worship in a language which is unintelligible to the people : Protestant Christianity requires that divine service be performed in a language which the people can understand.
The Council of Trent, professedly acting under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, has not only decreed that mass shall be celebrated, and many other acts of religious worship performned, in Latin, but has denounced an anathema upon those who presume to maintain a different opinion.
But let Paul be heard on this subject, that we may see into which scale the weight of his testimony falls. " He that speaketh in an unknown tongue,' saith the Apostle, “speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him.” And again, “If I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, ex
cept I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesyings, or by doctrine ? For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned, say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”— This is the substance of all that the Scripture hath said on this subject; and who will venture to say that there is any thing in it that even seems to favour-nay that does not directly oppose, the doctrine of the Romanists?
5. Romanism virtually denies the completeness of Christ's atonement, by daily renewing his sacrifice in the celebration of the mass : Protestant Christianity recognises the perfection of Christ's sacrifice.
I am aware that there are some who call themselves Protestant Christians, who deny that the death of Christ had any thing of the nature of a propitiatory sacrifice; and attribute to it scarcely a higher kind of efficacy in the work of our redemption than to the death of Stephen or Paul. But the great mass of the Reformed churches have distinctly recognised the atoning efficacy of Christ's death as one of the most prominent features of the Christian system, and those who have maintained the opposite doctrine have generally been considered as holding an errour which cuts them off from all reasonable claim to the Christian character. I repeat then, if the standards of the different branches of the Reformed church be appealed to, we unquestionably arrive at the conclusion that the doctrine of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and of the perfection of that sacrifice, constitutes