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an essential article of Christianity as it is held by the great mass of Protestants.
The doctrine which the Romish church holds on this subject is thus expressed in the creed of Pius IV.“I believe that in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice, for the quick, or living and dead.” And the Council of Trent has decreed that, "if any one say that in the mass there is not a true and
sacrifice offered unto God; or that to be offered is nothing else but for Christ to be given to us to eat, let him be anathema,"
I hardly need remind you that a large part of the Sacred Scriptures relates to the point now under consideration; and as there is entire harmony in all that they contain on the subject, it may suffice to quote two or three passages. “If any man sin,' saith the Apostle John, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Paul, in writing to the Hebrews, says, “Christ being come, an High Priest of good things to
he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Again, “Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” And again, “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Need I ask whether these scripture quotations can even be tortured into an accordance with the doctrine of the Romanists?
6. Romanism maintains that there are seven sacraments : Protestant Christianity, that there are but two.
In the creed of Pius IV. it is thus written: 6 There are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, and are necessary
to the salvation of mankind; (although all the sacraments are not necessary to every person,) viz, Baptism, Confirmation, the Lord's Supper, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders and Matrimony:" and the Council of Trent denounces a curse against any who say that these
were not all instituted by Christ, or that there are more or fewer than seven, or that any of the seven is not truly and properly a sacrament.”
Now you may search the New Testament through, and you will find no allusion to any other sacraments than Baptism and the Lord's Supper. When our Lord commissioned his disciples previous to his ascension, he said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” And when he had met them for the last celebration of the Passover previous to his death, the history informs us that "he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after Supper, saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Both these sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, Protestant Christianity acknowledges: in respect to the other five the Bible is entirely silent.
It would be easy to show in respect to various other doctrines, that Romanism contradicts the Bible,-that Protestant Christianity fully accords with it; but I am admonished to proceed to the second point of contrast between the two systems, viz:
II. Their CONFORMABLENESS TO REASON. And here let me say that I assign to Reason no higher office as the judge of truth, than to decide whether God has really spoken, and if so, to ascertain the import of what he has said. With every one who acknow
ledges the authority of Revelation, and he who denies it is not, even in the loosest sense of the word, a Christian,) the great question, "What is truth ??—must be ultimately settled by a reference to the Law and the Testimony: for whatever God has revealed we are bound to receive with implicit confidence. But we know that God would reveal nothing that is contrary to Reason, though he may reveal many things which Reason cannot fully comprehend; and hence all those interpretations of Scripture which involve a manifest absurdity, we are bound to reject as false, inasmuch as they are inconsistent with the divine character. Both Protestants and Romanists profess to acknowledge the divine authority of the Bible; and both claim that their respective systems are contained in it: so long then as we make God's word the ultimate standard, we may, without presumption, inquire whether the interpretation of the one or the other is most in accordance with enlightened Reason. We will direct your attention to a few points illustrative of the absurdity of the dogmas of Romanism on the one hand, and of the reasonableness of the doctrines of Protestant Christianity on the other.
1. Romanism is absurd, in that she claims the prerogative of infallibility; in other words, of entire freedom from all doctrinal errour: Protestant Christianity is consistent in the rejection of this claim.
In the creed of Pius IV. every Romanist thus declares :—“ I receive the Holy Scriptures according to that sense which the Holy Mother Church (to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and intrepretation of the Holy Scripture) did and doth hold. Nor will I ever take and interpret it otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”
Now it is surely absurd for the Romish church to claim infallibility, if she cannot herself determine where this infallibility resides. Of her ability to do this we may the better judge, when we have seen what she actually has done.
The High Romanists, as they are called, contend for the personal infallibility of the Pope; and maintain that all his decisions in respect to matters of faith, are dictated by the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost. But this claim surely cannot be admitted; for those who have occupied the papal chair at different periods, have flatly contradicted each other. For instance, in the latter part of the sixth century, Gregory decreed that whoever should claim the universal episcopate would be the forerunner of Anti-Christ; but, within a few years, this was actually claimed by Boniface III. and has since been claimed by many of his successors. Here then is the dilemma ;-—if Gregory was infallible, then his successors in the papal chair must be viewed as the forerunners of Anti-Christ : if his successors were not the forerunners of Anti-Christ, then the decision of Gregory was not according to truth. In either case I need not say what becomes of the pretended infallibility.
There is another consideration which evinces the absurdity of supposing that the Pope is infallible ;-it is the fact that not a small number of those who have occupied the papal chair have been men whose lives were openly at war with the plainest precepts of the gospel. There is scarcely a heresy so gross but that some of those who have worn the triple crown have sanctioned it; hardly a crime so flagrant but that some of them have given an example of it. Witness the case of John XII. whom Cardinal Baronius has described as a monster of iniquity, and who was convicted of perjury, blas
phemy and murder; of John XXIII. who was utterly destitute of all moral and religious principles, and became the assassin of his predecessor; of Alexander VI. who yielded himself to an unbridled sensuality and cruelty, and finally died from having taken through mistake a poisonous preparation which he had designed for certain cardinals whom he had invited to an entertainment.These are a specimen of not a small part of the characters who have occupied the papal chair: and now I ask you whether it is not a gross absurdity to suppose that such men should possess the attribute of infallibility ? If they were infallible, it was because the God of all wisdom and purity made them so; but who could believe that such men,—may I not say—such monsters, were meet temples for the residence of the Holy Ghost? Is it in accordance either with Reason or Scripture to suppose that Jehovah would have any communion with them; especially that, by a supernatural influence, he would qualify them to become the infallible interpreters of his word?
But the more modern Romanists have generally claimed that this infallibility resides not with the Pope, but with each general council considered as the legitimate representative and organ of the church. But here again, the same difficulty occurs as in the former case:the decrees of different councils have been in direct opposition to each other. The Council of Constantinople convened in 754 decreed the removal of images, and the entire abolition of image worship; but the second Council of Nice a few years after reversed this decree, restored the images to the places from which they had been taken, and pronounced an anathema on the council which had decreed their rernoval. But it is impossible that two decrees of a directly opposite character can