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true. However, in the ordinary mode of disputation there is nothing to prevent the hearer from concluding that all these promises stand good to the Roman Catholic Church, and establish her claim to the allegiance of the christian world. How have these arguments been met ? Why in fact they have not been met at all. What has been done is this, attempts have been made to quash their force, by dwelling with additional emphasis upon alleged errors, by bringing forward gross instances of Roman Catholic superstition, and endeavouring to lead our judgment to conclude in opposition to these passages, that the Romish doctrines are corrupt and dangerous. Still the mind wrought on by the arguments of the Roman Catholic will be disposed to charge individuals with the superstition, and to consider that their church must be essentially correct—that, in fact, separation from her at best must be a matter of mere expediency, a course adopted for the purpose of living under a somewhat purer system.
Here, however, a thinking man stops short, and puts to himself this question,-“ Am I quite sure that the evils connected with separation may not be as great or greater than those which I would encounter by being connected with the Roman Catholic Church. I see the confusion and disorder brought into the Protestant world by innumerable sects. I deplore these evils, and although I cannot but think that the lapse of ages may perhaps have brought the Roman Church to need some improvement ; still since all seem to admit that I may be saved in communion with it, as they allow that Paschal and Fenelon, and others were, can I excuse myself in continuing to be chargeable with the guilt of schism ?”
MODE OF MEETING THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARGUMENT.
I say a reflecting man will be likely to raise these questions, and I must candidly declare that as Papists are usually opposed, I cannot but think that sound reason would lead him to conclude that he should become a Roman Catholic. Their arguments are not met under the usual mode of proceeding. I say they are not met. No, positively they are not. At the very best Protestantism is made to appear a system of expediency. But is it so indeed ? Nay, verily. Popery is the most accursed system under the sun. It is the veriest abomination the very masterpiece of Satan. But why does this not appear ? Just because it has been opposed in a manner that is unscriptural and unsound; and, moreover, in a mode essentially different from that in which it was opposed at the time of the Reformation. How then should it be opposed—how should the arguments of its supporters be met ?
I was for a long time myself exceedingly exercised in my mind on this subject. Although an intimate acquaintance with the baneful effects of Popery convinced me that the system could not be from God, I did not see how the force of the Roman Catholic arguments could be got over. I first saw my way out of the difficulty by reading “ Faber's Calendar of Prophecy,” a truly admirable work in the main, although I cannot agree with all the positions of its Reverend author. But it was when I read MEDE’S APOSTASY OF THE LATTER TIMES, that I was completely satisfied. Faber identifies Popery with the monsters revealed to St. John, in the Book of the Revelations, in a manner so undeniable that it forces conviction upon the mind, and the views that he sets forward so completely embrace those which Mede exhibits in this work, that the reader is led to regard Popery in a manner totally different from what he before did. Still he feels that arguments grounded on the Apocalyptic visions, however satisfactory they may be to his own mind, I say he feels that they are likely to be too pungent, if I may so speak, for the mass of mankind. It is when he reads this admirable work of Mede, a work so cool, so collected, and so sober, that it cannot startle the most fastidious; it is then that he feels completely set at rest.
Mede shews that the whole visible Church of Christ was foretold as about to make an APOSTASY from the truth. He shews us that God forewarned men as to the nature of the comiug APOSTASY, that he foreshewed the essential character of the doctrines that would originate from it, the degree of their prevalence, the time of their origin, and the duration assigned to them. He shews us that all the promises of stability and protection from error which were made to the Church were intended to apply to that part of it, and to that part only which may be considered as the spiritual part, and that they are in every place consistent with the other truth, to wit, that darkness should cover the face of the Church, and gross darkness the people. In fact, that God foretold a great APOSTASY of the Christian world with Rome, under the name of Babylon, at its head, to the nature of which he would in due time open the minds of men, and from which he would at length withdraw “his hidden ones.” Hence it follows that our separation from the Church of Rome is not a mere matter of expediency, and has not at all the character of a schism. God himself points out that Church as an APOSTATE and a fallen Church, and cries unto us“ to come out of her that we be not partakers of her sins, and that we receive not of her plagues.” In fact, Mede shews beyond a doubt that there is the HOLY Catholic Church; and the UNHOLY Catholic Church, namely the Roman Church. I for my part conceive that Mede's views are absolutely unassailable, and consequently, I think that the controversy with Papists should be carried on in a manner totally different from that in which it has ordinarily been hitherto done.
1. We are not at all concerned to refute the strong arguments, indeed the irrefragable arguments, which Papists advance for the necessity of a living rule to decide controversies in matters of faith. But what is that rule? It is Christ's HOLY Catholic Church. Do they desire to know where that Church is ? We answer here it is. Its
Ministers are prepared to shew that the united Church of England and Ireland is a sound branch of the Holy Catholic Church. It has an Apostolical succession in its orders—it is at unity in itself—its doctrines are holiness to the Lord, and it is a legitimate part of that Holy upi. versal Church which existed in the beginning, and from which it has derived its ministry and its services. If they attempt to cast up against us the divisions in the Protestant world, all that we can say is, we are guiltless of them. If they would fasten upon us the opinions of Baptists or Anabaptists, of Arians or Unitarians, of Quakers or Irvingites, or of any of the various denominations of Independents or Methodists, our answer is plain and simple ;-we are not chargeable with eccentricities that may attach themselves to any of these parties, however respectable the parties may be. They must not make us partakers of other men's sins. I dare say I speak the language of most of the Ministers of our Church, when I say that we are really unprepared to decide as to the merits or demerits of the numerous sects that abound at the present day. All we know is, that they have separated from us, not accounting the Church sufficiently Holy for them, whilst we are conscious to ourselves that to the utmost extent of our abilities we would be desirous of rendering it as Holy as it could possibly be.
2. We charge home APOSTASY upon the Church of Rome. We declare that God 'foretold an APOSTASY of the Catholic Church whose head should be at Rome, and we shew, as Mede does, that Popery is identical with that APOSTASY. 1. Should the Romish controvertist say “our Church is Catholic, it once pervaded the whole Christian world.” We answer, Yes, God declared that the Man of Sin would cause ALL, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. (Rev. xiii., 16,) and that mark
APOSTATĖ, in Greek q ue é À 300 $ 200
(18 ver.) 2. Should the Roman Catholic opponent say, " you are more likely to be the APOSTASY than we, for the Protestant doctrines were brought in by an open rupture in the Church; there was no secession in our case.” We answer, for that very reason we claim to be free from suspicion, and you are open to it. For God foretold (2 Pet. ii. 1,) that the “false teachers should PRIVILY bring in damnable heresies,” whereas our protestations were open, obvious, and avowed. Again, we cannot constitute the designed APOSTASY, for it is said that it would have its head at Rome. Rome is inseparably identified with it. Picturing the APOSTASY under the figure of a woman, the Holy Ghost describes her as that great city seated on seven mountains, which reigneth over the kings of the earth, (Rev. xvii., 9. 18) a description infallibly marking out Rome. 3. Should the Roman Catholic controversialist say, " our Church has the mark of unity.” We answer, Yes, and a unity brought about by persecution and by blood. For the Man of Sin (Rev. xiii. 17) was foretold to be about to drive from the business of life all that would not receive his mark. And (verse 15) "he had power to cause all, as many as would not worship the image of the beast, to be killed.” Your unity, then, is a constrained and an enforced unity at best, but in the greatest part it is a unity and an accord, ance in foul superstition and destructive error. 4. If the Roman Catholic controvertist assert that his Church bas a succession from the Apostles, and a lawful mission derived from them. We answer, Yes, we admit that you are a Church, we admit that God committed authority into your hands. God himself describes the Man of Sin as “sitting in the temple of God.” (2 Thess. ii., 4,) even in his Church. We admit that Christ conferred upon you an authority, which we assert, however, that you abuse to the service of Satan. And glory not over us as though we were upstart teachers, who run without being sent. It is our privilege to shew forth a due succession from the Apostles' times, every link of which is complete.