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5. If the Roman Catholic controvertist dwell upon the peculiar holiness and sanctity of the priests of his Church, of monks, nuns, and friars of various orders, as grounded on the self-denial that leads them to embrace a life of celibacy, fasting, and mortification. We pronounce all this to be mere Pharisaism, having indeed a shew of will worship and humility, and a neglect of the body that is not in any honour, but which in reality satisfies the flesh. (See Coloss. ii. 23, the Greek.) Nay, further, we assert that these very practices are mentioned by the Holy Spirit as characterising the APOSTASY, the Spirit expressly declaring that those who should apostatize from the faith would “forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Tim. iv. 3.) So that the boasted holiness of the Romish Church appears nothing better than effectual unholiness, and constitutes the brand of APOSTASY. · It is in something of this way, that I, as an humble presbyter of Christ's Holy Church, think that the Papists oughi to be met. They should be encountered by us as Churchmen, and on Church principles. We should not stand on the ground of separatists, as though God had no Church in the world; and thus afford the Roman Catholic opponent the opportunity of triumphantly maintaining the direct contrary, and of bringing us in as parties to the crime of Protestant dissensions, which necessarily grow out of a maintenance of the sole right of private judgment.
THERE IS, HOWEVER, A RIGHT OF PRIVATE JUDGMENT; BUT,
THEN, THE CHURCH ALSO HAS ITS DECIDING RIGHT. Yet I would not have it understood tha, in speaking against the ordinary notions as to the right of private judgment, I do by any means adopt the Popish views on that subject. The fact of the matter is, individuals have a right to judge for themselves: they have the fullest—the most unbounded right to examine the Scriptures, and to bring every doctrine that they may hear advanced to the test of that unerring standard, but then if they judge right they will come to the same conclusions with the Holy Church. That Church asserts that “ Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite and necessary to salvation.” (Art. VI.) The Holy Church glories in using the Scripture as its standard of doctrine. It calls individuals to try her thereby, and all those individuals to whom God has given his Holy Spirit agree to her essential accordance with that divine rule. This then being the case, the Holy Church, the company of the faithful, is entitled to cast out individuals as in error, to mark them as under the influence of delusion, who close their eyes to the light of truth, or who assert spiritual falsehood. In effect there is 1. the right of private judgment; 2. the right of public judgment, if I may so speak; individuals have a right to judge, and the Church has a right to judge. And the error of the time past has been, that whilst Roman Catholics have denied one, Protestants have denied the other. The Roman Catholics have annihilated the right of individuals, and Protestants have been annihilating the right of the Church. Now this is not at all wonderful among separatists who have lost the true idea of the Church of Christ, but it is rather strange that we of the Holy Catholic Church should fall into the error. . I would beg to bring forward a very striking passage from Luther's Letter to Henry VIII. on this subject. It so correctly, and at the same time so forcibly, establishes the right of private judgment, and as it will appear the other right also, that I think it deserves attention.
“ To investigate doctrine, and to judge of it, pertains to all and singular Christians ; yea, it is their undeniable prerogative. Let him be anathema, who would one jot invade it : for Christ himself established this right by the plainest declarations, and by many of them. In Matt. vii. we have :- Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing. He certainly speaks this word to the people against their doctors, and commands them that they should eschew their false doctrines. But how can they eschew them, unless they know them? Here, then, he has not only established the right of judging of them, but he has given a precept to do so; so that this sole authority may be considered as sufficient against the sentences of all the Pontiffs, of all the Fathers, of all the councils, of all the schools. These sentences have given the right of judging and determining to the Bishops and Ministers alone. They have impiously and sacrilegiously wrested it from the people—that is, from Queen Church. However, Christ unalterably establishes the right, when he says, ' Beware of false prophets.'
“ With this accords all the language of the prophets. What, I ask, was the great business of these prophets ? Was it not to warn the people that they should not believe in false prophets ? But to what purpose would their warnings have been, if the right of judging and of knowing did not belong absolutely to the people? Their warnings are so many admonitions to them to exercise their prerogative, and to be watchful and jealous of the doctrines of their priests and teachers.
• Wherefore our conclusion is this : as often as Moses, Joshua, David, and all the prophets in the old law, call the people from the false prophets, and admonish them against them, so often do they exclaim, do they command, do they confirm, do they exhort to, the right of examining, knowing, and judging all the doctrines of all their teachers. This they do in infinite places.
“But let us come to the new law. Christ says in John X.-My sheep hear my voice; they hear not the voice of strangers, but fly from them.' Now, does he not here make the sheep the judges ? Does he not give the right of determining to the hearers ? Paul also, when in the First of Corinthians, xiv. he says, “Let one speak, let the others judge; but if any thing be revealed to one
who sits by, let the former keep silence,'-does he not here understand the power of judging to belong to the hearer ? So whatever Christ prescribes in Matthew xiv. and elsewhere, of false doctors—whatever Peter and Paul prescribe concerning false apostles and teachers—whatever John prescribes concerning trying the spirits, evidently grows out of the principle that the authority of proving, of judging, and of condemning, belongs in strictest justice to the people.
« For every one at his own peril believes rightly or falsely; and, therefore, each must for himself take care that he believes rightly, so that even common sense and the necessity of salvation urge that the judgment of doctrine doth necessarily belong to the hearer. Otherwise, in vain is it said, · Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.' And again : “He that is spiritual judgeth all things, and yet is himself judged of no man.' But every Christian is rendered spiritual by the spirit of Christ. Again, he says, all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollas, or Cephas ;' that is, ye have the right of judging concerning the deeds and words of all.”— Lutheri Opera, Tom. 2, Witt. 1562.
I set down these sentiments not because they are Luther's, but because they are correct. He here asserts the right of individual Christians to judge of the doctrines of their teachers, to condemn or approve according to the truth. This right we admit to the fullest. When then the living Church—the holy Church—the mystical body of Christ-the company of the faithful-queen Church as Luther calls her, -ecclesia regina, brands as heretical and erroneous, the blasphemies of the Unitarian, the Socinian, or other heretics, this voice, the united voice of embodied individuals who are influenced by the Spirit of God, and under his guidance, uttered authoratively through their ecclesiastical heads; this voice denouncing those dangerous errors, forms that very living standard to which we may bring, and by which we may try the strange notions of separated individuals or parties.
The very authority that entitles the HOLY Churcn to judge, gives validity to its judgment. The HOLY Church then has a right to judge of the opinions of individuals, and the English Church being a sound branch of the HOLY Church Catholic, is the living tribunal to which we of this country may appeal. What I object to in the ordinary notion of the right of private judgment is, that it disannuls the right of public judgment; and, in point of fact, asserts the non-existence of a true Church at all.
AN OBJECTION STATED AND MET-DISSENTERS AND THE
FOREIGN REFORMED CHURCHES CONSIDERED. It may be said, the definition that you have given froin Mede of the true Church of Christ is framed in a very liberal spirit, and does not by any means exclude from membership with that Church true Christians who may not be in union with the Church of England. It will adınit within the boundaries of the Church, members say of some of the separated religious sects which have existed in these countries, members of the Scotch Church, and of the Foreign Reformed Churches. I for my part freely admit this. I rejoice to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth ; and I discern and recognise the voice of my Master Jesus Christ sounded forth through the lips of many holy individuals of some of these bodies. I firmly believe that Bunyan, Matthew Henry, Knox, Calvin, and Luther, Boston, Fuller, Dwight, and Edwards spoke in the main the language of Zion. Most heartily do I say, as to all the grand essentials of religion, may my last end be like theirs.
If then, this be the case, is there not opened a door for interminable doubt? If these individuals have constituted portions of Christ's spiritual Church, others similarly circumstanced may do the same. How then is the voice of this Church to be collected ? How can it be known ? The admission that you make annihilates the benefit that you would seem desirous of establishing