« EdellinenJatka »
the existence of, when you mention a living standard of truth.
I answer; 1, as to the paltry cavils of a mere argufier, whose contracted view seems incapable of taking in any thing like the length and breadth of spiritual truth, they never can be silenced. It is the spirit and the life of christianity that we have to do with : and the man who, instead of being furnished with a soul capacious enough to apprehend these, is so narrowed and tied up that he cannot believe truth to be in existence unless it be trimly bound into actual syllogisms, squared, cut, and ruled to suit his ideas of systematic order and regularity, oughtatonceto renounce any thing like pretensions to talk like a wise man on the subject of religion. We enjoy in the gospel a glorious law of liberty : and, although in little particulars the Gospel Church sometimes seems to deviate from rule in an objectionable manner, he who will, as it were, place himself at a distance sufficient to enable him to view at a glance all things, great and small, high and low, one with another, will find that when properly considered, all the apparent irregularities enter into the construction of one grand whole, in which every thing is in right keeping and in due proportion. With respect then to miserable paltry cavillers-wretched creatures who catch at words, straws, and nothings, I quite despair of leading them to see that there may be some advantages * connected with that departure from due order, that Christ has occasionally allowed to exist in his spiritual Church. Of true christians it may be said, “ Blessed are they that love thy law, nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. cxix. 165.) He that can receive the truth let him receive it.
But, 2. to cut the matter short, and simplify the question, I say, we of the Church of England have no necessity to embarrass ourselves with any difficulties connected with the peculiarities of our separated brethren of the reformed profession. We do not feel ourselves bound to prove the propriety of the course which they have
* See Witness, No. XII.
adopted, in separating from us, or of their peculiar notions if they have not so separated. We are a branch of Christ's Holy Catholic Church. The voice that our Church utters is the living voice of the Holy Church Catholic. Christ's Holy Church is one living mystic person, of which Christ himself is the head. The voice that it now utters is essentially the same as that which it spoke eighteen hundred years ago, and when I seek for the voice of the Church Catholic, I find it without difficulty or embarassment in our Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies. These I bring forward as the voice of Christ's Holy Catholic Church against all the strivings, and in opposition to all the hoary parchments which the fallen Romish APOSTASY, the UNHOLY Catholic Church may allege in opposition.
Some may think that the right of private judgment, which we so strongly maintain as being the privilege of Christians, is inconsistent with that submission to the opinions of the Holy Catholic Church which also I contend for. For if I have a decided right to judge for myself, how is it that I can be thought to enjoy this liberty when I should at the same time hear with submission the decisions of the Church.
HOW THE RIGHT OF PRIVATE JUDGMENT MAY CO-EXIST WITH
A DUE SUBMISSION TO THE CHURCH. Perhaps no other mode will so clearly shew the consistency of the co-existence of these two rights--the right of private judgment with a due determining and deciding power in the HOLY Church, the living witness for God's truth, as a statement of the actings of an individual mind in reference to both. Allow me, then, with the utmost humility to speak of my own particular experience.
I read the Bible under the enjoyment of a sense of the most perfect freedom of opinion. I am aware, at the same time, that Christ's Holy Catholic Church has marked with its approbation certain opinions, and disapproved of others. Take the very plain case of the doctrine of the Trinity. I read determined to think for myself, influenced, however, by a great respect for the voice of the saints living, and of those that are departed. I meet with a passage spoken by our Lord of himself,(John xiv. 28,) “My Father is greater than 1.” Did I proudly consider my own judgment as all sufficient, I might say at once, then the doctrine of the Trinity is unfounded : and if I were to a considerable degree puffed up with a notion of my own sufficiency, I might go on, and by a process of self-deception, exceedingly gratifying to our fallen nature, I might pick out of Scripture a number of passages apparently corroborating my incipient heresy, and at length, very satisfactorily to myself, sit down a Socinian, a Unitarian, or an Infidel of some other variety. But influenced by a sense of respect for the voice of the Church, when I read the passage before referred to, though it seem to me to militate against the co-equality of the Father and the Son, knowing that the Church has asserted that co-equality, I do not at once conclude that the passage must needs have what is thought the heterodox sense,- I therefore stop short. If I do not see my way clearly at once, I pray for wisdom, and wait. I tarry the Lord's leisure : and in due time increasing light and increased investigation enable me to see that the words, instead of disproving the Godhead of the Son, form no weak argument in favour of it, and at length my private judgment firmly embraces that which the Church inculcates. Is it, however, in consequence of the mere assertion of the Church ? By no means. I assent to the doctrine from the most cordial and willing agreement of my reason to its truth, as seen in Scripture. In this case then, my private judgment has enjoyed and exercised its right, aye, to the very full; but, it has done so humbly and cautiously, not precipitately and proudly. Thank God that there exists a Church which tends to save human weakness and human ignorance from the fatal consequences of rash decision. There is such a Church, and there must be such a one.
WHAT SCRIPTURE REVEALS CONCERNING THE APOSTASY.
Instead then of assailing Popery on the weak ground on which it has been used to be assailed for some time past, let us take our stand against it as Members of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, and bring it before the people as a great foretold A POSTASY.For God has indeed in his Word clearly foreshewed that his whole visible Church should fall into an APOSTASY, which should have its head at Rome.
Mede, in the work which we have now before us, will furnish us with the clearest arguments by which to establish this important truth.
Nevertheless, he does not here enter into all the length and breadth of the question, as Mr. Faber does in his “ Calendar of Prophecy.” That learned divine shews most clearly, that the prophecies of Scripture are so comprehensive in their character that they do embrace and exhibit all the considerable deviations from sound faith that have occurred, and that will occur in the world, from the earliest ages of Christianity to the end of time. He shews, as Mede does,
1. That God foretold that his visible Church should embrace the idolatrous doctrines and practices which now abound in the Romish Church-that that Church should become A POSTATE: and should draw in all the Christian world, speaking popularly to participate in her transgression. And he alleges very strong arguments to prove that the time when this Apostasy or transgression should have come to the full was the year 604 A.D. He shews
2. That God foretold that when the above transgression should be come to the full, he would in judgment give over the Eastern parts of the world to be desolated by a spiritual persecuting power, which should by subtlety, by lies, and by force of arms destroy wonderfully, and prosper, and practise ; which branch of evil should be brought in and propagated by a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences. (Dan. viii.) That this desolating evil was itself to be A POSTATE
in its character, being engendered in fact by the mother of abominations, harlot Rome. Perhaps I need scarcely state after this, that what the divine oracles foreshew is Mahomedanism. Mahomed began his preaching in the year 608. It is a remarkable circumstance corroborative of this view, that our Holy Church in the Houpily against the peril of idolatry (Part II. towards the end,) recognizes the very saine truth ; and views the rise and progress of the Turkish power, and the spread of the desolating Mahomedan principles as a judgment on idolatrous Christendom. He shews
3. That God foretold, that when this dispensation should be drawing to a close, and the time of the out. pouring of his judgments on Christendom have arrived, there should arise another great spiritual evil in the world, which should be also persecuting in its character, which should set at nought equally all religions, exalting itself and magnifying itself against all. That this also shonld constitute a branch of the APOSTASY, being, in fact, a natural result of Popery. The foreshewed evil is modern infidelity. Its workings and its character were displayed in a marked manner during the revolution in France, are still exhibited very strikingly in the state of that kingdom, and in the convulsions that are to the present hour shaking and alarming Europe and the world. Truly, infidelity is the spawn of Popery ; that mother of abominations ever fertile of evil is its true parent. For when men have identified Christianity with the absurdities and the follies which the APOSTATE Church has mixed up with it, and when then they are brought to see that Popery is a system dishonouring to God, and degrading to man, they conclude that Christianity itself is a fable, and reject the whole system in toto.
Scripture thus gives us as it were three distinct heads of APOSTASY, bound up together—POPERY, MAHOMEDANISM, and INFIDELITY; the two latter growing out of the former, and doomed to be partakers in its plagues. These constitute, spiritually, Babylon the Great