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Page 21.-In the Greek scr. ir i
Page 35—Greek note, for zz. user
result of these numai cu ..
The Roman Catholic opponent, on the other hand,
ORDINARY MODE OF CONDUCTING THE CONTROVERSY WITH
THE PAPISTS-PRIVATE JUDGMENT.
I THINK it has been a very prevalent notion of late years, that the Bible interpreted by private judgment is the sole rule of faith.
It has been on the hypothesis that this is a correct notion that the errors of Papists have been assailed, and the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism maintained. The following is, in fact, the way in which the controversy has been carried on. The disputant on the Protestant side has taken some dogma of the Roman Catholic Church; such, for example, as the doctrine of Purgatory, the doctrine of the worshipping of angels, or some other, and endeavoured to make it appear to the judgment of those who might be his auditors, that such doctrines have no Scriptural foundation,—that they are opposed to Scripture; and as a collateral evidence he has usually desired to shew also that the early Christians, or the Fathers as they are called, did not hold, but on the contrary, rejected these opinions ; endeavouring at the same time to prove, that the result of these Roman Catholic notions is degrading superstition, as far as the people are concerned, and unhallowed gains, as respects the Priests. He has also considered it his part to recommend the Protestant opinions as entirely Scriptural, reasonable, and wholesome.
The Roman Catholic opponent, on the other hand, has advanced arguments of a directly opposite character. According to him his doctrines are not at variance with
the Scripture, when properly understood,-thai, however much they may have been abused by fanatical individuals with whose extravagances the Church is not chargeable, they are, as taught by that Church, calculated to produce holiness, charity, and devotion; while, on the other hand, the Protestant doctrines are just the reverse, leading to licentiousness and disunion, or fanaticism and spiritual pride.
Both the disputants would appeal to their hearers to judge between them.
Now, so subtle is the poison of Popery, so well suited are its arguments to meet the views of the natural man, so plausible are the explanations that can be given of almost every disputed point, so easy is it to get rid of all the gross cases of the practical mischief of the system, by attributing it to the extravagance of individuals; and at the same time, so numerous are the examples of Roman Catholics, wise as to this world's wisdom, learned, eloquent, and so forth, who may be held forth as lights of the world, with every probability of being popularly acknowledged as such, that for my part I cannot but think, that the result of a disputation carried on between the two parties, in the presence of unenlightened men, however well disposed these men might be, would be the production of a feeling not by any means so favourable to pure Christianity or Protestantism, as its ardent admirers might wish. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him.” They seem allied to a fanaticism that he detests. I can easily conceive, that after a controversy of this sort, well maintained by a good-humoured and sincere Jesuit, a lukewarm Protestant would feel in no small degree staggered as to the rectitude of his principles, and a zealous Roman Catholic, on the other hand, secure of a triumph.
I can speak with something like experience on the subject. I was present, as an auditor, some years ago, at the controversy between Father Maguire and the Rev. Mr. Pope. Romanism could not have been favoured
with a more able champion than the Rev. Father. He was a consummate rhetorician, seemed really sincere in his opinions, and addressed himself so cleverly both to the feelings and the reason of his auditors, that I could not but feel that it would have required no small ballast of wholesome Protestant prejudice to keep the unlearned and unwary from doubting as to the truth.
This is only a particular case. It serves to illustrate what I mean. I repeat,—so many strong things, so many apparently reasonable things can be said in favour of most of the erroneous points of the Popish system, that the uninstructed may be easily understood to be unable clearly to discern where the evil lies; and when he is brought into this wavering state of mind, when he is brought to think, that perhaps the intercession of saints, Purgatory, the veneration of images, &c., are not, after all, such bad things, and when then the Priest opens his fire upon the weak points of the private judgment system, and proves to a demonstration that there must be a standard or rule of faith in addition to Scripture, and that to insist upon the sole right of private judgment is to insist upon the very principle of disunion, and to disannul the right of opposing any heresy with effect,—I say, when an able Romish Priest brings forward these absolute verities, nothing can prevent the man who is merely led by his reason from deciding in favour of Popery.
THERE IS A RULE OF FAITH COLLATERAL WITH THE
... SCRIPTURE : Let us not hide our eyes from the truth,—let us not attempt to deceive ourselves. There positively is a standard or rule of faith collateral with the Scripture. The whole Christian world feels it. Do we not talk of the orthodox Dissenters ? Are they not distinguished from those that are called heterodox ? Whence? Is it because the heterodox say that they reject the Scriptures ? No; so far from it, they insist on it that they alone un. derstand them aright, and that we go astray through mis