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It remains for me to say, that as I have largely borrowed from the works of former commentators, I make this general acknowledgment, to preclude the necessity of a formal reference to their pages, in every place where I have used their arguments or illustrations.
Page 10, line 17, for exclusive, read exclusively.
35, 3, for visit, read viz.
7, for London, read Lunden. 122, 1, Note, before Tome, insert Condillac;
and erase Condillac at the end of the Note. 162, 15, Note, for conferred, read confined.
THE CHURCH OF ROME,
INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS-GENERAL STATEMENT OF
DURING the abode of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ upon earth, he solemnly warned his disciples that after his departure from the world, many false prophets would arise in his Church, who should deceive many. In this prediction, it is probable that he alluded not only to individual impostors and false teachers, but also to those schemes of false religion which should be propagated by wicked men pretending to be his
ministers. It certainly, therefore, is an inquiry of vital importance, whether there be reason to believe that any of those systems which are extensively prevalent among the nations professing to hold the faith of Christ, are chargeable with the guilt of having corrupted the pure fountain of Divine truth, which first emanated from the Saviour and his inspired apostles, by mingling with it false doctrines and human commandments, unprofitable and dangerous to the souls of men.
But if this inquiry be important to Christians in general, it is more peculiarly so to those who profess the Protestant dogmas. For it is well known that the separation of all the Protestant churches from the communion of Rome was founded upon a direct charge of apostasy preferred against that church. If that charge be not substantiated, it is impossible to justify the Reformers; they become chargeable with the guilt either of schism or of heresy; and it seems as a necessary consequence to follow, that it is the duty of Protestant churches to make their
peace with Rome, by again bowing their necks to her authority.
It may be accounted a' mark of a liberal and enlarged mind in the present day, to soften down the points of difference between the Romish and the Reformed creeds; but if the Scriptures denounce either of these systems as an apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints, such spurious liberality cannot be well-pleasing in the eyes of Him, who has solemnly testified his displeasure against those who call evil good, and good eyil.
It is evident, from various other parts of the New Testament, that the general warnings given by our Lord himself as already mentioned, were not thought sufficient for the guidance of his Church in future ages. A more particular prediction of a great Apostasy in the Church was therefore left on record by the apostle of the Gentiles in two different passages of his epistles; and a detailed prophecy of the same event was afterwards delivered to the apostle John in the book of Revelation.
It is my design in these pages to limit myself chiefly to the consideration of the prophecy contained in St. Paul's second Epistle to the Thessalonians which describes the apostasy in such