Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

when he had taken leave of the Elector, and Spalatinus had conducted him back to the house where he then lodged, he immediately set down and wrote some axioms, as he called them, and gave them to Spalatinus.

The subject of these axioms was :

“That good men, and lovers of the Gospel, were those who had taken the least offence at Luther; that they were much displeased at the cruelty of the Bull*, so unworthy of the mild and merciful Vicar of Jesus Christ; that two Universities had, indeed, condemned Luther, but had not confuted him; that his request was very reasonable, to be tried by unsuspected judges; that he could not be suspected of evil designs, since he sought for no profit and advantage to himself; that the Pope was more solicitous about his own glory, than about the honour of Jesus Christ; that the treatises written against Luther were disapproved even by those who dissented from Luther; that the world was now influenced with a vehement love and longing for evangelical truth; and that such a disposition was not to be odiously checked and oppressed ; and, lastly, that it was very improper for Charles (who was won over by the Pope] to begin the exercise of his imperial power with inauspicious acts of severity and violence.” Such were the sentiments of “old Erasmus," and Protestants agree in them. The above extract is from Dr. Jortin's Life of Erasmus, and is quoted also by Mr. C. Butler himself in his work upon the same subject.

Doctor Challoner is right in making the most of “dying men”-it is a sort of fundamental point with Popery to do so. When“ a dying man” is worn down by pain and weakness, all the Priest's object is to catch him if he can, and publish his conversion. For this end the patient is promised heaven, if he will recant-eternal perdition, if he will not : charitably to let the Christian die in peace with hope in his God alone is

* Pope Leo X. issued a Bull against Luther on the 15th June, 1520, in which forty-one pretended heresies, extracted from the works of the latter, were condemned, his writings ordered to be publicly burned, and himself summoned to confess and retract his errors" under pain of excommunication. Luther appealed from the Pope to a General Council, had a pile of faggots raised without the walls of the city of Wittemburg, and amidst an immense assemblage of all ranks, he cast into the flames the Bull, and also the Decretals and Canons relating to the Pope's Supremacy.

[ocr errors]

not to be thought of nor expected; and we have known where other attempts have failed, the Scriptures to have been clandestinely removed, and Popish effusions introduced in their place.

With the numerous extracts which we have quoted froni Romish writers before them, it may appear to our readers a task of supererogation in Dr. Challoner to have spoken of the religion of Popery, “ taking off men's minds from the perish-" able goods of this world ?”-By her own showing she would be very well contented with “ the perishable goods of this world,” even though she were to encompass them all within her own grasp. Nor do we think it very prudent of the Doctor to have said so much more than his master on the subject of the “ holy solitaries” of his church*. We have given a few specimens of what has sometimes been the consequences of the holiness of these ladies and gentlemen; and if it were a subject we felt inclined to dwell upon, we could illustrate our observations by referring to almost every Papal government under the sun which furnishes ample fruits of Monkish morality. Suppose Spain (as thoroughly Popish a kingdom as heart could wish) were to be named as the test of our assertion:-is there, we ask, a single province that could not exhibit a battalion of Minors in proof of the selfdenial of the brawny pillars of the Romish Church? We certainly were not aware that young ladies generally “abana doned” the “ advantages of birth and fortune” to retire to convents; we feared they were too often the victims of parental inhumanity to increase the fortunes of “ the unwieldy heir.” However, these ladies generally carry their 6 wélcome along with them; it is not merely a religious turn of mind that qualifies a young lady for the constant inmate of a nunnery. We recollect many years since frequently to have

* The Mémoires de l'Académie des Institutions, referred to by Gibbon, speaks of these holy people. Gibbon says, “ it was with the utmost difficulty that ancient Rome could support the institution of six vestals Nor could the dread of the most horrible death always restrain their incontinency.” It appears, however, that others “ encountered the enemy in the closest engagements; they permitted Priests and Deacons to share their bed, and gloried amidst the flames in unsullied purity. But insulted Nature, sometimes, vindicated her rights, and this new species of martyrdom served only to introduce a new scandal into the Church."-Dec, and Fall of Rom. Emp., Vol. ii, p. 324-5.

seen a beautiful girl in the course of her noviciate, who, if her story, as we heard it, was true, was, indeed one of the sad examples we have alluded to. " Whereas, the Reformation has never yet produced any such fruits”—God forbid it ever should If an amiable and innocent young woman enters a cloister, is her punctual performance of set prayers and penances at stated times a greater proof of virtue, and more acceptable to her Creator, than would have been fulfilling her duties as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, had she mingled in all the natural endearments of social life?-Whilst instilling the principles of religion into the minds of her children, are we to be told she would thus be more forgetful of her duty to her God than in the performance of the task enjoined by the rules of her convent?

Whatever might have been the “ true saving faith in the days of our forefathers,” what is there in a reformation of abuses calculated to decrease the true saving faith” of ourselves? We think it rather hyperbolical to call Popery a saving faith, which damns all mankind who question her infallibility. That good Christians should have “arrived at the happy port of eternal felicity,” whatever their profession of faith, no good Christian, unwarped by the prejudices of education, would deny; but Popish histories of " Kings and Bisk ops” is no proof of their being there, since the prince and the pauper will a like be judged by his respective merits, for “ God is no respecter of persons.” That it is saferto be in communion with the Church of Rome than in the Church which retains the doctrines of CHRIST only, we deny; -the daily increasing numbers that leave the Romish, to join the Reformed Church, prove that the Gospel, in its dissemination, enlightens as its spreads; and, consequently, strengthens the general dissent to Dr. Challoner's assertion; both he and Pope Pius say, reason would teach mankind to become Roman Catholics—of such who are thus taught, we think the number but few indeed : but if " reason this, it must first assure us that the doctrines of Christ and those of Popery are not opposed to each other; since, if error is to be held sacred on the score of its antiquity, Ju


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

can do

daism has a prior, and, as we think, a more feasible claim than Popery.

“ 13. All ancient pretenders to reformation (i. e, all those that ever undertook to alter or amend the church faith) were condemned by the ancient church for heretics, and are acknowledged to have been such by protestants themselves. Therefore there is just reason to apprehend lest protestants walking in the same path may be involved in the same misfortune.

“ 14. In fine, protestants, to defend the Reformation, condemned in its first appearance by the church guides of divine appointment, are forced to have recourse to a rule of faith, which, if allowed of, would set all, both ancient and modern heretics, out of the reach of church authority. They are forced to appeal to a tribunal, at which it is not possible that any sectary should be condemned. Such a rule, such a tribunal is the scripture, interpreted not by authority of church guides, but by every one's private judgment: for this in effect is making every one's private judgment the supreme judge both of the scripture and of all controversies in religion, and authorizing him to prefer his own whimsies before the judgment of the whole church. Could it be consistent with the wisdom and providence of God to leave his church without some more certain means of deciding controversies and maintaining unity? No, certainly. “ N.B. That in the foregoing sheets, in quoting the scrip

ture, we have followed the common Protestant Bible, for the sake of a great part of our readers that may have been accustomed to it : not designing thereby to declare our approbation of that version, much less to give it the preference to our Catholic, Rhemish, and Doway translations."

[ocr errors]

It may readily be admitted that all who ever sought to amend the Romish Church Faith have been “ condemned by the Romish Church; nay, not condemned only, but executed also where she had the power of reducing her theory of extermination to practice. Protestants, however, fear not, now, (thank God !) of being " involved in the same misfortune,since, if the will of immutable - Old Popery” be warm as ever, the power has for ever fled her withering grip. Surely, the last paragraph is written in despair ? Why the iteration of “Church guides of Divine appointment,” and “ heretic Protestants," whilst the only proofs of this Popish divinity must appear to the most superficial observer in an avowed longing to have these “ heretics” within the pale of Papal “ authority ?” The abuse of Protestants, we have already observed, is no proof of the purity of Popery. Protestants are indeed forced to leave all heretics in the hands of their God; the SCRIPTURES force them to this, and it is no less true that they protest against a condemning Tribunal ;" yet, though every Protestant is permitted to walk in the light of Gospel truths, it must not be forgotten that by this means every man is enabled to acquire a knowledge of his duty towards his God, and his duty towards his neighbour; and that upon these two commandments their Saviour tells them, “ Hang ALL THE LAW, AND THE PROPHETS." What more necessary to salvation, does Popery profess to teach? Controversy may amuse or distract schoolmen; but he who would seek the pure doctrines of Christ can only learn them from His owN WORD. Let the man who cannot read have the sermon of Christ as He delivered it on the mount, repeated to him until he get it by rote-let him make it the guide of his future life; and we would prefer his state of salvation to that of any Pope who ever slew a heretic, or issued a bull of anathematization. Popish Doctors may term this, our opinion, a “ whimsy,perhapsbut even Roman ecclesiastical writers show the judgment of the Pope (to whose individual judgment " the whole church” submitted for ages) to have been ever employed in establishing his own temporal power rather than (as - Old Erasmus said) "evincing a solicitude for the honour of Jesus Christ." The blasphemy contained in the last sentence—the taxing the CONSISTENCY of the ALMIGHTY as to his leaving some poor worm of the earth,” to decide idle controversies of atoms as fragile, is surely too gross to require further comment:

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »