« ForrigeFortsæt »
Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Direct as is the contrast of this expression of our SAVIOUR, in the sense in which we have thus applied it, to the meaning he himself explicitly conveyed to his disciples when it proceeded from his own lips ; yet, can it be said to be a greater perversion of the truth and intent of the Gospel, than those sentences selected to prove that the doctrines of the Church of Rome are in unison with the doctrines of Christ? We think not: our readers will judge for themselves. We now proceed to
Sect. II.-That Christ's Church upon earth is always One.
“My dove, my undefiled is but one- -fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners." John X. 16. “ Other sheep I have which are not of this fold," viz. the Gentiles, (who were then divided from the Jews) " them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” Eph. iv. 4, 5. “There is one body and one spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In fine, as we have seen already, the Church of Christ is a kingdom which shall stand for ever; and therefore must be always one. kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Matt. xii. 25.
May not persons be saved in any religion?
No, certainly. St. Paul tells us, Heb. xi. 6. “That without faith it is impossible to please God; and St. Peter assures us, Acts iv. 12. “That there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we may be saved, but the name of Jesus.” And Christ himself tells us, Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth not shall be damned.” So that it is manifest from the Holy Scripture, that true faith is necessary to salvation. Now true faith, in order to please God, and save our souls, must be entire; that is to say, we must believe without exception all such articles, as by God and his Church are proposed to be believed: and he that voluntarily and obstinately disbelieveth any one of these articles, is no less void of true saving faith, than he that disbelieves them all: as St. James tells, with regard to practical duties, chap. ii. 10. “ Whosoever shall keep the whole law, yet offend in one point, is guilty of all.” Hence St. Paul, Gal. v. 20, reckons heresies, that is, false religions, amongst those works of the flesh, of which he pro
nounces, " that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God:” and God himself, Isa. lx. 12, tells his Church, “the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish."
Can any one be out of the way of salvation without the guilt of mortal sin?
No. But all such, as through obstinacy, negligence, or indifference in matters of religion, will not hear the true church and her pastors, are guilty of mortal sin. Matt. xviii. 17, “If he neglect to hear the church, let him be to thee as a heathen man and a publican," Luke x, 16. “ He that heareth you," (the pastors of the church) “heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
But what do you think of those whose conscience persuades them that they are in the true church ?
If this error of theirs proceed from invincible ignorance, they may be excused from the sin of heresy ; provided, that in the sincere disposition of their hearts, they would gladly embrace the truth, if they could find it out, in spite of all opposition of interest, passion, &c. But if this error of their conscience be not invincible, but such as they might discover if they were in earnest, in a matter of so great consequence; their conscience will not excuse them, no more than St. Paul's, whilst out of blind zeal he persecuted the church; or the mistaken conscience of the Jews, when putting the disciples of Christ to death, they thought they did a service to God, John xvi. 2. “For there is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Prov. xvi. 25.
But does not the Scripture somewhere say, “that a remnant of all religions shall be saved 9"
No: though I have often heard such words alleged by Protestants, they are not anywhere to be found in Scripture, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelations. I suppose, what has given occasion to their mistake, must have been the words of St. Paul, Rom. ix. 27, where, quoting Isaiah x. 22, he tells us, “ Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant (that is, a small part of them only)" shall be saved :" which remnant the Apostle himself explains, Rom. xi. 5. of such of the Jewish nation as at that time by entering into the Church were saved by God's grace. But what is this relation to a salvation of a remnant of all religions ? A doctrine so visibly contradicting the Scripture, that even the English Protestant Church herself, in the 18th of her 39 articles, has
declared them to be accursed, who presume to maintain it. That Christ's Church upon earth is always one, and in heaven also, we are not inclined to dispute, and this admission will spare us the trouble of commenting on the two or three sentences picked out of the Scriptures to prove it, and
which we should suppose, in consequence of Papal feuds, are decidedly against the question as applied by the Pope to his own Church. But we must be permitted to add, that although all are one Church to CHRIST, of which he alone is the Head, yet are there two states of the same Church, the one militant and the other triumphant, “ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Eph. iii. 15. Heaven, earth, and hell are but as one kingdom to God, for his kingdom ruleth over all. “The kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the Governor among the nations.” Psal. xxii. 28. All nations are one kingdom to Him, whose wisdom has disposed that these should be governed by various rulers according to the capacities of his creatures. We read not in Holy Writ that he ever appointed a universal monarch of the world, and the present degenerate state of Rome shows us the consequences of ungoverned ambition ; since the weight of her own magnificence sunk her beneath the level of the nations she had conquered. Thus has it been with the Church. The divisions which Rome has made has broken its unity; and by an assumption of supremacy and infallibility she has, for the preservation of her authority, introduced similar blessings to mankind, as it may be imagined an Universal Monarch would have done to have enforced obedience to his despotic power : she has marked her universality by the blood of her victims, sacrificed to the lust of domination ; whilst, instead of an appeal to the benign and persuasive doctrines of Christianity, her arguments have been the sword, the stake, and the gibbet; or have otherwise been exerted within the secret walls of an Inquisition ! But we will give our authority for the means adopted by the holy Roman Catholic Church for the extermination of heresies in its proper place. Every one who believes in Christ is a Christian, as those who believe in Mahomet are Mahornedans. But it is not enough that we believe in Christ, but that we keep his commandments also. “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven.”—Matt. vii. 21.“ To the rest of the questions and replies which occur throughout this section we beg particular attention, as they are intended to instil into the mind of youth that—with the comparatively small exception of those who have been taught to believe in Popery--the whole of God's creatures must assuredly be damned! Horrible and revolting, indeed, is such a doctrine as this to reason and to humanity; false, hypocritical, and blasphemous it is towards the GREAT CREATOR of the Universe; who, instead of the fountain of mercy, is thus silently represented (as we heard him publicly described in a Popish chapel *) as "a CRUEL, SEVERE, and INEXORABLE JUDGE!!!”
We can only hope, in despite 'of the evidence of our own senses, that we do not understand the meaning of the text as it stands printed before us. If so, we intreat our Popish brethren to set us right; but as, according to our most solemn belief, it is intended to bear the construction we have put upon it, viz. that the Great God has doomed all mankind to eternal perdition, except those who profess their belief in Popery,—can it be unfair to comment upon tenets so directly opposed to the decrees of a just and merciful Creator?—can it be wrong to refute them by his holy word ? Surely not; and should our efforts induce but one member of the Church of Rome to “search the Scriptures,” we shall not think they have been employed in vain.
It is asked, “May not persons be saved in any religion ?” The positive reply to which is “ No, certainly.” The sentences of Scripture quoted in support of this assertion are, first, from Heb. xi. 6, and from Acts iv. 12. Paul, in writing to the Jews on the necessity of faith in God, says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him.”
This is the first passage alluded to; and what has this to
* Somers' Town.
do with the question, as implied, that none can be saved but the followers of the Pope, a title unknown until usurped, as will be shown, many ages afterwards ? Paul, in the chapter alluded to by the Pontiff (for, is it more than an allusion ?), explains what faith is, and the fruits thereof; exemplifying it by the acts of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, &c., who “having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise." (ver. 39.) With respect to the next sentence of Scripture in the above reply, that “ there is none other name (than CHRIST] under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved ;” is there any --can there be any Christians who believe otherwise? But does this lead us to imagine that the millions who have not yet even heard tell of salvation by the name of Jesus, are to perish everlastingly for the want of that which it is their greatest misfortune to be without-the knowledge of Christ, who died for the sins of ALL MANKIND ? From the Christian is required faith and repentance; but the Heathen will be judged by the law of morality implanted in his heart, and which is called natural religion. As the knowledge of God is given to the one, more, of course, is expected from him than from the other. But is it because GOD has made a covenant with the Christian, that he, calling himself Christian, is to pronounce a curse against the less favoured Heathen rather than leave him in the hands of an all-powerful though uncovenanted mercy? The next sentence in proof of the question is, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” But CHRIST has nowhere denounced those not doomed to hear of him for not believing.
Rom. v. 13,-—" For, until the law, sin was not in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
-ix. 25.—“As he (the LORD) saith also in Osee (Hosea), I will call them My people, which were not my people; and her [i. e. the nation] Beloved, which was not beloved.,