Page images
PDF
EPUB

love and faithfulness, and the unwearied long-suffering purpose of his soul to bless; and thus be kept faithful, whatever be the falling away of others.

MR. LUCAS'S « REASONS FOR BECOMING A ROMAN

CATHOLIC, ADDRESSED TO THE SOCIETY OF
FRIENDS.”

one

This work is described by the Catholic Magazine for May, as of the ablest controversial treatises which has appeared for many years." It details, with much apparent candour of statement, the progress of the writer's mind during his “conversion" from Quakerism to Popery -a conversion which has excited much surprise and remark, though, in truth, it has evidently been as natural a transformation as the development of a moth from the silent recesses of its chrysalis state. Mr. Lucas's Reasons will be widely read in the Society of Friends, and we trust that some minds will be instructed and warned by the writer's clear statements of the analogy which exists between these two systems of delusion, while we fear many more will be misled by specious arguments, and swallow the poisoned draught in virtue of the honeyed flattery in which it is conveyed.

The writer introduces the subject of his pamphlet with a highly wrought commendation of the early Quakers, whose views he describes in the following terms, with which we cannot entirely accord, because, like the speeches of the heroes of Tacitus, the account appears more the offspring of his own ideas of the sublime and beautiful, than an exact statement of plain facts.

The first establishment of Quakerism was indeed a noble effort in most unpropitious times. While the various sects of Protestants were jangling with fierce and mutual hatred, in the war of words, of pride, and of human reason, a few humble-minded men felt that it was not so that truth was to be attained. They were conscious of a spiritual guidance, far transcending all human reason and sagacity. They saw the absurdity of attempting “ to measure the ideas of the Divine mind by those of the human reason. They saw the monstrous absurdity of subjecting the Revelations of God to the petty criticism of man's understanding. They saw that in this matter of religion, there could be but two parts,God the teacher, teaching with authority-Man the taught, receiving and learning with submission. They had little sympathy for the “right of private judgment.” They knew that not merely is the moral character of man degraded, but his understanding darkened and blinded in the fall. They knew well that if religion is to be moulded and fashioned by the private judgment of every upstart theologian, the end must be a perpetual confusion of sects. They dreaded nothing more than being confounded with the herds of Christians, the swarms of sects around them. They said, “Ours is no sect, no human opinion. We follow the Eternal reason-the true guide-which, whoever follows it with sincerity and self-abandonment, will infallibly lead him in the path which CHRIST has marked out for him,” They knew-none better-the shallowness of Protestantism. They abhorred all thật vain talk “I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas, and I of CHRIST.” They asked the sectarians about them, “Is Christ divided ?” And seeing that the right of private judgment led to division, to discord, to want of faith, to the exalting of the natural man over the spiritual, they sought for and proclaimed that they had discovered the true rule which would lead men into unity, agreement, and faith.

Now, while we do most fully concur in the principle that in religion there can be but two parts, “God the teacher, teaching with authority,

- Man the taught, receiving and learning with submission,” we must protest against the manner in which “ the right of private judgment" is represented in the above extract as opposed to this important truth. There is an ambiguity in the phrase " right of private judgment," which we regret; because it does not correctly designate the thing for which, as Protestants, we contend. It is not that I, as an individual, have a right to exercise my judgment on what God has revealed, and to receive or reject, as interest or caprice may dictate, or even as my own feeble understanding may misconceive, what is given “ for my learning,” it is rather that I have a right to be taught by God without the interference of man, or, to ascend higher still

, it is the right of God to teach his children without binding himself to use, as the medium of that teaching, any set of men whatever. The true Protestant principle is, therefore, not the assertion of any power in the natural man to comprehend the things of the Spirit of God, but it is rather the steadfast maintenance of the truth, that the Holy Ghost does abide with the Church of God's elect, leading them, according to the Word, into all truth.

There has been, there is, and there will be, a world of controversy about the nature of the true rule which would lead men into unity, agreement, and faith.” The search is just as chimerical as the attempt to find the philosopher's stone, and must end in disappointment, though it may

elicit some benefits by the way. There is just as much power in any rule of faith to produce these results, as there would be in a printed Act of Parliament to produce uniformity and order merely by virtue of its being circulated in a province which has thrown off altogether its allegiance to the Government. Men are notorious rebels against the authority of God: and their rebellion must first be quelled before they can receive or examine rules regarding their service and affiance to the Most High. This result is effected only in the case of those who are “born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” To this spiritual generation, the subjects of the new birth, is committed all the knowledge of God that there is in this world, “ for the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: neither indeed can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” To search for any guide which can lead the rest of the world right, is to search in

God gives his Spirit and his Word to guide his spiritual Israel his elect people to the heavenly rest; but the darkness of Egypt rests on all beside.

The ground-work of many of Mr. Lucas's arguments consists in the fallacy of confounding circumstantial truth with saving truth ; thus, speaking of the “ fragmentary condition" of Protestantism, he says: In the general dissolution and tearing to pieces of the entireness of Catholic verity

, which accompanied the enthronement of error at the time of the Reformation, each sect seized hold of, and appropriated to itself, that portion of truth which the half blindness of its members enabled them to discern. Milton,-whose piercing vision and almost prophetic insight could not prevail against the untamed haughtiness and unsettled humour which led him all his life to wander from opinion to opinion, till it has become doubtful whether he died affirming or denying the Divinity of our blessed SAVIOUR,-Milton well understood

vain.

once

ever

this fragmentary condition of Protestantism, where he described how the virgin Truth that

was a perfect shape, most glorious to look upon,” had “her lovely form hewed into a thousand pieces, and scattered to the four winds. From that time," he continues, since, the sad friends of truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up limb by limb, still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, nor erer shall do, till her Master's second coming." Truly a sorrowful destiny, as you will agree with me, this ever seeking, never to find ! but amidst this rambling and unguided search for the fragments of true religion, as no Protestant sect, perhaps not even the Unitarian, has lost the whole truth, so but a portion of it has fallen to the lot of each.

Every christian becomes such, through being “begotten again by the word of truth.He knows the truth, and the truth has made him free. It cannot be said of “a saint of God” (and in scriptural propriety no other is entitled to the name Christian)-it cannot be said that “ but a portion of the truth” has fallen to his lot. There is deep sophistry in the whole of this statement, arising from the writer's entire ignorance of the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ, and his consequently confounding truth, which is essential to the order, and regulation, and service of the church, with that which is essential to the existence of spiritual life in the individual. In reference to the former, we should nearly coincide with Mr. Lucas's statement, since “the fragmentary condition" of Protestantism is the constant source of triumph to the infidel

, the papist, and the Jew; but THE TRUTH with which salvation is connected, is not a thing to be split up into parts and sections. “ He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God hath given of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” 66 To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” This Mr. Lucas does not believe, and, consequently, “wanders in a wilderness where there is no way, and gropes in the dark without light." Unable to find a satisfactory solution of the question, “How shall man be just with God ?” he has committed the concern of his soul's salvation to a set of priests, who undertake to do all that is needful in the way of propitiating the Most High, and averting his just displeasure, by offering sacrifice on an altar. But, alas ! there are these fatal errors in their undertaking—it is “ a sacrifice not carnal and outward," but bloodless; and it is a sacrifice continually repeated, and which, therefore, “cannot make the worshippers perfect as pertaining to the conscience.” Now we know that God has established principle, that “ without shedding of blood is no remission,” and

one offering our Saviour hath perfected for ever those that are sanctified; so that there remains no more sacrifice for sin. Not so Mr. Lucas.

Of the Catholic worship I am unwilling to speak; I consider it a subject too grave to be lightly touched upon. But in general I may assert that it contains no mere forms. Everything there, is substance. The spiritual essence is everywhere indissolubly married by Divine ordinance to the outward symbol. They are not two, but one; even as the human body and reasonable soul make up one man. The very objection which is most commonly urged against the Catholic worship, viz., that it is performed in a learned language, is itself

B B

this that by

VOL. II.

a striking instance of this. The Latin prayers are the prayers of the priest. The worship of those who attend the service does not consist, and is not intended to consist, in their joining in the prayers which the priest offers for himself, and for the congregation. The service itself is a solemn sacrifice, which we believe to be instituted by Christ himself—a sacrifice not carnal and outward, like the Jewish sacrifices, which prefigured the eternal offering, but a sacrifice at once symbolical and real-at once commemorative of, and the same with, the sacrifice of Calvary—the priest, the victim, the benefit the same.

Here is an entire perversion and fundamental change of the whole Christian economy. The Church of God is annihilated; the priest

, a character utterly unknown in the Gospel, takes the whole office, and usurps all the privileges of all those who are anointed into the service of the evangelical sanctuary. “The Latin prayers are the prayers

of the priest !” and all this Mr. Lucas can, without flinching, state in the open day, without a perception that he is treating of a religion not recognised in the New Testament. Mr. Lucas attributes the sole access to God to the priest, without ever once enquiring from whence “ the priest,” as distinguished from the laity, came into the church, seeing that no such character is mentioned in “ the new covenant."

Alas ! that such darkness should exist on this most important of all subjects—that any person “naming the name of Christ” should be so ignorant of the unapproachable majesty of His priestly office, as to trust to the intercession of a priest on earth! Yet so it ever will be with those who “reject the word of the Lord” as the standard of truth and “able to make wise unto salvation.” Again and again we are compelled to exclaim, “ They have rejected the word of the Lord and what wisdom is in them?” We should speak in very different terms of the worship of Romanism, and should rather describe it as Satan's mimicry of the truth, as the splendid pageantry of delusion, craftily combining all that may gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” by means of which he retains the souls of men in bondage, while he quiets their consciences by the cry, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these!” 'The Romanist has one on earth to take the place in the church of an absent Saviour, but he is a poor feeble mortal like ourselves. We, to whom it has been given to believe, have also a " vicar of Christ upon earth," sadly grieved, indeed, by our divisions and our carnal walk, yet still present, and it is our privilege to acknowledge Him as the Holy Ghost the Comforter, the guide into all truth, dividing to every member of the church gifts severally as he will. The Church of Rome has holy places-sanctuaries-houses of God upon earth, “exceeding magnifical,” it may be, and “ of fame throughout all lands;" but we have one sanctuary, and that a place of worship no less exalted than the holiest of all, and whether we meet in simple fellowship as brethren beneath the homely roof, or whether assembling, as may again be the case, as the two or the three in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, we know that Jesus is in our midst, and that we have s boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil

, that is to say, his flesh,” in order that our minds and spirits should be quite raised above and taken away from all the pomps and vanities of

of us,

this evil world, and that we should recognise our true standing, as God sees us," raised up together, and made sit together, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Have the Romanists an order of priesthood to approach to God for the people, and according to true apostolical succession, and called by rightful authority and clothed in sacerdotal stoles, to officiate at the altar of their God? We have more than all this, for He has 6 loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his father, so that we are all God's clergy (klúpoi—1 Pet. v. 3); and are his Levites, redeemed by blood, and constituted a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; and by faith we recognise our Great High Priest, entered not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; and we do not say that, like Aaron, he bears the names of his people on his breast and on his shoulders, for our confidence in Him is, that He is the head of the body and we the members, so that if one member suffer, the Head feels the pain, so that it may be said

as he is, so are we in this world.” Does the Church of Rome promise remission of sins to those who die in her communion, when either penance and bodily austerity, and alms-deeds and humiliations, and fastings and submission to the clergy in their life-time, or revolving ages of endurance of penal fire have washed the stains incurred by lapses after baptism? But we have all this full forgiveness as a known and present possession. We know nothing of progressive justification, but we have this assurance, that when Jesus rose, the whole Church of his elect rose justified with him in the thoughts and purposes of God; he was delivered for our offences, and rose again, because of our justification (ηγέρθη διά την δικαίωσιν ημών). Can they speak (with our author, p. 81) of the awful feeling of reverence with which the Catholic bows his head at the elevation of the blessed HOST, and the deep spiritual impression it necessarily produces on those with whom it is no outward form, but the real presence of the Divinity Himself which they venerate and adore ?” Much more ground have we for adoration and praise, because, “by the exceeding great and precious promises, we are made partakers of the divine nature," and have the Spirit dwelling in our hearts as the earnest of our future inheritance-the dawn and day-spring of coming glory.

But we are willing to learn even from our enemies, and admit that a strange oblivion has come over Protestants as to the true character of christian worship. We do not read of the first Christians, that they came together to hear Paul, or to sit under the ministry of Apollos, but “on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” The preaching was welcome, but the assembling round the eucharistic table to commemorate the dying love of their Redeemer, the giving of thanks, the fervent petitions, the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, the collection for the poor saints, as “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing unto God,” these were the essential service for which they

« EelmineJätka »