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only put in a very large number of their own notes and comments, but have, in many instances, actually changed the text itself. Thus, for example, instead of the exhortation “Repent,” they have “Do penance ;' and the second commandment (which in many of their catechisms they altogether leave out) they have in their Bibles greatly altered, especially at the close, where, instead of having the words “ Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,” they put, “ Thou shalt not adore them.” Of these alterations we shall have to treat more at large hereafter. In the mean while we only ask, Do not such instances clearly show, that their desire to withhold Scripture springs from a secret conviction that their doctrines will not bear to be tested by it; and that they are justly accused of being “against the Bible, because the Bible is against them ?” Are they not thus bringing on themselves the fearful sin and fearful curse of such as add to, or take from, the words of eternal life ? Deut. iv. 2 ; xii. 32 ; Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
But we have yet to show you that the Papists ADD to Scripture. They think that the Bible alone is not enough to guide us; and they teach that traditions also exist, the authority of which is equal to that of Scripture. They affirm that Jesus and his apostles taught much by word of mouth, which, although not found in God's word, has been elsewhere preserved and handed down even to this day. Much of this they assert to be found in the writings of the early Christians, who lived in the first three centuries after the apostles, and who are called “the fathers.” Some of them wrote large books; and these are supposed to contain the will of Christ, and to be as much a rule of faith as the New Testament itself.
These tenets the Romanists sustain by a reference to John xx. 30, and xxi. 25, which passages show that there were many sayings and doings of Christ not narrated by either of the evangelists. This fact is unquestionable. And equally undoubted is it that those unrecorded words and deeds were precious gems of heavenly truth, and radiant exhibitions of unspotted holiness ; for they were the utterances of Him who spake as never man spake, and the actions of Him who lived as never man lived. But we are not left to think that the knowledge of these could be in any way necessary or essential for us. On the contrary, John asserts (xx. 31) concerning such as are recorded, that they were penned for our belief, that “ believing" we might have life.” The unwritten might have been interesting to us; but the written are expressly said to be sufficient. It is true that Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to hold the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word or by epistle, 2 Thess. ii. 15; but we must remember that at the time he wrote, it is likely his former letter to them was the only portion of the New Testament already written, except the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The other Gospels and the other Epistles were composed at a later date. To the Thessalonians, therefore, the inspired teachings of God's will had come almost entirely by word of mouth from the apostle; so that the exhortation would to them be most appropriate. But such is not our case. To us the New Testament is given as a whole ; and to imagine it incomplete is to cast a reproach on its Divine author.
Again ; as tradition is needless, so also it is unsatisfactory. The writings of the fathers contain much useful information as to practices and opinions adopted by the early church; but they contain no inspired rule as to observances or doctrines that shall be binding on the church in all ages. In much they may be right; but in just as much they may possibly be wrong. In comparing these records, we find that the Fathers sometimes contradict themselves; and often contradict each other. Who then is to decide between such conflicting evidence ? how can we repose in such uncertainties? We again appeal to the verdict of the heart. Have you learned to feel as well as to sing,
“ Holy Bible, book Divine,
Have you pored over its leaves, and prayed over them, till you have found them to be the joy and rejoicing of your heart? Then we need not ask whether you will part with your treasure, and whether you will accept instead of it the tinsel of man's inventions. We know that if you have once really tasted the water of life pure from the fountain-head of Divine revelation, none can persuade you to turn aside and seek to quaff it from the muddy and turbid stream of human tradition.
Ill. IN SPITE OF ITS PRETENSIONS, THE CHURCH
OF ROME IS A FALLIBLE CHURCH. The question has just been asked, who shall decide between the opposing testimonies of the fathers, and tell us who is right and who is wrong? The church of Rome has tried to answer the inquiry; she comes forward and tells us that to her is intrusted the power of infallibly interpreting the Bible, and unerringly declaring God's will. She pronounces it unlawful for any person to explain Holy Scripture “contrary to the sense which the church has received and still receives, which alone can determine what is the true meaning and interpretation.” She would have us believe that we can receive the written truths of the Bible, and the unwritten truths of tradition, from her alone; and that in accepting her teachings we cannot be misled.
This doctrine, which is called Infallibility, may be shown (1) to be unwarranted. Are we referred to the promise, “Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever ya loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”? Let us see to whom this grant