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INTERCESSION OF CHRIST.
MR. EDITOR,—Some time ago, when meditating on the doctrine of the intercession and sacrifice of Christ, and on objections I had heard made against them, I put down the following observations, and send them to you for insertion in your Christian Remembrancer, if you think it possible they may be useful to any of your readers.
I am, Sir, your obedient Servant, U. Y.
It has often been objected against the doctrine of salvation, through the intercession of Christ, why might not God forgive without it, if the offence were proper to be forgiven ? Such, however, has been the conduct of God on other occasions. In Numbers xvi. 20-27, we find the Lord bidding Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation that he might destroy the congregation in a moment; but, úpon the intercession of Moses and Aaron, the Lord desired Moses to tell the congregation to separate themselves from Dathan, Korah, and Abiram, so that these offenders only, and those belonging to them, were destroyed. Again, ver. 41 to the end, on the congregation murmuring against Moses and Aaron, as the murderers of Korah and his company, the Lord again commanded Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation that he might consume them in a moment; but, upon the intercession of Moses and Aaron, the plague, which had begun among the people, was stayed. Again, in Gen. xviii. 23 to the end, we find Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord yielding to his intercession. Gen. xix. 20, 21, may be considered also another instance of God's decree being altered at the intercession of another. In Gen. xx. 7, we find God speaking thus to Abimelech in a dream: “Now therefore restore the man his wife ; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live." Here, Abraham is made an intercessor by God's appointment. And in the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, we find Pharaoh begging Moses to entreat the Lord for him, to remove the plagues he and his people suffered; and that Moses accordingly intreated the Lord, and that the Lord did according to the word of Moses. In the Book of Job, xlii. 7-9, we read as follows:-“ And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends : for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, went, and did according as the Lord commanded them; the Lord also accepted Job.” Here the Lord appoints Job to intercede for Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar ; and on his prayer for them they are forgiven. In 1 John v. 16, we read, “ If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death, I do not say that he shall pray for it." Here pardon is represented as being procured through the intercession of a brother Christian.
The doctrine of the intercession of Christ is then not singular ; it is like to other instances of God's dealings with man. God has oftentimes pardoned people at the intercession of others ; nay, appointed persons to intercede for that end. The doctrine is also congenial to our own sentiments. Mankind frequently act on the same principle. Kings, and those in authority, frequently extend mercy on the application and intercession of others, when they would not think it right to grant it on the application of the offender himself. In private life we do the same; we suffer our friends and families to intercede for servants, and children, and dependants, and think it right to make the offenders sensible, that it is on the intercession of others their misconduct is overlooked. In the case of children, we often wish for some one to intercede, thinking it not right otherwise to overlook particular faults; and sometimes even ask others to intercede for them.
There seems therefore nothing, in the doctrine of the intercession of Christ prevailing on behalf of sinners, which should be considered strange, or be reasonably thought objectionable. It is agreeable with other recorded instances of God's conduct towards his creatures ; it is consonant with our approved conduct towards our fellow-beings. If we consider it right amongst ourselves to yield to the intercession of others, how can we in reason think it objectionable in respect of God? We pray and intercede with God for our children and others-mankind have ever done so : why object to the prevalence of the intercession of the Son of God ? If we believe in God, we must believe him wise : if we believe the Old Testament to be his word, and a true statement of his dealings with his people, then must we believe his dealings with his people, which have been above quoted and referred to in the Old Testament, to be wise ; and consequently, we should acquiesce in the wisdom of the doctrine of intercession.
To the observation, that the doctrine of the intercession of Christ is consonant to our own approved conduct towards our fellow-creatures, I have heard it objected, that we are not to judge of God's dealings by our own ;-that we are not to suppose God can be moved by motives like to those of poor frail man. They, however, who thus object to any justification of the ways of God by reference to the conduct of man, as not supposing God to act like his frail creatures, are generally persons, who, frail and poor as they may choose to confess themselves, yet think they are strong enough to work out their own salvation without God's help, and wise enough to judge his proceedings; who, though thus seeming to acknowledge that God's ways are not to be judged by our ways, yet object to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, on account of their containing relations of God's dealings, which they judge unworthy God, because they are different from what they conceive they should think right to do. This is very inconsistent. Man's incapacity of judging of God's dealings is considered an answer to any justification of God's ways; and yet the incapacity of man to judge God's ways is considered no answer to objections against God's proceedings. God frequently in the Scriptures appeals to the judgment of them in justification of his ways. “ Come,” says the Lord in one place, “ let us reason together.” In another, he appeals to his people to say, “ whether his ways are not equal :" in another to say, “what more could be done for his vineyard that he had not done.” It appears, therefore, to me very allowable, in justifying the ways of God, or reconciling them to man, to refer to what in similar cases is approved in man towards his fellowman. And at all events, what man thinks right in respect to his own conduct, as a parent or governor, he cannot with reason, as it seems to me, object to, as otherwise than right in reference to God, as the parent and governor of the world. It does not therefore hold that man may reasonably object to God's proceedings, because not consonant with his own, and this for two reasons,-that the motives and reasons of God's proceedings are not fully or at all made known to him ; or supposing them to be revealed, that it is arrogant in the extreme for the creature to set up his wisdom and judgment against the wisdom and judgment of God.
ADVICE TO POPE JULIUS III. Remarks on “ Concilium quorundam Episcoporum Bononiæ congre
gatorum, quod, de ratione stabiliendæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ, Julio III. Pont. Max. datum est. Ex Bibliothecâ W. CRASHAVII, in Theol. Baccal. et verbi div. ap. Temp. London: Bædio.
PERSECUTION failed in the effect anticipated by those who employed it, as the means of sustaining the dignity of the intolerant Church of Rome. Pope Julius III., aware of this, and not knowing by what means, on the one hand, to oppose the Reformation, and, on the other, to strengthen Popery, consulted, in the year 1553, for the purpose of discovering how he might firmly secure the possession of the triple crown, three bishops, who were assembled at Bologna, and who, unanimously, returned an answer, some portions of which it is our intention, in the present paper, to present to our readers. Arrived as we are, at a period in history, when the hands of Protestants require more than ever to be 'strengthened, and when Popery should be represented in its native form and colours, we regret that our limits will not permit the entire production of the most extraordinary publication which perhaps the collected annals of church history can supply. We feel assured, however, that the passages which we shall quote from “The Advice of the Bishops at Bologna to Pope Julius,” will no less edify, than interest, such of our readers as have never heard of it. The work which contains the “ Concilium" entire, is thus titled, “ Appendix ad fasciculum rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum, ab Orthevino Gratio editum Coloniæ, A. D. 1535. Sive tomus secundus scriptorum veterum (quorum pars magna nunc primum e MSS. codicibus in lucem prodit) qui Ecclesiæ Rom. errores et abusus detegunt et damnant, necessitatemque reformationis urgent. Operâ et studio Edwardi Brown. Londini, impensis Richardi Chiswell. 1690," The copy whence our extracts are taken, is not likely to be an interpolated one, as it belongs to the Bibliothèque du Roi, at Paris, (B. 1038, vol. ii. pp. 641-650.) They might be taken, indeed, for a cutting and ironical allegory; but the authority for their authenticity is undoubted. The « Concilium" is preceded, in Brown's book, by a preface, in which it is stated that “ Vergerio," (at first a bishop and nuncio of the Pope in Germany, and who, at the moment of being made cardinal, was accused of a leaning towards the opinions of the Reformation, which, in fact, he openly embraced a little while after,) “having found this document in the secret archives of the Pope, communicated it at first to his friends, and afterwards published it in his works.” It is also to be met with in the “Memorabilia Joh. Wolfii, &c." vol. ii. p. 549, where it slightly varies from the copy in the work of Brown. M. Barbier, also, the distinguished author of the “ Dictionnaire des Pseudonymes," has given his opinion of the genuineness of the “ Concilium,” in the following note, in reply to some queries on the subject :
“MONSIEUR, — Le Consilium quorundam Episcoporum, etc., me paraît une pièce bien authentique, puisque Brown déclare l'avoir trouvé non-seulement dans les cuvres de Vergerio, mais encore dans les Lectiones Memorabiles, en 2 vol. in fol. par Wolphius. Je ne connais rien contre cette pièce.
« J'ai l'honneur, etc. “ Paris, 22, Février, 1824.”
BARBIER." The learned Lorente has reprinted the “ Concilium” also, in his work, entitled, “Monuinens Historiques concernant les deux Pragmatiques Sanctions." There can, therefore, be no just grounds for doubting the character of this precious article. After having explained to the Pope the necessity of considering, on account of the claims of the Romish Church, as confidential what they were about to state, the three Bishops proceed to describe the Lutherans, by whom, as was common in the early days of the Reformation, the whole body of Protestants are represented."
It is perfectly true, that the Lutherans admit and acknowledge all the articles of the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Creed of St. Athanasius; for there is no use in denying (especially between ourselves,) what we all know to be true. These same Lutherans will not admit any other doctrine than that which was taught by the Prophets, by Christ, and the Apostles, and they wish us to confine ourselves to the very restricted number (paucissimis illis) of truths and customs, which were received from the time of the Apostles, or immediately after them; that we should follow the footsteps of the ancient churches; and that we should reject all the traditions which we cannot show more clearly than daylight, to have been given and taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Apostles themselves. Such are the errors professed by our adversaries. As to ourselves, on the contrary, conforming ourselves to the opinion of your Holiness, we wish that they should believe, and that they should regard as necessary to salvation, all the doctrines, all the traditions, constitutions, rules, and ceremonies, which have successively, up to this day, been introduced into our churches, whether by the fathers, or by councils, or even by individuals animated by a holy zeal. P. 645.
They next make a profession of the faith, which they add to the traditions, and proceed thus :
vol. XII, No. v.
And since we are not able to give any certain proof of it, (for, between ourselves, we have no difficulty in avowing, that we cannot prove that which we believe and teach respecting traditions, and that we have, in this respect, only conjectures,) we, notwithstanding, acknowledge its truth, because the Romish Church teaches it also.-P. 645.
The reason which they give for vigorously opposing the progress of the Reformation is ingenuous enough.
The concern is not then about indifferent things, but about the prosperity and conservation even of your See, and of the preservation of us all who are its members and creatures; for, from the time of the Apostles, (we ought to avow it here without disguise, but it must be between ourselves, and even some years after the Apostles, there was question neither concerning Pope nor Cardinal ; it is certain that the immense revenues appropriated to the bishops and priests did not exist; churches were not built at so great cost; there were neither monasteries, nór priories, nor abbeys; much less did they admit our doctrines, our laws, or our present customs; and, indeed, they did not know of the great dominion which we now-a-days exercise over the people; moreover, the ministers of all churches, not excepting the Romish Church, submitted themselves with the fullest accord to kings, princes, and magistrates. Your Holiness may imagine what we should become, if, by an unhappy destiny, we should be replunged into the original state of poverty, of humiliation, and of slavery, and obliged to obey an authority foreign to that of the Church. It concerns us, therefore, as we said before, as a thing of the heaviest importance.-P. 645.
The origin of the power of the Romish Church is thus described :We see, in intimately examining this question, that the Church has not acquired the glory, the authority, and the power which it now possesses, but when it had at its head bishops full of address and sagacity, who, on all occasions, pressed the Cæsars to use their authority and their power in conferring on the See of Rome the primacy and the sovereign power over other churches. It appears that Boniface III., amongst others, obtained this privilege from the Emperor Phocis. Besides, we see that the church has, from day to day, gained an increase, from the epoch when cardinals began to be created, the number of bishops to be augmented, and our numerous, and excellent orders of monks and nuns were instituted.
There is no doubt, that these popes, cardinals, bishops, monks, and nuns, by their shrewdness, by their additions to the ancient precepts, by their usages and their ceremonies, made the Church to deviate from that primitive doctrine which it held in its poverty and its humility, and gained to itself, by such means, the credit and authority which it enjoys. We must then, to maintain it in this state, employ the same means which have served to attain it; that is to say, we must use much slyness and sagacity, and must augment the number of cardinals, bishops, monks, and nuns.-P. 645.
It is thus, then, in the opinion of three Bishops, sufficiently distinguished to be consulted on an especial occasion by the Pope, that the errors and abuses which have separated us from the Church of Rome, are not to be dated from the Apostolic times ! But we must proceed. The following morceau proves that nothing is changed in Spain, and that it is not incredulity, but faith, which is dreaded by the Romish Church.
Spain venerates, more than any other country, the person of your Holiness, your laws, and institutions; she is unchangeable (nihil innovat, nihil mutat) by time and circumstances. On this side, therefore, there is nothing to fear; for there are but few Spaniards who have not the Lutheran doctrines in horror; and if there are infidels amongst them, they deny the advent of the Messiah,