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Rome must be considered superstitious. The Pope's creed, before alluded to, bears on its front the mark of wickedness, and completely exonerates us from a charge of slander. “Tradition” is certainly a difficult subject : but Mr. Horne has handled it discreetly, dividing it into three branches, divine, apostolical, and ecclesiastical. To the two former, as emanating from Christ and the Spirit of God, the Romanists attach a character equal in rank with that assigned to the Gospels. They call them—“the unwritten word.” Our Church rejects this, without hesitation, as profane. Ecclesiastical traditions, though under another form, and a different value, the 34th Article of our Church admits, “ if they tend to edifying.” The Romanists think the Scriptures not sufficient to salvation : but, judged as it may be, “ tradition” is indefensible, and utterly groundless. Our Church, in her 6th Article, rightly concludes Scripture to be sufficient: we need not go to the Fathers for arguments : a nearer path will lead us to the truth.
The three Creeds, the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, contain points agreed on by both parties, all founded in Scripture authorities; and these were drawn up at different times, to guard against heresies as they arose. No doctrine of Christian faith is there omitted; nor can we suppose anything left out necessary to the instruction of the times in which they were framed. Now tradition is not wanted to elucidate or to explain either of them : Scripture sufficiently explains them. It follows, therefore, that tradition is useless, as a defence of faith : the further employment of which is, to promote holiness of life, and to excite men to their duty. Now is not Scripture sufficient for this also ? No Christian ever misunderstood the meaning, or the claims of the moral duties : and even infidels and heathens have admired their beauty : nay, Antinomians have never cavilled at, though they have rejected them. But even if they had, tradition would not have availed, for cavillers would not choose the one, whilst denying the other. These, however, are mere phantoms : all churches and all sects agree concerning the heads of moral duty ; and, thereby, prove Scripture sufficient ; for the Christian life is perfect only in accordance with the Christian law. The “ necessity of tradition" is defended from Deut. iv. 10; 1 Cor. xi. 2 ; 2 Thess. ii. 15: but these and other like passages are not for, but against papal “ tradition :" that means, “unwritten history;" but in the Scriptures, being classically employed, tradition means instruction previously given, not involving'any esoteric system of doctrine.' The Romanists would have us believe, their traditions contain the sayings alluded to in the last verse of St. John's Gospel. But they forget what is said in the same Gospel (xx. 30, 31) of the sufficiency of the present revelation.
Nor, in their reasoning, can they bring a single direct argument in defence of their “ traditions.” MILNER (I. 10.) vainly compares it to the unioritten law of our country: Bellarmine summons heathen philosophy and Druidical ignorance to establish it. But if tradition, which means instruction, be necessary to salvation, then catechising and preaching are of equal authority with the Scriptures, because the Seriptures cannot be enforced without them, nor the infidel converted. In the early ages, such instruction was doubly necessary; but it was used to elucidate, not to judge the Scriptures, and as an auxiliary to them, in a subordinate relation. Such a “tradition” would not suit the church of Rome; therefore it fabricates another; advancing as its reason, that without it Jews, heretics, and pagans, would become as wise as themselves !! This condemns Romanism at once ; for from Mark xvi. 15, 16, they can be proved " guilty of shutting the gates of eternal life against those who by their common Lord are called to enter in.” The conscientious Romanist, however, doubtless wishes "all men to be saved," whilst thus superstitiously acting contrary to his desires. Dominion over the minds of men is the great object of their church ; and the fiction of “ tradition” is its strongest defence: it is an ever-ready witness, heard, but not seen, and gifted with sibylline power and nature. Papal and Pagan Rome in this respect are the same. The Reformation, in establishing the Scriptures as the sole appeal, has won the gratitude of religion, and of all its true followers. “ The fountain of living waters” has been opened to them; the Romanist would quench his thirst, but cannot ; to him the stream is polluted : he remains as he was, in ignorance. Protestants have upbraided his church till it has somewhat relaxed : still it has interpreted the words of our Lord to serve its purpose; and thus “ tradition" continues to exercise an unlimited authority. In this respect the Unitarians and the Romanists are analogous and similar ; each party having translated the Scriptures according to their own wishes, regardless of the will of God. But the latter are not to be charged with the same awful crime as the former, though, like them, they have corrupted the faith. “Tradition" and the Church of Rome are inseparably connected. The Pope himself owes his assumed supremacy to it; “ the impossibility of salvation out of that church rests in it; the alleged rank of St. Peter, and the succession of Popes descending from him, and a hundred other fables, arise from it. Scripture, which if these things were true, ought to say as much, says nothing about them; a few ambiguous texts supply the place of testimony; and, summed up into an enforced creed, they figure away as articles of traditionary faith. On these grounds the Reformation was necessary; and if it had not taken place when it did, it must have taken place now.
There is a text in St. John (iv. 24.) which the Roman Catholics
complain, the Protestants are ever applying to them : and it would be well if they attended to its authority. But they have, as it were, materialized religion ; and in the doctrine of transubstantiation, now their chief point of faith, they have shown it. They pretend, that that doctrine is scriptural, and anathematize all who deny it. Reason and sense in such a case are heretical: “ believe, or be damned," is again the answer. Arguments have been employed to defend this doctrine; for, if disbelieved, all the fairy fabric of infallible authority is lost, and a reformation must ensue, in spite of every opposition. One day, doubtless, if there be sincerity in the believers of it, that doctrine will be no longer tolerated. It must fall, when men ask and inquire for, and search into its foundation. Then all the bombast employed in its defence will fall, and the fallacy of its unsound reasoning appear to those who now blindly acknowledge it.
The Romanists believe that our blessed Lord, when he brake the bread, and blessed the wine, actually changed them into his own material flesh and blood; and that, as he commanded the institution to be perpetual, the priests have power to do the same. We leave Mr. Horne to say what this conversion means.
Furthermore, as they have thought proper, apparently for the purpose of exalting the dignity of the priesthood, to deny the cup to the laity, in order to justify this mutilation of the sacrament, they require it to be believed that the consecrated wafer alone, without the wine, which our Lord had declared to be the new testament in his blood, contains the “body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ;" that the Lamb of God is thus offered up to his heavenly Father day by day, a bloodless sacrifice for the living and the dead, being immolated by the word of the priest, which mystically separates the body from the blood, instead of the sword; and that being laid upon the altar under the form of bread, lifted up, and carried about in processions, he is to be worshipped under that appearance, with the same profound adoration as if the heavens were opened, and we saw him standing at the right hand of God: in a word, that the eternal Son of God, who is one with the Father and the Holy Ghost in all the attributes of the Godhead, is made visible to the eyes, handled by the hands, masticated and eaten by his worshippers, under the form of bread, as often as they celebrate the eucharist according to the usage of the Church of Rome.Pp. 156–158.
The arguments employed by the Romanists to defend this monstrous absurdity, are equally absurd. Doubtless, if true, it is “ a miracle equal to the greatest and most incomprehensible wrought by God.” Still, says Bossuet, who thus has characterised it, this miracle is incomprehensible and imperceptible; so that credulity is the means by which it is effected, and the laying aside of sense and reason the duty which it requires! But to add a shadow of proof, the Romanists appeal to Moses' rod-to the wine at the marriage in Cana—to the water turned into blood in Egypt; and then, they say, to doubt transubstantiation, is to deny the omnipotence of God, and to be guilty of heresy. We doubt not, however, what Christ or God
cas do, but what THEY SAY he has done. Christ's miracles were open, palpable, evident, and designed as a testimony of his divinity and power. The quoted miracles also are of similar nature. Neither were imperceptible; if they had been, men would have doubted, and not believed. It is also alleged, that our senses may be deceived, and, therefore, that they are deceived; a curious consequence, but a useful one to the employers. But who can trust such a defence as this? if it be true, Romanism is as gross as heathenism. Added to this weak defence, is an attack on Protestants, whose differences of doctrine on the point are cited with affected triumph. But these differences are nothing to the purpose. They neither disprove the necessity of the Reformation, nor authorize Romish errors ; rather do they serve to awaken attention, and so strengthen the one, and upset the others. Whatever there may be incorrect in the opinions of the first reformers, there is no positive evil, no discredit thrown on any one. The Reformation was not a single act, but a progressive series of events, depending on the progress of light and knowledge imparted; and errors may, therefore, be expected in its earliest stages.
How the doctrine of " transubstantiation” was first established is immaterial: but it is known to have arisen in the dark period following the downfal of the Roman empire, and during the irruptions of the northern barbarians, when Scripture was little known. Suspicion of error in it did not immediately appear. Cranmer himself died for opposing it, though at first he firmly believed in it. Who, then, can charge the reformers with insincerity and want of moderation ? Luther's consubstantiation is no authority for transubstantiation. Calvin and Zuingle may differ and be ridiculed; still the doctrine of the Romanists gets no assistance. Protestants have errors; but those errors do not establish the worse errors of Popery. While Scripture is appealed to, errors gradually vanish — truth finally triumphs. Such differences may appear to sanction an invitation to return; but they do not sanction the acceptance of that invitation. As to ourselves, the Church of England doctrine on the point is too firmly established to be charged with error, or to be shaken by sarcasms. That of Rome, on the contrary, cannot be defended except by sophistry and deceit, and the employment of an awful threat of eternal damnation. If men can believe all this, and all the absurdities to which a belief in Popish infallibility gives rise, they do right to continue Romanists and Papists; if not, if they doubt this doctrine of the eucharist, then it is high time to lay aside dissimulation, and renounce the church which maintains it. No excuse can be allowed God and Mammon cannot be reconciled. He who will candidly
VOL. XI. NO. I.
then it is apists ; if not, if thes rise, they do r.
examine the case, will find, that the doctrine of the Church of Rome holdeth to “the letter, which killeth;" that of England to “the Spirit, which giveth life.” Sincere minds will easily discover to which the preference is due; without indulging in unjust suspicions, or uncharitable assertions, they must be insincere who will not confess it.
One of the great effects of a belief in tradition, is the “strong delusion" of invocation of saints. The early customs of primitive times, quoted in defence of this practice, only proves the antiquity of the corruption, and cannot justify it. Antiquity itself, as belonging to the church, dates no higher than the last age in which Christianity remained unadulterated. One of the articles of the Church of Rome is, that saints are to be invoked, and their relics worshipped. The Scriptures are the only authority on such a point; and they are so directly opposed to these doctrines, that the only refuge left is in “ tradition.” If the Church of Rome believes the Scriptures, as we suppose she does in all their doctrines, she must, then, be guilty of impiety in maintaining such superstitions as these. Heathen nations entertaining the most splendid notions of the Deity, have shown, that they worshipped him not as God; and though it might be too much to compare Papal Rome with heathenism, still her children have equally with heathens “ sought out many inventions," and among the foremost have placed the veneration of images, and the invocation of angels. We pray to God, because we believe him to be all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful, ever ready to give to those who ask aright. If, then, we pray without this belief, we act absurdly. Now they who pray to the souls of men and women, having this belief, must impute to them a portion of the glorious perfections of the Deity. No defence, on rational grounds, has ever been offered of this practice. Bossuet attempted it, but only involved himself in a labyrinth of uncertainties. Milner, attempting to illustrate, has obscured it, quoting Job and St. Paul (inaptly), and talking of a “ mediator of intercession;" a phrase utterly unintelligible to any but to a traditionloving comprehension. If other intercessors be needed, then is Christ's intercession insufficient; an awful denial of Scripture and of reason. Milner has indulged in a rhapsody about “the courtiers" of God in heaven, “the Xaveri, the Bernards, the Teresas, and the Sales's ;" but he has only shocked common sense, and put decency to the blush; neither convinced, nor converted. Such delusions arise from following tradition, and quitting Scripture, the only sure and safe record and guide. It is said, the saints are deemed mediators; but it is plain that they are considered more than mediators. They are prayed to directly, as powerful to save. Moreover, Holy Scrip