bad assailed it were silenced and ba. and well anthenticated, challenge for nished.

itself the untainted honours of genuine This public triumph was however apostolicity." rather visible than real (as we shall “ The documents bearing upon the see); and, in fact, a pure—a truly Apos- history of the remonstrant churches, tolic church, driven into inaccessible during the lapse of the middle ages-a regions, toward the close of the fourth full thousand years--have come to us in century, maintained its integrity, from too torn a condition, and are too thickly age to age, in poverty, and amid the coated, if one might so say, with ca. fierce persecutions, until at length the lumnies, to allow any very certain conbrighter light of the Lutheran reforma. clusion to be arrived at, as to the evantion having been kindled, the olhce of gelic fervour and the doctrinal purity witnessing for the truth was transferred of these communities. The extant evi. to men who were qualified to discharge dence is indeed abundantly sufficient it in a manner better adapted to the for proving that they were in the best altered condition of the European sense orthodox; and that they distinctly nations.''

recognized the great article of justiti. “ Such was the mode and temper in cation by faith. There is no room to which the Protestants of the fourth cen- doubt that the protest they made against tury were dealt with by the dominant the asceticism, superstition, and demobody, calling itself the Church. It was nolatry of the Romish and Eastern no wonder that good men should retreat churches, was animated by a just feeling before such a storm ; especially as fero- of what the Gospel is as a scheme of cious cruelties had been lately resorted mercy, diametrically opposed to every to for crushing the remonstrants. Hap- form of those illusions which lead man pily there were places of refuge; and to look, either to himself, or to beings Vigilantius, as Jerome himself informs like himself, for his salvation. us, had retired to a district where purity, " Yet there is a difference-a vast and liberty, and truth, were in some practical difference, between a clear, degree secure from the hand of intole. verbal recognition of doctrines, such as rant bigotry. But whither had this may exclude the charge of heresy, or presbyter fled? I would have bound serious error ; and that vivid conscious. the maniac,' says Jerome, 'with testi- ness of principal truths, and that commonies of Scripture; but he is gone- manding sense of their paramount im. he is off_he bas slipped us-he is portance, which, while it vitalizes the broken away! and now his voice is heard christian character, impels the ministers from between the Adriatic and the of Christ so to proclaim his Gospel as Cottian Alps!' That is to say, Vigilan- to stir the depths of the human heart, tius had retired to Piedmont, or to those and to make itself felt and seen throughsecluded valleys in which, during a long out the community where it is found. course of centuries, the Church-the We are not affirming (for the evidence Church apostolic—the Church' of the does not warrant any absolute concluApocalypse, had a place prepared of sion of this kind) that the witnessing God, that they should feed her there.' churches of the Alps and of Languedoc, Remarkable indeed must we consider were actually wanting in this vivid conthe phrase "a place prepared of God, sciousness of evangelic principles ; inwhen those Alpine ravines, with their deed some fragments of their bistory, severe climate, their difficult passes, and especially what belongs to the inistheir rugged steeps, are regarded as hav- sionary labours supported by Peter ing come from the hands of Him who, Waldo, bear this impression, and iuspire at the first, founded the hills, and estab- the belief that he, and his zealous fellow lished the mountains, and who, in this labourers, were inferior to none in scripsignal instance, as well as in others of a tural animation. Nor would it be jus. similar kind, bad long before built a tifiable to infer the contrary from the temple for his truth, inaccessible to the circumstance that their protest failed pride and cruelty of his enemies. to overthrow the papal superstition, and

The succeeding history of the did but just maintain itself from century church of the valleys—the Vallenses, to century. These faithful men did not has become familiarly known to all reli- enjoy those external means of giving gious readers; nor can it be needful breadth and solidity to their cause, of here to refer to facts with which few wbich the Lutheran reformers made so are now unacquainted. This secluded much use. They must not therefore be community, holding to a doctrine and judged of by the event, or the final issue worship substantially pure, and differing of the testiinony they maintained. little from the principles and forms of “It were calumnious, or at least un. the Reformation, may, on a firm basis warrantable, to affirm that Wickliffe, of historical evidence, various in kind, or that the admirable martyrs, Huss, and Jerome of Prague, were not evan- manism, than they yield support to gelic in doctrine: they were so; and what the modern reformed churches they asserted the truth, as well as hold to be true. denounced the various errors of the Errors, no doubt, may be gleaned Romish superstitioni Nevertheless, from Luther's writings; but Truth is when we come to listen to Luther, and the presiding influence there, and error to bis associates, it is not to be denied, is the accident. In the writings of that, what Wickliffe had calmly and Luther there is conspicuously one ten. scholastically declared, the German, the dency; in the writings of the best of Swiss, and the English Reformers The Fathers there are several tenden. powerfully felt to be true, and spoke cies; nor does the reader ever well of with a moving energy and unction, know whither he is going, or on what and placed it, where it should always be shoal he shall at last be stranded: found, in the very front of their mes. there is a want of determining force; sage to mankind. There is, on this there is a want of fulcrum : there is ground, a difference which obtrudes the want of a sovereign principle. itself upon notice, and wbich, wben The Lutheran Reformation, with understood, explains the very different its wondrous changes, was not Luther's issues of the two protests. Wickliffe reformation ; it was not the impatience denounced error, and in doing so ar- of the human mind to rid itself of an proximated to truth: Luther denounced intolerable thraldom; it was not the the errors which, from time to time, he machination of princes and nobles to found to be irreconcileable with the snatch for themselves the goods of the truth he had long before discovered. church ;-it was not a natural product Wickliffe's testimony was a shaking of of the revival of learning; it was not the papacy: Luther's, an establishment the work of the press:it was the of the Gospel. At the approach of proclamation anew, of Heaven's own Wickliffe the minions of Rome trem- Truth, breaking the slumbers of conbled, as if a strong man armed bad burst science, re-animating palsied hope in into their house at night. When the human soul, and setting forth the Luther spoke, they slunk into corners, Son of God, crucified, yet risen for our as do creatures of darkness at the justification ;-the Lamb of God, and breaking of the day.

He alone, our propitiation : Christ, and “ Whether or not this great charac- He alone, our Intercessor with the teristic of the Lutheran Reformation Father; Cbrist, and He alone, the Shepmay always stand forth, duly promi. berd and Bishop of souls; the King; the nent, in the memoirs of Luther's life, Judge; the Head of the Church.' as compiled by different authors, it

These animated passages are presents itself on every page of his own writings; especially those of them to

well calculated to teach us both which he himself was accustomed to to understand and to value the attach the greatest importance, and to true character of the Reforma. which he was used to appeal as containing the exposition of his principles.

tion; but the question arises, How unlike to these vigorous compo

What have been its practical sitions are the ambiguous expository consequences?" We cannot reply works of the early divines —the Fathers! to this interrogation without disapEven if the same ultimate elements of

It is too

pointment and shame. Christian truth may be gleaned from these, as from those ; in how differ

large a subject to enter upon at ent an order are they put forward ! present; but we will quote some Throughout the patristic theology, the remarks upon it from Mr. Taylor, first things are left in the rear, and the

the which will suggest monitory and last things are thrust forward. Nothing, although it may be powerful in itselt; afflicting matter for reflection. is so advanced as powerfully to touch " But our subject has a yet more de. the human heart; for it is sheathed, it finite aspect, towards which we turn for is shaded, it is removed from our reach ; a moment. What then, at this time, we do but bebold it afar off. And so are the polemic consequences of the Reit is that, while the admirers of the formation; or what, after the lapse of Fathers find it easy to cull many single three centuries, is now the relative posipassages, in which right things are well tion of Protestantism and Romanism, said, they are unable to name any one of considered as the two systems of relithem, not even Augustine, and him they gious belief, which divide the professedly are reluctant to name, whose works, as Christian world? Luther and his asso. a whole, have an evangelic cbaracter, ciates unquestionably believed that the or which do not, as a whole, give more wound they had given to the Papacy was countenance to the delusions of Ro- mortal :- As when a man nearly divides a snake, which he finds on his path, with please, any modern work, fairly proa spade; he looks at the quivering crea- pounding the Protestant argument, and ture refusing to die, and coolly says- do his best to frame a reply to it--a re"let it alone, it will have done writhing ply, clear, conclusive, free from evasions ; at sunset :”so the Reformers thought that and such as that a well disciplined mind, a few struggles would be all the world exempt from every bias, might assent to should see of the mighty tyranny they it as logically valid. Nothing of the had smitten! It was not so.

sort could be done, nothing at all ap“Not only has the Papacy survived, and proaching to it has in any instance been not only has a superstition so congenial effected by the ablest apologists of Ro. with the human mind perpetuated itselfmanism. Protestantism, indeed, has been in countries where it has not been ex- severely vituperated: Fathers and coun. posed to the ordeal of open inquiry ; but cils have been cited with effect: fine dogmatic Romanism, embracing the doc. theories have been ingeniously advanced: trinal, liturgical, and hierarchical system specious evasions have been made good which was defined by the Council of use of: many single facts have been so Trent, holds its place firmly on contro. perversely stated as to perplex antago. versial ground, in this free country, and nists ; but after all the copious histoin other countries where it stands unsus- rical evidence, bearing with destructive tained by the secular arm. Let us dis- force against the pretensions of the tinctly state, and consider the fact, that, Church of Rome, has never been re. indefensible as we may consider Triden- butted. Nevertheless Romanism surtine Romanism to be (and it is indefen- vives on the field of free argumentation ! sible) nevertheless it does assert and And thus, it may be said, do many maintain itself, with some success, as op- other often refuted absurdities survive, for posed to our Protestantism, by mere ar. there is nothing so absurd as not to find gument, on the arena of public discus. whimsical adherents, and dogged apolo. sion ; and that, by means which must gists: this is true ; but the fact does not be called legitimate, it supports itself, fully meet the case ; for in those inand makes converts; and this not merely stances to which such an explanation is among the ignorant, but among the well- really applicable, although the parties instructed. And yet what can be more maintaining their ground, resolutely persimple or conclusive than is the histo- sist in their error, there is a withdraw. rical exception against the several arti- ment from loud and open controversy : cles of the Romanist creed and worship, - the firing ceases and the desperate as innovations, the origin of which may garrison, reduced to the chewing of their be pointed to? In this sense it is as shoes and harness, employ all their reeasy to refute Popery as it is to prove maining strength in the effort to starve that the Romans conquered the Britons, out in gallant style. This cannot be and the Normans the Saxons ; and if, in said of the Romanists of the present reply to such a refutation, the preter. time ; for, at this very moment a can. natural theory of Romanism be advanced, nonade is running along the lines of the which assumes a continuous legislative “ Church,” bespeaking a force on the power to reside in the church, and in field. virtue of which she may, from age to age, May it not then be more than surnot merely interpret Scripture, but add mised, nay, might it not certainly be thereto, or take away; then again the concluded that, where an argument, his. historical proof, touching the Church torically and logically bad, still keeps its of Rome, is complete, shewing first, and position, there must be something that by the testimony of his adherents, so ex- has been misunderstood, or left indeter. treme a profligacy and ferocity to have minate on the side of its assailants ? ordinarily belonged to the Papal court That this is the fact, in this case, we do and hierachy, as utterly to exclude the not hesitate to affirm, and are prepared belief of a divine presence, favour, and to maintain that Romanism should be superintendance, connected with persons let alone, until Protestants have better and with bodies of men thus flagrantly ascertained the premises of their own wicked and cruel. And secondly the argument. We go on dealing heavy historical proof of palpable contrarieties blows upon Popery; but every stroke and variations in doctrine and practice, seems to send ourselves back, as far as is such as can never be made to consist it drives in the enemy; as if we were with the theory of a divinely sustained floating on the bosom of a faithless bog. infallibility. Let any one, dismissing “ Although there be still some obscu. from his mind all preference of the one rity, there is really no mystery attachside or the other, and thinking of the ing to the present unprosperous condition controversy as if it had long since gone of the Protestant argument. We assail to its place among things obsolete ; let Romanism and the Papacy, but we leave him take up Jewell's Apology, or if he unexamined, or we even accredit the ancient apostacy of which Romanism sixteenth century boldly said it; and was but the child, and is but a particular yet, even while saying it, they, with an type.

amiable infirmity of purpose, and a half * If indeed, in calling ourselves Pro. voluntary hallucination, were fain to save testants, we mean nothing more than to the corrupted christianity of the fourth resist the usurpations of the Bishop of century. Nay, those very divines who Rome, and to claim the eucharistic cup had done so much to pervert the doctrine for the laity, and to remonstrate against and practice of the church, were always, the sale of pardons in the open market, and many of them with unquestionable and to denounce the mercenary practices sincerity, saying the very same thing — that have been founded on the doctrine Holy Scripture is our rule — we acof purgatory, and to repress the super. knowledge no other ultimate authority; stition of the vulgar, in the adoration of we make our final appeal to prophets the saints and their images; and to as- and apostles, and to none else.' This sert the abstract lawfulness of matrimony fact, too little known, or, if known, too to the clergy ;-if this be the compass little regarded, ought to be clearly stated, and measure of our Protestantism, then if it were only in justice to the men let us be sure that we can do nothing whom otherwise we are compelled to better than place ourselves under the condemn. The modern papistical docgentle and learned guidance of those trine of the joint authority of tradition Protestant divines — the Oxford Tract and the Church, with the Scriptures, and writers, who are disclaiming the Luthe. which is now so industriously proparan and English Reformation, and are gated within the precincts of the Proteslabouring to bring into its place the tant church, was unknown to, or but doctrine and practice of the times of obscurely advanced by, the divines of Gregory the Great.

the first five centuries. “These divines will refute Romanism “ A professed (a sincerely professed) for us neatly, and will then give us, in its regard to the sole authority of the Holy place, a scheme of doctrine and worship Scripture, will not put us in a position not a whit less superstitious, nor at all for contending with Romanism, so long more compatible with the great princi- as we cling to an indistinct opinion conples of the Gospel ;

;-a scheme not less cerning that debased Christianity of the despotic, not less frivolous, not less ser. third, fourth, and fifth centuries, whence vile; in a word, a system in the room of Romanism directly sprang ;—nor so long which all reasonable men, after a little as we adhere to an ecclesiastical theory trial of it, would gladly accept the more which, if we consistently follow it, must, consistent and the better ordered doc- lead us back to Rome. With many, no trine and discipline of the Tridentine doubt, what chiefly obstructs their comFathers ;— Tridentine Romanism — the ing to a sound conviction concerning logical and practical form of the crude, ante-papistical Christianity, is a cheirregularly compacted superstition to- rished reverence for certain great names ward which all the pantheism and all -the illustrious divines of the period we the polytheism of the ancient world had refer to. But this reverence would not run, as into a general receptacle. be substantially impaired by our enter

But it is presumed that our Protes- taining a more just notion of the theolotantism means much more than the step- gical and ecclesiastical system of that ping back a few hundred years from period. Does it cost us any consistency, logical errors to illogical ; from despot. as Protestants, to hold in reverence those ism to anarchy; from terrors to laxities ; great and good men who adorned the from craft to folly ; from politic hy- Gallican church in the seventeenth pocrisy to insane delusion; and from a century ? Surely not. Why then cold to a sincere fanaticism.

may we not leave Athanasius, Basil, “ What we mean by Protestantism Chrysostom, Augustine, as well as Cy. can be nothing less than a renouncing prian and Dionysius, on their pedestals the religion of man's contrivance, and a of honour, while we denounce the church returning to the religion which God has system of their times as an apostacy? revealed; and to effect this return, we “ Not only will not Protestantism must recede, not toward the sixth cen- overthrow Romanism, on the field of tury, not toward the fifth, nor toward argument, but it will not even retain its the fourth, nor the third, nor the second : own ground, so long as it continues to not to times of Polycarp, or Ignatius : rest one foot upon Holy Scripture, and not even to the age of the apostle John : the other upon the christianity of the but we must go where alone revealed Nicene age. Nay, as thus maintained, religion is to be found — namely, in it is now visibly receding from the ad. God's Book.

vanced position taken by the Reformers. * All this indeed has been said hun. Unless an early and a decisive revulsion dreds of times. The reformers of the takes place, the Reformation will be first

compromised, then abandoned, and then from the Reformation, or traitorously condemned; and our sons will think disowning the men who effected it, we themselves going to the utmost extent of shall find ourselves qualified to take up candour, when they allow Luther, Cran- their work, and to complete it in the mer, Jewell, to have been honest indis. same spirit, and with a happier suc. creet men, whose intemperate zeal and

cess.” schismatic conduct may perhaps find a palliation in the accidental abuses that

We must however repeat our had attached to the Church,' during reservation respecting the extent the middle ages!

of charges against the ante-Nicene “ But then our safeguard against so church; because, though we admit terrible a catastrophe is not to be found in a blind and desperate determination

much that was wrong therein, yet to sever ourselves altogether from anti

it is not clear to us that Mr. Tay. quity, and from all knowledge of it. lor does not intend to include The very constitution of the canon of

some things which we could not Scripture forbids our taking any such reckless course.

allow to be inserted. There is, Catholic feeling forbids that it should be attempted, inasmuch as

both in this essay, and in his many of the most deluded adherents of “ Primitive Christianity," an iman apostate church have yet been Chris- plication of more than he ex

and ought to be accounted our brethren, and in comparing whom with

presses; a frequent intimation ourselves, as to personal merits or piety, that the Reformation requires to it may be very doubtful on which side be completed. We wish he would the beam would turn. To cut ourselves speak out clearly. Does he mean off from Christian antiquity, and to that the Church of England, thrust our heads in between the leaves of our Bibles, as if to see nothing else, though not Popish, is Nicene, and would be unphilosophical, uncharitable, therefore must be purified ? He illogical, and in relation to Romanism, gives hints which we cannot reit would be a fatal argumentative fault.

“We must not be ignorant of Chris. ply to. If he would state what tian antiquity, but should learn rather to

he means, we should know how think rightly concerning it; and when to answer him. we have done so, instead of receding

tian men,

VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS. A Bill is passing through parliament cuments, and still more forms of prayer without opposition, and with general and thanksgiving to God, should be public approval, appointing Prince Al- drawn up, so as to express only what is bert Regent, in case of the demise of clear and incontrovertible; in which the Queen, leaving issue under eighteen view we intimated that we thought the years of age, the period of regal word “ traitorous" premature; and a majority

jury has now decided that it was not

applicable, at least in its full and usual In our last Number we postponed sense. May the royal life, thus provi. remarking upon the attempt of Oxford dentially spared, be devoted to the glory to assassinate the Queen, till after his of Him whose gracious providence trial; and the jury having decided that warded off the meditated assassination. he is insane, it were now futile to com- It was painful to loyal and Christian ment on his actions. The jury doubted hearts to learn that before her Majesty whether the pistols were loaded with appeared in the house of God, to return bullets; but however this might be, thanks, together with her loving subthere could be no doubt of his intention; jects, for her deliverance, she had paid so that the congratulations to the her accustomed visit to that direful Queen, and the thanksgiving to God, scene of evil, the opera-house. Alas, were not the less appropriate; nor would bow much prayer and sympathy do the horror of the murder, or the possi- those need who are placed in the very ble calamities to the nation, have been gulf-stream of worldly vauities, which diminished, because the perpetrator the Christian, of whatever rank, prowas a madman. At the same time we mises and vows to renounce. repeat our remark of last month, as to the guardedness with which public do- We deeply lament, though we anti

« VorigeDoorgaan »