treme iniquity considered resistance as a matter of right*: and we might go back, stepping on such stones, through the whole period between the Reformation and the time of Justinian, or even Constantine, till we emerged into the free air of the primitive church, and its exclusive acknowledgment of a Head unseen.

Since, then, each of these considerations, concerning the previous state of the church alike leads to the same conclusion, that Luther and his associates had no sufficient ground of secession or dissent, it is natural to expect that an examination of their conduct should prove that neither did they resort to such measures : and surely such an expectation is abundantly fulfilled. All are aware, that the first assault made by Luther on the Papal system was directed against the Papal spiritual supremacy; and throughout his life, whatever may have been the truth for which he was contending, he seems to have regarded this as his great adversary. He was perhaps the first writer who made familiar use of the term Papist in the controversy; and to this he was led by seeing where the life of the system lay, and because the very thought of waging war with Catholic Christianity was utterly a stranger to his mind. He began then by attacking indulgences, the grand exercise of Papal supremacy in spirituals : which in a bull Leo himself asserted, whatever may have lately been said of their meaning, to be an exercise of the Papal power to deliver from all punishments due to sin and transgression of every kind +. About two years after we find Luther engaged in the celebrated disputation at Leipsic: and here the subject on which he chose to contend with Eckius was the authority and supremacy of the Roman pontiff, which he absolutely rejected; while Eckius and Carolstadt disputed on the freedom of the will : thus opening on both sides the great batteries of doctrinal and ecclesiastical warfare.

Now, with these dispositions towards the See of Rome, what was Luther's feeling in regard to the Catholic Church? This was very unequivocally expressed. He regarded his authority to act as a public instructor as derived from her ordination, and often comforted himself with the thought that he possessed it : and when he publicly, and in presence of multitudes, committed to the fames the book in which the Pope threatened him with excom, munication unless he should recant, and also the canons and decretals on which the Papal supremacy was established, he still not only regarded himself as a member of the Catholic church, but expressed his willingness to submit to her decision,

Gerson, Circa materiam excommunicationum et irregularitatum Resolutio ; which is mentioned as an example, not of opposition to Papacy, but of the limited view entertained of it even by avowed adherents.

+ See also the Form of Absolution, in Seckendorf's Comment. lib. i. p. 14.

when it should be expressed by a general council. It is well known that the Council of Trent was in a great measure forced on by the evident justice of the demand of the Protestants to be tried by a council of the whole church, to which they still considered themselves as belonging. Sixteen years after Luther's rejection of Papal authority they declared their willingness to leave the matter to the decision of a council rightly constituted; pot objecting even to the Pope and his immediate dependents being admitted, provided the whole disposal of affairs were not left in their bands. And their objection to the council of Trent was by no means because it was a general council, but because it was not a general council, nor a properly constituted national council, but a vile packed jury, composed of those most interested in the perpetuation of the evils: before whom they were called to appear as malefactors, with the mockery of promising such a safe conduct as it was in the power of the council to grant-having the burning of John Huss as a comment on the expression. In declining the authority of such a council they were approved by the kings of Scotland and of France, neither of them Protestants, and by many others beside their own party. Up to this period, then, the true representatives of the catholic doctrine contended for it within the catholic church; and from within that church were they opposed. Whence, then, came a Papal church, and the embodying of the Papal apostasy? It was drawn out of the prior chaos, in which hot and cold, light and darkness, had been so commingled ; and the power that gave it shape and consistence was the Reformation. Papists speak of the Protestant church as deriving its being from Luther: it is their own church that derives its being from Luther and his compeers. The catholic church was, from Peter and John to Luther and Melancthon, a continuous but gradually troubled and polluted stream ; the Reformation was a precipitation of the gathered mud. The original stream flowed on, new-named The Protestant Church: the sediment, now for the first time a distinct individual object, was the Romish Apostasy. For when the Confession of Augsburg had spoken out the truth ; when the Council of Trent had anathematized the truth and decreed the falsehood * ; when the Saxon Confession again owned the truth and came under the general excommunication of the Tridentine prelates ; then were the two opposing attractive forces constituted, each of which drew towards itself, from the mass of Christendom, whatsoever was congenial. Round these as opposing centres, revolve the two systems of Protestantism, the representative of ancient European Christianity, and Popery, the new world created out of its dross and the purgation of its corruption,

* The Diet of Augsburg sat and received the Confession in 1530 : the Saxon Confession was drawn up in 1551 : the Council of Trent sat from 1545 to 1563.

VOL. 11.-NO, I.

[ocr errors]

grown to an intolerable height, and then cast off. To the Reformation, Popery owes not only her standards, but her learning, and the orders which have most entirely bound themselves, and most effectually contributed to her support. Her standards before, were the Scriptures and the primitive councils; since the Reformation they are the decrees of the Council of Trent: for whatever they said there of the Scriptures, and the Fathers, and of tradition, it is plain, that, if several speakers are regarded as of equal authority, he who speaks last, by his explanation of what has been said before, determines into what scale the former judgments are to be thrown. To the Reformation the Papal church owes her learning. The catholic church had theology before, but it was by no means Papal ; on the whole, indeed, the very reverse.

There was literature in Europe before, but, as we have formerly shewn, the general literature was antipapal; contemptuous towards the clergy, and bitterly indignant against papal and clerical usurpation. The Reformation called forth a far higher order of polemical divines than the immediate antagonists of the first Reformers. Eckius, and Herborn, and Latomus, were poor precursors of Baronius and Bellarmine, and their coadjutors and successors; the first advocates of what the Roman Catholics now call their religion. The Reformation, or the state of public mind which ripened into Reformation, occasioned the establishment of those multitudes of orders of regular clerks; whose very institution, being a professed revival of the ancient discipline, was a tacit acknowledgment of the corruption of the ancient orders of clergy: and, besides the countless inferior swarms, the Jesuits, though instituted by a fanatic without any reference to the Reformation, were cherished and aggrandized by the protection of the Roman See, as a fit counter-agent to the innovators; and without Jesuistry, the Pope were not half a Pope.

This, then, is the general idea of Reformation, and such was the great work usually distinguished by that name. tholic church, a body incorporated by the acknowledgment of one Lord and one faith, receives, in seasons of her temporal prosperity, multitudes whose communion with her is merely external: discipline relaxes: errors abound, and are promulgated almost without check: evil practices are established, without better authority indeed than the voice of the powerful and the acquiescence of the majority, but that is found sufficient to establish them. How shall this be corrected? What shall binder these briers from choking all the growth of the good seed? Is it necessary that any distinct provision should be made for such a case ; any right of dissent or secession added to the form of Christian duties and privileges ? It is quite unnecessary. The very idea of the church is itself a sufficient provision for her own purgation. The Word is in her; that word which, in every

The ca

age accomplishing that to which it was sent, finds affinity in the good and honest hearts; and thus constitutes the true, the invisible, church in unbroken succession. These hold forth the truth in word and deed. They are what the whole body profess to be. They oppose not the common profession ; they aet upon it. Thus there ever must be in the church two contending principles at work : and when the mutual resistance is at its height; when the spirit of antichristianism is mature enough for its bad baptism, for a distinct name and profession, and solemn vow of resistance to the Lord and to his truth ; she renounces him, by casting out his people and their name as evil. This result must follow, if corruption be in strength, even without any formal protestation on the part of the faithful: they need wage no war, but such as light wages with darkness,-a war implied in its essential being, and continued by its continuing to be. Thus was the Jewish church reformed, and the Christian brought forth ; thus was the Protestant church brought forth of the catholic European : and by such steady adherence to the truth which the church professes, the principle of Reformation shall always be within her, ready to manifest itself when forced into action by the excess of the principle of corruption.

(To be continued.)



EAGLETON ON THE COVENANT OF WORKS. Thoughts on the Covenant of Works, &c. By John Eagleton.The change which was introduced by the Reformation in the style of theological composition, is the most remarkable in the history of literature. The differences which are found between the writings of the earlier historians and those of modern times, are not greater than occur between two contemporaries. Herodotus is not more essentially distinguished in style from the venerable Bede, than he is from Thucydides; and Livy is as elegant, and (since the learned labours of Niebhur, we may add) as inaccurate in many details, as Hume. In epic poetry even, the great superiority of Homer over Virgil, Ariosto, Tasso, and Milton, is in degree rather than in kind. The tragedies of Euripides, Otway, and Corneille, vary

from each other not more than each respectively from Sophocles, Congreve, and Racine ; and while the genius of comedy renders its more delicate characteristics dependent upon the follies of the day, due allowance being made for these circumstances, the humour of Aristophanes and Terence

will be found revived in Foote, Moliere, and Sheridan. Shakspeare indeed stands unique, in being able to depict two such opposites as Lady Macbeth and Falstaff.

We shall in vain, however, look for any modern divinity which resembles in the remotest degree the writings of the Fathers. They entered largely into whatever portion of truth, or of the Sacred Volume, their minds found most congenial, and ranged freely in the length and breadth of the holy pasture. In proportion as the blackness of the dark ages increased, the Tertullians and Bernards and Augustines were replaced by the Scotists and other quibblers in scholastic divinity; who seized upon the logic of Aristotle, not for the purpose of explaining truth more clearly, but in order to bewilder the vulgar in the mazes of metaphysical disputation. Perhaps there was no way of cutting up by the roots the system of the schoolmen, in which the defenders of the Popish abominations had entrenched themselves, but by introducing a more exact and precise method of handling divinity. Be the cause, however, what it may, Calvin, as he was the greatest, so was he the leader of the whole body of modern Protestant divines. These have all more or less walked in his footsteps; and, like other imitators, clung to his defects with more pertinacity than to his merits. We do indeed meet with a few-such as Bishop Hall, and the fanciful Hervey—who were above the trammels of catechisms and syllabusses; and had Toplady lived, and become moderate, he had the talents, and might if he pleased have revived the richness, of the ancients : but these are the exceptions to the class, and serve only to make the contrast with other authors of the times in which they lived more glaring.

The Scotch writers, as might naturally be expected, have been the blindest adherents to John Calvin. It is, however, little short of a libel to call modern Calvinism the religion of Calvin. “There is a river in Macedon, and there is another in Monmouth, and there are salmons in both;” but Monmouth is not Macedon notwithstanding. John Calvin has five points in his theology, and so have modern Calvinists; but there the resemblance ends. Calvin is one of the fairest, if not the very fairest, writer that ever commented upon the Sacred Volume : Calvinists, some of the most unfair : witness Dr. Gill's perversions, in his “ Cause of God and Truth,” in order to force Moses to preach Calvinism, when the inspired penman had no sort of intention of doing so : and witness those of “the judicious Scott,” “ our great practical commentator” (as Mr. D. Wilson calls him), in order to twist the sacred record out of the plainest expressions, and make it preach the spiritual second advent of Christ and the Millennium, which modern religionists have derived from Grotius, Whitby, and other Socinians.

The end of the five-point system has been to train men, in the Scotch universities, and in the Dissenting academies, for

« 上一页继续 »