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« Of course not.'

“Then Mr. Owen might have said simply, Protestantism is what was revealed by our Lord and his apostles unto the church."

Perhaps he might.” “What was so revealed is the true religion, is it not ?" 6 It is."

“ Then he would have said all, if he had said, Protestantism is the true religion.'

“ Be it so."

“If you will now tell me what is the true religion, you will tell me what Protestantisın is.”

Mr. Owen tells you in his second article.” “I beg your pardon. He tells me in that where the true religion is, so far as needed; but not what it is.”

"In his third article, then."

“Not in that; for in that he simply tells me, that, if I believe and obey the true religion, so far as contained in the Scriptures of the New Testament; I have all that God requires of me.

“Well, in the fourth."

“But that simply informs me, that, if Protestants have mistaken the true religion, if they contend for more or for less than is contained in the Scriptures, they are ready to renounce it; although whether by it is to be understood true religion, the mistake, the excess, or the defect, he does not inform me. So, you perceive, I am not as yet told what Protestantism is."

“But you are told where it is, and that is enough."

“ That may or may not be. The cook knew where the teakettle was when it fell overboard, but nevertheless he could not get it to make the captain's tea.”

“ It is in the New Testament, witnessed unto and confirmed by the Old. You can go there and find it for yourself.”

“ Has it any mark by which I may recognize it when I see it?”

“If you seek, you shall find. Our Lord himself says that, and I hope you will not dispute him.”

“Does he say, if you seek in the Scriptures of the New Testament, you shall find ?”

“ Not expressly.”
“Do all who seek in those Scriptures find ?”

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“All who faithfully study thern and rightly understand them."

“Do all who attentively read them rightly understand them?”

“No; some wrest them to their own destruction, and bring in damnable heresies."

“You have faithfully studied and rightly understand them?"

“I think so."

“ Lest I should be one of those who wrest them to my own destruction, suppose you tell me what is the true religion which they contain, or which I ought to find in them.'

“If you are one who would wrest the Scriptures to your own destruction, you would do the same with my statement of what they contain. I should do you no good by complying with your request. If you believe not Moses and the proplets, neither will you believe me.”

“How, then, am I ever to know certainly what this thing you call “Protestantism, and say is the true religion, really

is ? »

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“ Read your Bible, Sir, with humble submission, without any reliance on yourself, with sincere and earnest prayer to the Holy Ghost to enlighten you, and you will be led into all truth.”

“Perhaps so. But our question is not, What is truth? but. What is Protestantism"

“Have I not told you Protestantism is the true religion? He, then, who is led to the truth must needs be led to Protestantism.”

“I stand corrected. But since some do wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, and bring in 'damnable heresies,' how do you determine infallibly that you may not yourself be one of them?”

“I am accustomed, Sir, to being treated with respect, and I trust you mean me no insult."

“They who are accustomed to be treated with respect are, in general, slow to think themselves insulted. If Mr. Wilson does not know infallibly that he rightly understands the Scriptures, he cannot deny that it is possible he may be wresting them to his own destruction.”

“Through God's distinguishing grace vouchsafed to me, for no worthiness of mine, I have been enabled to see and know the truth."

“Is that same grace vouchsafed to all ?”


“To all whom God has preordained unto everlasting life; but those whom he has from all eternity reprobated to everlasting death, for the praise of his vindictive justice, he leaves to their reprobate sense, to their own blindness, and even sends them strong delusions, that they may believe a lie and be damned."

“And these never had it in their power to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved ?"

"If they had willed.”
“Were they ever able to have willed ?"
“Naturally, yes; morally, no.”
“But actually ?”

“No. Those whom God ordains to everlasting death he ordains to sin, that they may be damned justly.

"That is a hard doctrine, Brother Wilson. It was taught indeed by the great Calvin, whom God so highly favored, but it is not now generally taught by Presbyterians. The doctrine of God's decrees is, indeed, full of sweet comfort to the elect, but it needs to be handled with great prudence, and is to be meditated in our closets rather than made the basis of our instructions to others. Sinners do not and cannot understand it. They only make a mock of it, and it proves to them the savor of death unto death."

“There it is! The time has come when the people will no longer hear sound doctrine, when it is imprudent to declare the whole counsel of God. Hence the race of weak and puny saints, who must be fed on milk, and that diluted. Very well, I must leave you to manage the discussion in your own way; but be on your guard. The time is not far distant, if things proceed as they have done for a few years back, when you will have no Protestantism to define or defend, but each man will have a gospel of his own. Good morning, gentlemen."


The conversation was not resumed for several days. James found it a less easy task to define Protestantisin than he had imagined. He had been accustomed to take the word in a very loose and indefinite sense. As chief of the Protestant League, he had meant by it little else than the denial of Catholicity; in his warfare against Socinians, rationalists, and transcendentalists, he had made it stand for doctrines and principles which logically imply the Catholic


Church; in his own pulpit, addressing the people of his charge, he had understood by it simply Presbyterianism, with a slight leaning, perhaps, towards Arminianism. But he had never given the term a clear, distinct, and uniform meaning, which he was willing to stand by in all places and on all occasions. He saw that to define it in a negative sense, and make Protestantism merely a protest against Rome, was not necessarily to distinguish it from paganism, Mahometanism, Judaism, deism, or even atheism; and to restrict it to simple Presbyterianism, if not against his conscience, was in the present state of the world, bad policy. It would be tantamount to saying that Protestantism is an empty name; that there are indeed Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, &c., but no Protestants; that there is a multitude of sects, indeed, sometimes arranged under one common name, but without any common faith or principles, except that of hostility to the church. It would, moreover, too openly expose his weakness to the enemy, and confess that the great and mighty Protestant party, which had begun by assuming such lofty airs, and threatening to become commensurate with Christendom, had dwindled down to the little handful of Presbyterians in Great Britain and the United States,-those on the Continent having pretty generally lapsed into Socinianism, rationalism, and transcendentalism, -divided into four or five separate, if not hostile, communions, and their numbers every day relatively diminishing, which would create mirth rather than dread at Rome, against whom he wished to carry on a war of extermination. On the other hand, to extend its meaning so as to embrace all the so-called Protestant sects, from Dr. Pusey down to Theodore Parker, from Oxford to the Melodeon, was hardly less inconvenient. He would never march through Coventry at the head of such a motley company. Rome would declare that all motleydom and all devildom had broken loose. He should never hear the last of it. But to find a definition which should extend beyond the narrow boundaries of Presbyteriandom without including all sectariandom was the difficulty. Hoc opus, hic labor cst.

James spent several days in meditating on this problem, and without hitting upon a solution quite to his mind; but having obtained a few hints from some of the earlier Protestant controversialists, and trusting to the chapter of acciJonts, he took occasion, finding himself in his library alone with John, to renew the discussion.



“I think,” said he, addressing his brother, “that, if you review our former conversation, you will own, my last answer to the question, What is Protestantism? is all that you have any right to demand.”

“I have no wish to make any unreasonable demands," John replied. “What I want is to find out precisely what, in its distinctive features, this thing or this no-thing which you call Protestantism really is. If your answer tells me what it is, and distinguishes it, or enables me to distinguish it, from what it is not, it is unquestionably sufficient.

“Protestantism is the essentials, and the essentials are all the truths clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

“If to believe the essentials be all that is necessary to constitute one a Protestant, then all who believe all the truths clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures must be Protestants.”


“If Catholics, as is very supposable, to say the least, believe all that is clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures, then Catholics are Protestants.

“But Catholics do not believe all that is clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures."

“They profess to do so, and they say with you, all that is clearly and manifestly revealed is essential to be believed, and no point of it can be disbelieved without essential error.”

“But they hold that other things than those clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures are also essential to be believed."

“That is, they believe all that you define to be the essentials are essentials, but do not believe that these are all the essentials. But this does not hinder them from being good orthodox Protestants; for your detinition excludes only those who believe less, not those who believe more, than the essentials."

“Say, then, Protestantism is to believe all the essentials, and that what, and only what, is clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures is essential, or, without essential error, can be believed to be essential. That excludes Catholics, by asserting the sufficiency of the Scriptures, which they do not admit."

"But besides the essentials, are the non-essentials, which miy without essential error be either believed or disbelieved, to be the word of God ?"

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