網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

teach truly and infallibly the word of God, they do not object, as is evident from their tendency to hero-worship, and their common remark that he who is able is divinely commissioned. Read Carlyle, Emerson, the transcendentalists generally, and you will find that it is always to the notion of authority without the intrinsic ability that they object, and that wherever they fancy the ability they are ready to concede the commission. They err in making the ability the warrant of the authority, instead of making the commission the warrant of the ability; yet they are right against Protestantism, and perceive a great and essential truth which old-fashioned Protestantism denies, namely, that the authority and the intrinsic ability to teach are inseparable, and that any authority separate from the ability cannot be conferred by God, and is therefore a usurpation. To one who is familiar with the Protestant community, and who comprehends its more recent developments of thought, it is evident that Protestants are very generally growing tired and sick of sham and shamming. They are rapidly becoming unable to satisfy themselves with a religion which is no real religion, but a mere make-believe religion. They cry out from the depths of their hearts for something real, for something which is, not merely seems. They see that the reformers built on mere seeming, and taught and acted a lie, -gave them hollow appearances, and no solid realities,-at best, the mere hull without the kernel,-a symbol symbolizing nothing—a mere pretence; and they grow indignant, turn away in disgust, and say, "Give us something real, something that is, if it be but the devil; for any thing that is is better than nothing seeming to be something. If your religion is a mere sham, call it a sham and away with it; for the oldest gospel is, that a lie is a lie, and no truth. Stop lying, stop seeming, and begin to be.” So deep is this feeling of the hollowness of all Protestant pretensions, and so strong is the craving for something real, that it has almost become one of the cants of the day.

It is true, that, knowing no religion but the Protestant, they to whom we refer conclude rashly that Catholicity is also a sham, also a mere hollow pretence, and that no religion is real but that of nature. But in this they draw a conclusion quite too broad for their premises. The church detests Protestantism as heartily as they do, and, in most cases, for like reasons. She detests it because it is outward, lifeless, empty, and no living reality; because it contains nothing solid, substantial, has no bottom, but is bottomless, like the pit from which it is an exhalation, and into which, as the religious atmosphere clears up, it subsides. She condemns with all her energy whatever is mere pretence or make-believe. She tolerates no empty forms, no insigniticant rites, no vain ceremonies. She will and can approve nothing which is not real, solid, substantial. She teaches the doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE, and always presents the very reality she symbolizes. She can call no man justified who is not intrinsically just, and recognize no teacher as teaching by divine authority who does not teach God's word infallibly. If these people would turn their attention to her, they would soon find the truth and reality for which their hearts cry out; for, to say the least, grace is not less true and real than nature.

CHAPTER IX.

“UNQUESTION ABLY," at length James replied, “there is no other church which makes the same specific claim as the Romish, and if my plea of an adverse title is to be taken as a concession that God has founded such a church, I of course must concede that she is it, and that the reformers cannot be justified.”

“I have not confined you to her specific character; I have only restricted you to her generic character, to what she must absolutely be, if a church at all, with divine authority to teach." “ Well, let that pass.

I made the concession, not absolutely, but provisorily; since, as you well know, I do not and cannot, as a Presbyterian, admit that our Lord ever founded, specifically or generically, such a church as the Romish claims to be, and which is no church of Christ, but a synagogue of Satan.”

“ Then you retract your plea of an adverse title, and revoke your concession ? “I do.”

Very well; as I have no wish to take advantage of your mistakes, you may do so. What do you plead now!"

* The Romish church is corrupt, and by her corruptions has forfeited her title to be the church of God.”

• That is your original plea, which you withdrew for the sake of pleading that no title was ever issued, or, in other words, that our Lord had founded no such churcli as she

claims to be. You will remember that you cannot plead at one and the same time the forfeiture of title, and that no title ever existed. A title which never existed cannot have been forfeited. The allegation, that the church has forfeited her title, concedes, then, that the title originally existed, and was hers. Am I to understand you as meaning to concede that our Lord did originally found such a church as the Roman claims to be, and that she was originally that church?”

“ Not at all. I do not admit that such a title as she claims ever existed.”

“You deny, then, that our Lord ever founded such a church as she claims to be, that is, a church with authority from him to teach."

“I do."

“But she is in possession as such a church, and possession is prima facie evidence of title. If, then, you allege that no such title ever existed, the burden of proof is on you. But you cannot prove that no such title ever existed, as you learned in our conversation the other day. Moreover, you have just alleged forfeiture of title, which concedes that the title originally existed and was vested in the church of Rome. You cannot now deny that it ever existed."

“I admit a title once existed, and was vested in her, though not such a title as she claims; and when I say that she has forfeited her title, I mean not that she has forfeited such a title as she now claims, but such a title as she originally had.” “That is nothing to the purpose.

But what was that title?

I have told you already, in declaring that she has forfeited her title to be the CHURCH OF GOD. I do not eny that the church of Rome was once a pure church, but I contend that she is now corrupt, and no longer God's church, or any portion of it.”

“But the pure church, the church of God, is either such a church as the Roman claims to be, or a different church." “It is widely different."

Is the church of God one, or many ?” “Properly speaking, there is but one church, although the one church may be composed of many particular churches."

“But such must be the character of the particular .churches as not to detract from the real unity of the whole ?"

9

“ Granted."

“And this one church composed of many particular churches is the church and the only church our Lord founded ?"

“ It is.”

“And it is widely different from such a church as the Roman claims to be

“Certainly it is.”

“Then you simply deny that our Lord ever founded such a church as the Roman claims to be, and merely reiterate the plea you have withdrawn.”

“I do not care for that; I am not to be tied down by your arbitrary rules of special pleading. The church of Rome was once pure. She then belonged to the church of God; she is now corrupt, and has forfeited her title. I do not say her title to be such a church as she pretends to be, but to be an integral part of the church of God.”

“She has degenerated from her original purity, and is now a corrupt church ?”

“ That is what I allege."

“But she is in possession as the pure and authoritative church of God, and the burden of proof that she is corrupt is on you." “I

accept it, and am ready to prove her corruption.” “Corruption implies a change from a former or primitive state. You must know that state, or you cannot know that she is corrupt.”

“She has corrupted the word of God; she teaches the commandments of men for the pure word ; and has so disfigured the original gospel of our Lord, that it can be nolonger recognized in her teachings."

«That is for you to prove."

“I am ready to prove it. Indeed, it needs no proof. It is notorious. The world admits it. She has become a sink of corruption; is full of all manner of uncleanness and filth."

“Words, brother; mere words. Pause a moment and take breath, and then proceed to the proof. When you tell me the Catholic Church is corrupt, has degenerated, you assume a primitive state from which she has fallen ; and it is only by comparing her present state with that primitive state, that you can determine that she has fallen from it. What, then, was that primitive state ?"

“I can show what it was from the Scriptures."

“They are not in your possession. You are not their legal keeper, and have no authority to expound their sense. You can therefore make no appeal to them against the church who is in possession, and has, presumptively, the sole right to interpret them. She interprets them in her favor, and you are bound to presume her interpretations to be correct, till you can prove by a competent authority to the contrary. This competent authority you are not; for, on any conceivable hypothesis, at the very worst her authority is as good as yours can be at the very best. You must get a commission, or at least a presumptive commission, from Almighty God, as the legal keeper and expounder of the Sacred Scriptures, before you can prove any thing from them but your own arrogance and impudence."

“I can prove from the early fathers that the primitive church was essentially different from the present Romish Church."

“That is, you can prove it from early tradition ?” “ Yes."

“But the church is in possession as the keeper and expounder of primitive tradition, as well as of the Sacred Scriptures. She interprets it in her own favor, and from it proves that she conforms perfectly to the primitive model."

“But she misinterprets the fathers.”

“ As a matter of fact, it is undeniable that the fathers may without violence be interpreted as she interprets them, and that she rightly interprets them is to be presumed, till the contrary is shown. Moreover, as her authority as the interpreter of primitive tradition, or of the fathers, is at the worst equal to yours at the best, you have and can have no sufficient anthority for setting her interpretation aside. So the appeal to primitive tradition will avail you no more than the appeal to the Scriptures; and the fact that you have no authority to declare the sense of either debars you from all right to appeal to either against what she declares to be their sense.

“But she has corrupted the primitive faith.” “You cannot say that, unless you are authorized to say what the primitive faith was. She has presumptively the right to declare that faith, and she declares that it was what she now teaches, and therefore she declares that she has not corrupted it. You are bound to presume that she has not, and must prove that she has, before you can use an argu

1

1

« 上一頁繼續 »