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however, that the present General Conference will provide for the removal of this cause, by complying with a recommendation of the managers for a more extended and efficient prosecution of foreign and domestic missions.
The signal success which has hitherto attended the operations of the society, while it affords matter for gratitude and praise to God, inspires the managers with confidence in striving to go forward in this good work: and so long as such vast fields are continually opening for missionary enterprises, and the General Conference shall provide for their cultivation, the managers pledge themselves to use their best endeavors to support and encourage them, by their prayers and by their efforts, to supply the pecuniary means.
These suggestions from the board of managers, together with the general conviction which was felt for more extended operations in this branch of our work, induced the General Conference to provide for opening new missions, and for the more energetie prosecution of this department of labor ; and the annual report now before us shows that these measures have had a very salutary influence. According to the report of the treasurer, $17,097 05 have been received into the treasury, and $20,117 27 expended, making an excess in the expenditures over the past year of $7,458 28. This shows that the missionary spirit is becoming more and more active, and that there is a disposition in the religious community to meet the pecuniary demands of the society.
Twenty-eight new missions have been commenced during the last year, most of which bid fair to reward the laborer for his toil and sacria fices. Measures have also been adopted for the opening of a new mission
among the Flat Head Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains. With these extensive fields before us, and those encouragements arising from past success, we have every motive for persevering efforts in this holy cause.
It is probably known to most of our readers that a controversy of a very important character has recently been commenced in the city of New-York, (as also in Philadelphia,) between the Rev. Dr. Brownlee, of the Middle Dutch church, on the Protestant side, and the Rev. Drs. Powers and Varela, and the Rey. Mr. Leyins, on the side of the Catholics. Whatever may be the effects of this controversy on the interests of true religion, it seems quite manifest that it can have no very beneficial effect upon the temper of the gentlemen who are en
gaged in it. This we judge from the specimens which have passed before us. Though neither party appears to be wanting in talent to manage his cause, nor of logical tact in repelling or evading each other's argument, there appears no little adroitness on the part of the Catholic writers to avoid the main points of controversy, and especially to shun those points on which they must be conscious that they are the most vulnerable. Eight letters have already passed between them without having yet settled the Rule of Faith.'
That all Protestants agree in taking the canonical Scriptures, in their most plain, literal, and obvious sense, to be the only rule, and at the same time a sufficient rule of faith and practice, has been long known, equally by Protestants and Catholics; and that the latter superadd the traditions of their Church as forming a part of this infallible rule, is a fact of equal notoriety; why then spend so much time, and exhaust the reader's patience, in discussing this point? We must confess that the Catholic priests display no little tact, but at the same time some want of that candor which should characterize a Christian polemic, in pressing upon their antagonist the proofs of the inspiration of the Bible. Is this a mooted question between the parties? Is it yet to be settled whether the sacred Scriptures were given by Divine inspiration? Whatever the Deist may claim in behalf of his skepticism on this question, when he enters the arena of controversy with the Christian, surely a professed minister of a Christian Church, when controverting with another Christian minister, has no right to press this question. Nor can he, in fairness, hold his antagonist under obligation to run through the whole field of argument, to collect all the materials which lie scattered over this vast_field, to fortify himself against the attacks of infidelity. In doing this, therefore, in the present instance, the Catholic priests, as it seems to us, have given us reason to suspect that they are fearful of the tremendous artillery which their antagonist might bring from this sacred magazine, to bear upon the tottering edifice which has been so long propped up by the force of human skill and power, and which they have so often felt was in no little danger of tumbling over their heads. What! Shall a professedly Christian polemic put on the harness of the infidel, and demand of a minister of Jesus Christ the proofs that the Scriptures are the word of God, before he will measure with him his strength?
But we perceive the sad dilemma of these champions of Romanism. They have been taught to believe that the only channel through which the evidence of the Divine inspiration and authenticity of the holy Scriptures has been transmitted to us, is the Roman Catholic Church; and hence by forcing their antagonist upon this debatable point, they would drive him to the necessity of subscribing to their own favorite
dogma, that something besides the Scriptures themselves, forms a rule of faith for Protestants as well as for Catholics. Dr. Brownlee, however, was fully prepared for them even on this point. While he allows, as he ought, that we are indebted to the Church, as it existed among the Israelites, primitive Christians, &c, for the records of our salvation, he refutes successfully the false notions entertained by the papists, that that branch of the Church which acknowledges the infallibility of the Pope of Rome, has been the only depositary of these sacred records. He contends, moreover, and that very justly, that this forms but a very small part of even the external evidence of the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures. Superadded to the testimony derivable from prophecies fulfilled, from the miracles which attended the announcement and establishment of both the Mosaic and Christian dispensations, he contends for those internal marks of truth which every where pervade the Book of God, and which irrefutably proclaim the Divinity of its origin--that the sublimity, purity, and the admirable fitness of the doctrines of the Bible to the condition of man, as well as the morality and justice of its precepts, are irresistible evidences in favor of the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. And though the relative position in which Dr. Brownlee stood, laid him under no obligation to enter into this argument, yet he has not shunned to meet it with manly firmness, and thereby to show that the subtle Deist would have no better chance to escape from his grasp, should he see fit to grapple with him, than these bold champions of modern Catholicism can have, however dexterously they may wield the controversial sword.
There is one point, however, in which both sides seem to be equally vulnerable. We allude to the divisions, both in sentiment and practice, as well as in affection, which have taken place among both Protestants and Catholics. The latter endeavor to impugn the Protestants' rule of faith, and to show that it is insufficient to settle points of controversy, from the fact that there always have been and are still such a variety of sects among them, differing so widely as do the Lutherans and Cal. vinists, these last and the Arminians, the Presbyterians and Episcopalians, the Trinitarians and Unitarians, &c. On the other hand, with a view to retort upon their antagonists the force of this argument, the Rev. Dr. Brownlee presses his opponents with the well-known facts that the Catholics have been and are still as much divided among themselves as the Protestants--that pope has been arrayed against pope, going even so far as to fulminate against each other the thunders of excommunication-one erasing from the decrees of the Church what had been advanced by his predecessor as infallibly right—that the Jansenists and Jesuits were not less violent in their disputes against each
other, one lighting up the torch of St. Augustine, while the other prepared the snuffers for St. Augustine's torch, and a third formed a gag for the Jansenists—that these were as fierce in their disputes as were the Calvinists and the Remonstrants—and also that the Franciscans finally broke into as many sects, each maintaining its distinctive peculiarities with as much asperity and vehemence as have the various classes of Predestinarians—and that even though the generality of Roman Catholic writers agree in maintaining that infallibility resides somewhere in the Church, they differ much in respect to the particular branch of the Church to which it should be ascribed; whether in the pope himself, the
pope and council, or the council alone it being manifest that while some have sacrilegiously exalted his holiness above all that is called God,' there have not been wanting those who have shrunk from this bold blasphemy, and have accordingly undertaken to bind his hands and to limit his power by the decrees, of bishops and cardinals. It is therefore in vain for the Roman Catholics to plead for the infallibility of the Church from the unity of its councils or the homogeneousness of papal decisions, as they have manifestly differed as much among themselves, and have evinced their differences by as much bitterness and fiery zeal, to say the least, as are to be found on the records of Protestant history. Hence, were it even allowed that the Church has the right of the exclusive interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, no proof is found for the infallibility of her interpretation from its having been uniformly the same, because such a sameness cannot be made to appear: on the contrary, this Church has been most awfully distracted at several times by internal factions, by the mutual onsets of fiery zealots, and even by the reciprocal fulminations of rival popes; and furthermore, what has been declared to be infallibly right by one pope, has been pronounced infallibly wrong by his immediate successor. These feuds and divisions should make the advocates of modern Ca. tholicism cautious how they appeal to the several sectarists among the Protestants as evidence against the infallibility of the Scriptures as a rule of faith. Against the weakness of human judgment in their interpretation, the appeal may be made with powerful effect. The rule is good, but those who explain and apply it are often bad, and always under the influence of a judgment, if not biassed by prejudice and prepossession, yet liable to be led astray by that weakness which is inseparable from humanity.
But taking the Scriptures as our guide in all matters purely religious, it seems to us that it cannot remain a subject of any dispute whether the practices which have sprung up from time to time in the Roman Church, are erroneous or not. On this point, we think Dr. Brownlee handles his antagonists with no little effect, by showing them that
in all those matters which are peculiar to them, and which, therefore, form the main subjects of controversy between them and the Protestants, they have introduced novelties into the Church-that they belonged not to primitive Christianity. As his remarks upon this branch of the controversy appear to us to be worthy of preservation, we shall quote them for the information and edification of our readers. They are taken from his VIIIth letter to Drs. Power and Varela, and Mr. Levins. He notices
First-THE POPE'S SUPREMACY. Now, I give notice to you
and my readers that I shall not stop here to refute these doctrines. - I merely establish the origin and date of these, in order to show that popery, proper, is a mere novelty in the Christian world. Our refutation shall be offered when we reach these, in “the dependency of our argument.”
All Romanists admit the pope's supremacy; but relative to the authority attached to his supremacy, there is the greatest diversity of sentiment. There are four kinds of faith touching it, among them : one class gives him a mere presidency: a second, an unlimited sovereignty: a third, makes the pope equal to God: the fourth, very modestly, makes the pope actually superior to God! This I shall discuss again; I shall wait to see whether my learned priests will venture out to deny this division. Ignorance of their own writers may very probably induce them to deny this.
Now according to the doctrines of the pope's supremacy, Peter wa's made the first supreme : and having died in A. D. 66, he was succeeded by some obscure beings, upon whose names even the Romanists cannot agree. But the holy Apostle John survived Peter at least forly years; and so these obscure, but absolute supremes, were placed over this holy and beloved apostle. This was really outrageous in the Roman Church! And, moreover, this Apostle John has never had the grace of God, nor the good sense, to acknowledge this supremacy ; nor deport himself as a dutiful son. On our priests' principles, Drs. Power and Levins must denounce the holy John as a rebellious son of holy mother! What! live. forty years, and write so much Scripture, yet say not one good word for his holiness, and his essential supremacy! Padre Levins ought, forth with, to excommunicate his memory, with bell, book, and candle! Gentlemen, why has not this been done by holy mother?
This is not all: the early holy councils stood out against the same supremacy:
About A. D. 450, the council of Chalcedon resisted Pope Leo in the question of his supremacy. In A. D. 418, the sixth council of Carthage resisted three popes, one after another. Mighty opposition was directed against this sacerdotal usurpation, by the clergy of France, England, Africa, and Asia, and even Spain, and even Ireland! So late as A. D. 860, the bishops of Belgia denied that the pope's decree should bind them; they boldly denied his supremacy, and set his bulls at defiance :—-* We assault thee,” said they, “ with
Vol. IV.-July, 1833. 28