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not in the least more secure than a layman; and amidst the innume. rable delusions of a deceivable mind may be this: "I am classed among religious persons; I am admitted within a select circle; and therefore all is well with me." It, in fact, is only another form of the plea, "We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets."

It is idle to suppose that the consistent portion of a national clergy can escape the censures and slanders of those who are offended by a pure example. What is there in the complexion of the present times so fair and promising, as to seduce any thoughtful observer into the opinion that a golden age is dawning upon the Christian world, when the lion shall lie down with the lamb? If such a glimmering of millennial day be at hand, its faint lustre will surely not be darkened by an endeavour to warn too sanguine expectants of the danger of worldly coalitions. Approximation is a thing of glorious promise, when we are quite sure that, after long and cruel strife, the armies of both powers are in motion towards each other, marching under white banners, having laid down their arms within their respective lines. But we must be certified of the facts of the whole case; or we may find, when perhaps the discovery is too late, that it was but a hollow neutrality. A man may consent to circulate the Bible, if he is not to be embarrassed by its rules of life; he may assist a missionary, if the doctrines of the mission be not preached to himself; and he may consent to meet on the boards of a philanthropic institution a man whose life and principles utterly condemn his own, if he encounter him no where else. "So far I will advance, but no farther," is his meaning expressed, or unexpressed; but it will always be audible to those who listen to manner, and overt acts. There is much more of calculation and system in the world's apparent coalition with good

men, than the majority of good mem are willing or able to detect.

Having quoted in an early part of this paper the views of the Reformers, in the Homilies, of the degeneracy of preaching, and by consequence the spiritual decay of preachers, as indicating what we may look for in the history of the church, I may add, in confirmation of their sentiments, the fact, that villages and towns in our own country, which have been privileged by the ministration of zealous and able clergymen, have in many instances afterwards lost the blessing, or retained it without benefit; while, in other examples, both the pastor and his flock have departed from the fervour attendant upon the first years of their connection, and sunk into a kind of lethargy, or into the state of the Laodicean church,-neither cold nor hot; neither openly hostile to religion, nor actually befriending it; but buried in indifference, and soothed into self-satisfaction by the absence of obvious wickedness. As our most flourishing congregations of the present day have no inherent power to protect themselves and their pastors from a similar degradation, and as there is not now any direct persecution in action against the church of Christ, it becomes us to look well to ourselves; to beware of the flatterer, who may introduce himself with smiles and golden promises; and bid us liberalize what he may call too exclusive a system, by admitting a flag of truce from the enemy's camp, embroidered with pacific emblems, and ciphered with the pass-word Approximation.

PROCUL.

ON THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS, AND CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.

THE Gospel, while it sanctions degrees of rank, and requires subjection to authority and respect to dignities, softens, at the same time,

the asperity of caste, and receives all believers into one happy family of adopted children. Of this family there are no masters upon earth; no lords over this heritage; no exclusive privileges, no uninitiated servants; but all are brethren, having common access to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." This household is no creature of romance, no Utopian kingdom: it is a real family; a kingdom; invisible indeed, yet existing among us; and which cannot be moved by the shaking and overthrow of parties, churches, or nations. The badge and characteristic of this family is mutual affection. "These things I command you," said our Saviour, "that ye love one another" "As I have loved you, so do ye love one another." "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren:" "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." "I am surprised," said a simple. hearted Burman, "to find this religion has such an effect on my mind, as to make me love the disciples of Christ more than my dear est natural relations." No hindrance should exist, no limit be assigned, to such pure and blissful communion; and if we have greatly fallen from our first love, if wolves have grievously scattered the sheep, it is a cause of deep sorrow, and for investigation into the causes of decay. Among those things which Christians allow to be destructive to this communion, I might especially mention, Conformity to the world, and adopting its manners and sentiments; and not less, The loss of church discipline, which has taken away the hedge of Christ's fold, so that his sheep are scattered on the dark mountains, and Christians, who ought to be a compact and united body, keep at a repulsive distance from each other, from ignorance of character, or the want of a bridle to maintain order and prevent encroachment. Our mer

ciful Saviour gathered his flock together in one; by his prayers and exhortations he wished them to be one; and for this purpose he placed them under pastors, whom he charg ed, for the love they bore to him, to feed his sheep. If a brother should violate this golden rule of Christian affection, and prove incorrigible by private admonition and church censures, he directs that the offender be excommunicated; affirming, that He will ratify in heaven what is so done on earth. This power of binding and loosing was vested in the church for the purpose of maintaining godly discipline; and is doubtless to be exercised with the utmost tenderness and prudence, for edification, and not for destruction. The Apostle blames the Corinthians for not exercising it to put away the wicked person, and purge out the old leaven, that they might be a new lump; and appeals to their authority: "Do not ye judge them that are within, as God judges them that are without," the church? Our Saviour himself, also, blames or commends the seven churches according as they had relaxed or maintained this discipline.

But, unhappily, this discipline is now practically unknown among us. The direction, "Tell it to the church," cannot be attended to; for where is the church to take cognisance of the offence? The private admonitions of a faithful clergyman may, by the Divine blessing, and the power of the Holy Spirit, effect much; but without the power of the keys, and the support of the church to enforce his censures, he will be like a general without soldiers, and find himself too weak to effect obedience by his individual influence. We have, indeed, courts of ecclesiastical discipline; but in reference to real pastoral and spiritual discipline, they have long been practically defunct, even if they had ever been adapted for the purpose.

One of the strongest holds which we have on our fellow-creatures, is

the opinion of their associates: against this, no person can act with comfort; and our Lord, who knew our nature, gave us this key by which to controul it. This discipline, which the church has dropped, the world has taken up, and made it a mighty engine to enforce compliance with its manners and fashions. The world, then, has its discipline; the Jewish church put offenders out of the synagogue; our Dissenting brethren all more or less enforce good conduct among their members; and why should not our venerable church, which by its inward excellence has no occasion to be ashamed or afraid of the light, purge out her old leaven, and maintain, so far as practicable, unspotted purity? Might not power be vested in every congregation to inspect the conduct of its members; and to

admonish with authority, and if necessary to exclude offenders from church communion? Some ministers maintain a species of discipline among the religious members of their flock, who gather round them, and enjoy their countenance and esteem; but this, being a private arrangement, is at best imperfect, and may be undone by a successor: so that, when that shepherd is smitten, the sheep are scattered abroad. This discipline should be an acknowledged part of church order, and the sacraments should serve as keys. Perhaps some experienced correspondent will say how this may be effected, or its deficiency, in the present state of things, remedied in the church, "until such discipline be restored again, which is much to be wished."

N.

MISCELLANEOUS.

LUTHER'S ALLEGED CONFERENCE

WITH THE DEVIL.

Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.

IF you think the following remarks likely to set at rest a controversy which the Papists have again raised, with no charitable feeling towards Protestantism, I shall be happy to see them inserted in your pages. C.

A little tract has been lately presented to the public, from the pen of a staunch member of the Church of Rome, entitled, " Martin Luther's Conference with the Devil." The conference is given in what are professed to be Luther's own words; and he is made to say that the devil appeared to him, and taught him "that the Mass, or sacrament of the Lord's Supper, was no sacrifice." Thus the well-known Protestant doctrine, that the Mass is not a real sacrifice—or, in other

words, that the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper are not changed into the actual body and blood of Christ is made to rest upon the authority of the devil.

The use made of the statement by the Popish advocate is sufficiently dexterous, and not a little important to the cause of Popery. "If," says the writer, "Luther only pretended to receive this information from the devil, then what sort of a man was Luther? If he really did receive it, what sort of a doctrine is Protestantism? For," as the author continues to argue, "the same teacher who thus disproved the authority of the Mass, no doubt proceeded to remove five sacraments from the church; to reject, as is the practice in the Protestant communities, prayers for the dead, confession, purgatory, the celibacy of the priests, the Pope's supremacy, the infallibility of the church," &c. &c. To what extent is this reasoning

of the advocate of Popery to be considered as sound? Let us take two suppositions.

In the first place, supposing it were granted, for argument's sake, that the devil actually did instruct Luther that the Mass is no real sacrifice is it necessarily true that all is wrong which that wicked spirit asserts to be right, and the contrary? If so, our Redeemer is not to be regarded as the "Holy One of God;" for the "unclean spirit" so called him. If so, the Apostles were not the "servants of the most high God;" for so the evil spirit in the damsel at Philippi denominated them. The truth is, that, when mischief is to be done, the spirit of evil is not confined to one mode of doing it. For this purpose, as in the conference with our Lord, he quotes the Scriptures; for this purpose he "transforms himself into an angel of light;" for this purpose he adopts the mode-of all others, as the Popish advocates well know, the most injurious to truth-of mixing up truth with error, and giving just enough of the one to render the other specious.

The proper answer, on this first supposition, to the reasoning adopt ed by this Popish advocate, is, that Protestants neither admit nor reject the Mass on the authority either of Luther or of Satan, but simply and altogether on the authority of Scrip. ture. Papists assert that Christ is sacrificed every time the Mass is celebrated Scripture says, that "He was once offered." A bolder insult was never inflicted on Scripture and common sense, than in this favourite tenet of Popery. If the bread in the Mass be actually changed into Christ, we suppose this must have been the case in every instance of its administration. But, if so, was it thus changed at its first administration? In this case, when Christ took of the bread, he took of himself; when he brake the bread, he brake himself; and when the Apostles ate the bread, they literally partook of the body and blood of the Redeemer in his

own presence. The only wonder is, how, with Scripture, fact, testimony, and all our senses, opposed to such a tenet, mere assertion should persuade any man of common sense to receive it.

Thus far I have admitted, for argument's sake, the supposition that Luther states such a conference to have taken place between himself and the spirit of evil. But, whatever may be the language of Papists, no falsehood can rest on a slighter foundation. The solution of the difficulty may be found, among other places, in Mr. Scott's truly valuable Continuation of Milner's History (see Appendix III.); and I shall do little more than adopt his statement on the subject.

nonsense

A certain eminent person, on having a very extravagant proposition stated to him, as the result of a long chain of difficult reasoning, exclaimed, "There is somewhere, I venture to say." In like manner, where such a statement as that contained in the history of the supposed conference is made, it is clear "there is falsehood somewhere;" or, if not falsehood, at least misapprehension. Is it credible that Luther, after having maintained for sixteen years that he received his religious system from the Scriptures, should at length, gratuitously, and without a motive, avow that he received a leading truth of that system-namely, that the Mass was no sacrifice, from the immediate suggestion of the devil? What is the authority for this foolish story? Cochlæus, the contemporary, and the virulent enemy, of Luther, gives a widely different account of the same occurrence. He tells us the devil had suggested to Luther, not that the Mass was no sacrifice, but that Luther had committed idolatry for fifteen years in celebrating Mass. After the time of Cochlæus, an obscure monk first gave the present version of the story; and this version has been gladly adopted and circulated by every Popish writer, even by Bossuet, All that we dee

sire from the libellers of this distinguished servant of God is, that the question should be reduced to a mere question of fact: “Did Luther, or did he not, assert that he had held any such palpable and visible communication with the devil?" The following observations may serve to settle the point.

The original work of Luther was written in German. Of this work, the Latin version of Justus Jonas, which is the work ordinarily referred to by the opponents of Protestantism, is rather an abstract than a translation; and an abstract on the fulness or accuracy of which no reliance is to be placed. In the introduction of this story, as given by Justus Jonas, an omission occurs, which seems decisive of the present controversy. The language of Luther is: "Satan commenced a disputation within my heart." These last words (within my heart) Justus passes by; and thus converts what was designed to be merely the record of an inward temptation of the Reformer, into the history of a palpable appearance, or what Bossuet falsely calls an "apparition" of the devil. Nothing can be more evident, from the sequel of the history, than that Luther was simply giving in this passage the history of a temptation to despair, which he justly considers as suggested to his mind by the agency of the devil. This temptation was founded upon the fact that he had long celebrated a festival which he now knew to be idolatrous. That evil spirit is made by Luther to say, "You know that for fifteen years you have celebrated private masses, and these masses are idolatrous." "Convicted by the law of God," says Luther, "I confessed before my adversary that I had sinned, and was condemned, even as Judas; but," he adds, "I turn me to Christ, like Peter. I regard his infinite merit and mercy; and immediately he abrogates my awful condemnation." The Reformer then proceeds to treat at length of such temptations; and

his language leaves not a shadow of doubt as to the character of the temptations to which he refers. "The temptations of Satan," he says, "are crafty, and well calcu lated to deceive. He lays hold of some truth which cannot be denied, and so twists and misapplies it, that the most wary must be deceived. Thus the conviction which fastened itself upon the heart of Judas, 'I have betrayed the innocent blood,' was true; the falsehood was in the inference-Therefore thou must despair.' But this inference the devil so pressed upon him, that he could not stand, and sunk into despondency."

Can there be any doubt, to an honest mind, after reading this statement, to what class of temptations the remarks of Luther referred? Who can wonder that the honest Seckendorf, after giving these extracts, should openly charge those who propagate the story circulated by Bossuet and in the tract above alluded to, "with palpable falsehood." Nor is this the whole of the misrepresentation; for the charge assumes that Luther had never denied the Mass to be a sacrifice till after this reputed conference ; whereas the slightest inspection of his works will shew that he had denied it long before.

On the whole, can any refutation be more complete? But, if so, what is to be said of the honesty of the author of this tract, and, indeed, of the church which continues to propagate such falsehoods? Nor can it be pleaded that the fault is committed in ignorance of the dif ference between the Latin and German versions; for the author of the tract refers to the German edition. Here, then, we have an offence, not of ignorance, but of intention: and to whose agency or influence are such offences to be ascribed, except to his with whom the German Reformer is charged with holding too intimate communion? If the devil is the "father of lies," to what family must the abettors of falsehood belong? And

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