« AnteriorContinuar »
MERE RULE OF COMMUNION BEING MADE A RULE OF FAITH.
“ Stand fast,” therefore, reverend brethren, “ in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free,” if I may adapt to such a subject the admonition of the great apostle of the Gentiles, “and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Keep close, I affectionately entreat you, to the holy scriptures, according to your ordination vows. Venerate, study, magnify, consult, preach the revealed will of God, “ not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” Remember you have in the holy scriptures, as I venture to believe, the entire depositum fidei-Thy kannu tagakataOhanum that same good and noble deposit of the faith which was committed to Timothy, to guard yourselves, and to hand down to the next age. Remember that the piety of a new way scarcely survives its first inventors, however able, devout, or well-intentioned they may be; but loses most of its redeeming qualities, and acquires dangerous ones at each remove. Remember that what is tradition impregnated with willworship to-day, is superstition and spiritual death to-morrow. Remember how easy it is, through the corruption of the human heart, to rear on the same foundation of Christ Jesus, “wood, hay, stubble ;” as well as “ gold, silver, and precious stones," Remember that this is amongst the very class of evils against which St. Paul so earnestly warns his young and pious bishops, Timothy and Titus-fables, genealogies, oppositions of false named science, logoma.. chies, and other human inventions, which “minister questions rather than godly edifying, which is in faith.” Remember how insidiously, but surely, the OCTOBER, 1839.
traditions of men, if once laid as a foundation, or part-foundation of faith, “make void the word of God”-as the evils which were produced by the oral law of the Jews, by the commandments of men brought in by the Pharisees at the time of our Lord, and by that mass of traditions in the church of Rome under which the gospel has been buried and almost lost for twelve centuries, sufficiently prove. Remember, above all, that unauthorized, or over-urged human observances and traditions are always found to sap the foundation of a penitent sinner's bope in the alone satisfaction and atonement of Christ.
Yes ; you may rely upon it, reverend brethren, that this “joint rule of faith ” will never long consist with the simplicity of the gospel. I speak with fear and apprehension, lest I should in the least degree overstate the case. I suspect not-I repeat, I suspect not—the reverend and learned leaders of the least intention or idea of forwarding the process wbich I think is in fact going on. But the plague is begun. A FALSE PRINCIPLE IS ADMITTED IN RULE OF FAITH, AND IS ALREADY AT WORK.
Already an amplitude is given, as we have seen, to the word tradition, which may include anything and everything, and therefore justly awakens our increased alarm. Already texts of inspired scripture are weakened or contracted to the narrowest and most doubtfal sense. Already are expressions dropped on the subject of the holy Eucharist to which our ears are unaccustomed. Already are the idolatries and abominations of the church of Rome spoken of in these very books and tracts of controversy, with far too much tenderness. Already are tradition and the church too prominently brought
forward, and Christ and the justification through his blood and the sanctification of his Spirit too little insisted on; whilst a feebler language is employed on these and other great doctrines of the gospel even when they are introduced. Already are some rather lowering intimations given, not intentionally I am sure, but conveying the impression to the ordinary reader, concerning our Articles and Homilies. Already are appeals made to documents which were soperseded by the more purely evangelical formularies of our present Book of Common Prayer, with its Articles and Homilies, at the definitive settlement of our reformed church ; and a desire not obscurely expressed that our reformation had retained more of the traditionary model.
All this is but too natural. The false principle will go on eating as doth a cancer,” if things proceed as they now do. The inspired word of God will be imperceptibly neglected; and the traditions of men will take its place. The church will supersede the Bible. The sacraments will hide the glory of Christ. Self-righteousness will conceal the righteousness of God. Traditions and fathers will occupy the first place, as we see in the sermons of the chief Roman Catholic authors of every age, and Cbrist come next or not at all; and a lowered tone of practical religion will come in.
The whole system, indeed, goes to generate, as I cannot but think, an inadequate and superficial and superstitious religion. The mere admissions of the inspiration and paramount authority of holy scripture will soon become a dead letter; due humiliation before God, under a sense of the unutterable evil of sin, will be less and less understood; a con
viction of the need of the meritorious righteousness of the incarnate Saviour, as the alone ground of justification, will be only faintly inculcated; the operations of the Holy Ghost in creating man anew will be more and more forgotten; the nature of those good works which are acceptable to God in Christ will be lost sight of; and “another gospel” framed on the traditions of men will make way for an apostacy in our own church, as in that of Rome, unless, indeed, the evangelical piety, the reverence for holy scripture, the theological learning, and the forethought and fidelity of our divines of dignified station and established repute at home INTERPOSE BY DISTINCT CAUTIONS TO PREVENT IT-as they are beginning to interpose, and as I humbly trust they will still more decisively do; and as their signal success in the instance of the Neological theories a year or two since, may well encourage them to resolve on.
AGAINST the Romanist, the church of England confines the testimony of the ancients to the bare interpretation of scripture: rejecting all pretended tradition, whether written or oral, which purports to be an apostolical deposit, independent of and distinct from scripture, and which propounds a body of doctrines that scripture nowhere recognises, and nowhere teaches.-Faber on Justification.
(Continued from page 151.)
This last thought moved me profoundly, and I fancied that the imposing and pure voice of this Christian, of this minister of truth, raised itself anew, upon this spot and before this same idol, where so often heretofore it had resounded, and that, filling the vallies with its truth-telling accents, it summoned the multitude to listen, and that it replied to the preacher in these terms :
• Fool, I will say to thee with St. Paul, Who hath bewitched thee so far, that thou puttest the flesh into the place of the Spirit? and thy folly and thy darkness above the wisdom and the light of the powerful God ?
• I see thee: thou pleasest thyself with these words, which may be read over the entry of this temple, Here is to be had the plenary remission of all sins; and thou willest persuade this ignorant multitude of it, whose souls thou art about to murder, in telling them that it is only here, only in this temple built by men, that the God of mercies is to be met with.
But, imprudent spirit, and altogether terrestrial, knowest thou not that whatever be the country which a soul inhabits, God encompasses it, as well as here? Should it be in one place rather than in another, that he who hath made the heavens and the earth should be found near to the heart which seeks him?
Thinkest thou, then, new Samaritan, that it is