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think infallible, what can any individual among them come at more than the decree of a council and the teaching of a priest of his communion ? Now the priest has no power to guide any man's judgment, nor is it contended that he is infallible ; 1 consequently, the inquirer may mistake the priest, or the priest may have mistaken his college teacher, or the college teacher may have misunderstood the decrees of councils;? so that even if the errors of those decrees were not discoverable, from their being inconsistent with each other and contradictory to the scriptures, still there would evidently be no infallible guide for the Romanist; for the priest cannot guide his judgment, nor can the college teacher guide the priest's judgment, nor can there be any certainty that he understands the decrees of councils aright.
But the Protestant relies on a sure and infallible gnide, which, on the certainty of the promise of our Saviour bimself, he knows will guide him to all truth. For the scriptures are infallible, admitted to be in
1 The Romish priests are taken young into their colleges, where they are instructed from books artfully composed, and their minds are filled with false opinions and prejudices : they are taught to argue in support of their peculiar tenets; they are sworn to maintain them, and are then sent out as teachers. No wonder they should shrink from the evidence of the scriptures, which show their fallibility as teachers.
2 In the Latin language, in which all the bulls and decrees of the Romish church are written, there is no general rule for the discovery of the exact signification of words, as in Greek and Hebrew, in which tongues terms expressing complex ideas are usually derived from simple words. In Latin there is no single word which expresses HET avoia, repentance; penitence is used, which has a different and somewhat ambiguous meaning; and from this arises the error of penance being introduced into popish translations,-an interpretation which the Greek word would never bear. NOVEMBER, 1839.
fallible, and declared by the inspired writers themselves to be perfect and sufficient.
The scriptures are indeed infallible, but where is the infallible human guide ?
The Divine Spirit is the only infallible Guide, as alone able to guide the judgment, and to supply all deficiencies. We know that church communion is necessary, and we acknowledge its benefits and its privileges, and its divine institution ; but as every man is accountable for himself, we choose a church by the guide given us—the word of truth. By it we may know them ; “ If they speak not according to that word, it is because there is no light in them;" but if they do, we hear them with deference.
We have an infallible rule of faith-the scriptures, and an infallible Guide, omnipotent, and present to every one living; and we have the divine promise that whoever seeks that guidance will obtain it. Yet more, every true Christian must be so influenced. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If a Protestant is not led by this holy, infallible Guide, it is because he does not seek that guidance in an humble, prayerful, and faithful spirit. Converse with any who habitually read the bible with a devout mind, and in essentials they will be found to agree. It will perhaps be found that many who differ in non-essential things read the bible attentively, but these differences only shew that it is the subject of their thoughts, and they sometimes even produce good effects, by promoting inquiry and exertion; but those who differ in essential points of faith are in general either ignorant of the bible, or entertain a secret hostility to it in their hearts, and neglect the sacraments ; for the scriptures are explicit
in everything essential to salvation. But among the members of the church of Rome a monstrous difference will be found ; the nuns of St. Catherine, the monks of St. Francis, the murder-stained banditti of Italy, the merciless destroyers of Spain, the slave traders of Portugal, the ribbon-men of Ireland, are all devoted and acknowledged members of the church of Rome. Do they all speak one language? No; but they are united in constructing the great Babel, which they seek to raise unto heaven. Hence I conclude that the church of Rome is not even a uniform guide.
With the Socinian we can proceed to reason at once from scripture; but no one can provide against a perverted judgment or an obdurate heart: to change these is the prerogative of divine power. The Romanist's pretension to an infallible guide on earth, suggests to us the idea of finding one to present to the Socinian; but if we seek an infallible guide on earth, it will be separating ourselves from the infallible Guide from heaven. I think the way to reason with the Socinian, is to shew the whole tendency of the Old Testament doctrine, pointing to a Saviour both God and Man; and the whole design of the New Testament, to disclose a Saviour both God and Man, and thus to open to him the plan of salvation. The Lord satisfying justice, by taking the punishment of sin on himself, and thus binding his people to him by a law of love, whence follows a conformity to the divine will with brotherly affection for their neighbour, whereby they are impelled to all good works. There is no secret in the matter ; let the Socinian humble himself, and seek truth in the appointed way, and he will find it.
But to return to the infallible guide on which Protestants are to place their dependence. Whether we reason, as Mr. Gregg did with the Romanist priest, Mr. Maguire, when he said, “ I have succession from the apostles and ordination as well as you; I can shew that the last popish archbishop of Dublin was a convert, and became the first Protestant archbishop. I can shew that in most of the other sees the like occurred, though this one fact is sufficient for my purpose. I can shew that our church was at first free, but afterwards enslaved to the bishop of Rome; and how can you say, that throwing off the newer doctrines of popery, and returning to the doctrines of the primitive church, does not strengthen and not weaken my credentials? For I can prove succession from the apostles, as you can; and I can prove identity of doctrine with the primitive churches, which you cannot:
Or whether we contend that the Christian priesthood is a spiritual priesthood, as prefigured by Melchizedec, who is spiritually described without father, without mother, not like the Jewish priesthood, but without order of descent-in fact that the whole Christian community, with the ministry, forms a priesthood, offering a spiritual sacrifice of prayer :
In either case the Romanist can shew no such authority as the Protestant; for we have the scriptures, and an infallible guide to their essential truth. Churches, when faithful, have their office, regulating discipline, and supporting and disseminating truth; but truth can be applied to the heart only by divine aid, and churches are to be tried by scripture. The Galatians erred—the Corinthians erred, and St. Paul reproved them; and still the words of the apostle are
preserved, to correct churches, as well as to be a rule of faith for individuals. And so it was of old in the congregation of Israel; priests and people went astray, while the scripture was preserved by Providence to bring them back from error.
The Romanist says that we take the canonicity and authenticity of scripture on the authority of the church of Rome ; but he is deceived. The authenticity and the inspiration of the Old Testament is proved by the wonderful providence which has preserved the Jews to be witnesses of both to this day; and the inspiration of the New Testament is proved by the miraculous manner in which it accomplishes and completes the Old. Then the Greek, Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic churches preserved and acknowledge the same scriptures; as also the Albigensian churches, continually Protestant, which according to the confession of even Popish authorities themselves, existed from the time of the apostles, and extended into nearly every country; a people who lived justly before men, and believed rightly concerning God and all the articles contained in the creed. See Reiner. contra Heret. cap. iv. p. 54. So that the testimony to canonicity of any single communion, however extensive it may have been, is but a part of the evidence already referred to. But the strongest evidence of the inspiration of scripture yet remains; it is this the scriptures approve themselves of divine origin to every just man's conscience. Therefore
1 As an instance of the scripture approving itself to a just man's conscience, I can name an individual of credit who can testify, that he being present where several individuals met to read the Irish Bible, one man, before leaving the room, took the book in both his hands, and laid it on his breast, and said, "There is something in this book