« AnteriorContinua »
“ doubtless be best consulted by such con“ cessions and changes in discipline, as “ the reason, or even the prejudices of the
age may seem to demand ";" and he especially recommended a restoration of the
cup to the laity, and the use of a vernacular tongue.
Such is the religion of the Church of Rome, not as it was professed by illiterate votaries and artful priests in the ages of darkness, superstition, and bigotry; not as it has been exaggerated by the jealousy of enemies; not as it is represented in the heatand irritation of controversy ; but as it is defended with all the calmness and deliberation of voluntary apologists; as it is discussed in the learned leisure of an academical professor; as it is cursorily and gratuitously insinuated into the pages of a traveller of taste and erudition, of candour and moderation, of truth and honest zeal.
If his dignified acknowledgments of existing error, if his wise saggestions of prac
n Vol. iv. p. 405.
ticable reform, should ever be embraced and carried into execution, there would arise a fair prospect of reunion and reconciliation. Possessing the essence of the same apostolical constitution, of the same evangelical faith, which have been swelled at Rome with many traditional superstitions, we should rejoice in everything which tends to remove these superfluous vanities, which interrupt our cordial intercourse and communion. It is against the traditional rule of faith, and the exaggerated authority of the Church, that the force of every Protestant argument should be directed. If these can be overthrown, smaller differences will immediately subside: while these remain, reconciliation can neither be obtained nor desired. However temporizing be the policy of her government, the Church of Rome is inflexible in maintaining her doctrinal opinions ; and whatever be the talent or the subtlety of her apologists, her authorized professions must always be the same. The charmi of infallibility is destroyed for ever, when the Church shall decree that to be error,
which she hath previously decreed to be truth.
It is plain from the accomplished words of prophecy, that such a power was to exist: if men may presume to interpret what the event has not revealed, it is also ordered in the counsels of the Father, that this power shall be no more.
The rapid revolutions of the age have led men with too much fondness to anticipate the days of the true Catholic emancipation; and the cautious theologian will rather rejoice in hope that the time is limited, than presume to number the days of the beginning or the end. Be it our wisdom not to renovate a power, which may be decaying; not to propagate a tyranny, which ought to be subdyed. Let us not be beguiled by the insidious sophistry, nor connive in the easy credulity, with which the cause of error is maintained ; nor while the Romanist acknowledges one practical infirmity, let us fail to insist upon the ruined claims of an infallible Church. With the Bible in our hands, let us dwell on the prophecies, which foretell the progress of
apostasy, as an evil of which it becomes us to beware; and, on the same authority, let us learn to distinguish the revelations of God from the traditions of men, and found our faith on the imperishable rock of scriptural truth.
That the effects of bigotry, superstition, and intolerance, may be counteracted with success, and be succeeded by charity and forbearance, by holiness and meekness, and the “ faith which worketh by love,” should be the prayer
and the effort of every disciple of the Lord. May reconciliation and union, peace, holiness, and truth, in all the variety of conflicting opinions, be our object and our aim : and may the blessing of God be given to every thing which tends to confirm the authority of his Holy Scriptures, to establish and define the power which he has given to his Church, for edification and not for destruction, and remove from it every corruption and occasion of offence in its principles, in its worship, in its ministry, and its faith. United in love, and founded upon everlasting truth, may the several members be so compacted, that the uni