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Lib. v. c. 24.) This precisely accords with our canon, (excluding all the Apocryphal books,) except that after the “ Proverbs of Solomon," he mentions • Wisdom,” which Rupin and Pineda, a Romanist, say, means the same with Proverbs, i. e. “ PROVERBS OR WIS
."-Athanasius, in his synopsis, gives our canon. Hilary, who was contemporary with Athanasius, rejects the “ Wisdom of Sirach," • Judith, Tobit," &c. Augustine calls the Jews, the “LIBRARIANS” of the Christian church. The Council of Laodicea, (Can. 60th, See Labbæus and Cossarte on the sacred councils,) gives our canon and excludes the Apocrypha ;-And so from age to age, down to Erasınus, we have a line of testimony against the canon decreed by the Council of Trent. It is true these Apocryphal hooks were considered by the early Christians as ecclesiastical histories, which might, be read with profit, bating their errors and extravagancies ; but not inspired, and therefore not canonical ; and it was by unperceived degrees, and through a series of ages, that the way was prepared for CANONIZING them at Trent, in the 16th century. Your church therefore has not the pure word of God. Instead of handing down the truth, it has exceedingly corrupted it, and that at the fountain head. At this we need not be surprised, when we call to mind, that many of her doctrines rest for authority on these Apocryphal books.
By the same facts it appears that the Protestant canon is the true word of God, as held by his people from the beginning. When therefore you ask me how we know that such and such books are canonical, you may hereafter know that we do not learn it from the church of Rome, which has corrupted the canon. And when you say, at the 6th head of your last letter, “How does he, (the Protestant,) know that the Book, (the Bible,) is in all respects now the same that it was, when it came from the hands of its inspired authors ? Has it been correctly translated ? Has it been fairly copied, from one manuscript to another previous to printing ?" I reply, full well we know, that if this matter had been left to those hands that added the Apocryphal books to the word of God--that forged decretals, and erased the testimony of the Fathers—we might have trembled for the ark, and despaired of the word of God. But a gracious Providence, before the canon was corrupted by your church, and before it was in its power to shut in the Bible, had caused it to be translated into many languages -published in many countries—and preserved and transmitted it by so many hands, and channels, that we need look not at all to the church of Rome for this precious treasure. I regret that room is wanting to extend the argument for the true rule of faith. But I must, before I close, notice your most wanton admission, as to the evidences of the Saviour's divinity in the sacred volume. In the 1st head of your letter, No. 9, you hold the following language : "Let him, (the Protestant reader,) take up the Bible, and read these words of our blessed Redeemer,—the Father and I are one'-turn then to the other words—the Father is greater than I.' That one passage is to be explained by the other is certain ; but which shall take the preference of the other, the sacred writings do not determine." The obvious tendency of this statement is to sacrifice that eternal doctrine of the Christian scheme, or else arrive at it by the authority of your church.
Indeed in so many words you admit, that “the sacred writings do not determine which shall take the preference of the other."—And will you say then that the Bible contradicts itself, and that God cannot so speak to man in his word, that he shall not contradict himself ? And that men are necessary to prevent God from contradicting himself in his Revelations ? And is Bellarmine so lucid, and so plain, that you insult me for differing from you as to his meaning, and yet tell us that God cannot so speak as to be consistent or intelligent without the glosses of councils and the mediation of Popes? Does language lose its sense, or thought its lustre, and point in the hands of the Holy Spirit alone ?— Truly I know not whether it be most profane or puerile—to speak as you have done! But there is this good from so great an evil, THAT ALL THE WORLD MAY IN THIS SEE HOW IT IS THAT ROME AND HER SONS LIGHT THEIR CANDLES TO HELP
In fine, he who runs may reconcile the passages you cite, and so greatly slander. Without the full and proper mean ing of both, Christ could not have been the Saviour of the world.
THE SUN TO SHINE.
CONTROVERSY. No. XI.
RULE OF FAITH.
Philadelphia, April 12, 1833. TO THE Rev. John BRECKINRIDGE.
Rev. Sir,— The polite charge with which you begin your last let. ter, where you accuse me with having departed from the dignity of a minister, and the decencies of a gentleman,” is not in good keeping with that evangelical meekness, which is the loveliest, if not the most brilliant, ornament of the ministerial character. I had stated indeed, that several of your assertions were “ untrue ;" but I did not charge you with either " deliberate falsehood” as you assert, or with a “want of veracity.” On the contrary, I suggested that you had been deceived by following in the beaten path of calumny and misrepresentation, which has been trodden with impunity, by many of your predecessors in controversy. You seem to have imagined that I should receive your unfounded statements, with the same implicit confidence as the young lady in Baltimore, to whom you addressed the famous epistle published in the Christian Advocate of last August. But was this expectation reasonable ?
I engaged in the controversy, neither as the enemy of Protestants, nor as the echo of their prejudices; but as the advocate of TRUTH ; and shall I not oppose assertions which are untrue, so often as you leave it in my power? It is not my business to inquire who was guilty of the " deliberate falsehoods,” and “want of veracity," which you are pleased to consider as charged upon yourself. It is enough for me, that on each of the six heads enumerated in my last letter, you have asserted what is “ untrue.” To the arguments of that letter on the whole question, I refer the reader, and I appeal with contidence to his candour, to say whether in it, I have departed from either the “ dignity of a minister," or the “decencies of a gentletleman.” If I found in your letters, assertions which are untrue, had I not a right, nay, was I not bound to expose them as such ? Which of us offended-you in making,--or I in detecting them? you insisted, did I not propose that a sworn interpreter of languages should decide between us? Was this ungentlemanly? If you were as convinced that those assertions are true, as I am that they are untrue, would you not have been glad of such an opportunity to have them cleared up? Would not this course have been much more honourable to you and your cause, than that which you have adopted, by indulging a fretfal pen, and imputing to me a "departure from the dignity of a minister, and the decencies of a gentleman.” Did you dread the presence of a sworn interpreter? Then, there must be cause for your timidity. This, I think, is the legitimate inference which your shrinking from so impartial a test, will warrant in the mind of the intelligent reader, no matter what may be his creed.
But you will say you have not shrunk from it-and refer to the following passage for the evidence: “If you will add to the points
you mention, the question about the Catechism of the Council of Trent"—(certainly I will)" and the other catechisms" (there has been no dispute about them) " and about the Pope calling himself God;" (the Pope never called himself God.) also the question of the true sense of my extract from the Council of Lateran” (with great pleasure) “and the interpretation of 2 Peter i. 20.—” (What! abandon the Protestant rule of faith? A sworn interpreter to decide the meaning of Scripture—to help the sun to shine!") " then I will promptly agree to such a reference, it being understood that the parties shall be neither Roman Catholics nor Presbyterians.” The "party" may be a Turk, or a JEW ;-provided he be a good Latin scholar, and an honest man. I am satisfied to leave the points on | which we are at issue, to the decision of the Professor of languages in the University of Pennsylvania. Will you agree to this reference ? If so, advise me of it in your next letter. He is a Protestant clergyman, but he is a scholar, and a gentleman of literary, as well as moral integrity, and I want no more.
With regard to the Westminster Confession of Faith from which I quoted, it is now on my table, and I invite any gentleman who may choose, to come and see, whether I have made even a mistake, in my quotation from it. It is the original, genuine, Westminster Confession of Faith. And any other book, containing either more or less, is not the original, genuine Westminster Confession. I considered it as the standard of Presbyterianism on the authority of Dr. Miller, who tells us that, by the act of the Synod of Philadelphia in 1729, called the “ Adopting Act," not only candidates but professed ministers were OBLIGED to allopt it as such. Now it did not occur to me, that a book, which in 1729, ministers were “ OBLIGED" to adopt as the summary of doctrines contained in the Scriptures, could so far have degenerated, as to become a spurious authority in 1833. Have the doctrines contained in the Scriptures changed? If not, why was the summary of them changed ? But without explaining this, you tell us, that some fifty years ago, the “ offensive passages,” which I have quoted, were “solemnly rejected.” What ! Part of the summary of the doctrines contained in the Scriptures, “ solemnly rejected !" And rejected, why? because they were “offensive !” But may not the same authority adopt them again, as soon as political circumstances may make it convenient to do so ? You
say, they are not, and NEVER WERE, a part of your standards.” But Dr. Miller asserts positively, the contrary; and you are both Presbyterians, who can, no doubt, reconcile the contradiction without the intervention of an interpreter. You are both teachers in Israel, and it is not for me to say which of you has stumbled in the testimony.
That the Westminster Divines were “ appointed by order of Parliament to make a religion for the united kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland,” is an historical fact, at which I am surprised you should take exception. The Act of Parliament by which they were appointed," and the wages which they received from the public treasury, four shillings per diem, for their labour and expenses, are on permanent record. What, then, were they appointed and paid for, if it was not for “making a religion for the three kingdoms ?"
So much then, for the Westminster Confession of Faith, and my quotations from it. As to your charge against me for having garbled Tertullian, I shall do full justice to it in the sequel of this letter. In the mean time permit me to say that you have entirely, (intentionally or otherwise) violated your engagement, in departing from the subject of discussion, which is the rule of faith. You had frequently informed me in our preliminary arrangements, that your object was the investigation of truth. If this then is your object, why do you shun that process by which truth and error may be distinguished? Why do you discuss doctrines, before you have determined, or at least examined, the principle, by which true doctrines are to be tested? The rule of faith, and not the prejudices of our readers, is the tribunal at which doctrines must stand or fall. The rule of faith is a primury question ; on this depends the solution of every other. The Protestant rule of faith, stripped of its sophistry, is “ every man's opinion of the Bible"--which is a very different thing from the Bible alone. Protestants, in following their own opinions, have taken it for granted, that they were following the “pure word of God,” the “ Bible alone”—and their education, books, parents, and ministers have all conspired to enbalm this delusion. In my last letter I exposed in six distinct arguments, the fallacy of the Protestant rule of faith, and instead of attempting to answer them, you indulge in a strain or invectives against the popes. They obliged kings to hold their stirrup,” and “ kiss their feet.”' But every Protestant child knew this before. These are mere nursery tales--and to those who have been conversant with the most abusive productions against the Catholic religion, I am sure your letters do not convey a single new idea, much less an argument. And how will this meet the expectation of intelligent Protestants .? They look for argument and reasoning-and you furnish them with the mere elements of prejudice. They ask for bread, and you give them a stone.
What have you opposed to the arguments of my last letter? Nothing that I can perceive, except assertion, invective, and misrepresentation. Your first has reference to the Council of Lateran.
Catholics, as I have repeatedly stated, understand the distinction between doctrine, discipline, and ceremonies-and candid Protestants will not be at a loss to comprehend your reason for extending the infallibility of the church to every enactment recorded in her history. You have even coined infallibility for the 3d canon of the Council of Lateran, and put it into circulation in several paragraphs of your last letter—as genuine Catholic doctrine. It is however, decidedly spurious. I again repeat, that the infallibility secured to the church by the word and promise of Jesus Christ, is claimed for the preservation and definition of those DOCTRINES of faith and principles of morality of which Jesus Christ made the revelation to the world. But according to your misrepresentation, cvery thing done by a council or pope must be infallible! The explanation of this canon given in my last letter, will satisfy the candid reader, that it was an arrangement entered into, by the common consent of the church and states, for a special purpose, and a temporary duration. It had no relation to sovereigns, but only to lords of fees, who, according to the system