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the Protestant communion. The Protestants dare not affirm that there is no salvation in the communion of Rome, prudence therefore requiresme to abandon the Protestant religion, and to embrace the Roman, because, in the opinion of the Protestants, it is at the most only probable that I should perish in the church of Rome, whereas in the opinion of the Roman catholics, it is demonstrative, that I should be damned in the protestant community.” We will not attempt to investigate this point of history, by examining whether these Protestant ministers betrayed our religion by advancing a proposition contrary to it, or whether these historians betrayed the truth by altering the answer attributed to our ministers. Whatever we think of this historical fact, we affirm with St. John, that Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
However, we ought to make a cautious distinction concerning doctrines, as we do concerning precepts, a distinction between questions of fact and questions of right. There is a question of right in regard to precepts, as for example; Is a course of life opposite to the precepts of the gospel a damnable state? To this we reply, Undoubtedly it is. There is also a question of fact, as for example; Shall all those who follow such a course of life suffer all the rigor of damnation? A wise man ought to pause before he answers this question ; because he doth not know whether a man, who had spent one part of his life in a course of vice, may not employ the remaining part in repentance, and so pass into a state, to which the privileges of repentance are annexed. In like manner, there are questions of fact and questions of right in regard to doctrines. The questions of right in regard to the present doctrine is this; Can we be saved in an idolatrous
community ? Certainly we cannot. The question of fact is this; Will every member of an idolatrous community be damned ? A wise man ought to suspend his judgment on this question; because he, who had spent one part of his life in an idolatrous community, may employ the remaining part in repenting, and consequently may share the privileges of repentance. Except in this case, according to our principles, Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. But, according to our principles, the Roman catholic church is guilty of idolatry; consequently, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome, if they do not forsake that community, are among such as shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
If it be necessary to prove that according to our principles, the church of Rome is guilty of idolatry, the evidence is easily obtained. Let us form a distinct idea of what, agreeably to scripture, we call idolatry. To regard a simple creature as God supreme; to render to a simple creature the worship that is due only to the supreme God, is what we call idolatry. Now, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome do render to a creature, to a bit of bread, such worship as is due only to the supreme God. By consequence, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome are guilty of idolatry.
They defend themselves by a somewhat specious, but groundless argument. It was employed by a man* who disgraced his name by abandoning the Protestant religion, though, thanks be to God, I hope, I and my family shall always be enabled to continue it in the list of sincere Protestants. His
* Mr. Saurin of Paris.
words are these: “Two or three articles, saith he, excited strong prejudices in my mind against the church of Rome; transubstantiation, the adoration of the holy sacrament, and the infallibility of the church. Of these three articles, that of the adoration of the holy sacrament led me to consider the church of Rome as idolatrous, and separated me from its communion. A book, which I one day opened without design, instantly removed this objection. There I found a distinction between error of place in worship and error of object. The catholic worships Jesus Christ in the eucharist, an object truly adorable. There is no error in this respect. If Jesus Christ be not really present in the eucharist, the catholic worships him where he is not; this is a mere error of place, and no crime of idolatry.” A mere sophism ! By the same argument the Israelites may be exculpated for rendering divine honors to the golden calf. We must distinguish error of place froin error of object. The Israelite worships in the golden calf the true God, an object truly adorable. To-morrow is a feast to the Lord, the God, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, Exod. xxii. 5. 4. There is no error in this respect. If God be not really present in the golden calf the Israelite worships him where he is pot, a mere error of place, and not the crime of idolatry. But St. Stephen saith expressly that this calf was an idol. They made a calf, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, Acts vii. 41. By consequence error of place in worship doth not exculpate men from idolatry. As therefore, according to our principles, there is an error of place in the worship, which Roman catholics render to their host, so also according to our principles, they are guilty of idolatry.
But are we speaking only according to our own
principles? Have we seen any thing in the wilderness of Sinai, which we do not daily see in the Roman communion ? Behold, as in the desert of Sinai, an innumerable multitude, tired of rendering spiritual worship to an invisible God, and demanding gods to be made which shall go before them! Behold, as in the desert of Sinai, a priest forming with his own hands, a god to receive supreme adoration! See, as in the desert, a little matter modified by a mortal man, and placed upon the throne of the God of heaven and earth! Observe, as in the desert Israelites liberally bestowing their gold and their jewels to deck and adorn, if not to construct the idol! Hark! as in the desert of Sinai, priests publish profane solemnities, and make proclamation, saying, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord ! Behold, as in the desert, the people rising early on festivals to perform matins! Hearken! criminal voices declare, as in Sinai, These are thy gods, or this is thy god, O Israel, who brought thee up out the land of Egypt. What am I saying? I hear expressions more shocking still. This is, O shame of christianity! O scandal in the eyes of all true christians! This is, yea, this bit of bread, on which a priest hath written, Jesus Christ the saviour of mankind, this is thy God. This is the God, whom all the angels in heaven adore. This is the God, by whom all things were created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. This is the God, who upholdeth alt things by the word of his power. This is the God, who in the fulness of time took mortal flesh. This is the God, who for thy salvation, O Israel, was stretched on the cross. This is he, who in the garden of Gethsemane said, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, Matt. xxvi. 39 who rose conqueror over death and the
who passed into the heavens, and at whose ascension the heavenly intelligences exclaimed, Lift up your heads, Oye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, that the Lord of hosts, the king of glory may come in, Psal. xxiv. 7. &c. 0 Judah, Judah, thou hast justified thy sister Samaria. Oye deserts of Sinai, never did ye see any thing equal to what our weeping eyes behold! Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come hither. Ye sons of Levi, separated to the service of the Lord, consecrate yourselves to-day to Jehovah. .... But what are we about? Are we interrupting the soft still voice of the gospel, to utter the thundering commands of mount Sinai? Shall we command you to-day, as Moses did formerly the Levites, put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every mun his neighbor ? ..... Ah, Rome! Were we to adopt this method you could not reproach us; you could only complain, that we were too ready to learn the lesson you have taught us, and too eager to imitate your bloody example! Even in such a case we should have one great advantage over you, our hands would grasp the murdering sword to destroy thee only for the glory of God, whereas thine hath butchered us for the honor of an idol! We are not come with fire, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest; but Zion though all mangled by thy cruelty, utters only cool exhortations, affectionate remonstrances, and tender intreaties, she fights only with the sword of the spirit, and the hammer of the word, Eph. vi. 17. Jer. xxiii. 29. Ah poor people! How long will you live without perceiving the golden candlestick, which Jesus Christ hath lighted up in his church ! May God