« AnteriorContinuar »
predicted apostacy; but that they are scattered, though in different proportions, over the whole of nominal Christendom. We turn from mutual accusation to inquiry after the portion of the evil which we may have shared, and endeavour to correct it. What Presbyterian does not blush at the stern hatred of his forefathers to Rome, as the only Antichrist? What Churchman should not be ashamed of such a paltry excuse for depriving his Catholic fellow-subject of civil rights ? Our attention is drawn from men to systems; to religious tyranny, mystery, idolatry, fraud, persecution; they alone are held up to hatred, opposition, condemnation and destruction. May they perish, and for ever!
Yet it must be noticed, as forming a strong presumption against the Trinitarian Creed, that while in itself it seems to correspond with part of the account given in Scripture of the great apostacy, it has undeniably been closely entangled, and deeply involved, in the progress of that apostacy. That it is mysterious its advocates readily admit, and frequently they avow and dwell upon the fact, for the purpose of commanding reverence, avoiding explanation, or stopping inquiry. That it is idolatrous they also grant, unless its truth be established. The men whom Paul describes as corrupters of the faith, and believers of a lie, were its authors and propagators. The Councils which destroyed Chris
tian liberty were held for its defence. The succession of false miracles, which marked the apostacy, was wrought in its proof. The civil establishments, which degraded Christianity, propped up Trinitarianism. It was the faith given instead of the Bible, or subscribed with the Bible. Persecution has been its handmaid. Till very lately, even in this country, to deny it was an offence subject to heavy penalties. All this is ground for strong suspicion, anterior to any detailed examination of Scripture upon the subject.
How manifold are the evils which Antichrist, í . .
(i. e. the assumptions and practices which have been enumerated, in whatever party they be found,) has inflicted upon the human race! The pure gospel was a rich source of blessedness. Every kind affection sprung up at its approach, like the flowers at the return of spring. Men - learned to love their God, and one another.
Dismally was the scene reversed, when a counterfeit gospel was palmed upon the world. The authors of that change are accountable for a mass of guilt and misery.
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it seemed as if all Europe were propelled on Asia. Christendom was roused to a holy war.
The cross decked the ensign and the weapon of slaughter. The minds of millions were maddened with superstitious fury, and a road was cut to the holy
sepulchre by battle, siege, murder and massacre -aye, indiscriminate massacre of sex and age, preparatory to religious procession to the tomb of Jesus ! What is to be charged with these infernal deeds and passions, but the corruptions of Christianity?
What a miserable object is the ignorant and misguided slave of superstition! For him, the avenues of science are closed; the affections of benevolence are chilled; he worships an unknown God; he looks for salvation to his saint, and for pardon to his priest; instead of being lower than the angels,” he is scarcely above the brutes; reason is absorbed in passion and instinct; he is played upon, and trodden upon, at his master's pleasure: and what has made him-made nations such things as these? The corruptions of Christianity.
They have also occasioned much infidelity. Man is not always to be condemned for not distinguishing between Christianity, in itself, and in the declarations and faith of all around him. We may sometimes see a man, of mighty mind and noble heart, entering the lists against the gospel, denouncing its author for an enthusiast, his apostles as deceivers, its records as forgeries, and its tendency as detestable. The corruptions of Christianity have dimmed his intellectual sight, and drenched his soul with moral poison.
We see Christians hating, instead of loving
one another; separating, when they should unite; conflicting, when they should co-operate; causing the limitation of the gospel, when they might ensure its extension: they have burned with the fires of persecution, when they should have warmed with the glow of charity; they have been tyrants by penal laws, when they should have been brethren by the law of love; they have anathematized, when they should have blessed ;—and what breeds all this confusion, but the corruptions of Christianity!
Yes; they have crushed the mind of man, and waged exterminating war with truth and charity: they have dethroned the Saviour, and given the sovereignty of the church, delegated by God to him alone, to tyrants, priests and partizans: they have polluted the temple with unhallowed worship, and bartered the word of God for wealth, or made it a stepping-stone to seats of power. Ought not this evil spirit to be laid-to be bound in chains for ever? This consummation is promised. The Babylon of the Apocalypse was utterly destroyed. The entranced apostle heard the shout of righteous exultation, “as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of
many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Paul gives a like cheering prospect in his prophecy of the “ man of sin, that Wicked, whom
the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming." And here is, probably, an allusion to the word of God, as the means by wbich that event shall be accomplished. The study, examination and diffusion of the Scriptures, must be fatal ultimately to all unfounded pretensions, all errors in doctrine and worship, all unchristian practices. It is by the devout study of the word of God that both the individual and the world must be enlightened, reformed, improved, and led on towards perfection. Let me exhort every one seriously to inquire of those oracles, that if there be any thing anti-christian in his opinions, feelings, or conduct, it may be destroyed.
Read the Bible, and you will own no Master but Christ. You will see that he alone was commissioned of God to speak the words of eternal life, and that by yourself they must be interpreted for yourself. You will repel the dictation of man, in however elevated a station, as an insulting interference between the Teacher and the disciple. You will prefer the simplicity in of apostolic teaching, to the mysteries of modern orthodoxy; the genuine creed of Paul, “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," to the forged creed of Athanasius. Instead of repeating, in the spirit of bigotry,“ Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic