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Observer, Aug. 1, "71.
he said, “ with the feeling of responsibility of which God will demand of me an account, I have set myself to study, with the most serious attention, the writings of the Old and New Testaments, and I have asked these venerable monuments of truth to make me know if the Holy Pontiff who presides there is truly the successor of St. Peter.
I have, then, opened these sacred pages. Well-shall I dare to say it ?-I have found nothing, either near or far, which sanctions the opinions of the Ultramontanes. And, still more, to my very great surprise I find no question, in the apostolic days, of a Pope successor to St. Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ, no more than of Mahomet, who did not then exist. You, Monsignor Manning, will say I blaspheme; you, Monsignor Pie, that I am mad. No, Monsignori, I do not blaspheme, and I am not mad. Now, having read the whole New Testament, I declare before God, with my hand raised to that great crucifix, that I have found no trace of the Papacy as it exists at this moment. · Reading, then, the sacred book's with that attention with which the Lord has made me capable, I do not find one single chapter or one little verse in which Jesus Christ gives to St. Peter the mastery over the apostles, his fellow-workers.". He goes on to say that Christ forbade His disciples to exercise lordship or have authority over the faithful, like the kings of the Gentiles, that it would have been as strange a thing to send Peter and John to Samaria, if Peter had been Pope in the modern sense, as it would be to send Pio Nono now on a mission to the East; that Peter did not summon the council at Jerusalem nor have any special authority in it; that St. Paul, whose authority cannot be doubted, says that the Church is built not on Peter, but on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. He stated that Scaliger, one of the most learned of men, had doubted whether Peter was ever at Rome. Being saluted here with the cries- Shut his mouth!” “Make him come down from the pulpit !” he said : " My venerable friends, we have a dictator, before whom we must prostrate ourselves and be silent, even his holiness Pius IX. This dictator is history. This is not like a legend, which can be made as the potter makes his clay, but is like a diamond, which cuts on the glass words which cannot be cancelled.” Further on he said : "Finding no trace of the Papacy in the days of the apostles, I said to myself I shall find what I am in search of in the annals of the Church, Well, I say it frankly, I have sought for a Pope in the first four centuries, and I have not found him.” He showed by quotation that St. Augustine and all the early Fathers considered the rock on which the Church was built “super petram," in the famous passage used by Rome, not to be Peter, but the confession of faith of the apostle. He continued, “I conclude victoriously with history, with reason, with logic, with good sense, and with a Christian conscience, that Jesus Christ did not confer any supremacy on St. Peter, and that the Bishops of Rome did not become sovereigns of the Church but by confiscating, one by one, all the rights of the Episcopate."
(Voices : "Silence, impudent Protestant; silence !") After describing the infamous characters of many of the Popes, he asked if they could decree their infallibility, and maintain that avaricious, incestuous, murdering, simoniacal Popes have been vicars of Jesus Christ. Oh! venerable brethren, to maintain such an enormity would be to betray Christ worse than Judas; it would be to throw dirt in His face." He stated, amidst great outeries, that if expelled, he and others would go before the world preaching "none other than Jesus Christ and Him cruci. fied;" they would « conquer through the preaching of the folly of the
Observer, Aug. 1, 71.
- cross." He, in conclusion, warned them against going farther on the odious and ridiculous incline on which they had placed themselves, and called on them to save the Church from the shipwreck which threatened her, asking from the holy Scriptures alone for the rule of faith which they ought to believe and profess.
OPPORTUNITY AND OPPOSITION.* “ For a great and effectual door is opened unto me; and there are many adversaries.”—1. Cor. xvi. 9.
In Scripture style, and indeed in classic style, door, in its metaphorical use, often signifies an opportunity. Thus, (Acts xiv. 27) Paul and Barnubus, on returning from their first missionary tour, related to the Church in Antioch “what things God did by them, and that He had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.” This does not mean, as many have supposed, that faith was the door through which the Gentiles entered into the Church ; but simply that God had given them an opportunity to believe, through the preaching of Paul and Barnabus. Again : * When I came to Troas, to preach Christ's Gospel and a door was opened unto me of the Lord" (1 Cor. ii. 12)—that is, a good opportunity was offered to preach the Gospel. And to the Colossians he says: “Pray for us that God would open to us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ” (Col. iv. 3)—that is, an oppoptunity to utter the word. And to the Church in Philadelphia, He “who opens and none can shut, and shuts and none can open,” says, I have set before thee an open door, which no one is able to shut” (Rev. iii. 7,8). I have made an opportunity of deliverance from thy adversaries, and an occasion to do good in my service.
According to our téxt, an unusual opportunity was afforded at Ephesus for preaching the Gospel-and it is called a great opportunity in reference to its extent, and effectual in regard to the effectiveness of the labour bestowed.
We learn from all these texts that in preaching the Gospel depends much on the providential openings that are granted. While the means divinely ordained for the world's salvation are always the same, and the Gospel is as much the power of God at one time as at another, so far as its essential efficacy is concerned; yet it does not always produce the same results, because the means of access to the hearts of men are not all times equal. It is not the Gospel in a book, or in the mind of the preacher, that is the power of God to salvation; but the Gospel in the sinner's heart, understood, believed and accepted. But the means of access to the individual heart, and to the hearts of a whole community, are no part of the Gospel. They furnish a channel through which that
Power, even to almightiness may be locked up in the Gospel; but it is just equal to no power at all, until it is brought to bear upon the sinner for whose salvation it is intended. It must, in some way, be transferred to his mind and heart and conscience; and, in effecting this transfer, much depends on the door of opportunity that may be opened. The state of the individual mind; the state of the public mind; the influences that may hold up or cast down ancient prejudices—that may carnalize the tastes of a population so as to destroy all desire after spiritual things, or blast that carnality by terrible experiences that set all
* An Address delivered before the Ohio Christian Missionary Society, at Dayton O., May 23, 1871. By Isaac Errett.
Observer, Aug. 1, '71.
hearts to hungering and thirsting after righteousness-that may lead a political power to prohibit the preaching of the Gospel, or to allow the liberty of speech-that hold up a sytem of error or imposture in a strength that defies all opposition, or, in a particular juncture, reveal its untrustworthiness or hideousness, so as to cause a decay of public confidence or a revolt of public sentiment: these have much to do with the matter of the Gospel's success. Hence the success of the Gospel is dependent on divine providence; and its success is therefore a subject of prayer. God raises up and casts down men and nations; grants prosperity to blind and harden men, and sends adversity to open their eyes and soften their hearts. The winds and waves, the treasures of rain and hail, and thunder and lightning; the caterpillar, the palmer-worm and the locust; war, famine, pestilence : commercial prosperity and disaster, and all other agencies and instrumentalities that effect the condition of society, and move on the hearts of men for salvation or destruction, are at His com. mand. He opens, and none can shut: He shuts, and none can open.
Th suggests to us a truth of the greatest possible moment. The success of the Gospel is not simply a question of ways and means of our creation or at our disposal. The Gospel may have in it--as it has all the saving power necessary for its object; we may have all the means necessary for its promulgation-eloquent preachers, learned advocates, powerful writers, men and money, numbers, social position, and all else that wise policy or worldly prudence could suggest—and yet if the door is not opened, if God open not the way of access to the hearts of men, vain is wealth and learning and skill, and system, and social influence, and vain, too, is Gospel truth and grace. I apprehend that much of the controversy on spiritual influences would cease if parties understood each other. I am inclined to think that what others call
, in one phase of the subject, the work of the Holy Ghost, we call Divine Providence, and the difference is about the name rather than the thing. Certain it is, we all admit that, while Paul may plant and Apollos water, it is God, and God alone, that gives the increase. We all pray for the conversion of sinners. We all feel, though none of us as deeply as we should—that if anything is done in the conversion of sinners, the utmost that man can say is, “Behold what God has done by me.” With others, this is called the immediate work of the Spirit; with us, it is called the gracious providence of God. Call it what you will—there must be a door opened; and it is God who opens the door. It is ours to pray for the opening, to watch for the opening; and when it comes, to enter in and work with God and for Him.
But our text places in juxtaposition with this thought of great opportunity providentially afforded, another thought, not in itself startling, but startling from the place it occupies, and the relation it bears ; that is, great opposition. Great opportunity and great opposition. A great and effectv.al door is opened, and there are many adversaries
. Strangely as this sounds, the association is not unnatural. The same soil that produces a luxuriant yield of corn, produces also a corresponding abundance of weeds and noxious plants. The same sun and rain that make the grass to spring, start also the poisonous vine ; and the slimy serpent is warmed into life by the beams of the same sun that speeds the flight of the lark and wakes his morning song. If the press gives us Bibles, it gives us also infidel books as read:ly. If free speech enables us to preach the Gospel without restraint, it equally removes restraint from the
of the Gospel. If the influences of the age quicken intellect and promote
education, this furnishes power as well to the foe as to the friend of Christ. If steam speeds the movements of the herald of truth, it equally speeds the movements of his adversary. And if the hearts of good men are stirred to attempt great things for God, it is to be expected that the hearts of bad men will be stirred to attempt great things in opposition. Moreover there is a law in the moral universe corresponding to that which prevails in the material system, by virtue of which harmony and equipoise are developed by the play of antagonistical forces. The centripedal and centrifugal forces belong to both systems; and far beyond what we can comprehend in our greatest grasp of thought, the purposes of God in behalf of ultimate order, peace and blessedness are developed in the fierce antagonisms of good and evil, truth and falsehood, life and death. We need not wonder, therefore, at the juxtaposition in our text of great opportunities with great oppositions. Inattention to the enevitable association of these is what gives rise to the entirely opposite estimates made of the age we live in. To some it is an age of great progress and of great glory. Slavery is dying ; liberty is triumphant ; thrones of despotism are tottering; Church and State are dissolving their accursed partnership; light is spreading the public conscience is becoming more sensitive; science is winning marvellous triumphs; war is losing its honours ; sectarianism is being shorn of its prestige; nations are coming into closer relations ; barbarous empires are opening their gates to Christian influences, and the millennium is surely coming! On the other hand, we have a most lugubrious outlook, and most dolorous vaticinations. Wars are more terrible than ever ; crime is rampant ; vice is shameless ; pride and fashion are swallowing up all manly virtue and womanly goodness ; stock gambling and drunkenness have utterly debauched the public conscience ; marriage has lost its sacredness and the foundations of society are crumbling; liberty is but a name; imperial despotism and red republicanism are but different phases of the same utter godlessness that blots out all virtue; the Pope of Rome is sup. planted by the more hateful and reckless King of Italy, crime is increasing, even in the lands where it was supposed it had reached its maximum; the world is Godless, the Church is Christless ; and there is no hope left for truth and virtue but for Christ to come and put an end to the controversy by the terrors of omnipotence.
These parties have each but half a picture. They are both right and both wrong, like the knights who fought over the shield which was gold on one side and silver on the other, but of which they each had seen but one side. Our text affords a solution of the difficulty: a great and effectual door is opened, and there are many adversaries.
This leads into the heart of our discourse—the encouragements and discouragements that belong to the work in which we are engaged. It is wise to look at both.
I. Let us look at the great and effectual door that is opened to us in our missionary work in the State of Ohio. Going back half a century, to the beginning of this reformatory movement, let us look at the errors and wrongs which the Reformers complained of as justifying their plea for reformation.
1. Numerous, ever-increasing and hostile sects, filled with strife and bitterness,“ hateful and hating one another.”
2. Human creeds, some of them of large dimensions, embodying much more philosophy than faith, and substituting metaphysical speculations for the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ; and these erected into standards
Observer, Aug. 1, 71,
of orthodoxy and tests of fellowship, so that believers, who ought to have been one in Christ, were alienated and divided by rival systems of theology, and ruled by party watchwords, such as the Bible knows nothing of, to the great scandal of the cause of Christ.
3. Religious mysticism—the simple faith and obedience to which the Gospel calls us being supplanted by mystical conceptions of spiritual influence, so that dreams, visions, strange sights and sounds, and unusual einotions were of more authority in the matter of regeneratian and conversion than the plainest declarations of the word of God; and a text of . Scripture springing into the memory under strong excitement of the mind, was more the voice of God than the soberest deductions resulting from careful and enlightened exegesis of the Holy Scriptures.
4. Hierarchical arrogance—the uplifting of clerical and priestly claims to expound the Scriptures that rule the Church of God; so that merely human inventions and pretensions were making void the commandments of God, and defacing, if not destroying the character of the Church of Christ as a spiritual brotherhood. Along with this were Formalism and Ritualism--the other extreme from that blind emotionalism mentioned in the last item-reducing religion to a stereotyped set of doctrines and round of ceremonies almost wholly unknown to the primitive church.
5. A superstitious reverence for King James' version of the Scriptures -so that its very errors and absurdities were regarded as inspired, and all attempts to remove them by faithful and learned criticism as sacrilege.
The results of all this were deplorable Religion was to myriads & matter of awful uncertainty—there was no telling whether one was a Christian or not. Men vibrated between exultant hope and blank despair, all life long, robbed of settled peace in believing. Myriads more were driven into doubt as to the truth of religion itself. Party animosities not only divided and distracted the forces which ought to have been moving on in harmony for the conquest of the world, but presented so hateful an aspect of religious life to the world as to rob it of converting power. The clangour and clashings of theological warfare did not sound like that sweet singing of the angels when Christ was born-Glory to God in the highest peace on earth and good will to man. Moreover, the rivalries of sects gave rise to every sort of effort on the part of each to gain or to maintain the ascendancy; so that the Church was largely secularized, and the power of primitive unity, spirituality and singleness of purpose almost utterly lost. This is a sad picture—but it is very feebly and dimly drawn, and does injustice to the truth in its too limited and too feeble statements.
In opposition to all this the plea for reformation was sent forth, marked by the following distinctive features :
1. The essential unity of the followers of Christ. Sects are unscriptural, mischievous and wicked, and the people of God should abandon them and return to the original teaching of our Lord, one faith, one body, one Spirit, one hope, one God and Father of all.
2. The alone-sufficiency and the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice. Authoritative human creeds should be abandoned, and nothing be required as a term of membership in the Church, or as a bond of fellowship for which there cannot be produced a Thus saith the Lord, in express precept or approved precedent.
3. The Gospel the power of God to salvation, in opposition to all professed revelations of the Spirit in dreams, visions, voices and impressions. The Gospel consists of (1)-facts-facts replete with wisdom, grace and