« הקודםהמשך »
What is POPERY ? is a question which has, of late, been more frequently asked than accurately answered. The friends and opponents of this system have each, in turn, offered their reply; but with so little satisfaction to the unprejudiced enquirer, that no apology, it is presumed, is necessary for this further attempt to place the merits of the Question fairly and impartially before the Public; especially at a period when the excitement which the recent Parliamentary Discussion of the Catholic Question first originated, is so ably, nobly, and piously sustained by the labors of the British Reformation Society; a society which seeks to recal to the Protestants of Britain those purer and better periods of England's History, when the Abominations of the “Man of Sin,” were not only accurately known in all their atrocity ; but ably combated by the most profound learning, the most splendid talents, and the most fervent and solid piety. But on this subject, however interesting, the author must forbear, whilst Apos
he offers to his Readers the following outline of the origin and design of the work, which now solicits their candid and favorable attention.
Having, for many years, directed his attention to the points at issue between the Church of Rome, and the Reformed Churches of Germany, and of Britain, the author has often had occasion to lament the want of an accurate, authentic, and authoritative statement of the matter of Controversy. The “ Confessions” of the Continental Churches ; and the Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies of our own, leave nothing to be desired as to one side of the question ; but the Church of Rome has no similar abstract to present. The “ tolical and Ecclesiastical Traditions, with the rest of the Constitutions, and Observations of the said Church ;” as embodied in the Decrees and CANONS of her EIGHTEEN GENERAL COUNCILS, and in the multitude of her PONTIFICAL BULLs,—all and each of which, as thus delivered, defined, and declared, are binding on the faith and conscience of every individual member of that Church, under the most solemn obligation,-occupy in extent nearly Twenty Folio VOLUMES; and these in a language totally unintelligible to a vast majority of her own people, as well as to the world generally.
It is true we have Catechisms and Explanations in abundance; but of these it is enough to say, that, whilst they exhibit the opinions of their respective writers, and are well calculated to modify, extenuate, and explain away some of the more obnoxious tenets
of Popery, they are still wanting in authority. It has often happened, that the statements of these individuals, however respectable and worthy, have been mistaken for those of “THE CHURCH ;” than which nothing can be more erroneous, or mischievous. It is the asserted INFALLIBILITY of the Roman Church which renders HER OWN exhibition of doctrine so important and alone satisfactory. “All other opinions," says Mr. BUTLER, “ though they be the opinions of the most respectable writers; though they be the opinions of the Fathers of the Church; still they are but matters of opinion, and not Articles of Faith.” Aware of the improved spirit of the age, and the
, advance of knowledge among the great mass of mankind, by which the rights of conscience and of private judgment have become better understood, and the conformity of opinions to the only standard of Divine truth better ascertained, modern Roman Divines, especially those of France and England, have, in the exercise of a wise policy, forborne altogether the statement of the more obnoxious tenets of their Church, whilst some are but feebly vindicated, and others most cautiously explained.
To ascertain, beyond possibility of doubt or question, the real, naked, undisguised DOCTRINES of the Church of Rome, apart from the glosses and apologetical explanations of her advocates, the Author, in obedience to her own injunctions, has sought them in the Bulls of her Popes, and the Decrees of her Coun
cils, especially the “Most Holy” one of Trent: and, for assuring the Reader of the fidelity of his extracts, reference is perpetually made to the particular Canon, Council, and Bull, from whence they are taken. Such a process seems wholly unobjectionable; and cannot fail to protect him from the suspicion of misrepresenting those opinions from which he could not but conscientiously dissent. The result of this enquiry is now offered to the Public, in the conviction that these pages contain a fair, unprejudiced, and authoritative statement of that “ Faith out of which none can,” in the judgment of the Romanist,“ be saved, and which he promises, vows, and swears to retain, whole and entire, to his life's end." These doctrines are not merely speculative, or matters of doubtful disputation, on which wise and good men may differ in the spirit of charity ; nor questions which affect only the letter of the word of God. On the contrary, they relate to what is supremely important,—the justification of man in the sight of God; involving, in their acceptance or rejection, the honour and glory of God in the salvation of the world. Are these doctrines, we ought seriously to enquire, according to godliness? Are they sanctioned by “the law and the testimony” of God? And, on what authority are they offered to our belief, as necessary to salvation? To assist in the prosecution of such enquiries, the Author has subjoined to the Doctrinal Statements of the Church of Rome, various remarks and observations, in which he has fully shown