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which we are justified is the favour of God alone, let him be accursed.”
In like manner, that Church insists on the merit of good works, and that a man can really deserve increase of grace, eternal life, the enjoyment of that eternal life, if he dies in a state of grace, and even an increase of glory.” Nay, she asserts the possibility of doing more good works than are sufficient for a man's own justification : so that he can merit on behalf of others. These works of supererogation, as they are called, (these superabundant merits of the saints,) are treasured up, and kept as it were in bank, by the Pope ; so that he can dispense them to those whom he favours, and thus supply the defects of their obedience.
This was the doctrine which especially excited the indignation of the reformers, and which they combated with unceasing earnestness. It is a doctrine which we also must combat, if we are determined to hold fast the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and prevent the foundation of our hope from being destroyed. If, either in whole or in part, we are to be justified by our own works, who can tell that his works are sufficient to gain acceptance for him? Rather, I should say, who can avoid being sensible of such deficiencies, even in his best endeavours, and of such offences in his daily conduct, that, instead of being justified by his obedience, he must be condemned for his disobedience, unless God will graciously impute righteousness without works, and bestow on him the blessedness of those " whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered ?"
VIII. This most baneful error naturally paves the way for the doctrine of purgatory; the place (says Cardinal Bellarmine) “in which the souls of those persons are purified, who were not fully cleansed on earth, in order that they may be prepared for heaven, wherein nothing shall enter that defileth.” In this purgatory the Council of Trent declares, “ that the souls there detained are helped by the masses, alms, and other good works of the living." It is easy to perceive, how gainful a doctrine this is to the priests, who pretend that they can, by their prayers and masses, obtain the mitigation and shortening of the pains endured in this awful place of suffering. But, my brethren, the Scripture teaches us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin ;" that "
“ by him all that believe are justified from all things;" that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Away, then, with a notion which invalidates the merits of the Saviour; which contradicts the assertion, that “as the tree falleth, so it must lie,” and that there is a great gulf between the saved and the condemned, which cannot be passed over; which denies also that blessed proclamation, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours."
IX. If I were to attempt an enumeration and refutation of all the errors of this corrupt Church, I know not when I could conclude. I must not, however, omit a reference to those concerning image-worship and the invocation of saints and angels, which are directly prohibited by the two first commandments. Surely, when we are taught to worship the Lord our God and him only, we are forbidden to pray even to the highest of
his creatures. When Cornelius fell at the feet of Peter, he said, "Stand up; I myself also am a man.” When John fell down before the angel to worship him, he said, “See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus.” With respect to image-worship, it is evident, by the omission of the second commandment from their catechisms, that the papists feel it to be condemned by that commandment; another instance of their rejecting the precept of God, that they may keep their own tradition. It is true, that they make a distinction as to the kind of worship, and deny that they worship the image, but only him whom it represents; and sometimes they say, that they only worship before it, that their devout affections may be excited. Even if the more enlightened amongst them do this, the unlearned and ignorant do not. Besides, God has said not only, “thou shalt not serve them, but thou shalt not bow* thyself to them ;" and therefore no excuse can avail for the toleration of such a practice.
Yet if the lawfulness of this, or of any other of the doctrines or practices insisted upon by the Church of Rome, is denied, he who ventures upon that denial is declared a heretic. And though, in the present day, the advocates of that Church disclaim her authority to punish heretics with death, yet is it most distinctly
• The original word in the commandment for bowing down is the same as that used Gen. xxiii. 7, where it is said that “ Abraham bowed himself to the children of Heth.” It was lawful for him to bow to fellow-creatures in courtesy; but it is not lawful to shew any such mark of respect to an image.
asserted in her catechisms and authorised formularies of doctrine. To the question, • Are heretics justly punished with death ?" it is answered, “Yes, because forgers of money, and other disturbers of the state, are justly punished with death, therefore also heretics, who are forgers of the faith, and, as experience testifies, grievously disturb the state.” As an argument to support this doctrine, the papists quote the example of the condemnation of John Huss by the Council of Constance: but we have no need to go abroad for evidence. The cruel martyrdom of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, of the hundreds who were burnt in the bloody reign of Mary, shews how the Church of Rome deals with heretics. Nay, even in Ireland, at the present day, her priests excite the people to murder those who distribute the Bible, or dare to oppose their authority.
As an effectual mode of maintaining that authority, and fastening the yoke on the neck of all her members, the Romish Church pronounces a
curse on all who deny the necessity of confessing their sins to the priest alone, and receiving absolution from him. To what an extent of evil this practice is carried cannot be described. Modesty forbids an allusion to the horrible questions put by the priests to females when they come to confession, suggesting the most hateful thoughts even to the purest mind. It is, indeed, made an engine for instilling every kind of evil suggestion, under the pretence of asking whether such an imagination has ever been indulged; and it is manifest, that where no evil intention exists, still, the necessity of disclosing the most secret thoughts, as well as actions, to any fellow-creature, must be a bondage intolerable to a generous mind, and which must enable the priests to exercise the most baneful tyranny. Thus are they made acquainted with the secrets of families : thus are they enabled to keep all their votaries in subjection to their power. Blessed be God, my brethren, we are not subject to that power. We confess our sins to God alone, and are assured, that if we repent of and forsake them, we shall have mercy.
In conclusion, then, I must exhort you to adore his great goodness, which enabled our forefathers to separate from that corrupt Church, with so much reason called Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. She is endeavouring to regain her influence, and the infidel liberals of the present day seem willing to assist her in doing so,-for, wonderful as it may seem, there has always been a close alliance between infidelity and popery. Infidelity rejects the Scriptures-popery corrupts them, or substitutes tradition for them. But let us hold fast the truth as it is in Jesus, and cleave to that blessed book which alone reveals to us the way of salvation. Let us diligently search the Scriptures, for in them we know that we have eternal life. Let us take care that we receive not the mark of the beast, whatever that mark may be ; for all who have it shall perish in the day of our Lord's appearing. Let us seek, on the contrary, to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of God with that seal which bears the inscription, “ The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” By departing from all iniquity, and practising those things that are good and holy, we shall make it