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of an abolished dispensation ; to deck herself out in its gorgeous array, newly patched and spangled; putting on the rotten rags of Judaism, gilded with the cross, and idolizing in the manhood of Christianity the cradle and standing-stool of its infancy. The vain talkers about the sacred beauty of church rituals, and the poetic and sanctifying power of their lessons, need to be reminded that these things have had their day. When the gospel gives us heavenly wings, our stilts and crutches may be laid aside; neither do we want to keep them because forsooth they may have been made of gold and silver. These lessons have lost their vitality, and to send us back to them is like compelling us to draw again into the lungs air that has already been breathed. And yet there are those, who would lead us back to a system that requires a lord of ceremonies to usher us without mistake into God's temple, and a French posture-master to direct both priest and people in their devotions ! We have often gazed upon the gorgeous ceremonies of
popery, till between the music and the painting, and the magnificent architecture and imposing forms, we have been so impressed with their power over the senses, that we have thought if a great cathedral of the middle ages could be taken by the dome and transported across the Atlantic, it would make Romanists by thousands. We are not surprised at the despotism of this system over common and uneducated minds, nor at the apologies for it in minds accustomed from childhood to regard rich forms as the indispensable requisites of Christianity. But it is strange that any mind acquainted with the history of Romanism, and that looks or can look behind the vail, should be carried away by a first impression of the novelty and magnificence of its rites ; not staying long enough among them to receive the sure after impression, both of their intrinsic idolatry and debasing and melancholy tawdriness. These things have always proved to the soul a snare rather than a ladder; and if the travelling Protestant, with his mind filled with Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical sentimentalism, bis eye with the pope's rotundity, condescension and gorgeous tiara, his nose with the fragrant frankincense, and his ear with the floating or rebounding anthems, would but stop to analyze his own bewildering admiration, and to ask where is the piety or what the religion of all this, he would find himself absorbed in a sentiment that partakes very little of the spirit of the gospel; he would wake out of his dream in season to prevent him from ridiculously dwelling on the delightful union of magnificence and humility in the person of His Holiness.
Now the lesson which we draw from all this is, that of simplicity in our own piety, and simplicity in the effort for the world's conversion. . A great singleness of purpose for the glory of Christ will do much, even amidst the greatest obstacles; but every sinister and partisan aim will meet with a discomfiture. They who strive to advance their own church instead of the gospel of Christ, however they may seem to prevail for a season, are mistaken if they expect final success. There have been two names, derived from the blessed names of our Lord, one of which has come to signify all that is detestable and false ; the other, all that is excellent and lovely: Jesuit and Christian. A Jesuit is one who seeks the supremacy of his own order ; a Christian, the supremacy of Christ. So far as a man's religion leads to the worship of his own sect, or of the church, instead of Christ, it passes from the comprehensiveness of the term Christianity into the selfishness of the term Jesuitism. A Christian, so far as he worships the idea of the church instead of Christ, so far he is a Jesuit; he loses towards Christ what he gains towards the church. We apply this to every sect. The Congregationalist, so far as he seeks the prevalence of his order instead of the kingdom of Christ, is a Jesuit. The Presbyterian, so far as he maintains the divine right of Presbyterianism, and worships the book of discipline instead of the Bible, is a Jesuit. The Baptist, so far as he seeks his own sect instead of Christ, is a Jesuit. And your true prelatical church man, so far as he worships his organization and apostolical succession instead of Christ, is a Jesuit; the great difference between him and the others being, that he makes no secret of his exclusiveness, but deprives every other church of the title of a church, and consigns every other denomination save his own to the uncovenanted mercies of God. What, then, is the true Catholicity? We know not.
We know not. It will be developed with the prevalence of the Spirit of Christ, which will at length burn up all the wood, hay, and stubble, and change our violent and despotic caricatures of the body of Christ into his own glorious body. We know not. But this we know, that as yet, if any sect profess exclusively to have it, that profession is a mark that it is not there. To what extremes will not this spirit of Jesuitism lead even a devout mind! We see in Oxford a man, said to be of marked, irreproachable piety, whose idea of the church is simply and solely that of the church of England, her baptismal regeneration, thirty-nine articles, hierarchy, prelacy, establishment, all; and his utmost aspirations after the prevalence of Christ's kingdom, are the spread and power of that English church and its ordinances! True Catholicity will be the last and most precious fruit of the Spirit on earth. They who now and exclusively pretend to it, are more clearly on the way to the Rome that now is, than to the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all.
There are but two things with which we can successfully combat popery, and these two are love and faith ; love against its bigotry, faith against its form. Love will conquer, when nothing else can ; and formalism cannot prevail, where faith is in active operation. A simple desire for the glory of God and the good of souls, simplicity and singleness of purpose for the world's conversion—this will conquer popery, and nothing else will.
We sometimes think that one of the greatest differences between this and the eternal world, will be the simplicity of that world, and of our spirits in it. Simplicity is strength. It was Luther's strength in the first conflict with the papal power. It lay in that one sentence, which carries the whole gospel with it. that justification by faith is the ARTICULUS STANTIS VEL CADENTIS EcclesiÆ. The great reformer was well nigh inspired, to find out this truth, and to disinter it from the grave of tradition and ceremony under which it lay buried, and to hold it up so that men should see its living glory. For nothing is a greater characteristic of inspiration than this: the seeing of great truths in their simplicity, all extraneous things being cut off. This was what made Christ speak as never man spake; truth from the bosom of eternity. This was subjectively the inspiration of the Apostles. And there is a sort of inspiration now, or the power of inspiration, in the possession of the mind by one grand truth. This is what the physicians call madness; but madness is nearly allied to great power and wisdom; and sure we are, that not only the papists, in Luther's time, but some of the reformers, also, thought that Luther was mad, and this truth of justification by faith, the devil that possessed him.
It is this truth, which many in this age are losing sight of. They are attracted by form and tradition; they dwell with fond-. ness on what is time-worn and venerable in past dispensations,
instead of the dawn of spirituality in the coming glory of the new. They regard truth as the backward birth of time and the church, instead of the increasing disclosure of God's Providence and Word. They are conservatives in the church of that which is without faith and without vitality, and they seek a unity in the church, which is the spurious figment of ambition and aggrandizement, and not founded on the principle of individual union with Christ. They accustom themselves to designate the blessed reformation itself, as that great“ schism” which“ shattered the sacramentum unitatis," since which era, “truth has not dwelt simply and securely in any visible tabernacle.” They blind themselves to all the lessons which history and experience have taught in regard to the errors of the church of Rome, and especially the tremendous consequences of attaching to tradition the value of inspiration. They renounce the great principle rescued from the grasp of religious despotism by the reformation, of individual study of the Scriptures, with the right of private judgment. And they send us to the drag-net of tradition and the tomes of fathers baptized in pagan philosophy, to see assuredly what the Scriptures do mean. They adopt and praise a system of teaching, which dwells upon the external and ritual parts of religious service, whilst it loses sight of their inner meaning, and spiritual life; and if they do not send us to the seven sacraments of Roine, with prayers for the dead and purgatorial penance for the living, they speak of the simple sacraments of Christ's institution, as containing an intrinsic saving efficacy; as being the only sources of divine grace, to the exclusion of every other, and as constituting the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Thus they teach; and they even hesitate not, distinctly to declare the Lutheran doctrine of justification to be the greatest of all heresies.
All this is portentous: betokening dissolution to the church wherever it prevails. There is a passage in Cowper's Poems, which, if the poet could now rise from the dead, he would believe himself to have prophesied when he wrote it :
When nations are to perish in their eins,
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure;
As if not love, but wrath had brought him down. We believe that there is to be a great division through the world, between what is of Rome and what is of the gospel; between what is formal and what is spiritual. If we are not greatly mistaken, all error will be reduced to a singular sort of unity, and Antichrist will be the great towering form, around which its enormous chrystals congregate. That there is such a principle of centralization in error, as well as truth, no one can doubt who believes that the cause and source of error is not so much weakness as sin. The church of Rome owes her supremacy to the despotic unity with which she has pursued the worship of form; the aggrandizement of the church being the object of her efforts. The disciples of Christ must owe their success in the conflict with Romanism to the power of faith, in the simplicity of their purpose, for the conversion of the soul.