Page images
PDF
EPUB

who had now so unexpectedly put into her hand, not a portion, but the whole, of his written Word. She saw, on examining the state of her mind prior to her yielding to her brother's entreaties, that she had been too self-confident, too little aware of her own weakness. She now earnestly supplicated Divine assistance and illumination ; she arose from her knees, penitent, yet happy, happier far than she had been for months, and safer, safer far than ever, for she had learned by painful · experience that he who trusteth his own heart is a fool, and now, from the innerinost recesses of her heart, the prayer arose, “ Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”

It will readily be believed the further perusal of the Scriptures tended further to convince Clara of the unscriptural doctrines taught by the Church of Rome, and though she now humbly determined in the strength of her Saviour, to shrink from no avowal she might be called on to make, she did not feel it to be her duty as yet openly to oppose what she believed to be sinful; indeed she felt such shame when she remembered the past, and such fear lest she should again be deprived of her Bible, that she resolved for the present to spend much of her time in quietly reading and praying for further wisdom and direction for the future. The chief thing that distressed her mind as her views grew clearer, and her faith stronger, was being apparently a devout worshipper in the idolatrous services offered to the Virgin, which she had ever felt some doubts respecting, and now saw so clearly to be sinful that she had decided on mentioning her scruples to F. A., and again incurring displeasure, when a circumstance occurred which, though unintentional on her part, led to the discovery of her sentiments,

One lovely evening about sunset Clara was sitting in her apartment reading her Bible, having first taken the precaution of locking the door. Suddenly she was alarmed by a shriek of terror which fell on her ear, and looking up saw a female servant rush from the house, enveloped in flames. Clara sprung from her seat, threw open the window which reached to the ground, and hastened to call assistance to the terrified girl, whose cries had already brought several persons to the spot, among the number of whom was Frances. The flames were soon extinguished, and all cause for alarm ceased, when Clara, relieved from her anxiety, again sought her apartment; she was startled on seeing her cousin Frances leaning against the window with an expression of countenance more sad and more gentle then usual. It was nothing astonishing to see her there, for since Clara had shown less inclination for gaiety Frances had certainly more sought her acquaintance, and frequently came into her room when she would have preferred solitude, but now the sight of her cousin acted like an electric shock on Clara, whose first fear was lest Frances should have seen or taken her precious book. The latter she certainly had not done, for it lay on the spot on which Clara had left it: the former she could not doubt; though not a word was uttered on the subject, a paleness, deeper than usual, was spread over the face of Frances, a tear trembled in her dark eye, but as her cousin entered the room she said, in a tone of forced calmness, “ I am tired, Clara, very tired, and you look the same, so adieu for the night." · Clara anxiously.longed for the dawn of the next morning, assured she should then hear more if Frances had seen the Bible, but that day, and three successive ones passed, and Clara's fears were nearly dismissed, when a message was sent from F. Adrian to request an interview with her. Clara trembled from head to foot, but obeyed the summons, breathing an earnest prayer for a mouth and wisdom that none of her adversaries might gainsay or resist.

As she expected, F. Adrian was alone, and rising to meet her with even more than his usual gentleness, he led her to a seat.

“Daughter,” said he, in a solemn and impressive tone of voice, “ I have sent for you on a matter of great importance. Know you not we live in an enemy's land : know you not we have to wrestle against the powers of darkness, and that Satan is often transformed to an angel of light ? ”

Clara replied not, for she knew not what to say.

6 Know you not this, daughter, or knowing this, should you not tremble lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, he should beguile you from the straight and narrow way, the one true fold, that Holy Church, out of whose pale there is no salvation ?” .

“ Father,” said Clara, “ before I reply to your question, allow me to ask, what has awakened these fears for my safety, the kindness of which, believe me, I am fully conscious of ?"

“I have no hesitation in gratifying you, though I believe you can conjecture that these fears have been occasioned by the discovery so unexpectedly made by your devotedly-pious cousin, that you have in your possession a book, long since sent her by the heretic Willoughby, with the deadly design of making shipwreck of her faith, and teaching her rebellion against her spiritual advisers."

“ Are you aware, Father," replied Clara, with solemnity, “ that the book, the tendency of which you consider so deadly, is none other than the Bible, the revelation of God to his fallen creatures?",

“I am not aware that the book you have in your possession is a faithful version of that revelation, for I suspect it to be corrupted to . suit the designs of the heretics, but I am well aware that the indis. criminate use even of an authorized version, without the interpretation of the Church, has led, and still leads, to most dangerous heresies and fatal errors."

6 But may I ask, how can I rest assured that the Church can infalJibly interpret Scripture, or that the Divine Author of Christianity ever invested it with the power and commission so to do?”

Father Adrian took from his pocket a New Testament, adding, “I am most willing patiently to listen to, and remove, all your doubts, trusting I shall be the means of pulling you from the fire into which you have so heedlessly rushed.” He then pointed out to Clara the following passage (Matt. xvi. 18, 19), “ And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “ Now it is well known that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, he was the rock on which the Church was built, and against which the gates of hell were never to

prevail. The power first given to him has been continued to his successors, who, in one unbroken line, have filled the Papal chair from the time of Peter to the present day, and also to the priests, bishops, and vicars, whom they have ordained and intrusted with like authority. You see, 'then, how great is the power committed into their hands since even the Saviour says, "What they shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.'"

“ Father,” replied Clara, “I cannot as yet reply to your arguments, though I have read those words before. I need not ask if the version you have in your hand be a correct one, the fact of your teaching me from it is a sufficient proof to my mind that you believe it to be so. But since you condescend to instruct me from Scripture, I would ask, as the greatest favour, that you would show me any portion of that sacred volume which justifies the worship we offer to the Virgin, any that authorizes prayer for the dead, or one that speaks of a state of purgatory.”

“ Are you not aware that the Word of God consists of two parts of equal authority, the written and the unwritten, Holy Scripture and tradition. The latter contains many things most necessary to salvavation, which are not contained in the former, but committed to the keeping of the Church, from the lips of whose ministers the faithful receive it with equal reverence that they pay to the written word.”

“ If holy Scripture and the traditions of the Church equally proceed from the same Author, they cannot contradict one another; but must both have the same tendency. Am I not right in thinking thus ?”

“ Certainly, but remember the Church denies the right of private interpretation on different passages of Scripture."

“ Does not the Church claim her authority for thus acting from the unwritten word ? "

“Why do you suppose it is not equally derived from the written word ? "

“ Because I have read there that the Saviour commanded the Jews to search the Scriptures, and the Bereans are commended because they searched the Scriptures daily. Nor can I understand how in his written Word God should command the Scriptures to be searched, and in his unwritten Word forbid them to be read, lest the immortal soul, eager to know the truth, should perish in her humble attempt to discover it.”

Father Adrian fixed his eyes on Clara with a sterner look than he had yet assumed, “ You are well versed in Scripture lore, and I am tempted to address you in words which, if familiar to the ear, you may yet think cruelly harsh should I apply them to yourself. I therefore forbear to repeat them all, yet ask with a desire to make you reflect and tremble, Wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ? ""

“Wherein have I perverted ? wherein have I erred ? "

“Wherein have you erred I can you ask? By presumptuously receiving and reading for yourself a book, the indiscriminate use of which invariably leads to pride and self-sufficiency, till faith is shipwrecked on the rocks of heresy and the shoals of error."

“What, then," asked Clara with considerable excitement, “ do you advise me to do ?”

« What? daughter,” added Father Adrian, with increased animation and earnestness, “what can I advise, exhort, command, entreat you to do, but to give up the Bible ? Alas ! I fear, I greatly fear, nay, I tremble for you. I need not remind you this is not your first offence, nor is mine the first reproof that has reached your ear; and that word you profess so much to reverence tells us, “He who being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.'”.

“ Father,” said Clara, starting forward, and throwing herself on her knees before him, “ mistake me not, I kneel to you, but not as a token of submission to your spiritual authority, but I kneel to you, if not for the first, yet probably for the last time, to implore, to entreat you to consider well what you are doing, to pray most earnestly for divine direction, ere you take the key of knowledge from the immortal souls intrusted to your care, for, oh! the Saviour of the world pronounced a woe, an emphatic woe, on those who acted thus, on those proud Pharisees wbo entered not in theinselves, and those who were entering in they hindered; oh! be not then like them; take not from me the Bible; hinder me not from entering into the kingdom, from fleeing for pardon to that Saviour whom the Bible reveals as both able and willing to save; send me not to other Mediators than him whom the Father has appointed; advise me not to quench the still small voice of grace in foolish scenes of vain amusement; oh! sooner take from me my life, than plunge me again in the doubt, the perplexity, the darkness I was involved in after I lately resigned my precious Bible."

Clara paused. The Jesuit looked on her with a milder eye as a flood of tears checked her voice, and prevented further utterance. He bade her rise from her knees, resume her composure, refect on what he had said, and believe he was actuated towards her by the kindest feeling. Thus saying, he left the room.

(To be continued.)

DIVIDED ALLEGIANCE.—ROMANISTS NOT FELLOW-SUBJECTS.

To the Editor of the Protestant Magazine. SIR,-The accompanying letter was sent to the editor of the “ Watchman” in consequence of an article appearing in that paper in which Romanists were spoken of as fellow-subjects, and a desire expressed that they should be permitted to enjoy all the privileges of the British constitution in common with ourselves.

If the editor speaks the sentiments of the Wesleyans generally, it is evident that this highly respectable body labours under grievous error on a very important subject so far as the interests of Protestantism are concerned. When our friends take up a false and dangerous position, it is necessary, even at the risk of giving offence, that they should be dislodged from it. With this view I ventured to combat the opinions put forth by the editor, believing it to be contrary to common sense and common justice, that persons situated as Romanists are, with respect to a foreign, and I might add hostile, power, should be regarded and treated as fellow-subjects.*

It is the more extraordinary that the editor should fall into this error, because in a former paper (May 26) he speaks of Romanists as the Pope's people in this country." There should be consistency. It is to little purpose that we denounce Popery, or the Church of Rome, as the great harlot of Babylon, as an intolerant, persecuting, idolatrous, Antichristian system ; and the Pope as the great tyrant of Christendom, as “ the man of sin and son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is worshipped,” if, at the same time, we recognise “ his people in this country" as fellow-subjects, and maintain that they are fit to enjoy, and fully entitled to participate in, all the privileges of the British Constitution. There is something so manifestly incongruous in all this, that it is difficult to conceive how any well constituted mind can believe in things so utterly irreconcileable with each other. They who act thus have neither truth nor reason on their side. They deal in bold assertions and false assumptions, but shrink from any thing like an appeal to sober argument.

As the editor did not think proper to insert my letter, it is at your service if you think any good is likely to arise from giving it publicity.

I am, Sir, your obedient, faithful Servant, July 3, 1847.

Amicus PROTESTANS. *....“ As for Ireland, Queen Victoria is permitted to exercise power only by the connivance of the Bishop of Rome, for no secret is made that an Act of the British Legislature would be of no avail, except so far as it was enforced at the point of the bayonet, if the Romanist priesthood prohibited their subjects,' as they call them, from obeying it.”Christian Observer, 1841, p. 72.

“ They,” the Synod of Papal bishops of the metropolitan province,“ set up this code of laws under their episcopal authority, and thus put them into force and operation over all the Roman Catholic laity, whom they call not your Majesty's subjects, but their own subjects in the country.”The Laws of the Papacy, or the Nullity of the Government of Queen Victoria in Ireland, or the Pope the Virtual Ruler of the Land. By Rev. R. J. M‘Ghee.

For further information on this subject see a review in the “ Christian Observer” for July, of Dr. Wordsworth’s “ Letters on the Destructive Character of the Church of Rome, both in Religion and Policy." Dr. W. demonstrates beyond dispute the fact, that “ the Pope does claim and exercise, as far as he can, a sovereign power, even in temporal matters, over the inhabitants and rulers of Christian countries.”

Dr. W. forcibly observes, “ As to the point of repealing laws against the Pope, I should be very glad to be informed whether he has ever repealed any one of his laws against us? Has he ever erased a single line of his canon law in which, as I have shown, he claims the power of deposing princes and absolving subjects from their allegiance ? Never. 'Has be ever revoked one of his unchristian anathemas against us and our princes? Never. Has he ever ceased to impose his own oaths of allegiance and supremacy on Romish ecclesiastics who are subjects of the Queen of England, and to teach them that all their civil oaths to their sovereign, to the prejudice of his own interest, are perjuries ? Never.”

Dr. Wordsworth proceeds to submit to the consideration of sovereign princes and states, whether, “ instead of repealing their own just and necessary laws against the Papacy, they ought not rather to unite together in requiring the Pope to retract his illegal acts and decrees against their lawful authority.”

« PreviousContinue »