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with suspicion to what I have yet to say. Nevertheless, I shall proceed; it is enough for me to know that I defend the cause of my God, and that I speak for your good, this gives me courage to speak. I entreat
first of all, not to listen to me as to a man who comes to expose a theological system, but as to a friend speaking to a friend, telling you that he is acting for your welfare. Take to yourselves, personally for yourselves, the promises of God, and see if they are not well adapted to meet the wants of your
may be the number and the importance of the works and of ceremonies performed by you, you confess that your conscience is not tranquil before God, and that even to this hour, you cannot contemplate death without terror. What then will you do ? Say more masses ? submit yourselves to new fastings? or do more works ? but that which failed in tranquillizing you yesterday, will not better afford peace to-morrow, Whether
have more or less confidence in all your performances, I know that your conscience still rises up and troubles you.
No, you have never had, and you will never have peace in your bosoms by such means. Once more then, what must be done? Simply this, to throw yourself with all your sins, without fear and without hesitation, into the arms of Jesus, who died to blot them out. The method is so simple, that I fear even by its simplicity it will escape your notice; but I cannot and I will not make it more complicated to gain greater credit for it in your eyes. What you have to do, I repeat it, and I would repeat it again and again, is to throw yourselves with all your sins, without fear and without hesitation, into the arms of Jesus who died to efface them. But this is too small a thing to tell you to do. Yes, dear friends, it is so small that it is nothing, but it is precisely because it is so small on your part, that it is all on the part of God. Do not wish to enlarge your work to lessen his; you will never be more of a Christian in spirit, than when you are humbly expecting nothing from yourselves and all from God. All is there, and for the third time I repeat it to you, in order to constrain your spirit to stop there. You have nothing to do, only to throw yourself with all your sins, without fear and without hesitation, into the arms of Jesus who died to blot them out.
But, perhaps, you think you know already that Jesus is a Saviour. Yes, you kno it in theory; but observe that in practice your whole conduct contradicts this truth. It is upon yourself, on your works, that you rely to reach heaven, so that lifted up on this mountain of moving sand, you every moment feel your feet slipping. Jesus is not to you the unshaken .rock of salvation, the rock that the tempest of sin cannot overturn nor shake. If Jesus had been in your estimation a true Saviour, an entire Saviour, an eternal Saviour, you need have no fear either of death or hell. What do I
You would be triumphing in joy, and would cry out with Paul, “ For I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, can separate me from the love of God, through Jesus Christ.”
Your salvation, your salvation secured, certain, eternal, this is the thought which ought to give you immediate joy, and to sanctify your life. Believe this, not because I tell you, but because the Gospel is full of it; believe this, and you will have no trouble in detaching yourself from a Church which teaches you precisely the contrary.
But I feel that it is not in these few words that I can make known to you the truth as it is in Jesus. Besides I would rather that you should hear it from the mouth of God himself; this is why I earnestly entreat you to go direct to the Bible, and study it, and particularly in the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ.
At present, before having read the Bible, you desire to abandon the priesthood, but you know not on which side to turn. Certainly, had you a true confidence in God, you would “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, knowing that all other things would be added unto you.” But whilst waiting for this confidence, and even in order to obtain it, see what you have to do.
In whatever part of France you may be, there are doubtless, not far from you, men who make the Bible their all, those men whom the world calls Protestant and wḥo believe themselves to be Christians. Choose among them him who appears the most respectable. Address yourself to one of these zealous active pastors, of whom, perhaps, you may have heard ; satisfy yourself of his discretion ; open to him your heart; make known to him your thoughts, if not by word of mouth, at least by correspondence; listen to what he has to say, ask him for some books, examine them, and be certain that with faith and prayer you will find truth, and courage to follow it. Do
you fear to take a confidant too near to your superiors ? write to one in a foreigu country, Switzerland, Prussia, or England; address yourself to London, to Paris, to Geneva, to the Bible, Missionary, or Evangelical Societies. If the abode, the names, the addresses, are wanted by you, ask for them at the booksellers, whose names are on these pages, and be assured that you will meet with men happy in having to reply to your questions.
I know that there are not a few priests wearied like yourself with the charge that they have inconsiderately undertaken. Look out then for those around you who deserve your confidence, taking care to guard against the spies of the Bishop. Consult with one of these discreet colleagues, bind yourselves together by mutual engagements, and give the right hand of fellowship, that you may walk together with more security.
These are not counsels given at random. I only enumerate the means that others have already used. I have more than one brother in Christ, formerly a Romish priest; and I know not one who regrets his freedom. At this present time one preaches the Gospel as a pastor, another instructs children, this one is become the father of a family, with the sanction of the laws of his country; for he has only, in order to take this step, to find a magistrate authorized by the civil code, without disquieting himself about the ecclesiastical canons; the other is gone to seek in a foreign country the legitimacy of a marriage that a timid magistrate refused to perform in France. You know, as well as I do, there is not a word in the laws of our country, which makes valid the vows formed before the Church. Proceed then, without fear, for you have before you the code of our legislators, and the Word of our God.
P.S.--I had wished here to bring before you the names of all your former colleagues, who in less than a year have left the Romish Church, whether in France' or in Germany. You know that they reckon by hundreds, at this time, in the latter country ; but you are, perhaps, ignorant that in the bosom of your own country, many clergymen have abandoned the Romish faith in connexion with a religious movement altogether independent of that which is now taking place beyond the Rhine. I could name to you twenty, recently converted; but in order to attach a short notice to each name, I am compelled to make it the subject of a new pamphlet, which you will find according to the address placed at the beginning of this.*
From a Correspondent.
By X., A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
It may be objected, that the following pages merely contain the thoughts of other men far less ably expressed. I beg leave to state, however, that, with the exception of the quotation respecting the mode of celebrating the Passover, the only book to which I referred whilst noting down my own reflections, was my Bible, without note or com-, ment. Subsequently I compared some parts, upon which I had bestowed much thought and study, with parallel places from that learned and highly-gifted commentator, Dr. A. Clarke, and found my ideas perfectly coincided with his view of such passages. I am, therefore, enabled to add my homble testimony to that of others, that the Word of God is of itself sufficient to guide men into all truth. . This study has been eminently blest to my own soul, inasmuch as it has still farther convinced me that the Church of which I rejoice and bless God that I am a member, ventures not to take one step without “ leaning upon her Beloved.” I have also thereby acquired a deeper insight into all the truths of the holy faith I profess; and, satisfied of its purity and strict conformity with Apostolical doctrine and practice, daily implore my Heavenly Father to maintain me stedfast therein; for, without unceasing prayer and watchfulness, how can I, so weak, so every way inferior to my brethren in Christ, hope to escape the net spread by Satan to ensnare all who, while indulging in excursive flights, forget to look upward, and are driven hither and thither at his will.
As a ship, however well built, without ballast, cannot pursue her, course—nay, must overset-so those, however richly endowed, who close their Bibles and trust to their own unaided reason, will find her light as gossamer, the sport of every breeze-a wandering star that sets in darkuess ! They have left behind them the compass that should guide them, and have ventured without it, to navigate the boundless ocean of uncertainty, whose rocks and shoals must strand them; or their starless course may terininate on the shore of Infidelity!
* Paris, chez Delay, Libraire, 2, Rue Trouchet.
Oh! that all (should, indeed, any deem these pages worthy their perusal)
would try for themselves what, from experience of its efficacy and sufficiency, I am enabled to recommend, and which I do most fervently and affectionately, a daily prayerful study of the Christian's Charter-the Bible.
TO CHRISTIANS OF EVERY DENOMINATION.
“ Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”-1 Thess. v. 21.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”—1 Pet. ii. 15.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,-Have we, each one for himself, fulfilled this injunction of St. Paul and St. Peter ? Have we duly considered the immense importance of examining for ourselves the foundation of our faith, and proving “that it standeth sure ?” And, since we must individually render up our account, are we really satisfied “it is well" with our immortal souls ? Is our faith sound ? based solely upon that unerring rule and test of truth-the Bible ?--the pure, unadulterated Word of God! If, upon careful and diligent investigation, it will stand this test, it then farther behoves us to add to our faith virtue; seeing that the apostle says (James ii. 26), “ For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." For, though justified solely by faith in Christ's atonement, our faith must be shewn by our works, as “a good tree" cannot but “ bring forth good fruit," as a natural consequence. Let'none of us then rest secure, “speaking to ourselves peace when there is no peace, -no confident assurance warranted by Scripture that we have dug deep and laid our foundation upon " the Rock of Ages,” “the Man Christ Jesus.” If we have built upon any other foundation we may be sure the edifice, be it never so skilfully or artfully planned and erected, must fall; for “ Thus saith the Lord." Believe me, it will not be deemed a valid excuse at the bar of God, when, before assembled men and angels, every man must answer for himself-alone and unsupported !--that we embraced this or that notion because our fellow-men told us that thus it was ; for, as “ all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," what shall we then answer, if we now “ neglect so great salvation ?" Let us then, furnished with the only infallible test of truth, proceed to examine the grounds of our belief, but let us apply the test fairly and honestly: we must not first form a notion and then take a solitary text that by ingenious exposition may seem to counte.' nance such notion, as that is clearly what the apostle means, by his caution that we should not “wrest the Scriptures to our own destruction :" no, such is the very striking and admirable concordance of the Old and New Testament that each explains the other, we must therefore s
compare Scripture with Scripture," and where a text appears obscure we shall thus find all amply explained. Our Saviour, the
Light of Life, would never have issued such a command as “ Search the Scriptures," if, having done so in an humble child-like spirit, with fervent prayer for the guidance and assistance of the Holy Spirit promised “ to those who ask Him,” we should still be left to wander on in darkness! The Sadducees denied the resurrection. Why?Do
ye not therefore err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God ?” says our Lord. Had they consulted the Scriptures, they would have learnt that God is able to perform that which finite minds can neither understand nor explain, viz., " that God should raise the dead.” Do we not also lay ourselves open to misconceptions and misapprehensions, by following the example of the Sadducees? Again, the Socinian may say, he is perfectly justified in denying the existence of the Trinity in Unity; for he can prove the Unity of the Godhead by “ Hear, oh! Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord;" and thus, by neglecting the Scriptures, or by receiving only a part or parts of them, and rejecting the rest, we may all support our favourite preconceived notions, while we sternly and boldly venture to deny all credence to what would in an instant overthrow them; “ but ye have not so learned Christ.” Hear what our Saviour himself says: “And many in that day shall say, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works ? "_" Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me,” &c. Does not this prove to every one of us the urgent necessity of candidly, honestly, and impartially “judging ourselves if we would not be judged ?”
A cold, barren assent to received opinions is not enough; we must be satisfied those opinions are founded on truth: and how are we to be satisfied, if we will not be at the pains of examining them? We may, by such wilful and therefore inexcusable ignorance, be nourishing a fatal error one that, like a canker-worm, gnaws at the very root of the tree of Christianity! Can it then be well with our souls, while there is a shadow of doubt on so momentous a subject ? Oh! remember, this solemn inquiry regards not time only - it involves eternity. St. John tells us (1 John iv. 1), « Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The morbid sensitiveness, therefore, th would shrink from the performance of this imperative duty, proclaims lurking disease; for the sound limb winces not to the touch! Truth is in its nature so pure, so transparent, the slightest mixture of error cannot fail to be discerned. Suppose a large and fair estate were offered us in a far distant land, the route thither clearly traced out for us by one who, having travelled through the same country, was fully qualified to direct us, being well acquainted with all the perils and obstacles we might have to encounter. Suppose that, instead of following the track laid down for us in the chart with which this kind friend had furnished us, we diverged from it, and struck into another, being attracted by something glittering in the distance, which we conceived to be diamonds, but upon a nearer approach discovered, to our infinite cost and vexation, that all this brilliant appearance was caused solely by the reflection of the sun's rays upon some broken pieces of glass !-that, continuing nevertheless our journey, we