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Letters on the Church of Rome, addressed to is often the most difficult part of a the Rev. Emmanuel Feraut, D.D. and reviewer's work, we will present our LL.D., Chaplain to the King of Sardinia, friends with a brief account of its and Italian Missionary to England. By contents. BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY Noel. Letter 1. The Claims of the Church of Rome. that Dr. Feraut, as the spiritual director
We learn from the pamphlet itself London: J. Nisbet and Co. 16mo. PP. of a young person who was
member of Mr. Noel's Bible Class, We have been completely inundated challenged him to a discussion of the of late with works on Romanism, so as merits of the church of me, and to be unable to give to many books expressed a wish that it should be in which we have received on the subject writing. Mr. Noel accepts the challenge ; that degree of attention which courtesy and as Dr. Feraut announced his intenseemed to demand. Some of them we tion of printing his replies, Mr. Noel have dismissed almost at a glance, which avows his design to print successive perhaps deserved better treatment, and letters on the claims of the Romish others we have found to be unworthy church, its hierarchy, its worship, its of close examination. Yet when we doctrine, its sacraments, and its disreceived these pages we applied our cipline. This first letter is devoted to selves to their perusal with avidity. an examination of its claims. Personal esteem for the author might Applying himself first to a description conduce to this in some degree, but we of the church as exhibited to us in the were influenced far more by our estimate apostolic writings, Mr. Noel shows, that of his qualities as a controversialist. Christ loves his whole church and every Sincerity, the most important of all, he member of it ;—that he sanctifies them has proved that he possesses by his by his word ;—that he makes them all sacrifices for the truth's sake. Fairness, at length perfect ;-that he means to the rarest, never seems to cost him an have them all at length with him ;effort. The study of the Romish system that all their names are written in His has long been familiar to him : this, we book of life ;—that all are the "firstbelieve, is one of the principal causes of born” of God, heirs of glory, and are his abandonment of that church which therefore believers who have received bears the same analogy to the church of Christ, and are sanctified by his Spirit;Rome as the cathedral of St. Paul bears that all are clothed at last in the to that of St. Peter. Whoever may be righteousness of Christ ;-and that all his antagonist, or whatever the theory reach eternal glory in heaven. Thus he he opposes, we always find in his gives, as he expresses it, five separate polemical writings clearness of percep- and independent proofs that the church tion, gentlemanly habits of thought, and is composed of true believers. “Any a respectable amount of erudition. We one of the five,” he observes, “establishes applied ourselves at once therefore to the truth independently of the other the business, and now, having read the four. The church is composed of true publication, and thus accomplished what believers, because it is a temple built of
VOL. XV.-FOURTH SERIES,
living stones ; because it is a flock com-, church is built on other apostles no less posed of sheep who follow Christ; than on Feter ; that there is no evidence because it is a household of servants of the primacy of Peter; that Paul was who hold fast their confidence in Him; in every way the equal of Peter, if not and because it is expressly declared to his superior; and that, therefore, the be an assembly of children of God, who successors of Peter, if he has any, can are His heirs, and whom Christ will make inherit no primacy from him. 2. That perfect, and have with Him for ever.” | Peter was never bishop of the church Mr. Noel meets the objection derived of Rome, and, consequently, that his from certain parables in which bad and successors, if he has any, are not to be good are represented as mingled together, found in that city. 3. That Peter, as by observing that “the field” is not the the rock, could have no successor whatchurch but “the world,” and that “the soever. Each of these proofs separately net” is not the church but the doctrine destroys the claim of your church, for if of the gospel, which makes nominal as Peter's successors have no primacy, then well as real converts. “Every one who the Roman pontiffs, as his successors, reads these parables with attention,” have it not; or if Peter's successors are he observes, “can see that the kingdom not to be found at Rome, then the pope of heaven means the reign of Christ in is not his successor, and is not head the hearts of men. And that our Lord of the church; or if Peter had, as the meant to say that in the establishment rock, no successors, then the pope can and progress of His reign, the door of not be his successor. But if each proof the gospel would be like the net, true separately refutes your misapplication and false disciples would be like the ten of this text, how completely must it be virgins, believers would be like the condemned by the combination of them merchant, and He himself would be like all! Your pontiff has no supremacy in the sower. But the church is no more the church of Christ grounded in this the net than it is the merchant, or the passage, because Peter had no supremacy, sower of the seed."
because Peter was not bishop of the Having shown that, notwithstanding church of Rome, and because Peter, allegations to the contrary, this church as the rock, had no successors. The is united-Holy-Catholic—and Apos- pontiff's claim is a thorough fiction. tolic, Mr. Noel turns to the claims of Lastly, I have intimated, what I shall the Romish church. The doctrine of hereafter prove, that your church, conits standards is that “the church of tradicting apostolic doctrine and preRome, with its affiliated churches under cept, is not built on the rock at all, the pope, together constitute the church and instead of being mother and mistress of Christ, out of which there is no of all churches, forms no part whatever salvation.” The principal text brought of the church of Christ.” forward to sustain this claim, that in Respecting the promise of "the keys the sixteenth of Matthew in which our of the kingdom of heaven," Mr. Noel
"Thou art Peter, and on writes thus :—“As the kingdom is this rock I will build my church,” is opened to the pardoned, and shut examined carefully, and the deductions against the unpardoned, these words of Romanists from the passage are obviously mean, I will enable you to refuted in terms of which the following declare who are pardoned or unpardoned. is a summary :—"Assuming that Peter But this power was given likewise to all is the rock, which has yet to be proved, the apostles. (John xx. 22, 23.) They I have shown you clearly, 1. That the did not, therefore, confer any primacy
upon Peter or his pretended successors, | ignorance; it is opposed to the doctrine They do not mention successors, and all and discipline of Christ's apostles ; and pretence of succession, founded on those yet it calls itself the one, holy, catholic words, and all assumption of authority and apostolic church of Christ. Aniby any such pretended successors found- mated by the most gigantic ambition, it ed on them, is usurpation. The power has already made potentates and parof the keys depended exclusively upon liaments bend their knees to its proud inspiration. As inspired men the tiara, and aims at nothing less than the apostles could pronounce with certainty subjugation of the whole world. Three what characters God would forgive or tortured texts, like racked prisoners in condemn, and by the nature of the case its ecclesiastical dungeons, have been the power must terminate with the forced by it to support usurpations inspiration on which it rested. In which their plain and natural meaning other words, neither Peter nor any condemns. Thus sanctioned, it calls other apostle could convey this power itself the church of Christ, and with a of the keys to any other men, since they hardihood which eclipses the daring of could not convey the inspiration with all other usurpers, it has raised its unwhich the power was identified.” authorized precepts to an equality with
Having subsequently shown that the the laws of God, proclaiming that whochurch of Rome is neither the church ever disobeys them is guilty of mortal of Christ, nor any second universal sin. By this proud claim to be the church appointed and owned by Him, one true church, it denies the rights of Mr. Noel asks, “What is it then ?” To the church of Christ; whom it vilifies this question he replies, “ It is the as an impostor, whose crown it has mixed multitude of a city swarming trampled in the dust, whose throne it with soldiers, spies, and sbirri, where has usurped, upon whose members in the use of the bible is prohibited to the all evangelical churches it has heaped common people, and where civil and its invectives, and to whom it has religious liberty is denied. It is a been through ages an imperious rival church the members of which so hate and a deadly foe." each other, that the bishop would be These are views with which English immediately expelled, amidst revolu- Christians ought to familiarize themtionary uproar, from the city which he selves : if they are not acquainted with misgoverns, if the church were not them already they should make themcoerced by a French garrison. 2. It selves masters of the subject without debas become, by the bold pretensions of lay. We shall not repent having given so its clergy, the mother and mistress' of long a notice of so small a book, if we many corrupt churches, which it has should learn that in consequence of it, subjected to its dominion, and with our readers in great numbers purchase which it forms what it erroneously and peruse the series of which it is a terms the Roman catholic church. commencement. Mr. Noel may be 3. This Roman catholic church, com trusted. He thoroughly understands posed of the church of Rome and its the subject, and he perceives its importadherents, is a church whose members ance. A man in his position has have murdered one another by thousands immense advantages too in treating in bloody wars. I have shown it to be with Romanists, over men who are unholy from its centre to its circum- fettered by articles of human device, or ference; its catholicity has been won chargeable with unscriptural practices. by force and fraud acting upon mediæval His sword is “the sword of the Spirit,” and he wields it with the skill of one pristine condition. In his own words, who has long been accustomed to the he seeks " to set forth as fully as possible exercise. We are thankful for that the redemptive character of the miracles providential dispensation which has of our Lord ;" "to show that they were called him to this engagement, and we not mere feats of power or proofs of hope that wherever our opinion is divine beneficence, but installations of valued this notice will have its legiti- the future age-specimens on a smaller mate effect. We are not afraid of scale of what will be realized when baptized believers emigrating to Rome; the predictions of the two last chapters but we are afraid of houses on the road the Apocalypse shall have become thither, in which they may be induced of actualized in full and lasting fact.” to sojourn, and where their children In corroboration of this view he asserts will be prepared for a transfer of their “ that the miracles of our Lord were allegiance to "the mother and mistress not simply acts of power, or expresof all churches."
sions of beneficence, but that they were earnests, forelights, pledges of
the grand and universal emancipation Foreshadows ; or Lectures on our Lord's that will yet dawn upon the world.”
Miracles as Earnests of the Age to Come. And he further affirms, that “no act of
especially, was significant of something Virtue, and Co. Fcap. 8vo. pp. 579.
brighter and better that Jesus will do."
We have given the Doctor's own MIRACLES may be viewed in various words, that there may be no misappreaspects. They may be regarded simply hension of his theory. The same stateas miracles—the production, that is, of ments are made in different parts of his results by other means than the ordi- lectures; but unfortunately Dr.Cumming nary laws of nature. They may be does not think it necessary to advance viewed as attesting the supernatural any authority for this explanation of authority of him who performs them. Christ's miracles, and as we are not They may be viewed as bearing witness aware that there is conveyed to us in to the disposition of the worker, accord- the scripture that records them any ing as they are beneficent or otherwise. intimation that this is the correct mode They may be viewed in the light of the of their interpretation, we find it someinfluence they exert on the mind of the what difficult to bring our minds to beholder. They may in some instances coincide with the arrangement. We be regarded as parabolic; as in the understand how the miracles Christ case of the withered fig-tree, and, wrought, evidencing a heart grieving perhaps, the cleansed lepers, and the over the consequences of man's sin, restored demoniacs. Dr. Cumming in manifesting amazing compassion for the work before us regards them in the sinner, and testifying of infinite another light; and seeks in this exposi wisdom and power, suggest to us, as tion of them to bring them before us in a probability, that He will bring about this other aspect. He views them as the complete restoration of a fallen being all of a typical nature, and as world. But this is by no means what all typifying the same fact--the com- Dr. Cumming says or means. He replete final restoration of nature to its gards them, and each and all of them,
as intended specifically to convey the of what constitutes a type are very one truth, that this restoration is to vague, or the Bible, to our minds, if it be effected ; and though in many teaches this may be made to teach anycases unquestionably the possibility of thing else : ingenuity is required and such significance holds, in other in- little beside. stances it requires, we think, all the Dr. Cumming in this theory of interDoctor's ingenuity and rhetorical ability pretation supplies us with a criterion of to draw it out and make it plain. We the divine origin of miracles ; and this confess that in the miracles of turning he does in so many words, and repeatedly. water into wine, of feeding the five and “All true heavenly miracles have this the three thousand, of the draught of one grand feature : they have a refishes, and of the withered fig-tree, the demptive character ; they go to counterrelation to this truth is not self-evident act and reverse the effects of the fall." to our minds; and in the case of Christ's Now is this criterion the result of hushing the tempest and bringing the independent and sufficiently extensive ship immediately to land, we will pre-induction; or is it a hasty generalization sent our readers with the author's own thrown out to support his hypothesis ? explanation. “When he walked upon the obviously the latter ; for its effect must yielding waves, and beckoned to the obe- be to set aside the vast majority of the dient winds, and the former slumbered at Old Testament miracles. Where, for his feet like gentle babes, and the latter instance, is the redemptive character of came to him like his own hired servants, Moses' leprous hand, of the plagues of he then showed that he was creation's Egypt, of the sun and moon standing Lord, about to retune creation's tangled still, of the earthquake engulfing Koran strings, and bring it back again like Dathan, and Abiram, of the sun going, an Æolian harp, to its ancient order back on the dial of Ahaz,-of a host of and perfection when God's Spirit shall others ? But passing by this, he says, sweep over it, and bring out glorious “If we try every miracle performed by and inexhaustible melody." All this our Lord by this test we shall find it may be true ; but we still doubt whether stand.” Is this so? We acknowledge it was the intention of Christ to teach we wondered how this should be made it when he performed the miracle. to appear in the case of the withered Dr. Cumming, however, states it; and fig-tree; and this is the solution we his faith in the significance of miracles found. “The selection of this tree, goes even further, for we afterwards even by its sacrifice and destruction, to find him saying, in reference to the convey a new lesson to mankind, is an expression, “He delivered him to his instalment and foreshadow of that mother," in the narration of the raising glorious epoch when nature shall hear the widow's son from death—“there the last trump, and rise from her may be in this—and I am sure that degradation and her ruin, and become there is in it—a type and foretaste of the mighty lesson-book from which a that which shall be at the grand resur- vast and redeemed population shall rection of the pious dead,” “ when every learn new and glorious lessons of the restored son shall be delivered to the goodness, and mercy, and beneficence of rejoicing mother, and the joy that was God.” Is this sufficient ? does this felt in the house at Nain shall only be constitute a redemptive character ? we a dim, dim forelight of that intenser joy are at a loss then to know what miracle that shall be felt in the heavenly home,” is not redemptive. Our author, how&c. Now either Dr. Cumming's views ever, in another lecture supplies us with