« ZurückWeiter »
Travels of Mayer, Stephens, Mad. Calderon, etc.
The Variations of Popery: By Samuel Edgar. Second Edition, London, 1838.
Critical and Miscellaneous Essays: By Thomas Carlyle. Four vols., 12mo. Boston, 1840.
Horæ Apocalypticæ, or a Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical: By the Rev. E.
B. Elliott, A.M., Trinity College, Cambridge. 3 vols. 8vo. London, Seeleys, 1844.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE REFORMERS,
TAE LAST CIRCULAR LETTER OF THE POPE,
It being a principal design of the American Protestant Association by all proper methods to diffuse light on the truths and interests at stake in the controversy with the Roman Church, it seems especially suitable that in establishing an organ of communication with the public, the attention of the teachers and ministers of religion should be called to the duty of an earnest coöperation in this object. All important truth is clear in itself, Indeed its best evidence is itself. The clouds that obscure it, the coverings that hide it from our view, are of our own creation.
The Roman system of religion is truth obscured, covered, loaded down, till it is hardly truth any longer. To see the processes by which this result has been attained, to trace them back to their origin, through all their windings, till truth is seen separate from the folds and trappings with which ignorance or superstition has thought to adorn or recommend it, we must go over a wide field, embracing nearly all the learning and history of the world. Few only can be expected to do this in any able and efficient sense. But it is clearly the duty of all who are “set for the defence of the Gospel," to endeavour to command all learning and enlist all history to illustrate and confirm it, as all of both will surely do, so far as they are rightly understood and used.
The character of the doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome, peculiar and strongly marked as they are, seems greatly to have been lost sight of in this Protestant country. We have been taken up with the cares or rocked to sleep in the security of our growth, forgetting alike the erampie and the charge left us by our fathers. Meanwhile Roman priests and people have been flocking in among us by thousands, operating by schools, by missions, by every method by which they could establish and extend their Church. Their success has been great, and great chiefly from our apathy. But we have not looked on with indifference only, we have
largely aided them by our means and influence; we have nourished their growth; not that we approved their doctrines, but that we did not see their danger, nor so prize the truth and watch for it, as a thing, the precious taste and memory of which might slip from us.
Till very lately little has been spoken, or written, on this controversy, and all who have taken the trouble to be informed, must have been struck not only with the general indifference, but the ignorance that exists in regard to its merits. It is light, knowledge, that is wanted; right feeling and practice will follow and keep pace with that. This can most appropriately and must chiefly come from the Christian pulpits of the land. From them the gospel calls for defence, and to them the people look for an exhibition of its perversions, and a warning of the dangers which threaten it. When they shall be found speaking out in an earnest love of truth and in a jealous care for souls, we may expect soon to see the fruits, which should distinguish and mark the church and the age,-a withdrawal of all support and patronage from schools and institutions where papal errors are likely to be taught or imbibed, or papal influence acquired; a fuller knowledge of the truth and its fatal perversions; and above all, a greater and wiser diligence in extending its conquests.
THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
A Reply to the Allegations and Complaints contained in the Letter of Bishop Kenrick to the
Board of Controllers of Public Schools.
BY REV. WALTER COLTON, V. S. N.
The source from which this letter It is signed Francis Patrick, Bp. Philad., emanates, the claims which it sets up, which stands for Bishop of Philadelphia, the rights which it invades, and the ob- —not Bishop of the Roman Catholic jects at which it aims, invest it with an Church, in Philadelphia, but of all the importance far beyond the force of its Protestant churches too. This is an illusintrinsic merits. Were the interests tration of the arrogant pretensions of that threatened only such as might, in mili- foreign ecclesiastical power under which tary phrase, be surrendered, without dis- Bishop Kenrick holds his commission. honour, to the force presented, there Even the diocesan dignities of Bishop would be less occasion of alarm. But Onderdonk fade away under the higher the wise and prudent patriot looks not claims of this papal mitre. Whether his only to the strength of the invader, but to credentials will be accredited by the comthe value of the objects, which have munity is a question yet to be decided. tempted his ambition. The blows of the Some members of the board, however, battering ram may fall light, or heavy, as to whom this letter is addressed seem they list upon the bastion, that has no- to have given it all the consideration thing to protect, but if the breach is to due to the plenary pretensions of its aulead to priceless treasures the flanking thor. tower must be sustained. The outposts The letter of the bishop opens with an captured, the citadel falls of course. apology, and, with characteristic incon
This letter has all the authority which sistency ends with a threat. But the real and fictitious jurisdiction can give it. conciliatory introduction is quite as much
in harmony with the menacing conclusion His first objection is levelled against as are the intermediate statements and the authority and claims of the Bible now claims with each other. The Bishop in use; and is couched in these terms: says: “Sympathy for a respectable lady, “We are persuaded that several books who has been deprived for months of her of divine scripture are wanting in this veronly means of support, for following the sion, and that the meaning of the original dictates of her conscience, and a solemn text is not faithfully translated.” Now sense of duty to the Catholic community, granting that this Bible might, with prowhose religious interests are entrusted to priety have in it the books claimed as my guardianship, prompt me to submit, canonical by the Bishop, and that the respecifully, to you the conscientious ob- translation might in some instances be jections of catholics to the actual regula- improved, still is this a valid insurmounttions of the public schools.” The suf- able objection to its use? Is it a bar over ferer for conscience sake here referred to, which no other considerations can prevail? and whose case is made the prime occa- Does it justify a loss of all the influences sion of this letter, is a female who had it can exert? Will it warrant the ignobeen employed in the capacity of a rance, scepticism and infidelity which teacher in one of the public schools, and must make up the alternative? Moral who chose to relinquish her situation influences in their effects are never persooner than read the Protestant version fect on man; they are always partial. of the Scriptures to her pupils or allow They may make him wiser and better, them to read it in their classes. This is but they will never make him an angel. the sum and substance of the grievance He will still carry with him the evidences complained of in this case. While this of his fallen nature. As these results teacher consulted her own conscience so then are to be only partial, though of innicely she should have bestowed a thought finite moment, why should we cast them on the conscience of her pupils and their aside, because their source may have parents. But freedom of conscience with been in the conception of some slightly some people, like their charity, begins disturbed, or because it has not the uiand ends at home.
most amplitude assigned it in some forms The Bishop asks the Board, in view of belief. Because the moon is not full of this case of alleged hardship to cast orbed, does the benighted traveller spurn the Bible out of the public schools, and its light; or because the sun may have a to suppress all religious exercises. How spot upon it, does the uncertain mariner the case of this lady is to be relieved by refuse to take his observations? the expulsion of the Bible, by the sup- But the Bishop objects to the use of pression of these devotional exercises, we this translation, “inasmuch as Catholic are not informed. We had supposed the children," as he affirms “ may be led to exercises of religion a relief in difficulty, view it as authoritative." They may be a consolation under bereavement, but led to regard the Bible itself as authorihere they are made only a fresh source tative, its spirit, precepts and injunctions of calamity. The cry of the young raven as obligatory, but the language will be is considered as only enhancing its famine. with them much the same as it is with Whether the community will consider it their seniors, the medium through which their duty to grant the relief sought, in the thoughts are conveyed. No child the shape suggested, remains to be seen. will trouble itself with the nice distincBut if they do, they will inflict the deep- tions to which the Bishop refers, nor est dishonour on the pledges of religion would it be able to comprehend them, and offer the last indignity to the claims even if explained. What childhood seeks of its divine author. But waiving for the in all matters is the plain and intelligible; present this case of alleged grievance, the intricate and abstruse, lie as much beand the impiety of the proposed remedy, yond its curiosity as its scope. We we proceed to consider the objections of doubt if the Bishop, with all his solicithe Bishop to the present rules and regu- tude on this subject, can interest a child lations of our public schools.
in the question whether the books which
we regard as apocryphal, are of divine Were then the version of the Bible in authority, or not, or whether the version general use, open to the objections made which we use has every subtle shade of by Bishop Kenrick, still there would be thought, which belongs to the original. no valid reason for ejecting it from our These are questions for the learned, or at public schools; nothing that would sancleast for those of a maturer age, and it tify the act. But this version is not open would be alike vain and unprofitable to to these objections. The Bishop affirms crowd them on childhood.
that “ several books of Divine Scripture But why should the Bishop be so soli- are wanting in this version.” Now in citous on these nice points, since the regard to the books of the New Testacirculation of the Scriptures themselves ment both Roman Catholics and Protestis discouraged, if not interdicted, by the ants are agreed that all is complete and canons of his own church. If the book perfect here; the originals with both are as a whole be of so little concern to the ihe same; they differ only on the claims general reader, or so difficult of interpre- of the Apocryphal books, which the Rotation, that it may with propriety be man Catholics attach to the Old Testament, withheld from him, why be so alarmed and which are not recognized as canoniabout the possible misconception of a cal by Protestants. The claims of some few passages. If a few partial errors of of these have been regarded as doubtful translation be fatal to the pupil, what by many of the Roman Catholics themmust ignorance of the whole be? Can a selves, and the claims of others rest man walk more safely in utter darkness mostly on their fancied importance to the than in the light, imperfect though it be? completeness of the sacred canon. He is perhaps more easily led, if he We can adduce authority on this subcannot see his own path, and if this de- ject but we must do it briefly, which pendence be the object sought, it is un- must be regarded as more impartial than doubtedly best achieved in this form. But that of either of the parties in the conthe Protestanı clergy seek no such advan- troversy,—the authority of the Jewish tage. They do not believe that their Rabbies. For though they made the influence is to be overthrown by the commandment of God of none effect by intelligence of the great mass, or that their traditions, it was not through these ignorance is the parent of devotion. books. They had their Talmuds and They believe that their power to do good Mishnas, but they never received the is in harmony with a spirit of investiga- Apocrypha. Josephus enumerates but tion, and the progress of religious truth. twenty-two books as received by them; Hence they put the Bible into the hands and these twenty-two may easily be of every man, and invite to it the most proved to be the same as the twenty-nine free, searching and anxious inquiry. They which are found in our version. The ask no deference to their own opinions Jews reckoned Judges and Ruth as one, any farther than these opinions are sus- the two books of Samuel as one, the tained by the plain declarations of that iwo of Kings as one, the two of Chrobook. They will not themselves submit nicles as one, Ezra and Nehemiah as to an arbitrary rule of faith, deriving its one, the Lamentations as part of Jereauthority from man, nor will they exact miah, and the books of the iwelve minor this from others. They believe in no Prophets as one. This reduces them to human infallibility, and set aside even the twenty-two, which correspond to the numdecision of the Pope, whenever that deci- ber of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, sion fails to harmonize with their own and which were the Alpha and Omega of conceptions of truth and duty. They the Old Testament. The Jews and early Jose it is true, in this way, that exact Christians are agreed on this point though unity of belief on all points which cha- wide as the poles asunder on others. To racterize Roman Catholics. But they gain their concurrent testimony, is to be added in freedom of thought and force of indi. the authority of the ancient fathers. vidual conscience more than they lose by Melito Bishop of Sardis, living in the the absence of such a Procrustean faith. second century, Origen, Athanasius,