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not have treated Peter any more civilly,) did not fall into any of these errors. It would seem to have had quite a contrary effect, for it is added, " therefore many of them believed.” Acts, 17 : 11, 12. Whatever these Bereans were, it is clear that they were not good Catholics.
But after all it is not surprising that these noble Bereans did not fall into any fatal error by reason of reading the Scriptures, since Peter says of Paul's hardest parts, and most obscure passages, that they do nobody any harm, but such as are both “ unlearned and unstable;" and that they do them no harm, except they wrest them, that is, do absolute violence to them. 2 Pet. 3:16.
3. Privato Interpretation.
it is known to every body how strenuously the Catholics oppose the reading of the Bible, or rather, I should say, the reader exercising his mind on the Bible which he reads. He may read for himself, if he will only let the church think for him. He may have a New Testament, and he may turn to such a passage as John, 3: 16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," &c. or to that, Matt. 11:28, 30, “ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” &c. and he may read the words, but then he must not attempt to put a meaning upon them, though it be very difficult
to avoid attaching a sense to them, since they are quite as easy to be understood as they are to be read. But he must not do it. At his peril he must not. He is guilty of the crime of private interpretation, if he does. Before he pretends to understand those passages, he must inquire how the church has always interpreted them, and what the popes and general councils have thought about them, and how all the fathers, from Barnabas to Bernard, not one excepted, have understood them. Well, now, it strikes me as rather hard upon the poor sinner, that he should be made to go through this long and difficult process before he is permitted to admire the love of God in the gift of his Son, and before he can go to Jesus for rest. And somehow I cannot help suspecting that it is not necessary to take this circuitous course, and that it is not so very great a sin when one reads such passages, to understand them according to the obvious import of their terms.
But the Catholic asks, “Does not Peter condemn private interpretation ?" And they point us to his ad Epistle, 1: 20. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy
, of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Now you must know that Catholics, though they have no great attachment to the Bible, are as glad as any people can be, when they can get hold of a passage of it, which seems to establish some tenet of theirs. And as only a very small portion of the Bible has even the appearance of favoring them, one may observe with what eagerness they seize upon, and with what tenacity they cling to the rare passages which seem to befriend their cause. Thus they do with this passage of Peter. They quote it with an air of triumph,
and exultingly ask what Protestants can have to reply to it.
Now, in the name of Protestants, I will state in two or three particulars what we have to say in opposition to the Catholic inference from these words of Peter. We say that that passage does not make for the Catholic cause, first, because if the right of private judgment and private interpretation is taken away by it, as they affirm, yet it is taken away with respect to only a small part of the Bible, viz. the prophetic part. He does not say that any other part, the historical, the didactic, or the hortatory, is of private interpretation, but only the prophetic, that part in which something is foretold. He does not say no Scripture, but " prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Allowing then to the Catholic all which he contends for, we are left with by far the larger part of the Bible open to private interpretation. Peter restricts us only in the matter of prophecy !
But secondly, let me say, that to whatever the remark of the apostle has reference, it can easily be shown that it does not mean what the Catholic understands it to mean. This is evident from what follows it. I wish the reader would turn to the passage. He will perceive that Peter, having said that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, proceeds to assign the reason of that assertion, or rather, as I think, goes into a further and fuller explanation of what he had said : “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, (that is, it was not of human invention, it did not express the conjectures of men,) but hcly men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Now I would ask if this reason
THOUGHTS ON POPERY,
confirms the Catholic view of the passage? Is the fact that the Bible was written by men inspired of God to write it, any reason why it should not be of private interpretation? Does the circumstance that God gave them the thoughts, and even suggested to them the words in which they should clothe them, render the production so unintelligible, or so equivocal in its meaning, that a private individual cannot be trusted to read it? That would be to say that God cannot make himself understood as easily as men can! The Catholic argument from this passage may be stated thus: the Bible is an inspired book, therefore too obscure and ambiguous to be of private interpretation! Inspired, therefore unintelligible !
If it be so hard to understand what God says, how was the divine Savior able to make himself understood by the common people who heard him gladly? I suspect they knew what he meant when he said, “ Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” The sermon on the mount seems to have been understood by those who heard it. No one thought of asking how others understood it. No one felt the necessity of an interpreter: every one exercised his private judgment on what Christ said. Now, suppose that what Jesus said to the people, and they found no difficulty in understanding it, had been taken down in writing at the time, would not they who understood it when they heard it, have equally understood it when they read it? The spoken discourses of Christ were intelligible: have they become unintelligible by being written?
To return for a moment to the passage in Peter. I consider that the word rendered in verse 20, interpretation, should be translated as Dr. M'Knight trans
lates it, invention ; or, as another renders it, impulse: and verse 21 should be considered as explanatory of that which precedes it. If the apostle really intended to deny the right of private judgment, why does he in verse 19 exhort all the saints, to whom he wrote, to take heed to “the more sure word of prophecy,” the very thing in reference to which he is supposed to deny the right of private judgment? Why should they take heed to it, if it is not of private interpretation ? and why does he speak of it as "a light that shineth in a dark place ?"
Finally : If no part of Scripture is of private interpretation, then of course the passage of Scripture, 2 Pet. 1: 20, is not of private interpretation; and yet the Catholic exercises his private judgment upon it, and submits it to the private judgment of the Protestant, in the hope thereby of making him a Catholic! No part of Scripture, according to him, may be privately interpreted, but that which affirms that no part, not even itself, may be privately interpreted !
4. Popery Unscriptural.
I undertake to prove that the Roman Catholic religion is unscriptural—that it is not borne out by the Bible. If I can do that, I shall be satisfied; for a reli
! gion, professing to be Christianity, which does not agree with the statements of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude, will, I am per