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UNIVERSI THOUGHTS ON POPERT
31 the Scriptures to the Jews, and said, pearch them."
” So we put the Bible into your hand, and say, there is our religion. And yet you ask, “ Where was your religion before Luther ?" Before Luther! we tell you where it was before the earliest fathers. It was in the Gospels and Epistles, where it is now, and ever will be. What have we to do with Luther or Augustine, or any of them, until we get as far back into antiquity as St. John?
But Mr. H. asks again, “What society of Christians ever taught this pretended religion of Christ previous to the Reformation ?" Why, Mr. H. do not affect such ignorance—you must be joking, when you ask such a question. Did you never hear of a society of Christians residing at Rome, some of whom were of Cæsar's household, to whom one Paul wrote a letter, which has come down to us? Now, if it cannot be ascertained what that society of Christians "taught," yet it can easily be ascertained what was taught them. It is only to read the letter. And I think it not improbable that that society of Christians professed and taught what St. Paul taught them.
But there was another respectable society of Christians, a good while previous to the Reformation,” who seem to have known something about this “pretended religion of Christ,” called Protestant. They dwelt in a city named Ephesus. That same Paul resided among them three years, preaching the Gospel, and he did it faithfully. He “shunned not to declare all the counsel of God.” After establishing a flourishing church there, he went away, and subse. quently addressed an epistle to them, which also has come down to us. In this epistle it is to be presumed
that he embodied the substance of the Gospel, which he had taught them "publicly and from house to house.” He is not to be suspected of preaching one thing and writing another. Will Mr. H. deny that the society of Christians at Ephesus professed and taught the doctrines of the epistle to the Ephesians ? I think not. Well, sir, what are the doctrines of that epistle ? Are they yours or ours—Catholic or Protestant ? I will leave it to any intelligent infidel on earth to decide. Will Mr. H. agree to the reference? O no, he wants us to leave it to a pope, and general council, and the unanimous fathers.
I have told Mr. H. now of two societies of Christians who “ taught this pretended religion of Christ previous to the Reformation.” I could tell of more ; but two are enough. He only asked for one.
Now I would ask Mr. H. a question. Where was your religion, Mr. H. at the time the Bible was written? I am curious to know. How came the evangelists and apostles to know nothing about it, if it is really the religion of Christ ? Perhaps Mr. H. can clear up this difficulty. I wish he would, if he can. I do not want him to say where his religion was after the Bible was written, and after all the evangelists and apostles were dead. I am informed on that point. I want to know where the Roman Catholic religion was before those good men died; where it was before the fathers.
They talk about the antiquity of the Roman Catholic religion. It is old, I must confess. It bears many marks of age upon it. But the difficulty is, it is not old enough by a century or two at least. They say it is the first form of Christianity. That is a mistake. It is the second. The first appeared for a while, then “fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God," and re-appeared at the Reformation. They call it a new religion. But no, it is the old restored. If any one doubts the identity of the restored religion, let him but compare its features with that which appeared and flourished in the apos
Another question I beg leave to ask Mr. H. “Did the first Christians of Rome hold the doctrines contained in the epistle to the Romans, or did they not ?" If they did not, they must have departed from the faith sooner than Paul predicted that they would. If they did hold the doctrines of the epistle, then, since these are the very doctrines which the friends of the Reformation contend for, have we not here the example of a society holding the doctrines of the Reformation long before the actual era of the Reformation ? I have other questions to ask, but I wait for these to be answered.
9. The Distinction of Sins into Mortal and Venial.
Mr. Editor,—I was not aware, until recently, that Roman Catholics of this age, and in this country, make that practical use which I find they do of the distinction of sins into mortal and venial. For the truth of the following narrative I can vouch. An intelligent gentleman being, a few weeks since, expostulated with by a Protestant lady, on his spending the whole of a certain Sabbath in playing cards, replied with
the utmost readiness, and with every appearance of confidence in the validity of his apology, “O, that is not a mortal sin.” Several similar examples of a resort to this distinction were reported to me. Now, can that system be the religion of Jesus Christ, which recognizes this horrible distinction, and puts such a plea as this into the mouth of a transgressor of one of the commandments of that Decalogue which God's own voice articulated and his own finger wrote ? I cannot express the feelings I have, when I think of the multitudes who are forming a character for eternity under the influence of doctrines like these. What sort of a character must they form!
How completely at variance with the Scriptures is this distinction! “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them—the wages of sin is death-the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Gal. 3 : 10; Rom. 6 : 23; Ezek. 18:4. Is not all sin disobedience to God? and may he be disobeyed in any respect without guilt ? Did ever a father of a family recognize such a distinction in the government of his children? Did Christ atone for what are called venial sins, or did he not? If he did not, then he did not atone for all sin. If he did atone for them, they must be worthy of death, since he died for them.
The truth is, all sin is mortal, if not repented of; and all sin is venial, that is, pardonable, if repented of. There is no sin which the blood of Christ cannot cleanse from. And nothing but that can take out any sin.
It is not worth while to reason against such a distinction. I only mention it as one of the absurd and pernicious errors of the system to which it belongs.
10. The Deadly Sins.
In " the Christian's Guide to Heaven” I read with some interest an enumeration of what the Catholics are pleased to call “the seven deadly sins.” Why this distinction, thought I? Are there only seven sins ? Or are only some sins deadly; and is the number of sins that kill ascertained by the infallible church to be just seven and no more, all other sins being venial, not mortal, according to another distinction which that church presumes to make ?
They cannot mean that there are only seven sins, for heresy is not in this list of sins, and that I am sure they esteem a sin; neither is there any mention of falsehood and deception, which we Protestants regard as sins, even though their object should be pious. Besides, David says that his iniquities were more than the hairs of his head-consequently many more than seven. And who is any better off than David in this respect? Moreover, even the Catholics admit nine commandments. They do not leave out any but the second. They must therefore admit the possibility of at least nine sins.
They must mean that there are only seven sins which are mortal to the soul. But if this be the
case, why is it said, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them ?" It is admitted that there are more than seven things written in the book of the law. Again, why is it said that the wages of sin is death? This would seem to imply that death is due to every sin, of whatever kind. If there are only seven deadly sins, why
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