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Our readers are now fully enabled to appreciate the honesty and the discretion of the assertion we have referred to, that the mention of Jesus Christ in the present Geneva Catechism, is exactly the same as in the Catechism of Osterwald. Our quotations are from what appears to be an abridgement of the original Catechism. In an edition of the Catechism published at Geneva, in 1768, which is quoted by M. Empaytaz, there occur several passages of a still more decided cast, on t'ie subject of our Lord's Divinity. Jesus Christ is said to be God, be'cause he himself declared that he was before Abraham ; be
cause the Scriptures ascribe to him the perfections of the ! Godhead, omnipresence, omoiscience, almighty power ; and
because they teach us to avlore and call upon his name ; which we could not do, were he not infinite and every where present.'
It is scarcely necessary to advert to other points of Christian belief, on which the present Catechism differs from those of Osterwald and Superville, which were formerly io use. The Xillth Section of Osterwald's, On the Holy Spirit and his Gifts, expressly acknowledges as the doctrine of the Scriptures respecting the Holy Spirit, that Ilis essence is infinite and Divine, and that lle is the Almighty Power of God; that lle is called the Holy Spirit, as being holy in himself, and the author of boliness in us; and that it is necessary to believe in llim, because we are baptized in His name, and because lle is the source of. al saving grace. The whole of this confession is, as might be expected, suppressed in the New Catechism, and the following interrogatories and replies are substituted.
• What is believing in the Holy Spirit ?
• It is believing that God has poured out his Spirit on the Apostles, in consequence of which the doctrine left by them in writing, in the New Testament, is really the doctrine which comes from God.
• Is it necessary to believe in the Holy Spirit?
• Yes; for if we did not believe that the apostles had received the Spirit of God, we should not regard their doctrine as divine, nor consider it as obligatory on us: Jesus Christ has therefore enjoined us to be baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost ; and this article of belief has been put into the creed, I believe in the Holy Ghost.'
Once more: on that fundamental article of Protestantism, Justification by Faith, these new Reformers, the men who sit in Calvin's chair, thus expound the doctrines of the New Testament.
• What mușt we add to fuith and repentance, in order to fulfil the conditions of our salvation ?
• We must add sanctification, or the performance of good works; that is to say, we must labour incessantly to improre our characters, by abstaining from all sin, and rigidly observing all the precepts of the Gospel.
• How do we distinguish a good work?
• By finding that it is approved by conscience, conformable to the Holy Scripdures, and performed with a good intention.
• What benefits are procured by the performance of good works?
• The performance of good works affords us pure delight; and an inward felicity which nothing can destroy; it conciliates the esteem and affection of our fellow-creatures; and it ensures the divine protection and eternal happiness.
• Do our good works of themselves give us a claim to eternal life?*
• No; because they are imperfect; they cannot bear any proportion to eternal felicity; and in practising them we do but perform an indispensable duty.
Why then does the gospel promise salvation to those who perform good works?
• Because God, in his mercy, is willing to rest satisfied with our in. tentions and efforts, and to reward them with eternal life.'
Here we shall close our extracts. The whole of the Catechism, from the beginning to the end, preserves a strict consistency with this exposition of disbelief, and exhibits altogether the most complete view, perhaps, of modern Deism, as a system drawn out into all its bearings upon practical morality, that has ever been given to the world. In this point of view the publication is extreinely curious, if we may describe as a literary curiosity so lamentable a specinien of the perverted ingenuity of human wisdom. It serves to illustrate most emphatically an expression of Dr. Priestley, in reference to the late President of the United States : 'He is generally considered as an unbeliever; if so, be
cannot be far from us ;' and also the remark of the Encyclopédist, that from Socinianism to Deisin it is but a single step-a step
soon taken.' What else this Catechism comprises, it would be more difficult to say, than what it does not comprise; the best idea of it will be given by presenting a summary of its contents in a negative form, from which it will be fully seen that " Uni'tariapism consists in not believingi't
It does not teach the necessity of Revelation ; it does not teach the fall of man, or the depraved condition of his nature; it does not teach the necessity of a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, or the love of the Father in sending his only begotten Son into the world to become that sacrifice for us; it does not teach the Eternity and Deity of that Word who became flesh, by whom all things were made, and who upholdeth them by bis power; it does not teach that we are washed from our sins in bis blood, justified by his righteousness alone, and accepted through his
* In Osterwald, we have a very different interrogatory: Can our 'good works merit any thing in the sight of God?"" The spirit of the whole Section is totally opposite to the above extract from the New Catechism.
† See ECLECTIC REVIEW, Vol. IV. N.S. p. 267.
advocacy with the Father; it does not teach us supreme love to Jesus Christ; it does not teach the proper Deity of the Holy Spirit; it does not teach that a spiritual change must take place in the human soul, in order to turn the heart to the love of God, nor that Divine influence is alone adequate to effect that change, nor that the sanctification of the soul is by the operation of the Holy Spirit, nor that all our spiritual strength and sufficiency are to be derived, through faith, from Christ alone : it omits, in fact, every doctrine peculiar to Revelation ; every doctrine by which the faith of the Reformers was characterized; every doctrine which gives to Christian morality its superiority in point of adequate motive and spirituality of requirement; and every doctrine which constitutes the solid basis of a sinner's hope.
Such is the Catechism which our modern Socinians style an admirable summary of divinity.' Doubtless, Voltaire and Rousseau would have thought it so, for we know of scarcely any thing in it to which they would bave objected. Nothing, indeerd, could more fully verify the position which M. Empaytax has affixed to his “ Considerations,” that ' Those who deny the
deity of Jesus Christ, subvert from its foundation the whole • system of the Christian religion. Far from its being the « Five Points and the Trinity,' only, as has been flippantly asserted, to which this negative systein of Anti-Calvinism has been applied, the attempt is to obliterate doctrines held in common by all the reformed churches, Calvinistic or Lutheran, Presbyterian or Episcopal; for, indeed, what system of Christianity is there, held by any church, however corrupt, of which the denial of the Deity of the Saviour must not involve the utter subversion ? It is not characteristic of infidelity, nicely to discriminate, and though it may choose, by assuming the name of Unitarian, to take its stand upon one prominent heresy, as the distinguishing tenet of the sect, it is evident that the notions entertained by Socinians, with regard to the person of our Lord, form but a very small portion of that creed which may be summed up in this general confession: I believe in all unbelief.
It appears, however, from the pamphlet by M.'Empaytaz, that the substitution of this Socinianized Catechism, is but one of a series of measures ailopted by the Venerable Company of the Pastors of the Church of Geneva, in order to carry into effect the extirpation of the Christian doctrine. The Confession of Faith, formerly printed at the end of the Liturgy in use in the Church of Geneva, and also at the end of the Bible, in the editions of 1605 and 1725, has disappeared in the recent editions. The Liturgy itself, as well as the venerable translation of the Holy Scriptures, has undergone correspondent improvements. In the courses of lectures given by the Pastors and Professors, either a guarded silence is maintained with regard to the
peculiar doctrines of religion, or the opposite sentiments of Trinitarians and Deists are exbibited as matters of free opinion, indifferently left to the adoption or rejection of their pupils. Out of a hundred and ninety-seven printed sermons, preached by the Pastors of the Genevese Church during the last fifty years, not a single one is to be found, which contains a confession of belief in the Divinity of Christ. This is not all; the Venerable Company of Pastors have, so lately as the third of May, 1817, come to the resolution, to exact from all candidates for the sacred ministry, the following promise.
• We promise to refrain, so long as we reside and preach in the churches of the Canton of Geneva, from maintaining, ' whether by the whole or any part of a sermon directed to that object, our opinion
"1. As to the panner in which the Divine nature is united to the person of Jesus Christ.
2. As to original sin. '3. As to the manner in which Grace operates, or as to Efficacious Grace.
4. ' As to Predestinatinn. "We promise, moreover, not to controvert in our public discourses, the opinion of any one of the pastors on these subjects.
• Finally, we engage, should we have occasion to express our thoughts on any one of these topics, to do it without 'insisting upon our particular views, by avoiding all language 'foreign to the Holy Scriptures, and by making use of the phraseology which they employ.'
The exaction of this promise is accompanied with a grave assurance from the Venerable Pastors, that they do not pretend in any way to constrain the liberty of opinions.' No: this 'by-law of discipline,' is designed simply for the preservation of unanimity and concord : like other articles, these are only articles of peace !
With solemn, with deeply solemn feelings does it become us to contemplate this melancholy crisis of a Church once esteemed as the mother church of the Reformation, to which the other
reformed Churches did not scruple to give the title of Protestant Rome,' now the very höld of Infidelity. To these feelings, if suffered to take their natural direction, how beautifully appropriate were the language of invocation employed by Milton : ' • Thou, therefore, that sittest in light and glory
unapproachable, Parent of angels and men ! Next, thee i 'implore, omnipotent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant "whose nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting
love! And thou, the third Subsistence of Divine infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of created things í One Tripersonal Godhead! look upon this thy poor and almost
expiring church, and leave her not thus a prey.' True ; it is not beneath the desolating scourge of persecution that this Churclı lies prostrate; her own suicidal hand has administered the poison wbich is silently corrupting the springs of life, and turning ihe light that was within, to darkness. But not the less urgent is the occasion for the holy importunity of prayer, that He who hath the seven spirits of God, who knows the blasphemy of them who say they are Christians and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, would interpose to prevent the final removal of this lamp of the Protestant world, out of its place. It may still be said, as of the Church at Sardis, “ Thou hast
a few names, even in Geneva, who have not polluted their “ garments.” Some honourable exceptions tbere are to the general defection from Christianity, among the pastors of the Church, who view what is taking place, with deep though ineffectual regret, and who still uphold in the pulpits of Geneva, the doctrines of the Gospel. Little, however, in the way of resolute, active opposition, suited to the emergency of the occasion, can be expected from these venerable men, who, familiarized to the prevalence of heresy, and to the arbitrary and intolerant measures which the dominant heresiarchs have not scrupled to employ in the systematic prosecution of their designs; restrained, too, by personal considerations, and by notions of ecclesiastical discipline, from stepping out of the line of ordinary duty; can only look on in silent alarm, awaiting, with submission to the Divine will, what they anticipate as the final issue. *
Circumstances, however, of recent occurrence at Geneva, some vague intelligence of which has reached the public through the medium of the Newspapers, promise to be attended by cousequences of the greatest importance to the interests of Christianity, not only in that city, but on the Continent at large. The event to which we principally allude, is nothing less than the formation of a Protestant Evangelical church at Geneva, on the plan of the congregational churches of the English Nonconformists. This measure appears to have been decided upon, chiefly in consequence of the re-action excited by the increasing violence of the hostility which the company of Pastors have manifested towards evangelical religion. When Mr. Haldane, the author of the work on the evidences of Christianity, reviewed in our December Number, was some time ago at Geneva,
* One of these excellent men, a pastor of Geneva, thus writes to his friend and · brother in Christ,' in England: Join your prayers • with mine, my dear Sir and brother, to supplicate God to resuscitate . among us the spirit of Christianity, and let us all with one accord • cry out to the Lord, with the Apostles, when in imminent danger of being shipwrecked, “ Save, Lord or we perish !".