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NO. II.- OCTOBER FESTIVAL,
SIR,—Your invitation and “ W. F. H.'s” letter compel me to renew a controversy which I had hoped to have dropped, and to add a few remarks to that communication of mine which you, with kind intentions, have withheld, to give me the opportunity of meeting “ W. F. H.” I have no copy of the letter you have postponed, and, writing in London, I have before me only your January Number; so that I cannot refer to our previous correspondence. But the case lies in a small space; and, for the course I have to take, I have a sufficiently clear recollection of the facts to answer my present purpose.
There is one part of“W.F. H.’s” letter of which, I trust, he cannot well have considered the bearing, nor the baseness of character which it insinuates. He has quoted a passage from Hurd, marking with italics words which, in the judgment of every reader, must convey a charge of unfairness, and dishonesty of mind, against me. He says, he hopes I will “not take offence" at such a charge. I only beg him to consult' his own heart, and reflect whether he would not take offence at such a charge. For my own part, though anxious to presume that he cannot be so bigoted as to intend to assert, that those who differ from him in their views of an undefined and debateable point must be unfair and dishonest, yet as the words and printing convey that charge against me, I must publicly repel it, and say, that, if intended, it is utterly groundless and inconsistent, not only with Christian charity, but with that courtesy which is due from one gentleman to another. I am compelled, from respect to my own character, thus indignantly to repudiate the charge, as it appears in the words ; but I do trust that “W. F. H.” did not intend it. Had we been conversing, doubtless the tone, and the countenance, and the explanation with which “W. F. H.” would have accompanied the remark, would have given it a different turn; and he has forgotten that those feelings of his mind are not transferred to the paper on which he writes. I am the more willing to cherish the hope, as I can perceive that my own remarks have been liable to similar misconception even from you. At this moment, grave, not to say indignant, as my previous remarks have been, I cannot help smiling when I read your note, in which you speak of “ giving offence.” Luther is incog. to you; but he is one who bas, for some years, had the honour of your acquaintance, (he would hope friendship,) and who, far from being offended, has never for a moment suffered an interruption of the kind and respectful sentiments with which he has already regarded you. I complained in the letter you have postponed, of your not giving me, in your editorial capacity, fair play, and being two against one; but it was with a mock gravity, which it seems has bed
taken for serious and angry remonstrance. In all other respects, I believe, I have only explained and maintained my positions, perhaps treated “W. F. H.’s” reasonings with a levity which has displeased him, but have neither entertained, nor consciously expressed, an unkind reflection upon either your or your correspondent's motives.
My remark, that the bishop did not choose the subject of“W.F.H.'s" sermon, being a fact in illustration of a statement merely, could not call for such an insinuation as it has drawn forth. It only went to prove, that the subject suggested by the day in question might be legitimately discussed, and without any violation of discipline. If “W. F. H.” did not mean it to be imagined that the authority he speaks of had been contravened by the parties in question, I am at a loss to comprehend for what purpose it was cited. But this is of no importance. If I have misconceived him I am sorry for it, and will take my “ house of cards” without anger.
But I must again (and I do not sneer) beg him to keep his own “house of cards” likewise; for I have spoken positively of my own views, and I cannot imagine that Horne, who has in the “half page” given an account of many of the old translations, could possibly have other views. I should always contend as warmly as “W. F. H.” for the existence of these old translations, as proofs of the comparative novelty of Romish usurpation, in assuming the right of permitting, or not permitting, the people to read the scripture in their own language. Our business is with the time of the Reformation ; and Cranmer's words, quoted by him, could prove quite enough for me. If “ W. F. H." will read my letter, he will find that I have not applied the term “authorized” to Coverdale's bible. I have simply stated, that Wickliffe's bible, and all unauthorized translations, being forbidden, was a virtually entire prohibition ; for these were expressly forbidden, and there were no authorized translations provided.
Again, I am sorry that my words should seem to convey a charge of “W. F. H.” being an “apologist” for Romanists. He must remember that he charged those who contended that the Reformation was the means of giving the people free access to the bible, and that the papists withheld it, with affording the papists a triumph. I have only retorted his charge and said, that not our position, but his own remarks, not his intentions, had that tendency.
I will not split hairs with “ W. F. H.” upon the distinction between printing and publishing, nor am I concerned to defend the expressions of the parties he alludes to. But it appears to me that either term, to plain understandings, was sufficiently descriptive of rendering public the scriptures in English, which was the event considered worthy of remark. As to Mr. Horne meaning to mention “protestant” as a peculiarity of the bible, and so implying a special tone or bias in the translation, I have no manner of doubt “W.F. H." is mistaken. The imprint of Coverdale's bible is the test of Mr. Horne's project. “W. F. H." is not mistaken in his conjecture that I should be with him if an “attempt,” such as he describes, shall be made; and I only hope he will be always found as firm as I shall be in withstanding them. But I must contend, that the present is not such a case. The day fell on a Sunday--the subject was a legitimate one for a sermon at any time, and specially in these times. The adoption of this subject by individual presbyters, the circulation of the suggestion of these coincidences by either individuals or the press, do not constitute the appointment, nor the attempt to appoint, a festival. There was neither, as far as I am concerned, an appointment nor an observance of a festival, in the ecclesiastical sense of the term. That" W. F. H.” should have been impertinently censured, and that other fooleries should have been perpetrated, is nothing strange, but he need not let these trouble him ; and, as for me, my attack has been directed not against him personally, nor against his motives, but solely against his arguments.
I beg both him (unknown as he is to me) and yourself to accept my assurance of entertaining no ill will to either ; but that I'am determined, when I believe I am in the right, to maintain truth. I have not noticed many points of “W.F. H.'s” letter, not caring to continue the general controversy so much as to explain my own statements, and vindicate myself from what I understood as an unqualified charge of breach of ecclesiastical duty, and from having intended any reflection on the motives of those who differ from me; a species of reflection in which I must say "W.F. H.” appears to have indulged to a most unwarrantable extent. If I have provoked him, by what he calls “banter," and if by that term he means what he has spoken of in another passage as sneering, I really regret it, and did not conceive that I had gone beyond the limits described in the former of these terms. But I cannot think that even the latter provocation can justify the insinuations conveyed in his quotation from Hurd.*
As far as the Editor is concerned, he is most anxious to avoid the continuation of a correspondence the tone of which is painful. Where two parties, both, doubtless, equally anxious to do good, differ so widely, silence is the best healer of wounds.-ED.
THE ROMISH DOCTRINE OF ATTRITION,
The Romish tenet most pregnant with moral mischief is, probably, that which promises salvation to mere attrition. It is also a tenet highly serviceable in riveting attachment to the papal church, and in seeking proselytes. In fact, it renders the Romanist secure of eternal welfare; since none, with even the least sense of religion, are not afraid of endless torments, and all would be glad to escape them on the easy terms of receiving sacerdotal absolution. The wish for this, however, is pronounced enough, where the satisfaction itself is unattainable.
Now it should be generally known, that a Romish divine pressed in argument is very likely to pronounce salvability from attrition only as nothing more than a scholastic doctrine, to which his church does not stand committed. He might be reminded of the Trentine catechism, which declares real contrition to be found in very few, and hence deduces the necessity of an easier way for the salvation of men in general.* His answer would be, that the catechism is not a decree of the council, and therefore not like one binding as an article of faith. It is indeed true, that the council here has spoken more vaguely and guardedly than the catechism.t Pallavicino represents the Trentine fathers accordingly as intending merely to condemn an opinion of their adversaries, which branded the fear of punishment with baseness.
If the cardinal's view be correct, what becomes of the authorized manual for instructing the Romish clergy? What likewise of the doctrine that salvation is absolutely secure within the papal church? Are we to believe that the Romish clergy are taught from authority a doctrine of the last importance to the souls of men, but one which their church has, in fact, rather evaded than decided ? May we safely say, too, that in spite of positive assertions to the contrary from such as ought to know the truth, the Roman church has not really ventured to assure men of salvation upon terms different from those proposed by other churches ? An affirmative in these cases lays the Romish clergy undoubtedly under a very great hardship. All of them may be very reasonably expected to possess the Catechismus ad Parochos. A small library might excusably want the Trentine decrees. Nor would every clergyman, even of scholarly habits, think it necessary to scrutinize very narrowly the
* “Ut enim hoc concedamus, contritione peccata deleri, quis ignorat illam adeo vehementem, acrem, incensam esse oportere, ut doloris acerbitas cum scelerum magnitudine æquari, conferrique possit? At quoniam pauci admodum ad hunc gradum pervenirent, fiebat etiam ut a paucissimis hac via peccatorum venia speranda
Quare necesse fuit ut clementissimus Dominus faciliori ratione communi hominum saluti consuleret, quod quidem admirabili consilio effecit, cum claves regni cælestis ecclesiæ tradidit.”. Catech. ad Paroch., Part i., De Poen. Sacram. xlvi.
+ “Iam vero contritionem imperfectam, quæ attritio dicitur, quoniam vel ex turpitudinis peccati consideratione, vel ex gehennæ et poenarum metu communiter concipitur, si voluntatem peccandi excludat, cum spe veniæ, declarat non solum non facere hominem hypocritam, et magis peccatorem, verum etiam donum Dei esse, et Spiritus sancti impulsum, non adhuc quidem inhabitantis, sed tantum moventis, quo poenitens adjutus viam sibi ad justitiam parat. Et quamvis sine sacramento poenitentiæ per se ad justificationem perducere peccatorem nequeat, tamen eum ad Dei gratiam in sacramento poenitentiæ impetrandam disponit."--Conc. Trid.., Sess, xiv, precise authority for a doctrine broadly laid down in his authorized manual. The Romish laits, likewise, in this view of the case, have great ground of complaint. They are in the habit of attributing extraordinary privileges to their church for securing the soul. Protestants look upon this opinion as a delusion. It might seem, also, that the council of Trent, the only complete and authorized expositor of Romish belief, at least had its doubts as to delusion here.
1 “Ed in verità, per quanto io scorgo dagli atti, l'intenzione de' teologi fù di condannar l'opinione degli eretici che riprovavano come cattivo il timor della pena, e non di decidere la questione scolastica, se cosi fatto timore, non solo senza la contrizione perfetta (del che appenna fù lite, come vedràssi) mà eziandio senza verun eccitamento d'amore imperfetto basti alla remission de peccati nel sacramento.”Ist, del Conc. di Trento., i. 1003, Rom. 1656.
But although this may really be the true state of the case, and it is desirable to be aware of it, yet it is most unsafe to lose sight of Attrition as a prominent point in the Romish controversy. However a nice scrutiny may dispose of this doctrine, it is, in fact, broadly asserted in the manual drawn up for instructing ordinary clergymen, under authority of the Trentine council, though not completed until that body was dissolved.* This manual, too, was promulged under papal sanction, expressly conferred upon the Roman see for that very purpose by the council. The Catechismus ad Parochos has been, accordingly, ever since what it was intended to be, a text-book for the Romish clergy. It has been, in fact, identified among all, but perhaps a very few of the initiated, with that famous council from which it drew its origin. Nor is it doubtful that it speaks the feeling and intention of this council upon the question of attrition. Only the Trentine fathers here knew themselves to be upon treacherous ground, and therefore they discreetly left a vague outline which might be filled up by bolder, because less responsible, hands. Their own catechetical committee have realized such intentions, using those very terms of the schoolmen, an easier way, which they themselves had been so cautious as to decline.
This doctrine of an easier way to heaven through Attrition, is obviously the principal point for attention in discussing Romish absolutions. In pronouncing these, it has been said the papal church takes no more upon her than the church of England does. Perhaps it may be so. But then it follows that Trentine verbosity as to attrition was merely meant to rebuke some unguarded language upon the fear of eternal punishment; and also that the Trentine catechetical committee has promulged, without sufficient authority, a doctrine likely above any other to jeopardy the souls of men. Where such concessions are denied, an identity of doctrine, as to absolution, between the churches of England and Rome, cannot be maintained. The former speaks peace to the souls of those alone who truly repent. She knows nothing of sacramental absolutions that will reconcile to God a sinner merely attrite. Neither does his church know anything of such, may be said perhaps by a Romanist, prepared to disavow a most important passage in the Trentine catechism. But then what becomes of one leading claim to exclusive privilege asserted by the Romish priesthood? What can one think of that responsibility which has allowed, now almost three centuries, even clergymen to be taught from authority a doctrine of awful hazard, which after all will not stand a nice inquiry, although conducted with implicit confidence in the Roman church? Of this any Romish disputant may allowably be reminded. Representations of superior privileges claimed by his church in reconciling the soul to God may be fairly met by doubting whether his church has really been bold enough to
• The council closed in December, 1563; the catechism was completed in 1566. The preface to the catechism states that it was begun at Trent in February, 1562, and was consequently before the council itself for nearly two years. Three members of the council continued in the committee that compiled it. Tres a concilio, inter cæteros püssimi atque doctissimi. The preface goes on to state, that during the last two years of the council many of its most illustrious members were employed upon the catechism. Certum est ex ultima sessione toto postremo concilii biennio, plurimos ex patrum coetu delectos celebres theologos magnum studium, multamque operam contulisse in hunc catechismum.
+ Conc. Trid., Sess. xxv., 4, Decemb. 1563, cap. iii.
advance any such claim. The authentic declaration of his faith is, upon this point, guardedly verbose. It is hardly doubtful that the fathers meant here to assert the very doctrine upon which Romanists rely so fondly. Their own catechetical committee so understand them, and it has acted accordingly. But then, undoubtedly, this committee is not the council, and therefore those who build their faith upon the latter may retreat behind it when embarrassed by any amplification of the former. This may be done, and is actually done, in the case of a doctrine most important the soul, and constantly insisted upon by Romanists. Let the scriptural Christian never forget that this doctrine is the key to Romish opinions of absolution, and yet, after all, that a reliance upon it, on grounds merely Romish, is liable to be swept away, not altogether without reason, even by Řomish doctors.
NOTICES AND REVIEWS.
The Soldier's Help to Divine Truth, in a Series of Discourses, at Chelsea
Hospital. By the Rev. G. R. Gleig, M. A., Chaplain. London:
Rivingtons. MR. GLEIG's object has been to set before his hearers, in order, the great events of the Old and New Testament history, looked at as a providential scheme, and to draw from each a moral calculated to convey strong and salutary impressions. Few persons could write in so strong, clear, and striking a manner, for any audience, as Mr. Gleig; but, probably, no one could come near him for his own peculiar sphere of duty. There is a manly eloquence, in rebuke and persuasion, running through the volume which will make it deservedly popular. The following extract is nearly at the close of the volume :
Addressing myself, as I do, to those many of whom have spent, while the remainder are spending, their best days in the army, it would be cruel mockery were I, of all men living, to affect ignorance of facts, to which I am sure that their consciences bear testimony. I know, all old soldiers know, and God knows, that often and often we have put our soul's health in jeopardy, merely because we could not, or would not, withstand some strong temptation that met us by the way. Well, then, what is to be done? To lie down in despair ? to give up all as lost ? to look upon ourselves as too much polluted even for the blood of the Lamb to cleanse us,-as too far sunk ever to rise again? No, my brave men, very far from it. It is to you, and to such as you, that the gospel speaks in the language of encouragement and of cheering. It is to you that the gospel tells of One, who has never deserted you, even when you rebelled against Him the most ;—who will in no wise cast you out, now that you return, and offer to Him the sacrifice of broken and contrite hearts. To the question, then, with which I take it for granted that your lips are burthened, -“What shall we do to be saved ?"-I answer, as the Apostle answered before me : Repent, and put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and He will ensure to you the remission of your sins. But remember, that not now must your repentance be the act of a passing moment. The day is far spent, the night is at hand—the long, dark night that you must pass in the grave; and if of the few hours that remain, you fail to make good use, darker still will be the morning that will break in upon your slumber.”
The only suggestion against a future edition which the Reviewer would make to Mr. Gleig, would be as to Sermon I. Can we yet so decidedly adopt the views of modern science in interpreting the history of the creation ?