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Now, the Council, in re-affirming the creeds, has simply said, not that there has been no progress in substantiating and making more clear the truths of the Bible, but no progress in bringing new truth from it. Does not the Bible justify the Council in taking this ground? And more than this, does it not denounce the most appalling woes against all who presume to add to, or diminish from this completed Revelation?
Again, the writer says: "The action of this body (the Council) is not an exception. The position taken by the church at large is deliberately against all improvement, all recognition of new thought, new truth, new confessions of Faith.” All this is unwarranted except in regard to new religious truth. There can be no new divinely revealed truth, for the sacred canon is closed. Uninspired men can manufacture what they are pleased to call Christian truth, but it is pot Christian truth. It has no divine authority. It is a human product only, rational, in one sense, it may be, and philosophical, but it is binding on no man's judgment or conscience.
In regard to some other statements of this writer, they are, doubtless, founded in truth; and others still it may be left with those implicated to dispose of, as to themselves may seem best. “Every person in England graduating at the Universities, preaching in the established church, or holding a public office, must subscribe to the thirty-nine articles—the faith of that church three hundred years ago.” “Not a few, and those the most eminent for scholarship, contend against doctrines, in which, as preachers, they have deliberately affirmed their belief.” Dr. Paley is quoted as asserting that these articles are regarded rather as "articles of peace than of faith.” There is too much truth in these statements.
Is there truth in the following? The implicated can tell us. After the statement of the fact that the Professors at Andover are obliged, “as the condition of holding their office, to give in their adherence every five years to the same old creed,” is this also : “One of the most distinguished professors at Andover has got the chief part of his reputation from the skill with which he has enabled his pupils to hold on to the letter of the old doctrines, while they empty them of all their original meaning." And this likewise : “How many of the Boston Council believe, according to any honest interpretation of the words, that mankind are morally corrupt by nature”—that “God has ordained some to everlasting death and some to everlasting life, without any foresight of faith and good works? But, if they do not believe them ; if they are professed only for effect, and because there is wanting the moral courage to come out boldly and deny them, what mockery to go down among
the dust of those old Plymouth Pilgrims, and there, of all places in the world, and with solemn rites, declare their adherence to them, and invoke the help of the divine Redeemer that, through the presence of the promised Comforter, he will enable us to transmit them in purity to our children.”
Such assertions as these can best be met by those respecting whom they are made. If they are untrue they should be met, for they are a scandal upon individuals and upon the churches. Here is a charge of insincerity, at least by implication. A majority of that Council, it is believed a large majority, were honest and sincere in re-affirming those old standards—the creeds not only of the Pilgrim Fathers but also of the Continental Reformers,-creeds about as unlikely, to use the thoughts of another, to be exchanged for a newer and more liberal, and as some would say rational one, as King James' translation of the Bible is to give place to some modernized one deemed to be more perfect. Our “Common Version” is fixed for all time, and so are the long received symbols of the Reformed Protestant churches, for they are but the embodiment of the doctrines of that version, and of the original Scriptures from which it was made by the learned and godly men appointed to do it by royal authority; and, who did the work, not in a hurried and careless manner, but through years of careful and prayerful study. So many men so well qualified to do it, it would be difficult to bring together again, and especially in this age of the world. Attempts have been made to improve it, but they have been futile, and the translations unsuccessful and ephemeral. And why should we expect more perfect creeds from the efforts of this or any age than those which were framed by the stalwart men in mind, learning and piety who, after years of labor, gave to the churches the forms of faith which have been so long adopted and so tenaciously held ? The best critics acknowledge that not one of the doctrines of our common Bible has been set aside, or in the least impaired, by all the emendations and sound criticisms that have been, or are likely to be made. And what new and modified creeds in our churches, can bear comparison, in clearness of statement and soundness of doctrine, with those old symbols, which not a few would supersede by something more popular and less exacting?
If any of that Council, in giving their votes to re-affirm those creeds, gave their public sanction to what they believe to be religious error (and some of them, it is well known, before giving their vote to re-affirm, did wish to set them aside and adopt a new creed), they must justify their action in the premises, or, for aught that yet appears, be obnoxious to the writer's charges of "dishonest” interpretation of the creeds, and lack of “moral courage" in voting to set them aside and adopt a new one. We do not make these charges, and yet we confess our minds would be very much relieved if we could see the grounds of them wholly removed. One pastor of prominence in the churches, has said-one who was a member of the Council,--and doubtless other members are ready to say, that the doings of it have not altered in any material measure, if they have in any, either the biblical or the philosophical views with which they went into that venerable and important clerical body. One active member of it was chronicled, in a public print, as having preached an Arminian sermon in a Boston pulpit the Sabbath after its adjournment, and one church creed at least, since that time, has been adopted in which the language seems carefully adapted to exclude the bi ical idea that all men are sinners.
conclusion from the whole article in the Monthly Religious Magazine, above noticed, would seem to be that pretty much all that is needed to reform the wickedness of the world is to throw away the long established creeds of the churches, and go on making improvements in theology as far and as fast as possible, that is, substituting morality for piety, outward correctness of life for inward “sincerity of heart," and "spirituality of worship”; in other words, throwing away the Gospel plan of salvation by grace through faith in an atoning Redeemer, and putting in its place the doctrine of salvation by works. If this be the true method of salvation, then Paul and his fellow apostles, though inspired men-inspired by the Holy Ghost—"labored in vain and spent their strength for naught and in vain.” We choose to stand upon o the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." This is rock and will remain, and the hopes that are built upon
it too, when the sandy foundations and the hopes built upon them will be swept away.
ECCLESIASTICAL RECIPROCITY. “Look on this picture, and on that.” In the New York Observer of March 8, 1866, we find the following, being an extract from the recent work of the Rev. Dr. Butler, late chaplain to the American Embassy to Rome. The title of Dr. Butler's book is “ Inner Rome.”
“American citizens are not permitted to hold service within the walls of Rome, because it is the right of an ambassador to hold such service in his own apartment, which, however distasteful, can not be refused. But it has been distinctly stated by Cardinal Antonelli to one of our ambassadors, that it would be tolerated nowhere else within the walls. During the early part of the winter, before the arrival of Gen. King, the service
were held for a time by the chaplain in his own apartment. He did not venture, however, to have any singing on those occasions, and always required his audience to go out and come in one by one. When he had reason to fear that the fact that he held the service was known, and that it might be broken up (for he occupied an apartment next to that of the now Cardinal Archbishop Manning), he thought it advisable to hold itas he did-at the apartments of his parishioners, changing from one to another, until the arrival of the ambassador at the close of the year.”
In the Boston Post of March 12, 1866, we find an account of a grand ceremonial which took place in our sober Puritan city, on Sunday, the 11th ult., prominently displayed, filling nearly two columns aud a half, challenging attention by the following heading, in large type, with liberal spaces.
An imposing array of names of dignitaries who were present, is given, Reverends, Right Reverends, Most Reverends and Bishops, with well turned allusion to the “ Sisters of Charity,” “most magnificent robes,” “most costly insignia,” “ grand and imposing ceremony,” “solemnity of the day,” etc., etc. ; all contributing to the making up
of an occasion “memorable indeed," and "an historical epoch" for poor little Boston, that was never so honored before. The readers of the Post are told that
"It will long be remembered alike for the eloquent words that echoed under the noble arches of the church, and for the enrapturing music that magically floated in its sanctified atmosphere. It is by such magnificent rites, by such impressive, devout, and exhaustive ceremonies, addressing alike the eye, the ear and the soul, that the Catholic church widens and strengthens and advances its area and influence."
The readers of the Post are then treated to details of the ceremony, a particularly interesting part of which binds and solemnly pledges the elect Bishop to "preserve, defend, and promote the rights, honors, privileges and authority of the Holy Roman church, of the Pope, and of his successors.” And this “authority” of the Pope which this “Right Reverend John," Bishop of Boston, pledges himself to "preserve, defend and promote,” is that whereby the said Pope, through his Cardinal Antonelli, informs an Ambassador of the United States, that his chaplain will not be permitted to hold religious service in his own apartment, nor any where else within the walls of the Papal city, except in the apartment of the aforesaid American Ambassador; and that he permits, forsooth, because he can not help it! Will not one of our great painters put these two scenes—the Bishop of Boston, in that grand ceremonial promising to defend the authority of the Pope, and the Pope, in the exercise of that authority forbidding the Ambassador of the American government to worship any where save in his own apartment–into one picture, to be on exhibition in the Boston Athenæum this season? We take leave to suggest that this great painting of “ historical epoch” be called “ Ecclesiastical Reciprocity.”
PRINCIPLES AS AN INCUMBRANCE. Brougham once made the remark that it cost far less in England to keep a coach than a conscience. No doubt principles are the most expensive luxury that men indulge in, and therefore many can not afford to have any. The social government tax on them is large, while the income is often exceedingly small; assessments are more than dividends not unfrequently, and by change of popular feeling the stock is a good part of the time in a depressed state, and below par.
If one pretends to keep a set of principles, he likes to have about the same from year to year; and yet in times of change and hurry, and when ends must be carried any way, they are often as attic trumpery for furniture, better for our ancestors than for us. Herein we see one of the inherent defects of principles as such. A principle, as in morals, business, statesmanship, religion, is supposed to be a fixed quantity, with a permanent place and value and force.
It has but little growth, is not very progressive, has poor facility in adaptation to circumstances, can not change its nature and become a policy, and is generally quite a settled thing. Now one will see at a glance, that for our day and times, such a thing must be very inconvenient. What can a man do? Ile must leave his principles behind or be left behind himself by "the spirit of the age.” In which we get the solution of two facts; that so many men are without principles, and that so many principles are in a fossil state without any men to claim them. Like pre-Adamite races, they indicate a past regime and a great revolution since.
One large item of expense in sporting a set of principles grows out of the labor of keeping principles distinct from policies. They