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MR. EDITOR There is a strange sentiment prevalent among many enrolled members of our churches; it would not be so strange were it current only with the men of the world, that "Religions are indifferent." In the course of my reading, I have lighted on some remarks, from a man who well knew what he said of the body of sectaries to which he refers, which I would point against this narcoLic and growingly wasteful delusion of our day; especially of this section of our favoured country. Let it be remembered that the Pastor of the French Church at the Hague, whose eloquent sermons have come down to us, with all their deep and acute learning, and the baptism of heavenly piety, lived at a day and in a country, in which he could more fully and easily get at a thorough knowledge of what the "Beast” is, and ever has been, since, in the fulfilment of prophecy, vide. 2 Thes. ii, 3 4. it gained the ascendency in power. When he speaks of the fire and the sword of superstition, and the horrors of the inquisition, he felt himself nearer to them than we do; and the people that heard him, knew better what credit to give to his declarations, than those by whom you are surrounded, seem to give to yours. But, in the proseution of the subject on which he writes, he says
"Let us advert to the fourth prejudice. Religions are indifferent. We not go through various sects of Christianity and decide these litigious questions. Which of these religions arc compatible with salvation? Which of these religions are destructive of it? We will affirm only with one apostle that "Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and and brimstone," We intend particularly to wipe off that imputation which the church of Rome constantly casts on one doctrine. Under pretence that we have never been willing to denounce a sentence of eternal damnation against the members of the most impure sects, they affirm that in our own opinoin, people may be saved in their community, and this they say, is one of the artices of our faith.
This is a sophism which you have often heard attributed to a prince, who had united, as far as two such different things could be united, the qualities of a great king with those of a bad christain. Having a long time hesitated between the peaceable possession of an earthly crown, and the steadfast hope of a heavenly crown, his historians tell us, he assembled some doctors of the Roman communion and some of ours, (the Protestant.) He asked the first, whether it were possible to be saved in the Protestant communion? They answered, No. He then asked the second, whether it was possible to be saved in the Roman communion? They replied, they durst not decide the question. On this, the prince reasoned in this manner. "The Roman Catholic doctors assure me there is no salvation in the Protestant communion. The Protestants dare not affirm that there is no salvation in the communion of Rome. Prudence, therefore, requires me to abandon the Protestant religion, and to embrace the Roman; because, in the opinion of the Protestants, it is at the most only probable that I should perish in the church of Rome, whereas, in the opinion of Roman Catholics, it is demonstrative that I should
be damned in the Protestant community." We will not attempt to investigate this point of history, by examining whether these Protestant Ministers betrayed our religion by advancing a proposition contrary to it, or whether these historians betrayed the truth by altering the answers attributed to our ministers. Whatever we think of this historical fact, we affirm, with St. John, that "Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."
However, we ought to make a cautious distinction concerning doctrines, as we do concerning precepts a distinction between questions of fact and questions of right. There is a question of right in regard to precepts: as for example-Is a course of life opposite to the precepts of the Gospel a damnable state? To this we reply, undoubtedly it is. There is also a question of fact; as for example-Shall all those who follow such a course of life suffer all the rigours of damnation ? A wise man ought to pause before he answers this question; because he doth not know whether a man who has spent one part of his life in a course of vice, may not employ the remaining part of it in repentance, and so pass into a state to which the privileges of repentance are annexed. In like manner, there are questions of fact and questions of right in regard to doctrines. The question of right in regard to the present doctrine is this: Can we be saved in an idolatrous community ? Certainly we cannot. The question of fact is this: Will every member of an idolatrous community be damned? A wise man ought to suspend his judgement on this question, because he who had spent one part of his in idolatrous community, may employ the remaining part in repenting, and consequently may share the privileges of repentance. Except in this case, according to our principles-Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." But, according to our principles, the Roman Catholic church is guilty of idolatry; consequently, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome, if they do not forsake that community, are among such as "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."
If it be necessary to prove that, according to our principles, the church of Rome is guilty of Idolatry, the evidence is easily obtained. Let us form a distinct idea of what, agreeably to scripture, we call IDOLATRY, to regard a simple creature as God supreme, to render to a simple creature the worship that is due only to the supreme God, is what we call idolatry. Now, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome do render to a creature to a bit of bread-such worship as is due only to the supreme God. By consequence, according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome are guilty of idolatry.
They defend themselves by a somewhat specious, but groundless argument. It was employed by a man, who disgraced his name by abandoning the Protestant religion, though, thanks be to God, I
*Mr. Saurin of Paris.
hope, I and my family shall always be enabled to continue it in the list of sincere Protestants. His words are these: "Two or three articles, saith he, excited strong prejudices in my mind against the church of Rome; transubstantiation-the adoration of the holy sacrament-and the infallibility of the church Of these three articles, that of the adoration of the holy sacrament led me to con sider the church of Rome as idolatrous, and separated me from its communion. A book which I one day opened without design, instant ly removed this objection. There I found distinction between error of place in worship, and error of object. The Catholic worships Jesus Christ in the Eucharist an object truly adorable. There is no error in this respect. If Jesus Christ be not really present in the Eucharist, the Catholic worships him where he is not; this is a mere error of place, and no crime of Idolatry." A mere sophism! By the same argument the Israelites may be exculpated from tendering divine honors to the golden calf. We must distinguish error of place from error of object. The Israelite worships in the golden calf the true God-an object truly adorable. "To-morrow is à feast of the Lord, the Lord, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exod. xxxii, 5 &c. There is no error in this respect, if God be not really present in the golden calf the Israelite worships him where he is not, a mere error of place, and not the crime of Idola try!
But St. Stephen saith expressly that this calf was an idol. "They made a calf, and offered sacrifice unto the idol," Acts vii, 41. By consequence, error of place in worship doth not exculpate men from idolatry. As therefore, according to our principles, there is an error of place in the worship which Roman Catholics render to their host, so also, according to our principles, they are guilty of idolatry.
But are we speaking only according to our own principles. Have we seen any thing in the wilderness of Sinai which we do not daily see in the Roman communities ? Behold, as in the deserts of Sinai, an innumerable multitude, tired of rendering spiritual worship to an invisible God, & demanding gods to be made which shall go before them! Behold, as in the desert of Sinai, a priest forming, with his own hands, a god to receive supreme adoration! See, as in the desert, a little matter modified by a mortal man, and placed upon the throne of the God of heaven and earth! Observe, as in the desert, the Israelites liberally bestowing their gold and their jewels, to deck and adorn, if not to construct the idol! Hark! as in the desert of Sinai, priests publish profane solemnities, and make proclamation, saying, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord!" Behold, as in the desert, the people rising early on festivals to perform matins! Hearken! Criminal vows declare, as in Sinai, "These are thy gods or this is thy god, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." What am I saying? I hear expressions more shocking still. This is, O shame to christianity! O scandal in the eyes of all trne christians! This is, yea, this bit of bread on which a priest hath written, Jesus Christ the Saviour of mankind-this is thy God!
This is the God, whom all the angels in heaven adore. This is the God by whom all things were created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers." This is the God who upholdeth all things by the word of his power. This is the God, who in the fulness of time took mortal flesh. This is the God who, for thy salvation, O Israel, was stretched on the cross. This is he who in the garden of Gethsemene said, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me," Math. 26. 39.—Who rose conqueror over death and the grave-Who passed into the heavens, and at whose ascension, the heavenly intelligences exclaimed, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, that the Lord of hosts, the king of Glory may come in." B. xxiv. 7.-O Judah, Judah, thou hast justified thy sister Samaria. O ye deserts of Sinai, never did ye see any thing equal to what our weeping eyes behold! Who' is on the Lord's side? Let him come hither-ye sons of Levi, separated from the service of the Lord, consecrate yourselves today to Jehovah. But what are we about? Are we interrupting the soft still voice of the Gospel, to utter the thundering commands of Mount Sinai? Shall we command you to-day, as Moses did formerly the Levites-"put every man his sword by his side, and join and out, from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour."-Oh, Rome! were we adopt this method, you could not reproach us; you could only complain that we were too ready to learn the lessons you have taught us, and too eager to imitate your bloody example! Even in such a case we should have one great advantage over you; our hands would grasp the murdering sword to destroy thee only for the glory of God, whereas thou hast butchered us for the honor of an idol!We are not come with fire, and blackness, and darkness, and tempests; but zion, though all mangled by thy cruelty, utters only cool exhortations-affectionate remonstrances and tender entreaties; she fights only with "the sword of the spirit," and the "hammer of the word." Ephe. 6 17.Jer. xxiii. 29. Ah, poor people! How long will you live without perceiving the golden candlestick which Jesus Christ has lighted up in his church! May God take away that fatal bandage, which hides the truth from thine eyes! Or, if this favour be refused us, may God enable us to take away from thee such of our children as thou hast barbarously torn from the breasts of their mothers, in order to make them, like thine own, the children of a harlot."
Mr. Edtior, I would here. ask, whether any of your christian readers, who seem so well disposed to patronize these idolaters—would send their beloved children to be trained, by a pagan idolater, in the midst of circumstances which should day after day break down their prejudices, and well incline them to embrace the horrid rite? It strikes me they would all shudder at the thought. Nurture their children in an idol's temple! O no-they would not.-But has it not been shown, to a demonstration, that Papists, one and all cleaving to their doctrines, are idolaters? They are far more peri
lous than would be a Pagan tutor. They have the semblance of christian morals and sanctity about them, and by these they win inconceivably and dreadfully upon young and tender minds. If your fond offspring are seduced and die idolaters, you will have none to criminate but yourselves. You offer them in sacrifice to Moloch!
Extract from a letter of Mr. Dwight, dated at Constantinople, April 25th, 1830.
The arrival of Messrs. Smith and Dwight at Constantinople and their departure thence for Armenia were noticed in the last number, p. 299. A letter recently received communicates some further particulars, which came under their observation during their stay at Smyrna and their journey from that place to Constantinople.
CATHOLIC CEREMONIES ON GOOD-FRIDAY.
In my letter to you from Smyrna, [p. 249,] I alluded to some ceremonies we witnessed in the Catholic church, a more full description of which may not be unacceptable to you. Indeed, I feel that it is vastly important that the people of America should know precisely what Roman Catholicism is, in those countries where it has the most influence, and where there are not the same reasons for concealment. that exist in the United States. The day on which we visited the Catholic church in Smyrna was Good Friday. When we entered, the priests were chanting their prayer-book, sometimes in chorus, and sometimes with a single voice. On each side of the alter and behind it, black canopies were hung, which gave a sombre hue to the whole scene, and on them were painted different objects connected with the crucifixion of our Saviour. Six huge candles were burning upon the altar, and in front of it a large number more, arranged in the form of a pyramid. During the chanting, these lights were gradually put out, and when the last was extinguished, it was the signal for the boys to play their part in the farce. A number of them were stationed within the railing that encloses the altar, some with sticks, and others with a small instrument of wood, which, on being turned round, produced a crackling noise. These were simultaneously set in motion, so that we were really almost deafened. This kind of sport the boys seemed to like very much, and as if determined to keep up the concert they could not be stopped, until two or three monks began to beat them soundly with rods. In this part of the ceremony the boys were supposed to be breaking Judas's bones, and thus to be taking vengeance on the traitor! They have kept their ratling machines going in the streets during the whole of Lent, but more especially during the last week. After this a Capuchin monk ascended the pulpit and preached a sermon, (if it may be dignified by that name,) partly in Latin and partly in Ita