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The Bible pronounces all men unprofitable servants: Popery maintains, men may do a great deal more than is necessary to procure salvation; and that others may share of their superabundant merit.
The Bible represents the law of the Lord as unchangeable, and always binding: Popery dispenses with this law, for money, or for convenience *.
This comparison and opposition might be drawn out to a great length. But to what purpose do we quote the Scriptures? what avail all the instances of opposition and contrariety we can collect or imagine, if the Church of Rome is infallible? Infallibility puts to silence every argument of her adversaries: Infallibility establishes whatever she maintains; however absurd, unscriptural, or pernicious: her infallibility can make light darkness, and darkness light; Christ a wafer, and a wafer Christ; breach of faith, perjury, bloodshed, massacres, and extirpation, meritorious works
* See Fraser's Sermon on the Man of Sin.
deserving heaven. Thus the law of God is made of no effect. What may not be done by those whose consciences are under the direction of others, and the directors under the government of an infallible church, that" can say, Let goodness be sin, and it is sin; let sin be duty, and it is duty?
But might not this church, which found herself erewhile so powerful, and which still claims infallibility, have suppressed the passages of Scripture we have referred to, and other obnoxious ones, and infallibly corrected others that seem unfavourable to her doctrines and claims? Her champions would have had less trouble in defending her. Lo! they might have said, at their ease, the infallible church has expunged the doctrine; or, Ihe has made it perfectly consistent with her present infallible decisions.
This infallible church, however, to the no small distress of her defenders, allows the Scriptures to remain as they are; and her sanctified version, with all its faults, sufficiently establishes the doctrines we have recited from the holy Scriptures.
Whence is it that the Church of Rome acts so self-destructive a part? How can slie maintain that the Scriptures are a divine revelation, and her own tenets the infallible truths of God? She has altered the Christian religion, and yet has left the Gospel entire: She pulls down with one hand what she builds with the other.
We pretend not to say, whether the Church of Rome would have altered, or expunged, or added to, the doctrines of the Scriptures if she could : but, certainly, when she was called upon to vindicate her doctrines and worship, and appeals on these heads were made to the Scriptures, she was laid under strong temptations to such attempts : certain it is, many aspersions were thrown upon the word of God, by Popish writers: great jealousy of the people's knowledge of the Scriptures was discovered: their comments, and glosses, and decrees, in effect, altered and expunged, and added to, the Scripture. The service of the church was performed in a dead language. This practice, so palpably absurd, obtains to this very day. It is true, there are, in some places, translations
of of the Scriptures, and of the public service; but they are not used in the churches; and though, in Popish countries, contiguous to Protestant, and among Papists in Protestant countries, these translations may be known, and used too perhaps in private, we are authorised to say, the great body of the people remains unacquainted with the Scriptures, and the service; and that in Italy and Spain, the state of things, in this respect continues the same, or nearly the same, as at the Reformation.
But the church of Rome could not have altered the Scriptures; in order to have succeeded in an attempt of this kind, the Hebrew Bible, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, and other versions of the Old Testament, the writings of Jofephus, and many others, must have been destroyed. And the Fathers of the church, whose works are abundantly voluminous, must have been sacrificed, before the New Testament could have been materially altered. The history and doctrines of the New Testament are interwoven in their writings. Good rises out of evil. The heresies, the controver
fies, the councils, the whole history of the church, preserve the books of the Old and New Testament. The Church of Rome could not alter the Scriptures. The Church of Rome communicates to us a book, which^ long before her existence^ describes her; and warns against, and condemns her doctrines in express terms. Who can but say these Scriptures are safely transmitted to us by the Church of Rome?
Perhaps it is difficult to pronounce" whether there was greater reason to dread the violence of persecutors, or the art and power of the Church of Rome, in perverting and destroying the sacred books. Much was attempted in this way by Heathens *; but in the peculiar rites of Judaism, the privileges and the hopes of the Jews, a foundation was laid for an invincible attachment to the holy writings: and Rome could not have altered or suppressed the Bible, without bribing the Jews, and the Greek Church, and learned men of every country; without annihilating learning and inquiry, and history, and innumerable libraries. •
R I MUST
* See Matfcabees, and the U:Mory of the Persecutions*