« PredošláPokračovať »
working of the Spirit was manifested outwardly by miracles : “God also bearing them witness in signs and wonders and divers miracles.” And the inward working of Satan is to be manifested also by miracles: “Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” As God authenticated the mission of His Son by real miracles, 80 Satan is to authenticate the mission of Antichrist by lying miracles. The party which is Antichrist must therefore stand out pre-eminently distinguished above all others by the claim to work miracles. Now, from the days of the Apostles down to our own, three great religious systems have risen-systems which are known throughout the world-systems the action and reaction of which on society and on each other constitute the main thing in the history of twelve hundred years—these are Popery, Mohammedanism, and Protestantism. Protestantism and Mohammedanism equally repudiate the claim to work miracles, but Popery claims such a power. Popery maintains that the power to work miracles is one of the essential and abiding marks of the true Church. In making such a claim they are witnesses for God that Popery is the Man of Sin, the Antichrist; for the Man of Sin was professedly to be a miracle worker, and Popery is the only great outstanding, permanent, historical form of Christian religion which claims to be endowed with the power of working miracles. The passage speaks not of a miracle now and then, but of miracles in abundance of miracles of many descriptions. And when we contemplate the history of Popery as it was in the height of its glory, we see it studded with miracles as the stars in heaven for multitude-miracles in every country and province-miracles in every city and hamlet-miracles in rural districts and desert places-miracles by the Trinity, by the Virgin, by the apostles, by angels, by the saints and martyrs—miracles by holy places and holy things—by the cross, by the crown of thorns, by the holy coat, by the relics innumerable of saints—by shrines, and churches, and wells. To any person versant in the legendary lore of Rome, nothing so convincingly demonstrates that system, beyond all doubt, to be Antichrist, as the fact, that it comes out on a scale surprisingly great “with signs, and wonders, and lying miracles,” which was the predicted mark of Antichrist. This mark does apply to the Church of
. Rome in the broadest and most palpable and undeniable way; and it can, to the same extent, apply to no other.
As the efficient cause of Antichrist was Satan—the impelling cause, and that which Satan operated by, is the sin of the Church itself: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” They had the truth, The " Strong Delusion.”
but they wanted the love of the truth, and did not use it for salvation purposes. And the Church of Rome has the truth to a great extent, but she wants the love of the truth. She has shut the Bible, which is the source of truth. She has persecuted the witnesses for truth. She has neutralized the power of the truth which she possesses, by mixing it with foreign and poisonous ingredients. She has put the truth to death, smothering it under an enormous mass of Judaism and Paganism.
That which gave Satan power to construct such a system was the just judgment of God: “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” And it is a lie which Papists believe. Transubstantiation is a lie; and the sacrifice of the mass is a lie; and the mediatorship of the Church is a lie; and purgatory is a lie; and all priestly power and priestly acts are lies. There are no things corresponding to these in existence. Like an idol, they are nothing in the world. Now, if it is said of the members of the Man of Sin that they should believe a lie, is it not the fact that the adherents of Popery believe a lie, and that they have a firm, tenacious faith, which nothing can shake, in that which has really no existence but in their own blinded minds? They have such a belief in a lie as does not belong to the natural exercise of the human faculties--such a belief in a lie, amid the full blaze of modern intelligence, as is utterly inexplicable according to the ordinary laws of the human mind. This anomaly, however, is fully explained by the special cause of this belief: “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
Their minds were to be brought under strong delusion. And when men are under strong delusion, they have inevitably fixed beliefs, in regard to which they exercise their own reasoning powers inversely, and in the belief of which they are only the more confirmed by the reasonings of others, their faith becoming the stronger the more it is improbable, irrational, and impossible. And is it not the case that Papists have inveterately fixed beliefs in things which have no existence; that they exercise reason under the
paralyzing spell of implicit faith; that the reasonings of others only make their credulity more intense; and that it is exactly in regard to transubstantiation, and other things which are improbable, irrational, and impossible, that their faith is strongest ? The unamenableness of Popery to the Bible, to science, to civilization, to common sense, can only be explained as a mental phenomenon by this —that God has sent them strong delusion, to believe a lie ; that system being the Man of Sin—the apostacy developed into and represented by the supremacy of one man, who is the Antichrist.
Art. III.-- Twenty Years of the Free Church of Scotland. *
Acts of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. 1843
---1863. Proceedings and Debates of the General Assembly of the Free Church of
18th of May, 1843—the day of the Disruption—was a
ble date occurs in her history for many generations, prolific as that history has been of striking events and never-to-beforgotten epochs. We must go back to the union of the Kingdoms before we find a national event of anything like equal importance; and we should have to go still farther back before we could meet with one which excited so profound an interest and thrilled so deeply in the heart of that old and heroic land. In the estimation of thousands of thinking men, and for ages to come, that day will take rank with some of the more signal landmarks in the world's history; with the eras of Bannockburn, and the signing of the Covenant and the Testimony of 1662 in Scotland; of Magna Charta, and the Revolution in England; of the Declaration of Independence in America ; of Marathon, and Morgarten, and Waterloo. For ten long years a war of opinion and of principle had been raging, and now the crisis, or rather the catastrophe, had come.
That “Ten Years' Conflict” was one of the most remarkable struggles of modern times. It was, indeed, a striking spectacle to see a National Church, not arrogating ecclesiastical power to herself, but, on the contrary, exposing herself to the frequent though ill-founded charge that she was flinging away, or handing over to others, the prerogatives which she was herself entitled and bound to exercise, in reality vindicating for the Christian people their indefeasible privileges, and refusing either to encroach upon them herself or to allow them to be invaded by others, and in defence of this position encountering a storm of obloquy, and peril, and suffering, which would have overwhelmed ordinary men actuated by ordinary motives.
It is curious to look back now upon that protracted strife. There stood the Church, backed indeed by the approval of a large proportion of the religious population of Scotland, but
* We can vouch for the fidelity with which the facts are narrated in the following paper. The present seems to be a fitting season for recalling these facts to remembrance; and the unprejudiced reader will not be the less willing to listen to them, when recorded, as here, with something of the old enthusiasm which they naturally revive in the mind of one who mingled in the scenes which he describes. --ĚD. B. & F.E.R.
The State of Parties.
59 still, as a Church, standing alone, strong in the conviction of the scriptural soundness of her views, and resolved at all hazards to maintain them; while against her were marshalled a powerful, though heterogeneous host, including all the leading political parties of the time—Whig, Tory, and Radical, and most of the leading men in each of them; almost the entire aristocracy of the country, and nearly the whole newspaper press; the great majority of the clergy and laity of the Church of England, and most of the Dissenters in both kingdoms. This motley opposition might well be deemed sufficiently formidable, but the real life and death conflict was not with any or with all of these. It lay between the Church and two other parties, of which the one was the civil court, and the other a powerful minority of office-bearers and members within her own pale. With the latter, the controversy was maintained in Presbyteries and Synods, with varying results, but for several years with an ever-increasing majority on the Evangelical side, when the forces were mustered on the floor of the General Assembly. Had it not been for this hostile body within the Church, thwarting her movements and encouraging her assailants, the struggle with external foes would either not have occurred at all, or would have been of very brief duration. Doubtless, the section whose policy had been long in the ascendant, but who were now in a minority, had as good a right as the other to maintain their opinions. But there was this important difference between them, that the one party could have yielded with a clear conscience; the other could not. The “Moderates” while disliking non-intrusion as a principle, and the Veto Act as an ecclesiastical measure, had not, and did not profess to have, any difficulty in acting under this measure, or upon this principle. The Evangelical party professed to regard the intrusion of ministers upon reclaiming congregations as a sin in the guilt of which they could not participate, and which they must at all hazards refuse to commit; the “ Moderates " never pretended to regard it as a duty which they must be left free to perform, and that to prevent intrusion would be to oblige them to abandon the Church. It was sometimes said to the “Evangelicals" by their opponents—half in jest, half in earnest, but wholly in truth—" If we win, you go out; if you win, we stay in.” The position of the two parties was thus essentially different, and the guilt of forcing on the Disruption is very unequally shared by them-apart altogether from the actual merits the casei.e., apart from the all-important question, which of them was right and which was wrong. It was between these two sections of the Church that the discussions were chiefly carried on. Presbyteries, Synods, and Assemblies rang for
years with the din of controversy. Great principles were brought upon the field of strife; not only the rights of the members of the Church in the appointment of pastors, but the whole of the Church's powers and prerogatives, her relation to the State, and her duty to her living Head in heaven. For the discussion of these topics, for guiding the Church through the storm, and defending her against her formidable assailants, much wisdom and learning and intellectual power, as well as grace, were needed ; and in the providence of God men were raised up equal to the emergency, Seldom, if ever, in the history of the Church of Scotland has such a galaxy of great men appeared contemporaneously upon the scene. While it must be admitted that on both sides there was an amount of talent seldom exemplified in any other period of the Church, it would be simply absurd to pretend any doubt on which side lay the debating power, or
on which the preponderance of talent and piety was to be found. We shall not at present refer by name to the great men who still live and labour in the Church ; but it may not be out of place to remark that while, taking him for all in all, Chalmers was, of course, facile princeps_head and shoulders above the rest—yet it is only what friend and foe would have joined in affirming, that, as a debater, of all the champions of the Evangelical or popular side the mightiest was Dr. Cunningham. As a disputant and logician, he was quite unrivalled. It was one of the greatest of intellectual treats -a thing never to be forgotten- to see and hear him in the full swing of his matchless dialectics, tearing to pieces the sophistries of his opponents; arraying his own arguments with consummate skill, and wielding them with prodigious force; planting his impregnable positions” right in front of his antagonist, and defying, while he challenged, refutation. It was often remarked at the time, by those who were familiar with both Houses of Parliament, that there was more debating power in the General Assembly than in either of them. To strangers this might appear extravagant, but only to strangers. But the contest was far from being exclusively, or even substantially, a clerical one. in the higher ranks, and in juridical circles, sided with the minority in the Church, the people of Scotland, representing the average piety and intelligence of its parishes, warmly espoused the quarrel of her leading men. Nor can we here omit the service rendered to the cause of the Free Church by a lay champion of no ordinary calibre—the late celebrated Hugh Miller, who, in the columns of the Witness newspaper, started in 1840, with a pen of matchless eloquence and withering satire, did more to fan the old flame of Scottish