« PrécédentContinuer »
the Gospel to propose to the sinner to do his best by way of healing the disease of his soul and then to come to the Lord Jesus to perfect his recovery. The only previous qualification is to know our misery, and the remedy is pre
Tracts containing statements like the following are scattered broadcast over the land :-“The only qualification a man has for being saved is his being a sinner. The one thing that gives him a claim upon the Saviour is the simple fact that he is a sinner. Dear reader! Take your place as a thoroughly bad good-for-nothing sinner, and then say, 'Saviour, thou art mine, for I am a sinner.'
To the evil of this teaching a Protestant writer bears testimony. He believes in Protestantism, but is disturbed by seeing how perniciously the popular teaching of justification is turned into a negation of morality. “The popery of human nature,” he writes, “gladly accepts such views of religion as leave men undisturbed in the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin for a season. . . . The vast majority are very willing to be told that right belief will save their souls alive. If so, all is well. They have no misgivings as to the correctness of their belief. They may go in peace. These are indeed glad tidings of great joy, and he who proclaims them will always be a welcome preacher to the many who frequent the broad and easy way of a mere nominal religion. . . . It is not meant to question the sincere and earnest piety of the preachers themselves in the present day. To their own Master they severally stand or fall. But their own guilelessness may make them less watchfully alive to the moral mischiefs so much requiring repentance and amendment of life, which actually prevail in the hearts of those whom they exhort.” 1
i Dr. Hawker's Works, vol. vi. : Tract by Religious Tract Society.
“When this doctrine shall be once thoroughly understood," writes a barrister in his Tracts of an AntiTractarian,' “the whole gang of coiners, pickpockets, receivers of stolen goods, brothel-keepers, housebreakers, and all the attendant train of criminals, may go on sinning in security within the scope of a covenant which procured for them pardon and peace from all eternity, and the blessings of which ‘no act whatever' can possibly frustrate or destroy. ... The daily increasing crowds of the ignorant and uninquiring which are gained over to the new school of faith act fearfully on the national welfare."
I would not have it supposed that the doctrine of faith is not held by Catholics as sincerely as by Protestants, but with the former, faith is the very first step in their religious system upon which all the moral code depends. Faith is the recognition of God. That recognition must be made before the dogma of duty can be evolved from it. The Lutheran establishes the first principle and hacks away all its consequences, nay, he opposes it to its consequences.
The Calvinistic theory is not more satisfactory. As I have pointed out in the former volume, it also is the negation of moral obligation.
Free-will being denied, man acts as the Creator moves him. He commits sin or does what is right because God wills him to sin or to be just; God is responsible, not man. “We assert,” Calvin taught, "that by an eternal and unchangeable decree, God hath determined whom He will one day permit to share in eternal felicity, and whom He will damn. In respect to the elect the decree is
1 The Missing Doctrine, 1865, pp. 4-5.
founded in His unmerited mercy without any regard to human worthiness, but those whom He delivers up to damnation are, by a just and irreprehensible judgment, excluded from all access to eternal life.” As faith was considered by Calvin a gift of Divine mercy, and yet as he was unable to deny that many are represented in the Gospel to be believers, in whom Christ found no earnestness and no perseverance, and whom therefore he does not recognize as elect, Calvin asserts that God intentionally produced within them an apparent faith, that He insinuated Himself into the souls of the reprobate in order to render them more inexcusable.'
With Calvin there is a negation of moral authority and of conscience. God rules by force, and when Calvin framed his model republic of Geneva upon these principles, he tolerated no liberty of conscience, but drove the Catholics to hear his preachers, imprisoned the irreligious, and clipped the hair and ruffles of the vain.
The salient difference between Protestant ethics and Catholic moral law is that with the former, religion and morals are distinct and opposed, with the latter they are combined. Luther in numberless passages of his writings insists on the separation; he puts them as wide apart as the east and the west, he opposes them as light and dark
He teaches that the moral law should not be suffered to take up its abode in our consciences to stiffen them into a sense of responsibility. When the question was put to him, “ What need is there then of moral law?” his answer was, “ For the sake of civil order.” He called morality the Law, and faith he termed Grace, and insisted that the pursuit of the former incapacitated man for receiving the latter. “These two things,” said Luther in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians,“ must ever be separated one from the other in our minds and our hearts, that the conscience when it feels its sins and is terrified may say to itself, Now thou art of the earth, therefore let the lazy ass then work, and serve, and ever carry the burden imposed upon it. That is to say, let the body with its members be ever subjected to the law. But when thou mountest up to heaven, leave the ass with its burden upon the earth. For the conscience must have nothing to do with the law, works, and earthly righteousness. The law must remain out of heaven, that is to say out of the heart and the conscience. On the other hand the freedom of the Gospel is to remain out of the world, that is to say out of the body and its members." And he goes on to shew that the law, or morality, is the state or civil rule, that morality is simply obedience to the law of the land and immorality is therefore no violation of God's law, nor affects the conscience in any way.
1 Calvin. lib. iii. c. 2, v. 11.
The logical consequence of this doctrine was the negation of the sinfulness of sin, and therefore the negation of the holiness of God. And to this extent the followers of Luther actually did proceed.
Melancthon, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, in the edition of the year 1525, hardily asserted that God wrought evil and good indiscriminately, that He was the author of David's adultery, of the treason of Judas as well as of Paul's conversion. In writing to the Landgrave Philip of Hesse (1530), Zwingli asserted that God is “the author, mover, and impeller to sin," and that He uses the instrumentality of man to produce injustice, “ He it is who moves the robber to murder the innocent."! In
Zwingli de Providentiâ, c. vi. “Movet latronem ad occidendum innocentem, etiamsi imparatum."