WE noted not long since that Hon. W. E. Gladstone had addressed a letter to the Pope, setting forth the claims of the Church of England to recognition as a sister Church to that of Rome and others styled "Catholic;" pointing out its claims to Apostolic succession through its bishops, and hence the validity of the ordinations of its clergy; and urging that such a recognition would greatly open the way to a reunion of Christendom. We pointed out at the time that this feature of the religious union would fail because, while the Book of Revelation clearly points out a federation of Protestants as the "Image," it as clearly distinguishes between this "Image" and the original "Beast"Papacywhile showing that they will be considerably in fellowship.Rev. 13:15-17.
The Pope submitted the question to his advisors, and now gives forth as the final, infallible and never changeable decision of the Roman Church on this subject, in effect, that neither the Church of England nor the ordinations of her clerics can be recognized; that the only way back to the "Mother" is through repentance and conversion.
Here is a peculiar case: the daughter recognizes the mother, and the mother the daughter, and the whole world is witness to the family resemblance; but the mother dare not acknowledge the daughter for fear of criminating herself; for she and all the other daughters [R2047 : page 239] are illegitimate. Certainly: the true Church is a virgin, and the Church of Rome poses as the true, virgin Church of Christ.Compare Rev. 17:5 and 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27.
This decision will probably carry some "high-church" Episcopalians formally into Romanism, but it marks clearly the division between the two sides of the great "scroll" which is shortly to roll together.Rev. 6:14; Isa. 34:4.
How fortunate for the humble that the Lord has given no earthly church patents! Each denomination would like to claim such divine favor. The Church of Rome has long claimed this exclusive patent right, and has supported the claim with other "great swelling words" and blasphemies, while overawing human judgment by the numbers of her ignorant devotees. The other systems were so inclined at first, but lately have contented themselves with the claim that God gives letters patent to all denominations which they recognize as "Evangelical" or "Orthodox;" i.e., all denominations professing to believe, (1) that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three in manifestation and yet "one in person, and equal in power and glory" (quite contrary both to reason and Scripture); (2) that eternal life is not a gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and immortality not a special prize to be sought after by faithful obedience, but, on the contrary, a natural quality appertaining to every man; in consequence of which (3) all who do not experience conversion to God before their death are hopelessly lost, and will be tormented forever.Compare Rom. 2:7; 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:16; John 10:29; 13:16; 14:28.
Hence Protestants sometimes say, and often give the impression, that salvation is dependent upon membership [R2047 : page 240] in some churchProtestant, Roman, Greek, Armenian, or almost any other human organization. But it is seldom that we see anything so extreme as the following, clipped from the Detroit Weekly Tribune, July 15, '96,
"At the recent meeting of the Episcopal Division Convention of Maine the Rev. Arthur B. Papineau referred to Christians outside the Episcopal Church as 'heathen.' 'We are the Catholic Church,' he said, 'opposed to Romanism on the one hand and Protestantism on the other. We must tell them that outside of this church there is no salvation.'"
Thanks be to God for the opening of our eyes by the eyesalve from his Word, by which we can see clearly that the one Church is not a human organization, nor in anywise dependent upon human organizations, either for ultimate salvation or for present spiritual sustenance. This one, true Church includes all who during this Gospel age, upon the basis or foundation of justification (through repentance, and faith in the precious blood of Christ), have made with God a covenant of full consecration, and who by God's grace are seeking to perform that covenant. These are the "members in particular of the body of Christ"the "jewels," the "living stones," the "royal priesthood." Wherever they may be (within or outside of human organizations), "the Lord knoweth them that are his," and calleth and leadeth forth his own sheep.Rev. 18:4.
Taking note of the fact that earthly princes are not very generally supporting Papal claims, the Pope by a recent Encyclical has changed the order for prayers, and Romanists will no longer pray as formerly for princes. Instead, prayer will be offered for the liberty of the Church (of Rome) and for peace and union among Christian nations.
The full liberty of the Church of Rome would mean the liberty of the leopard beast (Rev. 13), and as of yore would mean no personal liberty, but a great destruction amongst the true sheep and lambs of the true Shepherdthe only Head and Lord of the one true Church.
The Roman Catholic Church, realizing that its influence in Hungary has of late been on the wane, and that religious as well as political independence are on the increase there, has decided to take steps to maintain and increase its hold upon the rights and liberties of the people. A Vienna journal, the Vaterland, publishes the programme proposed. We give a few of the points, as follows:
Catholic Societies are to be formed. The religious teachers in the colleges are to be watched that they establish the students in the Roman Catholic faith. Secular teachers must see that their teachings are in the spirit of Catholicism, and the bishops are to insist upon the right (?) of selecting secular as well as religious textbooks. Newspapers favorable to Roman Catholicism are to be started and patronized, and bishops shall oversee with greater diligence the morals and habits of the lower clergy.
The European press professes to see in this a stern battle; believing that the liberal and patriotic Hungarians will resist the more heroically. The Frankfurter Zeitung, a usually careful and well informed journal, says:
"Strictly to carry out the injunctions of this decree would divide Hungary into two camps engaged in a life-and-death struggle with each other; namely, a Catholic-Rumanian party and a Hungarian-Protestant party. Every single item in the decree is fraught with danger to the state and to Protestantism in Hungary. Even that point which seems the most harmless, namely, the injunction that bishops are to watch over the lives and morals of their priests, means much for Hungary. Clerical fanaticism has hitherto not been thriving very noticeably in Hungary, because the priests have heretofore not been hindered by their liberal congregations from living with their wives and children. Cases are known where Catholic priests have not hesitated to appear on the streets with their wives and children, and no particular offense was taken."