G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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your sins, by giving you the sanctifying spirit through which all this
may be done, you cannot submit to that ; you must hold your sins ;
you must still live in that which God forbids ; you must still cherish
that which God's law condemns ? Why, in the face of such fearful
sanctions, and notwithstanding such plain and reiterated commands,
and when such infinite mercy is extended to you, to refuse salvation
because you will cling to sin — oh ! it must silence every one at the
last, if nothing else did ; it must strike such an arrow of remorse into



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 351

the miserable soul, that will have then to own — I might have been
rescued and blessed for ever, but I would not give up mj rebellion
against God. Alas ! alas ! it will deepen all the gloom of the con-
demnation, that is resting upon you already.

But if still you tell me that you are obliged to say, I cannot believe ;
are you to sit down in despair ? Here is a fearful load of guilt upon
you ; must you sit down in despair ? Do you say — What can I do ?
]^am lost, I shall sink into perdition, I have not believed, I cannot
believe ; all this is true, but I must sink into perdition, helpless and
hopeless ? You only half believe that ; or you would not sit still and
do nothing. Depend upon it, when any man says, I must sit still and
do nothing, because I cannot believe, he has only half a conviction of
his melancholy state. A little deeper conviction of the absolute and
intolerable misery to which such a state is leading, would make you at
once begin to be active in doing what you can.

Do you say — What can we do ? There are many things, God's
Word declares you not only can, but must do. It is our duty to
believe in Christ at once. It is the duty of every man, woman, and
child in this assembly, to believe in Christ now. There is evidence
that ought to convince every one, at once, without any further exami-
nation ; and the obligations resting upon us are such, that not one
night ought to be lost ; not one minute's delay ought to be interposed.
Christ offers you and me salvation, if we trust him ; and it is our duty
to trust him now. We are lost, and he offers to save us from hell by
his atoning sacrifice, by his sanctifying Spirit ; and he only asks us to
trust him. We ought to trust him now.

But if the hardness of any heart forbids it ; if the habitual unbe-
lief of any heart forbids ; if the devoted love of sin, which still mas-
ters any one, forbids it ; then what must follow ? To do nothing ?
No. Listen to God's Word, as you hope to be saved. God has
required of just such persons — " Wash you, make you clean ; put
away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil ;
learn to do well ; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,
saith the Lord ; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white
as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Break off every habit of sin. Keep out of the way of temptation.
Forsake the company that tempts. Do what you obviously can. No
one compels you to seek bad company ; no one compels you to place
yourself in the way of temptation ; Satan cannot compel you to any
external act. Therefore, break these things off. Break off what-



352 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

ever, in fact, interferes with your seeking salvation. Break it off at
once. It is God's command.

Is there nothing that you can do ? God's Word declares — " Who-
soever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Cannot
you call on him ? Cannot you at once begin to seek God's mercy ?
But you have not faith ; and you have not earnestness. Still, call on
him as you can. Begin to pray. Fasten upon your mind the neces-
sity of salvation ; and let the cry of your natural distress, if not t^
prayer of faith, ascend up before God.

God has said in his Word — " The law is our schoolmaster to bring
us to Christ." Then, in other words, it is when men perceive how the
law condemns them, that they flee to Christ as the only Savior. Do
not get rid of the sense of guilt ; but fasten it on your mind. Medi-
tate on God's holy law ; look at all its precepts ; apply them to your
own case ; see how you have violated them ; acknowledge the con-
demnation that law pronounces. Let the humiliating thought rest
there, till it compels you to seek salvation by Christ. " The law is our
schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we may be justified by faith."

Meditate, further, as you can, upon the gospel of Christ : for
" faith," we read, " cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of
God." When any one will day by day read the Scriptures solemnly
and geriously, and endeavor to understand them, and to impress them
on his mind, it may be the duty in which God meets him. In the
absence of that, hoAV can you expect the blessing ? If you despise
God's Word, if you neglect his gospel, can you look for salvation ?
Read it ; meditate upon it. You may find, as thousands have, that in
that obedience, however imperfect, to God's will, he may meet with
you and save you.

If you feel still, that all this may leave you yet unsaved, because
none of these things can sanctify, (which is most true,) remember,
faith is the gift of his Spirit, It is not wrought by us ; it is wrought
by him, as many passages with which you are acquainted tell you. If
it be wrought by him ; if no man can enter heaven except he be
regenerate by the Spirit, and it is he who imparts the faith, by which
a sinner lays hold on Christ ; then recollect that Christ has said, God
is more willing to give you that Holy Spirit, if you ask him, than you,
if the most loving parent, are willing to give the commonest blessing
to your child. Christ has said so, and God will do it. Then wait on
him. Ask for that Spirit. Ask it frequently ; ask it day by day ;
never cease from asking, for " men ought always to pray, and not to
faint." Ask on, till God grants you that necessary blessing.

These things, at least, you can do ; and there are other similar



ERRORS OP THE CHURCH OF ROME. 353

directions in God's Word, for those who are as yet in their sins. And
till all these are done, and have been done long in vain, do not say
you can do nothing. If you say so, my dear hearer, it is, depend
upon it, because you are only half convinced. Once thoroughly per-
suaded that you are ruined without Christ, you will gratefully seize
the opportunities for these habits, which he has required you at once,
as condemned sinners, to exercise and to cultivate.

But how can we express adequately, my Christian brethren, the
gratitude we ought to have to God through Christ, if indeed he has
given us this inestimable blessing ? How can we sufficiently deplore
the condition of some among us, to whom it seems almost impossible
that they should believe ; to whom the difficulty in their way seems
almost insuperable ? And yet God has taught us to believe. Why ?
Why do we rest on Christ this night ? Why do we now look up to
our most loving Savior, to deliver us from our guilt and ruin, from the
curse of the law, from the malice of Satan, from his temptations, from
the eternal wrath we have merited, from all evil ; and to place us
amongst his people in glory ? Why, with a consciousness perhaps as
complete as any one can have, that we are utterly deserving of eternal
wrath, have we yet this confidence in Christ ? Oh ! brethren, it is a
blessing from God, for which it is impossible we should be sufficiently
thankful. Let us day by day exercise that faith. Let not a day go
by, without our trusting in Christ still to save us. And may that con-
fidence in him become more and more simple and complete.



SERMON XXIX.

DUTY OF ASSAILING THE ERRORS OF THE CHURCH OF ROME.
BY REV. JOHN GUMMING, D. D.

"Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about; all ye that bend the bow shoot
at her, spare no arrows ; for she hath sinned against the Lord." — Jer. 1. 14.

There can be no question, my Christian brethren, that Babylon is
the type and emblem of the popish apostacy. The eighteenth chapter
of Revelations, which we have read this evening, and other parallel
portions of the inspired record, abundantly demonstrate this. But, as
there are several features which confirm this identity, we will en-
deavor, in humble dependence on grace divine, to lay them before you.
23



354 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

Idolatry was the sin emblazoned on the forehead of ancient Baby-
lon, incorporated with her laws, and interwoven with her habits. Her
idols of silver and gold were commensurate with the fantasies of the
human heart, and with the passions of men. Now, if we turn to the
antitype, the church of Rome, we find that there is no one character-
istic more apparent than her idolatry. If she does not worship Baal,
and Chemosh, and Jupiter, and Juno, and the other gods of the
heathen, she has at least covered or removed their images, and placed
in their niches, in the christened Pantheon, those of Peter, and Paul,
and Mary. Jesuits may make metaphysical distinctions between doulia
and latria, between veneration and worship ; but the fact is not to be
denied, that before these images of gold and silver, papists prostrate
themselves, and offer to the idol, and not to the being which it repre-
sents, very worship, and very prayer and praise. Thus the second
commandment is broken, and idolatry chargeable on the church of
Rome, and consequently her identity with ancient Babylon is manifest
in one feature at least.

Again. A feature in ancient Babylon which stamped her guilt with
peculiar depth and dye, was her using the golden vessels of the sanc-
tuary of Jehovah in her idolatrous rites. It was this attempt to blend
the high heavens with hell — this minghng of the cups of the Lord
amid the cups of demons — that drew down the wrath of God, and
nerved the hand which wrote upon the plaster " weighed and found
wanting." Is not this feature clearly developed in the church of
Rome ? Are not the rites of ancient paganism — her lustrations, pro-
cessions, incense, &c. intermingled with the pure rites of Christian
truth ? Are not St. Peter's and the Pantheon made to coalesce by
mutual concessions ? Are not the attributes of the Almighty partly
attributed to a wafer, and partly wreathed around the temples of a
fallible sinner ? If ever the light of heaven and the darkness of hell
were made to mingle together — if ever fire from above and fire from
beneath burned on the same altar — if ever God and man were
made, in creeds and canons, to exchange places, it is in the church
of Rome ; and this other feature seals her identity with ancient
Babylon.

Again. A striking feature in the character of ancient Babylon
was her persecuting and intolerant disposition. The Greeks and
Romans always allowed every man to worship as he liked ; but the
Babylonians made the decree, " that whosoever would not fall down
and worship the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set
up, should be cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace." Now
this is just the very character of popery ; — she makes a corruptible



ERRORS OF THE CHURCH OP ROME. 355

wafer her god; she elevates the host, and whosoever will not fall
down and worship the idol which Rome has set up, for him there is
the blazing faggot, or the cell of the barbarous inquisition. To know
this you have not to go far. The blood of martyrs is not yet dry on
the streets and marketplaces of London ; and the wild grey moors of
our native Scotland have been drenched by the tears and life-blood
of those who preferred death to idolatry, and the vexing of the Spirit
of God.

Again. Babylon was long the prison-house of the people of God.
For seventy long years was Jerusalem seen on the tablets of memory
only, and the tears of Zion^s children were shed on the waters of
Babel, and their reft harps hung on the weeping -willows ; and in like
manner for centuries did our fathers mourn amid the polluted waters
of modern Rome, and even now are there a few in the midst of her
to whom we address the echo of Jehovah's voice, " Come out of her,
my people." Thus we see that ancient Babylon and modern popery
are identified in their character, in their history, aye, and in their fell
and dread doom of desolation and dismay. You will, therefore, have
a key to unlock many predictions of the prophets, which otherwise
would appear inexplicable. We now direct your attention to the grand
reason which the Spirit of God assigns for setting ourselves in array
against Babylon, namely, " She has sinned against the Lord." She
has sinned, frst, against the institutions of God ; secondly, &gaAnst the
character of God ; and thirdly^ against the functions of God.

1st. She has sinned against the institutions of God. Under this
head we would comprehend the Word of God, which he instituted as
a light to our feet and a lamp to our path. This blessed book God
wrote not with ink, but with the blood of his Son, and inspired with
his Holy Spirit. This he gave as, next to his Son, the best and
brightest boon he had to bestow ; and this book he has caused to be
bequeathed by the grave of the martyred father, to the bosom of the
obedient son ; and this book popery has locked up in a tongue unknown
to the mass of the people, or allowed it to be read only by priestly
license. " For," says the Council of Trent, " if Holy Bibles are dis-
tributed without discrimination, in the vulgar tongue, more harm than
good will ai'ise ; " nay, " the regular clergy may not read the Bible
without permission of their prelates ! " We do think that this apo&-
tacy has herein been guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost ; and
we are borne out in this awful charge by the fact, that to Babylon no
overture of peace, no promise of mercy is sent in the Scriptures, but
threatenings and destinies of blackness and wrath for ever and ever.
Adam defaced and marred the pages of the book of creation, which



356 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

beamed forth the glory, and the majesty, and the goodness of the
Almighty ; but popery has mangled and marred the pages of inspira-
tion, -which do contain the brightness of the glory of Jesus. Adam
sinned against a creation God, but popery has sinned against a revela-
tion God. From pilgrims and voyagers to eternity, she has filched
their chart, their compass, and their pole-star, and left them to thick
darkness, and dangerous reefs, and ultimate wreck. From soldiers,
necessarily so, she has stolen their sword, their shield, their breastplate,
and their helmet, and left them utterly defenceless. Oh ! is there
not powerful reason in this for putting themselves in array against
Babylon ?

She has also desecrated the Sabbaths of the Most High. She has
appointed so many holidays (in Spain there are nearly 150,) that the
Sabbath is come to be regarded as a very ordinary institution indeed ;
even priests and cardinals have declared that it is not by half so sinful
to follow our own wavs and works on the Sabbath of the Lord, as it is
to neglect the observance of the holidays of the church. And actual
fact is demonstrative of the tendency and the spirit of the system, for
in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy, the Sa"bbath-day-theatre is shel-
tered and fostered by the Vatican, and fairs and revelries are on that
day most numerous and interesting. Thus the Sabbath — that frag-
ment of heaven let down upon the bosom of earth — that brightest
and best interlude amid the weary weeks of our pilgrimage — that
foretaste of the eternal rest, is trodden under the feet of popery, and
the Lord of the Sabbath thus sinned against.

2ndly. She has sinned against the character of God, The Scrip-
tures declare God to be a Spirit, and that " they who worship him
must worship him in spirit and in truth ; " — this popery has totally
overturned. She commands all worship to him to be presented on the
terra incogriita of an unknown tongue ; and all praise and prayer to
be offered through idols of silver and gold, made like to corruptible
man ; and by these most unholy requirements, has she veiled the charac-
ter of the Most High in mysticism and in falsehood ; and the God of
our Savior is to her victims an unknown God, and the Father of Jesus
an unknown Father ; and where and what is revelation if this be so ?

The church of Rome has, by her division of sin into mortal and
venial, encouraged and fostered the idea, that the Almighty is not
that infinitely Holy Being which the Scriptures represent him to be,
and that there cannot have been so urgent a need for the vindication
of this great attribute ; and, therefore, that there is not in the atone-
ment all that intense love, and unbending justice, and spotless sanctity,
which Protestants magnify and make mention of. She has, in addition



ERRORS OF THE CHURCH OF ROME. 357

to this, communicated, as much as canons can communicate, some of
the glorious attributes of Jehovah to a mortal and sinful man. She
has given the names of Deity to the bishop of Kome ; and the great
prerogative of infallibility has she bestowed alternately on councils
and popes. This surely is blasphemy of the most explicit description ;
this surely is a process in direct opposition to that which the gospel
promotes. Man humbled, and God magnified, is the all-pervading
tissue of Christianity. God lowered and man installed in his stead, is
the direct result of popery.

3. She has sinned against the peculiar functions of God our
Savior. She has trenched on the kingly office of the Lord Jesus by
abrogating laws which he has laid down for all generations, and enact-
ing others at issue with the letter and the spirit of his gospel. She
has endeavored to dethrone Christ, and enthrone man in his place. She
has invaded also the proj^hetic office of Christ. He inspired the oracles
of truth, and commanded their universal perusal, and presented him-
self, their author, as their surest interpreter. But the church of Rome
has withheld the whole Bible in some countries, where her tyranny is
at its maximum, and locked them up in other countries, in a tongue
unknown to the mass of the people ; and in a few countries where
Protestant truth is too powerful, she has permitted a restricted peru-
sal, or circulated a Bible enveloped in heresy and in perversion of its
truths to the destruction of men ; and instead of allowing men, by
prayer and diligent perusal, to judge for themselves whether these
things be so or not, she has commanded them upon the pain of death,
and under the sanction of an oath, to receive and believe the interpre-
tations of Councils and Popes, among which there are more contra-
dictions than among all the other sects of Christendom. She has also
sinned against the jonVs^Z?/ office of Christ. She declares that the
mass is a true propitiation for the sins of the living and the dead. She
declares that the merits of some men are so great, that they can spare
a handful for the accommodation of those that can purchase them ;
and that the merits of others are such as enable them, not only to
deserve the grace of justification, but also to increase it ; and she
asserts that the intercession of saints is extremely important, and their
prayers vastly meritorious. We contend that these dogmas which I
have shown to be held by the church of Rome from her own missals
and councils, which I now hold in my hand, are in direct opposition to
the most explicit declarations of the inspired record. " Christ was
once offered to bear the sins of many." " This man, after he had
offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down at the right hand of
God:" and " without shedding blood there is no remission of sins,"



358 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

are texts which completely overthrow the sacrifice of the mass.
" There is but one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ
■Jesus," and " all our righteousness is but as filthy rags," are declara-
tions which alone overthrow the merits of man on the one hand, and
establish alone the intercession and mediation of Christ on the other.
We might enter into the records of the Inquisition, with all its crimes
committed against the saints, dear to Jehovah as the apple of his eye ;
and we might sum up the history of the doings of the church which
have been based on ignorance, and murder, and guilt, but we think we
have said enough to prove that Babylon " has sinned against the Lord,"
All these sins, you will observe, were not the ebullitions of temporary
excitement, nor the acts of individuals reprobated by the body to
which they belonged ; but the development of the spirit and tendencies
of the church, and the legitimate prosecution of her most express
enactments. Her sins are interwoven with the system, inseparable
from it, and to be destroyed with the destruction of Babylon only.
But it may be asked, why are we directed to set ourselves in array
against Babylon, while infidelity and atheism, and nominal religion,
are equally fatal to the everlasting interests of men. The reason is
found in the fact, that popery is more congenial to the fallen nature
of man, and on this account more likely to captivate and ensnare.
There is something so desolating in the creed of atheism, and some-
thing so unsatisfactory in the tenets of infidelity, that few are likely
theoretically to embrace them. Annihilation so jars with the feelings
of instinctive immortality, that we shrink from it ; and Deism involves
us in so many uncertainties, that we cannot be easy in its society ; but
popery has a bland aspect and silken meshes, and a far more seductive
power than any other earthly system. Popery finds a sphere for
every native propensity of man, and withal it pledges a sure reward
in eternity. It gives full scope to every depraved desire, and never-
theless holds forth unblushing promise of glory. It shows how men
may live as devils, and die as angels. It is just the religion which
man wishes, but not the religion which man needs. It is the religion
of earth surrounded with the drapery, and colored with the tints of
real Christianity. It is the coin of Caesar stamped with the image
and the superscription of Jesus. It is the form of godliness, but the
power of wickedness. It is Satan as an angel of light. Paganism is
Satan going about as a roaring lion, but popery is Satan creeping in
as a cunning serpent. Popery is the voice of Jacob, but the hand of
Esau.

Before explaining the injunction in the text, we must lay down the'
nature of the weapons which we are to employ. These are not carnal,



ERRORS OF THE CHURCH OF ROME. 359

but mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin. The sword
has been forged and tempered in heaven, and the breastplate is com-
posed of righteousness, and the helmet of hope, and our feet are shod
with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The less we employ the
weapons of earth, the less we enlist human passion and power on our
side, the more Ukely we are to attain ultimate success. Now, at all
events, the national barriers are broken down — the national and glo-
rious ramparts are removed, and Roman CathoUcs cannot complain of
unfair play.

Now, then, put yourselves in array against Babylon. This phrase-
ology does not imply that we are to stand inactive, until we are aroused
by the peal of the trumpet, and the clang of conflict bursting on the
ear. Inactivity is universally the precursor of defeat. While the
husbandman slept, the enemy sowed the tares in the field ; while Saul
slept, his weapon was stolen from his side ; while Samson slept, his hair,
which was his strength, was shorn away : and if we sleep, our strength
and our resources will be dissipated. You are now to make an active
and aggressive movement on the battlements of Rome. You are now
to open on her heaven's artillery. You are now to urge forward that
ploughshare of God's truth, which will turn up her foundations to the
withering influences of the winds and rains of heaven. If popery be
not actively kept down, it will rapidly spring up. It is a creed indig-
enous to our nature. This array commanded in the text, was formed
by the Waldenses, when they dashed like waves of the sea, against the
strongholds of popery, and retreated like the same, strown with the
wreck of beauty, and strength, and health. This array was formed
by the continental reformers when they sent forth the sound of the
glorious gospel which destroyed the walls of Babylon, and razed some
of her strongest bulwarks. This array was also formed by the English
reformers, when, from the flames, and from the floods, and from the
teeth of the lion, and the fangs of the serpent, they snatched the ora-



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 40 of 45)