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The Two Brothers; or, Why are you a Protestant? No. 1

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1847

Art. I.- The Two Brothers;   or, Why are you a Protestant ?

I. My old master, Jeremiah Milwood, as I have told you, had but two children, both sons, and with only about two years' difference in their ages. They were his pride, and he spared no pains or expense in their education. He was a stanch Presbyterian ; and his highest ambition for his two sons was, that they should become earnest, devoted, and dis­tinguished Presbyterian ministers. He seemed likely to be gratified. Both were of a serious turn, studious and piously inclined. Before the elder had completed his seventeenth year, both became subjects of grace, and both, on leaving college, entered the seminary.

During the second year of their residence in the seminary, their mother, a woman of great strength of character and sweetness of disposition, fell ill and died. From that moment, a striking change was observed in the tone and manner of John, the elder brother. He was his mother's favorite, and shared especially her confidence. At her request, he had spent several hours with her alone just previously to her death, and, though none of us knew what transpired to affect him, it was subsequently surmised, from one or two words which escaped him, that she had expressed, in that trying moment, to him, as the only member of her family she could hope to influence, or to whom she felt able to open her heart, some misgivings as to the truth of Presbyterianisin, and had begged him, by his love of her and his regard for the welfare of his soul, to examine thoroughly its foundations before entering the ministry. However this might be, it is certain he was never again what he had been. He returned, after the funeral obse­quies, to the seminary, and even remained there several months ; but he lost his relish for the prescribed course of studies, and became unwilling to attend the services in the chapel. Finally, he wrote to his father, informing him that he did not wish to become a Presbyterian minister, and, indeed, could not, without binding himself to profess what he did not then believe and in all probability never should believe, and begging permission to return home and take some other call­ing. My old master, you know, was never remarkable for his sweetness and amiability, and the recent affliction he suf­fered in the loss of his wife had rendered him doubly sour and morose. His wrath was terrible. His son had disappointed him, disgraced him, and he replied to him, that, unless he con­tinued at the seminary and returned to his original faith and resolution, he was henceforth no son of his, and must seek a home, father, and friends where he could find them. John, knowing explanation or expostulation would be vain, took the only alternative left him, and suffered himself to be exiled from his home. James, the younger brother, who in many respects resembled his father, remained at the seminary and completed his course.

John withdrew to a distant part of the country, assumed his mother's name, and supported himself for three or four years by teaching an academy. While teaching the academy, he contrived to study the profession of the law, in the practice of which he subsequently engaged, distinguished himself, and, in a I'cxv years, amassed a fortune adequate to his simple wants and tasies. Having done this, he retired from business and went abroad. James, on completing his course, was licensed to preach, and in a few months was called and ordained to the pastoral charge of a wealthy and influential congregation in one of our principal Atlantic cities, and was soon known and esteemed as one of the leading ministers of his denomination. About a year after his settlement, Ins father died and left him the bulk of his estate, which was considerable ; and a year later he married the beautiful and accomplished daughter and heiress of his richest parishioner, who brought him a still more ample fortune, and became the mother of five children, two sons and three daughters. Every thing prospered with him, and he had all that heart could wish. But, after a while, the tide of prosperity began to ebb ; death visited his palace, and his children, one by one, all, save the youngest, who was deformed, sickly, and partially idiotic, were taken from him, and at length his wife followed them. He bore up with sto­ical fortitude against these repeated blows, but he felt them, - was forced to reflect on the certainty of death, the uncertainty of life, and the perishable nature of all earthly goods, more se­riously than he had ever done before, and to some extent his heart was softened and his spirit bowed.

Time had hardly worn off the wire-edge of his grief and begun to heal the wound in his heart, when he was surprised by a letter from his brother, whom he had neither seen nor heard from for nearly thirty years.    The letter offered him such sympathy and consolation as befitted the occasion, and brought him the intelligence that its writer was about to revisit his native  land,  and,  following the  yearnings   of his heart, would hasten to embrace the brother he had never for a mo­ment forgotten, or ceased to love.    James received the letter with mixed emotions, but upon the whole without displeasure, and looked forward even with interest to his brother's return. In a few weeks after sending his letter, John embarked, and, favored with a short and pleasant passage across the Atlantic, landed in the city in which James was settled, and without de­lay drove with his baggage to his brother's residence.    The brothers met ; but so altered in appearance was each, that it was with difficulty that either could recognize his brother in the other.    The meeting was frank and cordial on the part of the elder, and less cold and restrained  on  the  part of the younger  than   could   have  been  expected  from  his general character.    Perhaps he had recently had some compunctious visitings  of conscience for having so long forgotten even to think of one he was bound by the  ties of nature to love ; perhaps he had a vein of tenderness in his nature which had not hitherto been observed, and that early scenes and early recollections revived,  and  for the moment half subdued, the sectarian and minister.    But be this as it may, he was not dis­pleased  to  meet his brother.     They were soon seated  in a sumptuous apartment, engaged in  free and familiar conversa­tion.     They recalled  their boyish days and boyish frolics, spoke of their college life and college companions, and finally of their mother and her lamented death.     The tone of both was subdued, and they turned their conversation upon death, sin, redemption, the resurrection, and immortal life.    While speaking on these awful and sublime topics, John referred to the change which early came over him with regard to his re­ligious views, and stated that he was, and for years had been, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. This was unexpect­ed as well as unwelcome news to James. If his brother had told him that he had become a Socinian or even an unbeliever, he would not have been surprised, and could have borne it; but to be told that he, the principal mover of the Protestant league for the conversion of the Pope and the overthrow of Popery, had himself a brother who had turned Papist, was more than he could bear. He was thunderstruck, and seemed for some minutes as one bereft of thought and sense. Never had he been known to be so overcome. At length, he par­tially recovered, and said to his brother,- "Mr. Milwood, your room is ready ; I must wrestle with God in prayer for you before I can speak to you again." John bade him good night, and quietly retired to his room, it was already late in the evening, and, offering a prayer for his brother, another for the repose of the soul of his mother, and commending him­self to his Heavenly Father and the protection of Our Lady and all the saints, he composed himself, with a subdued but serene mind, to rest.

II. The brothers met again in the morning in the breakfast-parlour. James was exteriorly composed, and greeted his brother in his blandest tone ; but a careful observer would have suspected that he intended to play the part of the civil and courteous host, rather than that of the warm and affection­ate brother. Breakfast passed pretty much in silence. John was disposed to wait the motions of his brother, and James was undecided whether to broach the Catholic question or not. But he could not converse freely with his brother on indifferent matters ; he felt that sooner or later they must discuss the question, and perhaps the sooner the better. Revolving the matter for some time in his mind, he at length, throwing aside the morning paper he had been pretending to read, broke the silence by remarking to his brother: -

" So it seems the result has been that you have turned Pa­pist ? "

" I am a Catholic," replied John, with a slight emphasis on the last word, intended as a quiet rebuke to his brother for employing a nickname."

" It is strange ! What in the world could have induced the son of a Presbyterian father, piously brought up, well instructed in the Protestant religion, and not wanting in natural ability, to take a step so foolish, not to say so wicked ? "

" Let me rather ask my brother why he is a Protestant ?"

" Why I am a Protestant ? "

" Yes ; I am much mistaken, or that is the harder question of the two to answer."

" I am a Protestant because the Romish Church is corrupt,
the Mystery of Iniquity, the Man of Sin, Antichrist, the
Whore of Babylon, drunk with the blood of the saints, a cage
of unclean birds, cruel, oppressive, tyrannical, superstitious,

" But you are simply telling me why you are not a Catho­lic ; my question is, Why are you a Protestant ? "

" Protestantism is a solemn protest against Rome, and my reasons for not being a Catholic are my reasons for being a Protestant."

" Jews, Pagans, Mahometans, deists, atheists, protest as earnestly as you do against Rome ; are they therefore Prot­estants ? "

" Protestantism is, indeed, a protest against Rome ; but it is also a positive religion."

a Unaffected by supposing the Catholic Church to have never been or to have ceased to be ? "

"Yes ;  Protestantism is independent of Romanism."

" A Protestant is one who embraces Protestantism in this independent, positive sense ? "

" Yes, if we speak properly."

" Before telling me why you are a Protestant, it will be ne­cessary to tell what, in this sense, Protestantism is."

" It is the religion of the Bible ; - the Bible is the religion of Protestants."

" And the religion of the Bible is? "

" The truths revealed in the Bible."

" And these are? "

" The great evangelical doctrines asserted by the Reform­ers against the false and corrupt doctrines of Rome, and which we commonly call the doctrines of grace."

" These doctrines are Protestantism ?"

" They are."

" So Protestantism is the religion of the Bible, and the re­ligion of the Bible is Protestantism ! "

" There is nothing absurd or ridiculous in that. Protes­tantism, Sir, is the religion of the Bible, of the whole Bible, the Bible alone, - that precious gift of God to man, - the word of God, the charter of our liberties, the source of redemption, the ground of the Christian's hope, carrying light and life, the blessings of truth, freedom, and civilization, wherever it goes ; and which you Papists, with characteristic cunning, lock up from the people, because you know full well, that, were they once to read it for themselves, they would make short work with the Pope and his minions, break their covenant with death and hell, and put an end to their blasphemies, idola­tries, and oppressions."

" I suspect, brother, you have accommodated that from the speech you made at the last anniversary of the American Bible Society. It may do very well to address to the mob that collects on ( anniversary week' ; but can you not give me a clear, distinct, and precise statement of what Protestantism really is ? "

" Protestantism is the great truth asserted by the Reform­ers against Rome, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary to salvation, and that they are the sole and sufficient rule of faith and practice."

"If I believe the Scriptures are sufficient, and are the sole rule of faith and practice, do 1 believe the whole of Prot­estantism ? "

" No ; you must also believe the word of God as contained in the Scriptures."

" And this word consists of certain credenda or proposi­tions to be believed ? "

" It does ; and these may all be summed up in the text, - * Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'"

" To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to believe? "

" The truths he has revealed, whether of himself, or other things."

" These truths are? "

" The great evangelical doctrines asserted by the Reform­ers."

" That is, they are Protestantism. Therefore, Protestant­ism is - Protestantism ! But can you not be a little more particular, and tell me what these truths or doctrines are ? "

" You will find an excellent summary of them in the West­minster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Cat­echisms."

" That is, they are Presbyterianism ? Protestantism, then, is Presbyterianism ?"
" What else, from my profession as a Presbyterian minis­ter, should you infer to be my belief? "

" I am rather slow to infer a Presbyterian minister's belief from his profession. But, if Protestantism be Presbyterian-ism, none but Presbyterians can be Protestants. Is this your belief ? "

" Not exactly ; for there are Protestants who are not Pres­byterians."

" These, of course, differ more or less from Presbyterians, or else they would be Presbyterians. Consequently Protes­tantism must differ more or less from Presbyterianism."

" In non-essentials, but not in essentials. All who embrace the essentials are Protestants."

" Do Catholics embrace the essentials ? "

" According to the general opinion of Protestants, they do."

" Then, according to the general opinion of Protestants, Catholics are Protestants ? "

" But I think differently, and our General Assembly will soon, I hope, solemnly declare that Rome does not retain even the essentials of the Christian faith."

" That will be a sad day for Rome, no doubt ; but what, in your judgment, are the essentials ? "

" They are the great evangelical doctrines of the Reforma­tion, embraced by all orthodox Protestants."

" And orthodox Protestants are? "

" All who agree in accepting the sufficiency of the Scrip­tures, and the great essential doctrines of revelation."

" Which means that the essential doctrines are the essential doctrines, and orthodox Protestants are orthodox Protes­tants."

" The essential doctrines are substantially what is held by Presbyterians."

" Those orthodox Protestants who are not Presbyterians differ from Presbyterians only in relation to non-essentials ?"

" That is all."

" Presbyterianism, or, what is the same thing, the orthodox faith, then, is made up of two parts, one essential, the other non-essential ? "

" All parts of the orthodox faith are not alike essential. But there may bo differences which arc not differences of faith. The Congregationalists, Evangelical Episcopalians, Dutch Reformed, the Calvinistic Baptists, &c, differ from us in matters of discipline and church government, while they embrace substantially the same faith we do."

" Is infant baptism a matter of faith ? "

"Not strictly."

" Then you do not baptize infants because you believe Almighty God commands you to baptize them ? "

" We do ; but the point is not so essential, that those who differ from us must needs err essentially."

" One may, then, reject a positive command of God, with­out essential error ? "

" We think our Baptist brethren err grievously ; but, as they hold the great cardinal doctrines of the Gospel, we do not think their error is absolutely essential. In the present state of the religious world, it is the duty of God's people to make the platform of Christian union as broad as possible, to dis­countenance theological wranglings, to seek to heal sectarian divisions, and to follow after the things whicn make for peace."

" But if you had no fears of Popery, and felt that your own sect had the power to make converts, I suppose you would regard the Baptists as of the number of those who bring in ' damnable heresies.' "

" You are ungenerous ; I regret the unsoundness of my Baptist brethren, but I do not consider them as essentially wrong."

" Not even when they deny you the Christian character, by denying that your baptism is baptism,- and when they refuse to commune with you, on the ground that you are unbaptized persons ; that is, infidels, in the proper sense of the word ? "

" There they are wrong ; but still not essentially so, be­cause baptism itself is a non-essential."

" Then you do not agree in opinion with our Lord, who says, ' Unless a man be born again of loater and of the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven ' ?"

" Christian doctrines are distinguishable into fundamentals and non-fundamentals. The fundamentals are the essentials, the non-fundamentals are the non-essentials. All who believe the former are substantially orthodox, though they may differ about the latter."

" The non-fundamentals arc either revealed truths, or they are not. If they are not, your distinction of fundamentals and non-fundamentals is simply a distinction between what is re­vealed and what is not revealed, between the word of God and the words of men or of devils ; and, on this supposition, the essentials will be what God has revealed, and the non-es­sentials what he has not revealed.   If they are revealed truths, you imply that a portion of the revealed wn'd is unessential, and may be disbelieved or rejected without essential error. Which do you say ? "

" Suppose we say they are no portion of the revealed word ?"

" You cannot say that, because you have declared them to be revealed truths, by asserting that Christian doctrines are dis­tinguishable into fundamentals and non-fundamentals. But pass over this. If you say the non-fundamentals, that is, the non-essentials, are not revealed truths, you imply, by making the fundamentals essential to be believed, that the whole revealed word is essential to be believed, and therefore deny that there can be any differences of opinion as to any portion of what is revealed, without essential error, which renders your distinc­tion between fundamentals and non-fundamentals of no avail ; since no one, unless a Protestant, is likely to contend that any thing more than what is revealed is essential to be believed. Is it not so ? "

" So it appears."

" Then again, you say, men, though differing about the non-essentials, that is, about what is not revealed, are substantially orthodox, if they believe the essentials, that is, what is reveal­ed. Now they may differ about the non-essentials, by believ­ing, some, that they are, and some, that they are not, re­vealed truths, or portions of the word of God, as we see in the case of you and the Baptists concerning infant baptism ; you believing it to be revealed and commanded by God him­self, they believing it not revealed and implicitly forbidden. Now, if men may believe the non-essentials to be revealed, they may, according to you, without essential error, believe that to be the word of God which is the word of men or of devils.    Do you admit this ? "

" Of course not. ' Cursed is every one that addeth to the words of this book.' The condemnation of Rome is not so much that she denies the essential truths of the Christian re­ligion, as that she overlays them by her corrupt additions, and renders them of none effect through the traditions of men. It is as much an error to add to the word as to take from it."

" Then you abandon this supposition, and take the other, - that the non-essentials are revealed truths, portions of the word of God ? "

" Be it so, for the present."
" Then you must say, since you allow men to believe or reject them, without essential error, that a portion of the word of God, of the truth Almighty God has revealed, may be de­nied without essential error. Do you hold that one can be substantially orthodox, and yet deny a portion of God's word ?"

" Even your own doctors distinguish between fundamentals and non-fundamentals, and teach that faith in the fundamentals suffices for salvation."

" This, even if true, would not avail you ; for our doctors are no authority for you, and you cannot urge them against me in this discussion, since I am not defending the Church. But it is not true. Our doctors distinguish between the articles of the creed which are logically fundamental or primary, and those which are secondary, I admit; but they do not teach that faith in the primary alone suffices for salvation. They teach that the whole must be believed, either explicitly or implicitly, and simply add, that explicit faith in the primary articles, with im­plicit faith in the secondary, is all that is necessary, necessitate medii."

" That is all I ask. He who believes explicitly the prima­ry believes implicitly the secondary ; for the primary imply the secondary."

" So, on the other hand, he who explicitly disbelieves the secondary, implicitly disbelieves the primary ; for the secon­dary presuppose or imply the primary. No man believes im­plicitly what he explicitly denies. But you hold the non-fun­damentals may be explicitly denied without essential error ; therefore, you cannot assume that they are implicitly believed."

" But do you pretend that every thing, however unimpor­tant or insignificant, is essential to be believed ? "

" Your faith, not mine, is the matter in question."

" As a Catholic, you are bound to hold that the book of Tobias is the word of God. In that book I read that Toby had a dog, and that the dog came to his master, wagging his tail. Is it essential to your salvation, that you believe with a firm faith that Toby really had a dog, and that the dog actu­ally did wag his tail ? "

" That is not precisely the question. Assuming the inspi­ration of the book, can you deny the fact without essential error ? "

" Why not ? Common sense teaches us that the fact is not and cannot be in itself essential."

" And do you hold that there can be essential error only where the matter denied is in itself essential ? "

" How can there be ?"

" What, in religious faith, is the immediate object believ­ed ?"

" The truth of the particular proposition, whatever it may be."

" Not exactly ;   for the faith is religious only where the proposition believed is a revealed proposition."

" The truth  of the particular revealed proposition, then, whatever it may be."

" In believing, does the mind perceive the truth of the prop­osition believed, or only the proposition itself ? "

" Explain yourself."

" What is faith, as distinguished from knowledge or sci­ence ? "

" Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

" Or, as says St. Augustine, - ' Fides est credere quod non vides,'- Faith is to believe what you do not see. But you must see or mentally apprehend the proposition, or you cannot assent to it. What, then, is that in the proposition which you assent to, but which you do not see ? "

" The truth of the proposition."

"As in the proposition, ' God exists in unity of essence and trinity of persons,' you distinctly apprehend the proposi­tion, but not its truth ; for if you could apprehend or mentally perceive its truth, it would be a proposition, not of faith, but of knowledge or science, - knowledge, if perceived intuitive­ly ; science, if perceived only by means of discursion. Hence, rationalists, when they refuse to believe the mysteries of faith because they cannot perceive their truth, deny, virtually, the possibility of faith, and fall into the absurdity of contending that they cannot have faith, unless it be knowledge or science; that is, unless faith be impossible ! Where there is sight, there is not faith. Hence we say, faith will lose itself in sight, hope be swallowed in fruition, but chanty abideth for ever. I men­tally perceive the propositions of faith, or the credenda; but I do not mentally perceive their truth. Therefore, the truth of the revealed proposition cannot be that which is immediately believed or assented to." " So it would seem." "If it is not immediately believed, it must be mediately believed ; that is, must be believed in some thing else, on or by some authority, as is commonly said, at least formally dis­tinct from itself."

" That must be true ; for faith is always by some authority distinct from the believer and the proposition believed."

" Then the immediate object believed will be, not the truth of the proposition, but this something else, this authority in, on, or by means of which it is believed ? "
" That I do not deny."

" Now, in religious faith, what is this ? "

" The Bible, as all Protestants contend, in opposition to Romanists, who say it is the Church."

"Catholics do not say the Church is the authority for be­lieving the truth of the revealed proposition, but simply for be­lieving the proposition is revealed ; and, if you reflect a mo­ment, you must admit that the Bible is at best only authority for believing this or that is revealed, not authority for believ­ing it true."

" We recognize no authority above the Bible."

" Then you place the Bible above God himself, which I own is what you who call yourselves Protestants often have the appearance of doing ; but this cannot be your meaning. All you can mean is, that, in determining what God has revealed, the Bible is a higher authority than the Church. But the Bible, although assumed to be the highest authority for de­termining what God has revealed, is yet no authority for saying what he reveals is true. Why do you believe what God re­veals in or through the Bible is true ? "

" Because it is his revelation, his word."

" That is, you believe it because God says it, because God says so. But, in believing it because God says so, what is it you immediately believe ? "

" God himself."

" That is, you believe the proposition because it is God's word, and you believe his word because you believe him. But why do you believe him ? "

" Because it is impossible for him  to lie."

" That is, because he is infinitely true, is truth itself, and can neither deceive nor be deceived ? "

" I have no objection to that."

" Then the object immediately believed, in believing a re­vealed proposition, is the infinite truth or veracity of God who reveals it."
" Be it so."

" Which, in religious faith, then, shall we say is the more essential point to be believed, - the matter revealed, or the in­finite veracity of God who reveals it ? "

" What is the difference ? "

" The difference, perhaps, will appear, if you tell me what it is that makes the faith religious faith, or distinguishes it, as religious faith, from all other kinds of faith."

" It is religious faith because the proposition believed is a revealed proposition."

" If I believe the proposition, 'God exists in unity of es­sence and trinity of persons,' because you teach it, or be­cause I think I have discovered and demonstrated it by my own reason, is my belief religious belief ? "

"Why not, since the proposition in either case is the same ? What difference can it make, if it be believed, for what reason or on what ground it is believed ? "

" If I believe it because you teach it, I believe you, and what I immediately believe is that you are a man of truth and worthy of credit. Is there any thing religious in my believing you ? "

" Not necessarily,"

" If I believe it because I think I have discovered and demonstrated it by my own reason, I simply believe my own reason.    Is to believe my own reason religious belief?"

" Certainly not."

" For, if it were, every belief, whether intuitive or scientific, would be religious, and the belief of falsehood as much as truth ; since, in every act of belief, whether the belief be well founded or not, I believe my reason. But if I believe the proposition, not because you teach it, not because I discover or demonstrate it by my own reason, but because God says it, and therefore because I believe him, and that he is in­finitely true, and can neither deceive me nor be deceived, and, furthermore, because he commands me to believe it, is my act now religious ? "

" It is."

" Then it would seem that it is believing and obeying God, which makes the belief religious belief? "

" That appears to be so."

" Then the more essential point in religious belief is not simply belief of the matter revealed, but of God who re­veals it ? "

" Very well, let it be so."

" In every proposition, be it what it may, which I believe because God reveals it, I do believe him, do I not ? "

" So it follows from what we have said."

" But if the more essential point is to believe God, the more essential error must be to disbelieve him, must it not ? "

u Certainly, to disbelieve God is the most heinous offence of which man can be guilty. The grossest insult we can offer even to a fellow-mortal is to call him a liar ; and we call God a liar, whenever we disbelieve or refuse to believe him."

" But do I not disbelieve or refuse to believe God, and therefore make God a liar, whenever I refuse to believe a proposition because I have only his word for it ? "

" You do, and are guilty of the sin of infidelity,"

" Then, if God has told me, no matter for what reason, that Toby had a dog and the dog wagged his tail, and I re­fuse to believe it, do I or do I not err essentially ? "

" You err essentially, as it appears from what we have said."

" Then there may be essential error, where the matter or proposition denied is not in itself essential ?"

" So it would seem."

" Then you will concede what you call the non-funda­mentals, if revealed truths, can no more be denied without es­sential error than the fundamentals themselves ? "

" Not at all. Doubtless, where the matter is clearly and manifestly revealed, refusal to believe is essential error ; but it does not therefore follow that it is essential error to refuse to believe, where it is not clearly and manifest!) revealed, where it is uncertain that God speaks, and, if he t'oes, what is the exact meaning of what he says."

" This uncertainty, not the fundamental or non-fundamental nature of the matter in question, then, is that which saves the refusal to believe from being essential error ? "

" That seems to follow."

" If the same uncertainty existed with regard to what is fundamental, the refusal to believe it would, then, no more be essential, than the refusal to believe the non-fundamentals ? "

" That seems also to follow."

" In order, then, to determine what are the essentials, that is, what must be believed, and cannot be denied without es­sential error, and what are the non-essentials, that is, what without essential error may be either believed or denied, it will be necessary to inquire, not what are the fundamentals and what the non-fundamentals, but what is or is not clearly and mani­festly revealed."

" Since the fundamentals are all clearly and manifestly re­vealed, I have no objections to saying so."

" Whether the fundamentals are all clearly and manifestly revealed or not, you must so say, or abandon the ground you have taken. The essentials, then, are what is clearly and manifestly revealed ? "

" Be it so."

" The non-essentials what is not clearly and manifestly revealed ? "

" Agreed."

" He who believes all that is clearly and manifestly re­vealed believes all the essentials, is free from essential error, is substantially orthodox ? "

" Agreed, again."

" He who rejects any truth clearly and manifestly revealed errs essentially ? "

" He does."

" But he who rejects only the non-essentials does not err essentially ? "

" Stop there a moment. Men may differ as to the non-essentials without essential error ; but to differ in opinion about a point is not necessarily to deny it ; for both parties may intend to believe it, and would, if they could only ascertain the truth involved."

" But individuals may differ in some respects, even as to matters of faith, from Presbyterians, without erring essen­tially ?"

" I do not deny it."

" The points on which they differ must be non-essentials, otherwise the difference would be essential. In regard to these points they must differ from Presbyterians, either by holding some things to be revealed truths which Presbyterians do not, or by denying some things to be revealed truths which Presbyterians believe are revealed truths ? "

" They may also differ from them by simple ignorance."

" That is true ; but then they differ only negatively, not positively. Presbyterians in this respect must differ from one another ; for some are better informed as to what Presbyte-rianism is than others are or can be ; but they are, neverthe­less, all alike Presbyterians.    So I, as a Catholic, may be ignorant of some points of the Catholic faith, and in this re­spect differ from the one who knows them all ; but I am as true a Catholic as he, because I intend to believe all the Church teaches, because I am ready to believe all as soon as explicitly propounded to me, and because the points on which I am ignorant I believe implicitly, since they are implied in what I believe explicitly. This is, therefore, a mere nega­tive difference, and amounts to nothing. The differences in question are positive differences, and these must consist, either in believing things to be revealed which you deny to be revealed, or in denying certain things to be revealed which you believe to be revealed."

" I do not see how that follows."

" The differences we are considering concern matters of faith ; and nothing, I suppose you will grant, is or can be mat­ter of faith which is not a divinely revealed truth. Or, rather, no man can hold any thing to be matter of faith, unless he holds it to be matter of revelation, that is, a revealed truth."

" I do not know about that."

" But you do ; for the faith we are speaking of is religious faith, and we have agreed that there can be religious faith only where the proposition believed is a revealed proposition."

" Very well, proceed."

" If, then, you admit differences as to matters of faith may exist without essential error, you must admit that the non-essentials may be either believed or disbelieved without essen­tial error, unless you choose to admit that you yourselves are in essential error."

" How so ?"

" You certainly deny some things, which you call non-es­sentials, to be revealed truths ; such, for instance, as the divine institution of the Episcopacy, which is asserted by Protestant Episcopalians. But, if the non-essentials cannot be denied without essential error, then you err essentially in denying it. On the other hand, you assert infant baptism to be a divine command, which your Baptist brethren deny. Infant baptism, you say, is a non-essential ; if, then, non-essentials cannot be positively denied without essential error, your Baptist brethren err essentially, and are not, as you have admitted, substan­tially orthodox. Moreover, unless you admit the non-essen­tials may be either believed or disbelieved without essential error, your distinction between essentials and non-essentials avails you nothing, and you must come back and say that none, who differ positively in any matter from Presbyterians, have or can have the essential faitli ; and then you must recall your denial, and say that Presbytcrianistn and Protestantism are one and the same thing, and that Presbyterians are the only Prot­estants."

" Very well, I will not insist on the point. Say the non-essentials are matters which one may either believe or disbe­lieve without erring essentially."

" We now seem to be in a fair way of determining what Protestantism is. It is, you say, the essentials, and the essen­tials are all the truths clearly and manifestly revealed in tho Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Tell me what these truths are, and you tell me what Protestantism is, and take the preliminary step towards answering my question, Why are you a Protestant ? "
III. Much to the relief of James, while he was considering what he should reply to John's last demand, the conversation was suspended by the entrance of Mr. Wilson, a brother Pres­byterian minister, settled over the oldest Presbyterian congre­gation in the city. He was of Scottish descent, and upwards of seventy years of age, - a man of antiquated notions, with little respect for the younger ministers of his denomination. Preshyterianism, in his view, had nearly lost its original dis­tinctive character. Wesley and Whitefield, by their appeals to heated passion and mere animal excitement, instead of reason and voluntary affection, had wellnigh ruined it. Presbyterians were now Methodists, Arminians, in all except name and out­ward organization and government ; and the new methods and measures lately adopted for the conversion of sinners appeared to him likely to prove in the end its total destruction. He saw with pain the lecture-room and rostrum superseding the pulpit, strolling evangelists and revival preachers the regular pastors, and " inquiry " and " anxious " meetings the orderly ministrations of the word.

Between him and James there was little sympathy. James was a man of his times. He understood the tendencies of his age and country, and held that it was the part of wisdom, if not indeed of duty, to yield to and obey thorn. To have pow­er over the people, he held it to be necessary to consult them, to change with them, to take the direction they indicate, to be always just in advance of them, and never to lag behind them.  He availed himself of their passions and tendencies as the readiest way of occupying the post of leader, and, if he could only occupy that post, the direction he followed or the final goal he might reach was comparatively indifferent. He was adroit, shrewd, unscrupulous, but he did not know that he who leads the mob only by yielding to them leads them only by being their slave. The true leader is he who makes the mul­titude follow him, not he who follows them. He who has principles and will stand by them, though he stand alone, or be hewn down by the maddened multitude for his fidelity to them, is by many degrees superior to him who sacrifices his princi­ples, if he have any, to popularity, or who has no principles but to ascertain and yield to the passions and tendencies of the mob. But of all this James knew, at least, cared, nothing. He lived in an age and country of demagogues, and he did not aspire to be thought superior to his age and compatriots. The greatest modern achievement in the state, he was accustomed to hear it boasted, had been to establish the rule of demagogues ; and why should it not be as glorious to establish this rule in the church as in the state ?

Little as James sympathized ordinarily with Mr. Wilson, he welcomed him in the present instance with great cordiality, and introduced him to his brother. After some commonplace re­marks, he told him he had just learned that his brother, who had been absent for many years, had become a Catholic. He recapitulated the conversation they had just had, stated the point at which it had arrived, and begged Mr. Wilson to an­swer the question they were debating. Mr. Wilson was not pleased with the course adopted by James, and replied :-

" If I had had the management of this discussion from the beginning, I should have given it another direction. Your brother has, doubtless, been under the training of the Jesuits, is versed in all their scholastic refinements and subtilties, and a perfect master of all the sophistical arts by which they en­trap and bewilder the simple and unwary. When you dispute with such a man, mind and keep the management of the argu­ment in your own hands. Consent to ply the laboring oar yourself, and you are gone. The great secret of dialectics is in knowing how to put your questions. You gentlemen of the modern school are far abler demagogues than logicians, and much better skilled in exciting the passions of the mob than in managing a discussion. I have often told you the folly and madness of neglecting severer studies.    You have studied only to conform to the multitude ; you have made the mob supreme, and taught them to lord it over their pastors, loosened them from their old moorings, set them adrift upon a stormy and tempes­tuous sea, without helm or helmsman, or rather with the helms­man bound to obey the helm. Their passions are a favorable gale for you to-day; but what certainty have you that they may not make the port of Rome, or be stranded on the rocky beach of Popery, to-morrow ? Attempt to guide or control them, cross in any thing their prejudices or their wishes, and where are they, - where are you ? How often must I tell you, it is hard making the port of the Gospel with the Devil for pilot ? If you had had a grain of common sense, you would have in­sisted on your brother's answering your question, why he had become a Catholic, instead of consenting, as a great fool, to answer his question, why you are a Protestant. If you had been acquainted with the old Protestant controversialists, you would have seen that they leave Protestantism to take care of itself, while they reserve all their forces for the attack upon Home."

" Never mind that now, Brother Wilson. I could hard­ly foresee the turn the conversation would take, for those Catholics I have known have generally contented themselves with replying to the charges brought against their Church, with­out going far in their attacks upon Protestantism ; and besides, it is no more than right, since Protestantism is a positive relig­ion, that they who profess it should define what they mean by it, and give their reasons for believing it."

" If the old Protestant masters of whom Mr. Wilson speaks," interposed John, " had thought of that, and, before attacking Catholicity, had defined and established a religion of their own, my brother would have had an easy task now, if indeed any task at all."

" The true polemical policy is always to keep yourself and party on the offensive ; but if you imagine that Protestantism, as a positive religion, is indefinable and indefensible, you are very much mistaken."

" The readiest way to convict of that will be to define it, and give me good and valid reasons for believing it."

" In becoming a Catholic you abjured Protestantism. Am I to infer that you abjured you knew not what ?"

" Mr. Wilson pays me but a sorry compliment, if he sup­poses I shall voluntarily surrender what he terms the true po­lemical policy. The question is not what I may or may not know of Protestantism, what I may or may not have abjured, on becoming a Catholic, but what Protestantism is, as under­stood by those who profess it ? "

" But, if you were not fully informed as to what Protestant­ism really was, how could you know that in abjuring it you were not abjuring the truth ? "

"He who has the truth has no need of knowing the systems opposed to it, in order to know that they must be false. But suppose you proceed with your definition. You profess to be a Protestant, and so able, experienced, and learned a man can­not be supposed to profess to believe he knows not what. If you know what it is, you can easily tell me."

" I will give you Dr. Owen's definition. I dare say your brother has never read Owen's works, nor Boston's, nor those of any other man who was in breeches fifty years ago. It is a shame to think how the old worthies are neglected. Nobody reads them now-a-days. The study of school divinity is whol­ly neglected. Our theologians are frightened at a folio, trem­ble at a quarto, can hardly endure even an octavo. The de­mand is for works, "short, pithy, and pungent." It is the age of petty Tracts, Penny Magazines, Peter Parleys, Rob­ert Merrys, trash, nonsense, and humbug."

" And yet it is the glorious age on which the glorious sun of the glorious Reformation beams in all its effulgence. If the Reformers were here, they would exclaim, Et tu, Brute !"

" I hope Mr. Wilson will not heed my brother's sneer; but proceed with his definition."

" Brother Milwood, have you Owen's works ? No ? No, I dare say not. But I presume you have Dowling, D'Au-bigne, and the last new novel."
" I do not read novels."

" The best thing you have said for yourself yet. Well, I see 1 . must quote from memory. Protestantism.,-remember I quote the great Dr. Owen, one of those sound old English di­vines who cared as little for Prelacy as for Papacy, and would no more submit to king than to pope. They were the men. It will be long before we shall look upon their like again. They were God's freemen. The pomps and vanities of the world could not dazzle or blind them. They cared not for crown or mitre, and the blood of a king was to them as the blood of a common man. They went straight to their object. England was not worthy of them. The Lord directed them here. Here they laid the foundations of a noble empire. This is their work; this land is their land, and their children's after them, and a crying shame is it, that a miserable, idolatrous Papist should be suffered to pollute it with his accursed foot."

" But you are thinking of the Independents, rather than of the Presbyterians. The Presbyterians were for king and cov­enant, and pretend to have disapproved of the execution of Charles Stuart."

" No matter. The Independents only completed what the Presbyterians began, and soon sunk into insignificance when left to struggle alone. In the glorious war against Prelacy and Papacy they were united as brothers, as I trust will always be their children."

" But the definition."

" Remember, I quote the words of the great Dr. Owen, great and good, notwithstanding he left the Presbyterians and became a Congregationalist ; - excepting in matters of church government, rigidly orthodox, and as much superior to the de­generate race of ministers in our day, as a huge old folio is to a modern penny tract, and whose works I recommend to both of you to read. Protestantism is,'-' l.What was revealed unto the Church by our Lord and his Apostles, and is the whole of that religion which the Lord doth and will accept. 2. So far as needed unto faith, obedience, and salvation of the Church, what they taught, revealed, and commanded is contained in the Scriptures of the New Testament, witnessed unto and confirmed by the Old. 3. All that is required, that we may please God, and be accepted with him, and come to the eternal enjoyment of him, is that we truly and sin­cerely believe what is so revealed and taught, yielding sincere obedience unto what is commanded in the Scriptures. 4. If in any thing they [Protestants] be found to deviate from them, if it [what they leach] exceed in any instance what is so taught and commanded, if it be defective in the faith or the practice of any thing so revealed or commanded, they are ready to re­nounce it.' What do you ask more clear, brief, comprehen­sive, and precise than that ? "

" Did our Lord and his Apostles reveal any religion which they did not reveal to the Church, or which God doth not and will not accept ? "

" Of course not."

" Then Mr. Owen might have said simply, Protestantism is what was revealed by our Lord and his Apostles unto the Church."

" Perhaps he might."

" What was so revealed is the true religion, is it not ? "

" It is."

" Then he would have said all, if he had said, Protestant­ism is the true religion."

"Be it so."

" If you will now tell me what is the true religion, you will tell me what Protestantism is."

" Mr. Owen tells you in his second article."

" I beg your pardon. He tells me in that where the true religion is, so far as needed ; but not what it is."

" In his third article, then."

" Not in that ; for in that he simply tells me, that, if I be­lieve and obey the true religion, so far as contained in the Scriptures of the New Testament, I have all that God re­quires of me."

" Well, in the fourth."

" But that simply informs me, that, if Protestants have mis­taken the true religion, if they contend for more or for less than is contained in the Scriptures, they are ready to renounce it ; although whether by it is to be understood true religion, the mistake, the excess, or the defect, he does not inform me. So, you perceive, I am not as yet told what Protestantism is."

" But you are told where it is, and that is enough."

" That may or may not be. The cook knew where the teakettle was when it fell overboard, but nevertheless he could not get it to make the captain's tea."

" It is in the New Testament, witnessed unto and confirmed by the Old.    You can go there and find it for yourself."

" Has it any mark by which I may recognize it when I see it ? "

" If you seek, you shall find. Our Lord himself says that, and I hope you will not dispute him."

" Does he say, if you seek in the Scriptures of the New Testament, you shall find ? "

" Not expressly."

" Do all who seek in those Scriptures find ? "

" All who faithfully study them and rightly understand them."

" Do all who attentively read them rightly understand them ? "

" No ; some wrest them to their own destruction, and bring in damnable heresies."

" You have faithfully studied and rightly understand them ?"

"I think so."

" Lest I should he one of those who wrest them to my own destruction, suppose you tell me what is the true religion which they contain, or which I ought to find in them."

"If you are one who would wrest the Scriptures to your own destruction, you would do the same with my statement of what they contain. I should do you no good by complying with your request. If you believe not Moses and the proph­ets, neither will you believe me."

" How, then, am I ever to know certainly what this thing you call Protestantism, and say is the true religion, really is ? "

" Head your Bible, Sir, with humble submission, without any reliance on yourself, with sincere and earnest prayer to the Holy Ghost to enlighten you, and you will be led into all truth."

" Perhaps so. But our question is not, What is truth ? but, What is Protestantism ? "

" Have I not told you Protestantism is the true religion ? He, then, who is led to the truth must needs be led to Prot­estantism."

" I stand corrected. But since some do wrest the Scrip­tures to their own destruction, and bring in ' damnable here­sies,' how do you determine infallibly that you may not yourself be one of them ? "

" I am accustomed, Sir, to being treated with respect, and I trust you mean me no insult."

" They who are accustomed to be treated with respect are, in general, slow to think themselves insulted. If Mr. Wilson does not know infallibly that he rightly understands the Scrip­tures, he cannot deny that it is possible he may be wresting them to his own destruction."

" Through God's distinguishing grace vouchsafed to me, for no worthiness of mine, I have been enabled to see and know the truth."

" Is that same grace vouchsafed to all ? "

" To all whom God has preordained unto everlasting life ; but those whom he has from all eternity reprobated to everlast­ing death, for the praise of his vindictive justice, he leaves to their reprobate sense, to their own blindness, and even sends them strong delusions, that they may believe a lie and be damned."

" And these never had it in their power to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved ? "

" If they had willed."

" Were they ever able to have willed ? "

" Naturally, yes ; morally, no."

" But actually ? "

" No. Those whom God ordains to everlasting death he ordains to sin, that they may be damned justly."

" That is a hard doctrine, Brother Wilson. It was taught indeed by the great Calvin, whom God so highly favored, but it is not now generally taught by Presbyterians. The doc­trine of God's decrees is, indeed, full of secret comfort to the elect, but it needs to be handled with great prudence, and is to be meditated in our closets rather than made the basis nf our instructions to others. Sinners do not and cannot under­stand it. They only make a mock of it, and it proves to them the savor of death unto death."

" There it is ! The time has come when the people will no longer hear sound doctrine, when it is imprudent to declare the whole counsel of God. Hence the race of weak and puny saints, who must be fed on milk, and that diluted. Very well, I must leave you to manage the discussion in your own way ; but be on your guard. The time is not far distant, if things proceed as they have done for a few years back, when you will have no Protestantism to define or defend, but each man will have a gospel of his own.    Good morning, gentlemen."
IV. The conversation was not resumed for several days. James found it a less easy task to define Protestantism than he had imagined. He had been accustomed to take the word in a very loose and indefinite sense. As chief of the Protestant League, he had meant by it little else than the denial of Cath­olicity ; in his warfare against Socinians, Rationalists, and Transcendentalists, he had made it stand for doctrines and principles which logically implied the Catholic Church ; in his own pulpit, addressing the people of his charge, he had under­stood by it simply Presbyterianism, with a slight leaning, per­haps, towards Arminianism. But he had never given the term a clear, distinct, and uniform meaning, which he was willing to stand by in all places and on all occasions. He saw that to define it in a negative sense, and make Protestantism merely a protest against Rome, was not necessarily to distinguish it from paganism, Mahometanism, Judaism, deism, or even atheism ; and to restrict it to simple Presbyterianism, if not against his conscience, was, in the present state of the world, bad policy. It would be tantamount to saying that Protestantism is an empty name ; that there are indeed Presbyterians, Episcopali­ans, Baptists, Methodists, &c, but no Protestants ; that there is a multitude of sects, indeed, sometimes arranged under one common name, but without any common faith or principles, except that of hostility to the Church. It would, moreover, too openly expose his weakness to the enemy, and confess that the great and mighty Protestant party, which had begun by assuming such lofty airs, and threatening to become com­mensurate with Christendom, had dwindled down to the litllo handful of Presbyterians in (Jreat Britain and the United States, - those on the Continent having pretty generally lapsed into Socinianism, Rationalism, and Transcendentalism, - divid­ed into four or five separate, if not hostile, communions, and their numbers every day relatively diminishing, which would create mirth rather than dread at Rome, against whom he wished to carry on a war of extermination. On the other hand, to ex­tend its meaning so as to embrace all the so-called Protestant sects, from Dr. Pusey down to Theodore Parker, from Ox­ford to the Melodeon, was hardly less inconvenient. He would never march through Coventry at the head of such a motley company. Rome would declare that all Motleydom and all Devildom had broken loose. He should never hear the last of it. But to find a definition which should extend beyond the narrow boundaries of Presbyteriandom without including all Sectariandom was the difficulty.    Hoc opus, hie labor est.

James spent several days in meditating on this problem, and without hitting upon a solution quite to his mind ; but having obtained a few hints from some of the earlier Protestant con­troversialists, and trusting to the chapter of accidents, he took occasion, finding himself in his library alone with John, to re­new the discussion.

" I think," said he, addressing his brother, " that, if you review our former conversation, you will own my last answer to the question, What is Protestantism ? is all that you have any right to demand."

" I have no wish to make any unreasonable demands. What I want is to find out precisely what, in its distinctive features, this thing or no thing which you call Protestantism is. If your answer tells me what it is, and distinguishes it, or enables me to distinguish it, from what it is not, it is unquestionably suf­ficient."
" Protestantism is the essentials, and the essentials are all the truths clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

" If to believe the essentials  be   all that is necessary to constitute one a Protestant, then all who believe all the  truths clearly and  manifestly revealed  in  the   Scriptures  must  be Protestants." .    

" Certainly."

" If Catholics, as is very supposable, to say the least, be­lieve all that is clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scrip­tures, then Catholics are Protestants.

" But Catholics do not believe all that is clearly and man­ifestly revealed in the  Scriptures."

u They profess to do so, and they say with you, all that is clearly and manifestly revealed is essential to be believed, and no point of it can be disbelieved without essential error."

" But they hold that other things than those clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures are also essential to be believed."

" That is, they believe all that you define to be the essen­tials are essentials, but do not believe that these are all the essentials. But this does not hinder them from being good orthodox Protestants ; for your definition excludes only those who believe less, not those who believe more, than the essen­tials."

" Say, then, Protestantism is to believe all the essentials, and that what, and only what, is clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures is essential, or, without essential error, can be believed to be essential. That excludes Catholics, by as­serting the sufficiency of the Scriptures, which they do not admit."

" But besides the essentials, are the non-essentials, which may without essential error be either believed or disbelieved, to be the word of God ? "

" That is what I contend."

" But they who believe them to be the word of God must believe them to be essential."

« Why so ?"

" Toby and his dog have answered that question very ef­fectually. He who believes a thing to be the word of God must cither believe it essential, or else believe that it is no es­sential error to disbelieve God. Can I, without essential er­ror, believe it is-no essential error to disbelieve God ? "
" No, for that is tantamount to making him a liar, since there is no essential difference between believing that it is no essential error to disbelieve God, and actually disbelieving him."

" Then they who believe the non-essentials to be the word of God must believe them to be essential, or else virtually make God a liar ? "

" That follows."

" But it is essential error to believe any thing to be essen­tial which is not essential."

" So I have implied."

"Then it follows, does it not, that he who believes any of the non-essentials to be the word of God errs essentially ? "

" So it would seem."

" All who differ from Presbyterians differ from them either by believing some things to be the word of God which Pres­byterians deny to be his word, or vice versa?"

" True."

" If the latter, they err essentially, assuming Presbyterians to be right, by not believing all the essentials."

" Agreed."

" If the former, they err essentially by believing some tilings to be essential which are not."

" That also follows."

" Then all who differ from Presbyterians in matters of faith err essentially. Therefore, none who differ from them as to matters of faith can be essentially orthodox. If, then, you say none can be essentially orthodox who believe any of the non-essentials to be essential, you exclude all who differ from Presbyterians, make Presbyterianism and Protestantism equiv­alent and convertible terms, and declare none but Presbyte­rians are Protestants, which I understand you to deny."

" I do deny it ; for Presbyterians are not the only essen­tially orthodox.  Protestants."

" How, then, can you say that Protestantism is to believe the essentials, and that only the essentials can, without essen­tial error, be believed to be essential ? Do you insist on say­ing this still ? "

" I do."

" Is infant baptism an essential or a non-essential ? "

" A non-essential, as I have told you  more than once."

" But Presbyterians believe it to be a revealed command ? "

" They do."

" Therefore believe it to be the word of God."

" Certainly."

ct Then they believe it essential, and therefore err essen­tially by believing a non-essential to be essential. Hence, if you insist on saying that they who believe any thing but the essentials to be essential err essentially, you will exclude Presbyterians themselves from the number of essentially or­thodox Protestants."

" But I have just told you Presbyterians hold infant bap­tism to be a non-essential."

" Then they hold it is no essential error to disbelieve God, which is itself a most essential error, for it virtually makes God a liar, as you have conceded. In either case, then, Presbyterians are excluded ; in the one case, by believing a non-essential to be essential ; and in the other, by believing it no essential error to make God a liar. Do you still insist that it is essential error to believe any thing in addition to the essentials  to  be essential ? "

" I do."

" Then you abandon your distinction between the essen­tials and non-essentials?"

" Not at all."

" You still say, there are portions of the revealed word which may be either believed or disbelieved to be the word of God without essential error ? "

"I do. To deny this would be to place myself in oppo­sition to the whole Protestant world, from the time of the Reformation down to the present moment. It is by means of this distinction that we have met and repelled the charge which Papists bring against us, that there is no unity of faith amongst us. In non-essentials we have always admitted we do not agree ; but in essentials we have always contended we do agree ; and, therefore, that there is among us substantial unity as to  faith."

" These non-essentials, as to which Protestants have dif­fered and still differ, have they been held to be non-essentials alike by those who believed and those who disbelieved them to be the word of God ? "

" They have."

"All have agreed, then, that there is a portion of the word of God which it is no essential error to disbelieve ? "

" Such is the fact."

" Are you not mistaken ? "
" I think not."

" Then you hold that the whole Protestant world, from the time of the Reformation down to the present moment, have believed it no essential error to disbelieve God, that it is no essential error to make God a liar ; in a word, you hold that all Protestants always have been, and still are, virtual infidels. Will you still insist on the distinction between essentials and non-essentials ?

" .1 tell you I cannot surrender that distinction without placing myself in opposition to the whole Protestant world."

" You still say that there are portions of the word which are not essential ? "

" 1 do."

" And these may be believed to be the word of God ? "

" They may."

" And some who are essentially orthodox do so believe them,  or at least some of them, to be the word of God ? "

" They do."

u Yet no one is essentially orthodox who believes any thing but the essentials to be essential ? "

" No one."

" And no one can believe any thing to be the word of God without believing it to be essential, as we have proved in the case of Toby and his dog ? "

" Unless it be no essential error to disbelieve God."

" Some essentially orthodox Protestants believe, then, the same thing at the same time to be both essential and not es­sential ? "

" That is not possible."

" Then it will be convenient to drop the distinction between essentials and non-essentials, and say that all who believe any thing to be the word of God, except what is clearly and man­ifestly revealed, err essentially, will it not ? "

" No ; for all that is revealed in the Scriptures evidently is not clearly and manifestly revealed, and it would be absurd to say that a man can err essentially in believing, when what lie believes is the word of God."

" Then you will take the ground, that all essentially ortho­dox Protestants are, and always have been, virtual infidels, be­lieving it no essential error to make God a liar?"

" Not that, by any means."

" You fall back, then, on your former ground, and say Protestantism is the essentials ; he who believes these, whatever else he believes or disbelieves, to be the word of God, is essentially orthodox."

" Very well."

a But the non-essentials, or matters it is lawful to believe or disbelieve to be the word of God, are not the words of men or of devils, but revealed truths, as we agreed in our former conversation ? "

" Certainly."

" But to believe the words of men or of devils to be the word of God is, as you have said, essential error."

" True."

" Then, after all, we cannot say that he who believes the essentials is essentially orthodox, whatever else ho believes or disbelieves to be the word of God ; for this would imply that it is no essential error to add to the word of God the words of men or of devils."

" Say, then, he who believes the essentials is essentially orthodox, whatever else he believes or disbelieves to be the word of God, provided he believes nothing to be the word of God which is not his word."

" Then none of those who believe any thing to be revealed which Presbyterians deny are essentially orthodox."

" I do not see that."

" What they believe which exceeds what you believe, you hold to be either revealed or not revealed. If revealed, you are guilty of the sin of infidelity in not believing it ; if not revealed, you must hold they err essentially, for you hold they believe that to be the word of God which is not his word. The last is what you do hold, and therefore you cannot hold that they are essentially orthodox Protestants."

" Be it so."

" You must also deny those to be essentially orthodox who believe less than you do. If the matters you believe which they do not are not revealed truths, you err essentially in be­lieving them to be revealed ; if (hey are revealed, you must believe they err essentially in disbelieving them ; since in dis­believing them you must hold they disbelieve God."

" That seems to be so."

" Then you exclude from the essentially orthodox all who believe more or less than yourselves'; that is, all but your­selves. If, then, you insist on the proviso you have adopted in your definition, and say no one can be essentially orthodox who believes any thing in addition to the word, you must either give up your distinction, as I have said, between essentials and non-essentials, or else say it is no essential error to disbelieve God ; which will you do ? "


" But you either believe the non-essentials to be revealed truths, that is, the word of God, or you do not. If you do not, your distinction between (hem and the essentials avails you nothing, as we have seen. Hence you have insisted that they are revealed truths. But if you hold them to be reveal­ed truths, you must hold them to be not non-essential, but es­sential, as Toby and his dog have proved to us, since to dis­believe them would be to make God a liar. This you admit, do you not ? "

" 1 have admitted it over and over again."

" Then on no ground whatever can you admit any portion of revealed truth to be unessential, and, willingly or unwillingly, you must abandon your distinction between the essentials and non-essentials, and either say Protestants have been and are vir­tual infidels in teaching that it is no essential error to disbelieve God, or else that they have never meant that any portion of the revealed word, clearly and manifestly revealed or not, can be disbelieved without essential error. Which alternative do you elect ? "

" If either, the latter."

" Presbyterians, then, are the only essentially orthodox Protestants."

" Very well."

" Presbyterians are fallible, liable to be mistaken ? "

" We do not, like Romanists, set up a claim to infallibility."

" If they are fallible, it is possible they take that to be the word of God which is not his word, or deny that to be his word which is his word. In either case, they will be guilty of essential error. Consequently, it is possible that Presbyterians themselves are in essential error, and therefore impossible for them to say with certainty that they are essen­tially orthodox, and therefore they must admit that it is un­certain whether there are any essentially orthodox Protestants at all ! "

" But you forget that the essentials are clearly and manifest­ly revealed, and therefore may be known with all necessary certainly."

" You also forget that we have just agreed that all revealed truth is essential, and that you have surrendered the distinction between esscnlials and non-essentials. You assumed, as you were obliged, the non-essentials to be revealed, for otherwise they would be simply the words of men or of devils, which it is not lawful to believe to be the word of Cod ; but the mo­ment you admit them into the category of revealed truths, you must either concede them to be essential, or else that it is no essential error to disbelieve God ; that is, to be an infidel, and make God a liar. This last you could not do ; therefore you were obliged to say all that is revealed is essential. But, if you say this, you must say, either that the essentials are not re­stricted to what is clearly and manifestly revealed, or else that nothing but what is clearly and manifestly revealed is revealed at all.    Which will you say ? "

" For the present, that nothing is revealed but what is clear­ly and manifestly revealed. Almighty God is good, and nat­ural reason suffices to prove that he cannot have made that necessary to be believed which is obscure or doubtful. If he has made his whole word necessary to be believed, the whole must be clearly and manifestly revealed, and what is not so revealed can be no part of his word."

" His word, being clear and manifest, cannot be mistaken, or, at least, there can be no difficulty in determining what it is ?"

" None."

" But clear and manifest are relative terms. A thing may be clear and manifest to you, and not to me. To whom, then, do you say the word is clearly and manifestly revealed ?"

" What is clear and manifest is clear and manifest, and can be honestly mistaken by no one."

" That is, what is alike clear and manifest to all men."

" But I mean what is alike clear and manifest to all men."

" The word is revealed in the Scriptures, and in the Scrip­tures alone, and these alone are sufficient ? "

" Yes ; that is what all Protestants assert."

" The word is revealed in these alike clearly and manifest­ly to all men ? "


" To those who cannot read, as to those who can ? "

" There should be none who cannot read."

" But nineteen twentieths of mankind, at the lowest calcula­tion, cannot read, and nearly as large a proportion of those who can read  cannot read so as to understand what they read. Do you say the revealed word is clearly and manifestly re­vealed to all these ? "

" Of those to whom little is given little will be required."

" That is to say, Almighty God does not require faith in his word of the immense majority of the human race ? "

" I say not that. Those who cannot read he instructs by his pastors and by his Holy Spirit."

" But if the instructions of pastors and the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit are necessary in the case of the larger part of mankind, how can you say the Scriptures are sufficient ? "

" Tlie Scriptures are sufficient."

" That is, for whom they suffice, and when and where they are not insufficient ! That can hardly be questioned. But let us confine ourselves to those who can read, and who claim to be teachers among Protestants, so called. These all admit the Scriptures contain the whole revealed word ? "

" They do."

" That they are the sole and sufficient rule of faith and practice ? "


" And that the word revealed in them is clear and mani­fest ? "

" Unquestionably."

" And that only what is clear and manifest is revealed ? "

" Be it so."

" Then they all agree as to what the word is ? "

" No ; I am sorry to say they do not."

" There is disagreement, then, - some saying the word is one thing, others saying it is not that, but something else ? "

" But there is no honest disagreement ; for the matter is clear and manifest, and none who do not wilfully close their eyes to the truth can mistake it."

" Are all parties dishonest ? "


" Which is the honest, which the dishonest party ? "

" The orthodox parly is the honest party."

" Which party is that ? "

" The one which believes what, and only what, is clearly and manifestly revealed."

" So say all parties ; but which is that party ? "

" The Scriptures must decide."

" But the dispute is as to what the Scriptures teach. They, by the very terms of the supposition, have already been appealed to, and each party lias obtained a decision in its own favor. The question now is, Which is the true answer ? What is the decision of the court ? "

" Let the Scriptures be appealed to again."

u That avails nothing ; for they decide always in precisely the same terms, and the dispute remains always the same."

" But the dispute is not honest."

"Be it so. But who is honest, who dishonest, you or your opponents ? You charge them with dishonesty, and say the matter is clear and manifest as you believe ; they retort and say it is clear and manifest as they believe. Which am I to believe ? "

" Neither ; but read the Scriptures and decide for your­self."

" And suppose I decide against both of you ? There will then be three sects instead of two. Why shall I be counted the honest party rather than you or your opponents, they rather than you, you rather than they, either of you rather than I? "

" But the matter is clear and manifest to all who do not wil­fully close their eyes to the light."

" With all my heart ; but who are they who wilfully close their eyes to the light ? "

" The Scriptures."

" They have given their decision, and nothing is decided, for the dispute is as to what they decide."

" Evidently they cannot be good orthodox Protestants who teach doctrines repugnant to those of the Protestant Refor­mation."

" Do you abandon the sufficiency of the Scriptures, then, and call in the aid of Protestant tradition ? "

" I do not abandon the sufficiency of the Scriptures, but I maintain that what is clearly and manifestly repugnant to the doctrines of the Reformers cannot be clearly and manifestly revealed in the Scriptures."

" Your rule of faith, then, is the Scriptures understood according to the Reformers ? "

" I hold the Scriptures alone arc the rule of faith, but 1 compare my understanding of the Scriptures with the teach­ings of the Reformers."

u And if it coincide with what they taught, you hold tlint you rightly understand the Scriptures, and believe what is clearly and manifestly revealed ? "

" Very well."

"If the Scriptures alone are the rule, this appeal to the Re­formers is, if admissible, unnecessary ; if it is necessary, and you cannot say that you rightly understand the (Scriptures till you have brought your understanding of them to the test of the Reformers, you cannot say the Scriptures alone are suflicient, or are alone your rule of faith. You then make the Re­formers, not the Scriptures, the test of the word."

" I do not make the Reformers the test of the word. 1 love, honor, and revere the Reformers as great and good men, raised up hy God in his providence to deliver his people from the bondage of Rome, to arrest the tide of Papal cor­ruptions, roll back the darkness which was gathering over the world, restore the preaching of the word, and save the Chris­tian religion from utter banishment from the face of the earth ; but they were men, subject to the common frailties of our na­ture, and I follow them only so far as they follow Christ, who bids me call no man father upon earth, for one is my Master in heaven."

" In order to ascertain when and where the Reformers fol­low Christ, you bring the Reformers to the test of the Scrip­tures ? "

" Precisely.    I am to obey God rather than men."

" So you subject your understanding of the Scriptures to the test of the Reformers, and the Reformers to the test of your understanding of the Scriptures. If you agree with them, you are right ; if they agree with you, they are right. Thus you prove your understanding by theirs, and theirs by yours ! "

" I do no such thing. The Bible is the religion of Prot­estants, the Bible alone, and I am not obliged to consult the Reformers in order to ascertain what is clearly and manifestly revealed."

" Then you have nothing to do with the Reformers, and may at once dismiss them to their own place."

" That is, you would say the Reformers, those great and godly men, are gone to hell? "

" If that is their own place, not otherwise."

" This is too bad. You know I love, honor, and revere the Reformers, and it is no more than what you owe as a gen­tleman, not to say a Christian, while conversing with me, to treat them and my own feelings with some little respect."

" Very well said, my most courteous and gentlemanly brother.    Happy is he  who practises   as well  as preaches.  You know I love  and  revere  the Holy Catholic Church, the Immaculate Spouse of the Lamb, and the joyful Mother of all the faithful ;  and yet you   have  not   hesitated to call  her the ' Mystery of Iniquity,' ' Antichrist,' ' the Whore of Babylon,' ' n cage of unclean birds,' &c.    Where was your regard  for my feelings ?    And what right have you to complain, if there be  meted to you  the  measure you mete ?     But you will not receive such measure from Catholics, for they have  studied in the school of Christ, and learned, when reviled, not  to  re­vile again.     I said nothing  against the Reformers, oilered no opinion as to their final  doom.    It is not mine to judge them. But if they, Judas-like, betrayed their Master, rebelled against the Church of God, and refused to obey the pastors the Holy Ghost  had set over them, and died unrepentant, I  need not tell you what is and must be their doom, or that of all who par­take in  their evil deeds, if they die  unreconciled to Cod.    It is no pleasant thought, but you called it up, not I."

" So Catholics send all Protestants to hell!"

" All good Catholics do all in their power to prevent their Protestant friends   and  neighbours   from   sending  themselves there.     But suppose  we  waive questions of this sort  for the present.    We  shall  be  better able to discuss them after we have  determined  what Protestantism  is,  and   when  inquiring whether it is  true  or false, from heaven or from hell, - is a. safe way of salvation, or only the way that leadeth to perdition. It is no  idle question, my brother, we are   discussing.     It in­volves eternal consequences.    If Protestantism be not of Cod, if it be not that one,  true,  holy religion which   he   revealed from   the  beginning, which he has commanded to be taught to all nations, and which he has promised to be with, to protect, and to bless all days unto the consummation of the world, I need not tell you what must inevitably be your doom, if living and dying where and as  you are, or what you  have  but  too much reason  to  fear is the doom of those you have nursed in your bosom,  so tenderly loved, and for whom your tears are still flowing."

" Are you a priest ?    You talk like one."

" Perhaps nearly as much of one as yourself."

 " Singular !    I  never thought  of that before.    Upon my word,  I believe you are  a Romish' priest, perhaps  even a Jesuit."

" If either,  you  must believe me able to keep  my own counsel.    It is enough at present for you to see in me plain Jack Milwood, your elder brother, who, may be, knows a great deal more about you than you do about him."

" I wish, John, you would give me the history of your life since you left home. It must be full of interest, and I should really like to hear it."

" Rather than exert a1' your wit and skill in defining Prot­estantism ? But when we have disposed of Protestantism, per­haps,- but at present we must return to the question."

u No, no, I. insist on the life and adventures of John Mil­wood, eldest son of the late Jeremiah Milwood"

" And brother of the distinguished James Milwood, the Rev­erend pastor of, and chief of the  Protestant League for the conversion of the Pope and the suppression of Popery, and who, when questioned, could not tell what he meant by Prot­estantism. No, no, brother, let us finish our definition of Prot­estantism first."

" I have given you definitions enough and more than enough already, and you ought to be able to suit yourself with some one of them."

" But it is not what suits me, but what suits you. Which of these numerous definitions do you finally settle down up­on ? "

" Protestantism is what and only what is clearly and man­ifestly revealed."

" And what is that ? Is it what you teach or what Mr. Silvertone teaches ? "

" Mr. Silvertone is a Socinian."

" What then ? Does he not believe all that is clearly and manifestly revealed ? "

" No, he does not."

" He says he does ; and why am I to believe you rather than him ? "

" Read and decide for yourself."

" Then the word is what is clearly and manifestly revealed to me ; hut why what is clearly and manifestly revealed to me rather than to you, or to you rather than to Mr. Silvertone ? "

" Mr. Silvertone, I tell you, is a Socinian, and denies what have always and everywhere been held to be the great funda­mental doctrines of the Gospel."

"If you say that, you appeal to Catholic tradition. Is your rule of faith incomplete without Catholic tradition ? But if you allege Catholic tradition against Mr. Silvertone, he alleges it against you ; for the same tradition that condemns him condemns you. You cannot say he errs because he teaches what is repugnant to Catholic tradition, without condemning your­self and all Protestants."

" But the points on which he is condemned are funda­mental points ; those on which wo are condemned, if we are condemned, are not fundamental."

" You forget Toby and his dog."

" No more of Toby and his dog."

" Honestly, brother, have so-called Protestants ever been able to agree as to what is clearly and manifestly revealed ? "

" In truth, they have not."

" And are as far from agreeing as ever ? "

" Apparently so."

" Then, in point of fact, they have never been able to agree among themselves as to what Protestantism really is ? "

" Such, it must be owned, is the fact."

" The great reason, then, why you have found it so difficult to tell me what it is, is that what it is has never yet been de­termined ? "

" Possibly."

" Since I would rather relieve than aggravate your embar­rassment, allow me to suggest that you define Protestantism to be what all who assert the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and maintain them to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith and practice, agree to accept as clearly and manifestly revealed. This would make agreement the test of clear and manifest, and then you can say the word is that which is clearly and man­ifestly revealed, and which nobody disputes, which never has been disputed, and is not likely to be disputed."

" There is, undoubtedly, a tendency among those common­ly regarded as orthodox Protestants to say this, and several distinguished actors in the recent movement against Rome have proposed that we should say this and make it the basis of our alliance. It has, I own, some plausibility, and one would naturally say what is disputed cannot, while what is not disputed must, be clear and manifest. But though I am far from being a bigot, and would encourage the largest liberty compatible with essentially religious faith, I cannot accept your suggestion. It is the Socinian ground, and would place all sects who profess to be Christians on the same level. The Unitarian, who denies the Holy Trinity and Incarnation, would be as orthodox as he who believes them ; and the Universalist, who denies future rewards and punishments, would be as sound in the faith as they who believe the righteous will enter into life eternal, but the wicked will go away into everlasting pun­ishment. Nor is this all. I am unable to find any distinctive­ly Christian doctrines which all, who would in such a case be rallied under the Protestant banner, really agree in accepting ; for 1 am not aware of a single one which some professed Protestant has not controverted. So, were we to adopt the suggestion, there would be no revealed truth which would not be abandoned as non-essential, and nothing above mere natural religion to be held to be essential."

" So the various Protestant sects, taken altogether, have denied the whole Gospel, and left nothing but mere natural religion undisputed."

" Not even that, in fact, for German and American Tran-scendentalists question essential portions of even natural re­ligion."

" It is a hard case, brother, and I do not see that I can help you."