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The following work, in its original form, is from the pen of Gossner, the estimable minister of the Bohemian church at Berlin. It brings before us one of the most interesting records of modern Church History—the existence of a body of Christians in the bosom of the Roman church, fully confessing, in their faith and practice, the grand fundamental principles of the Reformation.
To hear (as we have lately heard in our sister island) Romish priests protesting against their own church, may appear to some a new thing. But in reviewing this instructive history, it will be seen that for nearly the last fifty years, a bold and unflinching testimony has been borne by Protestant confessors in the communion of the church of Rome, even in the heart of Catholic Germany."
It was towards the close of the last century that many persons, chiefly in the kingdom of Bavaria, were awakened to a deep and serious concern for the salvation of their souls. Their consciences were powerfully awakened, but their minds very imperfectly enlightened in the simplicity of Christian truth. The narrative gives an affecting ac
1 Only in the year 1824, thirty-seven Catholic priests were persecuted in Bavaria for the testimony of the gospel. See a valuable Memorial of Boos, translated from Archives du Christianisme. Christian Observer. Sept. 1827,
count of their laborious, but ineffectual mode of seeking rest for their souls. They prayed—they wept-they fasted --they strove. But they were not “crowned,” because“ they strove not lawfully.” 2 Self marred it all. These painful exercises were the grounds, on which they attempted to build their peace with God. * Their zeal was not according to knowledge ; for they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about to establish their own righteousness.” It was after the manner of the Jews, though in a far better spirit ;3 a spirit not of proud opposition, but of groping darkness. They worked for life, not from life.
Yet it is according to the purpose of God, that those who conscientiously “ do his will ” shall ultimately “know of his doctrine,” and that those who sincerely, though blindly, • follow on to know the Lord, shall know him." 4 Hence, these persons, being brought under a sense of their utter inability and unworthiness, were gradually led to the full reception of the gospel; and in the submission of their faith to the righteousness of God,—they found the blessing of inestimable price-the object of their hitherto fruitless search.
Foremost in their number was Martin Boos, the subject of the present Memoir. Born and nurtured up under the fostering care of Rome, and consecrated to her sacerdotal service-converted in a simple manner to the true knowledge of the Saviour--faithfully preaching his cross--persecuted by his own church“ from city to city”-imprisoned, examined-condemned-restored ; and at last banished from his flock and rom his country-worn out with outward trials and at length finishing his course in the faith ; -this is his history, full of interest and instruction. His natural character appears to have been marked by great sincerity and mental energy ; while his exemplary observance of his religious duties procured to him, as to the
1 See page 16, &c. page 51. 3 Rom. x. 2, 3; ix. 30–32.
2 Tim. ii. 5.
Apostle of old, high estimation among his own body.' The reception of the truth gave an impulse to his whole soul. It was impossible for him to hide the light under a bushel. He lifted it up in a widely extended sphere, and with a large measure of blessing. Even a company of the priests became obedient to the faith,' and endured with himself a living martyrdom in the profession of Christ. The fact that his biographer was one of the number will give increasing interest to the narrative, wbile his high character is the pledge of the veracity and impartiality of his statements.
The connection of Popery with spiritual religion in the life of one of her disciples—though it must not be deniedneeds to be carefully stated. It might seem to countenance the lax principle of liberalism, which draws a very narrow boundary between Christ and antichrist, and regards the questions at issue as of secondary moment, affording fruitful matter for the wrangling of the polemic—the contention of the political partizan-the prejudice of the bigot-or the superstition of the formalist-but neutral and unimportant ground for men of capdour and intelligence. Far be it from us to give a shadow of colouring for such false theories. The differences between the two churches are vitalaffecting the belief of every Scriptural doctrine and practical obligation, and deeply concerning the present and eterpal welfare of our fellow-sinners.
But in truth, Romanism, so far from gaining attractiveness from the Life of Boos, will probably lose some of its charm in the eye even of our more considerate Catholic brethren. We see the system here pourtrayed in its consistent character, as a religion of tyranny and persecution, “hating, the light, and not coming to the light, lest its deeds should be reproved.”? Never could Rome bear the presence of the saints of God within her precincts-at least where they had boldness of faith, and Christian character
i Compare p. 31-34. Phil. iii. 4-6.
2 John iii. 20.
to give effect to their condemning testimony. Witness her treatment of the Jansenists ; mark her unrelenting hostility to Fenelon, and the few others who stood out as separatists from her corruptions, while they acknowledged allegiance to her spiritual power. Think of the subject of moir being brought above an hundred times before her inquisitorial courts—'martyred,' to use his own words, by the consistories, and judaising people, who sought, by threats, controversies, and banishment, to scare him from his faith, and bis Redeemer— A tragedy,' he adds, 'which is even continued to this day.'' Surely this church has no right to claim any interest in the high attainments, talents, and character of her Christian confessors, when she has thus taken such special care to clear herself of all connexion with them, and to show to the world, that if they were found in her, they were not of her.
This will be sufficiently evident in the case before us. The designation of M. Boos on the continent was the Protestant Catholic.' Indeed his connection with the Romish church was scarcely more than nominal, while most of the Articles of bis Creed were fundamentally Protestant. Of Popery we observe here and there a few remaining shadows; of Protestantism the chief substance. Most of the leading tenets of Rome were either disavowed or contradicted. The merit of works was strenuously denied,” while on the other hand, the precious doctrine of justification by faith was stated, for the most part, (with some reserve that will afterward be noticed) with the clearness and decision of a man, whose entire hope was reposing upon it.3 The Holy Mother was regarded with due honour as a special believer. But her mediatorial office was repudiated. To those who were undertaking painful pilgrimages to her shrine, Boos was compelled to exclaim, “My dear people, what think you of Christ? Whose son is he? Your hasten
1 Page 31.
2 Pages 43, 44, 77, 157, 163, and close. 3 Pages 31, 32, 43, 143, &c.