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And again, “ It is better for thee to enter into life maimed and lame, than, having two hands and two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire,” Matth. xviii. 8.
Q. 9. What is the conclusion to be drawn from all these Scripture truths ?
A. The conclusion is manifest, namely, “ That every communication in matters of religion with those who are separated from the Church of Christ, which either is in itself, or is esteemed in the eyes ot' men to be a defection from the true faith, or a profession or approbation of their false tenets, or is a distinctive sign of belonging to their sect, or an occasion of offence and scandal to the faithful, or an exposing one's self to the probable danger of seduction ; is a very great crime in the sight of God, and strictly forbidden by his holy law, as being intrinsically evil in its own nature.'
Q. 10. Is there any positive law of God, expressly forbidding all communication with those of a false religion ?
A. There are several very strong and clear commands for this purpose, some of which contain an unlimited prohibition of all such communication in general, and others enforce this prohibition, by assigning some particular reasons for it.
GENERAL LAWS OF GOD, FORBIDDING ALL COM
MUNICATIONS IN RELIGION WITH THOSE OF A FALSE RELIGION.
Q.11. WHAT are those laws which probibit this in general
A. They are principally these following:
(1.) The first is grounded upon the light in which all false religions are considered in the holy Scripture; for there we are assured that they arise from false teachers, who are called seducers of the people, ravenous wolves, false prophets, who speak perverse things : that they are Antichrists, and enemies of the cross of Christ ; that, departing from the true faith of Christ, they give heed to the spirits of error; that their doctrines are the doctrines of devils, speaking lies, that their ways are pernicious, their heresies damnable, and the like. In consequence of all which, this general command of avoiding all communication with them in religion, is given by the apostle, “ Bear not the yoke together with unbelievers; for what participation hath justice with injustice? or what fellowship hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial ? or what part hath the faithful with the unbelievers ? or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? For ye are the temple of the living God." 2 Cor. vi. 14. Now, it is the true religion of Jesus Christ, the true doctrine of his Gospel, which is justice and light; all false doctrines are injustice and darkness; it is by our holy faith that we belong to Christ, and are temples of the living God; all false religions flow from the father of lies, and
make those who embrace them unbelievers; therefore, all participation, all fellowship, all communication with fale religions, is bere espressly forbidden by the word of God. We have seen above, that we are obliged to love the persons of those who are engaged in false religions, to wish them well, and do them good: but here we are expressly forbidden all communication in their religion; that is, in their false tenets and worship. Hence the learned and pious English divines, who published at Rheims their translation of the New Tes. tament, in their note upon this passage say,
Generally, here is forbidden conversation and dealing with unbelievers in prayers, or meetings at their schismatical service, or other divine office whatsoever ; which the apostle here uttereth in more particular terms, that Christian folk may take the better heed of it."
(2.) The next general command to avoid all religious communication with those who are heretics, or have a false religion, is this, “ A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, AVOID, knowing that he that is such a one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment,” Tit. iii. 10. Here we see another general command to avoid all such ; that is, to flee from them, to have no communication with them. But in what are we commanded to flee from them ? not as to their persons, or the necessary communications of society; for then, as the same holy apostle says upon a similar occasion, “ You must needs go out of the world," 1 Cor. v. 10. Not as to the offices of Christian charity; for these we are commanded by Christ himself, in the person of the good Samaritan, to give to all mankind, whatever their religion be; therefore in the most restrained and limited sense which the words can bear, the
thing in which we are commanded to avoid them, is in all matters of religion ; in that in which they themselves are subverted and sin; in things relating to God and his service: in these they err, in these they are subverted, in these they are condemned; therefore in these we must avoid them. Hence the pious translators of the Rheims New Testament, in their note on this text say, tics, therefore, must not marvel, it' we warn all Catholic men, by the words of the apostle in this place, to take heed of them, and to shun their preachings, books, and conventicles.”
(3.) A third general command on this subject, is manifestly included in this warm injunction of the apostle, “ We charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received from us,” 2 Thess. iii. 6. In this passage, all the different sects of false religions are particularly pointed out; for, however they may differ among themselves in other respects, they generally agree in this point of rejecting all apostolical traditions, handed down to us by the Church of Christ; all sucb, the apostle here charges us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to avoid, to withdraw ourselves from them. Now it is evident, that the most limited sense in which this command, so warmly laid on us by the apostle, can be taken, is to withdraw ourselves from them, in every thing relating to religion, from their sacraments, prayers, preachings, religious meetings, and the like. It is in these things that they “ do not walk according to the tradition received from the apostles.” In these things then, we are here commanded, in the name of Christ himself, “to withdraw ourselves from them."
Seeing, therefore, that the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of this holy apostle, has so often, and in such strong terms, forbidden all manner of fellowship in religion with those who are out of his holy Church, let us not be deceived by the specious, but vain sophistry of cunning men, who lie in wait to deceive; let us not offend our great God, by transgressing these his express commands, by joining in the prayers, or going to the meetings of such as are disjoined from his holy Church, lest he should withdraw his holy grace from us, and while we expose ourselves to danger, he should leave us to perish in it. Let us hear and follow the advice and command of the same holy apostle; “ As therefore ye have received Jesus Christ the Lord, walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith; as also ye have learned, abounding in him in thanksgiving. Deware lest any man impose upon you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ,” Col. ii. 6. Wherefore, whatever arguments may be brought from human traditions and worldly motives, from interest, gaining favour, liberality of sentiment, sociality, curiosity, levity, gaiety, or the like, to induce us to join in, or to partake of any religious duty with those of a false religion, though but in appearance only, let us look upon all such arguments as philosophy and vain deceit, as tradition of men and worldly wisdom; and let us oppose to all such reasons this one argument, “God has expressly forbid it; therefore no human power can make it lawful."