The Popish theology is based on the great fundamental truths of revelation. So far it agrees with the evangelical and Protestant scheme. Any attempt on the part of the Church of Rome to obscure or extinguish those doctrines which form the ultimate foundations of religion would have been singularly imprudent, and as futile as imprudent. By retaining these truths, and founding her system upon them, the Romish Church has secured to that system an authority and power which it never otherwise could have possessed. Building so far upon a divine foundation, she has been able to palm her whole system upon the world as divine. Had she come denying the very first principles of revealed truth, she would scarce have been able to obtain a hearing;-she would have been at once repudiated as an impostor. Popery saw and avoided the danger; and it has shown in this its usual dexterity and cunning. The system is not the less opposed to Scripture on that account, nor the less essentially superstitious. Paganism was essentially a system of idolatry, notwithstanding that it was founded on the great truth that there is a God. It has been a leading characteristic of Satan's policy from the beginning, to admit truth up to a certain point, but to pervert it in its legitimate applications, and turn it to his own use and purpose. So is it with Popery: it does not raze the great foundations of religion; but if it has left them standing, it has spared them, not for their own sake, but for the sake of what it has built upon them. The Popish theology includes the existence of a self-existent and eternal Jehovah, the Creator of the universe, of man, and of all things. It teaches that in the Godhead there are three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the same in substance, and equal in power and glory; that man was created in God's image, holy and immortal, but that he fell by eating the forbidden fruit, and became, in consequence, sinful in condition and life, and liable to death, temporal and eternal. It holds that the posterity of Adam shared in the guilt and consequences of his sin, and that they come into the world "children of wrath." It embraces the doctrine of man's redemption by Jesus Christ, who for this end became incarnate, and endured the cursed death of the cross, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins of his people. It teaches that he rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will return at the Last Day. It teaches, farther, that Christ has set up a Church upon the earth, consisting of those who are baptized in his name and profess obedience to his law; that He has appointed ministers to instruct and govern his Church, and ordained ordinances to be dispensed in it. It embraces, in fine, the doctrine of a resurrection of the body, and or a general judgment, which will issue in the acquittal of the righteous, and their admission into "life eternal," and in the condemnation of the wicked, and their departure into "everlasting punishment."
We find these great and important truths lying at the foundation of the popish system. It will afterwards be apparent that they are permitted to occupy this place, not from any value which the Church of Rome puts upon them as connected with the glory of God and the salvation of man, but because they afford her a better foundation than any she could invent on which to rear her system of superstition. For certainly no system bearing to be a religious system would have obtained any credit with men, in the circumstances in which the Church of Rome was placed, which ventured on repudiating these great truths. But that Church has so overlaid these glorious truths, so buried them beneath a mass of mingled falsehood, absurdity, and blasphemy, and has so turned them from their peculiar and proper end, that they have become altogether inoperative for man's salvation or God's glory. In her hands they are the instruments, not of regenerating, but of enslaving the world. The only purpose they serve is that of imparting the semblance of a supernatural origin and a divine authority to what is essentially a system of superstition and imposture. It is as if one should throw down a temple to liberty, and on its foundations proceed to rear a dungeon. On the everlasting stones of truth Rome has built a bastile for the human mind. This will very plainly appear when we proceed briefly to state the leading tenets of the Popish theology.