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A Protest by Some of the Clergy of Baltimore and Vicinity, against Certain Romish Doctrines and Practices, as Taught and Enjoined in Mission Services Recently Held in Mt. Calvary Church, Baltimore.

Baltimore: no publisher, 1879.

The undersigned Clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the City of Baltimore and vicinity, have received from competent witnesses, the following statements concerning certain doctrines taught and practices enjoined in religious meetings held in Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, daily from the 8th to 19th of February, 1879.

These meetings were conducted by Clergymen of the Episcopal Church, viz: Rev. Mr. Maturin and Rev. Mr. Torbert, styling themselves “Fathers” of the “order of St. John the Evangelist,” and under vows of “celibacy, poverty and obedience.” They were held by said persons at the invitation and with the co-operation and presence of the Rector of Mount Calvary Church.

Rectors of Churches in the city were invited to attend, and were requested to announce the times and the place of said meetings to their respective congregations, and to invite them to the mission services.

The following are the facts testified to by clergymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

A rector of a Church in this city states as follows:

On the 15 of February 1879, the Rev. Mr. Maturin preaching Mount Calvary Church did teach as follows: finding ostensible occasion for his remarks in the parable of the Ten Virgins.”

FIRST.—“That the immediate effect of Baptism is to form within us the human nature of Jesus Christ, His Body, Soul and Spirit.” This idea he illustrated by the account of the raising of the Shunammite’s son by Elisha the Prophet, (2 Kings, IV). “He lay upon the child and put his mouth upon his mouth and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands, and he stretched himself upon the child, and the flesh of the child waxed warm.”

[4] “So the preacher said Baptism lays the human nature of Christ upon our nature, effects intimate contact between the several parts. His Body is formed in our body, His Soul in our soul, His Human Spirit in our spirit. In this connection he taught the opus operatum theory of Baptism most plainly.

SECOND.—Of Grace:—That it is first poured into us as oil into the lamp by the Priest in Baptism; that every mortal sin empties out the grace, as with a person holding a vessel of oil a stumble will cause him to cast the oil out. That grace is and can only be poured in again by the absolution of the Priest given upon repentance and confession to him. Only by constant repetition of such absolution by the Priest is the soul kept in a state of grace, and if one dies out of this state of grace he is undoubtedly lost.

THIRD.—Of Christian Ministers:—That they are Priests in the full Romish sense of the word, that they are the exclusive dispensers by Absolution, of the grace by which alone the soul is made alive, sanctified and fitted for the vision of God: That it is absolutely necessary to go to the Priest to obtain through the sacraments administered by him and absolution given by him a new supply of grace, when the oil is lost by mortal sin, or consumed in the daily growth of grace in the soul. “Taking oil in the vessels with the lamps” was explained to mean having regular communication with a Priest, who may continuously by his absolution keep replenished the waste of grace, and who in the hour of death, may be at hand to trim, the lamp and by one the last grand absolution to fill it up so that the light may be burning when the Bridegroom comes and death falls. “Go ye to them that sell and buy for yourselves.” “Them that sell” he said are the Priests of the Church. From them alone could the oil be gotten, the want of which results in exclusion from the wedding feast; So from the Priest alone can we get the grace, the lack of which will result in eternal shame and casting out from the presence of Christ.

FOURTH.—Of Auricular Confession:—That it ought to be practised, and that it is a necessary condition of priestly absolution.”

[5] “FIFTH—Of Absolution:—That it is a condition of grace, and of eternal salvation, and of the Priest alone may be had, that its office is to nourish the grace of Baptism, and to replenish the grace which is expended day by day, and to supply inspiration and strength for the Christian life.

The old distinction between venial and mortal sins the preacher emphasized pointedly by the constant use of the term mortal sin.”

“On the night of the same afternoon the Rev. Mr. Torbert, in an “instruction,” (as they called it,) previous to the regular exercises, forcibly and urgent advocated prayers for the dead, and declared that it is the consistent doctrine and practice of the Church. From first to last, the intelligent hearer was made conscious that what was said was but the out-croppings of a theology wholly Romish and utterly alien in spirit to the Protestant Episcopal Church.”

Another Rector of a Church in Baltimore states as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 13th, 1879, at 4 P.M.

“Sacraments are links binding spiritual grace with material forms as inseparably as the Divine and human in the Incarnation.”

SECOND.—“As Christ raised the physically dead, so the Priest now raises by absolution, the spiritually dead.”

THIRD.—In the Holy Communion, the right minister, be he Judas Iscariot, or St. John the Divine, brings down upon the Altar the Body and Blood of Christ, by these efficacious words: “This is my Body; This is my Blood. It is His Body and Blood, whether you receive it or not, or whether you have faith that it is so or not.”

Another Rector of a Church in the Diocese states as follows:

“At one of the services at Mount Calvary, I heard the preacher, (Mr. Maturin,) discourse upon the history and fall of Judas. Among other things he stated that the decline of Judas seemed to begin in a disbelief of the doctrine of the real presence, as our Lord announced in the VI Chap. of St. John’s Gospel. At the conclusion of that chapter we read:—“Have I not chosen [5/6] you twelve, and one of you is a devil.” The preacher said that the life of the false Apostle ended in a manner quote accordant with the above, for after he had partaken of the supper at its institution, (still in unbelief of the doctrine,) he went out and hanged himself. To show that it was meant to connect the death of Judas with that particular form of unbelief, he said that he had known or read of a case of an unbeliever in the real presence, partaking of the eucharist, who immediately after, was so affected by what he had done, (whether on that account given over to Satan, was not said) that he went from the Church and put an end to his life.

Another Rector of a Church in the City states, that in Mount Calvary Church, on the evening of the 12th of Feb. Rev. Mr. Maturin preached in substance as follows:

“FIRST.—That the atonement of Christ, is applied to take away the actual sins of the individual by confession to a Priest and receiving from him absolution.

SECOND.—That Auricular Confession is a divinely appointed channel through which grace and mercy come to the sinner, and is generally necessary to salvation.

THIRD.—That children ought to be taught to go to the Confessional, whenever they commit sins, and before they go to the Holy Communion.

FOURTH.—That it is wrong to discourage any one from confessing to a Priest, because in so doing, some one might be prevented from coming to the Saviour, who would come to Him in no other way, and thus the person discouraging him would become responsible for his soul.”

The same clergyman further affirms that printed tracts were distributed, by persons moving through the aisles and the pews of the Church, to those who gave the assurance that they desired said tracts for their own personal use. We have before us a copy of the tract thus distributed by the ministers conducting these meetings or by their agents in the work.

The substance of the doctrine taught and the practice enjoined in this tract may be found in the following extracts.

[7] Upon page 18 of the tract entitled, “Help to repentance,” we have this passage:

“Just as Holy Baptism gives remission of sins committed previously, so absolution gives remission of sins committed after Baptism. Seek therefore the application of Christ’s cleansing Blood to your Soul in this His own appointed way. Go to one of His Priests and confess to Him your sins, lay all before him, as you have laid them before God. Do not shrink from the humiliation: accept it cheerfully as part of the punishment for the past. Remember that there will have to be a confession before men and angels at the Judgment Day. Remember that you go to the Priest as a representative and ambassador of God.”

We find in this passage these three doctrines taught:

First.—That the Absolution of the Priest is the application to the soul of the penitent of Christ’s cleaning blood, and the appointed way of such cleansing.

Second.—That the Priest in the Confessional stands in a judicial capacity, and as a representative of God in relation to the person confessing.

Third.—That this confession is necessary in order to procure the absolution.

As to the manner and extent of the confession thus enjoined, we have a general statement on page 21 of the sins of thought, word or deed to be confessed to the Priest, concluding with a caution in these words, “Be sure to confess all.—You are not obliged to confess at all unless you like, but if you volunteer to confess it is a great sin to keep back anything.” After the confession, describing the act of the absolution of the Priest, we have these words, “He will also perhaps tell you to say some prayer, or to perform some act of self-denial, to show your sorrow for sin, and your readiness to bear the punishment it has deserved, and your submission to the authority of the Church. He will then pronounce over you the [7/8] form of Absolution, which you will find in the Prayer Book in the Order for the Visitation of the Sick.”


On page 27 of the same tract we find these words:

“The best rule about confession is that you should use it whenever preparing to come to the Holy Communion, if you feel that you have fallen away from what you ought to have been.”

These tracts we are informed are in the hands of numbers of communicants of the Protestant Episcopal Church, circulated among them by the persons holding these missions, and endorsed by the rector of Mount Calvary Church as proper guides to the knowledge of the doctrine and the duty of Auricular Confession.

We do not propose to enter here into a discussion of the doctrines and practices, thus boldly taught and zealously pressed upon the people of our communion, in one of our Churches, and by some of our clergy. It would take us beyond the limits of this paper to cite proofs from the Word of God of the falsity of the principles of the system thus sought to be introduced into this Church. Nor is it our purpose to vindicate the Articles, [] the Liturgy and the Laws of the Church, of which we are ordained ministers, from the charge of sanctioning such teaching or the permission of such practices. We believe the Episcopal Church in this country and in England to be a Catholic Church. Catholic in that it holds the Word of God—the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament—as the rule of faith and of practice. It acknowledges the Brotherhood of all Christians holding the faith of Christ as God Incarnate, and of His suffering and death on the cross as the ground on which sins are forgiven and the sinner reconciled to God, and His Resurrection from the dead as the promise and the potency of life and immortality to believers in His name.

We also believe with a conviction no less clear and emphatic that the Episcopal Church is Protestant. It is identified in its interests, principles and history with the cause of Protestantism, and the best exponent, in its order, doctrine and life of Primitive Christianity, and of the revival of the New Testament faith in the Reformation of the 16th Century.

We believe that such Teachers as those who have called forth this protest are engaged in the effort to interpret into our Prayer Book doctrines and practices, the condemnation and repudiation of which were the distinct aim and object of the Reformers, who compiled and framed and composed that Prayer Book.

If there be a doctrine against which the Fathers of Our Church uttered their most solemn protest, that doctrine is the corruption of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper into the sacrifice of the Mass, and the Romish theory of Transubstantiation.

When religious teachers point the people to the minister as a Priest who offers sacrifice, when they define that sacrifice to be the Body and Blood of Christ, offered to God in the Eucharist, and that, under the consecrating hand of the Priest the symbols of redemption are converted into an extension of the Incarnation of the Saviour, so that the bread and wine become His Body and Blood, we consider that they are teachers of an error, which has in it all the corruption and danger to souls of the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation [9/10] and the sacrifice of the Mass. Upon the evidence before us we believe that the persons referred to have taught this doctrine.

If there be a practice of the Church of Rome more repugnant than another to the system of Christian nurture devised by our Church for her children, and to her practical application of the salvation of Christ to the consciences and the lives of men, it is the practice of Auricular Confession and private absolution by a Priest, as the normal means of grace, and the ordained channel for the forgiveness of sins. It is not necessary that we should define the meaning of that permission of our Church in her Communion Office, to burdened consciences who cannot otherwise find relief, to open their griefs to the minister. Such “godly counsel and advice” is permitted by all denominations of Christians, and is an inherent part of the pastoral office and ministration to the souls of men. The minister as a friend, a comforter, a helper to guide and to teach, and the Priest as a judge of the conscience and a dispenser of God’s forgiveness to the penitent, are as wide apart as Protestantism and Romanism.

The distinction between compulsory confession and voluntary confession upon which a defense is raised against the charge of a violation of the Law, and the practice of this Church, is in our opinion devoid of practical force. If confession to the Priest be taught by the Minister to his people as a duty and normal means of grace, and private absolution by a Priest as the channel of forgiveness of sins, such teaching exercises a force upon the minds and consciences of members of said Church which amounts to a moral compulsion, and moral compulsion, history shows, is more potent to establish and maintain religious practice than requirement of Canonical and Ecclesiastical law.

It is pertinent in this connection to refer to the history of the Confessional.

In the Primitive Church Confession was made in public by the penitent, who had committed some act of violation of the moral law for which he had been excommunicated, in order to secure readmission into the pale and the privileges of the Church. Afterwards it was made to the Minister as the [10/11] representative of the congregation in order to secure their prayers and their forgiveness. Gradually in the growth of the sacerdotal power, the confession, which was made for the purpose of procuring re-admission into the privileges of the Church and the absolution which was given to restore those privileges, came to be a necessary condition of retaining them. (See 1 Cor. 5. Bingham’s Antiq. vol. 2.)

We believe that persons teaching these doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome, should not be allowed to hold orders and to teach and to minister in the Protestant Episcopal Church.

The Church is broad enough to hold wide diversity of doctrinal opinion and differences of ritual. She is comprehensive in her spirit and Catholic in her sympathies, but she has defined in her Law, in her Standards and in her History, the bounds of such comprehension.

In obedience to the vow which we made at our ordination to the sacred ministry, to “be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s word;” under a solemn sense of duty and in love for the flocks committed to our Charge, to defend them from error, to teach them in the truth of the Gospel, and to watch for their souls as those who must give account; WE PROTEST against such doctrines and practices as contrary to the Word of God, as contrary to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and as subversive of the Gospel of Christ.

A.M. RANDOLPH, D.D., Emmanuel Church, Baltimore.
J. F. HOFF, D.D., Trinity Church, Towsontown.
J. E. GRAMMER, D.D., St. Peter’s Church, Baltimore.
W. F. WATKINS, Christ Church, Baltimore.
A. P. STRYKER, St. Barnabas, Baltimore.
CAMPBELL FAIR, D.D., Church of the Ascension, Balto.
W. M. DAME, Memorial Church, Baltimore.
PERRIGRINE WROTH, Church of the Messiah, Baltimore.
CHARLES J. HOLT, Church of the Holy Innocents, Balto.
OLIVER W. LANDRETH, St. Peter’s Church, Baltimore.
EDWARD L. KEMP, St. Mark’s Church, Baltimore.

The List of Signatures is by no means complete, as limited time demanded prompt action, and we are sure that many of our brethren in the Ministry would have signed this Protest if opportunity had been given.

The Tract quoted from in this paper is circulated at the Mission now held in St. Paul’s Church in this City, and this PROTEST is intended to apply to such erroneous teaching in whatever form and wherever it may be promulgated.

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