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ingly as he may please to form his creed; and every possible contradictory opinion is equally defensible; as resting upon the interpretation of Scripture, adopted by the person who maintains it. This rule, like private inspiration, is shown to be fallacious; since, like the former, it has led, as it is calculated to lead, to opposite conclusions on numberless points of faith : and since there is no acknowledged judge on earth to decide, it necessarily fola lows that either contradictory doctrines are favored by the sacred volume, and revealed, as equally true, by the God from whom that sacred volume came, or else that it was intended by the God of peace, as an apple of discord, and meant by the God of truth for the propagation of falsehood. But as such intentions can never be imputed to the Deity, nor can it be imagined that our Redeemer established a church to succeed to the Jewish dispensation, and to last till the end of the world, so vague and indeterminate in its creed, so uncertain as to its form or even existence, in one place professing, on the authority of God's in. fallible word, articles and doctrines which, in another place, it anathematizes and disclaims on the same unerring authority, the author maintains that the Scripture alone does not furnish this certain and attainable rule adapted to the capacities and situations of mankind at large.
Still he maintains that a rule does exist, and ever has existed since the time of Christ, by which the faith of his disciples is secured from error, and his true religion, with all its doctrines and articles of belief proclaimed to them with equal certainty, by means of his protecting Spirit, his promised Paraclete, as if He were visibly seen by them, and were heard by them speaking in his own person, as when he conversed with his disciples upon earth. This rule, he contends, is the word of God, written and unwritten, as it is interpreted and explained by his appointed oracle, HIS CHURCH, which he has authorized and commissioned to teach all nations, while he has commanded all mankind to hear his church. This rule of faith, subject to the interpretation of an infallible expositor, inspired by himself, and guided by his Holy Spirit
, the Spirit of Truth, must necessarily communicate his revelations, must infallibly teach his truth, the whole truth, and the truth alone. This rule, thus unerringly explained by the Light of Light, inevitably implies teachers instituted by JESUS CHRIST himself, and a succession of teachers kept up by Him, and inspired by Him. It secures their followers from the danger of error, in adopting their own conjectures, and the teachers it preserves from the spirit of innovation and imposture, from all the attempts of ambitious or interested dogmatizers.
He then proceeds to show, that the church dispersed throughout the world and in communion with the See of Rome (commonly
He then pro
called the CATHOLIC Church) alone adopts and follows this infallible rule; and he produces numberless arguments to prove that, whereas Christians have, in every age since that of the apostles, professed their belief of One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,—the Church in communion with the See of Rome, and presided over by the successor of St. Peter in that see, exclusively exhibits these four essential marks of the church of Christ, viz., Unity, in doctrine, liturgy, government, and constitution ; SANCTITY, in doctrine, in the means of holiness, and the fruits of holiness; CATHOLICITY, or universality, in its extent, as to time and place, no less than its name, which it has borne from time immemorial; and, finally, APOSTOLICITY, in its descent and reg. ular succession of ministers, from the time of the apostles, as well as in its sacraments and sacred institutions. ceeds to show, that these marks are deficient to every Christian society, except that which is in communion with the See of Rome, and which exclusively enjoys, as it ever has enjoyed, the distinctive appellation of the Catholic Church.
Here, strictly speaking, his work is at an end and controversy concluded. For the infallible superintendence and inspiration of Jesus Christ promised and preserved, and the marks, by which his church may be distinguished from every other society or congregation, being ascertained and applied, it follows of consequence, (without particular proof with regard to each particular article,) that every doctrine of a church so guarded and protected, must be the doctrine of Jesus Christ himself, and the church secure from error. However, for the sake of candid and sincere inquirers, the author condescends to particular examination ; brings forward the principal charges that are usually made against the Roman Catholic Church, and proves them to be either the involuntary errors of mistaken ignorance, or the unfair means resorted to by misrepresentation, with the view to blacken and disfigure the spouse of Christ. He draws aside the mask which malice had held up as her genuine countenance, and displays her form and features in all their native beauty and loveliness. For further satisfaction, he explains and justifies those particular doctrinal points, which are excepted against by the separatists from the Church of Rome.
Such are the nature and character of the work now presented to the public ; such is the object of the pre-eminent writer, which if he have attained, he has without question put an End to Religious Controversy, and fully justified the title given to his matchless performance. Let the reader judge.
Essay I.-On the Existence of God and Natural Religion, by the Rev. Sam-
LET. VI.- First fallacious Rule ; Private inspiration-This has led number.
less Christians into errors, impiety, and vice, in ancient and in modern
LET. XXIV.-Objections answered-False and unauthenticated miracles no
disproof of true and authenticated ones-Strictness of the examination of