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the supremacy of this Apostle. All the Fathers, for I know of no exception, consider him as representing the whole Church, and receiving from Christ, in his own single person, the keys or power of its government, to be exercised by himself and by his brethren with due subordination to him as chief or head.”
Here the writer introduces his authorities; for which I must refer the reader to the work itself, as they are too numerous for insertion here. He then proceeds:
“ But why is this venerable host of primitive pastors and doctors drawn forth in order to prove the primacy or supremacy of Peter? Why, because for my purpose, it is necessary to bring back the minds of readers to the primitive form of the Church, and to the ground-work of Christianity, which in these times of religious intemperance and fanaticism, seem to be entirely overlooked. Political economy, or the art of founding joint-stock companies, are scarcely the subjects at present of less rational speculation than the Testament or religion of Jesus Christ. One creates a company for the conversion of the Jews, another for enlightening the Hindoos, a third undertakes to instruct the Blacks who border on the Cape, a fourth will emancipate from spiritual despotism the Slaves in Barbadoes, or the more miserable Irish; one proclaims the necessity of Prelates, and boasts of the beauty of his liturgy;
a second says, liturgies embarrass the spirit in its flight, and why should those made free by Christ be subjected to the rule of Bishops ? One system of religion is suited to the wealthy and the proud, having order, pomp, and ceremony; the other, coarse, irregular, and loud, fitted to the peasant or mechanic. The word of God, the Bible, is on the lips of all; the right and power of private judgment are unreasonably extolled—the sacraments are neglected — the ministry supersededand whilst fanaticism thus burns on the surface, immorality weighs upon the heart, whilst infidelity, secretly and silently advancing, prepares to erect it's standard on the ruins which this fanaticism will have made. If men do not return to first principles, and arrest their minds in their present course; if they do not review the Christian religion, not as presented in the passing declamations of the day, but as it was originally established by the Spirit of God, no gift of prophecy is required to foresee how lamentable are the results which press upon us. To bring back the public attention, then, to the consideration of the leading maxims of the primitive Church, is deserving at least of an effort, but besides this motive, it was necessary for my special purpose to show how unity (so essential to the kingdom of Christ,) was preserved in the immense society of true believers.
“ It was with this view principally that I endeavoured to demonstrate that a primacy was given to St. Peter-a prerogative which vested him with power as extensive as the Church, and which might, and ought when necessary, be exercised over every sheep within the fold of Christ, of whatever rank or order.
“The language of the Redeemer, as quoted by me, from the 16th chapter of his gospel according to St. Matthew, shows of itself that the authority given to Peter was to last as long as the Church, for if he were made the foundation of it after Christ, the rock on which it was built, it is perfectly obvious that as long as the superstructure lasted, the foundation could not be removed ; in other words, that as long as a Church was to remain on earth, the authority given to Peter should continue to it—that so long as the kingdom of heaven or city of God, continued in this world, so long should some person be vested with the keys of government—that as long as there would be a fold of sheep and lambs, so long there should be a pastor to feed them in the place of Peter-in fine, that as long as the faithful were to be one body, saying the same thing, and not having divisions among them, so long there should be some person vested with power to enforce obedienceto collect the sentiments of the body—to publish its acts—to institute or sanction its officers—to
preach and cause to be preached the doctrines of Christ—to dispense and cause to be dispensed the mysteries of God, that so the people might obey their prelates and be subject to them, that the prelates might not lord it over the people, but be made patterns to them from the heart; in fine, that all might have one faith, and not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, but be kept united in that common charity which is the great source, as it is the bond, of perfection.
“But this consequence, however plain and necessary-however spontaneously flowing from the very source of christianity, yet it has been contradicted, and seldom more violently, or at least less temperately, than at the present day. The furious men who now agitate this country, seem to know that the sword and the law could not have been drawn, or, if drawn, could not have been wielded with such deadly effect against the holy and ancient religion of these islands, if that religion had not first been decried, abused, and maligned, until it appeared to the multitude a very moral monster. From the sole of its foot,' like its founder, 'to the top of its head, there was no soundness in it'; it was buffetted, abused, spit upon; it was covered with a mantle of derision; it was scourged, and drenched with vinegar and gall : the waters of affliction entered into its very soul, and it was, when thus disfigured by a cla
morous rabble, and seemingly abandoned by God, that the bigots and the fanatic cried out to the agents of the law and the sword, -'away with it,
away with it.
“ But as there was no tenet of this religion more opposed to the machinations of those furious and designing men, nor again, no tenet more strongly supported by argument, by the practice of the Church, and an undisputed possession of fifteen hundred years,
than that of the supremacy of the successor of St. Peter, so there was no tenet against which their sophistry, their misrepresentations, their violence, their rancour and persecution were so unceasingly directed. To such extremities did these men proceed, as not only to confound the power claimed by some few popes of Rome over the temporal interests or rights of kings and kingdoms, with the spiritual jurisdiction of St. Peter's successor, but, in addition to this misrepresentation, they actually designated not one or other, but a whole series of those successors, as Antichrists, and excited the deluded multitude to hate them and curse them as the capital enemies of our Lord and Saviour. Yes, the very men who maintained from the beginning, and still maintain, against an infidel or Arian world the divinity of the Son of God; the very men who designate themselves as the last of his servants, and who, without any doubt, have caused his name to be published and adored