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belief, and the same precepts held up for our observance—is a truth to which there is the strongest and most perfect chain of evidence to conduct us; a truth which Protestants deny in vain ; a truth which most incontestibly establishes the triumph and the indefectibility of the Roman Catholic Church.
From all that has been advanced, it follows as a matter of course, that I cannot conform to Protestantism. I cannot, if it were only for this reason; that, when I read in Scripture, that he that believeth not shall be condemned, I cannot trust so important a concern as my religious belief to a Church which may deceive me. We know that the ways of God are 80 straight, that even fools shall not err therein.com We know also, that, in Scripture, there are things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and
(c) St. Mark, xvi. 16.
(d) Isai. xxxv. 8. (e) In Boswell's Life of Johnson, we find the following passage: “Mrs. Knowles.She had the New Testament before her. Johnson.-Madam, she could not understand the New Testament, the most difficult book in the world, for which the study of a life is required. Mrs. Knowles. -It is clear as to essentials. Johnson. But not as to controversial points.” Vol. iii. p. 324. Are not all points, even the most essential, controverted by the different denominations of Christians ?
St. Augustin observes, (Lib. I. contra Cress. 33.) that it is only by the Church we know what is the sense of
the unstable wrest to their own destruction ;\") that false prophets come in the clothing of sheep to ensnare us; (9) that there are never wanting those who would make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine ;(") and that there will always arise men speaking perverse things, to draw disciples away after them;") erring and driving into error.sk)
With such facilities on the one hand, and with such difficulties and dangers on the other, is it not folly, is it not madness, to trust to a Church which bears the insignia of error upon her forehead, and owns herself incapable of protecting us? If we dis
Scripture, or what is not. His words are: 'The truth of the Scripture is held by us, or we possess the true meaning of them, when we do that which is approved of in the whole church, which church the authority of the Scriptures themselves commends :'-so far removed was he from the opinion of those who would undertake to determine religious doubts, by the very book, from the misunderstanding of which they all arise. This the holy doctor, (Tract. 18. in Johan. Cap. 5.) expressly attests, in the following words : *Heresies have arisen, and certain perverse doctrines, ensnaring souls, and precipitating them into the abyss, have been broached, only when the good Scriptures have been badly understood, and when that which was badly understood, was rashly and boldly attested.'”-Reply to Dr. Magee, p. 12.
(1) 2 Ep. St. Peter, iii. 10. (g) St. Matt. vii. 15. (h) Rom. xvi. 17.
(1) Acts, xx. 30. (h) 2 Tim. iii. 13. See Dr. Doyle's Defence, p. 88.
own her authority, which her principles well warrant us to do, and have recourse to private interpretation, do we not immediately fall into presumption, by searching, in the infirmity and inconsistancy of our own minds, for the discovery of that firm and steadfast faith, without which we shall be condemned? Is it not incomparably safer to rely upon the united wisdom, talents, virtue, and experience of the good and great in every age; upon a representative assembly of the universal Church, under the sacred guidance of the Holy Spirit ? It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us," are the remarkable and emphatic words used by the first council of the Church, in promulgating its decisions. Protestants, however, say that the Holy Ghost is no longer our guide ; but as if to silence their doubts, and compel their submission, our Saviour himself declares the contrary; he says, his Paraclete shall abide with his Church for ever, and lead her into all truth ;(m) and, in consequence, he declares us no better than heathens or publicans, i") if we refuse to hear her. Still, Protestants say: We owe no obedience to the Church; let us follow the guidance of our own fancy, for the Almighty will not require our allegiance, where he has given no power to rule. But, as if again to confound their presumption, and to give
(1) Acts, xv, 28. (m) St. John,xiv.16,26. (St. Matt. xviii. 17.
a clear confirmation of his doctrine, our Saviour inspires his apostles thus to admonish and instruct the faithful: Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you Bishops, to rule the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Such are the words of Scripture, and yet Protestants maintain that the Church has no authority; that the Hierarchy has no divine commission to rule the Church of Christ.
Again I repeat, that I cannot conform to Protestanism, because I cannot trust so important a concern as my religious creed, to a church which must necessarily be fickle and inconstant in her doctrine, and may, perhaps, altogether cease to exist. Because, as such, she can never lead me to any fixed and certain faith ; since as she“ claims the twofold privileges of changing her tenets at will, and of being infallible at every change,” (p)
(0) Acts, xx. 28. (P) “The right of private judgment, as allowed by the established church, was a sort of an apology for her own revolt, and a sacrifice made to the Baal of puritanism; but it is opposed to the letter and spirit of the church creed, as well as incompatible with the gospel, which foretels of heresies and schisms; for if the right of private judgment, in opposition to the declared decision of the church, exist, it is utterly impossible that heresy should be damnable, or schism a crime. Every church, then,
she can never answer the end proposed by the immutable God of Truth—that of pointing out his ways, and expounding his doctrine. During the period in which she is wedded to her errors, she is evidently incapable of being the teacher of truth; and even in the season of her greatest purity, her liability to error must always disqualify her for that office : for though she may teach truth to day, we have no assurance that she will continue to do so to morrow; and, under such circumstances, who shall pretend to say when truth fails, and falsehood begins,—who shall tell us when she is possessed with the spirit of error, and when with the spirit of Truth ara)
If I am unable to repose my confidence on such a church, and it is evident I cannot, only two alternatives remain :I must either submit implicitly to some safe and certain guide, or, as I
that excommunicates authors of heresy, that is, men who, exercising their right of private judgment, choose their own religion; or which casts out among the heathen the maintainers of conventicles, (all which the established church does) is guilty, if guilt it be, of denying the right of private judgment, and of exercising, thereby, a dominion over conscience. Whether the church, doing so, claim infallibility or not, is nothing to the purpose; her judg. ment, and the effects of it to the excommunicated persons, are the same.”-Reply to Dr. Magee.
(9) i St. John, iv. 6.