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supremacy in the person of a layman, a woman, or even of a child, by ascribing to Henry VIII. and his successors the power of deciding on heresies, schisms, and all doctrinal points; a power never entrusted by the Catholic Church to any Pope whatever.) It is inconsistent, because in the 20th article of her formulary, the Church of England declares that the church hath authority in controversies of faith. If so, why does a modern, isolated church, that has separated herself from the great family of Christendom—that was founded by a haughty and voluptuous prince, not by a meek and mortified Apostle—that has modelled her doctrines and her discipline, not by the canons of any general council, but by the acts of a national parliament;") -- why does such a one deny the same power to a church who traces through eighteen centuries an uninterrupted descent from the Apostles—who stands illustrious by the piety and learning of a thousand saints and scholars—who has
(4) See Dr. Milner's History of Winchester, p. 364. vol. 1.
(1) I know it is said that the parliament does not define doctrines, but only proposes them: but it is equally true that no tenet can be a doctrine of the Church of England, which is not first sanctioned and promulgated by an act of parliament. The authority of the church, in matters of faith, is subservient to the parliament, not having the. right to frame a single article, without her sanction. Such has been, almost always, her undeviating practice.
beheld her pastors assembled from every region of the Christian world, in eighteen general councils, to bear witness to her faith,—and who looks forth upon a hundred nations, dwelling within her fold, and constituting the true kingdom of God
Again,—the Protestant church is inconsistent in holding the impossibility of performing a work of supererogation ;m) for, at the same time that she acknowledges the efficacy of fasting,confession, and other acts of humility and mortification, she seldom recommends, and never enforces, their observance. If she considered them necessary,
she would enforce them; but as she is content only to recommend them, she must, of necessity, account them as works of supererogation. Of those who deny the power of performing a work of supererogation, let us ask an explanation of the following words of scripture: And some fell upon good ground, and brought forth fruit that grew up,
(m) “ Voluntary works, besides, over, and above God's commandments, which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogance and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas, Christ saith plainly: 'When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.”—14th of 39 Articles.
and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred." Hence, is it not clear that a produce of thirty fold will make us acceptable in the sight of God? And is it not equally clear, that by a life of greater perfection, by a stricter compliance with the severer precepts of the gospel, by following the counsels as well as the commands of Christ, we may attain to a much fuller measure of the riches of his bounty-to sixty or a hundred fold? The parable of the pounds is equally in point : he who had gained but five pounds, was rewarded as a good and faithful servant, while he who had gained ten, he who had done more than was exacted of him, was still more liberally rewarded.")
Elsewhere our Saviour has also said : If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. This surely is not a command, but a counsel; not a work of necessity, but one of absolute perfection. No one can say that the observance of this precept is necessary for salvation, yet none can deny its superior efficacy and virtue, without falsifying the words of Christ. What, then, is it but a work of supererogation? a conduct which will render us more perfect fol
(n) St. Mark, iv. 8. (0) St. Luke, xix. 24.
(p) St. Matt. xix. 21.
lowers of our Saviour, and more deserving in the sight of God; more worthy to receive a hundred fold, and to possess life everlasting ?(4) Yet, when we have done all this, we are still, and most truly, unprofitable servants ;'") because it is not in the power of man to do any thing that is profitable to his Creator. We are only profitable to ourselves, in serving that Creator well. Neither can we perform for him any service which we do not owe him, a thousand and a thousand times. We are unprofitable servants, because we have nothing good in ourselves, but receive all through the merits of our Redeemer, and the efficacy of his sacred passion and sufferings : “ God,”
God,” as St. Augustin says, “ crowning his own gifts, when he crowns the good works of his servants.”
In the Fourth place,- I cannot conform to Protestantism, because I have no means of discovering its tenets; because I can find no one to instruct me in its doctrine. As to the thirty-nine articles, they are every where openly impugned, or totally disregarded. If we apply to her pastors, we find them all in doubts and difficulties. Bishop Watson, in a Charge to his Clergy, in 1795, says; “ I think
19) St. Matt. xix. 29. in) St. Luke, xvii. 10.
() See the disputes about the meaning of the Thirtynine Articles, and the quo animo with which they are to be subscribed.
it safer to tell you where they (the Christian doctrines] are contained, than what they are. They are contained in the Bible, and if, in reading that book, your sentiments concerning the doctrines of Christianity should be different from those of your neighbour, or from those of the Church, be
persuaded, on your part, that infallibility belongs as little to you as it does to the Church!” In another, he informs them, that Protestantism consists in believing what each one pleases, and in professing what he believes !! This, indeed, I have always thought to be the truest definition of Protestantism, which is no where agreed, but in one single point—that of protesting against Catholicity. She is, in fact, little more than a negative religion, a mere renunciation of Romanism. Her articles of faith have always been received more as civil edicts, emanating from a lay authority, and as safeguards to scare away that phantom-monster, Popery, than as definitions of the true religion of God. Many even profess their adherence to the Established Church to arise more from a feeling of loyalty and attachment to existing institutions, than from any assurance that she holds a better or a purer creed than any other of the various sects of Protestantism.'e) Catholicism, on the
(1) “It is the humour of some men,” says the Protestant Dr. Heylin, “ to call any separation from the Church of Rome, the Gospel ; and the greater the separation, the