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such means transmute all things that she touches into her own image, the Lord of truth never appointed such a guide to his people's faith.
V. Allow me next to say, that your rule, when in full and proper force, is incompatible wiih civil liberty and the rights of nations. Your system, with the Pope at its head, is a species of universal monarchy, civil and religious, extending to the whole world. As the vicar of Christ, he claims to be head of the church and of the state, wherever there is either on earth. Now, for the proof : 1st. This right has been distinctly claimed. Pope Innocent III., says, “ 'The church, my spouse, is not married to me without bringing me a dowry. She hath given me the mitre for the priesthood, and the crown for the kingdom--making me Lieutenant of him who hath written on his vesture and on his thigh, King of kings and Lord of lords. I enjoy the plenitude of power, that others may say of me next to God, Out of his fulness we have received." (Itinerar. Ital. part 2. de coron. Rom. Pon.) I know no equal to this blasphemy but the ravings of a madman who once said, in my hearing, that he had been appointed by God commander-in-chief of the celestial hosts! The reader will please compare with the above, John i. 10. The Bull of Clement V. for crowning the Emperor Henry, contains the distinct assumption of universal temporal empire; so do also the twenty-seven sayings of Gregory VII. ; Clement VI. claims the same; so does the canon law, the Gregorian Epistles, Martin V., Boniface VIII. &c.; not to mention Bellarmine, and a number of other writers in your church, who contend for the same rights. But not only have Roman Catholic writers and Popes contended for temporal jurisdiction over nations, but Councils and General Councils, whose authority you all acknowledge, have done the same; as I am abundantly prepared to prove if you deny it. 2d. This claim has been on divers occasions carried into practical operation, so as to leave no doubt as to what it means. The Popes have taxed nation after nation for the spiritual treasury at Rome, so that “ Peter's pence" became a by-word to express the tyranny of Rome. They have deposed princes and set others up in their stead; they have cut asunder the very bonds of society by absolving subjects from the oath of allegiance to heretical princes; they have required princes to exterminate their subjects, and encouraged subjects to destroy their princes; and under this broad claim, they have even given away kingdoms 'to foreign princes, and have made crowns and nations their playthings and their toys. It is a curious fact to an American citizen, that Spain and Portugal have a universal grant from the Pope of the two Americas. 3d. Institutions have been erected and encouraged throughout the world, wherever they would be tolerated, and systematic and legalized persecutions have from age to age been carried on, to sustain this system of universal empire. At the very name of the Inquisition, some of the nations of Europe still tremble; and the heart of every civilized man is moved with mingled indignation and horror. This is a painful, but necessary topic. I will not here enlarge on it, but stand prepared with abundant facts to substantiate my statements, if you deny them. Now the reasoning from these facts against your rule is irresistible. God has made all men free, and all nations
are endowed with the inalienable rights of self-government; and He who has said, “ My kingdom is not of this world,” has also said, “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's.” The church, therefore, which claims these powers, is at war with the Bible; and the rule of faith under which she holds these doctrines, and practises these usurpations, must be, in the strongest sense, a fallible and misguiding rule. If Roman Catholics reject these principles, as every true American must, and as I doubt not multitudes of your people in this country and Great Britain do, then where is your infallibility? But you say the church is infallible, and her system unchangeably fixed. I call on you then for a defence. Once more.
The effect of your rule of faith is to corrupt the worship of God, and to engender abunılant superstitions. Idolatry, (excuse the word,) is enthroned in the temple of God, by the bulls of Popes, and the decrees of Councils; and is practically illustrated every day in the worship of the church. The spirituality of religion is lost amidst a crowd of images and relics ; of interceding saints, and human inventions : and ignorance perpetuates what your erring rule has legalized. Need I point you to exorcisms and incantations, to prayers to the saints, and worship of the Virgin Mary, to holy water, and the baptism of bells, to pilgrimages, and penances, and the crowd of superstitions which are encouraged in your church in confirmation of my statements ? Who would believe it, if it had not been seen, that in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, there is a great anniversary day, set apart in “Rome, the mother and mistress of churches,” for blessing all the horses and asses and other beasts of that great city, whilst the same pontiff who sanctions such a system, publicly denounces Bible Societies, as the organizations and servants of the devil ? I ask if this is the product of infallible guidance ; or if the rule which sanctions, teaches, and perpetuates such things, can have been given us by God to direct us in matters of religion?
I would superadd these heads to those contained in my former letter; and must wait in expectation of your redeeming the pledge to answer them hereafter. In the mean time, that you may have no ground of complaint, even in appearance, I will close by briefly noticing your second edition of the ten Heads against our rule of faith. As to all you say about my denying the word of God io be a judge of controversies, our readers will judge whether you have not altempted to blind them by sophistry, rather than convince them by argument. You knew that I spoke of God as the ruler, the Bible as the rule. God is the judge and the only judge, properly so called. The Bible contains the record of his infallible judgments. It is God speaking to man.--Again, you so evidently and consciously labour 10 disentangle yourself from my exposure of your use of 2 Peter 1. 20, (on private interpretation, that I am entirely willing to leave the subject to speak for itself, without another word.
Here allow me to remark, that in your two letters, which two are one, your current reasoning is this : There are ceriain defects which no infallible rule can have, the Protestant rule has these; therefore it is not infallible. Now I have shown, (so clearly that you pretend
not to resute it,) that these defects are inherent in your rule; therefore, at every step, your own blows return upon your own cause. The force of this reasoning is irresistible, if you were honest in using it; for it is your own reasoning. Yet when the blow rebounds, you cry out, this logic was to destroy the Protestant rule, not mine. I was not talking of my rule! You press me to keep to the point. What is the point? The rule of faith. Only do not touch Mr. Hughes' rule of faith. But I not only thus exposed your rule of faith, I also defended our own rule from point to point. Let us summarily review these old acquaintances. I. “Christ never appointed the Protestant rule."
6. Christ never wrote any part of the Old or New Testament, and never commanded any part to be written by his apostles.” (1.) Let us apply this to your rule. Christ never wrote or commanded his apostles to write the Apocryphal books, or unwritten Traditions; therefore, Christ never appointed them as a part of the rule faith. (2.) Either the prophets and apostles were moved by inspiration when they wrote, or they were not. If they were, then they wrote by divine authority. But do you not deny that they were ? Hence your statement is false, and if it proves any thing, it is that the Bible is not God's word. Your next proof is that the “Protestant rule of faith did not exist till the end of the first century.” Now this is a mere play on words. I say that the Divine Revelation is our only rule of faith. The Bible contains that Revelation finally made out. The precise equivalent to this existed while Christ and his apostles were on earth, viz : the Old Testament and their infallible instructions. Before inspiration ceased, the Bible was completed. I will carry out your argument. The Bible is a printed book; but at the death of John, the art of printing being unknown, the word of God was written with pens, therefore the Bible is not God's word. In the latter part of this head, you virtually deny that the Old Testament is of equal authority with the New. Is this so?
II. You call for “ Scripture warrant," that the Bible is the rule of faith. We reply as before, 1. The presumption, (prior to the proof,) always is, that the Bible alone is the rule of faith. I ask, will you join the Infidel and say, that the presumption is the other way ? 2. If any thing else is to be added to the Bible, those who say so are bound to prove it. Hence the attack on the pretensions of your rule is the fair order of discussion. Feeling this to be a sore spot, you cover it up. 3. The only admissible proof, as God tells us, is a miracle. Well, therefore, may you shist and turn and be silent, to shun a call you cannot meet. The only reply you make to this reasoning, is to charge me with saying, that “ the Protestant Rule is founded on presumption ;' a misrepresentation so glaring, that unwilling to distrust your candour, I must charge it on your cause. 4. I then gave you Scrip. ture warrant for our rule, which you cannot torture so as to weaken its direct proof. I will adduce more Scripture in connexion with which the reader will please to examine 2 Tim. iii. 14, 17, and Isaiah viii. 20. In John vii. 17, we are taught that obedience gives certainty to doctrinal knowledge.--From 1 Peter i. 23. 1 Thess. ii. 13. James i 18, that the Bible in the hands of the Holy Spirit, is the instrument
of converting the soul. John xvii.17. The Bible is the means of sanctification. Eph. vi. 17. Hebrews iv. 12. It is the great power of God. Gal. i. 8. It is the rule by which even Apostles are to be tested, (though the Pope refuses.) 1 John iv. 1-3. It is the people's rule to try the spirits ; no infallible Judge is named. John xii. 48. It is the rule of judgment at the great day. John xx. 30--33. One Gospel is sufficient to give eternal life. Luke xvi. 29--31. Nothing, no, not a miracle, can convince those who reject it. Rev. xxii. 18. Awful judgments, (I beg you to look narrowly at this,) are denounced against those who tamper with even a part of the Bible. The church who would mend this rule, is entitled to the epitaph of him who was destroyed by the nostrums of quacks, and direcied to be written on his tomb, "I was well—I wanted to be better--and here I am."
III. You argue as the Bible is known through the medium of interpretation, and as the Protestant medium is fallible, therefore the rule is fallible.” 1. I reply, until you prove your infallibility, which you have not yet done, you are in a much worse case than we, as your Apocrypha, unwritten Traditions, and one hundred folios, with “ all the Fathers,” exceed in number our Bible, since you have to interpret all these, to get at the true sense. 2. Your reasoning, reduced to form, is this; every rule, (say one for measuring distances) is handled by men ; but men are fallible—therefore every rule is false —and cannot measure infallibly—or, in other words, none but an infallible man can use the Bible. Is not the following reasoning just as good ? Either it rains, or it does not rain--if it rains, it does not rain -if it does not rain, it rains. Then does it rain, or not rain ?
IV. You say the Bible cannot prove its own authenticity and inspiration; therefore, it alone cannot be the rule of faith. We reply, 1. The inspiration of Scripture may be proved from prophecy, from its contents, &c. 2. On the question, “are these the authentic or genuine books which they profess to be ?" you confound the proof of a thing with the matter of it; as if you had said, a twelve inch rule is not a true rule, unless it can prove itself. This is absurd. Your illustration of the will is every how faulty. The testator is Christ-the Bible is the will--the church is the heir. Who is the court before whom the proof is to be laid? Why the church, you say. But who gave it authority? The church. No--the testator, for the church is her. Who is the witness? The church again.— Yet with this figure you would prove your point! Now the case is this. Here is a will. We want witnesses to prove that the testator made the will not to give it authority: that comes from the testator. So it is precisely with the Bible. The church does not give it authority; the Bible gives authority to the church. The testimony of those who lived in the Apostles' day's is what we want. Jewish writers testify, Heathen writers testify, and Christian writers testify, that this is the Book of God. If you call this tradition, then it is the tradition of written testimony; it is the tradition of universal antiquity ; it is such a tradition as falsifies your unwritten traditions, your apocryphal books, and your judge of cc-2troversies. . If this be not so, will you tell me when and where the church authority settled the canon ?--In a word, if the chureh of Rome had never existed, the proof would have been entire.
V. You are constrained to admit here that you made a misstatement in the former letter of one entire century? You also misinterpret my statement as to “sacred books” being doubtful. I said * some" (not books, but men) were doubtful, as to four of the many books. In the mean time the churches had “all the books," and these doubts of some, (men, not books,) did not make it less truly the real and full rule. Of course, besides the distrust occasioned by such unfairness, your conclusion that the canon was so long uncertain, drawn from this perversion, falls to the ground. I also refer the reader under this head, to the contradiction I have there exposed, to which you render no reply. You assume that the church knew; and yet argue against our rule, that it was not known. Now which is true? If the former, your reasoning is false ; if the latter, your rule is fallible.
VI. & VII. There are two methods of settling disputes ; reason and force. You take the latter; we the former. There are two rules, the Bible and the church of Rome. You assert that the Bible has failed, and thus make your church better than Christ and his apostles. I call for your proof. As to heresy, Augustine, whom you claim and quote, mentions eighty-eight heresies, down to his time ! I will in due season give you more of your own history on this topic.
VIII. & IX. You have “ slurred the notes,” to use your own expression, and made no reply to me. 1. I have proved (see introduction to former letter,) that by confession of Roman Catholics, they are as uncertain as Protestants. 2. I have proved in this letter, (see head on uncertainty,) that you are wholly uncertain :--and now, 3. You have at last to adopt our rule, or give up the question. For you, get at the proof of your infallible rule by fallible men; and you get the proof entirely from the Bible. Is not this then making the Bible interpreted by fallible men, your rule of faith!
And now, Sir, in closing this letter, I wish you to know that I will not be diverted from the fair and full discussion of the whole subject, viz. the rule of faith. Common sense demands it; and the third and fisth articles in our agreement justify it. I wish you also to understand, that all I say is to be applied to your system, and not to your people. In this country especially, that Proteus-system conforms itself as much as possible to the advance of the age, and the genius of a free and thinking people. You must go to Spain, to South America, to Rome, to see your system. The people here know not the half. It is in spite of being Roman Catholics- not in consequence of it, that you number the good and wise among your people.
Your challenge to our whole church provokes a smile among us.When I need any aid to meet your calls, I will tell you so.
I own, among the most insufficient of the sons of that venerated church to which I belong; but she feels as if no mighty shield were needed to quench your arrows, and cover her sacred bosom from your assaults. - remain, yours, &c.