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your mistake, by referring it to ignorance--and your being startled at the statement shows the monstrous nature of the doctrine. But how shall I account for your indecorum; especially after convicting you of such an error ?
I must, however, go into the defence of yet another “assertion," as you style it.
“ Another assertion which is not true is that as to the Pope's supremacy—there are no less than three systems in our (the Roman Catholic) church.” I gave you proof of this when it was stated ; but I will subjoin more. The council of Basle, A. D. 1439 (see Caranza's Summa Conciliorum, 33d. sessions, page 645) decreed as follows : “ That according to the council of Constance, it is a true article of the Catholic faith, that a council is above a Pope, and that whoever pertinaciously rejects this truth, is to be condemned as a heretic." Here, besides its own testimony, that of the Council of Constance is likewise conveyed. This is one system. It gives to the Pope a rank not only unequal in degree, but dissimilar in kind from the second system, which is called Italian, from its being the prevailing one at Rome, as the former is called Gallican, from its prevalence in France. The Italian school or second system hold to the Pope's unlimited sovereignty over the church ; and make him officially infallible, and virtually the church. The Council of Florence, 5th Lateran and Trent make the Pope superior to general Councils. This you will hardly deny ; if so, I have proof at hand. Johannes Devotus (Vol. 1. Book 1. Tit. 3. sec. 1.) on the supremacy of the Pope, has this caption : “ The power of the Pope is episcopal, metropolitan, patriarchal and temporal. His decisions from the chair are infallible.” The third system deifies the Pope. ACcording to Gregory II. “ the whole Western nations reckoned Peter a terrestrial God.” (Labb. 8. 666.) We are told that Marcellus, in the Lateran Council, called Julius “ a God on earth,” and without rebuke from the Council. Bellarmine on Authority of Councils, Book 2. c. 17--says; “ all the names which are given in the Scriptures to Christ, even these same names are given to the Popewhence it appears that he is superior to the church.” In Gratian's Decretals, p. 1. Dis. 96. Pope Nicholas to Michael, 7th chap. the Pope · says, He is a God, and therefore men cannot judge him. I might multiply these proofs at pleasure. Here then are the said three systems distinctly made out. How you can then so positively say it is not true” our fellow-citizens must judge.
We are now come to quite an era in this discussion, viz: the first defence of your rule of faith! Though it be in the 6th letter of the controversy, and its appearance now is only a peep at us from behind the clouds, yet we welcome its approach. Our rule of faith, you say, is laid down in the Apostles' Creed. “ I believe in the Holy Catholic Church. This rule, you perceive, does not exclude, but comprises the belief of the Holy Scriptures.” It may be said to be in substance, this, the Holy Catholic Church, is the living, infallible interpreter of Scripture. Now it will be borne in mind, that before any church can interpret, she must know what is to be interpreted. What do you mean then by " the Holy Scriptures.?" The Council of Trent has settled this question for you, infallibly (as you say,)
“ ALL THE BOOKS CONTAINED IN THE OLD VULGATE LATIN EDITION ARE SACRED AND CANONICAL.” (Decree of the Coun. Trent, 4 sess.) Then besides our Bible, the Roman Catholic Scriptures include a number of books, viz. 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. These make a large volume of themselves. The Jews, our Lord Jesus, the Apostles and early Fathers, unite to exclude these from the canon. then to have proved them canonical, or dropped them from the Scriptures, as a preliminary step. The former you do not attempt; the latter were heresy in you. When you say then that the Holy Scriptures are comprised in your rule, you deceive the reader,--since by
Holy Scriptures” he means one thing, and you quite another thing. Again, in defining your rule, you omit two other very material features which are strongly brought to view by the Council of Trent, (4 Sess.) 1. They say divine truth is contained both in the written books and “ IN UNWRITTEN TRADITION.” 2. Every Roman Catholic of every grade, binds himself solemnly as follows, “I will never take or interpret them, (the sacred Scriptures,) otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.” (See Creed of Pope Pius IV.) Now it is apparent from these facts, that what you can call divine truth is quite another thing from the Bible; and it is equally clear that your church is restricted by her own decrees, to interpret this compound of Bible, Apocrypha, and unwritten tradition, according to the unanimous consent of “the Fathers.” At this point, we see then either that “the fathers” were infallible and also unanimous in their interpretations of Scripture, or else your church receives her creed from fallible men, and can have no uniformity in her doctrines. But “ the Fathers,” you will own, were fallible; and that they were far from unanimous, I will presently unite with your Bellarmine and others, to prove. Let me here say, that the Roman Catholic rule, though withheld by you, is spread at large upon the records of your church, and from it I draw these definitions. If I err in them, the task of confutation is easy::
Having laid down your rule of faith, you proceed to prove that it was established by Christ, by an appeal to the Apostolical commission given Matt. xxviii. 17-20. The reader will please refer to it. Allow me here to put by the side of this, those passages which, added to it, make out the commission in full. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils ; they shall speak with new tongues.” " They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark xvi. 17, 18. “ And ye are witnesses of these things.”—“And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endowed with power from on high.” Luke xxiv. 48, 49. “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Acts i. 8.
Now we freely grant that the above passages confer a commission on the Apostles ; and that they were divinely endowed, for the dis
charge of the great work which was given them to do. But on these texts you found the following reasoning; “ In the commission referred to above, all nations and all days even to the end of the world are included. Therefore the fulfilment of the Saviour's injunction, required that the Apostles should have successors in the ministry of teaching." " Then it is not by exercising an unfounded prerogative, but in simple obedience to the injunction of Jesus Christ, that Catholics hearken to the voice of the Church and the teaching of its Pastors.” The sum of it is this : the Apostles had certain divine endowments for their work ; Christ intended the Apostles to have successors to the end of time; therefore their successors must have the same endowments. Now what was it that constituted an Apostle? (1.) No man could be an Apostle who had not been “an eye witness” to Christ's person, and works. (See Luke i. 2. and 2 Peter i. 16.) Paul says, 1 Corinthians ix. 1, - Am I not an Apostle:9" “ Have I not seen the Lord 9" (See Acts i. 21, 22, and x. 41.) (2.) An Apostle must receive his mission directly from Christ, not by any human ordination. For this reason, Christ appeared to Paul visibly on his way to Damascus, and called him to the work of an Apostle ; and this is what Paul means when he says, “ Last of all he (Christ) was seen of me, as of one born out of due time.” 1 Cor. xv. 8. (3.) Every Apostle had miraculous and extraordinary endowments: such as inspiration, making him infallible; the gift of tongues ; power to work miracles, (Mark xvi. 17, 18.) and to impart that power to others. (2 Cor. xii. 12.) 'The Apostles were told, (Acts i. 8.) to wait at Jerusalem for these supernatural gifts; and on the day of Pentecost they were accordingly furnished from on high, by the miraculous and extraordinary effusions of the Holy Ghost. By these endowments, they were enabled to speak at once many l'anguages; to write inspired books; to cast out devils ; raise the dead, &c. (4.) Every Apostle, as the name (one sent) signifies, and as the terms of the commission plainly show, was to go all abroad, with plenary authority; not to be stationary; or make his permanent seat any where, exclusively. Now it is obvious that the Apostles had no successors in these respects. It was impossible after the generation, in which Christ lived, had passed away, that the Apostles could have such successors; for it was necessary to their office and work to have seen the Lord. But this the second generation could not have done. It is plain also that such a succession was never designed by our Lord, or attempted by the Christians of the next age. It is true that Judas had a successor; but it was before the Apostles were fully endued by the Spirit and sent forth. And if any were to have successors, why not all, as well as one? Why not James at Jerusalem, John at Ephesus, and Paul at Antioch, as well as Peter at Rome? Why Rome more than eleven other cities? Will not all the texts you have quoted, apply as well to James at Jerusalem as to Peter at Rome? Had he not the promise of the same Holy Spirit 10 guide him as Peter? Is not John called “a pillar,” (Gal. ii. 9.) as well as Peter? Why do you single out infallibility for your succession, and leave out all other qualifications? It is curious to re mark how you omit even a reference to Mark xvi. 17, 18, where the
gift of miracles is so inseparably united to the office of an Apostle. You must admit, then, that there are some respects in which the Apostles had no successors. But if some things are wanting, your argument is vain. If some things are wanting, may not one of them be infallibility? And if all the other superhuman endowments ceased, why should infallibility continue? The conclusion is irresistible, that the Apostles had no successors, endued with extraordinary powers of any kind; and therefore the Roman Catholic rule of faith was not established by Christ.
But yet we hold to a commission still standing and binding, which reaches to the close of time: we believe in a visible catholic (not Roman) church, to which appertain the ministry, the oracles, and ordinances of God; which is to continue to the end of the worldto which the Holy Spirit is promised as an abiding gist; against which the gates of hell shall not prevail; and which is at last to fill the world. Of this church, Jesus Christ is the only head; and the Holy Spirit speaking in the Bible, the only infallible rule of faith.
You next introduce some of " the Fathers,” to prove that the texts quoted by you were understood in their days, as you interpret them. I would here say that “ The Fathers” have a hard lot in your church. You treat them as some people do their “ children," or as the Hindoos do their idol gods; they honour them when they serve their purpose ; and whip them when they do not. I have already shown the corrections to which they have sometimes been subjected, to square them to the uses of the church. Now let me bring some proofs directly to our purpose. Chrysostom, (who lived A. D. 398, says, “ the church is known, (tantummodo,) only by the Scriptures." (Homil. 49 in Matt.) Bellarmine, however, says of this passage, “ It is probable the author was a Catholic, but it seems to be none of Chrysostom's.” (De Scriptis Ecc's. A. D. 398.) Augustine, who lived A. D. 395, says, “ Thou art Peter, and upon the rock, which thou hast confessed, upon this rock, which thou hast known, saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build my church; I will build thee upon me, not me upon thee.” (De verb. Domin. Serm. 13.) Yet Stapleton says of it,
it was a human error caused by the diversity of the Greek and Latin tongue, which either he was ignorant of, or marked not.” (Princip. doct. lib. 6. c. 3.) But I will pass to examine an authority quoted by yourself, from Tertullian, in his book of Prescriptions, &c. &c. From the manner in which you extract it, the author is made to testify, that Rome is the great centre and head, where the “ SUCCESSION” from the Apostles has its seat; and where the " Happy Church,” reigns in undisturbed supremacy. Your quotation runs thus : “ It' you live near Italy, you see before your eyes the Roman Church. Happy church! to which the Apostles left the inheritance of doctrines with their blood ! where Peter was crucified like his master, where Paul was beheaded like the Baptist.”—But let us see his entire, ungarbled statement: “Survey the apostolical churches, in which the very chairs of the Apostles still preside over their stations, in which their own letters are recited, uttering the voice and representing the presence of each of them. Is Achaia nearest to
thee? 'Thou hast Corinth. If thou art not far from Macedonia, thou hast the Philippians and the Thessalonians. If thou canst go to Asia, thou hast Ephesus; but if thou art near Italy, thou hast Rome, whence to us also authority is near at hand.” (Prescriptions against Heretics.) And now, how very different is the passage and the meaning! How directly against Peter's supremacy and the exclusive claims of Rome! How extraordinary the liberty which you take with the author and with historical evidence! It was thus a man once proved from the 14th Psalm that there is no God--- The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God," is the entire verse. But dropping the first part of the sentence, it runs thus, “ There is no God.”
You ask in the second place, “Is the rule infallible ?" and inser that it is, since it is established by Christ. I grant you that a rule established by Christ, is infallible.' But as I have proved that Christ did not establish your rule, your conclusion falls to the ground. But let us proceed. It is not self-evident that your church is infallible, or your rule the true one. By what process then do you apply these texts to the proof of your rule? The process, I answer, of private interpretation. "Then I would ask, is your interpretation fallible or infallible? If fallible, where is the right or safety of your interpretation, especially when the point in question is no less than that on which all others depend, viz. where shall we go for an infallible rule? This is the more surprising, as you charge upon the use of private judgment all the evils of heresy and schism, which have in every age rent the church of Christ-perverted the word of God and ruined the souls of men. Do you refer me to your infallible church? But we are inquiring after the proofs of her infallibility. Then does she refer me to Scripture passages for proof? But how can I be certain that her interpretation is correct ? Her infallibility does not assure me, for she has not yet proved her infallibility; and if she can prove her infallibility in this way, then private judgment is sufficient to settle the undoubted meaning of a great body of Scripture-passages, and terminate the grand controversy, on which all others depend. And what then becomes of the church of Rome's complaint of the great obscurity of Scripture, which is affirmed to render her aid so indispensable? And what must we think of her outcries against the supposed arrogance of pretending to the exercise of free inquiry, and of judging of the Scriptures for ourselves, when, without such an exercise and such a power of judging, it is found impossible to obtain the least proof or presumption of her pretended infallibility ? Some parts of Scripture then, the church of Rome herself must allow, are capable of being understood without her aid. Those declarations on which she rests her claim to implicit submission and obedience, she must allow to be sufficiently plain and intelligible to bind the conscience of every member of her communion, who is prepared to give a reason for his being a Catholic: and as an entire agreement with the dogmas of the church is all the faith which she requires, in order to the salvation of her members, she must acknowledge, as well as ourselves, that the Scripture contains a rule of faith sufficient for the purpose of salvation. · The only difference