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wicked, no immorality, however monstrous, but, at some period or in some country, it has formed part of the faith and practice of sectarianism. Into such absurd impieties has the reasoning pride of man beguiled him, and into such excesses has he been hurried by his disobedience to legitimate authority!
But to confine our remarks to the Church of England. --So necessary did her founders and her patrons consider a spiritual supremacy in their church “ to support the 'unity of faith and the integrity of Christian discipline,”(i) that they established it in the person of the sovereign. But so strange an anomaly as spiritual jurisdiction in a layman, a child, or a woman, and that too usurped from those to whom it had been formally entrusted by the divine authority, could never answer the purpose of repressing error and reforming abuses. Unlawful authority seldom enforces submission. From the moment that the monarch forcibly wrested this
from the successor of St. Peter, and placed it in his own rapacious hands; from that moment all unity disappeared. The chiefs of the state, entangled as they generally are, with the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of this life,k)
(1) Preamble of several Acts of Parliament. See Sermons after Pentecost, with illustrations, &c. Vol. i. pp. 140. &c. rt) St. Luke viii. 14.
had the weakness to acquiesce in so glaring and monstrous an usurpation, and the whole nation became, like the great multitude mentioned in the Scriptures, as sheep not having a shepherd. (St. Mark vi. 34.) Each individual ranged at large in the fields of speculative belief-he spurned at the ridiculous assumption of spiritual pre-eminence by a civil magistrate, and instead of obeying his mandates, each one, in imitation of the monarch, took the same authority upon himself, and thereafter placed the foundations of his faith upon the tottering basis of private interpretation. The evils which followed have been thus forcibly described by a learned and eloquent pastor of the Catholic Church :
“ Spite of royal mandates, of royal canons, and royal censures, error in every varied, versatile, and frightful form, continued to erect new temples; and the nation presented to the astonished world a scene of folly, bigotry, and superstition, striking and preposterous, as any that curiosity can trace in the lengthened annals of fanaticism. Such were the consequences of pretending to enforce unity of belief by means which Revelation has not sanctioned.” (Sermons after Pentecost, p. 142.)
Such were the miserable effects of the usurpation of unlawful power, and of rebellion to just authority. The almost universal conflict of religious opinions, and the swarm of meeting-houses of every description which still continue to spring
up around us, will enable us to judge whether time has diminished the fruits of such a system.
But, fully satisfied of my utter inability to offer any thing in illustration of this doctrine of the spiritual supremacy,-a doctrine so important in itself, and against which the Test is so pointedly directed,--at all equal to the following eloquent and spirited argument of the titular Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin: I will insert the observations of that talented and learned Prelate, without further comment.")
"But where,” says he, “ there is question of the promise of the keys to Peter, and of the command given to him to feed the lambs, the sheep, the whole flock of God, then antiquity, like a torrent, sweeps away all opposition, every obstacle which a perverse sophistry would, at any period, oppose to 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
^) See also an admirable and elaborate disquisition on the supremacy of St. Peter, and on the temporal and spiritual authority of the Popes, in the 2nd Vol. of Evidences of the Catholic Church, by the Right Rev. Dr. Machale, another highly talented prelate of the Irish Church.
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 superseded — and whilst fanaticism thus burns on the surface, immorality weighs upon the heart, whilst infidelity, secretly and silently advancing, prepares to erect its 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