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The Church of England, in particular, cannot be Apostolical, because there is no saying of the Apostles, nor any text of Scripture, nor any authority of Christ to support the monstrous notion, that a to run into eternal flames.”—(Triple Chord, p. 14.) Staphylus found in Martin Luther's New Testament about one thousand corruptions: and in a petition to King James I. it is asserted," that the translation of the Psalms comprised in the Book of Common Prayer, doth in addition, subtraction, and alteration, differ from the truth of the Hebrew, in, at least, two hundred places." (Petr. p. 75, 79.)-See Corless's Reply to Townsend.
The Protestant professor Zanchius, speaking of the writers of his own Religion, says, “We torture the Scriptures till they agree with our own fancies; and boast of being the disciples of the Fathers, while we refuse to follow their doctrines. To deceive, to calumniate, to abuse, is our familiar practice, nor do we care for any thing, provided we can defend our cause, good or bad, right or wrong. O tempora, O mores!” (Zanchius ad Stormium, Tom viii. Col. 828.)
Let us try this question by another test: let us examine what is the main object of the two religions. The Catholic has the truth and sincerity of religion in view, to make it neither more nor less severe than it really is; to represent it in its most winning and amiable light, and, at the same time, not to divest it of its terrors or restraints. But Protestantism, on the other hand, has ever evinced a marked and decided tendency to weaken all the obligations of the Gospel, to explain away all the injunctions which are most opposed to our inclinations, to smoothe the thorny path of our duties, and to admit as little as pos
woman of the sixteenth century should be invested with the divine right of reforming the Church of God, of setting herself up as the arbiter of religious faith, and the infallible teacher of fallible doctrine. -Neither can a whole British Parliament substantiate a better claim to such an office.(y)
Again, I cannot conform to Protestantism, because it possesses not two other characteristic
sible of what is irksome to our nature, or which necessitates the mastery of our passions. Which of the two is more likely to have corrupted the Sacred Text, to have distorted its meaning, and abridged its authority?
(y) Speaking of the divine commission, Dr. Fletcher observes: “Since it was this alone, which made the apostles the pastors of the Christian Church,--so it is only the inheritance, or possession, of this same sacred diploma, which now, or at any time, invests any set of men with the same awful character :—and precisely as the apostles themselves would, without this sanction, have been the usurpers of holy things,-so, in like manner, now, whoever, not enjoying this same prerogative, pretends to perform the sacred functions, is a mere profaner in the eyes of religion. These conclusions are certain. Whence the learned Hooker remarks, that, in relation to the Church, the commission of its pastors is the very chiefest thing.' It is, in reality, every thing, insomuch that Archbishop Brett very justly says,
I have no occasion to examine men's doctrines, but to inquire whether they have authority to act as the ministers of Christ, for, otherwise, they are no better than intruders and usurpers.' Thus, is the whole business of ascertaining where the true Church subsists, reduced to the discussion of this one simple fact :- Wheresoever the
marks of the true Church, namely, constant Visibility, and Indefectibility.")
First,—No Protestant Church can claim any pretensions whatever to Visibility, because for upwards of 1500 years they were all perfectly invisible, having had no existence. To have been visible, she should always have been as the Catholic Church alone has been, and, as the true Church is described in Scripture, the light of the world, like a city seated on a mountain, which cannot be hid.") No Protestant Church can be thus constantly
divine commission still subsists, which was once granted to the first apostles, there subsists the true Church of Jesus Christ. Wheresoever this is wanting, there is no Church at all, but a mere human conventicle."
See APPENDIX, No. XV. for some important extracts, farther illustrative of this subject, from Dr. Fletcher's Comparative View, pp. 36-43.
(3) Micheas iv. 1. 2. St. Matt. v. 14. and xvi. 18. and xxviii. 18. 19. 20. St. John xvi. 16. 26. and xvi. 13. 1 Tim. iii. 15.
ra) St. Matt. v.14.-Evelyn, in his Memoirs, relates that “Sir R. Browne, Charles the Second's minister in Paris, returned after a nineteen years' exile, during all which time he had kept up in his chapel, the liturgy and offices of the Church of England, to his no small honour, and at a time when it was so low, and, as many thought, utterly lost, that in various controversies, both with papists and sectaries, our Divines used to argue for the visibility of the Church from his chapel and congregation ! !" Where was its universality?
visible, because they all admit within themselves the principle of error: they admit that they may fall from their foundations and vanish. For the moment a church has erred, all truth has vanished, -has departed from it; the moment it has fallen from the truth in which it was established by our Saviour, it has ceased to be the true visible Church. If she fail in one point, she fails in all: He who offends in one point, is become guilty of all." When a witness tenders his evidence, in part true and in part false, is he not immediately declared to be unworthy of credit in toto ? He is not considered as a true and credible witness, because his testimony is in part true, but he is rejected altogether as a liar and a prevaricator, because it is in part false : we do not wait to sift the good from the bad, or try its merits in separate portions; but we at once expunge it entirely from our minds. So it is with the Church of Christ. She is the witness of the doctrines of the Gospel : if we find her bearing false testimony in one point, we should condemn her in all; we should declare her to be a false church, and unfaithful both to the promises and the commands of her Divine Founder. How, then, can a false Church be the visible Church of Christ, the God of Truth? How can she be the light of the world, when she is shrouded in the darkness of heresy? But, admitting any
(c) St. James ii. 10.
Protestant to be now visibly a true church, which is a monstrous proposition, and allowing the possibility, contrary even to their own expectations, of her remaining so, for ages to come, where was her visibility in ages past? To have been a visible Church, she should have been discoverable, as the Roman Catholic Church alone is, by one direct and luminous track, through every age which has succeeded the coming of her Divine Founder. She should have been a holy and a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle;re) pure and undefiled amidst the corruptions and the vices of the world; triumphant amidst the storms of persecution, and victorious over the assaults of heresy or schism.
Secondly,--No Protestant church has any title to indefectibility, because they are all founded upon the principle, that the Catholic church had erred. All who acknowledge themselves to be Christians, acknowledge the Catholic as the parent church; for the time was, when there was no other. They, therefore, who contend that the Catholic church had erred, necessarily admit a liability to error in the true church of Christ. For as the Catholic church was, for many ages, the only church in Christendom, she must then, at least, have been the true church, or no true church existed. Whichever be the case, there is a clear admission on the part of Protestants, of the fallibility of the church of Christ. It is then natural
(o) Ephes. v. 27.