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centuries advanced, to be called infallible and Catholic. Ah! were she indeed entitled to these epithets, what miseries and wretchedness might have been spared to the Christian world! Had she indeed been possessed of such attributes, how absurd would it have been make any attempt at Reformation! To her innovations upon that primitive Church which was truly Catholic, the necessity of the Reformation must be imputed; and if that Reformation has brought along with it the inevitable evils of disunion, it is not so much to be charged upon the re. formers, as upon the awful degeneracy, which was not only the sole plea for their perilous task, but which could alone, under God, have made such an enterprise successful. Nor are the modern relaxations of all religious discipline, and the prevailing indifference to ecclesiastical authority, effects for which the cause assigned is not abundantly sufficient, on the most familiar principles of human action. The fetters of spiritual despotism once broken, licentiousness of course would follow. Excess of form and ceremony once exposed, con. tempt of all form would be likely to succeed it. The claims of infallibility once proved to be an usurpation, a disregard of all authority above that of private judgment would prevail. Indulgences and superstitions made profitable to the priesthood, once brought down from their unjust elevation, would be necessarily replaced by the cry of priestcraft against the whole theory and practice of true religion; the name of saint, once honourable, would become a byword of derision; and all the bands of veneration for the decision of the Church, in her ancient and her better days, would be cast aside, as part and parcel of popery. Thus has it always been, that one extreme produces its opposite; and such was the working of the principle in the progress of the Reformation, that nothing but the restraining hand of God himself could have kept it within any moderate bounds, and brought out of the chaotic elements of that tremendous conflict, a result which, on the whole, has been so pure and beneficial. To the rule of faith set up by the Church of Rome, may be fairly ascribed all the evil. To the rule of faith which restored the Bible to its primitive ascend. ency should be attributed all the good, and to the Lord alone should be ascribed all the “glory and the praise, for his mercy and truth's sake.”
May the influence of that only infallible standard be mani. fested more and more, my beloved brethren, until the Church of Rome herself shall have returned to her own first profession; and every discordant portion of the Church Universal shall be united once more, in Catholic harmony and peace.
Matt. xvi. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.-Jesus saith to them: But whom do you
say that I am ? Simon Peter answering, said : Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee : That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
The words which I have read to you, my brethren, are taken from the Doway Bible, that is, the translation of the Scriptures allowed and approved by the Church of Rome, to which, in all questions of controversy between them and us, we are perfectly willing to appeal, so far as any mere translation is entitled to confidence. The passage itself is of cardinal importance to their claims, since on it, chiefly, they rest their distinguishing tenet of faith, viz: that the Pope or bishop of Rome, as the successor of the apostle Peter, is the earthly head of the Catholic or Universal Church, throughout the world; and that communion with him is necessary to salvation. The consideration of this article of the Roman creed forms the subject of the following lecture, and will probably require two lectures more in order to complete even a condensed discussion of it. For independently of the general order of evidence and argument belonging to the tenet itself, it is rendered particularly difficult, not only because of the variety of sentiment existing with regard to it in the Church of Rome, but especially because no article of their creed has undergone a more serious change through the influence of the Reformation.
That we may explain it to you, brethren, with as much clearness and simplicity as we can, we shall first examine the scriptural evidence of the doctrine as it is set forth by Dr. Wiseman, in its modern and popular form; secondly, state the doctrine as it was professed before the Reformation, and as it continues to be held by the Popes to the present day; and thirdly, point out its influence upon the past history of the world : from which may be fairly inferred what its influence would probably be upon its future history, if ever, in the providence of God, it should again be suffered to prevail. Of these three topics, the first alone will be amply sufficient for the time allotted to the present lecture.
We shall therefore, without further preface, enter upon our allotted task, by stating Dr. Wiseman's definition of the doctrine. What,” saith he, "do Roman Catholics mean by the supremacy of the Pope?” And the following is his an. swer:-“It signifies that the Pope or bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, possesses authority and jurisdiction in all things spiritual over the entire Church, so as to constitute its visible head, and the vicegerent of Christ upon earth. The idea of this supremacy involves two distinct, but closely allied prerogatives: the first is, that the Pope is the centre of unity; the second, that he is the fountain of authority. By the first is signified that all the faithful must be in communion with him, through their respective pastors, who form an unbroken chain of connexion from the lowest member of the flock, to him who has been constituted its universal shepherd. To violate this union and communion constitutes the grievous
crime of schism, and destroys an essential constituent principle of Christ's religion." (P. 216, Vol. 1.)
“We likewise,” continues our author, “hold the Pope to be the source of authority, as all the subordinate rulers in the Church are subject to him, and receive, directly or indirectly, their jurisdiction from and by him. Thus the executive power is vested in his hands, for all spiritual purposes within the Church; to him is given the task of confirming his brethren in the faith; his office is to watch over the correction of abuses and the maintenance of discipline; in case of error springing up in any part, he must make the necessary investigations to discover and condemn it, and either bring the refractory to submission, or separate them, as withered branches, from the vine. In cases of great and influential disorder in faith or practice, he convenes a General Council of the pastors of the Church, presides over it in person or by his legates; and sanctions, by his approbation, its canons or decrees." (P. 217.)
5. This supremacy,” adds Dr. Wiseman, “is of a character purely spiritual, and has no connexion with any temporal jurisdiction. The sovereignty of the Pope over his own dominions is no essential portion of his dignity; his supremacy was not the less before these dominions were acquired, and should the unsearchable decrees of Providence, in the lapse of ages, deprive the Holy See” (that is, the Church of Rome) “of its temporal sovereignty, as happened to the 7th Pius, through the usurpation of a conqueror, its dominion over the Church and over the consciences of the faithful, would not be thereby impaired." (P. 218.)
Let us here pause a moment, brethren, and contemplate the idea of the Church of Christ, presented to us by the system of our Roman Catholic brethren. You perceive that it is a perfect monarchy, of which the Pope is the head, under the name of Christ's vicegerent, but with an extent of empire and pre