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believe any mystery of the faith. For belief in these mysteries requires a sacrifice of the human understanding, the greatest that man can make to his Creator; consequently, it cannot be made to any fallible authority without idolatry. Nor is the Scripture any refuge in this case; for it also, to those who reject the church, one, catholic, apostolic, and its grave testimony, is but a fallible authority; since all the copies and versions were made by fallible men, who might, through ignorance, inattention, or design, change it materially from the original; and, since the interpreters are all fallible, they concluded, that the reformers, by rejecting the authority of the catholic church, through which the christian faith was handed down to us, without interruption, from Christ and his apostles, rejected religion itself. Indeed authority is so much of the essence of revelation, that it cannot be conceived without it. Why was revelation necessary? The insufficiency and errors of the human mind, on the question of religion, and the abominations practised in the name of worship, called for divine interposition. The understanding was to be controuled, as well as enlightened. God dictated. To him, or to those manifestly delegated by him, the submission of all human faculties is due. The experience of ages before christianity, when the age of reason and superstition existed with the whole Gentile world; the necessity of checking the aberrations of the human mind, and guide it by a sure authority, to which it would submit, became apparent, even to hea
then philosophers. Cicero, who has left us an epitome of the Greek philosophy, laments the deficiency of the human intellect, to settle the important question of religion. « The question, concerning the nature of the gods, as you know, my friend Brutus, so pleasing in the investigation, so necessary for the settlement of religion, is, as you know, friend Brutus, most obscure and difficult; on which there are so many, and such contradictory opinions, published by the most learned of men, as prove sufficiently, that the first principle of sound philosophy is not yet understood.” What a candid confession of the impotence of human reason, unguided by divine authority, either immediate or delegated, towards settling the most important of human concerns. As was the case of the heathen schools of philosophy, straying after false lights, precisely similar has been, and ever shall be, the predicament of christian sects, departing from the unity and authority of the church. The one misinterpreted · the book of nature, unquestionably the handywork of God. The other despoil the written work of its legitimate authority, by depriving it of the support of its appointed testimony; and by misinterpreting, mistranslating, interpolating, and erasing, according to the whims of heated imaginations, overweaning fancies, and bewil-, dered intellects. Like the heathen schools, their doctrines will be eternally at variance with themselves, and with each other. The Irish catholic was scandalized at the commencement, and could augur no favourable issue to the rupture. He
wondered why people, who professed to worship Christ as God, could doubt his words. He gave a mission to his disciples, such as he received from the Father. He promised to be with them to the end of the world. The gates of hell, that is, death, dissolution, or decay, should not prevail over his church. He that receives you receives me; he who rejects you rejects me. Will they deny, that redemption was for all nations and ages, that the church was accordingly promised perpetuity and universality? or will they say, that God was either unwilling or unable to perform his promise ? Do they not know, that St. Paul, and all the apostles, considered the church as the pillar of truth? Well, but there were abuses. Allowed. What divine gift has not been abused by frail mortals? Must all institutions, human or divine, be therefore abolished? The way to reformation, was it to rend asunder the body of Christ, in dissolving the unity of his church? Was it by sacrilege, confiscation, plunder, massacre, and infidelity, that christians were to be reformed? These considerations disgusted Irish catholics with the principles and conduct of the so-called reformers; and long experience has classed them with the results of prudent reflection, warning against the seduction of innovators; an effect which the partizans of innovation vainly endeavour to ascribe to ignorance.