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himself; that the God of truth and unity will not be displeased at the various and discordant opinions of his worshippers or that any system of belief, supposed to be derived from the Scriptures, may be equally available to salvation, provided it be held in sincerity; neither the heresy of Arius, nor any other departure from the primitive doctrine, would have moved their indignation, or excited their fears. Far different were their sentiments 'respecting the nature of that faith to which salvation was promised; and the extent of their own duty, as its appointed guardians. The fearful woe denounced against those who believed not what the Apostles taught, was deeply impressed upon their hearts: they knew how solemnly they had been charged, to contend earnestly for the truth, and how tremendous would be their punishment, if they neglected to preserve the sacred deposit, as it had been delivered to them, whole and undefiled. And therefore, when the holy name of their Lord and their God was blasphemed, and a prophane attempt was made to rob him of his glory, and to reduce him to a level with the creatures whom he himself had formed; they cheerfully obeyed the call, which summoned them to bear public testimony to the apostolic doctrine, and to establish, by the universal consent of the Catholic Church, that uniformity of faith, by which true Christians must ever be distinguished. Here then we may safely rest; for higher evidence of the general sense of the Church cannot possibly be produced than that of this council ; which has been justly " styled, by the learned and indefatigable defender of its confession, “ the “most august and holy assembly ever “ witnessed by the Christian world, since “the death of the Apostles.”
III. It has however been contended, that a unity of faith cannot be necessary, because it is impossible to be obtained; that the mere natural difference of intellectual faculty, by which mankind is distinguished, will ever create differences of opinion; and that the attempts to make all men think alike on religious subjects,
u See Note XLIV. Appendix.
is as hopeless, as to reduce their stature, their features, or their mental attainments, to one common standard. They who argue in this manner appear to mistake the question; and to baye formed erroneous ideas, even of the nature of faith itself, as
assent of the mind to the truth of a divine revelation. For, so considered, the very nature of the evidence on which faith is built, and the character of the revelation which is proposed to its acceptance, seem to preclude that discussion, which might generate variety of sentiment. The truths which are its subject not being in themselves inferable from any data discoverable by man's natural faculties, there is no room for speculating upon them, as if they were the deductions of human reasoning. They are rendered credible, not as established by such species of argument, but as proved to be communicated by a Being of unerring wisdom. Wherever therefore the record containing them is acknowledged to be of divine original, there they ought to be re
* See Note XLV. Appendix. * BÝ!. y See Note XLVI. Appendix.
ceived in the precise sense in which the record delivers them; a sense to be deduced from the literal meaning and grammatical construction of its language, by the same process which enables us to understand the works of any secular author.
» Something more than ' opinion, grounded on mere abstract reasoning, was the foundation of St. Peter's steady adherence to his heavenly Master; when, for himself and his fellow Apostles, he declared, 4-We « believe and are sure, that thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God :". something more than the result of mere human conjecture was also the faith exacted by Philip from the Eunuch, as the condition of his admission into the family of God; b "If thou believest with all thine
heart,” said he, “ thou mayest be bap
In these instances, no mere speculative opinion was required or professed; it was a firm and rooted conviction, that the fact was even as it was delivered. And he
2 See Note XLVII. Appendix.
who remembers, that the faithful Christian does not believe the doctrines of his religion, because he barely supposes that they may be true, but because he is assured, upon the infallible testimony of God, that they are so, will allow, that, with respect to doctrines thus delivered and attested, all reasoning is irrelevant, which precludes a reference to that evidence on which they depend. Our Church accordingly declares, that ° « nothing is to be re
quired of any man, that it should be be“ lieved, as an article of the faith, which is ~ not read in Scripture, or may be proved “ thereby.” This she regards as the only testimony relative to divine things, which can demand that unreserved assent, and that d submission of the understanding, which are essential to faith. She calls
her members to receive the three creeds she has adopted, not merely on account of their antiquity, nor even of their universal reception in the Church throughout so many ages; though both these circumstances may well
c Article VI.
d See Note XLVIII. Appendix.