Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

argument cut short, by assuming that the Roman is the only church, or is a true church, or is a church and not an apostasy ; in all of which cases, infallibility would in some sense belong to it. When driven to argue, and required to define where the

. infallibility abides, they shift it from Pope, to Pope and Cardinals, or Pope and Councils, and finally escape into the wide unknown trackless region called the universal church. But to their own body, and in all practical cases, every individual priest does assume to himself all the power which infallibility could bestow, and finds a people ready to concede his claims and give them full deference. The assumption of infallibility for the Papacy thus acquiesced in by the ignorant people is the astonishment of every well informed man, and he can hardly believe that a claim can be really set up, which is so notoriously, so monstrously untrue. In this Roman Church, which arrogates to itself unity and infallibility, notwithstanding they have endeavoured to provide ample receptacles, where schismatics of every grade might find refuge in the various religious orders, schisms have more abounded than in any other form of Christianity whatever. This their own writers allow. Bellarmine reckons twenty-six various schisms as having rent the Papacy before 1450 ; and in many of these, truth and error were so intermingled on both sides that it is impossible to decide which of the opponents was most in

Some of the Popes were notorious heretics, as Liberius the Arian, Anastasius II. the Nestorian, and Honorius the Monothelite. Often were there two, and sometimes three, Popes at the same time_reciprocally excommunicating each other; and often was the Papal chair unfilled sometimes for the space of two years, as between Celestine IV. and Innocent IV., and between Clement IV. and Gregory X.-If from the Popes we turn to the Councils, in expectation of finding infallibility there, our confusion is rather increased than diminished. Longus the Capuchin, following Baronius, enumerates eighteen general councils as approved by all ; seven as rejected by the church ; six as partly approved and partly rejected; and one which is not positively either approved or rejected. The plea on which some of these councils are now rejected is, that they have condemned the present practices of the Papacy, as the worship of images; or excommunicated orthodox fathers, as Athanasius, or Popes acknowledged by other councils and the whole Church of Rome since. The councils partly approved and partly rejected are those, some of whose acts have been confirmed by other approved councils ; while they have also sanctioned, in their other acts, error; and one of them put forth two contradictory con

' fessions of faith, as Sardis A. D. 356. The council, concerning which the doctors cannot determine whether it be true or false, is that of Pisa, 1409; which, being assembled to heal the schism in

error.

[ocr errors]

the church, widened it, says Longus. This council deposed Gregory XII. and Benedict XIII., and made Alexander V. Pope in their stead. This Pope has always been acknowledged by his successors as truly constituted by this council, and the next Alexander called himself the Sixth. But, on the other hand, Antoninus says, p. iii. tit. 12, chap. 5," It is much to be questioned whether this council was canonically and lawfully convened, not having been summoned by the Pope.”. And Bellarmine says, that instead of remedying schism it only increased it ; for the two popes which it deposed continued refractory, and there were thus three popes claiming primacy and infallibility at the same time. Benedict XIII. and Gregory XII. were condemned by this council as both being perjured, schismatic, heretical, conniving at and fostering heretics. Such is the infallibility of popes and councils ! But if infallibility and unity of faith is not to be found in popes and councils, it is no where to be found in the Roman Church. For let the modern Romanists say what they will, the Pope is the sole recognizable head of the Papacy. And though the Pope is elected by cardinals in ordinary and by councils in extraordinary cases, and may thus seem their creature and inferior, yet this is only of a piece with that system of reasoning in a circle which pervades the Papacy. For the councils themselves are accounted genuine, according as they have been approved by genuine popes; and every member of the Roman Church is required, and in the creed of the Council of Trent professes, sincerely to hold as the true catholic faith, without which no one can be saved : “I promise true obedience to the bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, prince of the Apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ. I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy council of Trent."

The Papal pretensions, and the sins in which they terminate, are gross, palpable, and obvious: the opposite of these are the errors of the Dissenters, who seem to have mistaken “ reverse of wrong for right.” The Papacy, compressing all into one external form, and putting the same varnish over all, produced a mockery of unity-the symmetry of constraint alone, the beauty only of a whited sepulchre. But the Dissenters have not only thrown off the restraint and the colouring, but virtually denied the reality of the unity sought for, by breaking down differences and attenuating bonds to that degree that scarcely any are excluded, and a very slender bond of union remains. of Independent, which a large body have assumed, is characteristic of the whole. In pursuit of spiritual attainments, they too often assume independence of all ordinances, whether of God or man; and their very pastor becomes the elected and nominal

[ocr errors]

The name

[ocr errors]

head, but the real dependent of the congregation; as each cogregation is, in every sense, independent of the universal church of Christ, and unable to profess sincerely and intelligently, “I believe in one catholic and apostolic church.”

The errors of the Papacy have arisen from ante-dating or anticipating the offices of Christ, which he shall fill at his second coming, and till that time are reserved in heaven; which, therefore, it is an usurpation of his personal dignity, in the Papacy to forestall

. The Dissenters, instead of anticipating these offices, make them void by what they call a spiritual interpretation. The Scriptures often declare to the church, “ Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,” &c.; and they give thanks unto Him who hath made them kings and priests unto God, by whom they shall reign on the earth. The Pope, anticipating these honours, claims supremacy over kings and the priesthood, which belongs now to Christ alone. The Dissenters say we are already kings and priests spiritually-kings ruling our own passions priests offering spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. This may be tolerable in poetry, in which it has been said, " My mind to me a kingdom is;" but it is intolerable in religion, which is conversant with realities alone, and which the very touch of fiction destroys. A king in Scripture rules over others like himself; a priest must have offerings of others to present: and if all are alike kings, where are the subjects to rule over? Should all alike be priest, where the need or the place for offerings? The Scripture forbids such equalization: a gradation of ranks has been a constituent part of all former dispensations; and such gradation, both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs, subsists under the Christian dispensation.

The doctrine of the Lordship of Christ, the knowing assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom men have crucified both LORD and CHRIST(Acts ii. 36), as it is the most prominent fact in the preaching of the Apostles, so is it the most important point to hold up to the church in all ages. By a reference to the Lordship of Christ, all things may be kept in their proper places : the individual takes his proper place under the powers that be, as the ordinance of God; the king takes his under Christ the King of kings; each member of the church of Christ finds its place and feels its connection with him the Head; and the whole body collectively acknowledges its subjection to HIM, having no will, no power, but as derived from her glorified LORD, by the indwelling of his Spirit, God working in them to will and to do according to his good pleasure. But Christ being the source of power both in church and state, the election virtually rests with him as well as the delegation; and to assume to ourselves the one or the other, seems to be a responsibility no less awful than of touching the prerogative of the Lord of heaven

[ocr errors]

and earth. If, again, it be granted, that authority descends froin Christ, its constant course must be from the higher to the lower : a power must be clearly given before it can be conferred upon another. In the affairs of state, this has been recognised in all Christian countries, the king being esteemed the fountain of honour and of power, all nobility and magistracy descending from him; and we at once perceive the absurdity of creating a peer or a magistrate by the suffrages of the people, or by any thing less than royal authority. But the same principle extends to the affairs of the church, where Christ is indisputably the Head by consent still more general than in affairs of state; by, we presume, universal consent. Christ then being the Head of the church, ecclesiastical authority descends from him, and must be conferred before it can be exercised or transmitted to another, nay, conferred with power to transmit. As “Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, so no man taketh this honour unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron ;” and no man may make his own wishes or inclination a warrant for pressing into the holy office. And as, without controversy, the less is blessed of the greater, so no man may take authority to preach or administer the ordinances from those who have no authority themselves, or an authority inferior to an apostle and minister of Jesus Christ; not from a layman, not from a lay elder, not from a minister whose ordination came through such ; for any intervention of an unauthorised person breaks the continuity of transmission, and completely invalidates the commission. But though this be the principle deducible from Scripture, and to be laid down strongly as a principle, yet there lies an appeal to facts, which regulates and controuls the general principle. For cases may arise, and we are warranted in Scripture to expect them, when God will again revert to ordination from himself-as immediate and direct as to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, and to Paul journeying to Damascus. But these extraordinary commissions must be attested by the same gifts as those given to the Apostles ; and we may not receive such persons unless they exhibít “the signs of an apostle." In regular ordination, we are bound in charity to believe that the apostolic authority and power is transmitted : where there has been no regular ordination, we are bound to demand proof in the gifts. When the power and authority is recognised, as now residing in Christ, and descending from him, and held for him, we have the true source and centre of unity, and have no difficulty in adjusting every thing thereby. When the Son of Man was glorified, then God was glorified in him (John xiii. 31); and this he transmitted to the church : “ The glory which thou (saith Jesus to the Father) gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one,” (xvii. 22); and this is the root of unity in the church. The unity thus attained is expressed by a variety of figures denoting a whole of many parts, each necessary to the other, and all to the completeness of the whole. As a building_fitly framed together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. ii. 21); as a body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth (Eph. iv. 16). And Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith, is represented as the foundation and chief corner-stone of the temple ; and he who is "made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, is Head over all things to his body the church.” Being thus represented as one in their standing, the church is called to unity of faith and hope. “There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all” (Eph. iv. 6): and not only towards God, but towards each other, are they called to unity.“ If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of

, the Spirit, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. ii. 2).

This oneness in Christ through the Spirit, binding the members of his body both to their heavenly Father, and to each other, is manifested in brotherly love, “that he who loveth God, love his brother also” (1 John iv. 21). And the doctrine of one Catholic Apostolic Church, and the communion of saints, forms an article in every orthodox creed. Creeds are both the expression and the bond of unity, bringing into a point the doctrines on which agreement is indispensible, and defining them in such a manner as to prevent mistake. For sixteen centuries the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds were the standards of orthodoxy and the signs of unity in the church. These contained all the doctrines essential to salvation; and though superstitions had grown into practice, they were not embodied in creeds, nor had any of the essential doctrines been thrust aside to make way for them. The creed of Gregory IX. prefixed to the Decretals, contains but one word (semper) in which error need be apprehended, the rest is clearly orthodox; and this creed was not put forth to supersede the former standards of the church. But after the dismissal of the Council of Trent, Pius IV. drew up into twelve new articles, the chief errors and superstitions which the pride and tyranny of the Roman hierarchy had imposed upon an ignorant people, appended these new articles to the Nicene Creed, thus making void all previous doctrine respecting the church, and sealing the Papacy an Apostasy. Every Romanist has since that time been required to profess with the Nicene Creed, “I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church ;' and to conclude in the words of Pope Pius, " I acknowledge the Holy Catholic

« AnteriorContinuar »