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Title: An Essay on Papal Infallibility
Author: Higgins, Aileen Cleveland
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1850 Francis & John Rivington edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                                 LONDON:
                      GILBERT & RIVINGTON, PRINTERS,
                            ST. JOHN’S SQUARE.

                                * * * * *



                                    AN
                                  ESSAY
                                    ON
                           PAPAL INFALLIBILITY.


                                * * * * *

                             BY THE VENERABLE
                            JOHN SINCLAIR M.A.
                         ARCHDEACON OF MIDDLESEX,
                         AND VICAR OF KENSINGTON.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                        FRANCIS & JOHN RIVINGTON,
               ST. PAUL’S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE.

                                  1850.

                                * * * * *



ON PAPAL INFALLIBILITY.


    “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that
    whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to
    be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of
    the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”—_Sixth
    Article of Religion_.

    “As we deny not those things that are written, so we refuse those
    that are not written.”—_Jerome_. {1}

    “The Spirit of God, therefore, is the only infallible judge here; and
    has declared as plainly as any successive judges can, in those things
    that are necessary to life and salvation, what is to be believed and
    to be done; which if we believe and practise in particular, and do
    also in general, and implicitly believe and stand in a readiness to
    obey the rest of the Scripture, when the sense thereof appears to us,
    we are in a safe condition, and need not doubt but it will go well
    with us in the other state.”—_Works of Henry More_, pp. 453, 454.

EVERY reflecting Christian, as soon almost as he is capable of
reflection, must have continual occasion to observe with sorrow and
anxiety the multiplied varieties of opinion that divide the Church of
Christ, on every point or article of Christian faith; the confidence with
which every sect lays claim exclusively to the possession of saving
knowledge, and the unqualified severity with which each party reprobates
the other, as being implicated in unpardonable heresy.  On hearing (and
who can escape hearing?) the fulmination of these mutual anathemas, we
not only grieve for the state of dreadful peril in which, if we admit
such principles, a large proportion of our neighbours, friends, and
fellow Christians must be involved: but we grieve likewise on our own
account.  We are visited with doubts, misgivings, and apprehensions, lest
we ourselves, through ignorance or prejudice, should have adopted
unawares into our creed some article containing deadly error; or should
have omitted something indispensable to salvation.

In this state of intellectual and spiritual perplexity, if we want the
Christian industry and moral courage to work out for ourselves, by the
help of God, this greatest of all problems, we are in a state of passive
readiness to receive counsel from the first adviser.  Among the multitude
of counsellors who present themselves, none is more importunately
obtrusive, or more dictatorially confident than the Romanist; and I
propose, for the subject of this essay, to examine successively the
remedies and expedients he suggests for calming our disquietude, and
restoring our religious peace.

He informs us that our state of mind is the necessary consequence of
adhering to a Protestant communion; and that we never can obtain repose
and satisfaction until we enter the Catholic Church—until, with the other
wandering sheep dispersed over the forbidden pastures of the earth, we
return with humble penitence to the fold which we have left; until, in
short, we renounce all dependence on the conclusions of uncertain reason,
and establish our Faith for ever upon the dictates of infallibility.
“That there must,” he adds, “be some where upon earth an infallible
living judge, an arbiter of religious controversy incapable of error, an
authority from whose decision on points of faith there can be no appeal,
is a plain and obvious principle, which, on proper reflection, you will
find impossible to be rejected.  Not to insist on arguments from
Scripture, although sufficiently conclusive, and capable in themselves of
proving that such an arbiter has been appointed, there are independent
considerations in favour of infallibility which ought to satisfy every
reasonable mind: for the wise Creator of man would never grant a
revelation to his creatures, and then leave them to the direction of
their own erring judgment in ascertaining the truths revealed.  The
benevolent Creator of man must know that man is fallible; that he needs
indispensably a conductor; and that without some infallible conductor the
benefits of revelation would be doubtful and precarious.  But if
infallibility exist at all in the Church, it must exist in the Papal
communion, which alone makes the least pretension to the privilege.
Therefore, only reconcile yourself to our infallibly directed Church, and
you will no longer find occasion for uneasiness.  You will be guided
safely through all the mazes of theological disputation.  Instead of
being ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine’
{3a} on a shoreless ocean of uncertainty and error, you will repose with
comfort and unruffled calm in the quiet haven of infallibility.”

On the promulgation of these assurances our disquietude would at once be
tranquillized, if we could but persuade ourselves that the promise of
infallible direction, would be as certainly fulfilled, as it is
confidently made.  But here lies the difficulty.  The assertions of our
Romish counsellor are bold, but the principle from which he argues is
fallacious.  The assumed principle, that the human mind is capable of
prejudging what conduct the Creator must pursue towards his creatures, or
of pre-determining what benefits he must bestow, is incompatible with our
nature, and irreconcilable with experience. {3b}  We may perhaps admit,
that if infallibility be found at all in the Church, it must be found in
that branch which alone pretends to the privilege: but are we warranted
to conclude that God must have granted this extraordinary privilege,
merely because we think it likely, or proper, or desirable, that He
should grant it?  Can we safely infer, in any case, that God _must_ have
done what we think it right that He should do; and make this inference
independently of all proof, that He has actually done so?  Is it not
dictatorial, and hazardous in the last degree, to determine by abstract
reasonings, what line of conduct it would be proper for an all-perfect,
and all-wise Being to adopt, till evidence appear that He has really
adopted it?  We may indeed rest assured, in general, that God will do
nothing arbitrary or irrational; but how often and how fatally should we
be misled, did we venture to predict that a certain course of Divine
action is alone rational, benevolent, and just—and, therefore, _must_
have been the course actually followed by the Almighty!  If we admit this
mode of reasoning, and hazard speculations of this kind, we should
certainly think it reasonable, that if God created sensitive beings, He
would make infallible provision against every error or mistake, which
might render them liable to fall from a state of holiness into a state of
guilt and misery.  We should think it further reasonable for Him to cause
those most essential truths of religion, his own existence and
perfections, to rest on evidence infallible and demonstrative; so as to
preclude all doubt or hesitation in the most sceptical inquirer.  Or, (to
suppose another case,) in disputed questions of political importance
among nations, since war and bloodshed cannot otherwise be prevented, we
should think it reasonable for Him to appoint some great judge of
international law, by whom all differences might infallibly be
determined, and the blessings of tranquillity and peace secured to all
the kingdoms of the earth.

But God has not fulfilled these expectations, though to all appearance
highly reasonable.  He has left both men and angels to the freedom of
their own wills; and has created them not only capable of abusing that
gift of freedom, but of involving themselves in sin and wickedness, and
in everlasting ruin.  He has afforded no infallible, no demonstrative
evidence of his own existence and perfections; but has left mankind to
ascertain these fundamental truths from principles of abstract reason,
and by reflections on the works of nature and of Providence.  He permits
contending nations to decide their quarrels by an appeal to arms: and
notwithstanding all the mischiefs consequent upon war, has not thought
fit to make that effectual provision against this widely desolating
source of evil, which our human wisdom, if appealed to, would probably
have suggested; namely, the appointment of an unerring and authoritative
arbiter.  We are, therefore, not entitled to argue that God in his
kingdom of grace must unquestionably have pursued a course, which, in his
kingdom of Providence, He has not pursued; nor to maintain that to
silence all religious controversies, He must indispensably have had
recourse to an expedient which, in political disputes, He has neglected.
We are not entitled to infer, that He must necessarily have determined,
by the authority of an infallible judge, the less essential truths of
religion; when He has left the fundamental truths of all, to be
determined by our own erring reason.  We are not entitled to infer, that
the Creator of men must have made infallible provision against their
falling into heresy or “believing a lie,” and thus frustrating the means
for their restoration to a state of holiness and happiness; when He made
no provision of that kind against their fall. {5}

But granting to our Romanist adviser that his representations were as
sound as they are fallacious; still they could only lead us to a
probable, and never to an infallible conclusion.  The strength of the
building must be proportionate to the solidity of its foundation.  If our
faith in the supposed infallible arbiter is to be founded on the validity
and force of the arguments and conjectures which have been stated; our
faith in the decisions of that arbiter cannot be greater than our faith
in the arguments and conjectures which support his infallibility.  Since
these proofs, at the very utmost, are any thing but demonstrations, and
are only probabilities, we cannot under any circumstances have more than
probability to guide us: and we therefore end as we began, and our
disquietude even on our admission of an unerring judge, remains exactly
as before.  Our Romish advocate, however, is not discomfited.  He
proceeds to affirm that the pretensions of his Church are supported by
analogy.  He reminds us that the Church of God, under the Jewish
dispensation, was directed by an infallible human authority; and that the
same high privilege, being equally wanted, might be equally expected in
the Christian œconomy.  He quotes for this purpose those magnificent
assurances of God’s peculiar favour and protection, to be found
throughout the books of Moses and of the prophets; and relies especially
on the remarkable rule established by the legislator of Israel to this
effect: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, thou
shalt come unto the Priests, the Levites, and unto the Judge that shall
be in those days, and inquire, and they shall show thee the sentence of
judgment.  And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken
unto the Priest, or unto the Judge, even that man shall die.” {6}

To this argument from analogy we may reply, that the alleged fact on
which the analogy depends, is unfounded.  The Jewish Church was not
infallible.  The evidence adduced to prove it so is totally inadequate;
and unanswerable evidence may be brought forward to prove it otherwise.
With respect to the text in question, it has not the remotest connexion
with matters of faith: it relates entirely to matters of civil
government.  The introductory words of the passage, if quoted fairly, and
at full length, must satisfy every reader, that they apply only to
secular litigation: that what is here enjoined by the Mosaic law is
submission to the legal magistrate, not assent to any article of Faith:
that the contumacy here forbidden under penalty of death, was not heresy
but rebellion; not obstinate error, but obstinate disobedience.  “If
there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, _between blood and
blood_, _between plea and plea_, _and between stroke and stroke_, _&c._”
{7a}—an evident reference this to civil litigation.

Besides, however encouraging the language of the Jewish Scripture
respecting God’s “everlasting kindness” to his “chosen people,” we know
on the authority of their own historians, that they went continually
wrong.  Even in the days of undoubted divine interposition we read that
“the people corrupted themselves, and turned aside quickly out of the way
which God commanded them.” {7b}  “Aaron” (their supposed infallible
guide) “made a golden calf, and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel,
which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt:” again, we are informed
concerning Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that “he took counsel, and made
two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up
to Jerusalem, behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the
land of Egypt.” {7c}  Further, it is recorded of Elijah, that he
complained of the Church of Israel, as if it had entirely apostatized and
disappeared from the earth.  He exclaims in his address to God, “The
children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars,
and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only am left.”  We
read of Ahab that he gathered his prophets together, about four hundred
men, and that there was only one individual, Micaiah, “a prophet of the
Lord.” {7d}  Jeremiah laments over his corrupt times, exclaiming, “A
wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land: the Prophets
prophesy falsely, and the Priests bear rule through their means; and my
people love to have it so.” {7e}  Isaiah complains of the Jewish
priesthood in his time, under the figurative name of “watchmen,” that
they were “blind,” that they were all “ignorant shepherds that could not
understand.” {7f}  But finally, to omit many less remarkable instances of
error and apostasy, our blessed Saviour Himself was condemned by the
Jewish Church and crucified.  Since therefore the Jewish Church was not
infallible, the argument from analogy, whatever value our Romish friend
may attach to it, is all distinctly on our side.  If previous to the
Christian æra no unerring director was appointed, none may be appointed
now.

The next resource of our ingenious disputant is to affirm, that unless
the Church possessed infallibility we could have no certain nor
infallible belief of the Scriptures, for which his Church is our
authority.  To this sophism we can easily reply, by corresponding cases.
The copyists and librarians who have preserved to us the Greek and Latin
classics are not, on that account, infallible expositors of classical
antiquity.  Supposing, therefore, that we are exclusively indebted to
Romanism for transmitting to us the sacred oracles, it does not follow
that Romanists interpret them infallibly.  It happens also,
(unfortunately for Romanist pretensions,) that we are not indebted to any
local tradition, such as that of the Church of Rome, for the preservation
of the canonical books of Scripture; but to the universal tradition of
Christendom.  Perhaps we are more under obligation to the Greek than to
the Latin Church; both because the writings of the New Testament were
originally in Greek, and because the chief authorities to prove their
genuineness and authenticity, as well as the earliest enumerations of
them are not Romish, but oriental productions. {8}

It thus appears that infallibility is not demonstrable by abstract
reasonings and analogies, but must be proved, if it be proved at all, by
direct evidence.  To evidence of this latter description we readily give
attention, and request our Romanist to inform us what he has to offer in
the shape of an explicit promise from God to support the claims of the
Romish Church.  At the same time we give him warning, that before he can
satisfy our minds, he must lay before us full and categorical information
on the following particulars: namely,

1.  By what organ the infallible oracles of Rome are delivered.

2.  By what evidence the claim to infallibility, as existing in that
organ, is established; and

3.  On what security we can rely, that our own fallible reason will not
mistake nor misconceive the doctrine propounded for our belief.

Our desire of satisfaction on these points is not expressed in any
captious spirit, but is suggested by the necessity of the case.  For if
we cannot infallibly discover in what person or persons infallibility
resides; if the Romanist cannot prove to us by infallible arguments, that
infallibility belongs to the person or persons for whom he claims it; and
if further, we cannot obtain from our instructor in Romanism some
infallible security that we shall understand the doctrines proposed to
us: it plainly follows that the infallibility he so pertinaciously
insists upon, must be to us a matter of indifference, attended with no
one practical result.  Our doubts and perplexities will continue
unresolved, and we shall be compelled to seek some other guide to the
peace and certainty we so anxiously desiderate.

But unhappily in all these respects the promises of our Romish advocate,
the more they are examined, appear the more unstable and unsafe.  For
first of all, when we inquire by what _organ_ the infallible oracles are
promulgated; he is obliged to acknowledge, that this important point has
been for ages a subject of much dispute, and a question very far from
being yet infallibly determined.  Various are the conflicting
authorities, the whole of which it would be needless, or perhaps
impossible to enumerate. {9}  Some learned Romanists are of opinion that
infallibility is lodged in the Roman Pontiff, as successor to St. Peter:
others of equal learning are inclined to place it in a general Council: a
third party, not conceiving that a Pope or Council singly is infallible,
ascribe infallibility to both in conjunction: and fourthly, there are not
wanting numerous and learned authorities who insist that even the decrees
of a general Council, ratified by the Pope, are not to be accounted
infallible, until they have been received by the Church Universal.

This explanation is very far from satisfactory: for we thus perceive,
(according to the avowal of Romanists themselves,) our liability to
continual mistakes and misapprehensions respecting the real quarter where
infallible direction can be found.  If we take a Pope or Council singly
for our guide, we have no security for avoiding deadly heresy; for a Pope
or Council singly may be heretical.  On the other hand, if we study to
avoid this danger by attaching our faith exclusively to a Pope and
Council in conjunction, (that is, to the decree of a general Council
ratified by Papal sanction,) we fall into another danger, and may reject
or omit some necessary doctrine, to which a Pope or Council singly has
affixed the seal of infallibility.

This admitted uncertainty as to the quarter of the earth towards which we
are to look for infallible guidance, is a ground of fair presumption,
perhaps even of demonstration, that infallibility is in no quarter to be
found.  For the very object of infallibility is the removal of all doubt;
but doubt can never be removed while the question, who is the remover of
it, remains unfixed, and impossible to be decided.  To receive assurances
the most positive and solemn, that all our doubts shall be resolved; and
yet to be told that the authority for resolving them is doubtful, is to
use a cruel mode of trifling with our simplicity.  For it has been long
and painfully remarked, as the reproach of Romanists, that, on their
principles, the greatest controversy among Christians is, how to fix the
organ by which, or by whom, controversies shall be unerringly determined.
{10}

Finding ourselves disappointed that this great question, in what place
the infallible oracle resides, remains still in agitation, we next
entreat our Papal adviser to explain the grounds on which the several
parties he has mentioned claim the lofty privilege ascribed to them.  And
since a living judge, sitting constantly in one spot, and therefore
always ready to be consulted, is incomparably more desirable as the organ
of unerring truth, than an assembly of divines, whom it is often
difficult to call together; we are all attention, waiting eagerly to hear
in the first place the claims of the Roman Pontiff, and to receive, if
possible, such clear and convincing arguments for Pontifical
infallibility, that henceforward we shall be able to rely upon it with
infallible assurance.

In compliance with this request, our Papal guide adduces what he
considers evidence from Scripture, and rests the Papal cause upon the
following declarations of our Lord.  First, “Thou art Peter, and upon
this rock I will build my church;” secondly, “I will give unto thee the
keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall
be loosed in heaven;” thirdly, “I have prayed that thy faith fail not;”
and lastly, “Feed my sheep.” {11}

When we learn that these quotations are brought forward as sufficient
grounds for establishing an infallible assurance of Papal infallibility,
our first impression is of surprise: and our surprise increases into
amazement, the more we try to follow our guide, and to rest an infallible
assurance upon reasons so uncertain and precarious.  There is throughout
the texts quoted, no mention of the Roman Pontiff whatever, nor any
distinct allusion to the subject of infallibility.  It therefore seems
extremely difficult to comprehend how any reasoning man should thence
infer that the Pontiff is infallible.  But here we are next given to
understand that his Holiness, as successor to St. Peter, inherits all the
privileges of St. Peter; and that what our Saviour promised to that
Apostle was not promised to him personally, but to his successors in all
ages.  Yet, on examining the authorities again, we find no warrant for
the conclusion asserted.  There is nothing to assure us infallibly,
nothing which would even lead us to suspect that our Lord looked further
than to the Apostle himself, or conferred upon him any privilege not
shared in common with his brethren.  Our Saviour’s prayer that the faith
of Peter might not fail, and his subsequent restoration of him to the
Apostolic office by the thrice repeated charge of “Feed my sheep,” have
obvious reference to the character and conduct of that disciple—at one
time an apostate, afterwards an accepted penitent.  They can relate to no
other person, and to no other circumstances.  And “it is absurd,” as
Bishop Stillingfleet observes, “to infer an impossibility in the Pope of
falling, from a promise to St. Peter of recovery” and restoration. {12a}
Again, the promise, “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound
in heaven,” {12b} conveys no peculiar advantage or pre-eminence to St.
Peter; for the very same power is conveyed afterwards by our Lord Himself
to the whole number of the Apostles.  “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose
soever sins _ye_ remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever
sins _ye_ retain, they are retained.” {12c}  In respect to the privilege
with which that promise is introduced, “I give unto thee the keys of the
kingdom of heaven,” if these words really have any meaning distinct from
the power already mentioned of binding and loosing, they refer
prophetically to St. Peter, as the person by whose instrumentality the
gates of the Church would be opened to mankind.  And accordingly with one
key the Apostle, on the day of Pentecost, opened the gate of the Church
to the believing Jews and proselytes, when by the sermon which he
preached at Jerusalem he converted about three thousand souls; and with
the other key he afterwards opened the gate of the Church to Cornelius
and his friends, who were the first Gentile converts. {13a}

The declaration, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock {13b} I will build
my church,” is a text of very ambiguous meaning, and cannot therefore be
the ground of infallible assurance.  We have no means of clearly
ascertaining whether our Lord refers to the person of St. Peter as a
foundation for the Church, or to the confession of St. Peter made in the
preceding verse.  “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.”  A
large proportion of the fathers, including Hilary, Chrysostom, Theodoret,
Theophylact, and Augustin, {13c} understood our Saviour’s declaration as
referring solely to the confession of Faith made so distinctly and so
zealously by the Apostle.  The text itself seems evidently to require the
interpretation.  To speak strictly, Christ Himself is the sole foundation
of the Christian Church; and an Apostle could only be so in a secondary
sense.  In this secondary sense, however, the Church is not founded upon
St. Peter only in particular, but on the Apostolic college in general; as
St. Paul more than once affirmed.  “Ye are built,” he says to the
Ephesians, “upon the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being
the chief corner stone.” {13d}  “Other foundation,” he says to the
Corinthians, “can no man lay.” {13e}  And again, addressing the Church of
Corinth, (when the same inspired writer reckons up the different
gradations of Christian ministers,) he does not mention St. Peter first,
as nearer the foundation than any other member of the Apostolic college;
but speaks of the whole body in the following general terms; “God hath
set some in his Church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly
teachers.” {13f}  The Revelations of St. John describe in like manner the
wall of the holy city, as having “twelve foundations, and in them the
names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” {14a}

There is not a vestige therefore of scriptural evidence, much less an
infallible demonstration, that the successors of St. Peter, whoever they
may be, are possessed of infallibility.  And supposing his successors to
be infallible, there is not the slightest scriptural ground for believing
that his successors are the Bishops of Rome.  On this point, so vitally
essential to the Papal cause, the sacred writings are wholly silent.
They indeed inform us that this Apostle preached at Jerusalem, at
Cæsarea, at Joppa, and at Antioch, but they no where even intimate that
he ever was at Rome: still less therefore can we expect them to affirm
that he was local Bishop of that See; and least of all, that the Roman
Bishops (in preference to the Bishops in other churches of which he was
the founder,) were heirs of his peculiar privileges; and along with other
Apostolic privileges, inherited infallibility, while they lost the gifts
of miracles and of tongues. {14b}

The absence of proofs from Scripture in favour of the Papal claims, is by
no means compensated by a plenitude of evidence from antiquity.  In
ancient times the pretension to infallibility, instead of being
universally acknowledged, was not even alleged.  It was never so much as
mentioned.  Churches and Fathers, in the primitive age, on occasions of
their dissenting from the Roman Pontiff, so far from yielding reverently
and implicitly to his opinions, openly contested them like those of any
other bishop, metropolitan, or patriarch.  Nay, they even sometimes
excommunicated their infallible superior. {14c}  The Roman Pontiff, on
the other hand, so far from crushing opposition by the verdict of
infallibility, endeavoured always to support his doctrine by the
authority of Scripture, of reason, or of antiquity.  When appeals were
made to him by disputants in a later age, it was never stated or imagined
to be their ground of selecting him as their arbiter, that his decision
would be infallible; but only that he merited such a tribute of respect,
either in consideration of his private character, as a wise, just, and
holy individual, or by virtue of his official rank as bishop of the
imperial city. {15a}

When Byzantium was raised to the same imperial eminence, by the name of
Constantinople, or New Rome, the Byzantine Patriarch was declared by the
second general council held A.D. 381, to be of equal dignity with his
Roman brother.  Precedence only, or nominal priority, was reserved to the
episcopate of the more ancient capital.  This reservation was confirmed
A.D. 451, by the fourth general council held at Chalcedon; in the decrees
of which the reason given for this nominal priority of Old over New Rome
is merely political, and has nothing to do with spiritual concerns.  “The
Fathers,” say the members of this later council (referring to their
predecessors), “have justly assigned the eldership to the seat of elder
Rome—on account of the kingly or imperial authority of that city (_διὰ τὸ
βασιλεύειν τὴν πόλιν ἐκείνην_), and they have assigned equal privileges
(_τὰ ἴσα πρέσβεια_) to New Rome, rationally judging that the city which
was honoured by the imperial power and by the residence of the Senate,
and which enjoyed equal privileges with Royal Rome, its elder sister,
should, like her, be exalted in ecclesiastical rank.” (_πόλιν καὶ τῶν
ἴσων ἀπολαύουσαν πρεσβείων τῇ πρεσβυτέρα βασιλίδι Ῥώμης_.) {15b}

That the Roman Bishops were never allowed to arrogate infallibility by
the ancient Church is further evident from the fact, that they were not
allowed even to claim supreme jurisdiction.  The Patriarch of Rome had no
ecclesiastical authority beyond certain provinces and churches termed
suburbicary (_ecclesiæ suburbicariæ_), including, at the most, certain
districts of Italy, together with the adjacent islands. {16a}  The other
four Patriarchs (of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem,)
were entirely independent of their Roman colleague, and of each other.
When John, Patriarch of Constantinople, towards the close of the sixth
century, put forth a claim to supreme and universal rule in the Church,
encouraged in this insolent pretension by the residence of the emperor
within the limits of his See—the Popes of that period, Pelagius and
Gregory the Great, resisted with great energy his pretensions; not
however as interfering with their own supremacy, but as being in
themselves presumptuous and anti-Christian.  “Pay no attention,” says
Pelagius, “to the power which he unlawfully usurps under the name of
universality.  Let no patriarch ever apply to himself so profane a title.
You may foresee, my dearest brethren, the mischievous consequences from
such beginnings of perverseness among the priesthood.  For he
(_antichrist_) is near, of whom it is written that he maketh himself king
over all the sons of pride.” {16b}  “No one of my predecessors,” says
Gregory the successor of Pelagius, “ever thought of using so profane an
appellation; for if one Patriarch assumes the title of universal, it is
lost to all the others.  But far, very far be it from the mind of a
Christian, to grasp at any thing by which he may appear in any the
slightest measure to derogate from the honour of his brethren.” {17a}  In
another passage he thus energetically addresses his overbearing fellow
patriarch; “What wilt thou say to Christ, the Head of the Universal
Church, in the trial of the last judgment, who, by the appellation of
Universal, dost endeavour to subject all his members to thyself?  Whom, I
pray, dost thou mean to imitate in so perverse a word, but Him, who,
despising the legions of angels, constituted in fellowship with Him,
endeavoured to break forth unto the height of singularity, that He might
both be subject to none, and alone be over all?  Who also said, ‘I will
ascend into heaven, and will exalt my throne above the stars.’—For what
are thy brethren, all the Bishops of the Universal Church, but the stars
of heaven, to whom, while by this haughty word thou desirest to prefer
thyself, and to trample on their name in comparison with thyself; what
dost thou say, but I will climb into heaven?”  In other places he brands
the titles which John had assumed, as “pompous,” “foolish,” “proud,”
“perverse,” “wicked,” and “profane:” as names of “singularity,”
“elation,” “vanity,” and “blasphemy.”  He insists that there was “one
sole Head of the Church, viz. Christ,” and sums up all with this strong
prophetic denunciation: “I may confidently declare, that whenever any man
styles himself, or desires to be styled, universal priest, such a man, by
so exalting himself, becomes forerunner of antichrist, because by pride
he sets himself above his brethren.” {17b}

The attempts which have been made to reconcile the indignant language of
Pelagius and Gregory, with the usurped prerogatives of their successors,
by ingeniously exaggerating the pretensions of the Eastern Patriarch, are
utterly ineffectual.  Indeed, if evidence were required to prove that the
assumptions of the Papacy in the present day are not inferior to those of
the Patriarch of the East, we need not go farther in quest of such
evidence than the Papal Brief of September last.  For we do not read that
John of Constantinople ever ventured of his own will and pleasure to
extinguish two ancient archiepiscopal sees, together with the whole
diocesan Episcopate of both provinces.  We do not read that John ever had
the hardihood to abolish all the Constitutions and Canons, however
ancient, of an independent National Church, and to substitute for them
the _jus commune_, or common law of Constantinople.  We do not read that
John ever presumed to grant territorial designations, and titles of
honour, to his own nominees, contrary to the civil constitution of a
powerful and independent kingdom, within which those titles and dignities
were to be assumed.  On the contrary, we know that John, so far from
perpetrating aggressions on the prerogatives of foreign sovereigns, was
entirely subordinate to the civil power of his own country, and depended
solely on the favour and authority of the emperor for the support of his
assumptions.  And yet Pius the IXth ventures to do what John of
Constantinople never even attempted; and has shut his eyes to the fact
that he has thereby exposed himself to the anathemas of his infallible
predecessors.  Strong language has been used, (on some occasions too
strong,) by a justly indignant people in reprobation of his presumption;
but however strong that language may be, it has not as yet approached the
acrimony of the expressions used by Pelagius and Gregory the Great on far
inferior provocation.

We have seen that Scripture and antiquity are utterly irreconcilable with
the pretensions of the Papal chair.  We may now adduce the moral
character of the Pontiffs themselves, as a fair ground of presumption
that they have not the privilege of infallibility.  If indeed we could be
satisfied from history that they had all, or most of them, in long
succession, been pious and holy and exemplary men, in a degree beyond the
ordinary standard of Christian excellence; that they had been rich in
faith and in good works; that they had been exalted models of
disinterested beneficence, of real purity, and almost ascetic moderation;
men whose affections were fixed unquestionably upon the glory and
felicity of the heavenly state, to the exclusion of all concern for mere
earthly interests, and the little vanities of secular ambition:—we might
have been disposed to scrutinize with less distrust the claims of such
truly virtuous and estimable Christian pastors.  But since the Papal
character has been acknowledged even by the ablest advocates of the
Papacy, to have been in general the very opposite of what we have been
describing, we have a strong presumptive argument that such men were not
infallible. {19}

Other strong objections to Pontifical infallibility arise from the want
of any certain rule for determining the validity of elections to the
popedom, and for issuing the infallible decrees.  Before these decrees
can be infallibly relied upon, the following particulars must be
infallibly ascertained: who are the persons divinely entitled to give a
vote in the choice of a Pontiff? and how do those persons establish their
Divine title?  What proportion of the voters are required by Divine
authority to be present, and what majority of numbers must decide?  How
far shall simony, or fraud, or force, vitiate the election?  In case of
two elections, how shall we infallibly distinguish between the claims of
rival Pontiffs? between the real Pope, whom, under the penalty of
condemnation, we are bound to obey, and the anti-pope, whom, under the
same high penalty, we must abjure?  When schisms rend the Church (and not
less than twenty-six have rent the Church of Rome), how shall we discern
the true communion from the schismatical?  And since the Pope is supposed
infallible only in his official, not in his personal capacity, how shall
we decide infallibly when he speaks as an ordinary individual, and when
as the successor of St. Peter? in other words, what solemnities exactly
are requisite to be observed, for constituting a judgment _ex cathedrâ_
from the Apostolic chair? what councillors must be summoned? what mode of
promulgation must be adopted? {20a}  Such are some of the questions which
every candid Romanist must be desirous to hear definitely answered, and
which consequently must present themselves with much greater force to
every Protestant mind.  When a privilege so important as infallibility is
understood to be granted, all the circumstances necessary for our
direction in receiving and submitting to it, require to be distinctly and
indisputably revealed to us.  Unless these circumstances are fixed by the
same authority that is supposed to make the grant, namely, by Christ
Himself, we are as far removed from infallibility as ever; and in
deciding these essential and fundamental particulars, we are left to mere
argument and conjecture. {20b}

To disprove Papal infallibility much more will scarcely be expected by
our readers; but we will add one concluding observation on the
erroneousness and inconsistency of the supposed infallible decrees.  If
Popes really were infallible, their doctrine would never vary, but would
remain, from age to age, unalterably the same: the judgment of one Pope
would never differ, on the same subjects, from the judgment of another;
and least of all would it be credible that any Pope should be convicted
of heresy.  We know, however, from unquestionable documents of history
that this was not the case.  Two Popes in the second century (Eleutherius
and Victor) were encouragers of the heretical fanaticism of Montanus.
{21a}  Another Pope (Stephen) of the third century was heretical on the
subject of baptism: {21b} Pope Liberius condemned Athanasius, and
subscribed his name to the semi-Arian heresy: Pope Honorius was by a
general council condemned as a Monothelite. {21c}  And (not to multiply
particular examples) we may remark, once for all, that a long line of
Popes promulgated, _ex cathedrâ_, a doctrine which, in the present age,
is abandoned by Rome itself, and is rejected universally as impious and
extravagant; the doctrine, namely, that the Roman See is vested with the
Divine right of temporal jurisdiction over all the kingdoms of the earth;
and that the Pontiff, as Vicar of Jesus Christ, and delegate of Him who
is King of kings and Lord of lords, may call civil magistrates to
account, and may depose kings and emperors, on the charge of heretical
depravity. {21d}

To these various objections against the doctrine of Pontifical
infallibility, our defender of the Roman Faith replies by a ready
acknowledgment that the great majority of Romanists themselves are of our
opinion: that much abler arguments have been urged by them than by
Protestants against this pretension of the Pope: {22a} that by them
infallibility is ascribed not to the Roman Pontiff, who “is liable to
err, and who frequently has erred;” but to a general Council,
representing the whole Church of Christ, and combining all its collective
wisdom.  On our inquiry by what Scriptural evidence infallibility is
proved to lodge in a representative assembly thus constituted, we are
desired to read the following texts:—

“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it.” {22b}

“If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man
and a publican.” {22c}

“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” {22d}

“I will pray the Father; and he shall give you another Comforter, that he
may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.” {22e}

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no
greater burden than these necessary things.” {22f}

“These things write I unto thee; that thou mayest know how thou oughtest
to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living
God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” {22g}

Our endeavours to extract out of these texts infallibility for the Romish
Church are as much in vain as in the preceding inquiry for supporting the
Papal claims.  A general council seems to have as little warrant from
Holy Scripture to assure us that it is infallible, as the Roman Pontiff
himself.  The first quotation refers to the perpetual _continuance_ of
the Christian society.  Christ assures us that, to the end of time, the
gates of hell shall not prevail against his Universal Church; or, in
other words, that a community called by his name, and retaining the
essentials of Christianity, will never cease to be.  But this consolatory
promise gives us no security that any one particular Church, or any
meeting of Church officers, shall be infallible.  On this subject we
cannot forbear transcribing the judicious comment of a learned Romanist,
Tostatus of Avila, who flourished in the fifteenth century: “The
universal or Catholic Church never errs, because it never errs in all its
branches.  The Church of Rome (_ecclesia latinorum_) is not the Catholic
Church, but only a certain branch of it; and, therefore, although the
whole of that branch should have erred, the whole Church could not be
said to err.  Because the genuine Catholic Church remains in the unerring
branches, whether they be more or fewer than the branches which err.”
{23}

Again, the injunction of our Lord to “tell the Church,” if taken apart
from, and not in connexion with the preceding context, might seem to have
some distant bearing upon this question.  But on examining the whole
passage, we perceive that our Saviour makes allusion to secular, not to
spiritual concerns; and is speaking only of private differences among his
followers.  “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him
his fault between thee and him alone.”  Three successive steps are next
recommended for effecting an accommodation: first a private interview;
then the influence of mutual friends; and lastly, the authority of the
Church to which the parties belong.  The contumacious wrong-doer who
could not by these methods be brought to reason, was no longer to be
regarded as a Christian brother, but as a heathen.  He was liable to
excommunication, or expulsion from the society; and reparation of the
injury committed might now be sought for in a court of law.  We do not
find in these directions the remotest allusion to infallibility.

The encouraging promise; “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world,” is not a grant of infallibility, but a promise of assistance,
protection, and consolation; and was indispensably required, when our
Lord delegated to his Apostles the perilous labour of propagating the
Gospel in opposition to all the rulers of this world, sending them forth
“as sheep among wolves.” {24a}

His promise that the “Spirit of truth” should “guide them into all
truth,” relates entirely to the extraordinary gifts with which they were
endowed, and is immediately connected with another promise, confessedly
peculiar to the Apostolic age.  “He” (the Holy Ghost) “shall show you
things to come.”

The words, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” in the decree of
the first council at Jerusalem, have left no precedent for other councils
to use the same language; unless on separate evidence it can be shown
that those councils have the same authority of inspiration.

The position therefore, that general councils, as representing the Church
of Christ, are infallible, labours under a total want of Scripture
Evidence.  There is not a single precept given for assembling them; not
one solitary rule for determining their proceedings.  As the learned
Albert Pighius, an advocate of pontifical infallibility, very justly
argues: “There is not a word about general councils in the canonical
books of Scripture; nor did the primitive Church of Christ receive by
Apostolical institution any special direction respecting them.” {24b}
This able writer represents the practice of summoning a general council
in cases of ecclesiastical emergency, to be an expedient piously
introduced by the Emperor Constantine for the purpose of composing the
dissensions of the Church.  But the same author insinuates a charge of
great ignorance against the Emperor and his council, who in adopting this
course, appeared not to know that the privilege of infallibility belonged
to the Papal chair, and that Rome was the proper Delphos where he might
receive the infallible oracles.  This imperial ignorance is a remarkable
admission by the advocate of the Papacy in his zeal against general
councils.  He succeeds in demolishing the latter; but acknowledges at the
same time a fact which is fatal to the former.  For if Constantine and
the Bishops of his court were ignorant of the papal pretensions, it must
be obvious that such pretensions either could not have been put forth at
all, or could not at that time have been generally recognized.

But if the Scripture, instead of being totally silent on the subject, had
plainly and categorically declared, that general councils are infallible,
we should only be involved in fresh perplexities: for the question would
immediately arise, _what is a general council_?  How do we know a
spurious from a genuine council?  Councils have been assembled by
opposite parties on purpose to give opposite decrees; and how shall we
distinguish the fallible and heretical, from the orthodox and infallible
assembly?  This vital question cannot be determined by the numbers
present, or the portion of the Christian world represented by them.  The
orthodox Athanasius was condemned successively by councils representing
the Eastern and the Western Church.  Various councils condemned by the
Church of Rome for heresy, were as numerously and respectably attended,
as more orthodox conventions.  The Council of Milan consisted of 300
Bishops.  At Ariminum not less than 400 Bishops were assembled.  The
Council of Ephesus included 10 Metropolitans and 130 Bishops.  The
Council of Constantinople included 338 Bishops.  And when the rival
Councils of Sardica and Philippopolis fulminated mutual anathemas, the
latter, which was heretical, consisted of 94 Bishops, while their
orthodox opponents amounted only to 76.  As most of these councils were
convened by imperial authority; represented large portions of
Christendom; and included men of the greatest learning and ability, there
seems nothing to distinguish them from other synods, which are
acknowledged to be general and infallible—nothing, if we except the
sanction of the Roman Pontiff.

Here we are informed by our pertinacious disputant, that the papal
sanction is commonly regarded in the Church of Rome, as the essential
distinction between a mere provincial synod, and a general council; that
the decrees of an alleged general council, not ratified by the Pope, are
not infallible; while the decrees of any council, after that
ratification, must be looked upon as infallibly determined.

But our ingenuity must again be exercised in finding our way through this
labyrinth: for, first of all, no Scriptural reason can be found, or is
even pretended, for the limitation of infallibility to councils of the
description mentioned.  The authority, therefore, exists only in the
well-stored imagination of our Romish friend. {26}  And in addition, we
are perplexed to ascertain how two authorities, separately fallible,
should become infallible by their conjunction.  The council is fallible.
The Pope is fallible.  But unite these two fallibles, and you give them
infallibility.  If it be asked, Is the council liable to err which passes
the decree?—Certainly, is the answer: for otherwise the council would,
without the Pope, be all-sufficient.  If it be further demanded, Is the
Pope, also liable to err who confirms the decree?—Certainly, is again the
answer: for he would otherwise be all-sufficient without the council.
This is a strange dilemma: we must believe the decree to be infallibly
determined, and yet must neither ascribe infallibility to the council
which passes it, nor to the Pope who confirms it.

Another consideration is the uncertainty and arbitrariness of this papal
act of confirmation.  The Protestant must not take for granted that the
eighteen Councils, acknowledged by the Church of Rome to be general, have
the seal of St. Peter affixed to all their canons and decrees.  In some
cases a general council is partly confirmed and partly rejected (_partim
confirmatum_, _partim reprobatum_); {27a} in some cases neither confirmed
nor rejected (_neque approbatum neque reprobatum_): in some it is
pronounced uncertain whether the decrees are confirmed or rejected; and
in others they are confirmed by one Pope, and rejected by another.
Sometimes the general council did not proceed with due form
(_conciliariter_), or did not proceed with due deliberation (_re
diligenter examinatâ_); sometimes the questions to be determined were not
stated with sufficient clearness (_satis apertè_), and sometimes there is
a want of evidence whether the council was general or provincial.  “All
this,” exclaims Bishop Taylor, “is the greatest folly and most prodigious
vanity.” {27b}

Again, we might observe, that if infallibility be granted to the Church
through its representatives in a general council, the privilege has been
for many centuries in abeyance, and (considering the aspect of
Christendom) is never likely to be renewed.  And further, with respect to
the reception of these infallible decrees by provincial Churches, we
might bring forward the doubts which have prevailed among Romanists,
whether the decrees are binding immediately on being passed, or only
after they have been received. {27c}  Next with reference to the
doctrines which they inculcate, these are often grievously contradictory
to reason and Scripture.  Transubstantiation, for example, is contrary to
reason.  If therefore we believe the infallibility of general councils on
grounds of reason, the reasons against transubstantiation must be fairly
balanced in our minds with the reasons in favour of infallibility.  And
as examples of contradiction to Scripture, we might instance the
adoration of the Blessed Virgin, the worshipping of images and relics,
the invocation of saints and angels, purgatory, and the sacrifice of the
mass.  We might then go on to show that if the infallibility of general
councils be Scripturally maintained, the texts adduced in support of
infallibility are to be weighed against the numerous and explicit texts
which oppose these corrupt doctrines and idolatrous practices.  Lastly,
we might contend that, in the primitive ages, when councils were
continually assembled, neither those councils themselves, nor any one
writer who defended their decrees, ever spoke of them as infallible.  We
need scarcely add that councils could not be infallible without knowing
it; nor would hear their infallible decrees disputed without asserting
their infallibility.

3.  Having now vainly endeavoured to procure conclusive and satisfactory
information on two of the essential points indispensable for our
conversion to Romanism; namely, first, by what _organ_ the infallible
oracles are delivered, and, secondly, by what _evidence_ the claim to
infallibility is established; we proceed to the third and last topic of
investigation, and inquire on what _security_ we can rely, that we shall
not misunderstand the doctrine propounded to our belief?

We have already seen that the Romanist is unable to decide with certainty
in what person or persons infallibility resides; and that he cannot prove
the person or the persons for whom he claims it, namely, a Pope or
Council, jointly or severally, to be infallible.  Let us next consider,
in conclusion, (and the consideration need not occupy us long,) whether
he is more successful in establishing the third particular, which we
began by laying down as necessary to the tranquillization of our minds;
whether, in short, it can be proved to us incontestably, that we shall
comprehend with clearness and practical certainty the bulls and canons
promulgated for our guidance to the truth.

Security on this point is obviously indispensable.  The inspired volume
is allowed by all Christians to contain unerring rules of faith and
practice.  But our erring reason, we are told, is liable to misconceive
them.  Hence the supposed necessity for another guide.  But the very same
liability to error which exposes us to mistake in interpreting the
Scriptures, exposes us to mistake also in interpreting the bulls of a
Pope, or the canons of a general council.  God Himself inspired his
chosen servants to write the Scriptures “for our learning.”  God
nevertheless is misunderstood.  Neither Pope nor Council, therefore, is
secure from being so.  Their decisions, jointly or separately, may be
misinterpreted through our weakness of apprehension.  We consequently
need a new interpreter for expounding their interpretation.  But the
expositions of this new interpreter may, like those of his unerring
predecessors, be erroneously understood; and thus we should require an
infinite series of infallible guides, and at the end of this elaborate
process we should not be nearer to infallibility than we found ourselves
at the beginning. {29a}

Accordingly, we read, without surprise, that there are disputes among
Romanists in regard to the right construction of their infallible decrees
and canons; disputes as constant and as vehement as those unhappily
subsisting among Protestants, in regard to the meaning of our inspired
Scriptures. {29b}  In the celebrated Council of Trent, the last, and by
the Romanists regarded as the greatest ever held, many points of doctrine
which had called forth the most violent and argumentative disputation
were purposely expressed with ambiguity in the canons, that the consent
of all parties might be obtained.  Even on that all-important article of
faith, respecting the proper object of religious adoration, the
Tridentine Fathers were satisfied with a vague declaration, that “due
worship should be given to images,” without informing the conscientious
worshipper, (in a strait betwixt the danger of profaneness on one hand
and of idolatry on the other,) what kind of worship that doubtful phrase
was intended to imply. {29c}  It may be also noticed that there are
several controverted points in religion, (the very points, in fact, most
frequently contested among Protestants,) on which no unerring oracle has
yet pronounced a decision, and on which variations of opinion may be
discovered in the papal Church analogous to those prevailing throughout
Protestant communions.  I allude to the numerous questions connected with
election, foreknowledge, predestination, grace, free-will, and the
perseverance of the Saints.

Nor will the force of our objections be evaded by the reply that _actual_
conformity of faith to the decisions of Popes and Councils is not
required; that _intentional_ conformity will suffice; and that every man,
whatever be his errors and misconceptions, is capable of salvation who is
willing and inclined _to believe as the Church believes_.  For if the
Romanist is willing to believe as his Church believes, the Protestant is
willing to believe as the Apostles and Evangelists believed.  If then
this willingness will suffice for the Romanist, why should it not be
sufficient for the Protestant?  If the one, when he falls into error, is
held excused by intentional conformity to the Romish creed, why should
not intentional conformity to the creed of the Apostles and Evangelists
excuse the errors of the other?  Let this be granted, and both parties
are equally safe, equally infallible. {30}

Thus we find that in all respects the Romish system fails to afford the
religious comfort and security we are endeavouring to acquire.  Our
Romanist adviser has promised what he proves himself incompetent to
perform.  He has held out to us the enjoyment of an infallible assurance
that we have attained to sound doctrine, if we will only profit by the
unerring oracles of his Church; but he cannot point with certainty to the
proper organ of infallibility, nor establish on credible evidence the
claim of that organ to be infallible; nor give any positive security that
we shall understand infallibly the oracular truths proposed to our
assent.  On the contrary, we have seen abundant reasons for being morally
certain, that the incapability of error which he speaks of has no
existence.

We have now sufficiently considered all the topics proposed for
discussion at the commencement of this essay; but before concluding we
must advert to one further point, too important to be overlooked, which
could not before be conveniently introduced, viz., the newly-devised
Theory of Development.  We request our Romish counsellor to inform us,
whether in his judgment the doctrines of modern Rome have the sanction of
primitive antiquity, and can be proved by the writings of the early
Fathers?  He replies, that up to a very recent period he would at once
have answered in the affirmative; but that he is now obliged to hesitate.
“From time immemorial,” he says, “the doctors of our Church unanimously
insisted, and the Council of Trent infallibly declared, that every
article of our Creed was sanctioned by the concurrent testimony of the
Fathers, as many as were of the true Church of Christ.”  “But,” he
proceeds, “within the last few years a party has arisen among us who take
a different view.  Treatises have been widely circulated and favourably
received, in which it is maintained, that the position of which we always
boasted as our stronghold is, after all, untenable; that antiquity must
be abandoned; that, in primitive times, our present doctrines were
absolutely unknown or imperfectly discovered; that Christianity, in the
days of the Apostles and for several centuries afterwards, was merely in
an embryo, rudimental state; that it has since been infallibly developed;
that St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, and St. Athanasius, were only partially
acquainted with many truths which have since been canonically evolved and
explained; and that, consequently, the sanction of antiquity to any
doctrine of modern Rome may be as easily dispensed with as the authority
of Holy Scripture.”  As an example of development, our Romish guide
refers to the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin—“a doctrine,”
he observes, “in primitive times utterly unheard of; in the middle ages
vehemently opposed; in later times gradually matured; and now at last, in
the nineteenth century, fully and pontifically established under penalty
of everlasting condemnation.”

This inability of the Romanist to determine whether Romanism is or is not
supported by antiquity, and whether it is a new or an old religion, may
be regarded as a climax to the difficulties and perplexities in which, as
we have already seen, his whole system is involved. {32a}

Besides the Romanist there are many other counsellors who, with
undoubting confidence, offer to relieve our minds from all anxiety as to
the soundness of our belief.  Among these parties I may now particularly
mention the Sceptic and the Mystic; because their systems, and that of
the Romanist, however opposite in other respects, have one essential
point of agreement.  They all have a decided tendency to supersede our
own exertions for the discovery of religious truth—the Sceptic by
affirming that religious truth is unimportant; the Mystic by alleging
that religious truth is passively received by the mind from divine
illumination; and the Romanist by inculcating an unconditional
acquiescence in the dictates of infallible authority. {32b}  This
remarkable coincidence suggests to us, that in respect to our employment
of means and opportunities, the way of truth is the very opposite to the
way of error; that the right path to saving knowledge does not consist in
the _disuse_, but in the _strenuous exertion_ of our intellectual and
moral faculties; that the inclination to improve our advantages for
attaining spiritual information is designed to try our moral character;
and that we have a full security from deadly heresy in the co-operation
of Divine Providence, and of Divine grace with our own sincere endeavours
after truth.

This principle, which pervades the whole of Scripture, {33} is not to be
confounded with the fallacies above adverted to.  We do not call it
infallibility, because we readily admit that rectitude of opinion may
exist, in various degrees, among persons, all of whom are in the path of
salvation.  It differs from infallibility as maintained by Romanists,
because we do not consider any individual, nor any number of individuals,
to be incapable of error.  It differs from the infallibility of the
enthusiast, because we lay no claim to exemption from mistake: we insist
only that, using faithfully the means at our disposal, we shall escape
unpardonable heresy.  It differs, thirdly, from the infallibility of the
sceptic, because he conceives all doctrines equally excellent, provided
their operation in society adapts itself to his confined notions of moral
duty.  Whereas our method implies that one doctrine differs materially,
as to truth and excellence from another, and that we are therefore bound
to select the best.

To make this selection of what is best, must be the paramount desire of
every rightly-disposed mind: and it now only remains for us, before
concluding this essay, to give some rules, as briefly as we can, for
determining our choice.  Error and misconception on this subject are so
lamentably common, that even our few imperfect suggestions may not be
useless nor unacceptable.  We shall only premise that the spiritual
exercises which we recommend are arranged in the order here given them,
with a view to convenience and clearness; and not from an impression that
any of our readers can have occasion to begin from the commencement of
the series.

1.  Our first rule is: to employ all the strength of our faculties in the
study and investigation of natural religion: till we become impressed
sincerely and practically with our awful responsibility, as reasonable
beings, to our Creator, Benefactor, and Judge eternal.

2.  To establish clearly in our minds the evidences and principles of
Revelation; and to ascertain, by diligent inquiry, that the Scriptures
“given for our learning,” are “given by inspiration of God; and are
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in
righteousness.” {34a}

3.  To acquire a persuasion (according to the principle asserted in the
Scriptures, maintained by all antiquity, and revived at the Reformation,)
that the pages of Revelation are not “a sealed book” to us; but that we
are bound to “search the Scriptures,” {34b} to “prove all things,” {34c}
and “to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a
reason of the hope that is in us.” {34d}

4.  To satisfy ourselves that, on points of Christian doctrine, our only
real standard of faith is the Bible; and that tradition (however useful
as its interpreter and guardian) is not, as Romanists contend, a
co-ordinate authority with the sacred text. {34e}

5.  To use in our interpretation of the inspired volume all the helps
within our reach; whether spiritual or temporal; whether derivable from
the living or from the dead.  Among these helps, the most important and
indispensable are prayer and a holy life.  With respect to prayer, the
promises in Holy Scripture, that guidance to the truth shall be given to
him that asks it, are, as we have seen, numerous and indisputable. {34f}
And as regards a holy life, or the labours of the humble and diligent
individual, who, from desire to do the will of God, conscientiously
exerts himself to know it, our Lord Himself expressly declares, “If any
man will do (θέλει ποιεῖν, or is desirous to do) his will, he shall know
of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” {34g}  To these helps may be
added others equally obvious, so far as they are consistent with the
opportunities, station, or profession of the individual—such as
familiarity with Scripture in the original, knowledge of history, and
particularly of the manners, laws, customs, and opinions of antiquity,
Jewish as well as Christian; joined to acquaintance with sound principles
of Biblical interpretation, criticism, and translation.

But a point which more particularly seems, under this rule, to require
illustration, is the _degree of value_ at which the conscientious
inquirer after sound religious knowledge ought to estimate ecclesiastical
antiquity.  Many pious individuals (in their well-meant zeal against
Romish errors) have thought themselves obliged to discard ecclesiastical
antiquity, under a persuasion that by attaching any value to ancient
writers, they would violate the great Protestant axiom of resting on the
sole authority of God’s written word.

But it should be considered, that to use ecclesiastical antiquity for
interpreting the word of God, no more violates this axiom than to use any
of the other universally admitted aids to interpretation already
mentioned.  Whatever means the Divine promulgator of Revelation has given
to his Church for ascertaining the truths revealed, ought diligently and
conscientiously to be improved.  Among those means, the place of highest
authority belongs unquestionably to the three primitive formularies of
belief, the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds; and to the
Canons of the first four general councils, which received the sanction of
universal Christendom: and in which to his entire satisfaction the
conscientious inquirer will find the leading truths of Christianity
embodied.  The same remark applies to the Episcopal constitution of the
Church; for “it is evident unto all men diligently reading the Holy
Scriptures and ancient authors, that from the Apostles there have been
these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church, Bishops, Priests, and
Deacons.” {35}  But we cannot better explain how far ancient literature
is to be rendered available to sacred purposes, than by a transcription
of a canon set forth by the Church of England in the same year with its
articles.  “Preachers shall not presume to deliver any thing from the
pulpit as of moment, to be religiously observed and believed by the
people, but that which is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old or New
Testament, and collected out of the same doctrine by the Catholic Fathers
and the Bishops of the ancient Church.” {36a}  “A wise regulation,”
observes the judicious and able Dr. Waterland, “formed with exquisite
judgment, and worded with the exactest caution.  The canon does not order
that they shall teach whatever had been taught by the Fathers: no; that
would have been setting up a new rule of faith; neither does it say that
they shall teach _whatsoever_ the Fathers had _collected from Scripture_:
no; that would have been making them _infallible_ interpreters, or
infallible _reasoners_: the doctrine must be found first in Scripture,
only to be the more secure that we have found it there: the _Fathers_ are
to be called in, to be, as it were, constant checks upon the presumption
or wantonness of private interpretation.  But then again, as to _private_
interpretation, there is liberty enough allowed to it.  Preachers are not
forbidden to interpret this or that text, or hundreds of texts,
differently from what the Fathers have done; provided still they keep
within the _analogy of faith_, and presume not to raise any _new_
doctrine: neither are they altogether restrained from teaching any thing
_new_, provided it be offered as opinion only, or as an _inferior_ truth,
and not pressed as necessary upon the people.  For it was thought that
there could be no _necessary_ article of faith or doctrine now drawn from
Scripture, but what the ancients had drawn out before from the same
Scripture: to say otherwise would imply that the ancients had failed
universally in _necessaries_, which is morally absurd.” {36b}  The canon
thus explained may be thought appropriate to preachers and ministers
alone, exclusively of their people; but though the latter cannot, it is
true, directly apply this regulation to themselves, they nevertheless may
indirectly derive advantage from it.  They will be prepared to perceive
at once when any minister proposes to their acceptance some doctrine or
exposition of Scripture, for which he can produce no ancient
authority—and which he declares to be _new_, yet at the same time
_important_—he declares himself, by this dangerous and un-canonical
proceeding, unworthy of their confidence.

But perhaps the greatest and most alarming mistake to be avoided by all
inquirers, ecclesiastical or laical, is the application of their minds to
religious researches rather for the sake of curious information and
philosophical entertainment, than for purposes of saving knowledge, and
of sure, efficacious, practical direction.  The Holy Scriptures, no
doubt, are written for our learning, not however merely for such learning
as consists in literary, critical, and speculative exercises of our
ingenuity; but for our advancement in the school of Christian wisdom, of
that wisdom from above which unites and perfects all the higher
capacities of our nature, moral, intellectual, or spiritual—that wisdom
which, (far removed from the jealousies and the wranglings and the
violences of factious controversy,) is anxious only for the interests of
truth and virtue—that wisdom which is “first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without
partiality, and without hypocrisy.” {37a}

In this course of wise and holy discipline, according to our diligence,
will be our progress; and proportioned to our progress, will be our
reward.  Our anxieties, discouragements, and despondencies will be left
behind us.  We shall go on our way rejoicing.  We shall feel a personal
interest in the glorious system of Christian redemption.  We shall enter
daily more and more with satisfaction upon the duty of examining
ourselves, “whether we be in the faith:” {37b} and the result of that
examination will more and more enable us to see distinctly within our
hearts the lineaments of the Christian character.  All the tests from
Scripture of such a progress will have a clearer application to our
spiritual state.  Love to God, charity to mankind, preference of divine
to merely human objects, fervency in prayer, frequency in meditation,
attachment to religious ordinances, self-control in the subjugation of
our appetites and passions; and in one word, likeness to Christ,
increasing from day to day—will assure us that to reach the gate of
salvation we have only to preserve the path which we have chosen.  And
although, in this advanced state, enjoying “a full assurance of faith and
hope,” {38a} we relax nothing of our efforts, and, like St. Paul, “count
not ourselves to have apprehended the price of our high calling,” {38b}
yet we exclaim triumphantly with the same Apostle: “Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  In all these things we are
more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.” {38c}

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

        GILBERT & RIVINGTON, Printers, St. John’s Square, London.



ADVERTISEMENT.


                          _By the same Author_.

                                    I.

    DISSERTATIONS vindicating the CHURCH of ENGLAND in respect to some
                 Essential Points of Polity and Doctrine.

                                   II.

         VINDICATION of the EPISCOPAL or APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION.

                  *** Extracted from the foregoing Work.

                                   III.

 MEMOIR of the LIFE and TIMES of the RIGHT HON. SIR JOHN SINCLAIR, Bart.

                                   IV.

      QUESTIONS ILLUSTRATING the CATECHISM of the CHURCH of ENGLAND.

                                    V.

         QUESTIONS on the ORDERS for MORNING and EVENING PRAYER.

                                   VI.

                      An ESSAY on CHURCH PATRONAGE.

                                   VII.

  A CHARGE delivered to the CLERGY of the ARCHDEACONRY of Middlesex, in
                                  1843.

                                  VIII.

                       A CHARGE delivered in 1844.

                                   IX.

                       A CHARGE delivered in 1849.



SIDE NOTES.


In the printed book Rev. Sinclair printed side notes in the margins to
explain the points he was trying to make.  As these made the text itself
difficult to read, and added little value to the narrative, in this
transcription they are placed here, together with the pages on which they
occur, so that the development of the points can be seen in overview.

                         Side note                              Page
Diversity of religious opinions a source of anxiety                  1
On account of others and on our own                                  1
Confusion from the number of guides                                  2
Motives of credibility for an infallible living arbiter              2
Fallacy and presumption of these _à priori_ arguments                3
Probable arguments at best are no ground of infallible               5
assurance
Argument for infallibility from the analogy of the Jewish            6
Church
. . . answered                                                       6
Transmission of the Scripture no proof of infallible                 8
interpretation
Three requisites to afford us infallible assurance                   8
First requisite wanting.  Organ of infallibility uncertain           9
Second requisite wanting in the Three Organs of                     11
infallibility.  The Pope singly
Pretensions of the Pontiff scripturally considered                  11
Pretensions of the Pontiff traditionally considered                 14
Pretensions of the Pontiff morally considered                       18
Difficulties of ascertaining infallibly when the Pope               19
speaks _ex cathedrâ_
Papal inconsistencies and heresies                                  20
Second alleged Organ of Infallibility                               21
A general council singly                                            22
Pretensions of a general council Scripturally considered            22
Difficulties of knowing what is a general council                   25
Third organ of infallibility                                        25
Pope and general council in conjunction                             26
Uncertainty of the Papal sanction to a council                      26
Additional argument against Popes and Councils jointly              27
Third requisite to afford infallible assurance.  This               28
requisite wanting
Theory of Development                                               31
Right path to saving knowledge                                      32
Difference of this Scriptural principle from the three              33
preceding
Rules for acquiring sound Christian knowledge                       33
Concluding exhortation                                              37



FOOTNOTES.


{1}  _Ut hæc quæ scripta sunt non negamus_, _ita ea quæ non sunt scripta
renuimus_.—Hieron adv. Helvid. oper. t. iv. pars ii. p. 141. ed.  Ben.

{3a}  Eph. iv. 14.

{3b}  The theologian will here observe, that the argument from “motives
of credibility,” as they are termed, is in this view more presumptuous
and objectionable than the claim so loudly and so vehemently objected
against Protestants.  Surely there is more presumption in claiming a
right to prejudge what God _must_ have done, than in claiming the right
of private judgment to ascertain what God _has_ actually revealed.

{5}  “But it is more useful and fit (you say) for deciding of
controversies, to have, besides an infallible rule to go by, a living
infallible judge to determine them: and from hence you conclude, that
certainly there is such a judge.  But why then may not another say, that
it is yet more useful, for many excellent purposes, that all the
Patriarchs should be infallible, than that the Pope only should?
Another, that it would be yet more useful, that all the Archbishops of
every province should be so, than that the Patriarchs only should be so.
Another, that it would be yet more useful, if all the Bishops of every
diocese were so?  Another, that it would be yet more available that all
the parsons of every parish should be so?  Another, that it would be yet
more excellent, if all the fathers of families were so?  And lastly,
another, that it were much more to be desired, that every man and every
woman were so? just as much as the prevention of controversies is better
than the decision of them; and the prevention of heresies better than the
condemnation of them; and upon this ground conclude, by your own very
consequence, that not only a general Council, not only the Pope, but all
the Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Pastors, Fathers—nay, all the men
in the world, are infallible?  If you say now, as I am sure you will,
that this conclusion is most gross, and absurd, against sense and
experience, then must also the ground be false from which it evidently
and undeniably follows, viz., That that course of dealing with men seems
always more fit to Divine Providence, which seems most fit to human
reason.”—Works of Chillingworth, vol. i. p. 296.

{6}  Deut. xvii. 8–14.

{7a}  Deut. xvii. 8.

{7b}  Exod. xxxii. 4–7.

{7c}  1 Kings xii. 28.

{7d}  1 Kings xxii. 6.

{7e}  Jerem. v. 30, 31.

{7f}  Isa. lvi. 10.

{8}  See Tracts published by Bishop Gibson.  Title iv. chap. i. vol. i.
p. 18.

{9}  “For many of you hold the Pope’s proposal _ex cathedrâ_, to be
sufficient and obliging” (obligatory); “some a Council without a Pope;
some neither of them severally, but only both together; some not this
neither in matter of manners, which Bellarmine acknowledges, and tells us
it is all one in effect, as if they denied it” (to be) “sufficient in
matter of faith; some not in matter of faith neither think this proposal
infallible, without the acceptation of the Church universal; some deny
the infallibility of the present Church, and only make the tradition of
all ages the infallible propounder: yet if you were agreed what and what
only is the infallible propounder, this would not satisfy us; nor yet to
say, that all is fundamental which is propounded sufficiently by him: for
though agreeing in this, yet you might still disagree whether such or
such a doctrine were propounded or not; or if propounded, whether
sufficiently, or only insufficiently.  And it is so known a thing, that
in many points you do so, that I assure myself you will not deny
it.”—Chillingworth, vol. i. p. 118.

{10}  See Evidence against Catholicism, by Rev. J. Blanco White, p. 94.

{11}  Matt. xvi. 18, 19.  Luke xxii. 32.  John xxi. 17.

{12a}  See Stillingfleet’s “Vindication,” p. 418.

{12b}  The phrases “to bind and loose” were Jewish, and most frequent in
their writings.  It belonged only to the teachers among the Jews to bind
and loose.  When the Jews set any apart to be a preacher, they used these
words: “Take thou liberty to teach what is bound and what is
loose.”—_Strype’s Preface to the Posthumous Remains of Dr. Lightfoot_, p.
38.  See Dr. A. Clarke’s commentary in loco.

{12c}  Compare Matt. xvii. 18, with John xx. 22, 23.

{13a}  _See manuscript volume by the Honourable Archibald Campbell_, _a
Nonjuring Bishop_, _first in Scotland_, _and afterwards in London_.  Also
Bishop Horsley’s Sermons, vol. i. p. 293.

{13b}  For a full exposition of this text, see Remarks by Granville
Sharp, Esq., cited by Dr. Adam Clarke in his commentary.

{13c}  See Dr. Isaac Barrow’s Treatise on the Pope’s Supremacy, and Rev.
J. Fletcher’s Lectures on the Roman Catholic Religion, p. 94.

{13d}  Eph. ii. 20.

{13e}  1 Cor. iii. 11.

{13f}  1 Cor. xii. 28.

{14a}  Rev. xxi. 14.

{14b}  “Seeing the Romanists themselves acknowledge, that he was Bishop
of Antioch, before he was Bishop of Rome; we require them to show, why so
great an inheritance as this, should descend to the younger rather than
the elder, according to the ordinary manner of descents?  Especially,
seeing Rome hath little else to allege for this preferment, but only that
St. Peter was crucified in it: which was a very slender reason to move
the Apostle so to respect it.”—Extract from Archbishop Usher’s Speech in
the Castle Chamber, Dublin, Nov. 22, 1622.  See Dr. Parr’s Life of Usher,
p. 23.

{14c}  “What say you to the expunging the name of Felix, Bishop of Rome,
out of the Diptychs of the Church by Acacius, the Patriarch of
Constantinople?  What say you to Hilary’s Anathema against Pope
Liberius!”—Stillingfleet’s “Vindication,” p. 408.

{15a}  St. Jerome affirms, that a Bishop, in whatever diocese, whether of
Rome, of Eugabium, &c., is of the same power (_ejusdem meriti_) and of
the same rank in the priesthood (_ejusdem sacerdotii_) with his Episcopal
brethren.  “For,” he adds, “they are all alike successors of the
Apostles.”  This admission from the Secretary of Pope Damasus is very
remarkable.—Epist. ad Evag.

{15b}  Vid. Lab. tom. iv. p. 817.—Grier’s Epitome of the General
Councils, pp. 61. 94.

{16a}  Ruffinus, in his translation and abstract of the Nicene Canons,
gives the sixth of them in these words: “The ancient custom of Alexandria
and of Rome shall still be observed, that the one shall have the care or
government of the Egyptian, and the other that of the suburbicary
churches.”—_Ut apud Alexandriam et in urbe Româ vetusta consuetudo
servetur_, _ut vel ille Ægypti vel hic suburbicariarum ecclesiarum
sollicitudinem gerat_.  Ruffin.  Hist. lib. i. c. 6.—See also Bingham’s
Antiquities, Book ix. chap. 1, sec. 9.

{16b}  _Universalitatis nomen quod sibi illicitè usurpavit nolite
attendere_:—_nullus enim Patriarcharum hoc tam profano vocabulo unquam
utatur_.—_Perpenditis_, _fratres carissimi_, _quid e vicino subsequatur
cum et in sacerdotibus erumpunt tam perversa primordia_.  _Quia enim
juxta est ille de quo scriptum est_; _Ipse est rex super universos filios
superbiæ_.—Pap. Pelag. ii. epist. 8.

{17a}  _Nullus unquam decessorum meorum hoc tam profano vocabulo uti
consensit_: _quia videlicet si unus patriarcha universalis dicitur_,
_patriarcharum nomen cæteris derogatur_.  _Sed absit_, _hoc absit à
Christianá mente id sibi velle quenquam arripere unde fratrum suorum
honorem imminuere ex quantulâcunque parte videatur_!—Pap. Gregor. i. lib.
iv. epist. 36.

{17b}  _Ego vero fidenter dico_, _quia quisquis se universalem sacerdotem
vocat_, _vel vocari deciderat_, _in elatione suâ Anti-christum
præcurrit_; _quia superbiendo_, _cæteris præponit_.—Pap. Gregor. i. lib.
vi. epist. 30.  Attempts have been made to reconcile the language of
Pelagius and Gregory, with the assumption, by their immediate successors,
of the very supremacy which those two Popes so strongly reprobate.  The
utter futility of such attempts, the reader will see thoroughly
established by Stillingfleet in his “Vindication,” part ii. chap. vi.

{19}  “I would fain know whether there be any certainty that every Pope
is a good Christian, or whether he may not be (in the sense of the
Scripture) of the world?  If not, how was it that Bellarmine should have
cause to think that such a rank of them went successively together to
perdition?”—Chillingworth’s Works, vol. iii. p. 359.

The same learned Cardinal whom Chillingworth here refers to, is very
zealous throughout his works in defending Papal infallibility, and even
ventures to affirm (Bellarm. de Pontifice Rom. lib. iv. cap. 5, in fine),
“If the Pope could or should so far err, as to command the practice of
vice, and to forbid virtuous actions, the Church were bound to believe
vices to be good, and virtues to be bad.”  The Pontiffs, whatever they
may have thought of this extraordinary theory, seem in _practice_, by the
Cardinal’s own account, to have availed themselves, in a considerable
degree, of the privilege which he claims in their behalf.—See also Works
of Henry More, p. 450.

{20a}  “It were heartily to be wished, if he” (the Pope) “should once
happen to be _in cathedrâ_, he would infallibly determine what is to be
_in cathedrâ_ ever after; for it would ease men’s minds of a great many
troublesome scruples, which they cannot, without some infallible
determination, get themselves quit of.”—Stillingfleet’s “Vindication,” p.
114.

{20b}  For Bishop Stillingfleet’s argument to prove that no Pontiff has
been canonically elected since the times of Sextus the Fifth, see his
Vindication, part i. p. 116.

{21a}  _Romanus Pontifex per literas Montanistis communionem impertiit_,
_quas_, _errore cognito_, _revocare coactus est_.—Dupin de Antiq. Eccl.
Dis. 5. p. 346.  La Pape les Montanistes reçu dans sa communion, ce qui
montre que le Pape _n’étoit pas infallible_.—Basnage, Hist. tom. i. p.
360.

{21b}  He maintained against Cyprian, of Carthage, that baptism, though
performed by heretics, ought not to be repeated: but the heretics of that
period baptized only in the name of the Father, and sometimes not even in
his name: a kind of Baptism which no Roman Catholic would now admit to be
valid.—See Grier’s History of the Councils, p. 17.

{21c}  See this case argued by Bishop Stillingfleet in part iii. chap. 2,
pp. 512, 513, of the Vindication; and for others equally opposite, see
Grier’s History passim.  See also Burnet on the Nineteenth Article.

{21d}  See Evidence against Catholicism by the Rev. Blanco White, p. 33:
and the Bishop of Exeter’s Letters to Charles Butler, Esq. Letter xiv. p.
271.

{22a}  The writers of the Gallican Church are here alluded to, all of
whom oppose the Papal claims.

{22b}  Matt. xvi. 18.

{22c}  Matt. xviii. 17.

{22d}  Matt. xxviii. 20.

{22e}  John xiv. 16.

{22f}  Acts xv. 28.

{22g}  1 Tim. iii. 15.

{23}  _Ecclesia universalis nunquam errat quia nunquam tota
errat_.—Tostat. Abulens. præfat. in Matt, quæst. xiii.

_Ecclesia latinorum non est Ecclesia universalis sed quædam pars ejus_:
_ideo_, _etiamsi tota ipsa errasset_, _non errabat ecclesia universalis_:
_quia manet Ecclesia universalis in partibus illis quæ non errant_, _sive
illæ sint numero plures quam errantes_, _sive non_.—Ibid. quæst. iv. in
Matt. ad proleg. 2.

{24a}  “For my part, I should think it did more concern our Lord Jesus,
by virtue of this promise, to make his Church _impeccable_, than
_infallible_.  My meaning is, that it is a much more desirable thing to
secure his ministers and people from the danger of _sin_, than from the
danger of _error_.  But the former He hath not done, and therefore I much
doubt of the latter.”—Archbishop Sharpens Sermons, vol. viii.

{24b}  _In Scripturis canonicis nullum de iis verbum est_: _nec ex
Apostolorum institutione speciale quicquam de illis accepit illa
primitiva Christi Ecclesia_.—Albert. Pigh. Hierarch. Eccles. lib. vi.
cap. 1, quoted in that masterly work, “The Difficulties of Romanism,” by
the Rev. G. S. Faber, book 1, chap. ii. p. 36.

{26}  “The low Romanists who are distinguished by the name of Cisalpines,
(for serious differences exist, it appears, even in the very bosom of
privileged inerrancy,) not only deny the personal infallibility of the
Pope, but hold also that for heresy or schism (to both of which, we find,
the alleged fallible head of an infallible body is actually liable,) he
may be lawfully deposed by a general council.  Such being the case, they
must, on their own principles, inevitably hold the infallibility of a
general council even when _not_ sanctioned by the papal confirmation: for
it is quite clear, on the one hand, that no _prudent_ Pope, at least,
would ratify the sentence of his own deposition, or confirm the decree
which pronounced him to be a schismatic or a heretic; and it is equally
clear, on the other hand, that no general council could infallibly
pronounce the Pope to be a heretic or schismatic, himself all the while
stiffly denying, as of course he _would_ deny, the offensive allegation,
unless such general council, _independently_ of any papal ratification,
were _itself_ constitutionally infallible.”—_Faber’s Difficulties of
Romanism_, p. 247, 248.

{27a}  Bellarm. de Cone. lib. i. cap. 8.

{27b}  See Bishop Taylor’s Liberty of Prophecy, sect. 6. vol. viii. of
his works, p. 41.

{27c}  “That the authority of general councils was never esteemed
absolute, infallible, and unlimited, appears in this, that before they
were obliging (obligatory) it was necessary that each particular Church
respectively should accept them, _Concurrenti universali totius ecclesiæ
consensu_, &c., _in declaratione veritatum quæ credendæ sunt_, &c.  In
this way, as observed by Gerson, the decrees of councils became
authentic, and turned into a law: and till they became so their decrees
were but a dead letter.”—See Heber’s Bishop Taylor, vol. viii. p. 50, 51,
remarking on St. Augustin, b. 1. cap. 18. de Bapt. contra Donat.

{29a}  See Works of Leslie, vol. i. p. 497.

{29b}  For an example, see Blanco White’s Evidence, p. 39.

{29c}  See Bishop Burnet on the Twenty-second Article.

{30}  It may here be not inapposite to introduce the well-known example
of implicit faith, recorded by various writers, and which has met with
different degrees of Roman Catholic praise and of Protestant censure.  An
ignorant collier of the Romish persuasion was asked, what it was that he
believed, and answered, “I believe what the Church believes.”  The
questioner rejoined: “What then does the Church believe?”  He replied:
“The Church believes what I believe.”  The other, anxious for
particulars, resumed his interrogatories: “Tell me, then, I pray you,
what is it that you and the Church both believe?”  To which the collier
could only give this answer: “Why, truly, sir, the Church and I both
believe the same thing.”—Campbell’s Lectures, vol. ii. p. 259.

{32a}  The true theory of development is ably stated by Bishop Butler in
his Analogy, part ii. chap. 3, and may be usefully contrasted with the
newly-devised dogma of Popery.

{32b}  “Certainly every man considering that his eternal salvation lies
upon it, will be enforced to apply sincerity and care in his own behalf;
whereas if others interpret for him, they may do it more remissly, or
more fraudulently.”—_Works of Hen. More_, p. 454.

“As the case stands in religion, according to the Roman Catholic
doctrine, reason, and thinking, and studying, and examination, and
industry, and search, though they be necessary tools to be made use of
for the putting a man into good hands, yet after he is in those hands, he
is to throw all these things away, and never after to make use of them.
Doth this look like a doctrine of God?  No, certainly.”—Archbishop
Sharpens Sermons, vol. vii. p. 29.

{33}  Psalm xxv. 14; xxxii. 8; xxv. 8, 9; xv. 12, 13.  Prov. li. 1–5;
iii. 5, 6; x. 30, 31.  James i. 5.  Matt. vii. 12.  John vii. 17.

{34a}  2 Tim. iii. 16.

{34b}  John v. 39.

{34c}  1 Thess. v. 21.

{34d}  1 Pet. iii. 15.

{34e}  For proofs and illustrations of this point, drawn from Irenæus,
Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Jerome,
Basil, and Augustin, see Faber’s “Difficulties of Romanism.”

{34f}  See note p. 33.

{34g}  John vii. 17.  Sermons of Bishop Taylor, vol. vi. p. 402.

{35}  Book of Common Prayer.

{36a}  _Imprimis vero_, _videbunt_ (Concionatores) _ne quid unquam
doceant pro concione_, _quod a populo religiosè teneri et credi velint_,
_nisi quod consentaneum sit doctrinæ veteris aut novi testamenti_:
_quodque ex illâ ipsâ doctrinâ Catholici Patres et veteres Episcopi
collegerint_.—Sparrow, Collect, p. 238.  It is scarcely necessary to
observe that this canon is not included among those of 1603.

{36b}  See chap. vii. of Dr. Waterland’s Treatise on the Importance of
the Doctrine of the Trinity; where the use of ecclesiastical antiquity is
discussed with his usual masterly erudition and ability.  Similar
observations in an abridged form may be found in his introduction to a
review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist.  See vol. vii. of his Works,
edited by Bishop Van Mildert.

{37a}  James iii. 17.

{37b}  2 Cor. xiii. 5.

{38a}  Heb. vi. 11; x. 22.

{38b}  Phil. iii. 13.

{38c}  Rom. viii. 35–39.





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