« EelmineJätka »
matters of fact;* and that if the Jansenists had conceded this point no bull of condemnation would have been issued ? But wesuppose the Rev. Dr. had in his mind the extraordinary fact of an infallible Council representing an infallible Church, yet using the forged decretals of Isodore, as an authority in passing infallible decrees binding on the whole Church. If so, we are not surprised, that he has with gratuitous liberality, assigned a weakness to the collective Church, that the Commissioners only wished to have affixed to its head, and we rejoice to see such honesty appearing in Maynooth.
Our readers will have remarked, that Dr. Crotty does not mark very accurately the mode of distinguishing a point of faith from that of discipline, this, however, is done by the Rev. Professor of Scripture in the following terms:
“ The doctrine that we teach on that point is simply this; when the Pope defines a matter of faith, and proposes it as such to the entire Church, if there is no reclamation on the part of the Church, if the Church assent to it, then we admit it as a matter of faith, but it must be proposed as a matter of faith ; we have rules to ascertain, whether the matter proposed appertains to faith or merely to discipline; in order to appertain to faith, it must be declared as revealed ; it must be proposed to be believed ; it must not be a matter of temporary regulation, or imply any kind of prudential arrangement or discipline ; when it is proposed in this manner, and received by the Church, we will admit it.
“ By being assented to by the Church, do you not rather mean not dissented from? In that case, not dissenting is assenting.
“ That is, if the Church does not protest against it, it becomes binding, in the case you have put ?--Just so ; it becomes binding when it is proposed as matter of faith to be believed by the entire Church, which in the supposition does not dissent.”-p. 154.
We request our readers will keep this answer in view, while we proceed to point out the present state of this controversy, as declared by the Rev. Nicholas Slevin, in the course of his peculiarly interesting examination.
The Professor was questioned as to the oath of allegiance prescribed by 33 Geo. III. which was obviously intended to deny the infallibility of the Pope, though it has missed its aim, and this led to an examination in which the following passages occur:
“ So far as my knowledge extends, I can declare as my firm opinion, that the greater part of Catholics do not consider that the Pope is infallible.
“ So far as my knowledge extends I think the majority of Catholics are inclined to embrace the opinion that he may err, even in matters of faith, when speaking er cathedra.
“I think the majority of Catholics consider the opinion, that the Pope can err, even in proposing ex cathedra matters of faith, as the more probable, I speak from my own experience.
* The very same assertion is made by Dr. Slevin, contrary to the plainest historical testimony. “ All Catholics acknowledge that the Pope may err in all points whatsoever, not appertaining to faith or morals. ....No divine has asserted that the Pope is infallible in matters of fact, or in the private exercise of his judgment."-p: 191.
“ Do you mean to say that it is a probable’opinion, that he may be infallible ? I mean to say, that the majority of Catbolics consider the other opinion, affirming that he is fallible, as the more probable ; speaking, however, from my own experi.
“Do yon mean to say that they are both probable opinions, by the expression more probable ?"-1 do mean ibat both opinions are probable ; opposite opinions may both be probable, when cogent reasons weigh on both sides, there are several matters in which we never can advance beyond the bounds of mere probability ; this occurs even in moral questions every day, on which we find the most learned men divided in their opinions.
“ You have said that you think the majority of Roman Catholics with whom you are acquainted, are inclined to the opinion that the Pope is fallible ?- I have stated that as my opinion.
“Of course there is a considerable number, though according to your impression not the majority, who are not of that opinion ?--Certainly so.
“ Have you any means of forming a judgment what proportion of the present Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland may be of opinion, that the Pope is infallible ? I do not know the sentiments of our bishops on that bead.
“Do you know the sentiments of any of them :- I do not recollect to have heard any bishop declare bis sentiments on this subject.
“Then for aught you know they may be unanimously of opinion that the Pope is infallible ?They may be so.
“ You do not go the length then of conjecturing that every one of them holds the opinion, that the Pope is fallible ?– I think it would be improper for me to advance any conjecture on the subject, as I have no grounds of forming a conjecture.” -pp. 201, 202.
On a subsequent day“We merely declare in the oath of allegiance that we do not hold it as an article of faith, but we may hold it as an opinion.
“ Is it not thus a possible state of things that no Catbolic should be bound to believe it, and yet that all Catholics might actually believe it ?- No Catholic can believe it as an article of faith, because it is not one. It is a possible state of tbings, though not indeed probable, that all Catbolics might adopt it as a private opinion, having a degree of probability ; but it is impossible, in our principles, that they should believe it as an article of faith, when it is not one."*—p. 205.
Here we have two most extraordinary positions; one, that this subject, confessedly the most important one on which differences of consequence have arisen in the Church of Rome, is so little alluded to in Ireland, that the Professor of Canon Law in Maynooth, is not able to say whether all, whether any, whether a single Bishop in Ireland holds the affirmative or negative proposition, as not even in conversation have any of them ever declared their sentiments; and in addition to this, the Professor allows the infallibility to be a very probable opinion, supported by very cogent arguments, countenanced by texts of Scripture; nay, that it
• “ The proposition, that the whole church may believe actually what they are not bound to believe, involves a contradiction in our principles; for whatever the wbole church believes actually, is an article of faith, which consequently all are bound to believe."
“ But I
might be held by the whole Catholic world, and of course acted on, though not as a doctrine of faith. This the Professor has distinctly sworn, and if one individual is led to believe such an opinion to be the more probable, every individual may, and therefore, according to the learned Professor, it becomes an article of faith, though never declared as such, nay, though expressly declared not to be so. But the peculiar caution with wbich this doctrine is approached by the Roman Catholic divines of Ireland, is still more conspicuously shown by the fact, that the same Professor, lecturer of the Dunboy.ne students in Maynooth, is not able to state whether any of the students under his care hold the same opinions, and for aught the learned Dr. can declare, all may be ultra-montane in the highest degree, though their teacher holds with this side the Alps. The most amusing part of the examination is, however, to be found in the texts of Scripture urged for and against this infallibility. “Tu es Petrus,"* and Ego autem rogavi,” and “
pasce oves meas,” are pressed into the service of the Pope in a very unceremonious manner. should never end if I were to go over all the councils, holy fathers and divines, quoted in the support of this opinion," is the strong assertion of this learned divine, which would go far to prove that he does not very strongly impugn the Pope's infallibility, a conjecture that is supported not a little by the anxiety the Professor manifested, to assure the Commissioners that the conduct of the two Popes who were condemned for heresy, Liberius and Honorius, has been vindicated from the charges ascribed to them, eren by many who deny their infallibility.
The subject receives considerable light on a subsequent examination; " the Pope is appointed to govern the visible Church on earth, in the name and by the authority of Christ-to “govern and feed the whole Church”—this authority is "derived immediately from God, without the concurrence of the Church"—this power has never been defined or limited by any council, nor is it declared how far such a power extends—including discipline, because “universal jurisdiction includes the power of governing the whole Church,” and matters of faith, in wbich his decision must be obeyed provisionally, until the Church decides upon the subject, pp. 207, 208. Such are points on which the whole Church is agreed, and we would challenge the nicest eye that casuistry ever employed, to discover practically any difference between these concessions, and the infallibility that Bellarmine and his party would claim, especially as neither Dr. Slevin, nor any other Professor, has pointed out how the Church is to proceed in rejecting the decrees provisionally obeyed, except by looking forward to a General Council, "longo post tempore:”—but even if a General Council were called, this would afford no assistance, for we learn from page 264, by the admission of the
* Dr. Doyle insists that this text proves only the Pope's supremacy ; Dr. Slevin quotes it to prove his infallibility ; either we have the two learned divines furnishing a practical commentary on the unity of the Church, or the supremacy and infallibility are the same thing ; an opinion to which we are inclined, as the texts quoted prove the one fully as much as the other.
same Professor, that the supreme pontiff has the power of dispensing with the decrees even of General Councils, nay, that he can govern independent of the canons, which are the only limitations to his supremacy that have ever been devised ; and the jurists and the casuists are left to contend, whether this power is given jure divino, or received from the universal Church,* while the Pope perfectly careless of the result of their disputes, enjoys the absolute authority," which, however, he is to use for edification, and not for destruction." p.
264. And now we think our readers may form some notion of the doctrine of the personal infallibility of the Pope, as held by the modern Roman Catholic divines; as distinct an idea, perhaps, as they themselves enjoy, for even of its very nature there are doubts, some placing it in his speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith, and others ascribing it to all his dicta. We have seen that it is universally believed that “his power is commensurate with that of St. Peter in spiritual matters, he enjoys the same jurisdiction as God was pleased to confer on St. Peter, as he, like Peter, governs the Church, p. 275; that there is no decree of the Church against including in this plenary power, the claim to personal infallibility; that the opinion is “ probable, supported by very cogent arguments,” is held by a very large proportion of Roman Catholics, may be held by the entire body. It is added too, that “his power of judging and governing the universal Church,” admits of no limitation but the canons which
may dispense with, and that he can even at pleasure set aside the decrees of General Councils. No mode of reclamation against a decree de fide is ascertained, or ascertainable, and yet such is the exquisite inconsistency of the infallible Church, that while each individual is bound to receive provisionally a Pope's decree, and can never within the limits of human life know whether it has been "reclaimed" against, each is permitted to examine the truth and falsehood of this very decree, and to judge proprio judicio for himself, thus subjecting a power commensurate with that of St. Peter in the full plenitude of provisional infallibility, to the examination and judgment of every individual, who may, nay, who must assume that the tacit consent of the Church” has been given to its authority. Such is the view taken of the subject even by those who deny the infallibility in words, for to us it is plain that no Roman Catholic can deny it in fact. A power commensurate with that of Peter, illimitable and unlimited, of feeding, governing, and directing the universalChurch, co-extensive with its wants, and requiring only ubiquity in the Papal person to render all other Bishops unnecessary, must require infallibility in the head to govern the members, for mere human power
* It is not uninstructive to remark the power of evasion contained in a single word. This doctrine does not give the Pope a supremacy over councils, “ because he may have received it from them." Dr. Slevin does not recollect any Jesuist who has held the Pope's fallibility, but “ some may have held it.” Perhaps the most extraordinary instance of this occurs in Dr. M.Hale's examination, p. 290, where he is questioned as to a bull of 1741, excommunicating all persons who brought Roman Catholic priests before lay tribunals-bis answer is inimitable, “ that bull probably was never published in this country, and therefore, we have nothing to do with its contents ! !"
would be inadequate to support such a weight, and yet, snch are the inconsistencies and evasions to which the Roman Catholic is driven, that while denying it in words, he must admit this dogma in fact; he must confess that it is held by a large proportion, and may be held by all the members of the Church; he must admit that in practice, any thing the Pope declares to be a decree de fide, must be received as such, and he is left wholly without an answer when he is asked why, since the same jurisdiction as that of St. Peter, and a power commensurate to his descended upon his successors, the mantle of infallibility, the only one suitable to such shoulders, has been the only investiture denied ? We shall return at some other time to the more important practical subjects to which we have alluded.
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER. SIR,—In looking over the contents of my portfolio, a short time since, I discovered the Sermon which I send for insertion in your very valuable miscellany. I remember to have transcribed it some years since, from the autograph of the incomparable Matthew Henry. It was written in an extremely small hand, and with exquisite neat
A few of the thoughts are to be found in the Commentary of the anthor, on the passage in Matthew, but I believe I may state, with confidence, that the Sermon has never before been published. I remain yours respectfully,
C. E. P. “ Then he that bad received the five Talents, went and traded with the same."
Matthew xxv. 16. These words are part of an excellent parable, put forth by our Lord Jesus, who doubtless was, without comparison, the best of preachers, and knew what methods to take in dealing with souls, and what words to choose out in reasoning with them, and he, as was foretold concerning him, opened his mouth in parables. (Matt. xiii. 35.) God had been using similitudes a great while by the ministry of the Prophets, (Hosea xii. 10.) and now has used similitudes by the ministry of his Son, so trying all ways, and turning every stone to work upon a gainsaying people. (Luke vii. 32.)
This parable was one of the last that ever Christ put forth, very little before his death—'tis concerning the Talents. The lesson of it is to teach us to be diligent in improving the gifts that God hath given us for his honour, and our comfort and spiritual benefit. When Christ ascended on high “ he gave gifts to men," (Ephes. iv. 8. comp. Matt. xxv, 14.) Now our business is, with these talents, to trade for heaven, as that good servant in the text, who, in this