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ed, any such rank or authority in At this crisis, too, of the Church, the church at large. But when the existence of such a living and the empire became Christian, and speaking authority, evidently clothemperors began to bow down before ed with divine power and commisthe prelates of the church, then it sion, was indispensably necessary, soon came to pass that the bishop for this obvious reason—that the of the imperial city assumed å books of the New Testament were more extended power. And this not then written. Not possessing, assumption falling in with popular therefore, that Rule of Faith, by fancies and prejudices, the Roman which the church is now safely bishop, when the imperial throne guided and governed,--the Chrisitself was removed from that city, tians of those incipient days would became the leading person in that have been, without some living and great metropolis. Then were the applicable source of authority, , pretensions of that See daily en- evidently open to every temptation larged, and as a basis for its of false doctrine that could be vastassumptions, the fiction of brought to hear upon them. We St. Peter's primacy was invented , see, therefore, at once, why the a fiction of which the Christian existence of a body of men divinely world, for three centuries after commissioned, and bearing the Christ's ascension, had never heard visible tokens of this divine coma syllable. Such are the simple mission, was absolutely essential facts of the case. And if the to the Church's establishment. question is again put, whether But the lapse of thirty or forty Cbrist did not himself constitute
a vast alteration. and establish a visible church, we These divinely-inspired and immemust of necessity reply, that if he diately-commissioned servants of did so, it must have been the Christ were taught by the Spirit to church of Jerusalem, for, unques- commit to writing the wisdom tionably, of the church of Rome which they had received from he never uttered a single word. above. It was as much a part of Rom. I do not think you
have their mission to form a fixed code grappled with the main feature of and rule of faith for future ages, as the case. The locality, the seat of
to govern the churches authority and of unity may never which they themselves had gatherhave been denoted or fixed by ed and constituted. They wrote, Christ; but can you deny that he therefore, the New Testament, and left behind him, as his representa- then departed to their rest, leavtive on earth, a CHURCH, a bodying, as is by universal consent adof men having authority both to mitted, no successors invested with teach and to decide doubtful points, equal powers or equal authority. and around which body it was the It follows, then, that if we duty of all his faithful followers to would hear the Apostles actually collect themselves ?
speaking, not through the clouded Prot. Again let us rather refer medium or in the doubtful and dito the facts of the case, than to a luted language of tradition, or of theory constructed by our erring human interpreters, but in imaginations. It is unquestionably their own written works ; we must true, that when Christ left this take up the New Testament itself, earth, he did bequeath a certain and rule our faith and conduct by authority, to a body of men whom its decisions. And may I not ask he had himself selected and sent which of the two classes are really forth to preach his gospel, and paying the most genuine respect to whom he had also endowed with the mission and the appointment of supernatural gifts and powers. Christ; we, who, acknowledging
his authority, speaking through his to correct you in this statement. own selected servants, accept their Your church does claim more than writings as our rule; or they who a mere power to interpret: she prefer to lay aside or overrule claims a further and much greater these inspired records, in favour of power-namely, to add to the docertain fallible human beings, cument itself. This is a power bishops and cardinals, and the never yet granted to any executor, like, merely because these men and it is a power which, if conclaim to be lineally in succession ceded, necessarily makes the Testo the apostles, although wholly tament itself just what the execudestitute of all these qualifications tor cbooses. which commanded our reverence in But the assumption of a right to Christ's own selected messengers. interpret authoritatively is in itself
Try this by illustration. The objectionable. And the objection writings of the apostles are called lies here that the same party “ The New Testament of our Lord claims to be both executor and and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Now judge. The Church of Rome asask yourself what in
sumes that the Testament of Christ usage is the power of a Will or gives her very great powers and Testament, and what the power of privileges. This, to many eyes, is the executors of that will? Does
not apparent on the face of the donot every one know that the Rule cument. Aye, but, says this same in
every such case must be the Will Church of Rome, I am appointed itself, not the notions of the exe- by that same Testament, the aucutors. And if any question thoritative interpreter of the Testaarises, that question can only con- ment, and I pronounce that such is cern this one point, What says
the the meaning of the passages in will, what is its intent and mean- question. ing? Nor is such question left to What should we say of a the executors themselves, but is judge in equity, who first claimed always referred to a third party. a certain property under a will, The office of the executor is merely
which will to other peoples' eyes, ministerial; he is not to add to, or made no such bequest ; and then take from, the original Testament, sat in his court to decide this very even in the least point or fraction. question, and to give judgment in The Will itself is the Rule, which his own favour ! governs and decides every thing. Ing. Well, but where do you Just so is it in the present case. yourself lodge this power of interThe ministers of the New Testa- pretation ; supposing questions of ment have no power to alter or difficulty to arise in the perusal of amend that document; they are to the document? take it as it stands, without cavil or Prot. I can only reply to this exception.
by drawing your attention to the Rom. But you admit that when distinction between the two cases, any passage or direction appears and to the impossibility of reachdoubtful, the appointed court musting, by any human illustration, the be resorted to for an authoritative case of divine things. interpretation. Now that is all Human beings, men and women, that we claim in the case of the make wills and testaments. They Sacred Scriptures. We say that
are all of them
fallible creathe Church is such court; and that tures, often unfit for the duty, and it was founded and empowered to not unseldom attempting it when act in that capacity by Christ disabled by disease. " It follows of himself.
necessity that such documents are Prot. Nay, you must allow me frequently found to be full of errors
and faults; and thus a court of no successors, manifesting a similar appeal becomes necessary; in or- commission by similar gifts, have der to instruct and anthorize ex- ever appeared, it follows that the ecutors how to proceed.
unerring guidance which they were But the New Testament is the enabled to give, during their lives, work of an Omniscient Mind. by their personal instructions, must And it was designed, as we are now be sought in their inspired plainly told, for the instruction writings ;-writings, in fact, which of all mankind. It approaches we know to have been intended for to blasphemy, therefore, to com- this very purpose. “I will enpare it with human and fallible deavour," says St. Peter, productions, or to speak of it as ye may be able after my decease not intelligible to those for whose to have these things always in use it is written. A ministerial remembrance.” (2 Peter i. 15.) duty, it is true, there is - but that Thus we have, in these writings, duty consists in the large and an infallible guide, especially proliberal publication of its contents, vided for our use; while in the and the explanation of its meaning mere fallible human beings, who, by the studied comparison of one whether at Rome or elsewhere, part with another ;-never by stand where the apostles have fastening upon it meanings of an stood before them, we have, as we arbitrary and foreign character, well know, nothing but weak and imported into it, and not belonging erring men, often misled and misto it. Never must it be forgotten, leading; sometimes even wicked that perfection is its attribute, and and hating God and his church. that all addition to it is expressly, Rom. But still
do not come and under the highest penalties, to the point-Did Christ constitute forbidden.
a church or not? Rom. But are we not wander- Prot. I will very shortly answer ing from the question ? My de- you, and I hope distinctly. He mand of you was, whether Christ ordained and sent forth his apostles did not establish a visible church, to preach the gospel in all lands, to which perpetuity was to belong; and to form churches in various and whether that church was to be kingdoms; which are so spoken of found any where, but in our com- in the epistles, as “the church at munion ?
Corinth; "_" the churches of GaProt. I may, perhaps, have latia ;"_" the church of the Thesseemed to digress, but my argu
salonians,” and sundry others. ment was to this purport: that These are all visible churches, Christ did indeed give to bis
known by territorial designations, tles certain extraordinary powers ; and including within themselves a special commission; and super- all sorts of characters, genuine and natural gifts, as a sign of that com- counterfeit. There is, however, a mission: That during their life- general or universal church spoken time these men wrote and spoke of in various places in the New with Divine authority, manifestly Testament, as the “ body" of appearing in their works; and by Christ, (Ephes. i. 22.) as that for virtue of that authority they which Christ“ gave himself,” founded many churches, and wrote (Ephes. v. 25.) and as “ a glorious certain books, which collectively church, not having spot or wrinkle, form the New Testament.
or any such thing,” (Ephes. v. 27.) My argument then went to this a description which certainly has point--that as it is admitted on never belonged to any visible all hands that their miraculous church that the world has yet powers ceased with them; and as
Rom. Why not to ours ?
a great number of Prot. Nay, for that I refer you churches in various lands and kingto Cardinal Baronius, who of one doms, and we find also that to the period, A. D. 912, says,
• What decrees and orders of the apostles, was then the face of the holy all these churches were subject. Roman church? How exceedingly But we hear nothing of their subfoul was it, when most powerful, jection even to the church of Jeruand sordid, and abandoned women salem, much less to that of Rome, ruled at Rome,' &c. I repeat, which was not even founded until therefore, that those expressions in many years after. And in EccleScripture which refer to a general siastical history, we find indeed, or universal church, the spouse of that about the year 193, Victor, Christ, speak of an invisible then bishop of Rome, assumed to church, consisting of all those who himself the power of fixing the sincerely believe in him, and cling period of Easter, but instead of any to him, whether in Tartary, in such authority being conceded to London, in Taheite, or in any
him, he was sharply reprehended other part of the world.
by the brightest light of that time, Rom. And you mean thus to Iræneus, and his decrees set at get rid of the idea of one, united, nought, through the greater part of Catholic Church! But what do Christendom. Not in either Scripyou say to the xvth of Acts, in ture, then, nor in what is called which there is most clearly a cen- Antiquity,' in its purest and best tral body, an admitted and acknow- days, do we find any trace of this ledged authority, knitting together one, universal, and visible church. in union and oneness of feeling and Rom. But consider, I beg of principle, all the various scattered
you, in what a helpless predicaprovincial churches of the apos- ment does this hypothesis of yours tolic days.
leave the church at large. How Prot. That chapter is perfectly unlikely that Christ should have consistent with the view I have deliberately left his disciples, in already given. The college of apos. all after-ages, destitute of authoritles being then at Jerusalem, (not tative guidance and direction, when at Rome,) and there being no New it was so easy, as in our Church Testament to guide the infant has been shown, to establish a cenchurches, they naturally and neces- tre of unity and authority in that sarily sent up to Jerusalem, to the apostolic college, of which we apostles, whenever
find such clear traces in the Acts But the apostles died, and left no of the Apostles. successors in their apostolic autho- Prot. I have before observed, rity ; but they left the New Testa- that it is useless, and therefore ment in their room. Consequently idle and almost criminal, to inthe churches ceased to send to dulge in speculations of this kind, Jerusalem for decisions ;
when we have both God's own sending to Rome, that was never word, and the records of antiquity thought of for a century at least to boot, to instruct us as to what after this.
He was actually pleased to decide Ing. What conclusion, then, do upon doing in this matter. we come to, this morning. You again glance at these two sources deny that Christ founded one, sole, of truth, not so much for what we visible church.
shall there find, as for the fullest Prot. I see it nowhere in the evidence of the want of all supNew Testament; and I find it no port for your hypothesis. You where in Ecclesiastical history. In must certainly admit, that if one the apostolical writings, we merely visible church, ruled over by one
central authority, had been estab- court intrigues, characterized by lished by Christ, there must have every shade of folly and of crime, been some distinct and visible and possessing neither infallibility traces of it, both in the writings in their decisions, nor power in of the apostles, and the records of their actions, there is a difference their Acts; and also in the history as wide as between heaven and of the church during the first two earth. centuries. And it is on the utter But I must protest against being silence of both these sources of .supposed to admit the Church of information that I rely, as estab- Christ to be left in a desolate and lishing my arguments, that this visi- belpless condition. I am not arguing ble church, and this central autho- against the authority of the aposrity, are nothing but an human in- tles of Christ, but for it. All vention, constructed in some later that they were inspired to teach period.
men, they have left us in the New Ing. I thought you referred, Testament, and in the study of that just now, to a college of apostles unerring guide, we have also the at Jerusalem.
promise of the Holy Spirit's teac Prot. I did so; and had we a ing. What I protest against, is college of apostles, or any other the desertion of this, the only body of men who could raise the really apostolic authority, for hudead to life, sitting on earth at the man decisions and opinions, whepresent moment, I would not for ther of Fathers, or Councils, or an instant hesitate to admit their Popes, or Bishops. I cling to that authority. But between a college apostolic code, touching the charof inspired men, selected and sent acter of which there is no doubt, forth by Christ himself, and evi- and refuse to admit the jarring and dencing their divine commission controverted claims of men, to be by their miraculous power, and a placed in competition with it. college of Cardinals, named by
our native parish in the West Riding.
I accompanied him to Hastings - he did not wish to go, for he felt a firm persuasion that change of climate would bring no change to him, but the removal from earth to heaven, to which he so ardently looked forward ; and on leaving the scene of his childhood and ministerial exertions, he felt that he had looked his last, and that the eye of those that saw and sorrowed over the departure of their friend and their pastor, would see him no more, until the awful