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rendered infallible, or that
every thing they wrote or said was dictated by the Spirit of God. St. Paul testifies that St. Peter himself, in one instance, acted in a blameable manner, with “dissimulation ; " and that St. Barnabas was also drawn into the same error. (Galat. ii. 11–13.) The Epistles which have been transmitted down to us for the benefit of the church in all ages, were unquestionably dictated by the Holy Spirit, and were written by the Apostles to their converts in that character. But the above instance proves that these Apostles did not at all times act under the guidance of inspiration ; that they were fallible men, and liable to error.
It is not true that the Apostles ever claimed, even when writing or preaching under the influence of inspiration, any thing like a blind "submission,' or an unreasoning “obedience." They did not look for it; they did not ask for it: they inculcated an examining, inquiring tone of mind. « Beloved," writes St. John, “ believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” How should they “ try the spirits,” but by the only unerring test, the word of God? Even our Saviour himself required not an ignorant faith : “Search the Scriptures,” said he, "for they are they which testify
And the Apostles record their high approbation of the Bereans, not for giving instant credence to all that was said to them, but because they " searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so." Neither our Lord nor St. Paul seem to have been of the opinion held by the Romish Church,—that it was quite useless for these poor Jews and Bereans to bewilder themselves in searching the Scriptures, since they could never hope to understand them.
But, now we come to that notable point in the Doctor's argument, in which he gets, no one can tell hów, at the infallibility of the successors of the Apostles--that is, according to him, of the Romish priesthood.
“ Why," he asks, “should the Apostles be entitled to an obedience which is I refused to their successors ?". “ the same powers, the same guidance and pro“ tection, were promised to the successors of the Apostles, as were promised to the “ Apostles themselves.” “The Catholic Church, therefore, believes that the same “ submission is due to the lawful successors of the Apostles, as was due to the
Apostles themselves.”—P. 31.
Dr. Baines says, that “the same powers were promised to the successors of the Apostles as were promised to the Apostles themselves.” This is obviously untrue. To say nothing of the power of working miracles, why does he forget inspiration? What was it that rendered it incumbent upon Christians to believe the doctrines declared by the Apostles ?--this, and only this, that they spake and wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God. Are the Romish clergy inspired ? If not, they want that one qualification which alone entitled the Apostles to direct our belief.
The Romish clergy, however, while they have no pretension to the gift which alone rendered the Apostles (and that only while in the exercise of it) infallible, do constantly claim a higher degree of obedience than any Apostle ever exacted. Those on whom the Spirit of God evidently rested, testifying his presence by signs and wonders, never asked the credence of their hearers to any doctrine which they did not find confirmed by the written word. We have already shewn that they encouraged the people to whom they preached in searching the Scriptures, whether these things were so. But the Church of Rome demands another, and a very different, kind of obedience. She does not say, * Believe the doctrines I preach, as far as they are agreeable to the word of God;" but she shuts the Bible to the people ; declares that it is dangerous to allow them to read it ; and then demands their implicit faith to every dogma she may put forth. “ Whoever," says the decree of the Council of Trent, “ without a licence from a Bishop or Inquisitor, shall DARE TO READ or to have the Scriptures, cannot obtain forgiveness of sins, except the book is first given up to the ordinary." And yet, while she thus denounces all who shall dare even to have the Scriptures in their possession without special permission, she demands, in Dr. Baines's words, “ the same submission as was due to the Apostles themselves." He ought to have said, & much greater submission than any Apostle ever claimed ;- submission, not to the doctrines she may preach as far as they are accordant with the word of God, but to the doctrines which she preaches, to the exclusion of the word of God.
“Where does Scripture teach that the doctrines of the Apostles should be re“ceived, and those of their successors rejected? Where does it teach that, after the “ death of the Apostles, the commission to teach mankind should be transferred from “ the living pastors of the Church to the dead letter of the Bible?” P. 31.
Common sense teaches every man, that, in a matter of such awful moment as the eternal welfare of his soul, he needs an unerring guide. An infallible teacher is the only security he can have against the greatest of evils. This unerring guide, this infallible teacher, he finds in the inspired word of God, and he can find it no where else. Dr. B. would tell him to prefer the Romish priesthood, to what he calls “ the dead lelter." Let us inquire how he can justify this preference.
Every man's salvation is an individual concern. No man will be saved because he belonged externally to the Romish Church, any more than he will because he dissented from it. Men are not converted or regenerated in bodies, or societies, but each by himself. Now take a single Roman Catholic-a member, let us suppose, of the congregation at Bradford-and ask him what assurance he has that he is in the right path ; that he is not misled in the matters that concern eternity. He cannot answer you upon scriptural grounds, for he must not “ dare to have” a Bible in his possession : he tells you, therefore, that he has heard that Jesus Christ promised to be with his church, “ all days, to the consummation of the world.” Now, suppose you concede to him the application of this promise to the Church of Rome, and that the Saviour is now present in that Church, and directs and influences its proceedings and decisions, still this does not prove his safety. His belief, in the absence of the Scriptures, is not formed upon the general acts of the Church : he has not studied the decretals of the Popes, or the acts of the Councils : the Church, as a body, may be immaculate, and infallible; but he does not take his religion from the Church generally, but from one single member, one individual priest, in it. Now, if every individual priest of the Romish Church is indeed infallible, and if every sermon preached by every priest is indeed preached under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, then indeed is the Catholic in a safe and happy condition; but to believe this he must, one would think, hesitate, when he remembers some of the doctrines promulgated by the Romish priests, and even dignitaries. Pope Urban II. declared, “ that they are not guilty of murder who kill any that are excommunicate "-which includes all Protestants. Another Urban, by a bull dated May 25, 1643, granted “ an absolute remission of all-their sins" to such Irish Catholics as should rebel against their sovereign. Pius the Vth, issued, in 1570, a bull entitled, “ The Damnation and Excommunication of Elizabeth, Queen of England,” &c. &c. Cardinal Bellarmine teaches that “ heretics are to be destroyed, root and branch, if that can possibly be done,” &c. And so we might continue through a volume. Now these were not simply Priests, they were Pop es and Cardinals. Christ promised to be present with his Church'to the end of time: was He present with those Popes, &c. when they penned these detestable decrees ? Nay, to come down to the present day: was He present with Father Carroll, when he murdered the child at Limerick a few months since? If not, then we have lost our infallible guide. If bishops and cardinals may err, if priests may commit crime, then to what are the Catholics trusting? It is idle for them to rely upon the promise of Christ's presence and guidance, except he is present in every instance. If some priests of your Church are not favoured with his influence and direction, then yours may be one of those exceptions; and it is for this uncertainty that you have consented to give up the Scriptures of truth, which, St. Paul declares, “ are able to make you wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.”
But we have been discussing the kind of obedience due to the successors of the Apostles; admitting for the moment, for the argument's sake, that the Romish priesthood have a right to assume that character as exclusively belonging to them. But this they can never prove. Episcopal ordination, derived in a direct line from the Apostles, they certainly possess; but so does the Greek Church, and so does the Church of England. In this respect the clergy of Rome have no superiority. If they call the Church of England a schism, a body of men who have left their parent religion, they can say nothing of that kind to the Greek clergy. The Eastern churches are as ancient as the Western; and they stand, in every respect, upon equal ground.
The only pretence of superiority which a Romish priest can offer, on behalf of his Church, is deduced from the authority which she claims for St. Peter. If the right of this Apostle to a supremacy over all other sees, cannot be established ; and if the Greek Church cannot thus be proved to have rebelled against her lawful superior; there is nothing whatever to support the Roman Catholics in refusing to allow the Greek clergy to be “the successors of the Apostles,” in the same sense, and as fully, as themselves. But the question of St. Peter's supremacy will meet us in a future part of this discussion. Meanwhile we proceed to consider Dr. Baines's second reason for considering the Church of Rome to be the only true Church of Christ.
“I infer, in the second place, from the commission of Christ, 'go teach ALL NA“ TIONS'-'go PREACH the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE'—that the religion “ of Christ must be a universal, not a national or merely local religion. Now the “ Catholic is the only universal religion.” P. 35.
This argument will not bear the least examination. In what sense is the Romish religion universal? Does it embrace the whole, or the greater part, of the population of the globe? It does not claim even one sixth. But does it at least reckon within its pale the far greater part of the Christian world ? So far from it, that there will be found a larger nụmber without its communion than within it. So much for “the only universal religion.” But Dr. B. says, that “in every country, where Christianity exists in any form, there the Catholic religion is found :" in other words, there some Catholics are found. He might as rationally prove the universal dominion of England, by the fact that there is no civilized land where Englishmen are not found !
The third point advanced by Dr. Baines is that of unity of doctrine. “ The doctrines of the true and universal church of Christ must be in all places the same; for where there is difference of doctrine, there must necessarily be deviation from “the doctrines of Christ. Now this unity of doctrine exists in the great Catholic
Church, and in it alone,.....Consult the first English bishop or priest you meet; ask
" the respectable pastor of this congregation, what is the doctrine of the Catholie “ Church on any given article of faith, and carefully note his reply. Put the same “ question to the bishop or priest of France, of Italy, of Germany, of Spain, of “ America, of Hindostan, of China, and I am sure you will receive from all and
every one the same answer....This you will acknowledge, my brethren, is as it ought to be.” Pp. 36, 37,
This, we beg to add, by the way, is a mere fiction. No such unity ever did exist, or ever will exist, in the Romish Church. Not to dwell on the furious dissensions between the Jesuits and Jansenists, the history of the Church of Rome is the history of its differences and divisions. Popes have anathematised the principles of their predecessors; general councils have enacted and decreed, in direct opposition to the enacte, ments and decrees of prior general councils; and saints and doctors, without number, have been as fierce and furious in their contentions, as the most free-thinking heretics in the world.
But we have evidence enough of a contrariety of opinion in Dr. B.'s own discourse. He pronounces “ anathema to the man who worships an image, or believes it to possess any portion of Divine power or virtue.” Other Romish priests, as we before said, expect their images of St. Januarius to have the power to stay the course of a torrent of burning lava. -He says, that, “as to the charge of forgiving sins for money, it is a simple calumny:" and yet, in a Spanish ship, captured, in the year 1800, by Admiral Harvey, there were found several bales of stamped pardons for sins, sealed by the Papal authorities, and with the price on each, varying according to the crime. These were carrying out for sale in South America. He says, that the priest who prays for the dead remains “ uncertain respecting the efficacy of his prayers." The London Purgatorian Society, however, state their charitable views to have reference, “ first, To the soul most in need ;” by which a knowledge of the state of souls in purgatory is implied, and also a knowledge of the efficacy of prayers offered.—But we need not pursue this topic. No one can give the least credit to Dr. Baines's assertion of the unity of the Romish Church in matters of doctrine, who has the least acquaintance with its history.
The fourth point to which Dr. Baines directs our attention, is that of “ the exclusive privilege of converting nations," which he asserts 'to be possessed by the Romish Church. “ Catholics,” he says,
“ conclude that the church which has converted all the “ nations' that have been converted, and which still enjoys the exclusive privilege “ of converting nations, must be the Church of Christ. Now it is a certain fact, that
every nation which has at any time become Christian, was originally converted “ by the Catholic Church.” “But does the Catholic Church still possess the power " of converting nations? Take a map of the globe, and see what she has done since “ the Reformation. , Before that period, the Church of Christ comprised but three quarters of the globe; since that time, a fourth has been added to it.”—P. 39.
The Doctor here mis-states facts, both as to what the Church of Rome has done, and as to what she is doing.
1. As to what she has done.-His assertion is, that every nation which has at any time become Christian, was originally converted by the Catholic Church. Is this a wilful mis-statement, or is he really so ignorant of the history of the world, as not to know that Russia, with its thirty millions of inhabitants, received Christianity, not from the Romish,, but from the Greek Church?
2. As to what she is now doing? The plain truth is, that the Church of Rome has, for a very long period, done nothing whatever in the Missionary field. How does Dr. Baines conceal this. . By very adroitly taking in three centuries at once, and thus covering up the deficiencies
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the achievements of the sixteenth. And what were those achievements ? Simply the conquest, not the conversion, of South America. Bands of soldiers took possession of Peru and Chili, enslaved the inhabitants, and then baptized them; and this is what the Romish Church calls “ converting nations !” Dr. B. asks :
“ Is it then possible that Christ can have forsaken his Catholic Church? or can (4 he trust with his richest graces, and employ in his greatest works, a church ( which has forsaken him?"-P. 39.
Admirable logic! by which the presence of Christ in the Romish Church in the year 1825, is proved by the fact of the conquest of Mexico and Peru in 1520. But let us return to common sense, and ask, Where are these
greatest works” in which the Catholic Church is now ployed ?" What exhibition has been made of these “richest graces" with which she is entrusted? The point upon which Dr. B. is insisting, is that of her success in converting nations, and the only fact illustrative of this, which has lately come before the public, is that of the return of the Abbé Dubois from India after thirty-two years' toil, "disgusted at the total inutility of his pursuits." The Doctor's argument, therefore, plainly recoils upon him. If it be a distinctive mark of the true Church to be employed in the conversion of nations; how is it, that, while three-fourths of the globe is still immersed in Pagan idolatry, the Church of Rome has been unemployed for centuries? Dr. B. may scoff at the humble attempts of voluntary associations of Protestants, when compared with the converting exploits of a Cortez or a Pizarro ;- but let him remember, that all that is now doing for the conversion of the heathen, is doing by Protestants.
The fifth point by which the pretensions of the Komish Church are to be established, is that of the power and superiority invested in St. Peter, by which he and all his successors are said to be constituted the permanent governors of the Church.
“ The Catholic Church,” Dr. B. observes, " has ever been united in faith, and has
ever acknowledged a superiority of spiritual power in the successors of St. Peter; “ whilst all other sects have invariably broken this connection, and have consequently “ ceased to answer the scriptural description of the Church of Christ.”—P.41.
This worn-out controversy is by no means inviting. Dr. Baines seems to feel it impossible to say any thing new upon it, and therefore dismisses it very speedily; and we shall only stop to observe:
1. That the whole notion of Peter's supremacy is built upon a single verse, and that a verse the exact meaning of which is disputed, Protestants have abundant ground to maintain that the expression “ upon this rock will I build my church,” referred not to the person of Peter, but to the faith which he had just declared, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
2. That the meaning which Papists attach to this solitary passage is entirely unsupported by any other in the whole of the New Testament; nor is there a syllable to warrant the supposition that St. Peter ever assumed any superiority over the other Apostles, or that they ever conceded it to him.
3. But, on the other hand, the sense in which Protestants understand the words, is warranted and confirmed by several passages in the subsequent writings of the Apostles. No one of the twelve, excepting the apostate Judas, fell into such grievous sin as did St. Peter. No one of the disciples shewed such disgraceful fear of confessing his Lord, as did this disciple, whom the Papists would tell us was “ a rock” able to support the church itself. No one of the number is spoken of, after our Saviour's