Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]


Christ his Son, so also IN the Holy Ghost." But that what we say may be more manifest, is proved from what follows. "For, after this discourse, follows the holy church,' the remission of sins,' the resurrection of the body.' It is not said IN the holy church, neither IN the remission of sins, nor IN the resurrection of the body; for if the preposition IN had been added, the force would have been one and the same with the former." So far Ruffinus. Others of the fathers mark this reading of the creed, particularly Gregory of Nazianzen, who, proving the divinity of Christ, says, If he be a creature only, how do we believe IN him?" The force of the preposition is thus stated by St. Augustine: "It is not said, I believe God (i. e. believe that God is), or, I believe God (i. e. believe his word), although these also are necessary to salvation; for it is one thing to believe him, another to believe that he is, another to believe IN him: to believe him, is to believe that true which he speaks; to believe him, is to believe that he is God; to believe IN him, is to love him."

According then to these definitions, we profess not a blind attachment to any individuals putting themselves not merely in the place of but above the Saviour, and claiming his promises,

The following note on Luke xii. 11, from the Rhemish Testament, furnishes some idea of the blind obedience which is demanded of her votaries by the papal church, and of the easy manner in which she teaches her children to give a reason for the hope that is in them:

("Be not careful.) That the poor unlearned Catholic should not be discouraged, or make his excuse that he is a simple man, not able to answer cunning heretics, nor to give a reason of his belief, and therefore must suffer or say any thing rather than come before them; our Master giveth the comfort, promising that the Holy Ghost shall ever put into their hearts, at the time of their appearance, that which shall be sufficient for the purpose; not that every one which is convented before the adversaries of faith should always be endued with extraordinary knowledge to dispute or confute, as the apostles and others in the primitive church were; but that God will ever give to the simple, that trusteth in him, sufficient courage and words to confess his belief. For such an one, called before the commissioners, saith enough and defendeth himself sufficiently, when he answereth that he is a Catholic man, and that he will live and die in that faith which the Catholic church throughout all Christian countries hath and doth teach; and that this church can give them a reason of all the things which they demand of him.”

That this is not obsolete doctrine, will appear from the fact of Dr. Milner having, in his "End of Religious Controversy," adopted the same happy way of resolving faith. If every other method fails," at all events," says the Doctor," the poor man can say, I believe whatever the holy Catholic church believes and teaches!" But Dr. Milner must speak for himself. "The same creeds, namely, the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Creed of Pope Pius IV., drawn up in conformity with the definitions of the Council of Trent,

when that to which they are limited is despised and corrupted: but we profess to believe that, according to the word of Christ, we are to look for a church; which, although extended over many countries, must be still the same in all those essentials necessary to constitute a church, and which, though of many, and sometimes in non-essentials, diversied parts, should be knit together in unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace. And if she oversteps not the bounds assigned her in the map of heaven, men are bound to receive her doctrines and obey her ministers; while those who add to that faith of which she is the constituted guardian, and who thereby make inroads upon her territories or schisms in her body, are to be accounted "heathens and publicans," and avoided as persons who "serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly." This view will be allowed, and this obedience rendered, by all those who love peace and order instead of contention and pre-eminence.

What then is the meaning of the word Catholic, and what entitles any church to this appellation? The term Catholic is not, it is true, to be found in the word of God; but this is of little moment, as we contend not for the mere name, but for the substance. Besides, there are other words used in the christian church which are not to be found in the Scriptures: but that which they teach, being clearly revealed, no true Christian

are everywhere recited and professed, to the strict letter. The same articles of faith and morality are taught in all our catechisms; the same rule of faith, namely, the revealed word of God, contained in Scripture and tradition; and the same expositor and interpreter of this rule, the Catholic church speaking by the mouth of her pastors, are admitted and proclaimed by all Catholics throughout the four quarters of the globe, from Ireland to Chili, and from Canada to India. You may convince yourself of this any day, at the Royal Exchange, by conversing with intelligent Catholic merchants from the several countries in question. You may satisfy yourself respecting it even by interrogating the poor illiterate Irish, and other Catholic foreigners, who traverse the country in various directions. Ask their belief as to the fundamental articles of Christianity; the Unity and Trinity of God, the incarnation and death of Christ, his divinity, and atonement for sin by his passion and death, the necessity of baptism, the nature of the blessed sacrament; question them on these and other such points, but with kindness, patience, and condescension, particularly with respect to their language and delivery, and, I will venture to say, you will not find any essential variation in the answers of most of them; and much less such as you will find by proposing the same questions to an equal number of Protestants, whether learned or unlearned, of the same denomination. At all events, the Catholics, if properly interrogated, will confess their belief in one comprehensive article; namely, this :-I believe whatever the holy Catholic church believes and teaches."- Milner's End of Controversy.


attempts to, or can, deny. The word is, however, used by Ignatius, who was cotemporary with the apostles. He speaks of the catholic church, and so do all writers downward to our own times. The church of Christ was called catholic in the primary and important sense of the term; because, according to the promises made by the Father to his eternal Son, that the heathen should be given to him for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the carth for his possession, the gospel was to be preached to all nations. Christ was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles," as well as "the glory of his people Israel." Accordingly, having finished his work, and having received all power in heaven and earth, he sent out his apostles, with the promise of his presence with them and their successors, to build up his kingdom by proclaiming the gospel unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The church was farther esteemed catholic because of its teaching all those things which a Christian ought to know for his soul's health; as well as because of the universal obedience which it prescribes, " obliging men of all conditions, and requiring the performance of all evangelical commands." Other reasons for this term we pass by, because they are less important, and chiefly because the one now fully explained is that which our adversaries of the papal church select as the meaning of the term. The church of Christ is then called Catholic to distinguish it from the Jewish, which was composed of one nation; while the Christian church was to be composed of individuals of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, who are brought to the sincere profession of the true faith of Christ here, and who are destined hereafter to stand before the throne of the Lamb, with white robes, and palms in their hands; they having been washed in his blood, and having overcome, by keeping pure and undefiled that faith which has been delivered to the saints. This faith of Christ, designed for all ages and every nation, in opposition to the types and shadows of the Jewish economy, which were confined to one people, is therefore that which, when received, confers the name of Catholic upon a church. So long as any church preserves pure and inviolate the catholic faith and discipline, so long is it a part of the catholic church; and in proportion to the variation of individuals or churches from this rule, they cease to be catholic, and become schismatical or heretical, or both, and, as in the case of the Church of Rome, idolatrous.

There are various ways by which churches may decline from the catholic rule: either by the open rejection of any article of the catholic faith, or by refusing to obey in things lawfully ordained; or, as in the case of the papacy, by imposing, as conditions of church communion, additions to the faith of the gospel. The mere name, then, is nothing; the pretensions of every church must be tried by this note here laid down,-its

maintenance of the catholic faith pure and undefiled. Such too was the opinion of the early fathers. If the catholic faith was inquired for, reference was made to the catholic church, because it was bound to teach that faith, and derived its name solely from the preservation of that sacred deposit. "Christian is my name (said one of them) and Catholic is my surname: by the one I am distinguished from heathens, by the other from heretics and schismatics." But for any church to assume the name, when that which alone confers it is departed, is as absurd as if those nations amongst whom the mosque now erects its lofty minarets, should assert their claim to be parts of the Christian church, because the banner of the cross, under which their fathers sat with delight, once waved where the crescent of the false prophet is now displayed. Or, as Bishop Burnet remarks, might not the philosophers have concluded from hence against the first Christians, that they were by the confession of all men the true lovers of wisdom, since they were called Philosophers much more unanimously than the Church of Rome is called Catholic?"


When heresies and schisms began to spring up in the christian church, for there must needs be such, that they which are approved may be made manifest,-the early fathers defined and embodied in symbols or creeds this catholic faith: not that their definition made any one article catholic or otherwise, for they made no additions to what had been by the Saviour delivered to the saints, but that catholics might be discerned from heretics and schismatics, these articles of Christianity were thus collected and defined. One council pronounced an anathema against any who should afterwards enlarge these creeds: and they remained in the possession of the church for a long time undisturbed and inviolate. Whatever errors crept in among Christians, were esteemed as private opinions, and were not enforced as necessary parts of the catholic faith. But the peace of the Christian world was to be broken;-and this brings us at once to the great question between us and the Church of Rome.

If we believe that church's testimony, she only is the catholic, all else being concluded under the sin of heresy and schism. Confining ourselves to the defence of our own Church, and consequent condemnation of her accusers, we ask, In what is it that we are guilty of these awful sins? We have seen that the preservation of the faith of Christ pure and undefiled is the only note by which a church can be known as catholic? In what instance then has the Church of England corrupted, added to, or denied the faith of Christ? No one single instance can be assigned. She has, it is true, drawn up articles peculiar to herself; but these articles, in which she makes a positive and negative confession of the catholic faith, requiring assent to the same, and denying the claim of later doctrines to that honourable

name, are but means for the regulation of her own affairs, the instruction of her ministers and people, and the better propagation of the ancient catholic and apostolic faith. But if indeed our Church savour of nothing but novelty and heresy, as the Romanists pretend, let them remove from the bosom of their own church that new and heretical religion, which they say was never heard of before the days of Luther, "and what have they left to constitute theirs the catholic church?" The fact is, that the only claim which the Church of Rome possesses to the title, is derived from what she holds in common with us. The positive doctrine which we teach is professedly held and taught by her, as part (and, as we shall presently see, the only sound part) of the Catholic religion. That which we reject, is what she has added to that faith-the articles embodied in the new creed of Pope Pius IV. The rejection of that creed is what makes us so schismatical and heretical in her eyes. We deny the leading article of it, the supremacy of the papacy. To this we plead guilty. But when and where did Christ or his apostles make obedience to the Roman pontiff an article of the catholic faith? Until the affirmative of this be proved, we may rest in undisturbed possession of our catholicity. But who pleads in behalf of the Pope? Himself and his party! We will not have the evidence of the criminal in his own behalf. Let them cease to sound their own trumpet, and produce their credentials. Now, by thus imposing belief in himself and his doctrines upon men, as articles of faith and necessary to salvation, this man and his party, and not we, have made a schism in the church of Christ, and have consequently departed from the catholic faith. The case stands thus, as well stated by Stillingfleet :-"The catholic church therefore lies open and free, like a common-field, to all inhabitants. Now if any particular number of these inhabitants should agree together to enclose part of it, without the consent of the rest, and not to admit any others to their right of common, without consenting to it; which of these two parties-those who deny to yield their consent, or such who deny their rights if they will not-are guilty of the violation of the public and common rights of the place? Now this is plainly the case between the Church of Rome and ours. For which we must further consider, that although nothing separates a church properly from the catholic but what is contrary to the being of it, yet a church may separate herself from the communion of the catholic, by taking upon her to make such things the necessary conditions of her communion, which were never the conditions of communion with the catholic church. As, for instance, though we should grant adoration of the eucharist, invocation of saints, and veneration of images, to be only superstitious practices, taken up without sufficient grounds in the church; yet since it appears that the communion of the catholic church was free

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »