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that you may be wrong in finding out your infallible church? Then what certainty is there, and what confidence have you in the infallibility of your guides? Again-Joannah Southcoate claimed to be infallible--and so the Shakers : now, as they use your rule of faith no less than Unitarians ours, may they not be right, and you wrong? Yet on such logic hange your argument.
In your IXth head you apply the above. You suppose four Presbyterian preachers, (and include me in the number,) one becomes Unitarian-another Swedenborgian--and I, happy honoured I, be come a Papist, by light breaking in upon my dark soul. Now we must of course disperse, and join these various people. Hence, as under our rule we may do this, that rule “works destruction," and is not infallible. Let me consummate this felicitous illustration. We are told in Genebrard's Chronicles, A. D. 904, " that for 150 years, fifty Popes had been apostate, rather than apostolical.” There is then no lack of subjects. For the first, take Pope Liberius, who became Arian; then Pope Honorius, a Heretic, who was condemned by a council ; Pope Marcellinus, an Idolater. You, Sir, may be the fourth-with your faith unshaken, and on the high road to the Vatican and the Triple crown. Now ought not one of these to join the Arians; another the Swedenborgians; another the Gentile Idolaters; and would not this “ work destruction ?" Yet this is the operation of your rule, or at least it is in spite of your rule, which must therefore, on your own reasoning, be defective. I could apply your argument to your councils too; but I forbear.
X. The argument on cer aty, I have answered in the introduction.
And now, Sir, having waded through the queries, which you have so magisterially propounded to me, I would propose to your consideration the following difficulties, to which I also expect a prompt reply.
1. You prove your church infallible as a judge of controversies, by true notes or marks which are very numerous. They embrace sanctity of doctrine, agreement in doctrine with the primitive church, &c. &c. It presupposes much knowledge of Scripture to find them out. Now you must find all these notes, to get at the true church ; and in her to find the infallible judge. The question then is, are you infallible in finding out these notes? Is it not by private, or at least fallible judgment? Then as your infallibility is built on fallible judgment, is it not an empty name, and a presumptuous pretension ?
2. As to the judge of controversies, you say in the eighth page, “ would it not be absurd to say, that the laws of this commonwealth expound their own meaning, without a judge ?" Now let us look at this illustration. The judge in the commonwealth must be of neither party. But your judge of controversies is always a party in the case, unless you contend with some, that he is above law. The civil judge binds not the conscience; for though he deprive me of my property, the law does not require me to think with him; but your judge lords it over the conscience, which none can rightly do but God. The civil judge is easily found out; but can you identify your infallible judge ? Is it the Pope, or a general council, or both united, or the church at large ? What would a civil judge be worth, whom nobody could find ?
3. You say in your second page, that your church is not hostile to the dissemination and perusal of the Holy Scriptures." Yet the 4th Rule of the “Expurgatory Index,” under the authority of the Council of Trent, and the Pope, says in so many words, " Inasmuch as it is manifest from experience, that if the Holy Bible translated into the vulgar tongue, be indiscriminately allowed to every one, the temerity of men will cause more evil than good to arise from it"--and it goes on to say, that permission may be given in writing by bishops or inquisitors, to such as priests or confessors recommend, to read the Bible, if translated by Catholic (Roman) authors.-—" But if any one have the presumption to read or possess it, without such a written permission, he shall not receive absolution, until he has delivered up such Bible," &c. Booksellers selling to men without a license were liable to penalties. The liberty of the press also is directly violated in that same document Not only in Rome, but “ in other places,” the vicar or inquisitor or other authorised person must examine, approve, and permit a book to be published ! Does this seem like friendship to the discussion of the Scriptures and of general knowledge ?
4. Your living judge of controversies being infallible, your system ought to be uniform and unchangeable, admitting of no new doctrines and no contradictions—and this you allow, when you say, • Your doctrines have been from the beginning, as fixed stars in the firmaments of Revelation,” and the church “ knew them,” by the infallible rule of judgment " from the beginning.” I give only a few examples of heresy and variation, and innovation in doctrine, to disprove this assertion.
In the fourth century, Liberius, the Pope, signed the Arian creedand the great body of the clergy became Arian. Hilary called his confession the “Arian Perfidy. Arianism was sanctioned by the Papal Church, that is by the Pontiff
, a general council, and the collective clergy. I need not refer to Honorius, who, in the seventh century, was an acknowledged and condemned heretic.
As to the Pope's supremacy, there are no less than three systems in your church. Some contend for a mere presidency ; such are Du Pin, Rigathius, Filaster, Gibert, and Paolo. The councils of Pisa, Constance and Basil, sustained this view. Others make him an unlimited monarch, civil and ecclesiastical. This is the Italian school, and the Jesuits agree with them. The councils of Florence, Lateran, and Trent, patronized this system. Another system set him by the side of God. The canon law in the gloss, denominates the Pope, • the Lord God.' Bellarmine says, [4. 5.] “Si papa erraret, præcipiendo vitia,” &c. "If the Pope should err in commanding vices, and prohibiting virtues, the church would be bound to believe vices to be virtues, and virtues to be vices.” These views were largely patronized.
As to the seat of infallibility in the church, there is neither union nor uniformity. There are no less than four systems on this subject, stoutly advocated in different ages, by writers, popes and councils ; and your church is not now united upon it. One system places infallibility in the Pope ; another in a general council ; a third in the two united'; and the fourth in the church collective,
You are not agreed among yourselves even which are the general councils. As to image worship, there are three parties. (Bellarmine 2. 20.). One party allows the use of them,-another the lower worship--a third, the real divine worship of them. The council of Nice, says Bellarmine, agreed with the second. The ups and downs of images in the church, for a whole century, I need not here detail.
As to the validity of oaths.—The third general council of the Lateran, 16th Canon, says, “ An oath contrary to ecclesiastical utility is perjury-not an oath.” Labb. 13. 426. The 4th Laterean, a general council, in A. D. 1215, 3d canon, “ freed the subjects of such sovereigns as embraced heresy, from their fealty.” Labb. 13. 934. The guilty celebrity of the Council of Constance, I need not dwell on.-Delahogue, Tract. de Euch. p. 214. art. 2, says, that denying the cup to the laity did not begin until the 12th century. Now, it is an approved doctrine of the Church of Rome.
Lastly-In the letter from Bononia, by the three bishops to Pope Julius the 3d., Sept. 20th, 1553, “on the way to establish the Church of Rome,” are these confessions : “ This is a downright Lutheran maxim, that it is not lawful to depart in the least degree from the things that were used among the Apostles. But who of us doth not every day often depart from them ? Indeed in our churches we scarcely retain the least shadow of doctrine and discipline which flourished in the times of the Apostles ; but have brought in quite another of our own.”. (More of this hereafter.) See Preservative against Popery, vol. 1. p. 88.
Amidst such heresies, variations, corruptions, and novelties of doctrine and worship, where is your infallible judge of controversies?
5. Your rule of faith requires you, as your oath of office binds you, to interpret “unwritten traditions" and the Bible, according to the "unanimous consent of the fathers.” Now, I ask, is there any such unanimous consent? If not, how can your rule be applied ? If there be, will you make it appear?
6. The Apocryphal books, as we call them, were excluded from the canon of the Jews. They were not recognised as canonical by Christ or his apostles ; nor by the earliest fathers. They do not claim to be inspired-they are unworthy of credit, except as ecclesiastical histories. Yet you introduce them into the canon; what proof have you of their claim to this?
7. What right has the Church of Rome to make “unwritten traditions” a part of the rule of faith? Why have they been left unwritten if they are known? Can she trace this mass of human inventions up to the teachings of the Lord and his inspired apostles? If not, how can you require us to believe them? Why not record them, that we may know them, and that they may be preserved ?
8. Your rule of faith usurps the prerogative of Jesus Christ, "sitting in the temple of God," " as God.” For God alone can dictate what we are te believe. He tells us, “ to call no man master.” “If we must believe what the church believes," then we are no longer at liberty to inquire, and think, or even believe ; for belief is on evidence, not dictation.
9. Your judge has taught, as infallible doctrines, things which vio
late the natural senses, and thus undermine the evidence from miracles in support of revelation itself-as for example-transubstantiation. It is also abhorrent to true religion not to say every reverent feeling, that a priest can make his God, then sacrifice him, then give him to the people, then worship him, and then eat him.
10. Finally, the system which includes an infallible living judge of controversies, to guide us in matters of religion, and to regulate not only faith, but worship and morals, ought not to be corrupt in its tendency or tolerate corruptions in morals and manners. Now if I can show this to be the tendency of your rule in operation, it must prove the rule not only vicious but ruinous, and therefore not infallible. I will refer you to a memorable letter written to Paul 3d, by nine distinguished prelates of Rome, England, Brechdusium, Verona, &c. &c., shortly before the Reformation, on the state of the Church and the need of Reformation. They mention abuses as follows-Ordaining uneducated youth, of evil manners—Simony, as being general-Pastors withdrawing from their flocks, which were intrusted to hirelings -Clergymen guilty of sins and then by exemption from penaltyThe orders of the Religious so degenerate that monasteries ought to be abelished-Sacrileges committed with the nuns in most monasteries— Rome especially corrupt, though the “mother of the church, and the mistress of churches." “ In fine,” they say, “ The name of Christ is forgotten by the nations, and by us the clergy, and the vengeance of God which we deserve is ready to fall on us !" I ask if this be the fruit of infallibility, or could be patronized by a living infallible judge ?
Now, sir, if you will apply your telescope to the Roman heavens, and narrowly survey the permutations of the “stars" you boast of as fixed,” you will find many a shifting planet, and many a star, which in apostolic days rose upon the church, quenched from your horizon.
And these are the things which led “those few individuals” as you call them, to assert that your church was corrupt and needed reform. And was there not a cause?
It sounds not a little strange, in the light of these facts, which mark the growing corruption and successive collapse of your unchangeable church to hear you talking of the “ Presbyterian church falling apart, under the pressure of private interpretation!" Under what is yours falling ?-We are willing to trusi the Presbyterian church in the hands of Jesus Christ. Truth and liberty is her blessed banner. Yours, respectfully,
CONTROVERSY. No. III.
RULES. Tue undersigned agreeing to have an amicable discussion of the great points of religious controversy, between Protestants and Roman Catholics, do hereby bind themselves to the observance of the following rules :
1. The parties shall write and publish, alternately, in the weekly religious papers, called the Presbyterian, and a Roman Catholic paper, to be furnished by the first of January. It being understood that the communications shall be pub. lished after the following plan :-One party opening the first week, the other party replying the next week, and every piece to be republished in the immedi. ately succeeding number of the Roman Catholic paper. The communications not to exceed four columns of the Presbyterian, nor to continue beyond six months, without consent of parties.
2. The parties agree that there is an infallible Rule of Faith established by Christ, to guide us in matters of religion, for the purpose of determining disputes in the Church of Christ.
3. They moreover agree, that after giving their views of the Rule of Faith, they shall proceed to discuss the question, “Is the Protestant religion, the religion of Christ ?”
4. The parties agree respectively, to adhere strictly to the subject of discus. sion, for the time being, and to admit no second question, until the first shall have been exhausted. Each party shall be the judge when he is done with a subject, and shall be at liberty to occupy his time with a second topic, when he is done with the first, leaving to the other party the liberty of continuing to review the abandoned topic, as long as he shall choose ; subject, however, to be answered, if he introduce new matter.
5. Mr. Hughes to open the discussion, and Mr. Breckinridge to follow, according to the dictates of his own judgment.
JNO. HUGHES. Philadelphia, December 14th, 1832.
RULE OF FAITH.
Philadelphia, February 14, 1833. TO THE Rev. JOHN BRECKINRIDGE,
Rev. Sir,–On the evening of the 9th instant, I had the pleasure of receiving your reply, after a lapse of eighteen days from that, on which I placed my first letter in the hands of the Editor, with a request that he would furnish you with a copy as soon as possible. Our readers were generally disappointed at your not answering in order, according to the time prescribed in our rules. It was admitted, however, that you had reasons for procrastinating: and many of those, who have never reflected on the difficulty of the task, accounted for the delay, by supposing that you meant to overwhelm your adversary in the energy of the onset--that you would throw the whole strength of your cause, and of your mind into your first paper, and thus ensure a prompt and triumphant vindication of the Protestant rule of faith--a vindication, which would not only refute, but exterminate, all the arguments that had been, or that might be