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raised against it. For my own part I had no such anticipations. But I must confess, that I did expect something more energetic and to the purpose. I have read your letter carefully ; and although you attempt to neutralize my reasoning by recriminations and glosses, which are ingenious enough, still I am utterly unable to discover any thing, that reaches the difficulty, or approaches the character of manly argument. Before I proceed to review those portions of it which relate to the subject of discussion " for the time being," (see rules,) I shall make a few observations on certain passages, which are, in my opinion, objectionable, on other grounds, besides their being foreign to the present topic of controversy.
The first is your use of the words “ Papist and Romanist.” We learn from history, that the ancient Athenian laws specified neither prohibition, nor penalty, for the crime of parricide :--the legislator believing, that the commission of it was impossible. Influenced by a similar supposition, it never occurred to me, in fixing the laws of this controversy, to stipulate for the use of courteous language. Your official standing, the clerical character, and the courtesies of the age in which we live, were pledges, in my mind, that you would use no other. I had, however, in conversation, informed you, that the appellation by which we choose to be called, is Catholics, or Roman Catholics ;-and I do not perceive what good feelings are to be gratified on your side, by preferring to either of these, an epithet known to be offensive, and which adds nothing, either to sense or argument. Besides, you should, in my opinion, recollect, that for nearly a hundred years past, the world has laughed at the ludicrous picture of Presbyterianism, drawn by the Protestant pencils of Dean Swist and the author of Hudibras. If I wished to employ unpalatable epithets, I have only to consult their pages. · But they are useless to any cause, and I allude to the matter, merely to advise the reader, that I shall receive the appellation of “ Papist, Romanist, &c." at your hand, with the express understanding, that they are nicknames.
The next passage, which I consider you to have treated in a manner unbecoming the pen of a clergyman, as well as the importance of the subject, is that in which you allude to transubstantiation. I do not mean now to violate the order of proceeding, by saying one word in proof of that doctrine. It is a doctrine, however, of great antiquity; admitted even by Protestant writers, to be older, by many hundred years, than the sect or denomination of which you are a minister: it is a doctrine, sacred with the vast majority of the Christian world at the present day, and which they believe to be as old as Christianity; --and I submit to your own reflection, and to that of our readers, whether such a doctrine was not entitled to a more grave and dignified 110iice, than that which you have been pleased to take of it—in telling us " that a priest can make his God, then sacrifice him, then given to the people, then worship him, and then eat him.” There is a tripping levity of phrase in this passage, which your friends will regret for your own sake, quite as much as I can do for any other motive. Be assured, Rev. Sir, that Catholics, however incredible it may appear, claim the possession and exercise of reason, no less than Protestants. It we are in darkness, you may charitably undertake
to enlighten us; but it must be by something more solid and permament, than the flash of abortive wit and ridicule, with which you have thought proper to visit the doctrine of transubstantiation. Besides, I would not have the infidel, who regards Christianity, as you do the “real presence,” to derive any accession of materials to his stock of sarcasm, from the pages of this controversy. Volney has an argument against Christianity, bearing so near a resemblance to yours, that did we not know the difference from other sources, it would be difficult to say, whether it is the infidel, that has imitated the Christian, or the Christian, that has borrowed from the infidel :--So much are they like children of the same family.
Volney is exposing the absurdity of belief in the trinity, the incarnation and divinity of Jesus Christ. Volney was an infulel, and we are not surprised to see him indulging a vein of humour.“You make your God,” says he, “the well-beloved Son, born without a mother; and then, as old as his father; and then the son of a woman, who is at once a virgin and a mother, and then you have him killed, for the benefit of mankind.” I shall pass from this part of my subject, by asking you, whether Volney has not been quite as witty, pungent, and conclusive against Christ's divinity, as you have been against transubstantiation?
The proverb says that there is a time for all things; and our rules of controversy lay it down, as most conducive to order, to treat of but one thing at one time. We are now, Reverend Sir, discussing the “Rule of Faith," and " the parties agree respectively, to adhere strictly to the subject of discussion for the time being, and to admit no second question, until the first shall have been exhausted.” With the recollection of this rule fresh on my memory, judge of my surprise at beholding the host of " second questions, which you have contrived to marshal into the very van of the contest. “ The Expurgatory Index,"_" Pope Liberius."-" The Arian heresy.”-“ The Pope's Supremacy.”—“Seat of infallibility.”—“General Councils." --- Validity of oaths.”—“ Letters from Bononia by three Bishops.”_" Traditions.”—“ Apocryphal Books,” &c.
Pyracmon. These subjects may be more serviceable in the rear as a body of reserve. You will thus have an opportunity of reviewing, and preparing them for action, when their turn shall have come. There is, however, one topic, which has a closer aflinity to the subject now under consideration, and which demands a more proximate attention. It is your objections to the Catholic rule of faith. Now, the state of the question, as laid down in my first letter, required of you not to attack my rule, by anticipation, but to defend your own; which, by the laws of the controversy I was authorized to investigate. I had placed the result of that investigation before the public, in a few brief, plain, but solid and practical arguments, which, I was well aware, it would require something more than the female theology of * Father Clement," to shake from their foundations. But, before !
proceed to review your attempt at a reply to them, I take occasion to assure you, that at a proper time, I shall defend the Catholic rule with positive arguments, quite as strong, as those already advanced in opposition to the Protestant principle.
In the mean time, the reader will please to bear in mind, that Protestants profess to be guided by one rule of faith, and that Catholics not only profess to be, but are in effect, guided by another. Now, as you have agreed with me, that Christ established one, and only one, rule of faith, " for the purpose of guiding us in matters of religion, and determining disputes in his church,”-it follows, as a necessary consequence, that either the Catholics or the Protestants have forsaken that true rule, and put themselves under the guidance of a false one, which Christ did not establish, and which is therefore, inadequate either to direct us in matters of religion or to determine our disputes. Deeming it more conducive to clearness and perspicuity, to give either rule a separate trial, I began by arraigning that principle which has been adopted by Protestants. · I stated that the “Bible alone,” as each individual understands it, is the Protestant rule of faith, and you have not disputed the correctness of the statement. Now if you prove that this rule was actually established by Christ--that it guides those who have adopted it in matters of religion--that it determines their disputes, you will thereby simplify the investigation, and your friends may congratulate you on an easy triumph when you come to examine the Catholic branch of the inquiry. But if, on the other hand, I prove by unanswerable argument, that the Protestant rule fails on all these heads, then it will follow, by the very tenor of our agreement, that the Catholic rule must be the true rule appointed by Christ. This, however, I pledge myself to prove by positive arguments, when the question shall have come fairly under discussion. At present, it is the duty of my position to urge those facts and arguments, which overthrow the Protestant rule of faith--of yours, to answer them. · I wish it to be clearly understood, that I will not go aside of the question now under consideration, to answer any objection even against the Catholic rule of faith, until the present topic shall have been entirely disposed of.
The first sentence that arrests my attention in the foreground of your reply, is the startling declaration that you “own no judge of controversies but God.” Do you not, Reverend Sir, perceive how flatly this proposition contradicts the admission of every rule of faith? If Christ has established a rule of faith to “determine disputes," --surely you will “ own" that rule as a judge of controversy -unless you can discover a distinction between “ judging controversies” and “ determining disputes !”—for my part, I can see no distinction whatsoever. You admit, on the one hand, an infallible rule appointed for the express purpose of determining disputes ; and, on the other, almost in the same breath, you "disown” every judge of controversy but God! Protestants usually profess to acknowledge the word of God as the judge of controversy; and, as each minister possesses the right and the talent of making the word of God decide in favour of his own doctrines, the principle, I should think, allows ample latitude for the irresponsible rovings of private opinion. But
for you, it seems that even the word of God is too restrictive ;--since you will “ own no judge of controversies but God himself.” It is true that he is the ultimate judge of all things, but to say that he is the immediate judge of controversy, by whom “disputes in the Church of Christ are to be determined ;" —is an assertion that will be found novel in the annals of polemical disputation.
In my introduction, speaking in reference to private interpretation, I quoted the words of St. Peter, in which he says that “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,” and contrasted them with the practice of Protestants, who, in fact, make all Scripture and prophecy of Scripture, of every private interpretation. By this remark, I intended simply to show, that, if St. Peter meant what his language so obviously expresses, he at least was not disposed to leave the Scripture, or the prophecy of Scripture, subject to the arbitrary or capricious interpretation of each private individual. But it seems I was mistaken ;-and you, Reverend Sir, are kind enough to write nearly a whole column of explanation, to instruct me, and our readers generally, how we are to understand the text. That you felt the necessity of giving this explanation is a timely hint, that either the Scripture is not, aster all, so plain as you are accustomed on other occasions to assert, or else (what amounts to the same) that we are not competent to understand its meaning. But unless you claim for yourself, either mental superiority, or some small portion of that infallibility which you deny to the whole church, I can see no reason why you should pretend to understand the passage better than mysell, or than any of our readers. You say that “it is important to be noticed by me that it is the prophecy of Scripture, and not the Scripture that is obscure.” Then, you admit that prophecy, at least, is obscure. This is indeed a concession. But pray is not “prophecy” a part of Scripture ? and if it be, then we have your own authority for believing that some part of Scripture is obscure. You next urge that, by my interpretation the apostle is made to argue thus, "the Scriptures are infallibly revealed or inspired, and ye do well that ye take heed to them, therefore they are obscure, too obscure, for private explanation.” The premises, dear Sir, are St. Peter's, but the conclusion is your own. “ The voice, indeed, is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” I would find a better conclusion in the apostle's own words, "therefore, (as no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, you will not wrest it, as some do also the other Scriptures, to your own destruction.” 2 Pet. iii. 16. I am not disposed to dwell longer on this subject, but I must remark that, to my mind, your explanation of the passage appears quite as obscure as the text itself.
As to' the Latin quotation from the Vulgate, it means precisely what is expressed in the text as quoted above, and for which, I assure you, I am not at all indebted to what you call “our English translation.”
As all the rest of your introduction consists of premature objections against a rule of faith, which is not yet under consideration, you will excuse me, if I pass them over, with a promise to refute them in their proper place.
When we come 10 the Catholic rule, I shall show you
how we know the true church, how the Scriptures designate her; how we solve the vicious circle ; how the true church is distinguished by her divine characteristics from all would-be churches ;-and a great many other things with which it is not wonderful to find Protestants rather unacquainted. At present you are called upon to vindicate the Protestant rule of faith ; and instead of defending your own position, you attack ours. It seems to be the height of your ambition to show that the Catholic system involves as many difficulties as the Protestant system: but even if you succeeded, the only consequence that would follow is, that neither possesses the true rule.
Now for the arguments :
I. My first argument against the Protestant rule of faith was, that Christ never appointed it. The reasons by which I supported this argument were simple facts. It is a fact, that the Bible alone, interpreted by each individual for himself, is the (nominal) rule of faith, adopted by Protestants. It is a fact, that Christ never appointed this rule ;-because he never wrote any part of the Old or New Testa ment himself ;-he never commanded any part to be written by his apostles. It is a fact, that what constitutes the Bible (according to the Protestant canon of Scripture) was not complete, until the close of the first century; and consequently, it is a fact, that the Protestant rule of faith did not exist in the first century, and is therefore not the rule which Christ established :- I call upon you to deny one single proposition here stated as a fact.
To supply this deficiency, you are pleased to assign an origin to the Protestant rule of faith, which, while it corresponds with these facts, relinquishes all pretensions to that rule's having been established by Christ. You assert that the “ Old Testament,” with the instructions of Christ and his Apostles, constitute the rule of faith, from the demise of the synagogue, until just before the death of the last Apostle, when the “ entire New Testament was written;" and when, as you suppose, the Protestant rule of faith went into operation. Your clerical brethren will, no doubt, admire your candour in admitting that the Protestant rule of faith, so far from having been established by Christ, had not so much as an existence until the close of the first century; and the Jews will feel complimented, by the acknowledgment that the “Old Testament” was placed in the same chair of authority with Christ and his Apostles, for the purpose of determining the doctrines of Christianity, during the same period. Either admission, is a concession of my argument, that the Bible alone is not the rule of faith established by Christ.
II. My second argument was, that “ as Protestants boast of believing nothing but what is contained in the Bible, they are bound to show some texts of Scripture, to prove the Bible alone is the rule of faith established by Christ." This is the fundamental principle of Protestantism. If this is not a divinely revealed tenet of religion, then it follows, that the Protestant rule of faith is precisely what I said of it, in my former letter, a mere • assumption,'--a thing taken for granted, without proof or examination. It is easy to perceive in your answer, that you were not insensible to the strength of this position, nor to the feebleness of its opposite :-hence, instead of assailing it,