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And yet THIS DEFINITION is the true standard, by which we have both agreed to compare the Catholic and the Protestant rules ; and to determine which of the two is the false, and which is the true principle of guidance, in ascertaining the doctrines of Christ, as distinguished from the opinions of men. This is the standard with which I compared the Protestant rule of faith-when I proved in my former letters, that the one has not a single property, in common with the other. This I proved in ten distinct propositions, supported by facts and arguments, to which. as laid down in my last letter, I beg leave to refer the reader. He will perceive that you never take up my argument, as it has been arranged by myself—but having moulded it into a manageable shape, you refute the creature of distortion, but leave the difficulty, unsolved. Allow me to give a specimen from your last epistle.
VI. VII. “ There are two methods of settling disputes, reason and force ; you take the latter ; we the former. There are two rules, the Bible and the Church of Rome. You assert that the Bible has failed, and thus make your CHURCH BETTER THAN CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.” Indeed, Rev. Sir, I should be sorry to be guilty of either the argument, or the blasphemy. Let the reader compare this with my own argument, VI. and VII. and I have no doubt but he will acquit me of the charge. What opinion he may form of the cause which required it, or the individual by whom it is preferred, it is not for me to determine. The other weaknesses of your attempt to reply to those ten arguments I shall leave for the present unexposed. For I have not the talent of "adhering strictly to the question under discussion for the time being"--and yet broaching, in the same letter, every question, that has been agitated since the Reformation. These are contradictions, which your pen alone, it seems, can reconcile.
But a more painful task is imposed on me, in reference to two or three assertions of yours, in which there is an entire departure from the truth of history and of facts. You assert that opinions pass into articles of faith, or doctrine in the Catholic Church ; and for this you quote the authority of Bellarmine, but I defy you to quote ten lines before, and ten lines after the words “fere de fide,” without convicting yourself of what is not becoming a " minister of the Gospel." In the same manner you say, that Leo X. condemned Luther for saying : “ It is not in the power of the Church or the Pope to constitute new articles of faith. This is untrue. Being a mere historical fact, if it is not untrue, you can easily prove the contrary.” Another assertion which is untrue, is, that, “ as to the Pope's supremacy, there are no less than three systems in our church.” Now I defy you, or any one else, to name a single Catholic in the whole universe, that has publicly denied the Pope's supremacy, WITHOUT FORFEITING COMMUNION AND MEMBERSHIP, BY THE DENIAL. And if you cannot, what will Protestants think of your assertion, that there are three systems (of doctrine) in our church on that subject ?--and what will they think of a cause defended by such-argument? When we come to speak of the " Vulgate edition of the Scriptures ;”“the Sacraments ;" “ the doctrine of intentions ;” “ the Apocryphal books,” as you term them ; " the liberties, which you say (falsely, as I hold) the church has taken with the word of God;" ' " the Writings of the
Fathers ;" “ Purgatory;" “ depriving the people of the cup of the Eucharist ; " " Indulgences ;" ** Prayer in an unknown tongue;" &c. &c. &c. &c. I bind myself to prove, that you have misrepresented these doctrines, and asserted what is not correct. In the mean time, the question is, the RULE OF FAITH. If it be true, as I have shown, and as you have admitted, that Protestants have nothing, and, by their rule of private interpretation, can have nothing, more certain, than their speculative opinions, even for the most sacred of their own doctrines ; so, neither can they have any thing more for the condemnation of ours. You first condemn our doctrines by your own opinions, and then condemn our - rule of faith” by our doctrines ! The rule of faith is to be judged and determined not by your opinions of either your own doctrine, or ours—but by the definition. Is your rule true? Is IT INFALLIBLE? 6 WAS IT ESTABLISHED by Christ ?” That is the real question. For if Christ revealed tloctrines, and required of men to believe those doctrines, under pain of eternal condemnation (Mark xvi. 16.) and yet, appointed as a medium for ascertaining what they are—a rule by which, instead of being preserved as doctrines, they are resolved into a mass of opinions, as diversified and contradictory as those which spring from private interpretation ;then we need not inquire, who is right or who is wrong. Every man has a right to his opinion,” whether he denies the real presence in the Eucharist, the necessity of regeneration, or the Divinity of Jesus Christ. In all revelation there is not an opinion--and in all Protestantism. there is nothing else but opinion ;--you have not attempted to deny either of these propositions.
You have quoted the ambitious projects and pretensions of individual Popes. Among them there have been a few bad, out of a multitude of good, virtuous, and holy men.
The fact, however, proves nothing more against our rule of faith, than the crime of Judas does against the infallibility of Jesus Christ; or the incarceration of a wretched Presbyterian clergyman in the State-prison of New York does against the orthodoxy of the “ Westminster Confession.” You know to whom I allude--and although he belonged to your communion, I would rather shed a tear over his misfortunes, than stop to glean arguments from the dark record of his crimes, conviction, and ruin. I should distrust my cause, if I thought it required them.
Your pretty little story about the “ shepherds at the brook," would be admirable in pastoral compositions—it is so simple. But in polemics it is quite out of place. Would you know why? Because, there the shepherds, sheep and lambs were many ;--here, the rule of faith, according to your own definition and agreement, is but one. And if I prove that it is not that, which Protestants profess to follow--the reader can easily draw the conclusion.
But then in Rome, there is one day in the year (not to speak of kissing the Pontifical slipper) for “ blessing horses, asses, and other beasts !” In answer to this, I have only to say that on no day of the year, would a minister of the Gospel refuse, if respectfully invited, to perform a similar operation, over a piece of good beef, such as may always be found in our Philadelphia markets. I see no difference, except that in this case the “beast” happens to be dead; and that the
maxim has it “nil nisi bonum de mortuis.” But, Rev. Sir, the courtesies of society regard us both as clergymen, notwithstanding your mutilated exordium, “Sir”-and as clergymen it does not become us to treat so grave a subject, with levity or ridicule. Is the Protestant principle the true rule of Christian faith, or is it not the rule, exclusively of sectarian opinion? That is the real question--on the proper solution of which may depend the salvation of immortal souls, for whom Christ died. If there are under heaven, in the whole volume of reason and revelation, arguments to prove, that the “ Bible alone, interpreted by each individual for himself,” is “the infallible rule of fuith"- that “ the Bible alone, interpreted by each individual for himself,” is “the rule established by Christ”.
'--" to guide us in matters of religion and to determine disputes in his church,"--I again entreat you to furnish them. If no such arguments can be furnished, then is your rule of faith of human invention, and not of Christ's appointment. The -- definition” constitutes the mark of the Divine "Shepherd” stamped upon the true rule, under the guidance of which, there is but “one sheepfold," his disciples being one” in doctrine, as " He and the Father are one,” in nature and purpose.--Yours, &c.
RILE OF FAITH.
Vew York, 5th March, 1833. !!55 R1. Jeh Hughes. Yeri grluu rise from your prostration with the air of victory.
#ever. I win, a little abatement to your chivalry, that you udouni sir whole against my arguments, and yet meet them, in Lieczony w: reiterated complaints of iny departure from the
"Bu cixmorous demands to keep to the question. When you vinah so undertake a discussion with me, I requested a replý 10 is priured letter. You declined. I proposed a public, oral
You declined. After much negotiation, the present Perei was agreed on. The rules were, very much, of your own vaig ; you insisted that we should first discuss the rule of faith,
in ge must begin. I proposed that after examining the rule of auch, we should take this for the point of debate, Is the religion of Boon Catholics the religion of Christ ?" You still declined, and We must change it to this, “Is the religion of Protestants the relimion of Christ ?" And now, after all these concessions, you claim de exterpret these rules, and even to determine how I shall conduct any argument; and while the nerves of your cause are cracking unir the pressure of truth, gravely charge me with violating rules and passing by the question! I am weary of this unmanly strife of words, and “ vain jangling" about modes and forms. Once for all, therefore, let me settle this matter. If the reader will refer to “ the rules," at the head of your letter, he will perceive that the 3d assigns the “ rule of faith” as the first subject of discussion, and with the following amplitude, “after giving their views of the rule of faith," pc. Does this not bring up the whole subject of the rule of faith? The 4th rule requires us, “ to adhere strictly to the subject of discussion for the time being--and to admit no second question," &c. &C. Now I ask, have I not discussed, throughout, one and the same question, viz : the rule of faith ?---Both in my first and second letters, (Nos. 2 and 4.) I replied to all your objections. But I did not stop there. I went on to expose your rule. By a great number of yet unanswered arguments, I proved its utter fallibility. I have shown, by the confession of your own writers, that you are compelled to use private interpretation, by fallible men, in order to find out from the Bible your church and your rule: I have exposed your judge of controversies, as one whom you could not agree on among yourselves, and who could not possibly be a judge, from the nature of the case : I have shown that your church has varied in doctrine from age to age, and therefore has not an infallible judge in her, as she pretends to have: I have shown that the direct tendency of your system was to corrupt the morals of the people and the worship of God, and therefore your rule was entirely fallible, and even greatly evil : : I have shown that your rule usurps the prerogative of God, and that it violates the testimony of the senses : that it was not only fallible, but entirely uncertain that it requires ignorance and im
plicit faith at its foundation in the minds of men : that it is incom patible, not only with personal, but with civil liberty : that under the guidance of your rule, the Bible has been shut against mankind : that the commandments have been mutilated, additions made to the word of God, and that new articles, and new sacraments have been added, under the authority of your rule : that even “ the Fathers,” the professed fountain of evidence in your behalf, liave been purged of matter which went against you: and that by the authority of ihe Pope, writers in your communion of a later day, have been abridged, enlarged, or changed, to fit them to be witnesses to the Roman Catholic rule. These things have been clearly shown, as may be seen by a reference to the letters themselves. I ask, do they not bear directly on the question? Your chief reply to them as yet, is, that they violate the rules! When you attempt a rejoinder, the public will judge both of their fitness and their force.
Before I enter on the examination of your reasoning, it is proper here to meet and repel a paragraph near the close of your letter, viz. “But a more painful task is imposed on me, in reference to two or three assertions of yours, in which there is an entire departure from the truth of history and of facts. You assert that opinions pass into articles of faith or doctrine in the Catholic Church, and for this you quote the authority of Bellarmine; but I defy you to quote ten lines before and ten lines after, the words • fere de fide, without convicting yourself of what is not becoming a minister of the Gospel.'” Now I had said in my letter, “your church has added to the word of God new articles of faith, and even new sacraments to the institutions of Jesus Christ.” I appealed for proof to various writers, and to the Bull of Pope Pius IV. You say nothing of these proofs. I then added, " Bellarmine, we suppose, means this, when he says of one article, 'fere de fide,' almost a matter of faith.” Now if, instead of “ slurring the notes,” you had quoted from Bellarmine ten lines“ before and ten lines after” the offensive passage, it would have come with a better grace from a Parthian arrow shot while in flight. But you proceed to remark, “ In the same manner you say that Leo X. condemned Luther for saying: It is not in the power of the Church or the Pope to constitute new
articles of faith. - This is untrue. Being a mere historical fact, if it is not untrue, you can easily prove the contrary." This is strong language! Yet you put the subject to a fair issue ; let us try it-it is done in few words.-The Bull of Leo X. dated June 15th, 1520, levelled at Luther by name, contains forty-one pretended heresies, which are extracted from his writings, and solemnly condemned-his books are doomed to the flames--and he allowed sixty days to recant, or meet the thunders of the Vatican. The 27th article, by which Luther is anathematized for holding, is as follows; “Certum est in manu Ecclesiæ aut Papæ prorsus non esse statuere articulas fidei.” Which is, word for word, what I said before, viz. “ It is certain it is not in the power of the Pope or church, to ordain, or decree articles of faith.”" He denounces this and the other forty articles as “pestiferous," dalous,"
“ seductive errors." —And yet you assert that “it is untrue !"-My proof then, is fully fortified. I would willingly explain