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when men's minds must be braced up, so as not to be shocked at any consequence flowing from the common fountain of Protestant error, inconsistency and extravagance: I mean, the pretended competency of private opinion to interpret the religion of Jesus Christ from the voiceless pages of the Bible. I defy any man, reasoning from the same premises, to arrive at a conclusion different from that of the “ collier." You have not condescended to show us how it is even possible to escape it. You represent me as calling the Bible a fallible guide, because, as you say, “ men may and will wrest it." No, Sir; but I am arguing against the fallible and fallacious principle of private interpretation, by which the Bible is degraded into a book of contradictions, and made to decide for and against even the most sacred points of doctrine--Baptism, the Lord's supper, the order of Bishops, the existence of hell, the Divinity of Christ, and the Trinity of persons in the Godhead! All this was illustrated in the case of the collier. Now, although you admit that “men may and will wrest it," I do not see why one denomination of Protestants may not be as sincere in its opinions about the meaning of the Bible as another. And as “the Protestant rule of faith” is incapable of producing any thing but opinions, I do not see, by what right you are warranted in saying that those, who differ from you "wrest the Scriptures 9"-Albeit, the question, after three hundred years, remains still to be settled; but one thing is certain, that Jesus Christ never revealed an opinion--in the Bible, or out of it.
I have no farther explanation to give respecting the blessing of “ beasts” in Rome or elsewhere--except that the inhabitants of the "seven hills,” would, I suppose, be very much hurt, if they were to find out that you disapprove of it. But I would simply ask you to gratify the public with the document, in which you find that the Roman Pontiff has pronounced “ANATHEMAS against living men who circulate the Bible.”
You have a brief, but comprehensive reply to the departure from the Protestant Rule, which I pointed out in the “Confession of Faith," on the subject of Infant Baptism, the Sabbath, and the Ordination of Ministers. “ You find satisfactory proof for all three in the word of God:” but you have prudently declined furnishing the public with a sight of it—not even a reference! This is a summary mode of conducting a controversy.
If I have succeeded in dissipating the vapors, which you have attempted to raise between the mind of the reader and the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, the "fathers," and permit me to use the expression, of common sense, in support of the “ Catholic rule of faith": in my last letter, then your task of refutation is still unaccomplished. I do not accuse you of any intention to mystify the question; but really if there are any arguments in your whole letter against the Catholic rule of faith, as I had laid it down and vindicated it, they are so loosely jointed, that I could hardly compress them into tangible form and consistency. They are like spectres, which make a transient impression on the organ of vision, but elude the grasp, that would attempt to seize or hold them responsible. Perhaps others may see them differently. But if any man will assert, that you
have proved the Protestant rule of faith, or disproved the arguments adduced by me, in support of the Catholic principle, I have only to say, that I do not envy the grade of his intellect, nor his powers of logical discrimination.
I only regret, that you do not grapple closely with the questionthat you do not plant the fulcrum of your reasoning on some solid basis ; that you do not say with that manly 'boldness, which the consciousness of a good cause usually inspires--Sir, the Catholic rule of faith is false :--which I prove thus, It is manifest, that when Christ said ; - Go ye, teach all nations, and behold I'am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world ;" his meaning was, that the apostles should die “ without successors” in the ministry of teaching—that all days, and forever, signify till the death of St. John”--that when the first creed says, " I believe in the Holy Catholic church,” the true meaning is, I believe in every man's private interpretation og the Bible, but chiefly in my own. Haying thus proved the main position, that Christ did not establish the Catholic rule of faith, you could easily dispose of the minor difficulties. The moral phenomenon, by which it happens, that all Catholics in all ages and in all nations believe the same identical doctrines, is produced manifestly, not by the operation of their rule of faith, but by the magic of priestcraft
, the terrors of the inquisition, and the moderate tariff on the commission of sin. “ Seven shillings and sixpence for killing a father or mother !” Only think of it!! Is it any wonder that the hundreds of millions of souls that belong, or have belonged to that church, should be united as one family, in the belief of the same tenets of religion ?-as for the little differences of opinions, which grow up under the fostering protection of the “ Protestant rule of faith,” touching the Divinity of the Messiah, &•c., you might glorify them, by calling them beautiful evidences of Protestant freedom, as contrasted with Catholic subjugation to the “ yoke of faith,” which renders them so bigoted, that they all think alike.--" The liberty of the Gospel" would be a good
But I suppose you will take your own way, and in truth I do not claim any right of either dictation or direction in the matter. If you have nothing further to say against the arguments of my last letter, we may return to the unfinished condition in which we left the Protestant rule of faith ; but this also shall be at your option, for I wish to be accommodating, whilst I remain, very respectfully, -Yours, &c
MISTATEMENT CORRECTED Perceiving in the letter of Rev. John Breckinridge (No. 6 of the Controversy) the following paragraph, I deem it due to the public, as well as to myself, to give it the earliest and most unequivocal contradiction.
“I have been informed that Bishop Kenrick did, on the 17th February last, in St. Mary': church (Philadelphia), publicly warn the people against reading this controversy."
Not having on that or any other occasion, made the remotest allusion to the pending con troversy, and not having even in private given, to any individual whatever, any such warn. ing, I declare the information to be utterly groundless. Given
under my hand ihis 13th day of March, 1833.
† FRANCIS PATRICK KENRICK, Bp. &c. N. B. Understanding that the above mistatement was contained in the letter, I sent the contradiction of it to the office of the Presbyterian, on Monday between 2 and 3 o'clock, that il might appear together with the letter then in prces; but to my surprise, no notice is taken of it in that paper published this morning.
CONTROVERSY. NO. VIII.
RULE OF FAITH.
New York, 21st March, 1833. TO THE Rev. John Hughes,
Rev. Sir :-Your letter of March 15th, running far into the seventh column, reached me on the 18th inst. It is hard work, you find, to meet and parry stubborn facts, especially when your own authors and formularies are turned against you. No wonder your defence struggles in the greatness of the way,
" And like a wounded snake drags its slow length along." I regret to see that you grow less courteous, as well as more feeble and prolix; and it would seem that these qualities keep pace with each other, in the progress of the discussion.
But let us address ourselves to the question, viz. The claim you set up of infallible teachers as the successors of the apostles. In my last letter, and I think with some clearness,) I proved,
I. That the apostles had in certain respects no successors. Under this proposition, it was shown, (see letter, No. 6.) Ist. That no man could be an apostle who had not seen the Lord. 2d. That an aposile must have received his commission directly from Christ. 3u. Every apostle was endowed with the power to work miracles, with inspiration, from which resulted infallibility) in speaking and writing; also with the gift of tongues, so as to speak, untaught by men, various languages; and even the power to enable others to work miracles, and the knowledge to discern spirits. 411. The apostles were not to be stationary ; but with plenary power, went from nation io nation, to set up the kingdom of the Lord. From these facts, supported by many clear Scripture proofs, it was shown that in these extraordinary respects, they had no successors; that Christ intended them to have none; and that it was impossible they should have any, from the very nature of the case. Wherefore, as your claim to infallibility rests on the notion of succession, it falls to the ground, and with it, your rule of faith.
Again, II. I showed that if the Apostles had successors, then they nust all have had successors ; and hence, if there be any Pope, there must be twelve Popes ; and if any church has infallibility upon Apostolical succession, many must have it.
III. If their successors had any of these miraculous powers, they must have had all of them ; for all are as necessary as one.
The attempts in your church to work miracles, are an acknowledgment of this principle; while the failure proves that the power is wanting To the last two argumenis, in particular, I anxiously wait your reply: As yet I have not seen any thing like it.
Excuse me, when I say, there is a want of candour in your statement of this argument. You represent me as holding, “ that the Apostles had no successors." This, like your quotation from Tertullian, is just one half. I said, "Then the conclusion is irresistible,
that the Apostles had no successors endued, with extraordinary powers of any kind. But we hold to a commission still standing and binding, which reaches to the end of time!" (See my last letter, No. 6, pages 61, 62.) I still say that the Apostles had no infallible successors-none such as you claim-nor have you met one single point of my whole argument on this subject. Your system, among other absurdities, leads to this, that there is a succeSSION OF FOUNDATIONS. For we are told (Ephes. ii. 20.) that the church " is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone,” and thus “ the whole building is fitly framed together:” and “other foundation can no more lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. iii. 11.) Here is the basis of truth; the only foundation is inspired authority. To this, the faith of every Christian must look. No authority or succession can come in between God's people and the Apostles, as the Pope attempts to do. The Apostles themselves still live in this foundation, that is, in their infallible writings; and they have no successors in an office, whose force never has ceased, and whose authority will never expire. It is therefore piling foundation on foundation, or defending the absurdity of a succession of foundations, when you claim to inherit their infallibility. But you ask, “pray did the commission to teach all nations, during all days, extend only to those who had seen the Lord? Did it also expire with the last Apostle ? If it was discharged in the second generation, were not those by whom it was discharged, in so much, the regular successors of the Apostles ?" I answer, certainly, the commission to “ teach all nations,” and “ to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” runs to the last day and the last man ; and the promise of the Divine Redeemer, “ lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”—is faithful and unfailing, and is perpetually realized in the experience of every true minister of the Gospel. And here is the very point of defect in your system. You confound the standing ministry with the apostolical office. The Apostles were invested with an extraordinary office, in which they were to have no successors. This I have clearly proved. They also transmitted an office, which is standing and ininisterial. Of such were the Elders of Ephesus, (Acts xx. 17 and 28) to whom the apostle Paul said, “ Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, lo feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” To this also allusion is made, in 2 Tim. ii. 2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." Here three links in the chain of this standing ministry are distinctly recognized. The office is ministerial and pastoral, not apostolical : and the work is to publish the Gospel-salvation, and to feed the flock of Christ. But you profess to find an insuperable difficulty in the want of infallibility in these teachers ; and your grand corrective is, that as successors of the apostles, you secure this infallibility.Now let us look at this point. On your plan, every preacher or teacher must be infallible. When Mr. Hughes, for example, ad
dresses his flock, either he is infallible, or else he may err; for, if he be not infallible, when he interprets Scripture, why may he not err? Does he refer you to Rome and the Pope? But “it is not a doctrine” he tells us “ of the church, that the Pope is infallible.”. Does he refer you to the Pope and Council ? They have not met for 270 years! And prior to that, for many centuries, their decrees, &c. fill volumes. Then Mr. Hughes in Philadelphia, and every priest in the whole world, is to interpret the Bible by these voluminous written decrees. Either then Mr. Hughes is infallible, (which he disclaims,) or else he fallibly interprets these infallible interpretations of the Bible! Now I ask any honest man to judge, if this be any improvement to the system? May not a Protestant minister as well go to the written Bible, where the Apostles speak infallibly to us, and directly expound the inspired word to the people, as Mr. Hughes and all other Roman Catholic priests to the Bible through volumes of decrees, bulls, &c., and then expound on private interpretation this same Bible at last? If the Protestant minister be fallible, so is Mr. Hughes, and every Roman Catholic priest; but the Protestant goes directly to the Bible, whereas Mr. Hughes wades to it through all the decrees of his councils, fallible as he is; and he has first to interpret these decrees, and then to interpret the Bible, by them! I proceed to remark that you virtually yield the point in discussion, by the following admissions: “ According to the Catholic rule of faith, the doctrines of Christianity are not abstract speculations, they are positive truths, facts, unchanged, and unchangeable, as they came from the lips of Jesus Christ and his inspired Apostles. But, being public truths or facts, they were taught by the pastors of the church, and believed by the people in all countries, and in every century since the establishment of the church. Consequently, I can verify them with the same certainty, which I have that such an event as the battle of Waterloo, the decapitation of Charles I., or the Council of Nice, took place in the world. In neither case is a divine or personal infallibility necessary. When I say, that 2 and 4 make 6; that Charles X. was expelled from France; that Luther had a misunderstanding with Leo X.; that John Huss was burned to death at Constance, and Michael Servetus at Geneva ; I assert propositions which are infallibly true.” (See Mr. Hughes’ letter, No. 5.) And again—" ALL OF WHICH, (that is, the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church) ARE FACTS, with which the principles of private interpretation have as little to do, as it has with ascertaining whether or not the city of Philadelphia was founded by William Penn,” (see Mr. Hughes' letter, No. 7.) If then ALL YOUR DOCTRINES ARE POSITIVE TRUTHS, and PUBLIC FACTS, as certain as the burning of John Huss, or the occurrence of the Reformation, why is it said that the Scripture is an obscure book, in which, without an infallible guide every man must err ? And if some of the statements in the Bible are facts, are not all so? Are those doctrines which serve your purpose
clear truths and stubborn facts, and all the rest dark hieroglyphics, and floating phantoms? Is it not an historical fact that Christ appointed a ministry and promised to sustain it? Is it not also an historical fact that Christ died for sinners ; that he taught the doctrine of regenera