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"new" to you.
the verdict of our readers in general, who are unacquainted, as you know, with the language and the books, to which you have referred, with such bold but deceitful confidence.' You will please consequently to clear up, as I give you an opportunity of doing, these six topics, before you expect me to pay any attention to your silly references. Of these you have already made too many, for the honour of your fame, and the sanctity of your cause, as I shall have occasion to show the public, before the controversy shall have terminated.
Judging by what my own feelings should be, I fear that these remarks are calculated to give you pain; but remember that you have left me no alternative ;-except to bring the matter fairly to issue, or bow in acquiescence to charges, which are utterly "untrue.” My own principle is, never to assert, in argument, except what I am convinced is true. And as I admit the ossibility of mistake, so, in such a case, do I hold myself ready to admit opposite evidence, and correct cheerfully any statement in which I may happen to have erred. 'A charge of this kind is brought against me in your last letter. “ It is wholly new to me," you say, “ that the Presbyterian church makes it a sin against the second commandment, to “ tolerate a false religion.” At this, Rev. Sir, I am “wholly” surprised. Being, like myself, something of a "high churchman,” I did not suppose that any thing contained in the “Confession of Faith” would be
The "tolerating of a false religion" is laid down as a sin against the second commandment in “Larger Catechism,” page 268, of the edition published by Towar & Hogan, in 1829. Perhaps it is also new to you—that in order to show how great a sin it is, reference is made, in the same page, to certain texts of Scripture, in one of which, DEATH is specified as the penalty of teaching a false religion! I shall here quote the text, “and it shall come to pass that if any one shall yet prophesy” (meaning falsely) " then his father and his mother that begat him, shall say unto him, thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord.” Thus, it seems that, according to the Confession of Faith, and to the Scriptures, Presbyterians look upon it, as an orthodox sin, to “ tolerate a false religion.” The constitution of our country, however, has decided otherwise.
This same Confession of Faith teaches that even good works, done by “unregenerate men” are sinful. (Chap. xvi. page 100,) and (chap. xv. page 92) it tells us, “there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnalion"'--from whence it would follow, that if an “ unregenerate man” give a dollar to a poor widow, to keep her from per. ishing in the winter, he commits a sin, and deserves to be damned for it! True, the text adds, that if he does not do it, he commits a “greater sin ;" by which it appears, that he is to be damned for doing it, and damned for leaving it undone! And yet there is an abundant profanation of sacred texts, to prove all this, on the same page! You refer me to chapter xxiii. for the following quotation, in your last. “ Civil magistrates may not in the least, interfere with matters of faith, they should give no preference to any denomination of Chris tians, above the rest--and ecclesiastical persons should enjoy free, full and unquestioned liberty," I have not found any such words, in
the reference. But in the very same chapter and section, I find the following: “ He (the civil magistrate) hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and HERESIES be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call Synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them, BE ACCORDING TO THE MIND OF God.” Westminster Confession, chap. xxiii. sec. 3. p. 141. Here the “ mind of God” is made the rule of just proceeding, and the civil magistrate, is supposed to be on such terms of familiarity and confidence with the Almighty, that he knows what is the "mind of God," and is bound to see that matters shall be regulated accordingly. Still, there is a powerful array of Scripture texts, at the bottom of the page, to show that all this is right and true according to the Bible ! Your quotation, and mine, founded on the same reference, differ very materially ! Will you please to explain the disagreement ?
I would now follow you through one or two of the heads of what I suppose you intended as an argument against the Catholic rule of faith. But really, there are so many contradictions under my eye, as I look upon the first part of your last epistle, that I am at a loss to understand whether you admit or reject the succession from the Apostles in the ministry of teaching. First, you say, that “as the claim” (of the Catholic Church) "io infallibility, rests on the notion of succession, it falls to the ground, and with it our rule of faith.” Next, you say, that if the Apostles had successors, then all must have had them, and as there were twelve apostles, so there should be exactly twelve successors, every one of whom should be a Pope! Then, these successors, if there were any, must be able to work miracles. And then, finally, you say that I am uncandid for “representing you as holding that the Apostles had no successors !" And a little farther still, you tell us, that “ you hold to a commission still standing and binding which reaches to the end of time.” When you tell us clearly what you mean by all this, I shall be extremely happy to meet any arguments you may be disposed to put forward. In the mean time, it is manifest, that I cannot drive you from a position, until you signify exactly what ground you mean to assume.
The whole of your next position is one continuous train of misrepresentation. You begin by asserting that on my plan every preacher or teacher “must be infallible ! !” And taking this assumption, unfounded though it be, for the ground work of your reasoning, you draw your own consequences.
my plan does not require every preacher or teacher to be infallible," so your deductions founded on this hypothesis are gratuitous, and are overturned by the simple denial of both the premises and the conclusion. My plan," as you call it, is that Jesus Christ, after having proved, that he was sent by the Father, for the establishment of a divine religion, as well as for the redemption of the world, instituted a ministry of Teaching in bis church—that this ministry was to extend with the duration of time --that it was the channel of communication, by which the knowledge
of that divine religion should be conveyed to all nations,—and that to this ministry of teaching, the Son of God actually promised the Spirit of Truth and his own perpetual presence all days, even till the consummation of the world. This is “my plan:” and if you feel yourself competent to overturn it, the first step is--to state it correctly. The next step is, to take up those passages of the Scripture history, by which it is proved that this was the means appointed by Christ, and show that, instead of proving the ministry of teaching, they prove, on the contrary, that all infallibility ceased with the death of the Apostles, except the infallibility of individual opinion, in the private interpretation of Scriptural doctrine. It would be the mere repetition of unanswered arguments, were I again to adduce the proofs and reasoning of my former letters on this subject. It is useless for me to publish the same proofs of the Catholic rule of faith in every letter. If you had taken up my arguments, stated them in my own words, suffered them to enjoy the meaning which they possessed, as they went forth from my own pen, refuted, or attempted honorably to refute them, then it might be necessary to review the testimonies adduced to show that Christ established the immortal, uniform, Catholic teaching of his Church, as the only infallible rule of faith. I refer the reader to a serious perusal of my letters on this subject, Nos. 5 and 7: and let him ask himself, as he is to answer at the last day, whether, according to the evidences furnished on either side, the tes-, timonies of reason, revelation and history, by which the Catholic rule of faith is supported, are not infinitely stronger than any thing you have been able to produce in favour of private interpretation. I appeal to that reader to say, whether your letters, thus far, instead of presenting a clear chain of controversial reasoning on any one subject, are not an olla-podrida” of crimination, scandalous anecdote, fierce assertion, and general evasion of the question on which we are disputing.
It may be useful to state again the subject now under discussion. T'hat there is “ an infallible rule of faith, appointed by Christ, to guide us in matters of religion, and to settle disputes in his Church” is agreed. Now the Catholic church, being a visible and perpetual society, and the original inheritor of the doctrines, commissions and promises of Jesus Christ, leans, as it were, on the arm of her Divine founder ;-trusts in his promises, discharges his commission, and testifies to all nations, during all days, what are the true doctrines, of which it was said, “ He, that believeth not, shall be condemned.” Mark xvi. 16. How shall we know what we must believe, in order to escape this condemnation? That Jesus provided an infallible means, to arrive at this knowledge, is admitted by my Rev. opponent. Then it must be either the Catholic or the Protestant rule of faith. That it is not the Protestant principle, appears to me one of the clearest moral truths that ever presented itself to human understanding.
1. Because that principle stabs the authority of the sacred volume, which it professes to cherish. That principle makes the Bible, as efficient to overthrow, as to uphold, any doctrine of Christianity. According to that principle, no man can be certain what doctrines Jesus Christ revealed and required men to believe, at the risk of be
ing condemned. Let the sincere Protestant reader ask himself, what is in reality, his rule of faith. His ministers tell him--the Bible alone. Let him then take up the Bible and read these words of our blessed Redeemer-"the Father and I are one ;" turn, then, to the other words, “ the Father is greater than I.” That one of these passages, is to be explained by the other, is certain : but which shall take the preference of the other, the sacred writings do not determine. If he is a Unitarian he will come to the conclusion, that Christ is not God. If he is a Presbyterian, his opinion will be different. In the mean time, his belief, no matter to which side he belongs, is founded, not on the Bible, but on what he thinks to be the meaning of the Bible. Now, Rev. Sir, I request you, as a favour, to take up these two texts, and show me and our readers, how you can save the Divinity of Jesus Christ from the destructive operation of the Protestant rule of faith, in the hands of the Unitarian. If you can and will do this, it will prove a service to religion, at which, although it by no means concerns me, I shall heartily rejoice. What is said bere, in relation to this fundamental article, is equally true of every other tenet of religious belief. I defy any Protestant in the whole world, who is consistent with his own rule of faith, and rational in its application, if he will only take the pains to analyze his belief, to find it resting on any other foundation, save his own PRIVATE OPINION. For if his rule of faith be the Bible ALONE, then he must fling to the winds all creeds, confessions, and teachings of men. And when he has perused the Bible, if he is asked what doctrines it contains, he will be obliged to answer according to his opinions of its meaning. You believe in predestination ;--another, reading the Bible with equal sincerity, disbelieves it :--a third reads the Bible and believes in everlasting punishment:
:--a fourth rejects that belief, &c. Are they all right ? Certainly not; though they may be all sincere. Is it the Bible that deceives them ? Certainly it is not. But they are deceived by the Protestant rule of faith, which taught them, that in order to know what doctrines had been revealed by the Saviour of men, each individual must pass the Bible through the crucible of his own private judgment. And, though his mind should have undergone a thousand changes, as to the meaning of the inspired book, still the Protestant rule of faith has determined, with the hand of destiny, that he shall end where he began, and never arrive at any thing more certain than opinion.
Not so the Catholic. He may read the Scriptures, notwithstanding the calumnies that Protestantism has perpetuated against the church, from one generation to another, since the era of the “ Reformation.” But, on points of doctrine, he does not substitute his own opinions, by way of inspiring the sacred text. He takes it for granted, that the meaning was understood, before he came into existence. He inquires what it is of the church, which has been the guardian equally of the book, and of the doctrines it contains, since the day, when Jesus laid her foundations on the rock of eternal truth. Her pastors have never ceased to teach the things, which, according to Revelation, we must RELIEVE and PRACTICE, in order to be saved. By this rule of faith the whole Christian world was UNITED IN DOCTRINE, when the Father
of Protestantism began to sound the trumpet of religious discord, and to preach new opinions, 1500 years after Christians had been warned, not to receive any new doctrines, even though they should be preached by an “ angel from heaven."
2. The Protestant rule of faith is that, which was adopted by all the acknowledged heresies of antiquity. By this rule of private interpretation, the Sabellians denied the Trinity of persons in God, (S. August. lib. de hæres. cap. 41.)--the Arians, the Divinity of Christ -the Macedonians, the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. · By this rule, the Manicheans rejected the Old Testament the Pelagians denied Original Sin—and so, of all the others. Did Christ then appoint as the infallible rule of faith a principle of guidance, which, in its legitimate use, and not by its abuse, has given rise to all the heresies of ancient and modern times?
In the Catholic Church, on the contrary, heresy has never found a resting place. The truth of doctrine, which had always been taught by the pastors, and believed by all, was present EVERY WHERE to convict the novelty of error. Protestants indeed, have asserted, that the church had apostatized, but none accuse her of heresy. Being herself the oldest society of Christians, there was no other from which she could have separated. We meet the charge of apostacy, by sayo ing, that if she did apostalize, as they will have it, then “the gates of hell prevailed against her,”—contrary to the Saviour's promise! Are they prepared for this ? But if the Saviour's promise did not fail, “then the gates of hell did not prevail against her, and Jesus Christ was still with her, when Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the King of England, took it into their heads to make churches of their own. Think you, Rev'd Sir, that the Redeemer forgot his promise, or forsook his spouse, by abandoning his own church: did Zion say, " our Lord hath forsaken me, and our Lord hath forgotten me? Why ; can a woman forget her infant, that she will not have pity on the son of her womb ?? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold I have written thee in my hands.” Isaiah chap. xlix. 14.
3. In your last letter, you lay it down as an argument against the Catholic rule of faith, that the Apostles alone were inspired and infallible. And thus, in your thoughtless zeal, you strike a fatal blow, although I am sure you did not intend it, at a large portion of the New Testament. If the Apostles alone were inspired and infallible, as you assert, then what is to become of the two Gospels of St. Luke and St. Mark? What is to become of the Acts of the Apostles ? It is well known that the authors of these books were not Apostles, “and had not seen the Lord.” Will Protestants adopt your ruinous argument, I mean assertion, on this subject, which, if it were true, would blast the authority of so large a portion of the writtén word of God ? Will they not rather, in this instance at least, join with me, to shield the sacred writings from the destruction of your weapons ?
4. You have frequently in your letters appealed to the prejudices of our Protestant readers, on the subject of what you are pleased to call the Apocryphal Scriptures. But how, I would ask, are you enabled by the Protestant rule of faith, to determine, what books are canonical? That this cannot be done by the Scripture itself, is palpa