« AnteriorContinuar »
The Church of England, in particular, cannot be Apostolical, because there is no saying of the Apostles, nor any Text of Scripture, nor any authority of Christ, to support the monstrous notion, that a woman of the sixteenth century should be invested with the divine right of reforming the Church of
ignorant and unwary.” See Dr. Lingard's History of England, vol. iv. p. 309.
Zuinglius, addressing Luther concerning his Scriptural works, uses the following energetical language: “Thou dost corrupt the word of God, Luther. Thou art seen to be a manifest and common perverter of the Scriptures.” Zuing. Lib. de Sacr. ad Luth. Op. tom. ii. See Milner's Letters to a Preb. p. 185.
Let us try this question by another test. Let us examine what is the main object of the two religions. The Catholic has the truth and sincerity of religion in view, to make it neither more nor less severe than it really is; to represent it in its most winning and amiable light, and, at the same time, not to divest it of its terrors or restraints. But Protestantism, on the other hand, has ever evinced a marked and decided tendency to weaken all the obligations of the Gospel, to explain away all the injunctions which are most opposed to our inclinations, to smooth the thorny path of our duties, and to admit as little as posible of what is irksome to our nature, or which necessitates the mastery of our passions. Which of the two is more likely to have corrupted the Sacred Text, to have distorted its meaning, and abridged its authority ?
God, of setting herself up as the arbiter of religious faith, and the infallible teacher of fallible doctrine. Again, I cannot conform to Protestantism, because it possesses not two other characteristic marks of the true Church, namely, constant Visibility and Indefectibility.” • First,-No Protestant Church can claim any pretensions whatever to Visibility, because for upwards of 1500 years they were all perfectly invisible, having had no existence. To have been visible, she should always have been as the Catholic Church alone has been, and, as the true Church is described in Scripture, the light of the world, Like a city seated on a mountain, which cannot be hid.” No Protestant Church can be thus constantly
(*) Micheas, iv. 1-2. St. Matt. v. 14. and xvi. 18. and xxviii. 18. 19. 20. St. John, xiv. 16. 26. and xvi. 13. 1 Tim. iii. 15.
(*) St. Matt. v. 14.—Evelyn, in his memoirs, relates that Sir R. Browne, Charles the Second's Minister in Paris, returned after a nineteen years' exile, during all which time he had kept up in his chapel the liturgy and offices of the church of England, to his no small honour, and at a time when it was so low, and as many thought, utterly lost, that in various controversies, both with papists and sectaries, our Divines used to argue for the visibility of the church from his chapel and congregation 1 / Where, I would ask, was its universality?
visible, because they all admit within themselves the principle of error: they admit that they may fall from their foundations and vanish.-For the moment a church has erred, all truth has vanished, —has departed from it; the moment it has fallen from the truth in which it was established by our Saviour, it has ceased to be visibly the true Church.” If she fail in one point, she fails in all: He who offends in one point, is become guilty of all.” When a witness gives his evidence, in part true and in part false, is he not immediately declared to be unworthy of credit in toto 2 He is not considered as a true and credible witness, because his testimony is in part true, but he is rejected altogether as a liar and a prevaricator, because it is in part false: we do not wait to sift the good from the bad, or to try its merits in separate portions, but we at once expunge it entirely from our minds. So it is with the Church of Christ. She is the witness of the doctrines of the Gospel: if we find her bearing false testimony in one point, we should condemn her in all; we should declare her to be a false church, and unfaithful both to the promises and the commands of her divine founder. How then can a false church be visibly the church of Christ, the God of Truth ! How can she be the light of the world, when she is shrouded
(*) St. James. ii. 10.
in the darkness of heresy % But admitting any Protestant to be now visibly a true Church, which is a monstrous proposition, and allowing the possibility, contrary even to their own expectations, of her remaining so, for ages to come, where was her visibility in ages past? To have been a visible Church, she should have been discoverable, as the Roman Catholic Church alone is, by one direct and luminous track, through every age which has succeeded the coming of her Divine Founder. She should have been a holy and a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle;" alike triumphant amidst the storms of persecution, and victorious over the assaults of heresy or schism. Secondly.—No Protestant church has any title to indefectibility, because they are all founded upon the principle, that the Catholic church had erred. All who acknowledge themselves to be Christians, acknowledge the Catholic as the parent church; for the time was, when there was no other. They, therefore, who contend that the Catholic church had erred, necessarily admit a liability to error in the true church of Christ. For as the Catholic church was, for many ages, the only church in Christendom, she must then, at least, have been the true church, or no true church existed. Whichever be the case, there is a clear
admission on the part of Protestants, of the fallibility of the church of Christ. It is then natural to inquire, how a fallible and erring church—a church which may preach falsehood as well as truth—a church which may be possessed with the spirit of darkness as well as the spirit of light, can be the church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth:" either the promises of Christ have failed, and the spirit of truth has erred, or the church of God has preserved the purity of its faith and doctrine. Our Saviour, the God of light and truth, has said: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life; "I am with you always, even to the consummation of the world.” He has promised the Pastors of his Church a comforter, the spirit of truth to abide with them for ever,” to teach them all things,” and to teach them all truth." Yet, in opposition to these and many other express declarations and promises of Christ, Protestants presume to say, that our Saviour has left his Church without a guide to lead her through the mists of ignorance and the mazes of error, into the ways of truth and life. They argue as if they
(d) 1 Tim. iii 15. (*) St. John viii. 12. (f) St. Matt. xviii. 20. (g) St. John xiv. 16, 17. (*) Ibid. 26. (*) St. John xvi. 13.