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wished to persuade us that the God of infinite goodness and infinite justice had commanded us to believe that which we have no means of ascertaining, and that he has given us only the faint glimmerings of human reason to interpret the sublime mysteries of Divine Revelation.—They tell us that he, whose decrees are fixed and immutable, (if these ordinances fail before me, saith the Lord, then also the seed of Israel shall fail:” and again, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass,”) has condemned us to seek a steadfast faith in the wavering inconsistencies of our own minds;–that Christ, who loved his Church, so as to deliver himself up for it, has now cruelly left it to be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.” That the God of wisdom has abandoned his own work to dishonesty and craftiness;” and that the good shepherd, who laid down his life for his flock," has now thrown it a prey to false prophets, who come in sheep's clothing, but who inwardly are ravening wolves.” Again; our Saviour declared to St. Peter, that he built his Church upon a rock, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it:” yet Protestants pretend that the words of the Godhead have been falsified; that the Church of Christ was built upon
sand, and not upon a rock, that the powers of darkness have prevailed over the spirit of light, and that the pillar of truth has been overthrown by the machinations of the father of lies. To shew the force of the declaration that the Church was built upon a rock, our Saviour elsewhere says: Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock, and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.” But Protestants, in maintaining that the Church of Christ had been torn from its foundations by the force of error, most pointedly falsify these words of the Son of God. They say that the Church was built upon sand; that the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; for it was founded upon sand. They say, that the Eternal Wisdom is not so wise as man, and that instead of building secure from the storms of persecution, and the blasts of heresy, he lays his foundations upon a shallow and a tottering basis. They say that the omnipotent arm of the Deity has refused to uphold his own work from destruction; that the right hand of God is shortened for the protection of his chosen generation,
(*) S. Matt. xxvii. 24, 25.
his kingly Priesthood, his holy nation, his purchased people.” They would have us believe, that our faith reposes upon the wisdom of men, and not upon the power of God." Innumerable are the texts of Scripture to prove that indefectibility is a necessary mark of the true Church, and innumerable and uninterrupted are the testimonies to shew, that the Roman Catholic Church alone possesses this characteristic. This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My Spirit that is in thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thymouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.” Such is the promise of the Almighty to his people; such is the declaration of his fidelity to his Church: and the truth of the Lord remaineth ..for ever.” From the vocation of Abraham to the coming of our Redeemer, the seed of Israel never failed; they suffered a persecution of 400 years in the bondage of Egypt; numbers of them apostatized; they rebelled against their Maker, and they were led captive into Babylon: at one moment they triumphed in victory and prosperity—at another they mourned in defeat and disaster; at one
period they were a free, a numerous, a powerful, and a wealthy people; at another, they were reduced to the extremity of slavery, poverty, and ruin;–they were encompassed by enemies on every side; they were desolated with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, but their race was never extinguished, the true religion was never lost: there always remained a chosen few, whose virtue was invincible, and whose faith withstood every temptation; who never bowed the knee to Baal ;” but who walked in the name of the Lord their God.” So has it been with the Catholic Church, of which the Jewish dispensation was but a type. She was persecuted, and she rose up stronger and more glorious from persecution; she was assailed by heresy and schism, and she acquired force and stability from the attacks of her enemies. The Lord has set his sanctuary in the midst of her for evermore ;", she has always walked in his judgments, and observed his statutes;” she is always guided by one shepherd," and illuminated by the everlasting light." In fine, she alone is, she alone can be infallible, because she alone has ever been true to herself: setting all the prophecies and every text of Scripture aside, she alone can be
infallible, because she alone has ever declared herself in possession of infallibility. No other Church has ever advanced any pretensions to it. All others are founded upon the fallibility and infirmity of man, without any regard to the promises and the power of God. To pursue the same reasoning.—As the Almighty gave the Israelites a pillar of fire to guide them through the obscurity of night, and a cloud to conduct them during the day, through a strange and hostile country; so has the same beneficent Being given us, in consideration of the same necessity, a bright and safe conductor through the dangerous and toilsome pilgrimage of this world, a neverfailing, a never-erring Church. And, as the Jewish people were ordered to observe and do whatever was commanded them by the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in the chair of Moses,” so are we commanded to hear and obey those who sit in the chair of St. Peter, and fill the stations of the Apostles;” they who are appointed by the same power and for the same purpose, namely, for the interpretation of the Law of God. That this law has always received the same interpretation from this divinely appointed tribunal; that the same articles of faith have always been proposed to our
(*) St. Matt. xxiii. 2, 3. (* St. Matt. xviii. 17. xxviii. 20. St. Luke,x. 16. Heb. xiii. 7, 17. 1 Ep. John, iv.6.