« AnteriorContinuar »
“But leaving this view of the subject, painful, and at the same time ludicrous, if the follies of Christian men could be a just subject of ridicule, let us proceed with a sketch of the doctrine of antiquity relative to the supremacy of the See of Rome.” Here again follow the citations, and for which, as they are copious, I must again refer the reader to the work.He then continues: “I have selected these few passages from the acts of councils holden in the Eastern or Greek Church, composed almost exclusively of Bishops residing outside the western Patriarchate, which was still more closely connected with the Pope, and more faithful at all times in adhering to the apostolic doctrine, and to that centre of union by which it is preserved. I have referred to those councils, because they are admitted as general and orthodox by all; because matters of the greatest moment were discussed and decided in them, such as dogmas of faith, and the guilt or innocence, not of ordinary individuals, or Bishops, but of two great patriarchs, the one of Constantinople, the other of Alexandria; I have referred to them as to large mirrors, in which may be clearly seen the faith and discipline of that pure and primitive Church, which sectaries pretend to revere; and introduced them as the depositaries of the doctrine which prevailed throughout all the orthodox churches of the then Christian world;—as bodies of Pastors and Doctors, declaring, not by their language alone, but by their conduct, on the most important occasions which could occur, that the Pope of Rome was the successor of Peter, and, as such, the head of the whole Church, possessing the right to preside in synods wheresoever held, to give judgment in matters of faith, whether provisionally or finally, and to try, punish or acquit the most exalted of his colleagues. ... “I was about to cite, as in the case of Peter's supremacy, the testimony of the ancient Fathers, Greek and Latin, in support of the doctrine maintained at Nice, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, but I find those preliminary observations have already extended to a greater length than I anticipated. The opinions on this subject of SS. Irenaeus, Dennis of Alexandria, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, Naziunzen, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and of Theodoret, all Greeks:—and of the Latins, Tertullian, SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Optatus, Augustin, Fulgentius; of Vincent of Lerins, and the others up to St. Bernard inclusive, may be read, in any of our books of theology; so that, as far as human testimony can add security and stability to a right evidently founded on the power and wisdom, and will of Christ—a right essential to the preservation of unity in the faith and integrity in the Church—a right confirmed by an undisturbed, how-often-soever-assailed possession of eighteen centuries, so far is the spiritual supremacy, and no other, of the Pope eminently supported and secured; so far is the Church of Rome, the head and mistress of all other churches, the depository of christian truth, the guardian of discipline, and the centre of unity, to which, in the language of Irenaeus,' all the faithful,wheresoever dispersed, should come in christian harmony and with one accord.” Nor can we more appropriately conclude these few general observations on the nature and doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church, whose authority is so reviled by furious men, than with the following striking passage, extracted from the Pastoral Instructions, addressed, in 1824, by all the Irish Catholic Bishops to their flocks. These prelates, instructing the Catholics of Ireland, observe: * but above all to protect you against these men who are erring and driving into error, you have the infallible testimony of the Church of God, which Jesus Christ appointed the depository of his doctrine, to preserve it, to explain it, to teach it, promising her that she would always be animated and directed by the Holy Ghost, and that he himself would be constantly assisting her till the 'end of time; that the gates of hell would never prevail against this bulwark, which, as an Apostle says, “is the pillar and ground of the truth.” The Re
deemer foresaw how great would be the inconstancy, the rashness, the pride, the rebellion of the mind of man, and that many even of those who would venerate the holy Scriptures, would, in searching into their depths, loose the anchor of faith, see vain things, and prophecy lies, saying and persevering to say, ‘the Lord speaketh,' when as Ezekiel saith, ‘the Lord had not sent them.” He foresaw that such men would create dissentions, bring in sects and broach heresies, would oppose authority, contradict the truth, fluctuate in a chaos of unsettled opinions, be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, condemn each other, and yet all cry out, “so saith the Lord, ait Dominus, whilst they all rejected what the Lord had said. He foresaw that these sects, turbulent and licentious, known, and scarcely known, by the names of their founders, would break the unity of his mystic body, which is the Church, of which he himself is the Head ; of that Church which has but on E FAITH, as she has but on E SAviour, one BAPTISM, and ONE LORD ; and hence it was that he vested in her an infallible authority, which, like a light always shining, could dissipate the darkness of error, remove every doubt, interpret faithfully the Word of God, and conduct mankind into the haven of truth and salvation. And where can this Church be found, unless it be she which was
built on the Apostles, which received from them the true sense and meaning of the Scriptures, and which, at her very commencement, decided the disputes, and settled the doubts which arose amongst the faithful, whilst the Holy Ghost dictated her decision; “it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” “Where can this Church be found, if it be not she who from that time to the present, has subsisted and been governed by an uninterrupted succession of pastors?—she who was always unchangeable in her faith and morality, and who, like her divine Founder, was yesterday, is to-day, and will be always the same, till the consummation of ages; that Church, which amongst all the sects which have sprung up about her, or proceed from her bosom, has always, as the pagan Celsus testifies, been known by the name of THE GREAT CHURCH ;—that Church, which has condemned all other Churches, which, like withered branches, were lopped off from the ancient and living trunk, whose root is Christ; that Church which has triumphed over so many persecutions excited against her by the Jews, by the Pagans, by the impious, by all the enemies of her doctrine; a Church always assailed and never conquered In a word, where can this Church be found, if it
(P) Acts, ch. 15. v. 8.