« AnteriorContinuar »
Christian who is taught and encouraged to obtain the effects of an indulgence, is invariably told that he is not to be exempted from leading a penitential life, and from taking up his cross and following his Redeemer. He is perpetually reminded that the church, by her grants of this description, designs not to promote indifference and pusillanimity in the divine service, but to excite fervour and devotion. When the catechist comes to understand the nature and properties of these spiritual favours, he will probably be ashamed of hisgrossignoranceand consequent misstatements; and may possibly regret, with Dr. Johnson, that combination of circumstances, which prevents him from dying in the bosom of the Catholic church?.
See Boswell's Life, vol. iii. p. 552, edit. 8vo. 1793.
Why do not you believe that the Church of Rome is the
1. Because there are vast multitudes of Christians in the world
which are not in communion with the Church of Rome, and yet are members of the Catholic, i. e. Christ's universal
church, dispersed all the world over. 2. To say, that the Church of Rome is the Catholic Church, is
to say, that a part is the whole; or that a house is a whole
city, or that one member is the whole body. 3. The primitive Christians did not take the Church of Rome
to be the only Catholic Church. 4. God hath no where in Scripture declared so much. 5. To say the Church of Rome is the only Catholic Church,
is a most uncharitable doctrine, and to damn the greater
part of the Christian world. 6. All churches that do hold the ancient faith contained in the
three creeds, are members of the Catholic Church. 7. The Church of Rome is so far from being the only Catholic
Church, that her unwarrantable doctrines make her, at the best, but an unsound member of the Catholic Church.
In order perfectly to obviate the objections of the Catechist and of Protestants on this subject, and to afford clear ideas on that which forms the real matter of discussion, I must previously inform my opponent, that the terms, “the Church of Rome,” have two distinct meanings ; that they either designate the particular diocess of Rome, which the Pope governs with episcopal jurisdiction; or they mean, the whole Catholic church throughout the world, in communion with the see of Rome, acknowledging the Pope the vicar of Christ, and successor of St. Peter. In this latter sense only do we invariably speak, when we call the church of Rome, the Catholic church.
That the church of Rome in this sense is really and truly the church of Christ, cannot be a matter of doubt to those, who admit the three creeds in the plain and obvious sense of the words. I beg the most serious and deliberate attention of the catechist and his friends to their own admission, and particularly to the direct and inevitable consequences, connected with that fundamental point. They believe, with the framers of the Apostles' creed, “ the Holy Catholic Church," and with the authors of the Nicene creed, they profess to believe, “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” From this admission, it directly and immediately follows as a consequence, which must be deemed inevitable, that our Redeemer has always had, from the foundation of Christianity, a church on earth; and that this church has ever been distinguished by the four marks of unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. Though our 'adversaries, by the admission of the three creeds, necessarily recognise the perpetual existence and visibility of
this church, with its attendant marks, it is a fair and proper mode of treating the question, to establish the perpetual appearance of this church, to prove the reality of its marks from the Scripture, and to ascertain to what society of Christians respectively they belong.
To be fully convinced, without entertaining the possibility of doubt, that Christ has always had upon earth a church, or a society of the faithful, governed by lawful pastors, teaching the divine will, and uniting all its members in one fold, the reader has only to open his Scripture, and give but a slight attention to the manifest predictions of the prophets on the church, and to the undeniable declarations of our Redeemer on the same subject. In the dignified strains of Isaiah, the church of Christ is represented as a mountain established on the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills ; it is stated, that ALL NATIONS shall flow unto it; that people will go up to the house of the God of Jacob, and exclaim : he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths": by the same prophet its greatness, its amplitude, and its perpetual existence, are described in most glowing colours ; it is there distinctly said', that the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be Isaiah, ii. 2, 3.
2 Ibid. liv. tot. capite. ; Ibid. ver. 10.
FORTH AND FOR EVER.
removed. By the same inspired writer, we are told in exalted strains': this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord ; my spirit is upon thee, and my words, which I have put in thy mouth, sh ALL NOT DEPART OUT OF THY MOUTH, NOR OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THY SEED, NOR OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THY SEED'S SEED, FROM HENCE
What noble, splendid, and convincing testimonies are these of the perpetual existence, visibility, amplitude, and indefectibility of that church, which was to subsist for ever.
If to this we add what the same prophet says, in his sixtieth and sixty-second chapters; if we subjoin the important testimony of the prophet Daniel, who calls the church of Christ a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; if we refer also to the predictions of Micah, who emulates in some degree the exalted and glowing language of Isaiah, on the subject of the church; if we couple the whole with the well-known declarations of our Redeemer, that he would build his church on a rock, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it'; and again, that he would be with it all days to the end of the world"; we shall want nothing to produce in the minds of the most sceptic, a calm and intimate conviction of this fundamental truth, that there always has been, and that there ever will be to the end
Isaiah, lix. 21.
? Dan. ii, 44.