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If the catechist and his friends require any farther confirmation of the supremacy of the chief pastor of the Catholic church, I beg their attention to the three following considerations. First, whenever any bishop, in any part of the Catholic world, has felt himself aggrieved by the proceedings of a national or provincial synod, recourse has invariably been had to Rome. Thus the great St. John Chrysostom appealed to the authority of Innocent the First, from the unjust decisions of his adversaries ; St. Flavian, the venerable patriarch of Antioch, resorted to the jurisdiction of St. Leo the Great, under similar circumstances ; about the same time, Chelidonius, bishop of Besançon, who had been deposed by St. Hilary of Arles, recurred to the same tribunal In all these instances, the cases submitted to the Holy See were carefully investigated, and judicially discussed ; and ample justice was done to the contending parties. Ecclesiastical history is full of similar appeals, when the adverse parties manifested the most perfect acquiescence in the authority and equity of the judge. Secondly, let the catechist reflect, that in all controversies relating to faith, the party adhering to the Apostolic See, has ever been accounted orthodox; the party dissenting from the supreme pastor, has, in every instance, been reputed heretical or schismatical. “I am associated in communion with your Holiness, that is, with the chair of Peter," exclaims St. Jerom, in his
celebrated letter to Pope Damasus : “ I know the church to be built upon that rock: whoever eats the lamb out of that house is profane.” And again, “I know not Vitalis, I reject Meletius, I am ignorant of Paulinus. Whoever does not gather with you, scatters ; that is, he who does not belong to Christ, is a follower of antichrist?.” Thirdly, let the catechist remember, that nothing has ever been defined in the church relating to faith, without the consent, or the subsequent sanction of the Pope, as the supreme pastor. Surely this must be considered as a standing monument, a practical confirmation of the belief of the church on this subject.
To all this overwhelming weight of reason and authority, what says the learned catechist ?
1. He alleges, that there is no authority in Scripture for the prerogatives of the Church of Rome. To this, it may be obviously and rationally replied, that there are many, very many points necessarily observed, which are not warranted by any text of Scripture. The Sunday, or the first day of the week, is to be kept holy; and this duty is universally regarded as a matter of conscientious obligation : yet the practice, so
1 “ Beatitudini tuæ, id est, cathedræ Petri, communione consocior; super illam petram ædificatam ecclesiam scio: quicunque extra hanc domum agnum comederit, prophanus est..... Non novi Vitalem, Meletium respuo, ignoro Paulinum. Quicunque tecum non colligit, spargit, hoc est, qui Christi non est, antichristi est.”- Epist. St. Hier. lib. i. Epis. 25, edit. Canis. fol. 21, Lovan. 1581.
far from being warranted by Scripture, is expressly repugnant to the letter of the divine law, which directs the Jewish sabbath, or the Saturday, to be sanctified. By a decree, dictated by the Holy Ghost, it is enjoined to all Christians, to abstain from blood"; and still the catechist and his friends make no difficulty of violating, in their ordinary repasts, a law so solemnly published. There is also a clear distinction made by them, between the dignity of a primate and his suffragans, and between a bishop and a priest; now will this gentle and learned writer, who, in his authorised translation of the Scripture, hears nothing on this matter, but of overseers and elders, have the wonderful condescension to explain the Scriptural grounds, on which he admits a regularly established hierarchy. If he cannot justify his practice by the authority of Scripture, let him cease to arraign the conduct of the Catholic, who, besides Scripture, admits an unwritten rule of faith, as well as a competent tribunal, divinely established, to propound, explain, and enforce this rule. Besides, if the preceding pages be read with attention, it will appear how far the appointment of a head of the church, a supreme pastor, is founded on the sacred text.
II. Then it seems, that this superiority is nothing but usurpation, as has been proved by
Protestant divines. O wonderful discovery! O unparalleled sagacity! Observe the nature and consistency of this singular assertion. The family of his present Majesty has been seated on the British throne, just one hundred and eleven years : the title at first was by many deemed questionable, and much blood was shed in supporting the claim. At the present period, however, not a shadow of doubt is entertained on the subject : his present Majesty reigns in the hearts of his subjects, and no one, either waking or sleeping, thinks of contesting his title. The present Pontiff and his predecessors have been seated on the pontifical throne for eighteen hundred years, not by a questionable title, but by the full and free consent of the whole Catholic church, and yet this acknowledged superiority is, by the consistent logic of the catechist, termed usurpation !!!
Who will not laugh such wretched trash to hear?
Again, let me ask the catechist to read with attention the preceding observations, and he will discover, perhaps with pain, that what he has thought proper to term usurpation, proves to be legitimate authority.
III. Then it is said, that the Asiatic and African churches formerly rejected the authority of the Apostolic See, as is evident from history. I
reply, that precisely the contrary is evident from every historical monument now extant. There is no doubt that the catechist alludes to the celebrated discussion about the time of keeping Easter, between some churches in Asia and Pope Victor ; as also to the memorable controversy between some African prelates and Pope Stephen, on the subject of re-baptizing heretics. Now both these events, instead of proving a denial of the pontifical authority, clearly evince the contrary to be the fact. :
The Asiatic churches had, for a considerable time. kept the feast of Easter, on the fourteenth day of the moon of March, on whatever day of the week it might fall : the Roman Church had invariably kept it on the Sunday following the fourteenth day. The Asiatics were certainly attached to their custom beyond the usual bounds of discretion; and Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, who took a leading part in the discussion, wrote to Pope Victor a strong letter, preserved by Eusebius, which certainly does not, in every part, contain the most measured terms. Pope Victor, finding the parties refractory, employed the sword of excommunication; the sentence, however, was never executed; for by the timely and urgent interposition of St. Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, the whole affair was compromised, to the satisfaction of the parties. This is the substance of the account given by Eusebius ; and