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sonal convenience, to shift the state of the question at issue. We beg therefore to inform him, that the true state of the question is not, whether an infallible guide be, or be not necessary, but whether such a guide do actually exist by divine appointment, and in virtue of the promises of Christ. We justly maintain the affirmative side of the question, which we support by arguments, to which the catechist will never find a satisfactory answer
1. Though the catechist has changed the state of the discussion by questioning the necessity of an infallible judge, he is extremely unfortunate in producing reasons to support his own opinion. He says that controversies were decided in the ancient church without an infallible judge. The very, reverse of this statement will
from a a slight inspection of the preliminary acts of every council held in the church; particularly the first four councils of Nice in 325, of Constantinople in 381, of Ephesus in 431, and of Chalcedon in 45). In imitation of the apostles, who prefaced their decision on the legal observances with these remarkable words : It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us ? ; these councils always considered themselves as assembled under the guidance of the divine spirit, and as acting by his authority: they cannot consequently be charged
See the preceding Observations.
2 Acts xv. 28.
with error, in the estimation of a Christian 1. Indeed, the decisions of the general councils on doctrinal matters, have always been received by the Catholic church as the dictates of the spirit of God: and in accordance with this principle, St. Gregory the Great, speaking of the first four general councils, says: “I profess the same reverence towards the first four general councils, as I do towards the four books of the gospels. “ The council of Chalcedon," says St. Leo,“ was assembled by the Holy Ghost *." The catechist surely forgot himself, when he appealed to the authority of the ancient church against infallibility; and particularly so, when it escaped his recollection, that the first four councils are received by his own church o.
2. When the catechist proposes a method of deciding religious controversies without an infallible judge, by a mild and conciliating temper, does he mean to oppose his idle suggestion to the contrivances of infinite wisdom ?: If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican”. Does he design to substitute his theory for actual practice? is it the purportof his theology to deny that a real and efficient power was lodged in the church by him who has said, He that heareth you, heareth me, and he
See the acts of these councils in Labbe, Carranza, and Cabussut.
· St. Greg. Magn. epist. 24. · St. Leo, epist 73.
4 1 Eliz, c. 1. s Matt. xviii. 17.
that despiseth you,despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me'. Let him give an answer to these trying questions; or rather, let him express his shame and repentance for his feeble and wicked attempt to annihilate the power which our Redeemer has clearly left in his church ; a power fully described by St. Paul, in a well-known passage: And he gave some apostles, and some prophets ; and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ : till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
3. When he argues against an infallible judge, because the effects intended have not been produced, he might with equal propriety argue against the Christian dispensation altogether, because the benevolent intentions of our Redeemer have not met with a due correspondence on the part of those whom he came to redeem. It really is a task, unworthy of the dignity of a divine, to
i Luke x. 16.
· Ephes. iv. 11, 12, 13, 14.
notice at any length such wretched and contemptible reasoning
4. When he asks why the church of Rome, more than any other church, should be gifted with infallibility, I will confidently tell him, that he can easily collect the reason of this prerogative from the preceding observations. The church of Christ is clearly infallible, as we have seen : now every reformed church in existence has disowned the prerogative of infallibility; consequently, by their own admission, not one of them singly, nor all of them collectively, can claim to be that church, which was to be ruled FOR EVER by the spirit of God; which was to be the PILLAR and FOUNDATION of TRUTH; which was to teach ALL TRUTH ; which was to enjoy the special and perpetual assistance of our Redeemer to the end. In fact, the whole Catholic church, acknowledging the Roman church to be the mother and mistress of all churches, and the Pope of Rome to be the successor of St. Peter, was the only universal or Catholic church on earth, when the “Reformers” commenced their apostacy. This statement is acknowledged both by Luther and Calvin: “ At first I stood alone,” says the former. have been constrained,” says the latter, « rate ourselves from the whole world".” If therefore Christ always had a church on earth to be Primo solus eram,
Luther Præf. Oper. A toto mundo discessionem facere coacti sumus. Calvin, Epist. 141.
preserved inviolate to the end of time, the only church then in existence, can lay an exclusive claim to the dignity of being considered the true and legitimate spouse of Christ.
5. When the catechist asserts, that we cannot decide the disputes among ourselves by this boasted infallibility, he confounds two things totally distinct in their nature, and widely different in their consequences : I allude to articles of faith, as terms of communion, on one side, and to matters of individual opinion on the other. In articles of faith, we all agree without the smallest hesitation; and this from an intimate conviction that Almighty God, after all his divine assurances, will never suffer his church to go astray. As to matters of opinion, they are left to the discretion of those who may choose to exercise their own judgment and ingenuity, without violating the precious deposit of faith. The motto of the Catholic may be said to be the well-known sentence of St. Augustine:
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.