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he really commissioned bishops to feed the church of God', it becomes their paramount duty to prevent that, which is wholesome, from being converted into a poison that will lead to destruction. These precautions and restraints, therefore, which have been so much misrepresented and calumniated, are in reality such as are dictated by the ordinary rules of prudence, and sanctioned by the usual conduct of human life.

As to the third point of discussion, which is absolutely required as a means of preserving Catholic unity, I mean the necessity of submitting to the authority of the church in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, it is a point so clear, so reasonable, so congenial to the common sentiments of mankind on the subject of order, that it can scarcely be conceived how the opposite opinion could gain ground in the world. It is a principle universally admitted, that government cannot be maintained without rule and subordination; and no code of laws was ever framed, which was not consigned to the interpretation of judges, or of those who possessed professional knowledge. In fact, in taking a retrospective view of the various governments which have existed from the beginning of time, what form of legislation can be traced, which gave to individuals the right of interpreting those laws on which the welfare of society depended ? Such a

1 Acts xx. 28.

Is there any

form of government would be a monster in nature ; it would legalize discord, and introduce anarchy ; it would dissolve the bonds by which society is held together; it would bring into full operation the active passions of self-love, and confound right with strength. If this is the general picture of the effects resulting from the private interpretation of law, can any reason be assigned why ecclesiastical government can be conducted on different principles of order from all civil institutions ? or why the interpretation of the divine law should be left to the arbitrary caprice and wayward fancies of individuals ? warrant in the word of God for such an unnatural supposition ? We have to give but a summary inspection to the sacred volume, to set this question at rest for ever. When God gave a form of government to the Jews, he by no means constituted each man a judge in his own cause, by leaving the decision of individual disputes to private judgment; but directed that all difficulties and differences should be referred to the priests and Levites'. On the same subject the prophet Malachi exclaims : The priests' lips should keep knowledge, and they shall seek the laro at his mouth ; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts

If such was the conduct of God in the old law, to make his priests the supreme judges in all con

· Deuter. xvii. 8, et seq.

2 Mal. ii. 7.

troversies and dubious matters, can we suppose that he has altered this mode of proceeding in the law of grace, and made each individual, assisted by the private spirit, the interpreter of the divine will, the expounder of the divine law, the architect of his own faith, the supreme judge in all matters relating to the most important concerns that can interest human nature? Can such a singular dispensation be imputed to infinite wisdom, by a man who possesses a spark of religion ? The question is easily decided by documents contained in the new Scripture. It appears that our great Lord and charitable Redeemer gave to his apostles a real and efficient power of instructing the faithful, and of deciding all differences : All power is given to me in heaven and in earth; GO, THEREFORE, TEACH ALL NATIONS. Those who neglect TO HEAR THE CHURCH, are to be treated as heathens and unbelievers'; and St. Paul, as we have often remarked, styles the church the PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH'. The church is, therefore, the grand tribunal before which all spiritual concerns are to be brought and decided. Now among cases which may admit of discussion and controversy, are evidently to be ranked points of the divine law contained in the Scripture: and when such events actually take place, why should the form of government, devised by our Redeemer, give way to the pretended right of pri* Matt. xxviii. 18, 19. 2 Ibid. xviii. 17. 31 Tim. iii. 15.

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