« PreviousContinue »
We have had, too, within the last two years, another most in. teresting work, a lite of Innocent III., one of the most abused in the whole line of Papal succession, written by Hurter, a clergyman
of the Protestant Church of Germany. He again has coolly examined all the allegations which have been brought against him; he has based his studies entirely on the monuments of the age; and the conclusion to which he comes, is, that not only is his character beyond reproach, but that it is an object of unqualified admiration. And to give you some idea of the feeling of this work, I will read you two extracts, applicable to my subject in general. Thus writes our author:“ Such an immediate instrument in the hands of God, for the securing the highest weal of the community, must the Christian of these times, the ecclesiastic, and still more, he who stood nearest to the centre of the Church, have considered him who was its head. Every worldly dignity works only for the good of an earthly life, for a passing object; the Church alone for the salvation of all men, for an object of endless duration. If worldly power is from God, it is not so in the sense, and in the measure, and in the definitiveness in which the highest spiritual power of those ages was; whose origin, development, extent and influence, (independently of all dogmatical formulas) form the most remarkable appearance in the world's history."* In another
passage he thus speaks:—“Let us look forward and backward from any period, upon the times, and see how the institution of the papacy has outlasted all the other institutions of Europe; how it has seen all other states rise and perish; how, in the endless changes of human power, it alone invariable, has preserved and maintained the same spirit; can we be surprised, if many look upon it as the rock which raises itself unshaken above the rmy waves of time?”f
to study the character of this great Pope, by the interesting life of him lately published by Mr Bowden.
* Hurter Geschichte Pabst Innocenz III. und seiner Zeitgenossen, Hamb. 1834, vol. i. p. 56.
+ Ib..p. 79.
But to conclude this subject, I trust, that by degrees, what is doing abroad may be better known among us; and when we begin to contemplate those ages in the same true spirit as our continental neighbours, we shall discover many misstatements relative to persons who are most deserving of our respect and admiration, even independent of religion. And consequently the objections brought against the divine authority of the papal supremacy from individual examples, will be very much diminished. I have thus endeavoured to give you a sum. mary view of the arguments whereon we rest the supremacy of the successors of St Peter. You have seen what is the ground on which we base it; clear texts of Scripture, interpreted, I am sure without violence, but simply by their own construction, and by reference to other passages in God's holy word. You have seen how this institution has been transmitted and maintained through a succession of ages and of pontiffs, until we reach the one who at present occupies the chair of St Peter.
The sympathies of his immediate predecessors have been particularly alive to this portion of their flock, and the very Church in which we stand,* bears testimony to what the Holy See has felt and thought in your regard. I allude particularly to that venerable High Priest of God, who, of all others, exemplified in himself the indestructible tenure of his dignity; inasmuch as the mighty Emperor, who endeavoured to destroy it in his person, yielded to the fate of worldly things, while he again rose, and sat in peaceful possession of the throne of his ancestors. He, Pius VII., testified his affection for this very flock, by presenting to this Church, when first erected, the splendid service of Church plate, which is yet here preserved. I was in Rome at the time; and I remember well an expression which he used, when some remonstrated with him for parting with the most valuable sacred vessels in his possession: his answer was,
“ The Catholics of England deserve the best thing that I can give them.” And from this feeling of paternal affection, he who now sits in that chair
St Mary's, Moorfields.
has not degenerated. Of him it may be said, that never did any man pass through the ordeal of prosperity more unharmed. Raised, successively and rapidly, from the humble and mortified retirement of the cloister, to be first a prince, and then the ruler, of the Church, he has changed nought of the simple habits, the cheerful piety, and the unaffected cordiality, which characterised him there. To the triple coronet which surrounds his brow, has been indeed added a thorny crown, in the political turbulence of his own dominions, and the spoliating and disobedient acts of some of his spiritual provinces. But from these painful topics, he can turn with consolation, to view the daily advances of our holy religion, in this and other distant countries, and the constant increase of his children, where not many years ago, his title could scarce have been whispered without danger. And the name which he bears is one of bright omen for us. Twice has it been the source of grateful recollection to Catholic England. It was the first Gregory who sent Augustine and his companions to convert our ancestors to the faith; and when a giddy spirit of error threatened to overthrow and destroy the work, the 13th of the name stood in the breach, supplied the means of education to our clergy, and cherished in his bosom the little spark, which is now once more breaking into a beautiful flame. It is from the very house of the great Grégory, and of his disciples, Augustine and Justus,* that the present Pontiff came forth to rule the Church, animated with the same zeal, and attached to the same cause. Oh !
the same results attend his desires; may he live to see all the sheep, which are not of his flock, joined unto it, that there may be only one flock and one shepherd; that when Jesus Christ, “the prince of pastors," whose vicar he is, shall appear, we may all “receive a neverfading crown of glory.”+
* The Church and Monastery of St Gregory, on the Cælian Hill, possessed by the Camaldo ese Monks, were the house of that Pontiff; and on the portico of the Church is an inscription, recording, that thence went forth the first Apostles of the Anglo-Saxons. In this house, the present Pope lived many years, till created a cardinal.
ti Pet. v. 4.
RECAPITULATION OF THE LECTURES ON THE CHURCE.
JOHN iv. 20.
'. Our fathers adored on this mountain, but you say that Jerusalem is
the place where men should adore.” Such, my brethren, was the question which divided men, and men who believed in only one God, at the time of our Saviour's mission; and precisely similar is the question which may be said to divide us now. There are some of us who say, that only we tread the true path of salvation—that only where we adore, is true sacrifice offered to the living God; and the other hand, there are who reply, “this is the place where our fathers have worshipped—this is the religion which we have been taught by our ancestors: why, therefore, should we be expected to abandon it, on account of the claims of another, and a more exclusive system?" Happy would it be for us, if, like the Samaritan woman in this day's gospel, we had near us One to whom we could refer all our disputes, to whose judgment we should all submissively bow! Happy should we be, could
of our blessed Redeemer, visible amongst us, examine our respective claims to be corrsidered the true Church of Christ; and that we could be sure, through His personal decision, that the conclusions we come to, are such as God hath sanctioned!
But, unfortunately I may say for us, although no doubt in the decrees of eternal Providence, most righteously, it is not given us to have such an absolute and final award pronounced in our differences; and hence it is our duty, with all regard to charity, to bring forward our respective claimsand more especially is this our duty, who feel sure that we rest them, on the most solemn, on the most dignified, and the most highly sanctioned ground: if so haply, we may bring to some conclusion, the endless disputes touching religion, which have too long divided us, and those who have
in the land. I have, so far as my small abilities allowed me, endeavoured to present you with a simple, unvarnished exposition of the Catholic doctrine regarding the rule of faith. I have stated to you the grounds on which we base it -the authority, that is, of God's unerring word; so that we find ourselves bound to submit to the decisions, and to obey the authority, of a power which we are convinced, ' has been established by Him. But, having extended my subject through so many lectures, and having consequently some reason to fear, that by being thus diluted, the arguments may have lost somewhat of their force, I propose, before entering on Sunday next upon a new and more important topic,* this evening to recapitulate the arguments which I have spread over so many successive discourses, that so their strength may be more condensedly and compactly pressed upon your consideration.
I need not state to you again the great and important difference between us and more modern creeds; that difference of which an eminent English divine, the one who perhaps has written most strongly, in favour of the protestant rule, observes, that “the whole of modern religion may be said to differ essentially on this one point -what is the groundwork whereon faith is to be built?" I rehearsed to you in my preliminary discourses, the respective opinions of the two religions; and I fully developed the principle of the Catholic rule of faith, con. sisting in the belief that there was constituted by God, a compact body, or society of teachers, whom He promised always to assist, so as to instruct, through them, till the end of time. The conclusion was, that the Church, or organized society which He had made the depositary of His truth, should not be liable to the smallest
This Catholic doctrine I propounded to you, and placed in * The Blessed Eucharist.