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strated, till it closed in the full development of its principle, or rule of faith, there are breaks and chasms to be leaped over, in order to arrive at the conclusion which had been previously laid down; that there were such innumerable contradictions, difficulties, and impracticable conditions, inherent in its very scheme, as are sufficient to prove it not to be the rule of faith intended by Christ, to guide the multitude of markind, unto His truths. But I did not submit it to the same process of reasoning, or the same minute inquiry, as the other. We do not ground our religion, as I have before remarked, on the exclusion of other systems, but on its own essential proofs and arguments; and therefore, I conceived the true way of proceeding to consist, in simply establishing our own faithdemonstrating that it was the only one established by Christand thereby leaving you to conclude the impossibility of any other's standing in competition. But it may have appeared to some, that I have shrunk from discussing, in the same form of argument, the rule of faith proposed by those who think not with us. I therefore propose to try, this evening, how far it will stand the same tests; recapitulating, first, for that purpose, some of the points on which I before touched in its regard.
I remarked that, whereas in the old law we had an express provision made for a written code, yet some of the most important doctrines known to the Jews, and by our Saviour found among them, were not contained in that volume, but. handed down by oral tradition. I showed this to be the case with respect to the doctrines of the Trinity, the Word of God incarnate and suffering for the redemption of mankind, and the doctrine of a future state, and of regeneration. These observations tended to show, how strong must be the evidence which alone could establish a teaching by a written code, to the exclusion of divine traditions.
But allow me to ask, where are any of those characteristics which I have already described as exactly preserved in the Catholic system Where is the constitutivü of a kingdom
to be continued in a visible society of men_visible even as the former was, through external characteristics ? Where is the slightest shadow of an institution corresponding to prophecy ? of something which may be considered its perfection, by preserving men from error ? Where is the security, in the protestant rule, for the perpetuity of Christ's kingdom, so ofter: clearly foretold in the prophets? For its system supposes, oi rather assumes, the possibility of the entire fabric which our Saviour had raised, being reduced to ruins. Thus, if we apply the test of past dispensations, we cannot find their prophecies and symbols, fulfilled and realized in the supposed Church of Christ.
But let us see what was the precise appointment made by our Saviour; and here it becomes my duty to examine those passages of the New Testament, on the authority of which it is asserted that the Scripture was to be the rule of faith in the New law-not only so, but its exclusive rule, such as at once necessarily renders not merely useless, but absolutely false, any system that supposes an infallible authority. It must be observed, that the line of argument pursued in supporting the Catholic doctrine on the subject of the rule of faith, is necessarily such as to exclude every other ; in other words, that the Catholic interpretation of those texts which establish Church authority and promise the effectual and eternal assistance of the Holy Ghost, and of our blessed Saviour, therein teaching, necessarily supposes that men are implicitly to learn from that Church, in which alone is a security, on earth, against the possibility of error. You must overthrow all those
express declarations and promises, at least, before you can establish the all-sufficiency of Scripture as the rule of faith.
On the other hand, the Catholic system does not in the least exclude the Scriptures; it admits them in their fullest authority; it allows that whatever is therein revealed is necessarily true; it holds that the foundation, or root, of all doctrines is to be virtually discovered in them. Thus, therefore, the Catho.
lic rule cannot be impugned by any text that falls short of a denial of our system: so long as nothing can be alleged to the extent, that Scripture alone is the rule to be followed, our arguments in favour of Church authority are not impugned; because, that it is a rule of faith we admit to its fullest extent. But they who hold it as the only rule, exclude Church authority; consequently their texts must be so strong in favour of that only rule, as to overthrow all those that have been urged in favour of Church authority, and to compel us in spite of the minute reasoning employed to discover their meaning, to reject them, or render them compatible with the exclusive sufficiency of Scripture.
Now, in order to satisfy myself that I am not overlooking anything on this head, I have carefully perused treatises by learned Protestant divines on this subject, so the better to see on what grounds they base the doctrine, that the written word of God is the only rule of faith. I have been astonished, on opening one, and reading that portion which relates to the all sufficiency of Scripture as the rule of faith and morals to find the author, after simply summing up the proofs for its inspiration, proceed to say, that it contains a full knowledge of all that is necessary
for because it teaches the unity of God in Trinity, and that Christ came on earth and died for mankind, and likewise instructs us on the way of repentance, a future state, and the resurrection of the dead : and conclude, that, therefore, Scripture was the sufficient and only rule of faith and morals.* Now, I would ask, what is the connexion between the consequence and its proof? The Scripture teaches all these doctrines, therefore there is no other doctrine necessary to be learnt. This is the very question under discussion, and is assumed without proof—a form of argument which I have often had occasion to deprecate. For this reasoning takes for granted that those given doctrines which are laid down explicitly in Scripture, are all that need be known, and this forms precisely
* Horne's Introduction, vol. i. p. 490, sixth edition.
the great difference between us. There is in it, too, a savour of strong presumption ; because it first of all pretends to settle what measure of faith God might exact, and so decide that the chosen measure, that is, what is clearly found in Scripture, must be sufficient. Now, God is master of his own institutions, and may have deemed it fitting to put the humility and faith of his people to the trial of submission, and may have chosen points of apparently minor importance for the subject of his trial; nor can we lay down, from any reasoning of our own, what are sufficient truths for salvation. We must be content to take the system as it has been framed by God, not as it might appear to suit our ideas of propriety.
The question, then, being in its nature one of arbitrary institution, is one exclusively of positive proof: and I would ask any
sober and serious protestant, if he can possibly consider such argumentation as this a sufficient ground to satisfy himself, that God appointed the Scripture, the New Testament, in the first place, to be written, and, secondly, to be read by all men; and thirdly, that he pledged himself that, in spite of the errors and frailties of the human mind, all men should be able to arrive at truth by its means. Unless he can be satisfied that, in reasoning such as I have stated, all these propositions are included and demonstrated,—unless he is satisfied that they are so included and demonstrated, as at once
* The reduction of this argument to logical forms, will at once show its weakness and insufficiency. Mr Horne's thesis or proposition, is that Scripture alone contains all that is necessary for faith, and his argument reduced to syllogism is this. “The Scripture contains the doctrines of the Trinity, repentance, &c.; now these are all the doctrines necessary for faith; therefore, the Scripture contains all such doctrines.” Who does not see that the second, or minor proposition, contains the entire question between us, yet of this no proof is brought, but it is assumed. And, doubtless, if any one asked the propounder of such an argument on what grounds he proved these doctrines sufficient for salvation, his answer must be ;“because they alone are clearly laid down in Scripture." I say must be, because liis principle prevents his allowing any doctrines on any other ground. But then such an answer at once shows that the entire argument moves in a vicious circle. 1. " The Scripture is all-sufficient because it contains all doctrines necessary to be believed.” 2. “ The doctrines so assumed are all that are necessary to be believed, because they alone are to be found in Scripture."
to overthrow the conclusion naturally and obviously drava from other parts of Scripture, wherein our Saviour appoints a Church to teach to the end of time, with a supernatural assistance, assuredly he must allow that this reasoning is not only superficial, but highly deceitful. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, places the ground of faith, and the rule which is to guide men to truth, manifestly on a firm, fair, and logical basis.
But there are texts of Scripture, often quoted for the purpose of demonstrating that the New Testament is the rule of faith. Our Saviour, for instance, says to the Jews,— “ Search the Scriptures, and the same are they that give testi
mony of me."*
1. Surely, my brethren, these words, when compared with their use upon another occasion,
tend to show, upon how many accidental circumstances the use of this rule depends, and how uncertain it must be in its application. “Search the Scriptures,” exclaims our Saviour to the Jews, “and the same are they that give testimony of me.”
“ Search the Scriptures,”triumphantly cry the priests and Pharisees to Nicodemus, “and see that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not.” | The one justly calls upon the impartial and docile to look into the sacred volume for evidence of his being the true Messiah; the other appeals to the very same book, for a demonstration that his claims are ungrounded. Is not this a case of daily occurrence? Do not the impugners of our Lord's divinity maintain that it is rejected in the same Scripture, wherein others see it so clearly defined? And must not the vagueness of a rule, the right use whereof so much depends on the mind of him who applies it, make it little qualified to form the sole guidance of a darkened and bewildered understanding ?
2. But farther, my brethren, I cannot avoid being struck with a portion of the sentence not often quoted. Christ says: “ Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think that have
* John v. 39. * Jo. vii. 25. Such is the reading of the Vulgate and of many MSS.