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sued, and the manner in which they connected these two dogmas, we understand how they perfectly comprehended the force of his reasoning; and how, accordingly, they were silenced when he spoke. In the same way, too, our Saviour tells us, that Moses bore testimony to him. Thus, St. Paul, and our Saviour himself, to the two disciples after his resurrection, quoted the authority of Moses for the necessity of Christ's dying, and so entering into his glory; and yet, I believe, you will in vain search through the books of Moses to discover so important & dogma as the necessity of the Messiah, or Christ, dying to redeem his people. What, therefore, is the meaning of this expression ? It was well-known to the Jews; it had been found among the unwritten traditions, unwritten formerly, but since written in their later works; and we there find the doctrine of Messiah being the Son of God. And, in like manner, it is singular to observe, in all the writings of the Jews, the constant manifestation of a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity; of the mystery of the Incarnation. We find, even in their writings, the very terms made use of by St. John. In the earliest writings of the Jews, we have the “ Word of God,” spoken of as something co-equal
, and co-existing with God; and, yet, of this, not a trace is to be found in their written law, consequently, these are doctrines, not of natural, but of revealed religion. The whole must, as the Jews themselves teach us, have been delivered as a deposit into the hands of the priesthood, and by them bave been preserved inviolable to the time of Christ.
Thus, I have been brought, by way of illustration, to show what a very strong class of arguments it must require to demonstrate that the rule of faith is one which excludes this traditional teaching ; because, even where a written law is expressly enjoined, will you find, that, so far from excluding the unwritten law, it allowed of the preservation of the most important doctrines only through its agency. Thus, therefore, it will require, when we come to examine authorities, something exceedingly strong, indeed, to prove, not merely that Scripture is a rule of faith, not merely that it is an all-sufficient rule, but that it is an exclusive rule ; and, however strong the terms may be, that they are strong enough to exclude that teaching wbich was included in the former command to have a written code.
Such, therefore, my brethren, is the simple and easy train of argu, ment whereby we arrive at the possession of the Holy Scriptures, and their entire canonicity and inspiration. But you will say, “ What have we gained ; in what is our condition better than that of others? It still is a train of argument requiring considerable investigation; it still supposes an inquiry into the authenticity of the sacred books, and into the faith that we are to put in the circumstances which they relate, before we can arrive at the conviction, that whatever Christ has taught us is to be believed by men; and, therefore, we are considering a rule as difficult of application with the great bulk of mankind as that which the Protestant adduces.” Here, then, my brethren, comes another portion of our inquiry, namely, the method in which this rule is applicable. And here, the doctrine of the Catholic church is such as obviously removes this dificulty, and makes it a rule of the simplest acceptance, at the same time that it leaves scope for the investigation of the most learned of its members. The Catholic church teaches--and I beg of you to remember, that I am not proving the doctrine to-night, but as simply laying it before you, that you may understand what I shall proceed on another occasion to prove—the doctrine of the Catholic church upon this head is, that faith is not the production of man's ingenuity; that it is not the result of his study or investigation; but that it is a virtue essentially in used by God in baptism; and which, I suppose, must be more or
less the belief of every church which adopts the practice of infant baptism. It is true, that the Articles of the Church of England say, that, by baptism faith is confirmed, and hope increased. It thus seems to suppose, therefore, the existence of faith in the soul before baptism is administered. But, however this anomaly has to be explained; it is certain, that the very idea of baptism as a sacrament having the slightest force, supposes also a living and vivifying principle communicated in it; that is, the communion of faith which exists between the person so baptized, and the church to which he belongs. Now, therefore, admitting faith to be a principle infused by God, it follows, that in the soul that has been purged from sin, and that is adorned by him with this grace which baptism is intended to convey, that virtue is an active and living principle only requiring the presentation to it of objects whereon to act, forit to come into a complete and perfect operation. Now, the moment, therefore, that the doctrines of religion are proposed, the moment that they are presented to the
understanding—when it is opened, and able to comprehend that which God has revealed—no matter in what manner, provided these doctrines are the truth, there is a proper object presented to the action of the virtue ; and, consequently, the moment the mind adheres to it without any process of previous argumentation, or of previous conviction; the two elements that are necessary come together, the truth and the embracing of it, by the virtue which God has given for that purpose; and the consequence is, the truth is believed upon the proper ground, and from a living and heavenly principle.
This, therefore, is the simple process whereby, according to Catholics, the doctrines are first received; whereas, if you admit the supposition that no one has a right to believe any thing but that which he has himself investigated and fully examined, and of the truth whereof he is personally satisfied, you must suppose, that, before an act of faith there must precede a period of infidelity; that there must be a time when the truth has not been discovered, and when, consequently, it has not been received.
Such, therefore, is the simple process whereby we believe this virtue to be exercised in the soul; at the same time, therefore, that this allows the child, the most illiterate, to form an act of faith grounded upon a proper motive, we are left by the church to the full investigation of all the grounds of our belief; we may be allowed to exercise our abilities, our research, our learning, upon demonstrating, and upon confirming, in every way, we can, all the doctrines which it teaches, and those preliminaries which, as I have shown you, conduct us to a belief in the dogmas. Thus it is, that, while in its simplicity, this principle is adapted to the weakest and to the meanest, it, at the same time, leaves room for the exercise of the most talented and the most learned.
Such, therefore, is the application of the principle; and nothing remains but that I say a few words regarding its end.
I observed, my brethren, on the last occasion that I met you, that the end of every law, the end of every rule, and consequently, of every rule of faith, is to bring men into unity of belief, into unity of action. I showed you, that the rule which is proposed by others, is proved by experience to lead to exactly an opposite point; that is to say, to remove men rather from that towards which a rule is essentially intended to bring them; that it was principle which led to the most manifestly contradictory opinions; and that all these are supported on the authority of precisely the same principle of faith.
But, now, if you will only examine in its action the principle which the Catholic church admits, you will see that it is fully competent, that it is fully equal to those objects for which every rule must be given,
inasmuch as the necessary tendency of it is to bring all the opinions, to bring all the understandings of men, into the most perfect unity in the belief and adoption of one and the same truth in every particular. For you are well aware, that the moment any Catholic doubts, not merely of the principle of faith itself, but of any one of those doctrines which is based upon that principle; the moment he allows himself to call in question one dogma which the Catholic church has always taught as having been handed down from the time of the apostles, that moment we conceive, and the church conceives him to have virtually abandoned his connexion with her. He is, without mercy, as it were, he is, with. out consideration, removed, if not by an act, at least virtually, from her communion; and he has no longer a right to consider himself a Catholic; for the church exacts such complete obedience, such a complete adoption of all the doctrines taught, that, if the most valuable member, if the person who has illustrated it, and defended it by his writings and life, were to fall away by the unbelief of one, he would instantly be cast off without reserve. And we have, even in our own times, seen a remarkable instance of this circumstance.
But, brethren, does this appear to you as something tyrannical, as an iron yoke, a bond upon the understandings of men, a bowing down, as it were, involuntarily, of that power which is left by the Almighty to be freely exercised by each individual ? If any man think this, I will only say, that he does not, that he cannot, understand the principle of Catholic unity. I know, indeed, that this is often represented as that tyrannical sway which a conqueror exercises over his dominions; and that love which the church has of seeing men from the most distant parts of the world subject to its sway, as nothing more than the same feeling of pride and ambition which actuates the emperor, or any earthly monarch, upon seeing the tribute brought to him by his subjects in the most distant of bis dominions; that there is a sort of personal gratification; that there is a triumph, as it were, over the liberties of men, in the bowing down of their faculties, in the homage which the faithful pay to the teaching of the church. But, my brethren, you who undertand, you who know in what the principle consists, know the feeling to which it gives rise, you know well bow false such a representation is.
Nothing can be more beantiful, either to the imagination or to the reason of a Catholic, than this idea of perfect unity. To his imagination, because it is a sanctifying of one of the first and most essential principles on which society is based; that, in the same manner as pure natural philanthropy, or human charity, tends as much as possible to merge the feelings of each individual towards the general good, and to embrace together all mankind, rather than individual men, so does the principle of unity tend, in like manner, not merely to excite you to love them as your brethren in the flesh, but much more as united to you by a holier and diviner tie; and it excites towards every individual forming that communion, all those sympathies which can possibly be felt by the nearest and dearest connexions of nature. And, if we find, indeed, that in ancient times, the very idea of a republic, or government, that is, a body of men united together by mere ideal bonds, that they should fight side by side, that they should contribute what they possess to the general good; and all merely from admiration of this abstract union ; if this conception was thought to be something so superhuman, something 80 exquisitely beautiful, that they even, as it were, deified and worshipped the very name and character of the republic; what sball we say of that union which brings men together, not merely as members of one community, not merely as brethren united together in one family ; but, still more, as members of the same body, of that body not merely com.
posed of its own aggregation, but having a head, the most precious, the most sublime, that we can conceive, the man-God Christ Jesus ?-that they should be joined together, not for any, earthly purposes, not to contribute to mere worldly happiness; but to bring into a common stock all the most precious and invaluable feelings of the human heart; that they should be all tending, not to earthly glory, not to some passing interest ; but all directed to some holy and divine end, communicating those virtues of the soul and of the spirit which they have one to another, encouraging one another, and deriving one from the other consolation, comfort, and support in all difficulties, and counsel in all their duties? Surely, this idea, my brethren, when connected also with the reflection, that the tie is not held together by any of the usual human bonds; that it is not because we are men of one country, speak one language, or are united under one government, that we are thus brought together; . but, that the feeling passes over rivers, and mountains, and oceans, and brings together the inhabitants of the most distant parts of the world, to knees together at the same altar, to feel the link that ties them together, and that all these are connected by the hand of God; assuredly, this must present to you all that you can conceive as most beautiful in the institutions of Christianity. You can hardly conceive, that the object of any rule which is to bring men together can act with such perfection as this.
And it is also beautiful to the imagination of the Catholic, inasmuch as it produces the levelling or equalizing of the faculties of all mankind; inasmuch as the most learned and the most gifted individual, when kneeling at the altar, beside the poorest, has his understanding brought down to the level of the other ; brought down, or rather raised up ogether, with that of the mea nest and the poorest, to a higher standard than he ever could have reached by the exercise of his own abilities. And this it is that prevents that most dangerous of all pride, the opinion that individual abilities can have any power in reaching the truths of God. It removes the distinction between the understanding of the one and the other; it makes religion a fountain to which we all come with different vessels, and carry away a different share proportioned to our own qualifications; and it prevents that dangerous distinction in the understanding, as well as in the body, which St. James condemns, in giving the more distinguished place to bim who has a ring on his finger, or a purple robe on his shoulder, rather than to him who is ignorant and unenlightened.
But this idea of union recommends itself still more strongly to the understanding of the Catholic, inasmuch as it exactly corresponds to all the ideas which we can conceive of truth. We must consider truth, as nothing more than the reflection of those thoughts which have existed from all eternity in the mind of God; we must consider it as incorporated or incarnated in the Eternal Word, and in the Wisdom of the Father; and we must suppose it, therefore, as having passed into his representative on earth, into the church, which is his living depositary for teaching the truth, and to be preserved there ; so, that in all its various changes, it has continued, and exists as one, and must remain unalterable to the end.
The unity, too, is beautiful, when considered by reason, with reference to the end, to the character, to the nature of man, inasmuch, as all these are represented as tending to one object, by exactly the same qualifications the same natural feelings; and these putting on, as it were, precisely the same robe, and being conducted exactly by the same path.
But this unity of the church is not merely something beautiful
something which the Catholic admires, cherishes, and loves; but it is also most important for other great ends. For, in the first place, our blessed Saviour himself has made it one of the strongest characteristics of the truth of the religion he bas taught; it is one of the proofs which men should have, and whereby they should principally be led to recognise his divine mission ; for he says, “ Not only for them do I pray, but for all those likewise who, through their word, shall be brought; that they may be one even as I, Father, am in thee, and thou in me; that they all may be one: that the world may believe that thou hast sent
The world, therefore, is to believe that Christ is sent by the Father, because all these his faithful are one; because they are united in the bond of a holy unity, both in body and in spirit, even as the apos. tle expressly tells us- for with this unity of love which seems pointed out, there is necessarily also the unity of faith—when he beseeches all to walk worthy of the calling wherein they have been called, in humility, and in patience, and in mildness, and bearing one another in charity; that there may be one spirit, and one body, even as they are called in one hope of their calling; and thus they show what is the consequence of this, namely, tbat there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism. This, therefore, is even that divine principle of love which was to be the great characteristic of Christ's followers, based upon this principle of faith ; not, assuredly, that we do not love all mankind; not, assuredly, that we can allow our charity, and all our feelings of sympathy and affection, to be at all checked or circumscribed by that line which our religion draws around its members; but it must be the wish, and it should be the desire, and the anxious, and most earnest prayer of every Catholic, that that charity which at present he may feel from these human sympathies, should be purified, dignified, and sanctified by the divine precepts; that these human sympathies should be raised even still higher, and be engrafted where the word of God, and the divine ordinances of Christ wish them to be, upon the stock of unity of faith. For this, my brethren, after all, is the only thing that we can desire. Unity in faith is beautiful, it is useful; it has almost all that can recommend it to us; it can make us, who possess it, not merely thankful to God, but consoled within ourselves, that we have been made partakers of it. But it wants one ingredient; there is one element which we must all desire, and which, if we did possess it, would make the blessing almost too great for earth, and that is, that the unity should be universal; that all who are separated from us, should be brought to us; that all who differ from us, should see, even as we do, the beauty of this system as instituted by Christ; that they all should see the simple grounds whereupon it rests ; that they all should thus be led to the adoption of the same principle, and thus be united in the same faithand consequently, in a still more perfect degree, in the same charity; that they might be hereafter all united in glory : a prayer which I beg to offer for you all.