« PreviousContinue »
on the contrary, whenever St. Peter is spoken of, as a pillar or foundation of the church, it is never by himself, but always in conjunc, tion with others, and when the apostles were contending about this very thing, who should be accounted greatest, what was our Lord's reply? 'not, “ Peter is the man,” but he thus quickly decides the case, “ The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors, but ye shall not be so, but he that is greatest among you, let him be as
the Peter before Peter. Hesych. apud. Phot. Cod. 269.
Chrysystom saith of St. John, that he was a pillar of the churches through the world, and had the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Speaking of St. Paul, he calls him, the ring-leader and guardian of the choir of all the saints, the apostle of the world ; who had all the inhabitants of the earth committed to his trust, Chryst. in Rom. xvi. 24. Cor. 92.
Pope Gregory I. saith of St. Paul, that he was made head of the nations, because he obtained the principate of the whole church. Greg. M. in 1 Reg. lib. 4,
St. Ambrose, St. Austin, St. Maximus Taur, speak thus,- Blessed Peter and Paul are the most eminent amongst all the apostles, - whether of the two is to be preferred before the other, is uncertain. Vid. Serm. 66. Aug. de Sanct. 27. Max. Taur. Serm. 54.
To these extracts, I add, that if any of the apostles could claim a presidency, or authoritative headship over the rest, St. James seems to have had the best title to it, for Jerusalem was the mother of all churches, the fountain of christianity, the see of Christ himself. Hence in the apostolical constitutions, in the prayer prescribed for the church, the bishops of the principal churches being specified by name, St. James is mentioned before the bishops of either Rome or Antioch. “Let us pray for the whole episcopacy under heaven, for those who rightly dispense the word of truth : let us pray for our bishop James, and all his parishes, for our bishop Clemens, and all his parishes, for Euodius, and all his parishes, Const. ap. viii. 10.
How these facts can be reconciled, with the supremacy of St. Peter, I leave the catholics to determine.
It was a reasonable demand which was made upon our Saviour, “Tell us by what authority thou doest these things ? or who is he that gave thee this authority ?" (Luke xx. 2.) and the propriety of it, our Lord himself admitted, declaring, that if he had not by his doctrine and works, proved the divinity of his character, it would have been no sin to disbelieve, or reject him. John xv. 24.
Upon the same principle, if a primacy, importing superiority in power, command, or jurisdiction, had been really given to St. Peter, it would have been highly necessary to produce clear credentials of such a gift, not only to warrant and enforce the obedience of the apostles, but to make the same duty incumbent upon us, that in all cases of doubt or controversy, in the church, we might have recourse to an infallible judge, for a final decision of the matter. It is natural to suppose, that if Christ had thought it expedient to appoint such a speaking authority, in the christian church, he would have conveyed the intentions of his mind, in expressions, by which his meaning could not have been mistaken, and that the apostles would have mentioned this appointment, before all the articles of faith, because all disputes might have been quickly decided, and settled by this tribunal. In civil causes, judges are regularly appointed, in whose decision and awards we readily acquiesce, because we know they are judges, and no man can doubt their authority. But when the matter at issue respects conscience, religion, salvation, eternity, happiness or misery, there is no unerring judge, but God himself, who has given us a full revelation of his will, in the holy Scriptures. If there be any other judge, then he only is to be acknowledged as such, to whom God hath expressly, and in the most unequivocal manner, committed that right.
To a superficial observer, it may appear plausible, that there should be in the church, some infallible judge of religious controversies, in order to preserve the unity of the faith ; but let the catholics name one controversy, that hath been ended in their church, merely by the pope's decree, so that the opposite party hath declared that they believed contrary, to what they believed before, on account of the pope's definition.
Do they say the scripture can be no mean of unity, because of the various senses which have been put upon it? And are there no ways to evade the pope's decisions ?
the younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.'
serve.” Luke xxii. 25, 26. Than which, nothing could have been more peremptorily spoken, to rebuke a spirit of pre
They either say, the decree was procured by fraud, and the pope made it from misinformation, or that he did not define it as a matter of faith, sitting in cathedra.
It is a notorious fact, that, as Onuphrius states, there were thirty different schisms existing at one time, within the pale of the Roman church, though it is a principal and fundamental article, which the catholics have always in their mouths, and on which they mainly rely,
- that the church of Rome cannot err. The catholics affirm, that the unity of the church, like that of the body, consists in the unity of the members under one head, but how could all the members be united under one head, when there were sometimes two, sometimes three heads ? It is evident from historical records, that for fifty or eighty years together, there were two or three popes at the same time, one denying to the other the very name of christian, reproaching each other with the appellation of heretic, and antichrist, and each prnouncing the other to be an unlawful pope: that pope Stephanus VII. in a council assembled for that purpose, annulled all the acts of Formosus, deprived those of their orders, who had been ordained by him, and caused them to be re-ordained, (to which many of the bishops would not submit, particularly Leo, bishop of Nola,) and not content with this, he ordered his corpse to be taken out of the grave, and placed it in the pope's chair, with the pon
eminence; and prevent the apostles from affecting, seeking, assuming, or admitting a superiority of power, one above another.
Further, in all relations, which occur in scripture, concerning religious controversies, there is no appeal made to St. Peter's judgment, no allegation of it as decisive, no argument is built on his authority, dissent from his opinion, non-conformity to his practice, disobedience to his orders, are not mentioned as ground of reproof, or as aggravation of any error ; no heretics are sent to be exterminated by his sentence, nor schismatics to be suppressed, by his censure. The apostles convinced gainsayers by scripture testimony, and sound arguments. If they used authority it was their own, which they challenged, as given to them by Christ, for edifi
tifical habits on, where, after he had sufficiently reviled him who could not revile again, he caused the three fingers to be cut off, with which he used to give the benediction, and then commanded the body to be thrown into the Tyber. How then can the Roman church, laying aside the scriptores, as the sole criterion of sound doctrine, say, on the ground of infallibility, either “this is true," or "that is heretical.”