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consequently evident, that every class of Christians agrees with us, that the pronoun cannot form any limitation to this or any other passage. . The meaning, therefore, of this text is, that Christ would watch with peculiar care and solicitude, and exert his most especial providence, in favour of his Apostles; and that this care and providence would be prolonged, not merely to the lives of those immediately addressed, but through all successive ages, to the end of time, in the persons of those who should succeed them. - But you may perhaps ask, what have we gained in favour of the infallibility claimed by the Church ? For, what is the object and extent of this peculiar watchfulness and assistance ? This important point remains to be discovered, and we will endeavour to reach it by the same tests of truth. On examining the practice of Scripture, we find that, whenever God gives a commission of peculiar difficulty, and one which to those that receive it appears almost, or indeed entirely, beyond the power of man, the way in which he assures them that it can and will be fulfilled, is by adding to the end of the commission, “ I will be with you.” As if he should thereby say— “ The success of your commission is quite secure, because I will give my special assistance for its perfect fulfilment.” A few passages will make this position quite clear.
In the 40th chapter of Genesis, 3d and 4th verses, God says to Jacob, “ I am God, the God of thy father ; fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will make thee a great people. I will go down with thee into Egypt.” That is, I will accompany thee, I will be with thee, and therefore fear not. This assurance, is added as a special guarantee for the truth of the promise, that the descendants of Jacob should be a great people. They were to become, by fulfilling the command given them, subjects of another state; their chances of becoming a mighty nation seemed greatly lessened; yet God pledged his word that he would so protect them, that the promise should be fulfilled, and this he does by adding the assurance, “I will go down with
thee.” But this is still clearer in the book of Exodus, where the Almighty commands Moses to go unto Pharaoh, and liberate his people. He execute this commission! who had been obliged to flee from Egypt under a capital imputation, who was now not only devoid of interest at court, but was identified with that very proscribed and persecuted race, whose extermination Pharaoh had vowed,—who, should he come forward, could only ensure his own destruction, and the more certain frustration of the hopes which God had given to his captive people! How, then, does God assure him, that, in spite of all these apparent impossibilities, he shall be successful ? “ And Moses said unto God, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said unto him, I will be with thee."* The fulfilment is secure, no other assurance is given ; Moses has the strongest guarantee that God can propose to him, that he will be successful. Again, when Jeremiah is sent to preach to his people, and considers himself unfit for the commission, God promises him success in the same terms, and with the very introductory phrase used in the commission given to the Apostles, “and behold !” and with other no less extraordinary coincidences. In the first chapter of that Prophet (vv. 17, 19) we thus read, “Gird up thy loins, and arise and speak unto them all that I command thee; and behold! I have made thee this day a walled city. . . . And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail, for I am with thee, saith the Lord.” Here is a command given precisely such as we have seen delivered to the Apostles, to tell the people all that God had commanded; and to it is appended the very same form of assurance as is addressed to them.
Thus, therefore, we have a clear axiom deduced from the simple examination of similar forms in other parts of Scripture; that, whenever a commission is given by God to accomplish what appears impossible by human means, he guarantees its complete success and perfect execution, by adding the words,
* Exodus iii. 11, 12.
“I am with thee.” And thus we have a right to conclude, that in the text under examination Christ, by the same words, promised to his Apostles, and to those who should succeed them till the end of the world, such a similar scheme of especial providence, as shall be necessary and sufficient to secure the full accomplishment of the commission therewith to them given. We have consequently only to see what the commission is, and the case is closed. “Go teach all nations ;" that is one part of the commission to teach all the nations of the world. And what are the things to be taught ? “ To observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you !" Therefore we have the guarantee of Christ that he will aid his church, with a special and efficacious providence, to teach all things that he has commanded, to all nations, and till the end of time.
I ask you, is not this a commission exactly comprising all that I said we might expect to find ? Does it not institute a body of men to whom Christ has given security, that they shall be faithful depositaries of his truths ? Does it not constitute the kingdom, whereunto all nations should come? Does it not establish therein his own permanent teaching, in lieu of prophecy, so as to prevent all error from entering into the church ? and is not this church to last till the end of time ? Now this is precisely all that the Catholic church teaches, all that she claims and holds, as the basis and foundation whereupon to build her rule of faith. The successors of the Apostles in the church of Christ have received the security of his own words and his promise of “ a perpetual teaching,” so that they shall not be allowed to fall into error. It is this promise which assures her she is the depositary of all truth, and is gifted with an exemption from all liability to err, and has authority to claim from all men, and from all nations, submission to her guidance and instruction.
Such, therefore, is the first ground of the system which I endeavoured to lay before you at our last meeting; but, although, I fear I have already trespassed too long on your attention, I am anxious, not, indeed, to close the argument, but to finish the
counterpart of what I represented to you in the first portion of my discourse, and for that purpose to refer to one or two other texts. · I said, for instance, that, even as, to fulfil the ends of prophecy, we might have expected to find him whom the prophets typified, not only removing, but preventing error in the more perfect law; so might we hope to find the Holy Ghost, who was the inspirer of the prophets, who animated their organs and directed their teaching, in like manner substituting for them, his own infallible and unquestionable instruction. Now, we do find several texts of Scripture, connecting themselves clearly with what I have already said ; and, obviously pointing out an institution for this very purpose. For, in the 14th chapter of St. John, (vv. 16, 26,) we hear our Saviour say, “I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever; the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him : but you shall know him, because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.” “But, the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father shall send in my name, he will teach you all things.” And again, in the 16th chapter, (v. 13,) “ But when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he shall teach you all truth." · Here again are words addressed to the apostles. I know there are some who consider them as spoken individually to all the faithful, and suppose them to contain a promise of inspiration to all. But here we must be consistent; if you allow that these words contain a promise not confined to the apostles, but designed, not merely for later ages, but for every individual ; then you must not limit to them the other promise made to the apostles. It must be extended in the same degree, and, consequently it also was given for the benefit of every future age. But, moreover, I have said that the two passages are clearly related one to another, for the object of both is the same, to provide for the teaching of truth. Not only so, but these words are addressed to the apostles, in a most peculiar manner; because it is said that the Holy Spirit, is to be the supplement
ary teacher to the Son of God, and will complete what he had begun; so that the instruction is manifestly designed for those who, had been already appointed and instructed by our Saviour.
Now, assuredly no one will say that the commission be. fore discussed extended to all the faithful; for so all would be commanded to teach and preach, and then whose duty would it be to learn and listen ? It is manifest that it esta. blishes two orders--one of superiors, of directors, of governors, of instructors; the other of subjects, of scholars, and of followers. The texts too under consideration, taken in their context, lead to the same conclusion. For, in the same discourse, our Redeemer clearly distinguishes between the teachers of his doctrines, and those who, through their means, are to learn them.* Thus do the two promises, joined together, afford the strongest proof of a constant security against error to the Church of Christ, until the end of time, in consequence of the authoritative teaching of the successors of the Apostles, with the guarantee and sure co-operation of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit.
These is another passage containing the words of our Saviour, which would deserve to be commented on at some length; I mean that interesting promise, wherein, after basing his church on a certain foundation, he says, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”+ But I shall have occasion, some evenings later, to dwell more fully upon this text, because it is connected with the important doctrine of the authority of the Holy See; and I will therefore reserve it for my discourse on that subject.
But, having thus spoken of those promises and pledges which Jesus Christ gave to his church of unfailing protection and direction, I shall be, perhaps, met by other texts of a character apparently contradictory, such as must, if not destroy, at least neutralize, those which I have alleged ? Are there not a series of strong passages in which, so far from the stability of Jo. xvii. 20.
+ Matt. xvi. 18,