Page images

that obedience and submission, which the holy Councils and Fathers have always taught the faithful." Expos. of Cath. Faith, Sect. 21.-In like manner, after describing the unity of the Church of Christ, as consisting, according to the Apostle, Eph. iv. 4, ❝ in one faith, one Lord, one baptism," the Catechism of the Council of Trent adds to this definition, the necessity of its being subjected to one visible governor. That visible governor is he, "who, by lawful succession possesses the chair of St. Peter, the prince of the Apostles; of whom this was the approved sentence and judgment of all the Fathers, that this visible head was necessary, both to settle and preserve the unity of the Catholic Church." Catech. Counc. Trent. Art. Holy C. Church.-Those Churches which do not own subjection to this one visible governor, styled "the Vicar of Jesus Christ," and who are not recognized by him as his subjects, do not, according to the Romanists, form part of Christ's Catholic Church, in the same manner, as those individuals who do not recognize the authority of particular Churches, cease to be members of them; for it is declared, that "the Church alone," by which they mean that body of Christians who are united by being in communion with the successor of St. Peter, and who are in subjection to his authority, “ alone have the legitimate worship of sacrifice, and the saving use of the sacraments; by which, as by the efficacious instruments of divine grace, God works true holiness in us: so that whosoever are

truly holy cannot be out of this Church." Catechism of the Council of Trent. Art. Cath. Church.


But they go still further: they not only proclaim themselves the true and only Church, inasmuch as, according to them, the promises of Christ are restricted to their own Church; but, consequence of their Bishop's alleged exclusive right to sovereignty, they maintain, that his jurisdiction extends, also,to those who do not admit his authority, or who have withdrawn from his.communion. Their notion of the Church and of its government is, in short, in all respects assimilated to the notion of an universal monarchy. The subjects of this spiritual empire differ as to the limits of the power of the executive magistrate; some describing him as perfectly absolute, and even infallible, and others, as subject to the Canons of the Church ;--some preaching up the doctrine of passive obedience, and others of legitimate resistance ;-they differ, also, as to where the legislative authority resides; but they all agree in this, that a supreme executive power, whether restricted or unrestricted, is vested in their chief Bishop, and extends itself over all Christian Churches, and over all individual Christians, whether owning his authority or not; and that there is in their Church a supreme legislative authority, infallible in its decisions. Allegiance to this universal ecclesiastical monarch is, by their account, as indelible, as allegiance to the civil governor; and heretics and schismatics are viewed in the same light, as

rebels. The Church retains its right over them, and it is a pure question of policy, how far, and in what instances, that right shall be exercised.— "Hæretici vero et schismatici, qui ab Ecclesia desciverunt &c........Non negandum tamen, quin in Ecclesiæ potestate sint, ut qui ab ea in judicium vocentur, puniantur, et anathemate damnentur. Catech. Rom. 78.*

Now certainly this scheme of ecclesiastical government is so important, both in its practical consequences affecting the religious rights of men, and in its being insisted on as necessary to the very existence of the Church, that it might be expected, that the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, if instituted by Jesus Christ to cement the unity of the Church, would have been either declared in Scripture, and the limits of his jurisdiction defined, in the most explicit terms, or that it would have been one of the most obvious deductions from plain Scriptural declarations, or, at least, that its institution would have been capable of proof on the acknowledged principles of human reason. Neither of these suppositions, it is presumed, can be made'good. The proof of their pretensions, however, rests with the Romanists; and the arguments by which they are supported may be ranged under the following heads: 1. The alleged necessity of a spiritual supremacy to maintain and ce

* The same doctrine is laid down in the Maynooth Leet. p. 394. Ecclesia suam retinet jurisdictionem in omnes Apostatas, Hæreticos, et Schismaticos, quanquam ad illius corpus non jam pertineant.

ment the unity of the Catholic Church. 2. The expediency of such a supremacy, for the preservation of unity in faith and discipline. 3. The divine institution of the supremacy of the successors of St. Peter in the See of Rome, as declared in Scripture. 4. The testimony of the Fathers, as to the universal acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, by divine right.

I shall proceed to state and examine these different kinds of Romish proof of the Papal Supremacy, under their respective heads.



The alleged necessity of a Spiritual Supremacy, to maintain and cement the Unity of the Catholic Church.

On this head nothing more seems necessary to be said, than what has been already suggested, in describing the Church of England's doctrine, as to what constitutes the essential unity of the Church of Christ. A Church monarchy cannot be necessary to that unity; since Catholic unity may be shewn to exist, independently of such a form of Church government; and, therefore, the question of the Papal Supremacy must be argued, not on its necessity; but, either on its expediency, or on the fact of its divine institution.

« PreviousContinue »