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on mere expediency, varies with times and circumstances; and the obligation arising out of it in one age, may entirely cease in another; obedience rightly rendered to the just exercise of authority, may be withdrawn from the abuse of it. The opinions of Melancthon and Grotius merely go to this: that if it were possible to reduce the exercise of the Papal power within certain prescribed limits, to be assigned by the canonical regulations of those churches which should voluntarily enter into a religious association, of which the Pope was to be the supreme Bishop; that such a scheme of ecclesiastical polity might be likely to comprehend Protestants and Romanists; as securing the rights of the former, and humouring the prejudices of the latter, respecting the precedency of their own Bishop; and that the power thus vested in him, if impartially administered, might be serviceable in promoting unity in faith, as well as in discipline. But they were far from asserting, that the acknowledgment of any such jurisdiction was an essential of true church-membership, or necessary to unity; for this would have been to eject themselves from the Church of Christ, since they lived and died out of communion with the Roman Bishop.
Their scheme of ecclesiastical polity, it is evident, was one of compromise and ecclesiastical arrangement:-it accords not with the Romish definition of the Church of Christ. It was not intended to be compulsory upon
those Churches which did not view its expe diency in the same light, and which would not have ceased to be accounted by them true members of the Church of Christ, had they kept aloof from such an association. The Melancthonian and the Grotian Pope could have claimed neither by prescription, nor by divine right; the Church newly congregated under his presidency would not have been the Catholic Church, but only a more or less sound part of it, according to the progress of its reformation; and it could have raised no pretence to infallibility, so as to make its decisions obligatory on the conscience, and to be believed under pain of eternal damnation.
But although the Romanists do not ground their claims on the basis of expediency, and although projects of conciliation, like those of Melanethon and Grotius, so far from admitting, actually contravert their pretensions; yet is the universal jurisdiction of one supreme Bishop very frequently vindicated by them on account of the evils which every other form of Church government is supposed to introduce. The diversity of opinion amongst Protestants is contrasted with the apparent unanimity that prevails in the Church of Rome.With arguments of this kind the works of ancient and modern controversialists abound. Bossuet's" Variations of the Protestant Churches," and Dr. Milner's "End of Controversy," principally turn on this point. It is, however, manifest, that such topics are
wholly irrelevant to the matter at issue; which cannot, on the modern Romish supposition, be determined by considerations of expediency, but must depend on the fact of divine institution. They are least of all pertinent, when urged against the Church of England; since the evils of dissension are not inherent in her polity, but are incidental to the exercise of private judgment, which she arrogates not to herself the power of annulling, by the assumption of an authority inconsistent with man's freedom of thought, and his inalienable right of enquiry. Nor would it follow, because the authority of the Church of England is too limited, that the pretensions of the Church of Rome are not excessive. In a word, arguments from abuses prove nothing, and are readily repelled by similar charges.— They are the least efficient when employed by the Romanists; for if licentiousness in opinion, and a want of due deference to authority, be the abuse of the Protestant principle; it may be retorted, that slavish submission of the intellect, and perseverance in ancient error and superstition, are inseparable from that of the Church of Rome. The Church of England is not responsible for the evils which arise from the one or the other of these two extremes; she steers a middle course; she does not bid the labourer or the mechanic choose a religion for himself out of the Bible; nor does she encourage him to interpret its pages by a private Spirit of inspiration; she does not
leave him without duly appointed guides to divine truth ; nor, as if distrusting her own authority, has she any reserve in establishing her decisions as the genuine interpretation of God's word; although unlike the Church of Rome, she fears to tyrannise over men's consciences by erecting what are after all but human conclusions, into articles of saving faith, and to preserve a seeming unity, at the expence of ejecting from the fellowship of Christ's Universal Church, all who do not think alike with her on points of faith, or discipline. The evils of dissent she laments, the principle of it she indignantly disclaims, "If a Church is answerable for all that break off from her, then,” says Mr. Leslie, "has the Church of Rome all these sects to reckon for, and us too, which is one more." Case Stated, &c. v. p. 470.Mutual recriminations, then, as to the abuses of either system of Church government, serve only to exasperate, and determine nothing.— The question of the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome is to be tried by divine right, and on this ground we proceed to examine it.
The divine institution of the Supremacy of the reputed Successors of St. Peter in the See of Rome, as declared in Scripture ;-examined.
In a question on which so much has been already said, and so well said, that little more remains to be added, I know not how I can better serve the interests of truth, or give a more correct view of the matters in contro versy, than, 1st, by stating what it is incumbent on the Romanists to prove from Scripture in support of their pretensions; and 2ndly, by contrasting with it the kind of proof, by which they persuade themselves that they have satisfied the reasonable demands of their opponents.
What it is incumbent on the Romanists to prove from Scripture in support of the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome by divine right, is stated by Dr. Barrow in the following propositions; each of which I shall accompany with a few explanatory observations.
The first supposition of those who claim universal jurisdiction for the Pope over the Church,