Page images

grounds arc, certain general expressions of Scripture, which have no more to do with the supremacy of the Pope, than with that of the most inconsiderable Bishop; and which have been so differently interpreted by the Fathers, and by modern critics, that it is disgraceful to divines, who are acquainted merely with the first elements of religion, to found their dogmas upon passages, of which the mere variety of interpretation ought to have been sufficient, to make them feel the uncertainty and weakness of such a proof for their pretended article of faith."........" This alleged supremacy by divine right, is but founded," says he (referring to this very work of Barrow)" on suppositions, either manifestly false, or at least, quite uncertain."

Such being the positions which it is incumbent on the Romanists to make good, in support of the Papal Supremacy by divine right, I shall, in the following section, contrast with them the scriptural proof which is brought forward, and the mode of reasoning adopted, by Romish controversialists of some notoriety in the present day.


And first, I shall notice J. K. L. In his recent letters on the state of Ireland, that writer having proceeded in his usual rhapsodical manner, during the greater part of four pages, to urge the advocates of the Bible Society with a string of questions, the pertinency

of which it is very difficult to discover, condescends to allege passages from Scripture and from the Fathers, as decisive proof of the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome; forgetting, that the disputed meaning of those passages must be first established, before he can legitimately use them.

The following sentence with which he introduces his argument, is strikingly illustrative of the tone of insult, in which this writer, who is possessed, as I think I have already shewn, of very moderate literary qualifications, feels himself entitled to speak of his opponents.—I am not conscious of a peculiarly irritable temper; but I ask, can flesh and blood withstand the provocation of such intolerable and empty arrogance, as that in which he has indulged? Let the public honestly judge between us.

After having triumphed, as he supposes, over his opponents, by dint of his incoherent interrogatories, which all proceed on the assumption, that the Church of Rome is the sole Church of of Christ, he breaks forth into this tragical exclamation :

[ocr errors]

“Frightful and impious, Sir, is this system, which thus strikes against the corner-stone of Sion; which thus upbraids with impotence the Son of God, and discards the providence which built and rules his Church.-What! is there no regard to be paid to Christ, or his election, or appointments ?"-Letter 7th. p. 161. A more disgusting specimen of fustian declamation, can scarcely be selected from any

writer dead, or living.-For, when we come to enquire, what is this frightful impiety, this monstrous irreligion, which thus " strikes against the corner-stone of Sion; which upbraids with impotence the Son of God, and discards the providence that built and rules his Church;" it turns out from what follows, to be the indiscretion with which the Bible Society has ventured, in despite of J. K. L, to circulate the Scriptures; and the not discovering in those Scriptures, that Christ elected and appointed St. Peter to the headship of the universal Church! It is even less than this; it is the mere denial that the Pope of Rome has inherited the prerogatives of St. Peter, supposing them to be as great as J. K. L. represents them.

I am no admirer of the wisdom displayed by this Society, or of the direction which its zeal has taken; but I am confident, that the weakest and the most intemperate of all the attacks made upon it, is that of this writer, who, if he be the same person as Dr. Doyle, has elsewhere modestly said of himself; " that he is probably one of the most moderate divines in the empire.' Letter to T. Newenham Esq. But I leave the Bible Society to its own defence,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In a question depending on the proof of such uncertain propositions, as those which Dr. Barrow has enuntiated, “Dr. Doyle, in propria persona, has declared, that he is sure," he" is certain, that the Pope is the head of the universal Church."-Letter to Mr. Newenham.

I will take the liberty of shewing this controversialist the illogical pretence of such alleged certainty, from an author whom he looks up to as an oracle of wisdom, and above all, as a pattern of very fine writing. I will quote J. K. L.'s authority for Dr. Doyle's information. In charging with little less than impiety the Protestant's declaration, that he believes there is not any transubstantiation, &c; not his declaration, much less his oath, that there is not, as J. K. L. either ignorantly, or wilfully, misrepresents the test, he oracularly informs us, that "we should not only suppose, but know (and knowledge, according to Locke, implies certainty) that what we swear is conformable to the truth." Letter 9th. p. 268.

Now, if knowledge implies certainty, either intuitive, or demonstrative, it is easy to conceive without a reference to "Lord Eldon or the BISHOP of Canterbury," how a person "unacquainted with State secrets, or feeling a reverence for the awful name of God, or BEING attached to the simplicity of truth," may be intuitively certain of his belief, whether right or wrong, on the question of Transubstantiation; but it is not so easy to conceive, how Doctor Doyle can be either intuitively, or demonstratively, certain of the truth of an opinion respecting the Pope's headship, founded on proof that can, at best, be only probable. If, contrary to the definition of certainty, which he is at the pains to tell us, he has gained by his acquaintance

with Mr. Locke's writings, he say, that he means no more than moral certainty; why, it may be asked, is not the Protestant permitted to declare his belief, that there is no Transubstantiation, when Dr. Doyle finds no inconsistency in asserting, that he is "sure," that he is "certain," not of his own belief of a fact, but that he is certain of the truth of an opinion, namely, that the Pope is the head of the Universal Church? There is a blundering and an inconsequence in all that either Dr. Doyle, or J. K. L. has written, which might be pardoned, were it not for the grossness of his misrepresentations, and the childish vanity of his pretensions. Since it appears, that he has seen Mr. Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, I would recommend to his careful perusal, that chapter which treats of distinct and confused ideas.

But to come to the Scriptural proof of this doctrine, which, in the controversial language of J. K. L., it is "frightful and impious" to deny-nothing less than "an upbraiding with impotence the Son of God, and a discarding of his Providence, which built and rules his Church." Words full of sound and fury, of which I confess myself unable to discover the application. Let us strive to analyse his reasoning. "The Father of Mercies, not flesh and blood, had revealed to Peter, that his master was the Christ, the Son of the living God;

* Locke's Works are, if I mistake not, in the index expurgatorius.

« PreviousContinue »