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The pretence to universal jurisdiction seems not even to have been put forward, until the beginning of the seventh century. It has never been in any shape recognised by the Eastern Church; it was not defined in the Western, until the Council of Lateran in 1215. It was even long after this supposed by many to be of mere ecclesiastical origin; and the supremacy by divine right, became, for the first time, if I mistake not an article of faith, in the Creed of Pope Pius IV., published after the sitting of th Council of Trent.

To these, and other facts of the same bearing, the Romanists have but to oppose, as we shall see, certain passages of the Fathers, which, in general terms, attribute a primacy of order to St. Peter, in the Apostolic College, and assert the dignity and excellency of the Church, over which his supposed successors presided. In some instances, indeed, we find the oppressed, or the refractory, seeking for the protection; in others, weaker Churches courting the alliance, or asking the counsel, of the powerful See of Rome; and, whilst she preserved purity of doctrine, and exercised her influence beneficially in the christian commonwealth, she was naturally looked up to, as a common mother and protectress of other Churches, Her Bishops were venerated with a regard, to which many of them were fully entitled.

These advantages of circumstance and situation were, however, soon employed by ambitious Pontiffs, to their own aggrandisement. Silent

encroachment succeeded encroachment, until long prescription grew into a claim of right. Mutual jealousies and divisions prevented that combined resistance, which could alone prove effectual against an adversary more powerful than each single opponent; and ecclesiastical Rome, profiting by these dissensions, gradually advanced to Universal Empire, by the same arts of dominion, and progressive scheme of usurpation which had laid the world at the feet of the imperial city. The story has been often told, and never refuted. It is admitted, that the learning, and the power, and the consciences, of the greater part of Christendom were for a long time, at the absolute disposal of the Church of Rome. The fact is one of the most remarkable in modern history. Granted; but it is explicable by human causes. The Fathers, when summoned as witnesses, were made to speak the language, which was put into their mouths by the interested party. The examination consisted of leading questions. The reformation, (it matters not to the present purpose, in what motives it originated, or on what principles it was conducted) and the introduction of a new learning, dissipated the delusion. The accused became the accusers. The Fathers were cross-examined, and confronted, and their testimony consistently explained: the Scriptures were constituted the sole Rule of Faith; and the claims of the Roman See are for ever discarded, at least, in free and enlightened Britain. The excesses of the first Reformers,


and the extravagance of some of their principles; they were but men ;-created a prejudice against their doctrine even in the minds of those, who should have known better how to distinguish between the old and the new abuses; and preserved to the Romish Church that remnant of credit and influence, which she still retains. The very arrogance of her exclusive pretensions, and her assumed power of denouncing eternal damnation on all who separate from her communion, have clothed her, in the eyes of the timid and the credulous, with a mysterious and supernatural authority. She affects not to tread on earth. Her Sacrament is a miracle. A God is corporally preHer priests are supposed to be placed far above the indulgence of common passions. They have access to the inmost recesses of the bosom. Without their absolution there is no forgiveness of sin, and their excommunications are sealed in heaven. They have commerce with the unknown world of spirits, and can release souls from the chambers of a Purgatory. Her supreme Bishop is a being far removed out of the sight of the greater part of his communion; gifted, according to some, with infallibility, and adorned with titles scarcely human; and she has hosts of emissaries, clothed in a different garb, and assuming different manners from the rest of mankind, who, because they mix not in the common business of life, are supposed to be endued with superior sanctity. What is more;

within the pale of this Church, there is, by her own assertion, a frequent display of miraculous gifts and prodigies. Who can deny the power of God to interpose, and who is willing to deny it, when it makes for his own cause? Tutelary saints and angels, as mediators and objects of devotional veneration, are about the paths of her members, ready to hear their prayers, and to carry them to the footstool of the Most High. Who disbelieves in the power and presence of invisible agents? Her very services are performed in a language unintelligible to the majority of the worshippers; and the mechanical repetition of certain of her prayers partakes, in the eyes of the vulgar, of the nature of a charm; whilst the whole discipline of the Church moves by secret springs, which are wonderful, because they are hidden.

Such circumstances, so combined, and strengthened by long prejudice, must work powerfully on the imagination. In this consists the spell which binds the reason and the consciences of the far greater part of the members of his communion. The obligation of obedience arises from a feeling of dread, and amounts to this;-that it is safer not to brave the terrors of a Church, so awful in her denunciations, and so mysterious in her procedures.To the more enlightened, she sometimes descends from these clouds of darkness, and when questioned as to the grounds of her faith, and the warrant for her pretensions, attempts to lower both to the standard of improved reason.


creed is then represented as in substance the same as our own, and our pretensions are described as not less arrogant than hers:-she affects to believe and to do neither more nor less than the Church of England; although she scruples not to anathematize us as heretics, and to deny our title to a participation of Christ's Redemption.

It is, however, to be kept in mind, that the main question at issue, is not to be determined by the accuracy of these and similar observations. Were we unable to trace the human origin of the Papal power, and should we be found incorrect, in specifying the times and places in which it was not acknowledged, the Romish pretensions would not be the better established. We reasonably require, that their claims to our obedience should be substantiated by positive proof, before we can admit them. It is their part to produce their witnesses :—it is ours, to judge of the sufficiency of the testimony.

I am no believer in priestcraft, as it is often imputed to whole bodies of men; but I think that some strong delusion, similar to that which I have described as operating on the imagination of the credulous, must have seized on a mind like Dr. Milner's, when he adduced proof like the following, from the Fathers, as sufficient to establish the claims of the Roman Bishop, to an universal jurisdiction. It is at least the office of charity to make this supposition.

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