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pronounce any determination contrary to the written word, or at variance with Apostolic Tradition, (since that would be inconsistent with its infallibility,) it has the power of declaring what is the genuine sense of Scripture, and of distinguishing between such Tradition as are Apostolic, and such as are not.
Here, then, arises a new question respecting the infallibility of the Church, in itself entirely distinct from the former, (respecting the Supremacy of the Pope,) but in the Romanists' mode of conducting the argument, mixed up with it, and used in support of the Papal claims. For, when foiled in their attempt to establish, either by Scripture, or Tradition, the necessity of communion with the supposed successor of St. Peter, they adduce, in proof of that necessity, the infallible decisions of the Catholic Church; by which they uniformly mean the Church in commuion with the See of Rome-thus constituting the Bishop of Rome and his Church, infallible judges of the Bishop of Rome's pretensions.
In order to extricate ourselves from the involved and perplexed syllogisms, in which the real merits of the question have been entangled, it may be useful simply to state;—that, before the claims of the Romanists can be admitted, it is incumbent on them to prove, and to prove each position on distinct grounds, and not the one by the other,-1st, that the Church in communion with the See of Rome is the only true Church of Christ; and 2dly, that the
true Church of Christ is infallible. It is presumed, that they have been shewn to fail in the proof of the former of these propositions, as far as that proof depends on the Supremacy of the Pope, by divine right; and, therefore, unless new arguments be brought forward, were they even to succeed in the proof of the latter, namely, in establishing the infallibility of the Universal Church, they would not be the more advanced in the support of their exclusive claims. As the case now stands, even admitting the promise of infallibility, the Church in communion with the See of Rome will not be the infallible Church of Christ, but only a part of it; and, therefore, like other Churches, subject to error.
But it will be seen, that in addition to the arguments drawn from the supposed necessity, or expediency, of a Church monarchy, and from the declarations of Scripture and the testimony of the Fathers, in order to prove, that the Bishop of Rome is the universal monarch of the Church, Dr. Milner, in the second part of his work, lays down certain marks of the true Church of Christ, of which he supposes the Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome to be in exclusive possession. The “End of this Controversy," therefore, seems to be, after having disproved the title of the Church of Rome to the exclusive possession of these marks of the true Church of Christ, to disprove the title of the Church of Christ itself to infallibility. What cannot be asserted
of the whole body, can, with no shew of reason, be asserted of the Romish member of it. The consideration, therefore, of these two questions;-1. Whether the genuine marks of the Church of Christ belong exclusively to the Church of Rome? and 2. Whether the Church of Christ is itself infallible ?-will form the subject of enquiry, in the two following sections of this chapter. Before entering, however, into the discussion of them, it may be useful, by a few preliminary remarks, to put the reader on his guard against the mode of stating the question, resorted to by Dr. Milner, and other Romish writers.
Dr. Milner's statement is as follows:-" Besides their rule of faith, which is Scripture and Tradition, (Roman) Catholics acknowledge an unerring judge of controversy, or sure guide in all matters relating to salvation; namely, the Church." End of Contr. p. 42.
Here, then, we have proposed in distinct, terms, 1. the Romish rule of faith, and 2. an unerring interpreter of it,--the Church. And, these propositions he gives us to understand, he is about to prove. But, no sooner has he laid down this statement, than he chooses to substitute a very different one in its place. "We Catholics hold........that the Bible and Tradition taken together, constitute the rule of faith, or method appointed by Christ for finding out the true religion; and that, besides the rule itself, he has provided in his holy Church, a licing and a speaking judge, to watch over it and
explain it, in all matters of controversy." Ib. p. 56.
Now, "a living and speaking judge, to watch over the rule of faith," is one thing; "an unerring judge" of controversy, is quite another. That, besides the rule of faith, God has appointed "living and speaking" pastors to watch over and explain it, the Church of England has herself determined. "The Church hath authority in controversies of faith." And yet this is the proposition, which Dr. Milner chooses to represent in his amended statement, as the only point at issue; and that which he affects to prove against the Church of of England; although neither that Church, nor any other Church, ever denied it. The only questions between us on this point, are;-not whether the Church be a guide and a judge;but whether she be an unerring guide, and an infallible judge; and, whether the Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome, be the sole guide, and the sole judge; in other words, mistress of her own faith.
This indistinctness of views, and confusedness of statement, it will be perceived, is very favourable to the Romish claims, in the judgment of the ordinary reader. The revolting pretension of the infallibility of a particular Church, deciding in its own cause, is completely kept out of his sight; and in its place, he is presented with a proposition, respecting the Church's authority in general, reasonable in itself, warranted by Scripture, and set forth in
his own articles; and he is then told, that on the proof of it, the truth of the Romish pretensions depends.
But, the confusedness of his mode of stating the question, ends not here. Hitherto, we have had the properties of the Rule, and the qualifications of the Judge, kept distinct. Now, for the convenience of his hypothesis, we are to see them confounded. "That this is the true Rule," (namely, "the Bible and Tradition taken together") "I trust I shall be able to prove, by
means of the two maxims........I have made use of." The maxims are these." The Rule of Faith appointed by Christ, must be certain and unerring; that is to say, it must be one which is not liable to lead any rational and sincere enquirer into inconsistency and error. Secondly, this Rule must be universal; that is to say, it must be proportioned to the abilities and circumstances of the great bulk of mankind." End of Controv. p. 56.
At first, it was the judge of controversy who was infallible ;-now, it is the Rule of Faith which is certain and unerring; whilst the infallibility of the judge is kept in the background, with the monstrous pretension, that the Church of Rome is herself that judge. The unerring certainty of the Rule of Faith, and its sufficiency, or completeness, which he is pleased to call, its universality, are points, which no sound Protestant ever called in
question. And from these admitted properties of the divine Rule, namely, that it is un