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of latter days, and the secession of the Greek Church in former times ; Fourthly, because the bishops and pastors of this church are all descended from the apostles; the line of succession never having been broken in a single instance.
It is proper to remark here, that the Roman Catholics do not hold an opinion that the Pope himself is infallible, as many charge them; they only say that the Pope and the rest of the bishops in a general council, assembled to settle points of doctrine, or essential branches of church discipline, have always been preserved from error; and this they detend by the text, that “ the church is the pillar and ground of the truth ;” and that when it seemeth right to them and to the Holy Ghost-s0 to assemble, then Christ is so truly in the midst of them that they cannot, as a whole church, fall into error.
But they admit that the Pope, individually, as well as any other man, may fall into gross errors and very grievous sins; they admit very great latitude as to matters of mere opinion ; carefully distinguishing between articles of faith or belief, and minor subjects of opinion, or convenience.
They say that as theirs is the only true church, and as there can be no salvation out of the true church, so no one can be saved who obstinately withdraws from, or does not unite himself to their church ; but they make a distinction between wilful disobedience to the church's authority, and invincible ignorance of the right way.
As a body, however, they tolerate no religion at variance with their own,-nor admit the possibility of the salvation of obstinate and wilful heretics ; because the holy Roman Catholic Church being the only true church, it is the duty and the interest of all men to become obedient to her laws and teachings.
Hence, it is manifest, that the Roman Catholics reject the Protestant doctrine of “the right of private judgment in matters of religion,” teaching that all spiritual knowledge and all ecclesiastical authority, emanate to the faithful, first from Christ, and secondly, from ihe church, whose head and members may, as individuals, err, but as a whole, cannot.
The Pope of Rome, though they do not admit his infallibility, is acknowledged as first or supreme in the church, as well in matters of faith as in those of discipline ; but we shall have more to say concerning the Pope, when we come to treat of Ceremonies and Rites.
The Religion of the Roman Catholics ought always, in strictness to be considered apart from its professors, whether kings, popes, or inferior bishops; and its tenets, and its forms, should be treated of separately. To the acknowledged creeds, catechisms, and other formularies of the Catholic Church, we should resort for a faithful description of what Roman Catholics do really hold as doctrines essential to salvation ; and as such, held by the faithful in all times, places, and countries. Though the Catholic forms, in some points, may vary in number and splendour, the Catholic doctrines cannot ;-though opinions may differ, and change with circumstances, articles of faith remain the same. Without a due and constant consideration of these facts, no Protestant can come to a right understanding respecting the essential faith and worship of the Roman Catholics. It has been owing to a want of this discrimination that so many absurd, and so many even wicked tenets have been palmed upon our brethren of the Catholic Church ; that which they deny, we have insisted they religiously hold ;that which the best informed amongst them utterly abhor, we have held up to the detestation of mankind, as the guide of their faith and the rule of their actions. This is not fair :--it is not doing to others as we would have others do unto us : a different spirit and conduct shall be observed in this sketch, written for instruction ; and not to serve party objects and party ends.
The various misrepresentations of the Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, which had gone forth into the world about the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, at length in. duced the Church of Rome to call a general council, which assembled at the city of Trent ; at this celebrated council, the doctrines of the Reformation, at least those that were deemed new doctrines or opinions, and such as were at variance with the church's supreme authority in all matters relating to faith and practice, were denied and rejected, whilst all the doctrines peculiar to the ancient church were solemnly confirmed.
It is not needful to go into a history of this great council. Dr. Jurieu, and Father Paul, have both given very minute details of the proceedings that then took place : the decrees of this council, with the creed of Pope Pius IV. may very well be said to contain every thing necessary to be known in order to form a correct judgment of the doctrines of the Roman Catho, lics of the present and all former times.
The council of Trent defines the church to be one, visible, holy, catholic, and apostolic community, established by Almighty God, on a solid basis, who has bestowed upon it the power of opening the gates of heaven to all true believers, and shutting them to all heretics and infidels. It likewise has the power of pardoning sin, and excommunicating all such as are disobedient.
This church is both triumphant and militant: the former is the illustrious society of those blessed spirits and saints, who, having triumphed over the world, the flesh, and the devil, enjoy everlasting happiness, peace, and security : the latter is the congregation of all true believers upon earth, who are constantly obliged, during their whole lives, to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Jesus Christ is the immediate governor of that part of the church which is triumphant in the heavens ; but, as the church militant required a visible head or director, Jesus Christ has substituted one in his stead, who is accounted by all true Catholics, as the chief, if not the supreme, head and director on
earth of the faith of all Christians througbout the world :-this great personage is the Pope already briefly spoken of.
The word POPE is derived from the Latin word papa, which signifies father. It was at first applied to all bishops ; but in process of time, it was applied to the Bishops of Rome only. It is from this word papa that the Roman Catholics came to be called papists, and their doctrines popery; but these are terms they disclaim. The Bishop of Rome is not only the prime or chief head of the church, but also an ecumenical, or universal bishop.
The Pope is likewise styled his Holiness-God's Vicegerent-The Vicar of Christ Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. He styles himself “ A Servant of the Servants of God." But of the Pope more hereafter ; at present, let us proceed to a more detailed summary of the doctrines of the Catholic Church.
In performing this portion of my labour, I shall take the creed of Pope Pius IV. with the best expositions I can collect of each of the Articles as we pass along :
ARTICLE I. I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. The one true and living God in Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Exposition.-This article principally consists in believing that God is the maker of all things, that it is our duty to adhere to him with all the powers and faculties of the mind, through faith, hope, and charity, as being the sole object that makes us happy by the communication of that summum bonum, or chief good, which is himself. The internal adortion, which we render unto God, in spirit and in truth, is attended with exterpal signs, as a solemn acknowledgment of God's sovereignty over us, and of our absolute dependance upon him.
The idea of God which nature has engraven on the minds of men, represents him as a being independent, omnipotent, allperfect; the author of all good and all evils ; that is, of all the punishments inflicted on account of sin or transgression.
ARTICLE II. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God ; begotten of the Father before all worlds ; light of light; very God of very God; begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father by whoin all things were made.
Exposition.-1 do profess to be fully assured of this most certain and necessary truth, that Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Messiah, is the true, proper, and natural Son of God, begotten of the substance of the Father, which being incapable of multiplication or division, is so really and absolutely communicated to him, that he is of the same essence, God of God, light of light, very God of very God. I acknowledge none but him to
be begotten of God by that poper and natural generation, and thereby excluding all wbich are not begotten, as it is a generation; all which are said to be begotten, and which are called sons, are so only by adoption.
ARTICLE III. Who for us men, and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
Exposition. That in this person, the divine and human natures were so united, that they were not confounded; but that two whole and perfect natures, the God-head and manhood, were joined together in one person ; that of him many things are said that are proper to one person only.
ARTICLE IV. And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate : he suffered and was buried.
Exposition.—That this person did truly suffer in his human nature, the divine being not capable of suffering.
ARTICLE v. And the third day rose again, according to the scriptures.
Exposition.-Christ did truly rise again from death with that very body which was crucified and buried. I also knew him in the flesh, says Ignatius, and believe in him.
ARTICLE VI. He ascended into heaven; sits at the right hand of the
Exposition. This article teaches us, that he ascended in like manner into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us.
ARTICLE VII. And is to come again with glory, to judge both the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end.
Exposition.-Our Lord's remaining in heaven till the day of judgment, appears from Acts iii. 20, 21 ; and chap. x. ver. 42.
ARTICLE VIII. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, whe proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who spake by the prophet.
Exposition.—This article teaches, 1. that the Holy Ghost proceeds both from the Father and the Son; 2. that he is of one substance, majesty and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God; inasmuch, as such operations are ascribed to the Holy Ghost as cannot be ascribed to a person distinct from the Father and the Son, and therefore must be a person distinct from them both ; and, inasmuch, as such thing
are ascribed to him as cannot be ascribed to any but God, and for this reason they are co-equal and consubstantial.
Exposition. From these words we gather, 1. that Jesus Christ has always a true church upon earth ; 2. that this church is always one by the union of all her members in one faith and communion ; 3. that she is always pure and holy in her doctrine and terms of communion, and consequently always free from pernicious errors ; 4. that she is catholic, that is universal, by being the church of all ages, and more or less of all nations ; 5. that this church must have in her a succession from the Apostles, and a lawful mission derived from them ; 6. that this true church of Christ cannot be any of the Protestant sects, but must be the ancient church communicating with the Pope or Bishop of Rome ; that this church is infallible in all matters relating to faith, so that she can neither add to, nor subtract from what Christ taught.
Accordingly we find that the Catholic Christian asserts, that God has been pleased, in every age, to work most evident mir. acles in the church by the ministry of his saints, in raising the dead to life, in curing the blind and lame, in casting out devils, in healing inveterate diseases in a minute, attested by the most authentic monuments, which will be a standing evidence to all nations, that the church of Rome is the true spouse of Christ.
Exposition. --Baptism is a sacrament instituted by our Saxjour to wash away original sin, and all those we may have committed ; to communicate to mankind the spiritual regeneration and the grace of Christ Jesus ; and to unite them to him as the Jiving members to the head.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem says the catechumens, after they were unclothed, were anointed from the feet to the head with exorcised oil ; after this they were conducted to the laver, and were asked if they believed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Having made a profession, they were plunged three times in the water.
Exposition.-I am fully persuaded of this, as a most evident and infallible truth, that, as it is appointed for all men once to die, so it is also determined, that all men shall rise from death ; that the souls, separated from our bodies, are in the hands of God, and live ; that the bodies dissolved in dust, or scattered in ashes, shall be re-collected and re-united to their souls ; that the same flesh which lived before shall be revived, and the