Imagens da página

If the gentleman admit Luke to be a faithful historian, he must not only place the Hebrew church first, but the Samaritan, Phenician, Syrian and Hellenist churches as older than the church in Rome. I say if we speak of churches, as respects antiquity, the Hebrew, Samaritan, Syrian and Phenician churches must be regarded as prior to her. The Acts of the Apostles close with Paul's first appearance in Rome. ! But that the Roman Catholic institution may stand before you in bold relief as a sectarian establishment, I will give you a definition of her pretensions, from an authentic source, one of her own standards. The Douay catechism, in answer to the question—" What are the essential parts of the church ?” teaches “ A pope, or supreme head, bishops, pastors and laity." p. 20.

These, then, are the four constituent and essential elements of the Roman Catholic church. The first is the pope, or head. It will be confessed by all, that, of these, the most essential is the head. But should we take away any one of these, she loses her identity, and ceases to be what she assumes. My first effort then shall be to prove that, for hundreds of years after Christ, she was without such a head; the most indispensable of these elements; and consequently, this being essential to her existence, she was not from the beginning. Because no body can exist before its head. Now, if we can find a time when there was no pope, or supreme head, we find a time when there was no Roman Catholic party.

By referring to the scriptures, and to the early ecclesiastical records, we can easily settle this point. Let us begin with the New Testament, which all agree, is the only authenticated standard of faith and manners—the only inspired record of the christian doctrine, This is a cardinal point, and I am thankful that in this we all agree. What is not found there, wants the evident sanction of inspiration, and can never command the respect and homage of those who seek for divine authority in faith and morality.

I affirm then, that not one of the offices, I have enumerated, as belonging to the Roman Catholic church, were known in the days of the apostles, or are found in the New Testament. On the contrary, the very notion of a vicar of Christ, of a prince of the apostles, or of a universal head, and government in the Christian church is repugnant to the genius and spirit of the religion. We shall read a few passages of scripture, from the Roman version, to prove that the very idea of an earthly head is unscriptural and anti-scriptural. The version from which I am about to quote was printed in New Yk and is certified to correspond exactly, with the Rhemish origin by a number of gentlemen, of the first standing in society. If it anfers from any other and more authentic copy, I will not rely upon it. I am willing to take whatever bible the gentleman may propose. I read from the twentieth of Matthew: 6 Jesus said to his disciples, You know that the princes of the Gentiles overrule them, and those that are the greater exercise power against them. It shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister !" Does this convey the idea of a prince among the apostles, a vicar of Christ, a lord over the people of God? Does it not rather say there shall not be any lordship amongst you! This command is express, that there shall not be a pope, a supreme lord of the christian church. Again, Matt. 23. 8.“ Be not you called Rabbi, for one is your Master


and all ye are brethren: and call none father (i. e. pope) for one is your father, be that is in heaven. Neither be you called masters, for one is your master, Christ. He that is the greater of you shall be your servitor!" If the very question about a pope had been before the Messiah at this time, he could not have spoken more clearly. This expression indicates the most perfect equality of rank among the apostles and disciples of Christ, and positively forbids, in a religious sense, the assumption of the title of father or pope. The commandment which says “thou shalt not steal," is not more clearly laid down than the command " call no man father.”

Now will the gentleman deny that “pope" (in Greek “pappas," in Latin, “papa”) means “father?” and that the case clearly comes within the command. Jesus Christ says, “ call no man pope;" yet they ordain a bishop and call him pope; and this pope claims the title of 6 universal father”-supreme head and governor of the church of Christ. He is sometimes called Lord God the pope.

This testimony of Christ will outweigh volumes. Put all the folios and authorities, which the gentleman may bring, on one side, and this text of Jesus Christ on the other, and the former, in comparison, will be found light as the chaff which is blown away by a breath.

Can any one, then, who fears God and believes in the Messiah, call the pope, or any human being s father” in the sense here intended. The Lord anticipated the future in all his precepts, and spoke with an eye to it as well as to the men of his own time. He had the pride and assumptions, of the Rabbis of Jerusalem, in his eye, who coveted renown, who loved such greetings in the market place, and received such compellations in the synagogues. Describing these men to his disciples, he cautions them against their example, and teaches them to regard each other as brethren. I hope the gentleman will pay particular attention to this point in his reply to these remarks.

The third testimony on which we rely will be found in Ephesians iv. 11. This passage sums up all the officers or gifts which Jesus gave the church after his ascension into heaven. “ And” says Paul The gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and doctors ” or teachers. In this enumeration, which contains the whole, there is no pope. The highest or first rank is given to apostles.

In every other enumeration found in the epistles, there is the same clear reference to the apostles as the first class. i Cor. xii. 28. But let Peter himself speak as to his rank. We see that in his own 1st Epistle, ch he calls himself an apostle, not the apostle of Jesus, not the pri of apostles, not the supreme head of the church. Peter had no of such headship and lordship.

Again in addressing the “ seniors" or elders, chap. v. 1. he says, "I myself am a fellow senior." . They were all co-elders, co-bishops, co-apostles, as respected each other; and as respected all other officers the apostles were first. The thought of a supreme head amongst them is not found in the New Testament; only as reprobated by our Savior.

I will not, at present, advance any more scriptural authority upon the point, but shall proceed to examine what foundation this element of the Roman church, has in ancient history. But I would here say distinctly, once for all, that I will not open a single document to prove any doctrine, tenet, or principle of Protestantism, other than this holy record of the prophets, and apostles, the holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. On these I rely, and I affirm that these contain no authority for the assumption of the doctrine of a universal father, pope, or head of the church. There was no such person mentioned-no such idea cherished until hundreds of years after the death of the apostles.

I will read the following general remarks by this learned historian. The title page is as follows:

A New History of Ecclesiastical Writers, containing an account of the authors of the several books of the Old and New Testaments; of the lives and writings of the primitive Fathers : an abridgment and catalogue of their works; their various editions, and censures, determining the genuine and spurious. Together with a judgment upon style and doctrine. Also a compendious history of the Councils; with Chronological Tables of the whole, written in French by Lewis Ellies Du Pin, doctor of the Sorbonne, and Regius Professor at Paris 3 vols. Folio. The Third Edition corrected, Dublin, printed by and for George Grierson, at the Two Bibles in Essex Street, MDCCXXIV.

I am happy to find, appended to the preface, the seals and signatures of men high in the church, which I cannot now stop to read.

From this work I will proceed to read some passages in proof of the proposition I have advanced, that there is not a vestige of evidence in favor of the cardinal idea, of the Roman Catholic religion, that there was a pope in the first ages of the church. At the close of the third century the highest advance yet made towards any supremacy in the church on the ground of metropolitan standing, is thus described by Du Pin.

“The bishops of great cities had their prerogatives in ordinations, and in councils; and as in civil affairs men generally had recourse to the civil metropolis, so likewise in ecclesiastical matters, they consulted with the bishop of the metropolitan city. The churches of the three principal cities of the world were looked upon as chief, and their bishops attributed great prerogatives to themselves. The church of Rome, founded by St. Peter and St. Paul, was considered as first, and its bishop as first amongst all the bishops of the world ; yet they did not believe himb e infallible: and though they frequently consulted him, and his advice was of great consequence, yet they did not receive it blind-fold and implicitly, every bishop imagining himself to have a right to judge in ecclesiastical matters.” p. 590.

Observe the bishops of the principal cities attributed to themselves great prerogatives. And Rome, the chief city, began to assume the chief prerogatives. But the general character of the detailed by this writer was not yet favorable to such assur tions--for, says he,

« The clergy were not distinguished from others by any peor babits, but by the sanctity of their life and manners, they were removed from all kind of avarice, and carefully avoided every thing that seemed to carry the appearance of scandalous, filthy lucre. They administered the sacrament gratis, and believed it to be an abominable crime to give or receive any thing for a spiritual blessing. Tithes were not then appropriated to them, but the people maintained them vol. untarily at their own expense.”

“The clergy were prohibited to meddle with any civil and secular affairs. They were ordained against their will and did not remove from one church to another out of a principle of interest or ambition. They were extremely chaste and regular. It was lawful for priests to keep the wives they married before they were ordained.”

Nothing indeed like an ecclesiastical establishment was yet in existence: for says Du Pin, speaking of these times, .“ After all, it must be confessed, that the discipline of the church has been so

extremely different and so often altered, that it is almost impossible to say any thing positively concerning it." p. 590.

So stood the matter at the close of the third century.

But we have still more definite and positive testimony, in the great councils of the 4th and 5th centuries. *Let us then examine the early councils. The famous council of Nice which sat in 325, is the first general council that ever assembled; for although they call the consultations of the apostles-Acts 15., a council, yet in the enumeration of general councils, of which they establish eighteen, that of Nice is called the first.

At this council there were present 318 bishops. It was called by the Roman emperor in order to settle certain discords in what was then called the church. By the sixth canon of this first council it appears, according to Du Pin, that the idea of a pope, or supreme head, had not begun to be entertained. The sixth canon of the council of Nice is as follows.

“The 6th canon is famous for the several questions it has occasioned. The most natural sense that can be given to it, is this: We ordain that the ancient custom shall be observed, which gives power to the bishop of Alexandria, over all the provinces of Egypt, Libya, and Pantapolis, because the bishop of Rome has the like jurisdiction over all the suburbicary regions (for this addition must be supplied out of Rufinus;) we would likewise have the rights and privileges of the church of Antioch and the other churches preserved; but these rights ought not to prejudice those of the metropolitans. If any one is ordained without the consent of the metropolitan, the council declares, that he is no bishop: but if any one is canonically chosen by the suffrage of almost all the bishops of the province, and if there are but one or two of a contrary opinion, the suffrages of the far greater number ought to carry it for the ordination of those particular persons. This canon being thus explained has no difficulty in it. It does not oppose the primacy of the church of Rome, but neither does it establish it.'

« In this sense it is, that it compares the church of Rome to the church of Alexandria, by considering them all as patriarchal churches. It continues also to the church of Antioch and all the other great churches, whatsoever rights they could have; but lest their authority should be prejudicial to the ordinary metropolitans, who were subject to their jurisdiction, the council confirms what had been ordained in' the fourth canon concerning the authority of metropolitans in the ordination of bishops. This explication is easy and natural, and we have given many, proofs of it in our Latin dissertation concerning the ancient discipline of church.”

“This ca 1,” says Du Pin, who be it remembered was always anxious to find some authority for the pope's supremacy, “ DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE SUPREMACY OF THE CHURCH OF ROME." Willing as he was to have this primacy traced to the beginning of christianity, he is constrained to admit, that even the council of Nice does not establish it. My more—it is in truth against it; for it gives the Bishop of Alexand like jurisdiction with the church of Rome; and also preserves to the church of Antioch its metropolitan dominion. - .

It would be too tedious to go into an exposition of the causes, why so much power was accumulated in the hands of four or five bishops. It originated in the divisions of the empire. In Roman jurisdiction, there were four great political dioceses, (for diocese was then a political term) and to these the church conformed. Hence the patriarchal sees of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. In process of time, Jerusalem was added, and these all became radiating centres of ecclesiastical power and patronage. The bishop of each diocese assumed a sort of primacy, in his own district; and as various interferences and rivalries in jurisdiction occurred, the council of Nice so far decided that the same power should be given to them all that all


ROMAN CATHOLIC RELIGIOX. primates should be co-ordinate. Hence Du Pin-could not find in that council authority for the supreme primacy of Rome. In the canons of the second and third general councils there is no reference to these matters whatever.

I shall therefore proceed to the great council of Chalcedon, of preeminent authority, the greatest of the first four general councils.

From all the canons of the council relating to government, it is evis dent that they had not yet excogitated the idea of a supreme head. Says Du Pin,

• The 28th canon grants to the church of the city of Constantinople, which is called New Rome, the same privileges with old Rome, because this city is the second city in the world. It also adjudges to it, besides this, jurisdiction over the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, and over the churches which are out of the bounds of the emperor, and a right to ordain metropolitans in the provinces of these dioceses." p. 678.

Thus this council, composed of 340 bishops, and assembling in the year of our Lord 451, gave the same power to the patriarch of Constantinople as to the patriarch of Rome, and makes the supremacy of the one equal to the supremacy of the other.

I have examined the proceedings of all the councils of the first six centuries, of which I find about 170, promulgating in all about 1400 canons. I have read and examined the twenty creeds of the fourth century with all their emendations down to the close of the sixth ; and I affirm, without the fear of contradiction, that there is not in all these a single vestige of the existence of a pope or universal head of the church down to the time of Gregory the great, or John the Faster of Constantinople.

I shall now proceed to show from the same learned historian when this idea began to be divulged. And be it emphatically observed that the title of pope in its peculiar and exclusive sense was first assumed by the patriarch of Constantinople, and approved by the patriarch of Rome. “Du Pin says in his life of Gregory, chap. 1, "He did of. ten rigorously oppose the title of universal patriarch, which the patriarchs of Constantinople assumed to themselves.” Indeed he calls the title, “proud, blasphemous, anti-christian, diabolically and says, the bishops of Rome refused to take this title upon them " lest they should seem to encroach upon the rights of other bishops.” But the following document or remonstrance against the title shews what a novelty the idea of an universal head, father, or pope was even at Rome, A. D. 588:

“St. Gregory does not only oppose this title in the patriarch of Constantinople, but maintains also, that it cannot agree to any other bishop, and that the bishop of Rome neither ought, nor cun assume it. John the younger, patriarch of Constantinople, had taken upon him this title in a council held in 586, in the time of pope Pelagius, which obliged this pope to annul the Acts of this coun. cil. St. Gregory wrote of it also to this patriarch ; but this made no impression on him, and John would not abandon this fine title, B. 4. Ep. 36. St. Gregory addressed himself to the emperor Mauritius, and exhorted him earnestly to employ bis authority for redressing this abuse, and force him who assumed 'this title to quit it. He remonstrates to him in bis letter, that although Jesus Christ had committed to St. Peter the care of all his churches, yet he was not called universal apostle. That the title of universal bishop is against the rules of the gospel, and the appointment of the canons : that there cannot be an universal bishop but the authority of all the other will be destroyed or diminished ; that I the bishop of Constantinople were universal bishop, and it should happen that ne should fall into heresy, it might be said that the universal church was fallen into destruction. That the council of Chalcedon had offered this title to Leo,

B 2

« AnteriorContinuar »