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sir: I don't know which to join. I read that there is but one true church." What does the bishop respond ?" Sir, you ought to join our church." The Jew asks, "Your reason, sir? for the Protestant also says, I ought to join his church." The bishop shows him fifteen marks of the true church. He says, "Read the Bible, and see if these marks are not characteristic of us; and then judge for yourself." He finds these marks involve the principal part of the New Testament. He reads, however, and joins the church. Has he not decided this question by examining the holy scriptures? Has he not interpreted for himself? Is not the bishop so far a true Protestant? or, has he only become Protestant for the purpose of introducing this proselyte? There is no getting out of this difficulty. I trust my good friend will not pass it with a laugh, and a bold assertion, as usual. Has he not in this renounced his own principles, and turned Protestant, for the sake of gaining the Jew?
But, when the Jew has entered the church, and the bishop has told him he must now believe as the church believes, for he cannot understand the Bible: "What!" responds the Jew; "sir, have I not decided the greatest question to me in the universe? I believed in Jesus, and I have found the true church by exercising my own judgment on the scriptures; andean I not now judge of minor questions?" May I not again say, that the two systems are perfectly equal? The eternal circle of vicious logic—you must believe the scriptures on the authority of the church, then the church on the authority of the scriptures: or, you must act as did the aforesaid Jew, on the advice of the bishop. There is not a middle course. My learned antagonist cannot show you a middle way. But I have not yet done with this great theme. I wish to display in other attitudes, these two "rules of faith."
And, first, I shall sketch the Protestant rule. Its attributes are seven. 1. It is inspired. 2. It is authoritative. 3. It is intelligible. 4. It is moral. 5. It is perpetual. 6. It is catholic. 7. It is perfect. We will now prove this.
1. It is inspired: for, "Holy men of God," says Peter, "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
2. Authoritative. "The word that / speak to you, shall judge you in the last day," says the Lord from heaven.
3. Intelligible. To the Ephesian converts he saith, "When you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ."
4. Moral. "The word of the Lord is pure, rejoicing the heart."
5. Perpetual. "The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and this is the word which has been announced to you as glad tidings."
6. Catholic. "He that is of God, heareth God's word." "Preach the word." "Preach the gospel to every creature."
7. Perfect. "From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise to salvation." "All scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, thoroughly furnished to every good work."
All christendom assents to this. My opponent admits the bible to be inspired. His rule makes his church a sect; for only a part believe in his traditions. All christians admit our rule of the bible.
It is perfect. Such is the Protestant rule. Now for the Romanist rule! The bible being a part of the Roman Catholic rule, is such only as explained by the apocrypha, the traditions of the fathers, the decrees and canons of councils, or in the hands of bishops; so completely humanized, as to lose all its peculiar attributes, and is made to partake of all the characters of the mediums, through which it is given to that people; and, therefore, of the whole Roman Catholic rule, the attributes are just the opposite of those seven of the Protestant's.
1. It is uninspired: consequently, being human, it can have no authority over the conscience; and this makes it
2. Unauthoritative. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and no man can make a law to govern it. Hence a christian never can be subordinate to any institution in religion, that wants the sanction of divine authority.
3. Unintelligible. No man can ever find time to examine all the creed of Roman Catholics. It is constantly accumulating; and if any one had time to read it all, he never could understand it.
4. Immoral. This is that attribute which I wish specially to consider. The other properties are all consequences of those already noticed. But this demands a candid and faithful examination. It gives me no pleasure to dwell upon this theme, to expatiate on the immoral character of the papistic rule of faith. 'Tis here, indeed, we find the root of the manifold corruptions of that institution; and as I came here not to flatter, but to oppose error and defend truth, it is my duty conscientiously and benevolently to expose the immoral tendencies of this system.
We have heard the gentleman say, he was glad of an opportunity to discuss Catholicism, to make Protestants understand better its peculiar doctrines. I wish, myself, to hear his expositions, to see if he can make it more acceptable. Therefore, I shall endeavor to tell my story, candidly and faithfully, and give him the opportunity he desires. This is my first effort against Romanism. It was not of my selection or seeking, that I now appear before you: but as I am providentially, as I regard it, on this arena, I shall reveal to you some of the secrets of that institution, which seeks to be rooted in this Protestant soil. I shall attempt this in the best spirit: for I wish to see my opponent honorably wipe from his escutcheon any stain of the kind, that I may allege. On these points, I shall be happy to be assured that his system is better than we Protestants can now regard it. I say, then, the Roman Catholic rule of faith is immoral. This, my friends, is a serious and weighty charge, and deserves to be clearly and fully sustained. Before displaying my proof, I will only premise, that auricular confession, penance, the mass, absolution, and other parts of the system will pass before us in this allegation, sustaining which, will anticipate some of our labors on the other propositions.
I shall first read from the Catechism of the council of Trent on the power of the priesthood to forgive sin, according to their rule of faith. Auricular confession, is by this infallible council declared "necessary for the remission of sins."
"The voice of the priest," says the council of Trent, who is legitimately constituted a minister for the remission of sins, is to be heard as that of Christ himself, who said to the lame man, " Hon, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." Cat. Council of Trent, p. 180.
Penance by the same council is thus defined:
Form Of Penance.—" Penance is the channel through which the blood of Christ flows into the soul, and washes away the stains contracted after baptism." Id. ib. "The form of the absolution or pardon, granted by the priest, is this;
"I ABSOLVE THEE." Id. p. 181.
The priest says positively, "I absolve thee." Unlike the authority of him, who anciently declared the leper clean, he claims really and truly to absolve. The council declares:
"Unlike the authority given to the priests of the old law, to declare the leper cleansed from his leprosy, the power with which the priests of the new law are invested, is not simply to declare that sins are forgiven, but as the ministers of God really to absolve from sin" Id. p. 182.
The priests, then, as the ministers of God, really absolve from sin. And more insolent still, the priest is said not only to represent Christ; but to discharge the functions of Jesus Christ:
"The rites used in the administration of this sacrament, also demand the serious attention of the faithful. Humbled in spirit the sincere penitent casts himself down at the feet of the priest, to testify, by this his humble demeanor, that he acknowledges the necessity of eradicating pride, the root of all those enormities which he now deplores. In the minister of God, who sits in the tribunal ofpenance as his legitimate judge, he venerates the power and person of our Lord Jesus Christ; for in the administration of this, as in that of the other sacraments, the priest represents the character, and discharges the functions of Jesus Christ." Coun. Trent, p. 182.
Again Roman Catholics teach that penance remits all sin:
u There is no sin, however grievous, no crime, however erroneous, or however frequently repeated, which penance does not remit." Id. p. 183.
This is the proper ground on which to claim the most servile obedience to the priests:
"If therefore, we read in the pages of inspiration, of some who earnestly implored the mercy of God, but implored it in vain, it is because they did not repent sincerely, and from their hearts. When we also meet in the sacred scriptures, and in the writings of the fathers, passages which seem to say that some sins are irremissible, we are to understand such passages to mean, that it is very difficult to obtain the pardon of them. A disease may be said to be incurable, when the patient loathes the medicine that would accomplish his cure; and, in some sense, some sins may be said to be irremissible, when the sinner rejects the grace of God, the proper medicine of salvation." Id. ib. "The penitent must submit himself to the judgment of the priest who is the vicegerent of God." Ib. p. 183.
Therefore, all must confess once a year.
"According to the canon of the council of Lateran, which begins: Omnes, utriusque sexus, it commands all the faithful to confess their sins at least once a year." Id. p. 193.
But this immoral law presumes farther yet. It changes the laws ot God, and divides sins into venial and mortal, and fixes the price. As every thing depends upon the authority of these allegata I have hitherto quoted from the catechism of the council of Trent,* I now introduce one of the most popular of the saints of the modern church. This saint Ligori was sainted by saint Pius VII. that best of modern popes, who restored the order of the Jesuits, and the "Holy Inquisition." Saint Ligori writes the moral theology of the church of Rome in some eight or nine volumes: and so orthodox, that his works are owned almost by every priest. I quote from a synopsis of that system of which we shall hereafter speak more particularly. We shall hereafter hear the saint in his definitions of sins.
"This is a mortal sin," says Ligori, " which, on account of its enormity, destroys the grace and friendship of God, and deserves eternal punishment. It is called mortal, because it destroys the principle of spiritual life, which is habitual grace, and kills the soul.
* See Catechism, council of Trent, as revised by John Hughes of Philadelphia, priest of St John's church, pp. 192, 193.
Venial sin is that which, on account of its levity, does not destroy the grace and friendship of God although it diminishes the fervor of charity, and deserves a temporal punishment. It is called venial, because the principle of the spiritual life, grace, being still sound, it affects the soul with languor, that is easily cured, the pardon of which is easily obtained." Ligor. lib. v. n. 51. [Synopsis, p. 20.
The Roman Catholic rule of faith erects a tribunal of confession unknown in scripture, and commands all to come to it at least once a year. It moreover institutes a new office called confessor, unknown in the New Testament, and gives to him the office of a father, a physician, a teacher, and a judge.
"The offices that a good confessor is bound to exercise," "are four: namely, those of Father, Physician, Teacher, and Judge." Ligor. Theol. T. viii. p. 7.
The confessor forgives all sins on confession, even the sin against the Holy Spirit:
"There is no sin, however grievous, no crime however enormous, or however frequently repeated, which penance does not remit." Cat. Conn. Trent, p. 183.
Penance here means the "Tribunal of confession:" for this tribunal is sometimes called simply "confession," "The sacrament of confession:" at other times it is called the "tribunal of penance." Sometimes simply " Penance," and he who confesses is called "the penitent." But satisfactions and penances are to be apportioned according to the discretion of the priest.
"According to the council of Trent, (Sess. xiv. c. 8.) the satisfactions" (by which they mean penances,)" ought to be in proportion to the crime, sincethose confessors who enjoin light penances for grievous sins, participate of those sins; nevertheless the confessor, for just reasons, can diminish the penances, provided the penitent is affected with violent compunction, or if it be during the time of a juDilee, or a plenary indulgence, and especially, if he labor under any infirmi' ty of body or mind. And lastly, (to be brief,) always whenever a prudent fear is entertained, lest the penitent would not perform penance due to his sins. Such is the common doctrine taught by the doctors, with St. Thomas." Ligor. Prax. Con. N. ii.
But still worse: this immoral law or rule of faith repeals and annuls certain positive divine laws. I have here two catechisms, published Dy the authority of the church. They have both expunged wholly the second commandment; so that it should not stand in the way of paying reverence to images. [Time expired.]
Half past 10 o'clock, A. M. Bishop Purcell rises—
If my friend, Mr. Campbell, has failed to establish against the Catholic church, a single one of those propositions, which have been so conspicuously before the public for the last two or three months, and if I have established two or three of them against his own vague theory, it is not for want of splendid abilities on his part, or the possession of them on mine. The reason of his failure, is the inherent weakness of the cause he advocates, as the true secret of my success, is to be found in the impenetrable, diamond strength and beauty of the institution, which, in an evil hour for his past glory as a controversialist, he volunteered to attack. He has this day (and again I thank him) brought up, for discussion, the most important subject that can occupy or engross the attention of this enlightened audience, viz. the rule of faith. If fairly published, as I have every reason to believe this controversy will be, it will send forth sound and useful information, through the whole length and breadth of the land, upon a topic of the most vital interest; and I will, most joyfully, meet Mr. C. on that
question, for I hail with exultation such an opportunity of dispelling prejudice and misunderstanding with regard to our real principles. 1 will give categorical answers to all the questions he has propounded; and, therefore, do I take up the subject he has been pleased to touch. 1. He says, the methods of electing the pope are various. But let that pass: the method is nothing. It is with his authority we are concerned. He has wasted much time in building up a house of sand, to show how easily he could demolish it, by showing that the pope is not infallible; whereas, I have repeatedly told him, that the Catholic church has never taught that the pope's infallibility was an article of faith. He spoke of some more or less important but unessential points of difference of opinion between Dominicans and Jesuits. But he should have shown, to establish the proposition before this house, that these orders disagree with regard to articles of faith. Their minor differences are nothing, so long as they implicitly believe every article of faith revealed by almighty God and proposed for their belief by the church, which they all hear, and which they regard as the "pillar and ground of the truth." This is the solid and immovable foundation of their union. The case of the cup given to, or withheld from, the laity, as I have already told him, is one merely of discipline. It may now be given, or not, as the pope may see cause. In the time of Gelasius, it was pronounced sacrilege to deny the cup to the laity; and, if all my hearers had read church history, I need not tell them, it was because of the leaven of Manicheism still working in pretended communicants, who forbade the use of wine as coming from the evil principle. No father of the church, however, said, that the consecration of the eucharistic species, is a mere 'separation,' or the change only a ' moral change." I defy him to the proof. Mr. C. says: "So far Protestants and Catholics are equal;" for, that they have also a grand generic principle, viz: that the Bible is their rule of faith, and the Bible alone. Now, I take up the organ of a numerous body of christians, the Christian Palladium, and I meet him here with a strong argument in my favor, upon this principle. Speaking of Mr. Campbell, (I mean by this no personality, that can be thought invidious: I intend none) the editor observes: "He frequently speaks of 'the Bible alone;' but this is not a term used generally by the brethren in New England, and is taught by few except Mr. C. We never knew our brethren to boast of walking by the Bible alone. This Wk Regard As An Error, Let Who Will proclaim It. We say, give us the Bible, but not alone. Let Us Have A God, A Christ, A Spirit, And A Ministry Accompanying It. There was a law given to the Jews, and also a testimony, which they were bound to observe. The testimony of the inspired prophets did not contradict the law, but taught and enforced the same truths. The ancients were to walk by the law and the testimony, which was called a word. (Is. viii. 20.) What this "redoubtable captain" of reform says, of sailing sometimes under this flag and sometimes under that, is perfectly applicable to—" but I will not read further: this is sufficient for my argument. The Bible alone is not the rule of faith to all Protestants. Quakers, Mormons, &c, think not so, as I have already proved. And, now, Mr. Campbell can do infinitely more with the intellects of his hearers, than the pope has ever done with those of Catholics, if he can persuade them that the differences between Protestants, who all take the Bible for their rule of faith, are unimportant. Is the