Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Other truths are here stated, as consequent from the premises. I will however for the satisfaction of my Episcopalian friends read what follows, in this connection on church government.

"There was yet no dissent on the subject of church government. It was universally and undisputably Episcopal; even the reformer Novatian, after his expulsion from the church, assumed the direction of his own rigid sect under the title of hishop; and if any dissatisfaction had existed as to the established method of directing the church, it would certainly have displayed itself on the occasion of a schism, which entirely respected matters of practice and discipline." Hist, of the chh.p. 79.

These Puritans or reformers spread all over the world, and continued to oppose the pretensions of those who, from being the major party, claimed to be the Catholic or only church. They continued under the name of Novatians for more than two centuries; but finally were merged in the Donatists, who, indeed, are the same people under another name. These Donatists were a very large and prosperous community. We read of 279 Donatist bishops in one African council. Of these Donatists the same historian deposes:

"The Donatists have never been charged with the slightest show of truth with any error of doctrine, or any defect in church government or discipline, or any depravity of moral practice; they agreed in every respect with their adversaries, except one—they did not acknowledge as legitimate the ministry of the African church, but considered their own body to be the true, uncorrupted, universal church."

Mark it. The Donatists considered their own body to be the true, uTicorrupted, universal church! "It is quite clear," our author proceeds:

"Itis quite clear,that they pushed their schism to very great extremities, even to that of rejecting the communion of all, who were in communion with the church which they called false; but this was the extent of their spiritual offence, even from the assertions of their enemies." Wad. Hist. p. 154.

The Donatists, in some two centuries, were amalgamated with the Paulicians. They, too, were called Puritans. Jones, who has been at the greatest pains to give their history, gives the following account of them:

"About the year 660, a new sect arose in the east, under the name of PauliCians, which is justly entitled to our attention.

"In Mananalis, an obscure town in the vicinity of Somosata, a person of the name of Constantine entertained at his house a deacon, who having been a prisoner among the Mahometans, was returning from Syria, whither he had been carried away captive. From this passing stranger Constantine received the precious gift of the New Testament in its original language, which even at this early period, was so concealed from the vulgar, that Peter Siculus, to whom weowe most of our information on the history of the Paulicians, tells us the first scruples of a Catholic, when he was advised to read the bible was, "it is not lawful forus profane persons to read those sacred writings, but for the priests only." Indeed, the gross ignorance which pervaded Europe at that time, rendered the generality of the people incapable of reading that or any other book; but even those of the laity who could read, were dissuaded by their religious guides from meddling with the Bible. Constantine however, made the best use of the deacon's present—he studied the New Testament with unwearied assiduity—and more particularly the writings of the apostle Paul from which he at length endeavored to deduce a system of doctrine and worship. 'He investigated the creed of primitive christianity,' aays Gibbon,' and whatever might be the success, a Protestant reader will applaud the spirit of the enquiry.' The knowledge to which Constantine himself was, under the divine blessing enabled to attain, hegladly communicated to others around him, and a christian church was collected. In a little time, several individuals arose among them qualified for the work of the ministry; and several other churches were collected throughout Armenia and Cappadocia. It appears from the whole of their history, to have been a leading object with Constantine and his brethren to restore as far as possible the profession of christianity to all its primitive simplicity." Jones' Hist. Christian chh.p. 239. Again:

"The Paulician teachers," says Gibbon, "were distinguished only by their scriptural names, by the modest title of their fellow pilgrims; by the austerity of their lives, their zeal and knowledge, and the credit of some extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit. But they were incapable of desiring, or at least, of obtaining the wealth and honors of the Catholic prelacy. Such anti-christian pride they strongly censured."—Id. ib. p. 240.

I might read almost to the same effect from Waddington and Du Pin. True they are called heretics by those who call themselves Catholic and us heretics; but what does this prove?

Until the appearance of the Waldenses and Albigenses, these Protestants continued to oppose the church of nations in the east, and in the west, until at one time they claimed the title of Catholic. We read of hundreds of bishops attending the different councils in which they met to oppose the violent assaults of their enemies.

It is sometimes difficult to say which were the more numerous party, those in communion with the Cathari, or Puritans, sometimes called Novatians, sometimes Donatists, sometimes Paulicians, sometimes Waldenses; but always, in fact, Protestants.

The spirit of true religion seems to have fled from Rome from the first appearance of the Novatians. The first schism at Rome acknowledged and recorded by the Roman Catholic historians, is that which occurred at the election of Cornelius over Novatus. Hence Novatus is called the first anti-pope. Du Pin and Barronius amply testify of the violence by which St. Peter's chair was often filled with a vicar after this schism. In the election of Damasus many were killed in the churches of Rome. One hundred and thirty four persons, beaten to death by clubs, were carried out of a single house at this election. Had the Holy Spirit any thing to do in thus filling the chair of St. Peter with a vicar of Christ! Is the church which permits such things and which has been sustained by such means, the true church of God? Is the person thus elected, the supreme head of Christ's church—the proper vicar of Christ?! May we not then say that the spirit of God on that day, had departed from Rome? And may we not add, from the documents before us, that if there be any truth in history, we have found a succession of witnesses for the ancient faith against Rome, from the days of the first schism till the present hour?

There is but another point in the speech of my opponent, to which I will now respond. I called on him to explain the difference between the claim of the title of pope, or universal father, (as St. Gregory opposed it,) and the same claim as now maintained by the head of the church. The name pope, indeed, has in modern times, much changed its meaning; for once it was applied to all bishops, and is now applied to every priest in the Greek church. But when has the title "universal father," been changed? He alluded, in reply, to the schism between the Greek church and the Roman church. The Greek church, it seems, would not allow that the ordinances of religion without their sanction, were validly administered. Is not that the very plea of Rome at this hour? Does she not say, that the bishops and clergy of the English church are all laymen, because that church separated from the Roman church; and that all the authority she had from her has been since revoked by the authority that gave it? How

often are we told that the pope has the power of resuming all authority given him—that he can create, and afterwards destroy? that whatever ecclesiastical power he gives, he can take away; and that therefore all heretics excommunicated and anathematized have no power left to perform the ordinances of religion? The ground upon which the gentleman stands as to his defence of the authority of the pope, is precisely the ground of Gregory's opposition to the title, as claimed by Boniface in. if I can understand his attempt to explain it.

But I must advert, before I sit down, to a single point on which I touched in my speech of this morning, viz. that of the councils. The gentleman asks, did not Sylvester the pope preside in the first general council by his legate? I affirm that he cannot show documents to prove that fact.—Nay, let him show, if he can, that the first seven councils were called by the bishops of Rome, or that his legates were there to preside.

What would the gentleman prove by the fact, if it be a fact, that a Roman bishop presided over one of these councils? That, therefore, they were Roman councils? How would such logic pass with us with regard to the house of representatives 1 His argument runs thus: Mr. Henry Clay was once speaker of that house, Mr. Clay is from Kentucky, therefore, the house of representatives were all Kentuckians! This would be exactly the pith of the logic we have heard.

My opponent admits the history of the first seven councils which I have given to be correct: but explains it by asserting that all the business was eastern. But there were western heresies, as well as eastern, and western business as well as eastern transacted in these councils. I therefore object to his exposition of that matter. It would have been impolitic on his exposition to call together eastern men to decide upon eastern heresies. They ought to have sent western men, who would have been more impartial judges. But he has not yet adduced one document, showing that these councils were called for such purposes, or that the east only was concerned in these questions.

On the prefix "Catholic" to the epistles, the gentleman did not hear me, or did not apprehend my meaning. The argument is not about its antiquity but its authority! He has not proved, and cannot prove that it was so prefixed in the first ages, nor that it was ever so applied by any inspired writer. Having brought no documents to prove this, his reasoning is wholly irrelevant.

But you have been treated, my friends, to a feast from the "Baptist Banner" one of the party ephemerals opposed to reformation. Unfortunately for the cause of religion, every age has produced a crop of these special pleaders for party tenets. Many such a banner was unfurled against Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley and all reformers: for they were all heretics and controversialists. Indeed there never was a good man on earth who was not a controversialist. From the days of Abel and Noah till the present hour, the friends of truth have been heretical and controversial. But what has the Baptist Banner to do with the present points at issue? Is the gentleman so hard pressed as to form such alliances, to deliver himself or cause from ruin 1 I trust he will either keep, or be kept to the question in debate, and leave Protestants to settle their own controversies.—[Time expired.]

Twelve o'clock, M. Bishop Purcell rises—

I thought we should be placed under considerable obligations to my friend, for putting his finger upon the historic page that records the day and date of the apostacy of the Roman Catholic church from the true and holy Apostolic church, with so much precision. But now we are adjourned back nearly 1000 years, and yet nothing more definite than a "some time about the year 250!" Some time about! He does not tell us whether it was in one year, or another, that the church began to be corrupt. It was some time about, and so on. About this time, it seems, the Novatians separated from the church—well, Paul foresaw that such events would occur in the church's history—he foresaw that " ravenous wolves would enter the fold;" that dissensions would exist, at all successive periods, to the end of time—that every day new heretics would start up, who would deny the truth, introduce false doctrine, and trouble the people of God. The Novatians were one of these sects—and what did they teach? Why the most revolting and horrible doctrines; among others, the doctrine that a convert to christianity, who, in times of peril and temptation, nay even when compelled by physical force, should forsake his creed, could never be restored, no matter how sincerely penitent. Who that feels his frailty and knows that his heart in an evil hour might stray from duty, does not revolt at such a doctrine, that for one offence would cut him off forever! God dealt not so with Adam, nor Christ with Peter, when at the voice of a woman, and in an evil hour, even his strong heart failed him. He admitted him to mercy, received him back to his bosom, and made him the rock of his church.

But if all heretics are right, and this among the number—if the church was wrong in separating herself from these men—if it is her duty to say to the upholder of false doctrine "all hail," you are as free from error, as incorrupt and immaculate, as we are, come partake with us, we are of one communion; the rule should, according to the gentleman's logic, work both ways, and Rome has as good a right as anyother to be called the church of Christ. On the other hand, if the Novatians were right, as he says they were, in excluding others, the church was right in excluding them. The speech of heretics, St. Paul tells us, 2d Tim. ii. 17, spreadeth like a cancer; he elsewhere says, that evil communication corrupts good manners; and the Pagans were not insensible to the wisdom of the distich—

"Principiis ohsta; aero medicina paratur
"Cum mala per longas iuvaluere moras."

My friend must have forgotten his argument of this morning, when he said that the church of the living God should include none but the pure and holy. If this be true, we must all give it up; for Who is holy t Which of us can lay his hand upon his heart and say I Am Without sin? No, we are only holy in acknowledging our sinfulness and guilt in the sight of God, with humility and prayer. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us! If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to clear us from all iniquity." St. John, Ep. If such be the gentleman's requisitions, there can be no church of Christ in this erring world. There is none pure from defilement, says Job, and all are included as the objects of divine displeasure, from which only the blood of Christ, with faith, repentance and good works, can save us. If the gentleman insists on applying a test which would require absolute perfection to enable us to endure it, there is no such holiness, that I am aware of, exhibited in this probationary state. My friend may feel a proud consciousness that he is a happy instance of its existence, but for my part, I cannot, I should not think it safe to lay the flattering unction to my soul. I would advise no man to do so, while the great St. Paul commands us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; and tells us, he chastised his own body, lest while he preached to others he himself "should become a reprobate," 1st. Cor. ix. 27. It is our duty to acknowledge that we are frail and sinful mortals even like the rest of men. Establish a contrary rule, and pride digs one abyss after another beneath our feet, and there will not be left one virtuous feeling, one sound principle upon which we can take our stand to make a last appeal to heaven for mercy! When Christ empowered the church to throw her nets into the sea of human life, as the apostles did into the lake, she gathered into it fishes, both good and bad; when the nets are hauled ashore, the good fish will be selected and the bad thrown back into the sea. So will it be at the end of the world. The angels of God will come forth and select the elect from the reprobate—they will gather the wheat into the garner, but the tares they will burn with unquenchable fire. The Catholic church with a consciousness of man's true condition in this life, and a liberality which does her honor, and which, all agree, ought to belong to the fold of Christ, permits all to join in her religious festivals and exterior communion who profess the same faith, and are willing to submit to her decisions as her children.

But mark the distinction between the body and the soul of the church, all who profess the true faith, assist at the same religious exercises and obey the same pastors, belong to the body of the church and are therefore numbered among her children; but to faith and exterior communion of which alone man can take cognizance, must be added hope and love and grace with God, that we may belong to the soul of the church. Of the latter the church does not undertake to decide. This she leaves to God who alone can see the heart. She, herself, judges not the inscrutable things of the spirit of a man, but contents herself with knowing and teaching that nothing can escape the piercing and all-seeing eye of God, who will render to every man according to his works, on that day when the hope of the hypocrite shall perish. Hence, as long as one of her members disqualifies not himself for the communion of the faithful by flagrant impiety, notorious depravity, or scandalous excess, she rejects him not; but like that charity of which St. Paul speaks, 1st Cor. xiii. "is patient, is kind, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, with modesty admonishing men, if peradventure God may give them repentance."

The gentleman quoted from Waddington the history of the Novatians. He says, they continued, how long I know not, but Till! (forget not the word,) till they merged in the sect of Donatists. The expressive word till is enough. There is no such fatal and terminating word in Catholic history. The Catholic church is universal, and not sectarian. It is perpetual in duration, and is not merged as one wave of error is merged in or obliterated by another. The gentleman asserts,

« AnteriorContinuar »