« AnteriorContinuar »
the Savior foretold his own sufferings and indignities, more affectionately and devotedly exclaimed, in the warmth of his heart, “ Lord, it shall not be so done unto thee !"
It is true that this ardor of disposition, this promptness, this decision of character, sometimes betray their possessor into errors; yet who will not say, give me the man of energy and decision, and ardor of character ? John was meek as a dove; he was innocent and amiable as a lamb, and the Lord loved him; but those bold and stern, and manly virtues he wanted, which gave so much interest to the character of Peter; and so admirably fitted him to stand forward and foremost, amongst his colleagues and fellow apostles.- [Time expired.]
Half-past 4 o'clock, P. M. BISHOP PURCELL rises
Do you love me more than these fish!! My brethren, if the subject were not too serious, I should call my friend's construction a fish story!
Jesus Christ said to Peter, “ lovest thou me more than these?” plus his-what, if fish? (Ixoveo) plus quam hos. There is an end to all that argument. MR. CAMPBELL. That is the Latin version. Let us have the Greek.
Bishop PURCELL. The Greek is not more plain, nor will it prove your interpretation less revolting, less contrary to the obvious and more common interpretation of the text. Sad conclusion this, which my learned opponent reserved as his main reliance, for the last hour of the day! And is it thus that he proves the church of Rome to be neither catholic, apostolic, nor holy, but an apostacy from the only true, holy and apostolic church of Christ? He is heartily welcome to the proselytes this argument may gain to his tottering cause. Let learned Protestants now claim their champion's services in the difficult task of interpreting the scripture or let them, as I have prophesied they would do, repudiate his advocacy.
The change of name from Simon to Peter, shows that Christ chose him to be, beyond the other apostles, a rock, or more firm, more constant, more immoveable than they and that forever-in the confession of his divinity, his real presence with his church and all the other truths he had vouchsafed to reveal to the world. A rock does not melt.—The winds may beat and the rains may fall, but the house built upon a rock will stand, not for a few years, but forever. And as the rock, in the physical order loses not its nature, so neither do the promises of Christ lose their efficacy. « Thou art Peter, (or a rock) and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall . not prevail against it.” Matthew xvi. 18.
A professor of Andover College has published a volume, I think it is entitled 6 Elements of Sacred Criticism.” I have examined this work, but my memory retains not the author's name,- perhaps some of the learned gentlemen present may aid it by the suggestion-however, he substantiates my interpretation, or rather that of all ages, by incontrovertible argument. And I confess the American College has, in this instance, a decided superiority, both in sound criticism and or thodoxy, over the “ dumb sister," as the English and Scotch universities have invidiously, or facetiously, named Trinity College, Dublin
There is one plausible difficulty, against the testimony of Peter's having fixed his residence at Rome, which the gentleman has overlooked, viz. that Paul does not mention Peter in his epistle to the Romans.
To explain this, it is only necessary to observe, Paul wrote A. D. 57. in the reign of Claudius, when Peter was absent from Rome; and this the illustrious convert of Damascus knew. But why waste time on a subject undisputed for fifteen hundred years. Pearson, Grotius, Usher, Hammond, Blondel, Scaliger, Casaubon, Dumoulin, Petit, Basnage, all agree that Peter transferred his see to Rome and there suffered martyrdom.
And here another objection is overruled; he said there had been contests among the apostles, who should be greatest. He said that if Peter had confessed that he loved him most, a greater controversy would have arisen. But there was good cause to the contrary. Andrew saw him first-John reposed on his bosom, &c.—for many reasons, these disputes may have arisen-surely such objections after so great a mass of testimony deserved not serious attention.
I have long ago seen, in a little work written in Philadelphia, the remarks of my friend about the Savior's saying he was the vine, when among the vines, on mount Olivet, &c. &c. This is not therefore original or new.
I now. take up a connected argument on the apostolicity of the church, for I wish this matter to go before the public in its peculiar strength. I look upon it as the most powerful argument that can be advanced in favor of the Catholic church. I read from Fletcher, His style is good.
“Christ Jesus had called the apostles .fishers of men,' he had told them to 'go and preach the gospel to every creature,' assuring them, at the same time, that all power was given to him in heaven, and on earth,' and that himself would be always with them.' Animated by this commission, and these assurances, and fired too with the love of God, and an ardent charity for men, these heroic victims of benevolence, did go forth and preach. They preached; and although the world with all its passions, prejudices and superstitions was leagued against them ;-although its doctrines, which they preached, were repugnant to ali the bad propensities of the heart, and exceeded far the measure of the human under. standing; yet did an immense portion of the public, of the corrupted and the vicious, of the learned and the enlightened, hear them, and believe. They preached; and the love of vice was converted into zeal for innocence; prejudice, into the desire of truth: superstition, into the warmth of piety. Vice itself was exalted into the heroism of sanctity; and every defilement done away, which corruption had introduced into the sanctuary of the heart. They preached; and Satan, like a thunderbolt, was hurled from his throne; his temples razed; his * Qtars overturned: and idolatry. abashed and trembling, fled from those scenes. which it had so long disgraced by its follies, and infected by its abominations.
They preached; and the Universe was changed! The spectacle which they exhiDited was new; the spectacle of exalted virtue and consummate wisdom. Men beheld the virtue and it edified them; they listened to the wisdom, and it con
vinced them. In this manner did the first apostles of Jesus Christ completely sreal me the figure of the fishers of men,' completely verify the assurance which
thein divine Master had given them, that'« himself would be always with them,' E. completely illustrate that passage of St. Paul, in which he says, . God employs
the weak to confound the strong, and the foolish to confute the wise.' It is the call and mission of the apostles, which are the sources of the call and mission of their successors; and it is the successes that attended the preaching of the apostles, that are the proof, not only of the divinity of their mission, but of the mission of those who have replaced, and shall yet replace them till the end of time. In religion, as every thing was originally apostolical, so every thing to merit veneration, must continue apostolical. . According to the definition and import of apostolicity, it is necessary that the church which was founded by the apostles, and the mission also which was imparted to the apostles, should, without destruction, or interruption, have been perpetuated to the age we live in, firm amid revolutions, unchanged amid changes.
I have said, that to ascertain in the Catholic church this stability of duration, a more positive proof cannot be adduced, than the spectacle of its pastors (who compose a large portion of its members, and whose functions are the most important duties of religion) regularly in each age, succeeding to each other, and transmitting to each, the mission which originally had been inherited from the hands of the apostles. The only difficulty here, is by the light of evidence to establish these important facts. Well, my brethren, and this is what, without any difficulty, the Catholic exults to do. "To do it we need only to consult the records of history; those records which the Protestant himself considers authentic. The light of history is a testimony, which, beyond the power of reasonable doubt, attests the regular and perennial succession of the Catholic ministry
The apostles, whom Christ had sent, as his Father had sent him; and with whom, likewise, he had promised to remain all days to the end of the world; in consequence of the above commission and assurance, chose for themselves cooperators and successors in their sacred ministry:-co-operators, in order to assist them in the government of the churches which their zeal had planted ; successors, to whom, on occasion of their departure from this scene of their labors, they might resign the burden of their functions, and the honor of their sees. Now, fortunately for the cause of religion, we have in the annals of history, and in the writings of the learned, the accounts very carefully preserved, of the resignations, which the apostles made of their functions
ich the apostles made of their functions and sees to their successors; and of the resignations also which their successors' successors made, during a series of ages, to the pastors, who, in long order, have till the present age, continually replaced each other. Among these accounts, that which of all others is the most interesting, and which religion has preserved with the nicest care, is the history of the continuation until to-day, of the apostolic powers which Christ Jesus conferred upon the prince of the apostles, St. Peter. We have, thanks to that Providence, which watches over the church, and which marks its paths with beams of light, we have the proof of this continuation so luminouslyattested. so evident, that not hostility can contest, nor incredulity doubt it. Important testimony! itself a bright feature in the divinity of the church; a testimony, which, proving immediately the apostolicity of the mission of its supreme pastors, proves also immediately, yet directly, the apostolicity of the mission of all its other pastors. For, if you consult the rolls of history, you will find that with our supreme pastors, the Catholic pastors of every age, and of every nation, were always united in communion; acknowledging their supereminence, and revering their jurisdiction; considering them as the great source, after Christ, of spiritual power, and the centre of spiritual unity.
There have been several distinguished writers, who, incapable of misrepresentation, and possessing the means of knowing the history of the successors of St. Peter, and the order of their succession, have carefully handed down to us, each to his own time, the lists of these illustrious men. The first of these I believe, who is known to have preserved the important catalogue, is St. Irenæus.
Tertullian, the next who continues the catalogue of St. Peter's successors, is St. Optatus. He brings it down to the time of Siricius; that is, to the year three hundred and eighty-four. In this one chair,' says the saint, speaking of the see of Rome, 'sat Peter first, to him succeeded Linus, to him Clement, &c. ..... To Liberius succeeded Damasus; to Damasus, Siricius, the present pontiff, with whom we and all the world hold communion. And now,' he adds, addressing himself exultingly to the Donatist, and now, do you give an account of the origin of your sees, you, that pretend to call yourselves the Catholic church.' (Contra Parmen.)
St. Austin is another writer, who had attended to the succession, and has preseryed for us, the list of St. Peter's successors; deriving from the long order of their continuance, the same conclusions as did Irenæus, Tertullian, and Optatus. The list which the Saint has communicated, reaches down to his own time, to the pontificate of Innocent the first, in the year four hundred and two, and in its earlier eras, it exactly corresponded with the list which I have alluded to already. • Come,' says he to the Donatists, come, brethren, if it be that you wish to be ingrafted on the vine. 1 weep to see you as you are; lopped off from its sacred stock. Count up the pontiffs in the chair of Peter, and in that order see which succeeded which. This is that Rock, over which, the proud gates of hell cannot prevail.'
Hence, without the necessity of producing further testimonies, it follows, if men will not contest the authority, or call in question the veracity of some of the fairest characters, that the christian world reveres; it follows that from the time of St. Peter to the time of Innocent, in the fifth century, there existed in the see of Rome, an uninterrupted chain of pastors, and a continuation of an apostolic mission. The continuation of that same apostolic mission which Christ Jesus had imparted to St. Peter. Only he, can doubt this, whose incredulity doubts of every thing.
And has the chain of Roman pastors,--for this is now the only point which we must investigate,-been continued and extended from the tinie of Innocent the first, to the present day; an interval, it is true, extremely long, and filled up with storms, and changes, and revolutions and great events?' Yes, the chain has been continued and extended all this whole length of period; from Innocent, who consoled the great Chrysostom, under the persecution of an ambitious princess, to Pius the seventh, who himself is the heroic victim of the persecution of a relentless victor. Indeed, the fact is so obvious, it is not even contested. It is conceded by the men, who are interested to deny it. To be assured of it, you need only to consult the political annals of any considerable state, or to appeal in our historians to the mere tablets of chronology. You will find that all give to our Roman pontifis the same line and length of succession, which I here assign them. Their conduct has been always prominent; their influence always conspicuous. Few were the great events and transactions, in which, either fron a principle of piety, or sometimes of ambition, they did not bear a part.
.Yes, but if prompted by curiosity, you will give yourselves the trouble to con sult the annals of the church, there you will trace, more distinctly still, the evi dence of the truth, which I am now establishing. There attending to the occur rences of each epoch, you will observe, that the helin which had been confided to the trust of Peter, is with the greatest regularity transferred from hand to hand; and with pious care, confided to the trust of each successor. You may mark the name, and read the character of each individual, who directed it, the date of the day when it was committed to his guidance; and the hour, almost, when he resigned. In short, admitting the accuracy of the lists which have been preserved by Irenæus, Tertullian, &c., you trace in the annals of the church, a clear, plain, and incontestible evidence of a liue of Roman pontiffs, the succes sors of St. Peter, during the long course of above eighteen hundred years.
If the ancient fathers, in their times, and at the distance only of a few years so triumphantly produced the list of these holy men, evincing by it the divinity of the church, and the apostolicity of the mission of its pastor's, and by it contuting the novelty and claims of heresy; if Tertullian, impressed with the force of this argument, victoriously called out to the hosts of innovators, “ shew us any thing like this. Unfold and shew us the origin of your churches; shew us the list of your bishops, in regular order from the days of the apostles, succeeding to each other;" if he could say to them, “Who are you? Whence is your origin derived? What have you to do in my estate? I am the possessor. My possession is ancient. I am the heir of the aposíles:" if he could say all this; and from this, after scarcely the lapse of two centuries and the succession of hardly a dozen pontiffs, demonstrate the apostolicity of the church; with how much more reason and with how much more effect, might I, or any other Catholic, demonstrate its apostolicity at present, at present when the continuance of Peter's successors forms a chain, of above eighteen hundred years, and their number fills up a list of above two hundred and fifty pontiffs ? Oh! were only a Tertullian now, or an Austin, standing in the same situation in which I am placed before you, addressing you from this seat of truth and pressing the same argument, which I do to day, upon your attention; and pressing it recommended by the circuinstances which I have just referred to, how the thoughts would glow, and the words burn, with which they would convey the exu
on of these feelings to you! How the cause of truth would triumph in their eloquence! With what redoubled enthusiasm would they exclaim, “ let heresy shew any thing like this?" In reality, if the argument which these great men have employed to prove the apostolicity of the church, proved aught in their times, it certainly proves the same, and a great deal more, at present.
To the thoughtful and the philosophic mind, there is much, I have already observed, to admire in the stability of the church amid the fluctuation of human things. It is the same in regard to the long continuance of the successors of St. Peter. Wisdom and reason, when they consider it, are struck with wonder; and piety discovers in it the visible effect of an Almighty superintendance. The institutions of nuen soon perish. The niodifications of human policy do not long retain their forms. Nothing human is permanent. To contemplate, therefore, an order of pontift's reaching the whole length of eighteen centuries unchanged, whilst every thing else was changing; uninterrupted, whilst all other institutions were perishing,—is a spectacle at once striking, awful, and impressive ; calculated to inspire the protestant himself, if not with the conviction of its divinity, at least with a conviction of its wisdom; with a respect for its strength ; with a veneration for its antiquity. Let only reason cast a look into the annals of time, or recall to its recollection the events and revolutions, which during the lapse of eighteen centuries, have taken place on the theatre of life. During that interval, in every kingdom of the civilized world, every government has changed its form ; every dynasty resigned its power ; every empire sunk to ruin. Rome itself, during it, has experienced in particular, all the vicissitudes of human instability : has been ruled alternately by Consuls, Emperors, Kings and Exarchs : has been taken, plundered, sacked and reduced almost to a heap of ashes. In short, during it, every thing that is human and political,—the work of the power and ambition, of the wisdom and art of men, has either perished or undergone a variety of alterations-Kingdoms, states, cities, monuments, laws, opinions, customs, heresies. Nought but the succession of our pontiffs, and the institutions of our holy religion, have remained unaltered. These alone, amid the general revolution ; amid the storms of war ; the ravages of passion; the conflicts of heresy, subsist undecayed and undecaying. They even subsist in spite of all those evils ; though assailed by the violence of persecution ; though combated by the machinations of passion ; though attacked by the artifices of error ; though assaulted by the combined efforts of vice, Satan and the world. Surely prejudice itself will own it,-a succession of Pastors thus perpetuated for eighteen centuries, and perpetcated amid such obstacles, is not the effect of chance, nor of earthly policy; not the creation of ambition, nor the offspring of world by wisdom. The only method of accounting rationally for it, is to allow, that it is the result of a divine institution ; and the consequence of that assurance given by our great Redeemer to his apostles, that he would be with them all days, to the end of the world ;-or in other words, that it is the result and the proof of an apostolic mission.
From the evidences of the apostolicity of the church of Rome, is inferred the evidence of the apostolicity of the various other Catholic churches, which are disposed throughout the universe. In reality, they are all of them the parts of one whole ; the branches of one tree ; the streams of one fountain ; the rays of one sun. They all form only one communion, whose centre and head is the church of Rome. Of these churches, some were established by the apostles themselves, and their immediate successors ;-some and a very considerable part, by the successors of St. Peter, the Roman pontiffs, who in each age have with pious zeal, deputed missionaries to preach the gospel in almost every region of the globe. But in every age, and in every region, the churches that were thus planted, were only considered as apostolical, or
sidered as apostolical, or as portions of the true church, from the evidence of their union with the church of Rome. It is the remark of St. Jerome ; that no bishop was ever acknowledged to be a lawful bishop, except in as much, as he was united in communion with the chair of st. Peter."
And why may I not adduce as another evidence of the apostolic mission of our pastors, the venerable subsistence of a multitude of other churches, which, without having lasted from the age, which saw the apostles live, have still lasted from the ages that are not long subsequent to it ? This is the case with several churches in Spain, Italy, France, &c. "In Spain, the churches of Toledo, Cordo va, &c. in Italy, those of Milan, Naples, &c. in France, those of Lyons, Tours, &c. have subsisted from the early ages of christian fervor ; from those ages which are often denominated apostolical, down to the present period of degeneracy. Their annals, more accurately preserved than the annals of civil goverumenis, exhibit to our astonished, but gratified reason, a line of pastors during this whole length of ages—unbroken and uninterrupted-uninjured by the violence of persecutions, as well as unimpaired by the sunshine of prosperity ; a line of pastors that in canonical succession have till the present day, replaced each other. These are monuments of stability, compared with which profane history has nothing similar : Protestantism nothing analogous. Th
ostolicity of the mission of our pastors ; and the apostolicity consequently of our church. And now once more, let it be recollected, in relation to all these churches, that their founders, and the successors of their founders, werein communion with