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PRINCIPAL POINTS OF CONTROVERSY
BETWEEN THE CHURCH OF
ROME AND THE REFORMED.
BY WILLIAM M'GAVIN, ESQ.
Popery in America.
« THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY 1" PAUL.
SECOND AMERICAN FROM THE NINTA GLASGOW EDITION.
SHARTFORD-HUTCHISON AND DWIER.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
NOV 7 1372
3exchange my luzezata'
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1833, by
HUTCHISON & DWIER,
HUDSON AND SKINNER, PRINTERS.....HARTFORD.
PAPAL ESTRPATION. BISHOP HAY'S CATECHISM. HIS DOCTRINE OF THE SUPREMACY OF PETER, AND OF THE POPE AS HIS SUCCESSOR, REFUTED. CONTRARY TO HIS ASSERTION, MANY OF THE POPES WERE WICKED MEN; AND MUCH FALSE DOCTRINE HAS BEEN INCULCATED BY THEM. WITNESS THE CREED OF POPE PIUS IV. REFLECTION UPON IT.
SATURDAY, July 15th, 1820. The concluding number of my last volume, traced the progress of papal usurpation, from the time of Constantine the great till the year 756, when the pope became a temporal prince. The means by which he obtained his greatness, and the instruments that helped him to it, were such as the god of this world usually employs, for carrying on his work of deceit and violence, in order to effect the ruin of both the bodies and souls of men. This fact alone should convince every Christian, that popery is not of God, but of the devil; that it is not Christianity, but the opposite of it, and its irreconcileable enemy. As there is no evidence, either in scripture or credible tradition, that the pope of Rome was divinely appointed head of the church, it might have been expected, that such modern Papists, as possess a portion of common sense, would have been very tender of the subject, and cautious how they brought it forward for public discussion. But as it is the main pillar of their system, they must give it a prominent place in all their books of controversy, even at the risk of being considered destitute of common sense.
In Bishop Hay's “Sincere Christian Instructed from the written Word," we have the following catechetical exercise: “Q. Who are the sucessors of St. Peter as head of the church ? A. The bishops of the city of Rome, of which St. Peter was the first bishop, and suffered martyrdom in that city for the faith of Christ, leaving his successors there the heirs of all his power and authority.” To this statement I have only one objection ;-namely, it is not true. It is one of those palpable lies by which Satan deceives those who love darkness rather than the light; and I again defy the church of Rome to produce a particle of evidence, that Peter transmitted his power and authority to any man whatever. “Q. Wherein," continues the catechist, “ consists the power of the bishop of Rome, as head of the church ? A. As he is appointed by Jesus Christ, to be the supreme head and pastor of the church under him, to be the spiritual father and teacher of all Christlans, with full power to feed and govern the whole flock; therefore he
the supreme judge and lawgiver, in all things relating to religion,
whether as to faith, manners, or discipline. The primacy, both of honour and jurisdiction, over all other bishops, belongs to him: and all the members of the church are obliged to pay the greatest respect, veneration, and obedience, to his decrees and orders, in all things belonging to religion.-Q. How is the head of the church commonly called ? A. He is called the pope, which word signifies father, and is given to the head of the church: because, being the vicar of Jesus Christ, he is the common spiritual father of all Christians." One of the first things we should expect to find in a spiritual father is, that he be a spiritual man; but it is notorious to all the world, that the greater part of the popes were merely carnal men, and more taken up with the cares of this world, than with things spiritual and eternal. And if we could suppose a pope to be a spiritual man, in the Bible sense of the words, he would have more modesty and more humility, than to pretend to be the "common spiritual father of all Christians;" which title, as he would know, belongs to God alone.
I long ago maintained, that the head of the Catholic or universal church, must be infallible, otherwise there would be no security against defection; but Bishop Hay seems not to be quite certain whether the pope be infallible or not, though he seems rather inclined to believe that he is. He puts a question, and gives an answer thus:-“Q. When the head of the church emits any decree concerning faith or morals, to which he requires submission from all the faithful, is he himself infallible in what he there teaches ? A. This is not proposed as an article of divine faith, nor has the church made any decision concerning it. Great numbers of the most learned divines are of opinion, that in such a case the head of the church is infallible in what he teaches; but there are others of a contrary opinion, who think that his decree is not to be considered as infallibly certain, till the body of the bishops receive it, either by their express approbation, or by their tacit submission to it, by which it becomes a decree of the whole church, whose infallibility is undoubted." Chap. xii.
By the admission of the reverend prelate at the beginning of the above answer, he furnishes materials for overthrowing his own doctrine. If the infallibility of the pope be not a matter of divine faith, and if the great and learned divines of the church be not agreed about it, what has become of the boasted unity of the church of Rome, in all matters of faith? and how does it appear, that the pope was appointed head of the church, for the very purpose of maintaining unity of doctrine, when the members of the body are not agreed about a most fundamental doctrine, namely, the seat of that infallibility which is held undoubtedly to be in the church? I shall suppose that the pope gives out, or, to use the bishop's own language, “emits a decree concerning faith, and that the subject of it is his own infallibility, which he commands to be believed by all the faithful; great numbers of the most learned divines would require no more than his own word for it; because they are of opinion, that the head of the church is infallible in what he teaches : but there are others of a contrary opinion. Then there is a schism in the church; and that too, in relation to a point of vital importance; for if the opinion of the first class of divines be the true one, then, whatever the pope decrees, ought to be instantly and implicitly accepted and obeyed; and those who refuse are guilty of rebellion against the au.
Thority of the holy sec, which, in a Papist's esteem, is the same thing as rebellion against God.
On the other hand, if the true and Catholic doctrine be, that a decree of the pope “is not to be considered as infallibly certain, till the body of bishops receive it, either by their express approbation, or by their tacit submission to it," then, those who receive such decrees on the authority of the pope alone, and obey them, are guilty of contemning the whole body of bishops, and setting at nought their authority, though it be admitted that they are the same as the whole church. This must be a very grievous error; for it is maintained, that their sentence, being that of the whole church, is undoubtedly infallible. The infallibility of the pope alone is not so undoubted, for there are some who deny it; therefore, those who believe in it, and act upon it, must be in a most dangerous condition ; I might even call it damnable, if I were to adopt the language of the holy council of Trent.
Again, if no decree of the pope is to be considered infallible, or to be received with a divine faith, till the “ body of bishops," meaning, I suppose, all the bishops in the world, receive it by their express approbation, or tacit submission, then it may be a hundred years, and more, after a decree is emitted by his holiness, ere it can be lawfully received by his spiritual children; for they may not, during all that time, have received sufficient evidence, that the body of bishops,” in all parts of the world, have approved of such decree. It is some hundreds of years since the pope pretended to be infallible, as he ought most certainly to be, if he be Christ's vicar, and head of the church; but it seems, at this very day, the “body of bishops" are not agreed about it; and what confidence then can the people, in general have in it? The truth is, Papists are trusting in a broken reed, that will do more than disappoint them in the day of trial. It will pierce and wound every hand that leans upon it
Bishop Hay, as I have said, seems inclined to adopt the opinion of those, who think that “the pope himself, when he speaks to all the faithful, as head of the church, is infallible in what he teaches :" and he says, that for this opinion there are “several very strong reasons, both from scripture, tradition, and reason." He introduces his proof from scripture as follows: “Because this privilege of the particular direction and assistance of God, in teaching true doctrine, was given to the high priest of the old law, and the synagogue being only a figure of the law of grace, and of the church of Christ, the same privilege must certainly be given to the high priest of the church also, otherwise the figure would have been more perfect than the thing figured, the shadow more privileged than the substance.” I do most readily grant, that the same, and greater privilege, is granted to the high priest of the church under the law of grace, as the bishop calls it, though I believe what he calls the old law, was as really a law of grace as the new. But the question will occur, who is the high priest, of whom the high priest of the old law was a figure ? the bishop will have it to be the pope of Rome; and because the high priest of the Jews was infallible in what he announced as the mind of God, (which, however, may reasonably be doubted,) therefore the pope of Rome is infallible in all his decrees. This is popish episcopal logic of the highest order; and if all men are not thereby persuaded to fall down and worship