Imatges de pÓgina

hope, perfected with charity, and confirmed by antiquity;the succession of bishops from St Peter to our time; and the name of catholic; a name so peculiar to the true church, that though all sectaries denominate themselves catholics, yet when you ask in any country whatever-where catholics meet, they have not the assurance to point to the places where themselves assemble." (L. cont. Ep. Fundamenti, c. 5.) The same incomparable doctor of the church did not hesitate to say: "I would not believe the gospel itself, did not the authority of the church move me to it" and with reason too; for how should we know infallibly-what is gospel, if the church had not ascertained the important query? In his book, On the Advantage of Believing, he says: "Why shall we feel any difficulty in throwing ourselves upon the authority of the catholic church,, which always has maintained herself by the succession of bishops in the apostolical sees, in spite of all the attempts of heretics whom she condemned;-by the faith of the people ;-by the decision of councils, and by the authority of miracles? It is the proof either of great impiety or extreme arrogance-not to acknowledge Her doctrine for a rule of christian faith." Hence it is not through disaffection; but through a sense of the superior duty which they owe to God, and to the church established by Him;-a church whose faith has been professed through a long-continued series of ages-by councils, parlia ments and sovereigns, and in a word by the great majority of christians; that catholics cannot conscientiously embrace a different religion. "Here are fixed the boundaries of the so much boasted liberty of conscience: it cannot claim a right of superseding the repeated and uninterrupted decisions of this great majority,-of this collection of the discernment, learning and virtue of all the most splendid ornaments of every christian nation. But if any," continues Dr Gibson," will be presumptuous, and pretend to a further claim of individual sense and acuteness, and refuse a like liberty to catholics; such, if consistent even with themselves, must admit-that liberty of conscience is an empty sound, and fictitious pretext of selfcreating superiority, repugnant to common reflection and the general method of deciding on other concerns; much more so on revelation, which comes by hearing that which has been heard or seen ;-not by opposition to the testimony of general or catholic acceptation. This it would be as absurd to compel a person to reject, as it would be to punish one who did not know the alphabet, for not professing the knowledge of languages. Much is said against forcing the conscience of one exalted individual: is it then more reasonable to compel, or to impose restraints upon many millions who are united to the great body of christians of the present and all preceding ages, and by such compulsion force the unlearned to prefer their own igno

rance and stupidity to the decisions of the most general and enlightened councils of whole christendom? Why should a single individual be constrained to protest and even swear, in any case, against such authoritative decisions? If so, may we not conclude that the supposed liberality, and the boasted liberty of conscience, of this nation consists-in despising, protesting and swearing against-the judgment of the universal church, and even of its own progenitors, who all agreed in the same belief!

Are these extraordinary protests-may we ask-supposed to be the result of any solid investigation of motives of credibility, or the reverse? or are they not rash, at the best, and bigoted in the extreme; contrived originally to answer some political or sinister view, but at present unnecessary for any purpose, and tormenting to the mind of the sincere. For how can peace be found in such a dissent from the general beliefin the most important affair of man? Is it possible to conceive, that a religious and thinking mind should not experience most excruciating torment, at the idea of abjuring the highest authority upon earth;-an authority which God has sanctioned by the most credible promises of support:-and, by such a deed-of acting as if there were no revelation at all-as if no Redeemer had ever appeared, or spoken, or given law to man!"

The leading articles of catholic faith are contained in the creed promulgated by Pope Pius IV. in 1564, the year after the close of the council of Trent, and agreeably to what the council had suggested. It goes under the name of Pius, and is subscribed by catholics on several important occasions; it runs thus:

I, N. N. with a firm faith do believe and profess-all and every one of those things contained in that creed, of which the holy Roman church makes use. To wit;-I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible: and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages: God of God; Light of Light; true God of true God: begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate,-suffered and was buried: and the third day he rose again, according to the scriptures. He ascended into heaven; sitteth at the right hand of the Father,—and is to come again with glory to judge the living and the dead: of whose kingdom there shall be no end. And in the Holy Ghost the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the prophets :-and one holy, catholic and apostolic church. I confess one Baptism for the re

mission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I most stedfastly admit and embrace the apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the church. I also admit the Holy Scriptures according as our holy mother the church understands, and has always understood them; to which it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Scriptures: neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than agreeably to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess, that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for each one individually: namely, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, the Extreme Unction, Order and Matrimony :and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation and Order, cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.

I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the catholic church, used in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

All and every one of the things defined and declared in the holy council of Trent, concerning Original Sin and Justification, I embrace and receive.

I profess likewise, that in the Mass is offered to God, a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead. And that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, there is truly, really and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ: and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood; which conversion the catholic church calls transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone, Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory (or a temporary place of suffering after death): and that the souls therein de tained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

Likewise, that the saints reigning together with Christ, are to be honored and invoked; that they offer prayers to God in our behalf, and that their relics are to be had in veneration.

I most firmly do maintain, that the images of Christ, of the ever-Virgin mother of God, and also of other saints, ought to be had and retained; and that due honor and veneration is to be given them.

Also I affirm, that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the church; and that the use of them is most wholesome to christian people.

The holy, catholic, apostolic Roman church I acknowledge for the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true

obedience (in matters of religion) to the bishop of Rome, as successor to St Peter, prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ.

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy council of Trent: and I condemn, reject and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the church hath condemned, rejected and anathematized.

I, N. N. do at this present freely profess, and sincerely hold this true catholic faith, without which (at least in desire and the sincere disposition of the heart) no one can be saved: and I promise most constantly to retain and confess the same entire and inviolate-with God's assistance-to the end of my life.

The rule of catholic faith is-all that, and that only, which God hath revealed, and the catholic church proposes to the belief of all.

Catholic faith concerning justification through Christ, and the merit of good works, teacheth-I. That when man has sinned, the remission or pardon of sin is not attainable by him, otherwise than in and by the merits of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, who freely purchased our redemption.

II. That it is only through the same merits of Jesus Christ, that the just man can obtain either an increase of holiness in this life, or eternal happiness in the next.

III. That the good works of the just man proceeding from grace and charity, are so far acceptable to God, through his goodness and his sacred promises, as to be truly deserving of an eternal reward: "God crowning his own gifts, when he crowns the good works of his servants."

On faith in Christ, the catholic church maintains that the merits of Jesus Christ, though infinite in themselves, are not applied to us, otherwise than by a right faith in him. This faith is-one, entire, and conformable to its object; which object is divine revelation, that is the truths taught by Christ; and to that revelation, or to those truths, faith gives an undoubting assent.

On the Divine Revelation the catholic maxim is-that in it are contained many mysterious doctrines, surpassing the natural reach of the human understanding: for which reason it became the wisdom and goodness of God to provide some way or means, whereby man might be enabled to learn what those mysterious doctrines were.

II. That the way or means to arrive at the knowledge of these divine truths, is-attention and submission to the voice of the legitimate pastors of the church-established by Christ for the instruction of all the faithful; spread for that end, in a greater or a less degree, through the remotest regions of the

earth; visibly continued in the succession of pastors and people through all ages. Whence the marks of this church are-unity, visibility, indefectibility; uninterrupted succession from the apostles; universality or catholicity, and sanctity.

III. That the church designated by these distinctive characters;-thus established, thus continued, thus guided in one uniform faith and subordination of government-is that which is termed the Roman catholic church; the qualities just mentioned being, evidently and exclusively, applicable to her alone.

From the testimony and authority of the catholic church we receive the scriptures, and believe them to contain the revealed word of God: and as the church can assuredly tell us what particular book is the word of God; so can she, with like assurance, tell us the true sense and meaning of it in controverted points of faith; the same spirit of truth which directed the writing of the scriptures, directing also the church to understand them aright, and to teach all such mysteries and duties as are necessary to salvation. He that believeth not, shall be condemned, Mark. xvi. v. 16, and he that will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the Heathen man and the Publican, Matt. xviii. v. 17. Away then with private sense and interpretation, as directly contrary to the express injunction of our blessed Saviour, and to his most faithful apostle St Peter who says, that scripture is not to be expounded by private interpretation, 2 Peter i. v. 20.

Catholics hold that faith is unchangeable, and that of course the pastors of the church, who are, in a certain sense, the body representative, either dispersed or convened in council, have received no commission from Christ to frame new articles of faith-articles of faith being, exclusively, divine revelations ;but to explain and to define to the faithful-what anciently was, and still is, received and retained as of faith in the church,when debates and controversies arise concerning them. These definitions in matters of faith only, and proposed as such, oblige-under pain of heresy-all the faithful to a submission of their judgment.

Nor is it an article of catholic faith, that the church cannot err in bare matters of fact; or in matters of speculation or civil policy, depending merely on human judgment or testimony. These things are not revelations deposited in the church; in regard of which alone she has the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit.

With regard to the contested primacy of St Peter and his successors in the see of Rome-catholics believe, that superior and peculiar powers were given to St Peter, and that the Bishop of Rome, as his successor, is the Head of the whole catholic church; in which sense, as already stated, this church may therefore be fitly styled Roman catholic, being a universal body united under one visible head.

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