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THE CHURCH OF ROME NOT THE “ ONE
Continued from page 293.)
The Church of Rome, as we have already shown, first affected to be the CATHOLIC CHURCH at the beginning of the seventh century. Fatally for the religious liberties of a great part of Christendom, this pretence was set up when the night of the dark ages had already set in, and inquiry had composed itself to its millennial slumber. With the darkness and ignorance which prevailed, a superstitious horror of attracting the lightning of Papal execrations concurred to prevent investigation into the pretensions of the Roman Hierarchy; and most* of the Western Churches, after a few ineffectual struggles, submitted themselves to the yoke of a fierce and domineering mistress. The idea once admitted, that the Roman Pontiffs were Bishops of the Catholic Church and Vicars of Christ on earth, gained credit as it grew in antiquity, till it obtained the prescription of nearly nine centuries, when at length the gross and scandalous vices which prevailed in the high places of the Roman Hierarchy awakened inquiry, and the pretension was found to be grounded on fraud and imposture.
Dr. Allix, in his history of the ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Albigeuses, has shewn that there have been Churches in Italy and Gaul of Apostolic origin and foundation wholly independent of the Church of Rome, from the early ages of Christianity down to the twelfth and following centuries, when the cruel persecution against them commenced. VOL, I,
From the time that this exorbitant pretence was set up, the Church of Rome has been accustomed to apply to herself exclusively the declarations of Scripture, which relate to the privileges and perpetuity of the Church of Christ at large : hence she gives herself out to be infallible, and affects to thrust beyond the limits of salvation all who refuse to submit to her yoke. From the promises of Christ to his Church,” says Bishop Bossuet, “ there arise two striking truths, which are, at the same time, two established dogmas of our faith; the first—that the successors of the Apostles, Jesus Christ being always with them, shall never teach error ; and the second--that it is never allowable on any account whatsoever to separate from this Apostolical succession.
Hence," he proceeds to say, “are heretics and schismatics to the very end of the world branded with that base and detestable character mentioned by St. Jude-These are they that separate themselves.'"**
A great and fatal difficulty, however, is connected with the exclusive Catholic and A postolic character of the Church of Rome, arising out of the circumstance, that it was never discovered till the beginning of the seventh century; and that, at the time when the pretence to it was first made, several independent Churches of Apostolic origin, continuing also in the Apostles' doctrine-to say nothing of other Churches which grew out of those instituted by the Apostles,—were still remaining. No fact is more certain than this, though it is mostly denied or suppressed by the controvertists of the Church of Rome. One of them, however, has made a tacit reference to it, and attempted to solve it in his ready way of coming to the “ End of Controversy,” by asserting that the attribute of perpetual succession of supreme Pastors which has subsisted in the See of Rome from St. Peler, is peculiar to that See. 6. For in all the Churches," he says, “ founded by the Apostles, as those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Corinth, Ephesus, Smyrna, &c., owing to internal dissensions and external violence, the succession of their Bishops has, at different times, been broken and confounded. Hence the See of Rome is emphatically and for a double reason called the APOSTOLICAL SEE; and being the head See and centre of union of the whole Catholic Church, furnishes the first claim to the title of the A POSTOLIC CHURCH.”
Thus, without surrendering the original SUPREMACY of the Church of Rome, which she is alleged to possess in virtue of the supremacy of St. Peter, Bishop Milner seems to concede that it was not until the regular succession of the
. Catholicity and Christianity inseparable.
supreme Pastors of the other Apostolic Churches had become broken and confounded, that the whole right and title to the character of the Catholic and Apostolic Church centred in the Roman Hierarchy. It was, he says, from the first the centre of union to all the Churches, as being the head See ; by the breaking up of the regular succession of supreme Pastors in the other Churches, it became (he seems to intimate) the ONLY Catholic and Apostolic Church. The exclusive Catholic and Apostolic character of the Church of Rome, it seems, then, is derived from this alleged peculiarity of that Church, that whereas the succession of supreme Pastors from the Apostles has been broken and confounded in the other Apostolic Churches, her Apostolic succession has remained entire.
But this peculiar unbroken Apostolic succession of supreme Pastors is as false in fact as it is frivolous in proof. Down to the beginning of the seventh century, at which time the Church of Rome gave herself out to be the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Apostolic succession of supreme Pastors in the Greek Churches, the Church of Alexandria, and the Church of Antioch, could not have been more essentially broken than it had been in the Church of Rome by the abandonment of the doctrine of the Apostles by some of her Popes. Marcellinus in the third century, according to the testimony of Augustine, conformed to Pagan rites : Liberius in the fourth century professed the doctrines of Arius, and his successor Felix did the same. It is manifest, therefore, that there is no peculiarity in favour of the Church of Rome in respect of the Apostolic succession of her supreme Pastors, , as far as the Apostolic doctrine is concerned. tolic doctrine is assigned by the advocates of the Church of Rome as one of the essentials of Apostolic succession.— Then as to the uninterrupted series of supreme Pastors from the Apostles, which is assigned as another of the essentials of Apostolic succession, so uncertain is this matter with respect to the Roman Pontiffs that two distinct series of them have been assigned, one of which is followed by some of the Doctors of the Romish Church and the other by others;* both of which, however, have been proved to be errone. ous.t So that if the virtue of Apostolic succession had been committed to the supreme Pastors of that Church, or the proof of its transmission lain in the assignment of a regular series of such Pastors, the proof, and the thing itself, had
* “Et quidem viri docti aut hunc aut illum passim sequuntur.”Pearson de serie Rom. Episc.
+ By Bishop Pearson. "He shews that Cletus and Anacletus, two of the Popes of the Pontifical, were most probably one and the same person.
long ago been dissipated.—Happily, however, the perpetuity of the Catholic and Apostolic Church depends neither upon the character nor the regular succession of the Roman Pontiffs. As long as there shall be a Church on earth, in which the doctrines of the Apostles are maintained, and of which the Pastors derive their authority, as ambassadors of Christ from him by regular succession of Priesthood, so long will the Church of Christ endure; and the time shall never be when that Church shall fail.
Most of the Churches which separated from the Roman See at the time of the Reformation had derived the doctrine of the Apostles and the Apostolic succession of Pastors through the medium of the ancient Church of Rome. But that Church had no right to make the transmission of the gift of God a means of her own aggrandisement. She had received freely-freely she was to give. The Apostolic doctrine, and a priesthood of Apostolic origin, being established in these Churches, they became parts of the general Apostolic Church, entirely independent of the Church of Rome; and although they were for a long time unjustly held in her bondage, their natural right of independency was never annulled. When, therefore, at the time of the Reformation they asserted this right for the purpose of tracing back their steps to the scriptural doctrine and worship from which the Church of Rome had led them, so far were they from separating themselves from the general Apostolic Church by that act, that they became more strictly and intimately parts of it than they were before.
Historical Lessons of the Roman Breviary. No. 6.
Dec. 8.-CONCEPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY.
(ABRIDGED FROM THE BREVIARY OF THE FRANCISCANS.) THERE is, strictly speaking, no Historical Lesson for this festival; but the Franciscans, who pique themselves upon their extravagant devotion towards the Virgin Mary, and who have an especial privilege from the Holy See to accumulate a greater number of blasphemies respecting her in their public services than any other order, have a very long office, with an octave, composed of psalms, hymns, collects, extracts from the Fathers, and passages from Scripture, many