Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

archam, toti diæcesi præesset, quod inauditum est). But here we have the identical expression twice used, and the incongruity of it is explained by the peculiar circumstances of the Churches of Cæsarea, Ephesus, and Heraclea, to which it is applied. For they had formerly been heads of independent patriarchates, but were now merged in the great patriarchate of Constantinople; and their bishops held a sort of anomalous rank, being more than Metropolitans of a province, and yet no longer retaining the full privileges of Patriarchs of a diocese.

CONSTANTINOPLE, III.

Actions 13 & 14, PAGES 45, 46. These decrees have, as may be supposed, occasioned great difficulties to the modern maintainers of the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Their favourite theory is, that the acts of the council have been corrupted by the Greeks in all the passages relating to this point. We have no reason for this beyond their assertion. Unfortunately, the letter of Leo, Bishop of Rome, exists, confirming this council, and referring expressly to the condemnation of Honorius. Pariterque anathematizamus novi erroris inventores, id est, . . . . Honorium, qui hanc apostolicam ecclesiam non apostolicæ traditionis doctrina lustravit, sed profana proditione immaculatam fidem subvertere conatus est. (Conc. vi. 1117.): and if that is not enough, we have the confirmation and approbation of the second Nicene Council to the same point (Conc. vii. 555.): and more than all this, we have the profession of faith heretofore made by the Bishops of Rome, in Liber Diurnus. See above, page 24, note n.

REMARKS.

As we have now concluded the examination of all the synods, allowed or claiming to be general councils, during the first seven centuries, and have set forth all their decrees which bear upon the points in dispute between the Churches of England and of Rome, let us pause to consider the testimony which they afford in respect of each. First let us inquire whether the Church of England, according to the faith and discipline which she now professes, is justified or condemned by these primitive witnesses. In one point, and in one only, and that an immaterial point of internal discipline, can she be proved to have departed from the ancient standard. I mean in that she allows her clergy after they are in orders to contract marriages. This custom was condemned by the first canon of the council of Neocæsarea, which was confirmed and stamped with the authority of the fourth general council at Chalcedon. Thus much is freely admitted. But it has been shown before that this canon is a violation of Chris

con

tian liberty as set forth in the Scriptures; that it is contrary to the canons of what is called the anteNicene or Apostolic code; that it savours of those heresies which dishonoured the Maker of the Universe, and regarded His own appointed ordinance as unholy; and that it has been found in practice to be attended with inconveniences injurious to the morals of clergy and people. And besides all this, it is to be considered that this canon was not made at a general council, but is merely found in a numerous code received and confirmed by one. And as no one pretends that the Church of England, in giving a general approval of the homilies, has tied herself to every sentence in them, so it is not to be considered or maintained that the Catholic Church, by giving a general approval to the code of laws in question, has tied itself, or any portion of its body, irrevocably, to every one of them. If the Romans maintain otherwise, by reason of the alleged (on their part) infallibility of general councils: an infallibility which they themselves have made a jest and a by-word throughout Christendom, rejecting, as we have seen, such councils, and such parts of such councils as they judged best; as if the same men, in the same place, and at the same time, and upon the same subjects, could be infallible one moment and fallible the next, the inspiration ebbing and flowing irregularly : let them abide the result of their own principles. But as the Church of England, though honouring in reality the true general coun

IS never

cils, with far more reverence than is paid to them by the Romans, has never ascribed infallibility to them, least of all in a minor point of internal discipline, her rulers are guilty of no inconsistency in relaxing a rule of discipline which, however expedient it might have been at the time, they have found to be contrary to edification, and hurtful to Christian holiness. The apostolic authority of the spiritual pastors of an integral portion of the Catholic Church must at least be allowed to avail thus far, provided that in the exercise of it they are guilty of no breach of charity by anathematizing others, who, in an indifferent matter, prefer a different course. Excepting this one minor point of discipline, there is not a single decree, of all that bear upon the points in dispute, which is contrary to the Church of England. Oh! but you forget, perhaps the Romans will say, the canons of Sardica, which acknowledge a pre-eminence in Rome which you reject. No, I do not forget them; but I consider, as I have already pointed out more than once, that canons which were unknown to the Church of Africa within a century of the time when they are stated to have been made, although that Church had no less than thirty-six representatives at the council which is said to have made them (Conc. ii. 656.); which, when first noticed in ecclesiastical history, were represented by the bishop of Rome to be Nicene, and not Sardican; which, notwithstanding the mention of the Sardican council in the second canon of the Trullan council, were rejected by the Greeks, as appears from the remonstrance of Pope Nicolas I. to the clergy of Constantinople in his letter to Photius, as follows: “In that ye say that ye neither have nor receive the Sardican council, nor the decretals of the holy pontiffs, it is difficult for us to believe you: especially since the whole Church receives the Sardican council, which took place among you in your country; how has it happened that the holy Church of Constantinople should reject it, and not retain it, as is fitting ?” (Conc. viii. 285), are totally destitute of all authority. But, waving for the sake of argument, these insuperable objections, and admitting, which it would be monstrous to do in reality, the genuineness of the canons of Sardica, what do they amount to? Simply to this, that the eighty worthy and orthodox bishops there assembled, considering that the Emperor for the time being was a favourer of the Arians, (I am giving the probable reason,) judged it expedient to recommend that in certain cases it should rest with Julius, the then bishop of Rome, to decide whether or no a cause should be reheard. I conceive this to be a reasonable solution of the matter, and that the canons, if genuine, were only intended to serve a temporary purpose, because the privilege with which they (evidently newly and for the first time) agreed to invest Julius, bishop of Rome, had been six years before admitted as belonging to the Emperor, by the council of Antioch: and the African bishops (as I

« PoprzedniaDalej »