« PoprzedniaDalej »
L. Yes surely, for there was always a Catholic church, that is, some particular church, so called, in the same sense as Rome is now.
G. Pray then, my lord, tell me what particular church was so called, in this sense, before there was a Christian in Rome? And how came that church to lose it? And how was it transferred to Rome?
Every bishop, every church, and every member of it, may be called Catholic, and were so called, as being included in the general notion of the Catholic church ; but in the sense you have mentioned, as head and principle of unity to all churches, no bishop or church ever had it, till taken up in the latter times by the bishop and church of Rome.
L. But how came the bishop of Rome to that sway he has long obtained in the church?
G. It is very obvious, because Rome was the metropolis of the empire: and consequently her bishop must be more conspicuous than any other, have more respect payed him, and more applications made to him, especially after the emperors became Christian. And for the same reason, when the seat of the empire was translated to Constantinople, the bishop of that church took upon him, and aspired further to an universal supremacy, but was opposed by Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome. There was no other consideration then for the superiority of one bishop or church, but the secular dignity of the place ; for which reason the Patriarch of Jerusalem (which was incontestably the mother church of all) was postponed, and made the lowest of all the patriarchs. But for divine right, and Christ having named any one bishop or church as head and superior to all others, there is not a word. And it could not be Rome before Rome was Christian; and Christ never named her upon any occasion whatsoever, or gave the least hint towards her, or that possibly can be applied to her. Strange and unaccountable! If he meant to build the whole Christian faith upon her, and to make her the Catholic church, as including all other churches of Christians, and in all ages throughout the whole world!
But, my lord, fact (as I said before) is the surest way to give us a true light of things. And the frame or governinent of the church is a fact which must be determined by histories and records, not criticising upon words that afford no certainty. Let us look, therefore, into the frame of the church, from the beginning. I hope I have made it plain from the history of the Acts of the Apostles, that there was none of them appointed as sovereign over the others, whatever words may be strained in favour of St. Peter; for if he was called a “ rock or foundation, So were all the others, they are called the “ twelve foundations” of the church :* which is said to be built upon
the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone ; of and not any particular prophet or apostle. And if the keys of Heaven were promised to Peter, this was fulfilled in giving them to him jointly with all the others, without any mark of superiority in him * Rev. xxi, 14: + Eph. ii. 20. Matth. xvi. 19.
as in the commission to " teach all nations,"* it was equal to them all. And we find, in fact, that it was exercised by them all with equal authority.
And all the regimen of the church, which the apos tles appointed was that of bishops in their several districts, without head or sovereign bishop over them all, as supreme judge of controversy : of which there is not the least tittle to be found in any of the histories or writings of those ageš next after the apostles; though there were many controversies even in faith among them, which an appeal to this judge had speedily ended ; but no such thing appears, which could not have been missed had it been known. Metropolitans were early, that is, the bishop of the metropolis or chief city of a province, who did preside in the synods of that province, and had other ecclesiastical privileges granted him, by the common consent of the bishops of the province, for order sake, and greater harmony of discipline. But a patriarch, with jurisdiction over several metropolitans or provinces, was never heard of in the church, till the council of Chalcedon, 450 years after Christ. And many provinces were not put under these patriarchs, but had exempt jurisdiction of their own, as before, of which Britain was onę; for the patriarchat of Rome extended only to Italy and the isles adjacent. But the first pretence to universal supremacy was set up by John bishop of Constantinople, after the seat of the empite was translated thither, against whom Gregory the Great wrote, and said that though his see of Rome had always the
precedence of Constantinople, yet that none of his predecessors, the bishops of Rome, had ever assumed such an arrogant title, which he calls “a Luciferian pride," and declares him who should take it to be the forerunner of Antichrist.* And yet his next successor but one, that is Boniface III. did take it, being given him by Phocas, that traitor and usurper, who murdered his master Mauricius, the einperor, and seized bis throne, whom Boniface owned and abetted, and was made universal bishop for his reward, in the beginning of the seventh century. Thus the supremacy now claimed by Rome was introduced, and has been maintained, pro viribus, ever since. And under this, Britain has been subdued, which never was under the patriarchat of Rome: so much has the government and unity of the chureh been altered from what it was in the apostles' time, or in the first ages of the church. And thus has Rome usurped the name of the Catholic church, and placed all its unity in submission to her bishop! Here we see the degrees by which this encroachment crept on; the patriarchat began in the fifth, and the universal supremacy in the seventh century, And Britain, which held it out against the patriarchat of Rome, was at last conquered by the inore apparent usurpation of her universal supremacy, so obtained as I have told.
And yet I have heard some Britains say, that though they thought the church of Rome the most corrupt part of the Christian church, both as to doca trine and worship, and to be a cage full of unclean birds ; yet that they must be of her, and enter into that cage, because she was the Catholic church. : This is like that desperate maxim in the canon law; I quoted before out of the decretals, that “ thouglı. the Pope should draw infinite numbers of people with him into bell, yet we must not find fault with him, nor reprove him,” &c.
* Epist. Lib. ii. Ep. 32, 36, 38. Lib, vii. Ep. 30, 36, &c,
And I must observe also here, that though France has thrown off the Pope's infallibility, and his deposing power over princes, and bas limited his supremacy, that is indeed taken it wholly away, for no supremacy (properly so called) can be limited, for then it ceases to be supreme: yet France remains still in the dregs of the corruptions of Rome, both as to doctrine and worship. The religion of the people there, is the adoration of the host and of the cross, invoeation of saints, worship of images, praying souls out of
purgatory, telling their beads, and going to confession.
L. I have heard yourself say, that confession was a good thing, rightly used.
G. And so I say still, but not in that sense it is generally used with you, and is expressed in yoạr Catechism ad Parochos, de Pænitentiæ Sacramento, sect. 46, 47. That such a repentance as God will not accept, nor pardon for it, is made sufficient by the sacrament of penance, and all our sins remitted by it. And that, paucissimi, very few can be saved without it. They might have said none, for they here require in repentance acceptable to God, a sense