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judge of the sense of Scripture, and expound it for themselves.
2. “ And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip: Go near and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read Isaias the prophet, and he said : Understandest thou what thoù readest? And he said: How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts viii. 27.
If this eunuch, who was a holy man, and a serious student of Scripture, could not understand it without a guide, it can be no less than presumption for every private man and woman among Protestants to turn interpreters of Scripture.
3. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.” Luke xxiv. 27.
“ Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” Luke xxiv. 45.
If the very disciples of Christ could not understand the Scriptures without an interpreter, can it be supposed that every private man and woman amongst Protestants are better enlightened than they were ? If the apostles themselves did not understand the Holy Scriptures till our Saviour opened their understanding, let this, at least, teach Protestants that natural talents alone are not sufficient for expounding Scripture, unless their understanding be, by our Saviour Christ, in like manner opened. But no proof has yet appeared that our Saviour Christ has in particular opened the understanding of all Protestants, that they may understand the Scriptures better than other men: for, I am sure, whoever makes our Saviour Christ the author of all those jarring interpretations of holy writ, in which the Reformed Churches and ail their members, contradict one another, is one of the most notorious blasphemers that ever was. Let us conclude: that the authority, as well of expounding Scripture, as of teaching and instructing the flock in every point of the faith and true worship of Christ, belongs to the office of those whom God has given, pastors and doctors in his Church (Eph. iv. 11), to the successors of the apostles, not to every private man and woman among the laity.
POINT IV. PROTESTANTS hold, That in controversies and disputes of religion, we are not bound to submit to the judgment of the pastors of the Church ; but the contending parties ought to consult the Scriptures, and that each party has a right to decide the controversy by the written word, as each one shall expound it to the best of his judgment.
Contrary to the many texts of the written word of God. 1.
Father sent me, even so I send you.” John xx. 21.
2. “ As thou didst send me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world.” John xyii. 18.
3. Go therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matt. xxviii. 19.
4. “He that heareth you heareth me, and he
that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” Luke x. 16.
In other sciences, not so much the authority of the masters as the doctrine they teach, is to be regarded; because it is not authority, but reason chiefly, that teaches truth in human sciences. But as to revealed truths, these not being discoverable by reason, they must be learnt from such pastors and doctors as God has appointed to teach them. Therefore it pleased God that their authority should be very great; even his own authority our Saviour committed to them, and gave the most solemn sanction to it that was possible, as the texts above cited witness. So that now, in vindication of the authority they come invested with, they rightly style themselves, "ambassadors from Christ, dispensers of the mysteries of God, and their word the word of God, the word of Christ; God, as it were, speaking by their tongues.' 2 Cor. v. 20; 1 Cor. iv. 1; 1 Thess. ii. 13; Rom. x. 17. In consequence whereof they required a most strict obedience from all people to what they taught, denouncing anathema even to an angel from heaven, that shall teach contrary to their doctrine. Gal. i. 8. Not like the pastors of Protestants, who, to please their flock, style themselves advisers only, and counsellors in matters of religion; but, as became apostles vested with the authority of Christ, they required a sincere submission from the flock to their doctrine, decisions, and decrees, which is the very point the pastors of the Catholic Church now contend for against Protestants.
5. “And certain men which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye
be circumcised after the manner of Moses ye cannot be saved. When, therefore, Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this ques
and the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and gave judgment,” &c. Acts xv. 1.
Here the authority which the pastors of the Church have from Christ to judge of heresy and false doctrine, and to decide controversy, shines in its full lustre; while we see the first controversy that arose in the primitive Church, not referred to the private judgment of the contending parties, but called before the public tribunal of the apostles and elders, who, with St. Peter at the head, give judgment upon the matter in question, and oblige all the faithful, whether Jews or Gentiles, to submit and obey their decision. Now, let Protestants consider in this matter who are they who are guided by the written word (Acts xvi. 4); we Catholics, who, following this precedent of the first Council of Jerusalem, carry all controversies to the tribunal of the pastors of the Church; or they, who refer to the private judgment of the contending parties.
To these proofs of Scripture, Protestants reply: That the apostles indeed were infallible, and consequently no one might contend with them in a matter of doctrine; but, since their decease, we are to obey none but the written word, which they left behind them for the instruction of all ages. But this their reply is directly contrary to the written word; by which they pretend we ought to be wholly guided. For it is there written:
6. “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13.
And are we not here plainly taught by the apostle, that there is an order of
whom God has given for pastors in his Church to succeed the apostles, with like authority as they had to feed and
govern the flock of Christ, to decide what is heresy and what is not; that so the faithful, by obeying the decisions of their pastors, may persevere in the unity of faith, and not be liable to be seduced from it; and that this method is to continue as long as there shall be a Church, or heretics to impugn it? As to what Protestants therefore pretend, that the authority, jurisdiction, and power
which Christ gave to the apostles, of feeding and governing the flock, did not pass to their successors; it is a mere fancy, the product of the brains of enthusiasts, an opinion as destitute of reason as it is contrary to Scripture. But Protestants are by necessity driven into it; since either the pastors of God's Church must be stripped of all authority to decide controversy, or the Reformation, which was set up in direct rebellion