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to that authority, must be looked upon as the work of Satan.
7. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church : but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17, 18.
If Protestants, to decline the force of this sentence, whereby the Son of God has so plainly established the jurisdiction of his Church for deciding controversies; if, I say, they should pretend that the words in the text relate not to articles of faith, but only to criminal matters, to trespasses of one private man against another; to give them an answer to this cavil, in the words of à learned author, let them consider, “That the greatest and most dangerous trespasses, and those which more especially (as being spiritual cases) ought to be brought to the spiritual court of the Church, are such offences as endanger the souls of many, the truth of religion, and the unity of the Church: if then other trespasses of our brother are matters of complaint and of the Church's cognizance, much more these; and if in those, where faith is not concerned, we are obliged to hear our Church guides, how much more where faith was concerned ?" Unerring Authority of the Church, Sec. ii. p. 79.
In a word, the tribunal which Protestants have set up to end disputes of religion, to wit, the Scriptures, as each of the contending parties shall expound it to the best of their judgment, is the very source where all controversies take their birth. It is a tribunal which has never ended any one controversy between them and their adversaries, nor even amongst themselves ; for the contending parties having all an equal right to judge of the controversy by the written word, the dispute can never be ended till one of the parties is prevailed on by the other's reasons to condemn itself. But is it not much rather to be expected that each one will give judgment in favour of his own opinion, and will remain stiff in his own sentiments ? And should all the rest of the world condemn him and his sect, he being as good a judge of the controversy as they, has not he as good a right to condemn them again ? Thus is schism irremediable in all the reformed churches. For why shall not that be lawful to the Valentinians which was lawful to Valentinus? and what was lawful to Luther be lawful to Lutherans ? and what was lawful to Calvin be lawful to Calvinists ? That is, to make new sects, and prefer their own judgment before that of all others. For, have they not, according to their own principles, all the same plea for dissenting from one another? The Presbyterians as good a plea to dissent from the Church of England, as the Church of England to dissent from the Church of Rome; the Independents from the Presbyterians; and the Quakers from them all? Each one, by the Reformation, being constituted a sovereign judge of the controversy between them and their adversaries, and each one having past judgment that their own party is in the right and their adversaries in the wrong.
But to do our Protestants justice, this tribunal of private judgment is no innovation of theirs, but a point of much higher antiquity; and in this point, it must be owned, their religion is very ancient; no custom having been more ancient from the beginning of the world, than for the refractory party in all disputes to appeal from the judgment of lawful superiors to their own private judgment: and, since the establishment of the Church of Christ, from the first heresy to the last, I believe there has not been one but appealed from the Church to the same tribunal—the written word of God, of whose sense themselves were to be judges. And had all controversies been allowed to be decided by this method, no article of the Christian faith, but the existence of a God, had been by this time left; every other article of the creed having been condemned as contrary to the written word, at the tribunal of private judgment, by one sect or other. The Trinity, by Arians and Semiarians; the Incarnation, by Nestorians and Eutychians; the Resurrection, by Hymenæus and Philetus, &c. 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18.
PROTESTANTS maintain, That we cannot safely rely upon the judgment of the Church and of general councils in controversies of faith or morals, because the pastors of the Church are but men, and may err, and may consequently lead us astray, if we pay entire obedience to their decisions. Therefore they conclude it to be much safer to adhere only to the written word of God. As though every private man and woman among Protestants, who are to
be the interpreters of this written word, were more than men, and could not err: or, indeed, were not far more likely to err than the pastors of the whole Church of Christ, though considered only as an illustrious assembly, even without the gift of infallibility. But we shall now prove this pretence of Protestants, viz., That the Church of God may err, to be expressly contrary to the Gospel of Christ.
1. “And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon
this rock Ỉ will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. xvi. 18.
If the Church of Christ shall at any time fall from the faith and doctrine of Christ into damnable errors, as Protestants pretend it did; then certainly will the gates of hell have prevailed against it; but Christ promised and foretold, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: then, either Christ was a false prophet, or he will never permit his Church to err. Suppose it were written in the Gospel, that the gates of hell shall prevail against the Church, would not Protestants, from hence, immediately draw this conclusion ? Therefore the Church will certainly err. Now the Gospel teaches the contrary proposition; The gates of hell shall not prevail against it; do not Catholics rightly conclude from hence: Therefore the Church will never err? But even their own sentence is not sufficient to convince those who are blind, because they will not see.
2. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded
you; and lo I am with you always even to the end of the world.” Matt. xxviii. 20, 21.
I suppose Protestants will grant that the apostles by virtue of this promise of our Saviour were infallible, and that those who heard and obeyed their doctrine, were fully secured from the danger of erring by following guides with whom Christ himself promised to be at all times; for, though he sits at the right hand of God in heaven, he is Head of the Church on earth ; Head both of the head and the members, whom he governs from heaven itself. (Ad Coloss. i. 18 ii. 19.) Now is evi. dent that this promise, which our Saviour made to his apostles, to be with them at all times, and to assist their ministry from heaven till the world shall end, did not regard only the apostles, because they were not to live to the end of the world, but the promise also reaches to their successors, the pastors of the Church, who have succeeded the apostles in their function, jurisdiction, and office of teaching the faith and worship of Christ to all nations : For to those who were sent to teach all nations, the promise is here evidently made: but these can be no other than the bishops and pastors of the Roman Catholic Church; because they are the only apostolical men, next to the apostles, that have effectually preached the gospel of Christ to all nations, and converted all the idolators, that have hitherto been converted: if, then, the apostles were infallible by virtue of this promise of Christ, it follows that the Church, in all ages since, has been infallible by virtue of the same promise ; and moreover, that the Church of Rome is this infallible Church.
3. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall