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Who heid a cup of all pollutions full,
Jehovah's incommunicable names. -Pollock.. Man's thirst for power is insatiable. It is a principle of his nature to be discontented with what he is, and to seek to be what he is not. Advancing from one degree of influence and power to another, he still looks forward to the attainment of sonie new desire. And could he wield all the immense wealth of earth, and subject her entire doinisions to the mandate of his sovereign will, the vacuum of his ambitious longings would be but a vacuum still---a vacuum of enlarged capacity, demanding inore imperiously for that satisfaction to its peculiar wants, wbich it is never destined to realize. No barrier is sufficient to bind the aspirations of the human soul. Inebriate with the proud honor of the world, man, not unfrequently, essays to scale the very battlements of heaven in his daring presumption, and to in. vest his insolence with the attributes of the Deity. And nowhere do we find this character of man---not as he is an heir of the Grace of God in Christ, but of man as he is constituted in a state of nature, of unregenerate man---nowhere do we find this character of men more eminently portrayed than in the history of the Church of Rome.
Very early after the introduction of the Christian era, even in the days of the Apostles, this thirsting after power---this ambition for advancement and dominion began to display itself even among the prosessed followers of Jesus. That such a principle should exhibit itself amongst the worldlings can be no matter of surprise; but that it should display itself among those who had embraced the religion of the meek, and lowly, and despised, and persecuted, and crucified Jesus, whose kingdam and maxims were not of this world...this is a legitimate subject of wonder; and it would be impossible for us to account for it, if we did not know that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Throughout the whole dominion of
quered nations. To be a Bishop of the Church in the city of Rome, was to be possessed of an ecclesiastical importance, to a considerable extent, proportionate to the political importance of the city. There temptations were brought to bear upon the Bishop, or Presiding Pres. byter of the Church, such as no Bishop or Presbyter elsewhere realized. There, seductive influences, peculiar to the Empire city of the world, prevailed. The pomp and affluence characteristic of the principal citizens, the luxury, the avarice, the ambitions.--all contributed to contaminate the minds and hearts of those, who there officiated in the name of the meek and lowly Jesus. If controversies of difficult decision occured any where in the Church, either on the subject of doctrinė, or discipline, to whom would a reference as likeTy be made for counsel, as to the Bishop who had his residence in the city to which all political controversies were carried? It is very easy to conceive, how that the people everywhere throughout the Roman Empire, familiar with seeking for and resting satisfied with an answer to their polliical difficulties from the Officers of State in the City of Rome, or rather from the Emperor residing there, should also seek for an answer to their ecclesiastical difficulties, by an appeal to the principal officer of the Church residing in the same city. And such was the fact. The City of political superiority became also the city of ecclesiastical superiority. The Bishop of Rome realizing a preeminence of authority and influence from his location-- -having a power to decide ecclesiastical controversies which no other Bishop of the Church possessed -
|---a power conferred on him from the simple consideration that he was Bishop of Rome, and not because of any original right he possessed 10 such preeminence;.--the Bishop of Rome thus circumstanced, would certainly need a great deal of grace to be preserved from being led astray. But it seems he had not grace enough. He soon began to esteem himself to be to the Church, what the Emperor was to the State. Flattered by the confidence volun. tarily reposed in him, and the umpireship of controversies conferred on hun---grown rich by the munificence of the people, and proud of the honors of his starinn his carnal ambition becomes dominant, and of gradualism. Victor, in the Second Century was the first Bishop of Rome, who seems to have become conscious of his supremacy. Bul he was soon reduced to a state of doubt, it seems, as to this matterr--at least, he became careful how he urged it. It was not till in the seventh century, when by the instrumentality of the infamous Phocas, Baniface III, acquired a title of “universal Bishop of the Church," that the doctrine of the universal supremacy of the Bishop of Rome became a dogni a in the Church! It had been contended for by individuals before this time, but now it enters upon the list of settled controversies. But here advancement did not cease. Ambition prompted on---ambition which knew no landmarks in the laws of God or natural justice, and as the age grew darker by the night of ignorance which was settling deep and fast upon the people, and opulence and authority rendered the Bishops of Rome, and their clerical confederates, more indomitably haughty and aspiring, we see them robeing themselves in pretensions still more assuming and danger. ous; and early in the eighth century, we hear the spiritual thunderbolts rumbling from the throne of His Holiness, and see them quell, by the very magic of their terror, the most violent insurgencies of the populace, and hear Pope Gregory II. declare to the Grecian Empror Leo Isaurus, that the nations of the West held. Si, Peter as a God," and the Pope himself receives, with ghostly delight, the title of Arch Druid from his barbarian converts. Higher and bigber do they aspire, impelled by an insatiable thirst for power, until when al. most every light of science has expired, and religion was glimmering her last living ray among men, and superstition was lighting her dismal orgies throughout the earth, in almost every habitation of the sons of men, they lifted up a bolder hand, and emphatically
“Stole the livery of the Court of Heaven
To serve the devil in." Then it was not enough to be known by the simple unpretending title of Bishop Rome, or even by that of Bishop of the universal Church; but the magnificent successors of Peter received the more insposing designations “Vicar of Christ, Lord of lords, and King of kings, God of the Earth,” &c.; and it was maintained that that Church alone was the true Church of Christ and body of genuine believers on earın, in which the universal supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was knowledged. And as evidence of this truth, it was farther maintained that the Church of Rome alone was possessed of Unity and Infallibility, essential attributes of the true Church of Christ on earth. The same pretension is stili made on behalf of the Church of Rome.
The same pompous titles are still claimed on behalf of the Bishop'in Rome. Now we are certainly in a very unsafe condition, if these claims of the Church and Bishop of Rome are well founded. Is it true then, that that Church it the only true Church of Christ on earth out of whose pale salvation is impossible, in which the universal su.' premacy of the Bishop of Rome is acknowledged? So it is maintained. Certainly then, the destiny of all Protestants is sealed. But how is it known that that Church is the only true Church of Christ on earth? How have the Roman Bishops become entitled to anathe: matize us all to hell who are not persuaded that it is our duty to subscribe to the doctrine of their universal supremacy? The Roman logician replies, "the true Church of Christ and body of genuine believe ers on earth must be one and infallible; the Roman Church is one and infallible, and the Roman Church alone; therefore the Roman Church alone is the true Church of Christ and body of true believers on earth.” The argument is very conclusive, if the premises be admitted. If it be true that the Church of Rome is possessed of unity and infallibility, and she alone, then all must be admitted. She is certainly that Church of Christ, out of whose pale salvation is imsossible. Now we dispute her claims to unity and infallibility, We are so far from admitting thai she exclusively inherits these attributes of a true Church, that we dery her claims to these attributes at all. She is neither distinguished by unity or infallibility. And if she has neither unity nor infallibility, herself being judge, she forfeits not only the right to be considered the only true Church of Christ on earth, but she also forfeits the right to be considered a Church of Christ. Let us inquire into this matter.
If unity and infallibility pertain to the Chureh of Rome, like gravity and inertia in material bodies, they must have a common center; unity must center where infallibility does, and infallibility must cen. ter where unity does. And so they do, in the estimation of the advocates of the Catholic Church of Rome. Her unity consists in the acknowledgment of One Supreme Infallible Head, the judge of all her controversies and her guide in the way. of all truth. Then her unity
Now does the Church of Rome unite in one Supreme infallible Head? 'Is she agreed on this subject? Do her members come from all their various divergencies on other subjects, and converge into oné focus here? No such thing. If so, we would grant that she was one on this point at least. But here she is divided, and it is utterly preposterous for her to claim unity as her distinctive and peçuliar attribute, if she is divided in that in which alone her unity can consist. An association of individuals,' under one acknowledged Sovereign. becomes one moral or political person. They are one, because they acknowledge one Sovereign. No association of individuals can acknowledge two or more Sovereigns at the same time, of rival powers, and preserve their unity. They cease to be one moral or political person, as soon as they surrender the oneness of their sovereignty or headship; and they form just as many parties, or rather as many distinct "bodies politic," as are the Sovereigns, or supreme sources of authority which they acknowledge.
And how is it, with the Church of Rome in this respect? Does she acknowledge but one Supreme infallible Head? She professes to da so. But what is the truth of the matter? She does not. She acknowledges no less than three distinct infallible heads, each of which are rival headships, the acknowledgment of any one of which is inconsistent with the acknowledgment of any one of the others. One party of her communion contends for the personal infallibility of the Pope; another party for the infallibility of General Councils; and a third party denies the personal infallibility of the Pope, and also the infallibility of General Councils without the approbation of the Pope, and contends for the infallibility of Popes and Councils in their united capacity. Now there are certainly three distinct parties, or bodies politic, in the Church of Rome, each acknowledging a distinct infallible head. The Council of Constance, which met ip 1414, and the Council of Basil, which took place in 1431, decided that a General Council was superior to the Pope, and that “without destruction of salvation,” this doctrine could not be denied. In the sixteenth century, the Council of Lateran under Julius II. and Leo X. determined that a Pope was superior to General Councils. Now certainly the former decrees of the Councils of Constance and Basil anathematize to external perdition the miembers of this Lateran Council, with their two successive Popes, for they have been guilty of denying the superiority of General Councils. The high Romanists or Trapsalpines believed the Pope to be the Supreme infallible Head of the Church, and the low Romanists or Cisalpines believed the Supreme infallible