« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
should a bare possibility, accompanied with infinite and apparent hazard, be an argument to any man to run into that danger?
"Lastly, this argument is very improper to be urged by those who make use of it. Half of the strength of it lies in this, that we Protestants acknowledge that it is possible a Papist may be saved. But why should they lay any stress upon this? What matter is it what we Heretics say, who are so damnably mistaken in all other things? Methinks if there were no other reason, yet because we say it, it should seem to them to be unlikely to be true. But I perceive when it serves for their purpose we have some little credit and authority among them."*
It is undoubtedly every man's duty, who has ability and capacity for it, to endeavour to understand the grounds of his religion, for the better any man understands the grounds and reasons of those doctrines which he professes to believe, the more firmly will he be established in the truth; the more resolute will he be in the day of trial; and the better able to withstand the arts and assaults of cunning adversaries, and the fierce storms of persecution. And on the contrary, that man will soon be moved from his stedfastness, who never examined the grounds and reasons of his belief: when it comes to the trial, he that has but little to say for his religion, will probably do and suffer as little for it.
"I have often wondered,” says Archbishop Tillotson, “why the People in the Church of Rome do not suspect their Teachers and Guides to have some ill design upon them, when they do so industriously debar them of the means of Knowledge, and are so very loth to let them understand what it is that we have to say against their
* Archb. Tillotson's Works, vol. 1. p. 125.
Religion. For can any thing in the world be more suspicious, than to persuade men, to put out their eyes, upon promise that they will help them to a much better and more faithful Guide? If any Church, any Profession of Men, be unwilling their Doctrines should be exposed to Trial, it is a certain sign they know something by them that is faulty, and which will not endure the light. This is the account which our Saviour gives us in a like case; it was because mens deeds were evil that they loved darkness rather than light. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light; neither cometh he to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved: But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God."*
* Archb. Tillotson's Works, vol. 1. p. 233.
SUPREMACY OF THE POPE.
The Pope of Rome claims to be the vicar of Christ, the supreme
head of his church upon earth, and the successor of Peter. This is a high and important claim, and should, therefore, rest upon the most indubitable foundation. It is a vital and cardinal point in the Papal system, and if supported by truth ought to be acknowledged by the whole world; but if not, it should be abandoned by those who are its advocates.
To an examination of the merits of this claim, we shall now direct the reader's attention.
The supremacy of the Pope is argued from his being the successor of Peter. Here two difficulties present themselves, the one is that there is no good evidence that Peter ever was at Rome. It certainly does not appear from scripture; indeed, there is nothing in scripture which would lead to such a supposition. Paul wrote one Epistle to Rome, and five from Rome, yet he makes no mention of Peter being there, and in his Epistle to the Coll. iv. 11., after naming several, adds “these only are my fellow workers, unto the Kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. Peter was not at Rome when Paul said “at my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me."* He was not there just before Paul's death, who writes to Timothy that all the brethren did salute him, and naming many of them he omits Peter.f There is no evidence from scripture that he ever was at Rome; and it is far from being * 2 Tim. iv. 16.
+2 Tim. iv. 21.
probable that he would have visited heathen Rome and have said nothing about it, and have given no account of his labours there; and as the evidence of scripture is negatively against his being there, the burden of proof
the shoulders of those who assert the fact. But admitting he was there, still there is no good evidence of his ever having been Bishop of Rome. Here then you will perceive are two points to be proved. It is not enough that it bé shown he was there, but it must be incontestibly proved that he was Bishop of Rome.
The only shadow of proof is that from Eusebius, who states that he presided at Rome twenty-five years. But Eusebius professedly gives the whole of his statement on the authority of Irenæus who flourished in the second century.* It is ultimately from Irenæus that we learn any thing of the early history of the Roman See, and he gives no such statement that Peter was ever Bishop of Rome, or that he handed down his divine prerogative, (whatever that might be) to his successors in that diocese. On the contrary he tells us that the two apostles, Peter and Paul, jointly founded the church at Rome and when thus founded they jointly delivered the Episcopate of it to Linus. “Fundentes igitur et instruentes beati Apostoli (Petrus et Paulus) Ecclesiam (Romanam,) Lino episcopatum administrandæ ecclesiæ tradiderunt. Succedit autem ei Anaclutus, etc.”! Peter and Paul are certainly represented here as both and equally engaged in the performance of certain acts, viz: founding a church and delivering the episcopate of it to another, and if so, they did it jointly. The word jointly, therefore, as used in the free translation given above, does not refer to the manner in which the authority passed from them to Linus; but to the manner in which the * See Eusb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 2, 4. lib. v. C., 5, 6. Şee Fab. Diff. Rom, p. 258. Iren, adv. Haer lib, iii c. 3.