Page images

been delivered, by the merciful dispensations of God, to the children of men.

Such is the power, which we are taught to be. lieve, has been given by Christ to his Church; and no other, in regard to this subject, does she pretend, either to exercise, or to have received from the hand of her founder. When new errors spring up, or when uncertainty, and doubt, respecting any important point of religion, divide the opinions of men, then she pronounces her solemn decisions, which are irreformable, because they are infallible, and from which there lies no ulterior appeal. In this mode of proceeding, she usurps no authority, which she has not received from her divine founder; she claims no privilege, which has not been given her from above: she executes no commission, with which she has not been fully invested by our heavenly Master, when he said to his Apostles, and to their Successors in the Ministry: All power is given unto me, in heaven, and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising 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 unto the end of the world. Amen! * I remain, &c.

J. C.

Matth. xxvj. 18, 19, 20.


Bath, Nov. 5, 1813.


Is not the Council of Lateran at variance with the

Council of Constance, respecting the Authority of the Pope?

If Mr. *

* had been good enough to have pointed out, in his question, to which of the General Councils of Lateran, he meant to allude, then his inquiry would have been of a more satisfactory nature, and an answer might have been framed both with more precision, and more ease. If that gentleman, however, will refer, for a moment, to the qualifications, which I have already stated, as necessary, for the constitution of a General Council, he will find, that the difficulty, which he imagines, will soon disappear. The subject to which I presume he wishes to point your attention, is that wbich relates to the question of the Pope's Superiority, or Subjection, to the Authority of a General Council. That question is one which forms no article of Catholic faith, bacanse it is one which possesses neither of those qualities which are necessary to give it that character, universal belief, or the solemn decision of the whole 'undivided Authority of the Catholic Church. In the 4th and 5th Sessions of the Council of Constance, this question was, indeed, agitated, and even was decided, in favour of the supremacy of a Council: But those Sessions, even allowing them to possess all the characters of Authenticity, have never been universally received as the Acts of a General Council, because they were held, in the absence of the Sovereign Pontiff, wbo had fled from the city of Constance, and because no part of the proceedings of that Council has received the approbation of the Pope, but that, which relates to the principles of faith, and the reformation of morals: Under tliese circumstances, it is perfectly allow. able for any Catholic, without prejudice to the rectitude, or the integrity of his faith, to adopt the opinion, which he chooses, on the subject, until the Church may judge it proper to decide on the question, or until she declares, that the Council of Constance is general, in each one of its Sessions. Were. one or other of these events to occur, then Mr. *

* * would immediately see, that the diversity of opinion, which now prevails, amongst Catholics, on this subject, would be lost, for ever, in the respectful silence of universal submission.

I remain, &c.

J. C.

[ocr errors]


Bath, Nov. 6. 1813.


Did not Iræneus resist Pope Victor! The circumstances which gave rise to what Mr. *

* * considers as an act of resistance on the part of Iræneus to the authority of Pope Victor, sprang out of the error of some of the Eastern Churches, respecting the observance of the solemnity of Easter. That St. Victor was not himself in error, on that subject, is very evident from the subsequent decisions of the General Council of Nice, and I may also add, from the practice not only of the Catholic Church, but also from the practice of that particular Church to which Mr. *

belongs. Whatever been the conduct of St. Iræneus, on the occasion in question, his sentiments, in regard to the point in dispute, were those of St. Victor ; and if any difference of opinion existed between them, certainly that difference did not amount either to the violation of any principle of christian charity, or to any denial, on the part of the former, of the superior rank and authority of the latter.

It appears from the evidence of Ecclesiastical History, that previously to the elevation of St.

may have

Victor, to the dignity of Sovereign Pontiff, St. Iræneus had been deputed, on a mission of conciliation and of peace, by the Church of Lyous, of which he was then no more than a Priest, to the Predecessor of Victor, respecting this same subject, and had then succeeded in the object of his mission. The question was again revived, under the pontificate of Victor; and when the continued opposition, wbich was still formed to the due observance of this solemnity, by the Churches of Asia, lad determined the Pontiff to proceed against them, by ecclesiastical censures, St. Iræneus again interfered, and by his letters, endeavoured to lead him to the adoption of more gentle and more moderate measures. If Mr. *

imagine that from this circumstance he is at liberty to infer, that the Papal supremacy was either unknown to that age, or denied by St. Iræpeus, it will be easy from St. Iræneus hiinself, to prove his mistake. Speaking of the Church of Rome, he says, It is necessary that "every" Church, that is, that the faithful every where be in communion with it, on account of its more exulted PRINCIPALITY, in which Church, the tradition from the Apostles is ever preserved.* The conduct of Pope Victor, in regard to those

• L. 3. C. %. Ed. Colloniens, p. 232.

« PreviousContinue »