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submission, whenever the church may judge, that she is in possession of sufficient reason 10 pronounce her solemn decision, on the point in dispute. It is a maxim well known, and in uni. versal reception amongst Catholic Divines: " In necessary points unity, in doubtful ones liberty, and charity in all."

I remain, &c.

J, C.

*

This point concerning the Infallibility of the Pore himself, when aposting teaching

epianisting teaching as Pojor and addressing in this tous

in this totum, the universal church has un pul nou out of the range of discussion & opinion,

I husbim defined by the Vatican Council to be a mattir of faith. "Roma locuta &at, Cauza jinchuear

CB.C.

frit

LETTER HI.

Bath, Nov. 3, 1813.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

What constitutes a General Council!

In answer to this question, I have to observe, that, for the regular constitution of a General Council, it is required by the principles of a Catholic, that it shall be convened (unless under particular circumstances) by the authority of the Apostolical See:that its President shall be the Pope; or his Deputy;--that his decree for its convention, shall be made known, in every prin. cipal province of the Christian world ;-that its object shall be the honor of God, and the interests of religion: that its deliberations shall be perfectly free from every control of undue inAuence;-and that its decisions shall have no effect, until they shall have received the approbation and the sanction of the Sovereign Pontiff. Whenever it has happened, that General Councils have been assembled, by any other Authority, than that of the Pope, it has been either with bis concurrence, or the measure has afterwards received the sanction of his approbation. That this is not a modern regulation, but the usage of antiquity, is very evident froin the proceeding of the General Council of Chalcedon, which was assembled, in the year 451, for the purpose of condemning the errors of Eutyches, who impiously taught the existence of one nature only, in the sacred person of Christ. From the decisions of that Council it appears, that one of its charges, against the person of Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, was the irregularity, and the presumption of his conduct, in having assembled a Council, without the advice of the Bishop of Rome. It is evident from the proceeding in question, that this regulation did not originate in the decrees of that Council; it is evident, that it is not a Canon, which is designed to invest the. Bishop of Rome with any privilege, which he did not previously possess; but it clearly sup: poses, that this privilege was considered as residing in the superior rank, and dignity of the Sovereign Pontiff. I remain, &c.

J. C.

LETTER IV.

Bath, Nov. 4, 1813.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

Hus one General Council never contradicted the

Decrees of another ?

I HAVE already stated to you, the qualifications, which are necessary, for the regular constitution of a General Council; and with a consideration of this circumstance always in view, you will find, that there is no instance, in which the « doctrinal, or the moral decreesof one General Council are known to be at variance, with those of another. On Subjects, which have no connexion with the deposit of faith, or with the laws of morality ;-on subjects which arise out of matters of fact, or which relate to regulations of discipline, it is possible, for the decrees of one Council to be in opposition to those of another, because the one is not fourded on divine revelation, and because the other may vary, as new circumstances occur, or as the interests of religion may appear to require.

But on every subject which is connected with faith, the case is of a very different description. When on any subject of this character, a General Council, supported by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, pronounces its judgment," then the

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Catholic, by the principles of his religion, is bound to believe, that its decisions can never be subject either to the mistakes of error, or to the variations of change.

There exists not, however, I presume, a man, any where, ignorant enough to suppose that we believe, that this authority extends to the power of establishing new articles of faith; or that an unreasonable and arbitrary commission is given to the Church of imposing on the minds of her subjects the belief of anything, which does not originate in divine revelation. Such power is neither claimed nor exercised by the Catholic Church. The faith, which Christ has committed to the care of his Church, and over which she is appointed to watch, was delivered, from the beginning of the Christian establishment, by the Spirit of God, complete and entire: It is not in the power of any man, or of any assembly of men, either to add to, or to take away from that sacred deposit: It is the work of the most High; and it cannot, nor ought it to be touched by the hands of a mortal. To the authority of the Church, in this respect, the Catholic attri. butes no power, but that of guarding this valuable trust against the daring attempts of deluded, or of ignorant men; of discriminating betwixt the real, and the imaginary revelations of Heaven; and of expounding, and of explaining those eter, hal and unchangeable truths, which have, once

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