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our Church, ceases to exist, and the Ark of God falls before the dagon of superstition. The chief ground of all errors in the Church of Rome is, the overvaluing traditions which the Tridentine synod profess to receive and reverence equally with, yea,
above the written word. Sure, says an eminent prelate, that man cannot be deemed honest whose tongue goes against his own hand. How heinous an imputation do they cast upon the God of truth, who plead tradition derived from Him, contrary to his own word! The traditions which the Romish Church lifts up to an unjust competition with the written word, our Saviour hath levelled with the dust. “ In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” And his servant Paul, having before his prophetic view, all the devices of “the man of sin,” guards his Colossian converts against this very artifice of tradition. “ Beware of being deceived through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
The next specious fallacy, in close connexion with tradition, by which the Popish disputant deceives the ignorant and unstable, is, the authority of the Church. The term is very imposing and startling; for what good Christian is not ready to bow to the authority of the Church ?
But here arises a previous question, — What Church? The Romanists have assumed to themselves, exclusively, the title of Catholic, or Universal.—This appellation describes and insinuates unwarrantable pretensions, which are alike contradicted by Scripture, reason, and antiquity.' The phrase Καθολική Εκκλησία, was first used by St. Ignatius, to denote, not a particular church, but the whole Christian Church, diffused over the whole world; of which, Christ is the only Head. “ Where the Bishop presides,” says the old Martyr, “ there let the congregation assemble ; as where Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. The people are to adhere to the Bishop as the Universal Church adheres to Christ.”
Our xixth Article agrees with this definition of a Catholic church :-"A visible church of men, in all places in which the pure word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance.” “These words are correspondent with the direction of our blessed Lord on this point, as gathered from the sacred volume. Knowing what great confusion would be in the last days, He commands, that those that are Christians, and would receive confirmation of the faith, should fly to nothing but
• See Appendix, G.
the Scriptures. If they have recourse to any other help, they shall be offended, and perish, not understanding which is the true Church.” To this rule and standard we firmly adhere, and by this criterion we would be tried, whether we be a true Church or not.
But let our Mother speak for herself, in rhe own words. “It is not lawful,” says our ninth Article, “to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's word written, neither may it expound one place of Scripture against another : wherefore, although the Church be a witness and keeper of Holy Writ, yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so, besides the same, ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation.” To what authority shall we have recourse ? to that Church whose opinions correspond with those of the Great Head of the Church Universal—to the authority of a Church that only claims for herself the modest and unassuming title of a witness, keeper, aud defender of holy writ; or to the authority of a Church that arrogates to herself a power above the Scriptures, and of superadding to the written word, articles of faith never heard of during the first ages of Christianity?
On the authority of what church can we rest with greater safety than on that of England ? for she embodies in her constitution all that is an
cient, holy, and excellent,--the learning of past ages, with the improvement of modern times : what a constellation of talent, what a clustre of virtues have shone forth from age to age among all ranks and classes of her children! the mind rest without fear or doubt on matters pertaining to salvation. If the stamp of antiquity be required, she bears on her forehead the date of the earliest ages of Christianity. If the soundness of her doctrine--if the purity of her ritual, be scrutinized, she fears not to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, nor measured by the standard of God's word.
The antiquity of our Church justly claims our notice. It is not, we allow, the antiquity of a church, which constitutes it a Catholic Church, for that may not have been always, or at all times from the beginning of Christianity:-otherwise the Church of Jerusalem would be the only Catholic Church, since it was the first of all Christian Churches, but that Church is Catholic which holds all Catholic doctrines, that antiquity always taught in all churches with one consent. Such were the four most noted Catholic Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Antioch ; and such is the Church of England.
During the first nine centuries, in which eight general councils had met, it was never heard, or read, that the Roman Church was taken in any
other notion, or signification than as a singular and particular church, and a member of the Church Universal. That pure apostolical faith and religion the whole Catholic Church possessed, and with it the Church of Rome up to the second council of Nice, when invocation of saints, and adoration of images, were introduced and sanctioned. The faith which was sent by Gregory to our Saxon ancestors was comparatively pure and scriptural:And here we must pay a tribute of gratitude to the church of Rome, not, indeed, as she is, but as she was.- In her golden age, and the days of her first love, the feet of those, who brought the glad tidings of salvation, appeared beautiful upon our coasts, travelling from the east-the very same, perhaps, from whom Rome herself received the first cheering message of salvation.
The Church first planted in Britain continued and flourished, for a time, in purity of doctrine, and primitive simplicity ; till at length it immerged into one less pure ; for the church of Rome, in the days of Augustin, had already received the taint of worldly policy.
In the silver age of Rome, arose our AngloSaxon church; though not altogether, for the Saxons had their Bishops not only from the Roman, but from the Scottish church. Hence, as we are equal to the Roman church in a lawful suc