Images de page
PDF
ePub

SECTION II.

Of spiritual and temporal Authority.

1. The pastors of the church--who are the body representative either dispersed or convened in council, have received no commission from Christ to frame new articles of faith-these being solely divine revelations--but only to explain and to define to the faithful what anciently was, and is received and retained, as of faith in the church, when debates and controversies arise about them. These definitions in matters of faith only, and proposed as such, oblige all the faithful to a submission of judgment. But,

2. It is no article of faith, that the church cannot err, either in matters of fuct or discipline, alterable by circumstances of time and place, or in matters of speculation or civil policy, depending on mere human judgment or testimony. These things are no revelations deposited in the Catholic church, in regard of which alone, she has the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit. -Hence it is deduced,

3. If a general council, much less a pupal consistory, should presume to depose a king, and to absolve his subjects from their allegiance, no Catholic could be bound to.submit to such a decree.-Hence also it follows, that,

4. The subjects of the king of England lawfully may, without the least breach of any catholic principle, renounce, upon oath, the teaching or practising the doctrine of deposing kings excommunicated for heresy, by any authority whatsoever, as repugnant to the fundamental laws of the nation, as injurious to sovereign power, as destructive to peace and government, and consequently in his majesty's subjects, as impious and darma-. ble.'

5. Catholics believe that the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter, is the head of the whole Catholic church; in which sense, this church may therefore fitly be styled Roman Catholic, being an universal body, united under one visible head. Nevertheless,

6. It is no matter of faith to believe that the Pope is in himself infallible, separated from the church, even in expounding the faith : by consequence, papal definitions or decrees, in whatever form pronounced, taken exclusively from a general council, or universal acceptance of the church, oblige none, under pain of heresy, to an interior assent.

7. Nor do Catholics, as Catholics, believe that the Pope has any direct or indirect authority over the temporal power and jurisdiction of princes. Hence, if the Pope should pretend to absolve or dispense with his majesty's subjects from their allegiance, on account of heresy or schism, such dispensation would be vain and null: and all Catholic subjects, notwithstanding such dispensation or absolution, would be still bound in conscience to defend their king and country, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, (as far as Protestants would be bound) even against the Pope himself, in case he should invade the na

tion.

8. As for the problematical disputes, or errors of particular divines, in this or any other matter whatsoever, we are no wise responsible for them; nor are Catholics, as Catholics, justly punishable on their account. But,

9. As for the king-killing doctrine, or murder of princes excommunicated for heresy, it is universally admitted in the Catholic church, and expressly so declared by the council of Con

· Mr. Berrington in his edition observes in a note at this place,“ that he dislikes the word darnnable, as it conveys no idea, or, if any, says too much: but lets it stand to shew how desirous our ancestors were, by the most emphatical language, to express their detestation of the papal deposing power.

stance, that such doctrine is impious and execrable, being contrae ry to the known laws of God and nature. · 10. Personal misdemeanors, of what nature soever, ought not to be imputed to the Catholic church, when not justifiable by the tenets of her faith and doctrine. For which reason, though the stories of the Irish cruelties or powder plot, had been exactly true (which yet, for the most part, are notoriously misrelated) nevertheless Catholics, as such, ought not to suffer for such offences, any more than the eleven apostles ought to have suffered for the treachery of Judas.

11. It is a fundamental truth in our religion, that no power, on earth can license men to lie, to forswear, or perjure themselves, to massacre their neighbours, or destroy their native country, on pretence of promoting the Catholic cause or religion : furthermore, all pardons or dispensations granted, or pretended to be granted, in order to any such ends or designs, could have no other validity or effect, than to add sacrilege and blasphemy to the above-mentioned crimes.

12. The doctrine of equivocation or mental reservation, however wrongfully imputed to the church, was never taught, or approved by her, as any part of her belief: On the contrary, simplicity and godly sincerity are constantly inculcated by her as truly Christian virtues necessary to the conservation of justice, truth, and common security.

· SECTION III.

Of other Points of Catholic Faith.

1. We believe, that there are seven sacraments, or sacred ceremonies, instituted by our Saviour Christ, whereby the merits of his passion are applied to the soul of the worthy receiver.

2. We believe, that when a sinner repents of his sins from the bottom of his heart, and acknowledges his transgressions to God and his ministers, the dispensers of the mysteries of Christ, resolving to turn from his evil ways, and bring forth fruits worthy of penance; there is then, and no otherwise, an authority left by Christ to absolve such a penitent sinner from his sins: which authority, we believe, Christ gave to his apostles and their successors, the bishops and priests of his church, in those words, when he said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven unto them,&c.

3. Though no creature whatsoever can make condign satisfaction, either for the guilt of sin, or the pain eternal due to it, this satisfaction being proper to Christ our Saviour only; yet penitent sinners, redeemed by Christ, may, as members of Christ, in some measure satisfy by prayer, fasting, alms-deeds, and other works of piety, for the temporal pain, which in the order of divine justice sometimes remains due, after the guilt of sin and pains eternal have been remitted. Such penitential works are, potwithstanding, no otherwise satisfactory than as joined and applied to that satisfaction, which Jesus made upon the cross, in virtue of which alone all our good works find a grateful acceptance in the sight of God.

4. The guilt of sin, or pain eternal due to it, is never remitted by what Catholics call indulgences; but only such temporal punishments as remain due after the guilt is remitted :—these indulgences being nothing else than a mitigation or relaxation, upon just causes, of canonical penances, enjoined by the pastors of the church on penitent sinners, according to their several degrees of demerit.-And if abuses or mistakes have been sometimes committed, in point either of granting or gaining indulgences, through the remissness or ignorance of particular persons, contrary to the ancient custom and discipline of the church; such abuses or mistakes cannot rationally be charged on the church, or rendered matters of derision, in prejudice to her faith and discipline.

5. Catholics hold there is a purgatory ; that is to say, a place, or state, where souls departing this life, with remission of their sins, as to the eternal guilt or pain, but yet obnoxious to some temporal punishment, of which we have spoken, still remaining due, or not perfectly freed from the blemish of some defects or deordinations, are purged before their admittance into heaven, where nothing that is defiled can enter. Further

more,

6. Catholics also hold, that such souls so detained in purgatory, being the living members of Christ Jesus, are relieved by the prayers and suffrages of their fellow-members here on earth : But where this place is; of what nature or quality the pains are ; how long souls may be there detained; in what manner the suffrages made in their behalf are applied; whether by way of satisfaction or intercession, &c. are questions superfluous and impertinent as to faith.

7. No man, though just, can merit either an increase of sanctity in this life, or eternal glory in the next, independently on the merits and passion of Christ Jesus: But the good works of a just man proceeding from grace and charity, are so far acceptable to God through his goodness and sacred promises, as to be truly meritorious of eternal life.

8. It is an article of Catholic belief, that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, there is truly and really contained the body of Christ, which was delivered for us; and his blood, which was shed for the remission of sins: the substance of bread and wine being, by the powerful words of Christ, changed into the substance of his blessed body and blood; the species or appearances of bread and wine, by the will of God, remaining as they were. But,

9. Christ is not present in this sacrament, according to his natural way of existence, or rather as bodies naturally exist, but in a manner proper to the character of his exalted and glorified body: His presence then is real and substantial, but' sacramental; not exposed to the external senses, or obnoxious to corporal contingencies.

10. Neither is the body of Christ, in this holy sacrament, 'separated from bis blood, or his blood from his body, or either of

« PrécédentContinuer »