Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Fourth Conversation


J. N. Darby.

<22002E> 79 {file section a.}

N*. Good evening, Mr. O.; I am glad to see that you are come. You are already aware of what is occupying us; we shall get on more satisfactorily by your being here. Up to the present we could meet the case fairly, because I was only answering Dr. Milner's statements, but now I have to refer in turn to historical facts, and our friends here are not learned of course; and though, I trust, I should deal fairly with them, yet you can tell them if what I quote is not just. M. insists on our listening to the true church, and tells us it is infallible. We ask, Where is it? Where are we to find this infallibility?

Father O. I do not see what an ignorant person, such as Bill M., has to do disputing about religion: he has only to mind the direction of his pastor. How can such an ignorant person as he is judge about controversies that the most learned men discuss, and that the authority of the church alone can decide? He had much better have minded his religion, and shewn charity and good works in his life. However, as I found he had difficulties, I did not refuse to come and shew what the judgment of the true church is: otherwise, as Tertullian says, heretics are to be rejected, not discussed with. And I do not think it is a gentlemanlike thing of you, sir, to be coming and troubling my flock about their religion.

N*. We have been looking into that passage of Tertullian. As to troubling your flock, dear sir, you will kindly remember that our good friend, Bill M., had recently changed, as is commonly said, his religion, and, I suppose, gentlemanlike or not, some one had been troubling him, though I do not think he has much to say about a great deal of religion he had before, nor indeed since. However he is very zealous for his new opinions, and tells us he is so happy now that he could not but try and get James to turn to what he calls the true church, and he had succeeded in perplexing James. Now I suppose you hardly blame his zeal in this: there is a good deal of it going.

Father O. I do not blame his zeal; it is the natural fruit of charity and the peace that the true church always gives.

N*. Very well, then, you can hardly blame our meeting his arguments. We had procured Dr. Milner's "End of Controversy," and we have examined that hitherto. Now I deny entirely that Rome is the true church, or the Catholic church, in any sense; and Bill M., however zealous, was at a loss, and went to you: you can hardly blame him for that, and we are much obliged to you for coming. We will not ask you to go into all the marks of the true church; we can take them from Dr. Milner and the Catechism of the Council of Trent; but we want to know where the infallibility is. Here Bill M. and James, ignorant and sincere men, one a Roman Catholic and the other a Protestant, want to know (though James, like myself, is satisfied that the scriptures alone are certain truth, and of absolute authority, and sufficient) where this infallibility is to be found. I affirm that you have no certain source of truth at all, and no infallible guide to refer to.

80 Father O. Pardon me, you are to hear the church. God has promised to preserve it from error, and all it binds on earth is bound in heaven.

N*. The last is not said of the church, unless a particular assembly, two or three gathered together in Christ's name, be considered such; but let that pass now. Where is the church?

Father O. That is a question easily answered. It is the holy Roman Catholic apostolic church.

N*. Well, that is just what we deny; but where is the seat of infallibility, or, if we do not adopt the scriptures, the certain rule of faith? I met a Jesuit priest abroad; he told me there were three.

Father O. You must have mistaken him.

N*. I do not think you will reject what he said. He said, the authoritative decision as to the truth or infallibility was in the pope and the whole church; the consent of the church universal with the pope, or the pope and the whole church represented in a general council; or, lastly, the pope speaking ex cathedra.

Father O. All that is still the church itself, or the church by its divinely appointed organs.

N*. Very well, we may accept this then, and, by your permission, we will inquire whether certain truth is to be found by their means, and where. The first itself comes short of Vincentius Lirinensis' vaunted rule, "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus," what was held always, everywhere, by all, and the rule itself invalidates the decision come to at any given epoch, and obliges me to inquire what was always held. But man's holding anything is no proof of its truth: nor even all Christians, simply as such, holding anything. To have certain divine truth we must have God's revelation. Till Paul arose, or at any rate till the case of Cornelius, all Christians held the perpetual obligation of the law of Moses. Yet they were all wrong. God was obliged to give an express revelation to Peter, and the same to Paul, to lead the church from what all held. And even after that, the Jewish Christians held so ardently to their traditions, and sought so diligently to force the Gentile Christians to receive them, that the question had to be settled by the apostles and elders coming together at Jerusalem.

81 Nor even did this suffice; for so little unity, after all, was there on the subject, and so perverse is the human mind in its adherence to ceremonies and legal righteousness, that Paul had to resist him of whom you make so unholy a boast, the apostle Peter, to the face, because he, and through him Barnabas and all the Jews, were carried away by dissimulation on this point. And those at Jerusalem maintained their views, and harassed the apostle Paul unceasingly in his ministry, and finally induced him at Jerusalem to follow that course which, under God's over-ruling hand, ended in his imprisonment and death. Yet this was a point in which, according to Paul himself, the truth of the gospel was concerned. So little, even in apostolic times, is the unity of the church in its views to be depended upon, or even Peter himself. But the teaching of scripture, whether in the decrees in Acts 15, or in the Epistles — Galatians, Romans, Colossians, Timothy, and elsewhere — is as plain and as decided as possible. Revelation decides it simply; what is held by the church gives no certain sound at all. And this, remark, upon a vital point, which half fills the Epistles of Paul, and at a time when we are told that nearness to the apostles must make us sure of their doctrine. The word of God is quite clear; but even an apostle, and a great apostle, stumbles in his walk as to it. There cannot possibly be a stronger case.

Father O. But it was settled by the council at Jerusalem.

N*. Undoubtedly what was settled as truth by the decision of the apostles, none of us are disposed to question. The authority of councils as a foundation for the truth we will consider in its turn. We are now upon the consent of the whole church, including the pope. Now this fails at the first step; and if we are to take Peter at Jerusalem even as the first pope, he was to be publicly reproved by the apostle Paul, so that your great champion, Bellarmine (De Summo Pont. lib. 1, 38, 29-31), is embarrassed to the last degree by the case; tries to make the sin venial, etc., but is obliged to admit that the Latin Fathers hold it for sin. It is quite certain Paul did. But let us seek this unity and consent of all later down in the history of the church. Were all agreed as to re-baptizing heretics?

82 Father O. They all came to an agreement, and submitted to the pope.

N*. I admit the pope prevailed at last, as he has on many points more evil than this, but has broken up and divided the church by his pretensions to do so. But we are looking for the consent of the church to secure truth. Did not the godly martyr, Cyprian, and all Africa, Egypt, and Syria, and Asia Minor — that is, all the most ancient apostolic churches — reject the pope's dogmas on this point?

Father O. Yes, they did, but it did not succeed.

N*. Did they ever yield till the death of Pope Stephen removed the difficulties?

Father O. No, they did not.

N*. You uprightly admit what is a matter of notorious history; and then they came to a middle term — of not baptizing again if they owned the Trinity, and baptizing them again if they did not. (Canon 8, Council of Arles.) Now, I do not blame the concord thus established, but as a source of truth the common consent of the church failed thus early in the church's history. In a very large portion of the church, if subject to their bishops, they must have differed from Rome. Now I might multiply instances. In the case of the Donatists, the African bishops applied to the Emperor Constantine, and the civil authority interfered to settle it. For, alas! when the Emperor turned Christian, so servile was the church, that he for a time was the true pope. Yet when Constantine called councils, and regulated everything, he was not even baptized — was so only on his death-bed, to be sure to be clear of his sins.

Father O. Do you think it right to cast a slur upon the whole church of God thus?

N*. I think it right to examine facts, when you make such a body as this an authority for the truth. But we will go to more serious points than even the re-baptizing of heretics. I suppose you, as I do, abhor the principles of Arius.

83 Father O. Surely; and he was condemned by the church, and especially in the Council of Nice.

N*. He was justly so, we all admit; but did that settle the church in unity on the point? You know that Athanasius was the great and able champion of the truth. Did he not die excommunicated and banished?

Father O. Yes, but that was through the intrigues of a wicked Arian emperor.

N*. I agree with you; but then how can the consent of the church secure the faith? Here was, if any be, a fundamental article — the true divinity of the blessed Lord — given up (save by some honoured and blessed confessors) by nearly the whole professing church, instead of its securing doctrine. But further. The pope himself, though for some time faithful, at last signed a semi-Arian formulary. Constantius had banished him from Rome because he would not be an Arian. In this he was to be honoured, and Felix was appointed pope in his place. The Emperor, on entering Rome to celebrate a triumph, found he was loved, saw him afterwards, and he signed a formulary which omitted the testing word, and got an acknowledgment from the prelates who were with Constantius that they should be condemned who said Christ, as to substance and in every way, was not like the Father, and then he was restored, and there were two popes till Felix's death. Further, was not Arius restored by Constantius' order to full communion at Jerusalem, and recalled from exile to Constantinople?

Father O. Yes; but he died miserably at Constantinople before he could be restored there.

N*. Be it so. I know it is said so. If that were God's judgment upon him, what are we to make of the churches who, on Constantius' order, restored him? Is it not as plain as can possibly be that in the very foundation truth of our religion the professing church, bishops, pope, and all, failed wholly to preserve the truth? Indeed Constantine, who had first condemned the Arians, falling under the influence of Eusebius, the prelate of Nicomedia, an able and learned man but a semi-Arian and worse, recalled the Arians everywhere, and, as we have seen, Athanasius was excommunicated and banished; then Constans, who held to the Nicene Creed, ruling in the west, and Constantius in the east, the east was Arian, and the west held to the Council of Nice; but Constantius, having defeated the usurping assassin of his brother Constans, held a council at Milan, where Athanasius was condemned. He banished those who would not subscribe its decrees — Pope Liberius, Hosius, Lucifer, and others; but, as we have seen, Liberius compromised the matter, and returned, and the aged and respected Hosius, alas! gave way. Lucifer remained firm, and became the head of the sect of Luciferians, whom Jerome wrote against. Now, mark that all this confusion was on the very essence of the faith.

84 Father O. No doubt it was a sad time; but do you not see how God has been with His church, and preserved it in the faith, notwithstanding all this?

N*. That I admit, and bless Him for with all my whole heart. The gates of hell shall never prevail against it. That is the comfort of one's heart in reading its history. But our point now is, can the professing church secure our faith by its maintaining with one consent any doctrine? The history of Arianism clearly proves that this is not so, and that it cannot be trusted for it. We shall have to touch on this again when we speak of councils. Take, again, the case of image worship. Was there universal consent as to that?

Father O. There is now; Romans and Greeks unite in it.

N*. But if now, what comes of the rule what was always, everywhere, and by all? Is it not true that for centuries there were none? Your great dogmatist, Petavius, admits that none were used for four hundred years, and gives as a reason that there was danger of their being confounded with the heathens, but that in the fifth, when she got her liberty, she began to have them openly. (Peter de Incarn. 15, 13, 3.) Epiphanius, finding an image on a curtain in a church, tore it with his own hands, as contrary to scripture. He charges their introduction on heretics, as does Augustine, and declares that the church condemns such habits. (Epiph. in Jerome lit. LL. ed. Vallar, 1, 253.)

The Council of Eliberis, in Spain, A.D. 305, decreed that pictures ought not to be in churches. For a length of time they were rejected in the East, and insisted on by the popes; solemnly condemned in a council of three hundred and thirtyeight prelates at Constantinople, in A.D. 754; approved by a council of three hundred and fifty in A.D. 787; condemned in England in A.D. 792, and by a great council of prelates at Frankfort, under Charlemagne, A.D. 794.

Now this will come before us under the question of councils. But how am I, then, to learn anything sure from the consent of the professing church, or hold what is held always, everywhere, and by all? These are only examples on the most important points of doctrine and practice. The truth is, for some hundreds of years, from the third to the sixth and seventh centuries, there was an endless war of opinions, and the Emperors trying to keep the peace by their own decrees, or by convening councils. Then, if we come down lower, after bitter and prolonged conflict, and mutual excommunication, the Greek and Roman, or Eastern and Western, Christendom, finally separated in the tenth century, and all the most ancient apostolic churches condemn Rome; so do the Nestorians and Eutychians. And now the majority of professing Christendom stands apart from her. Where am I to get this general consent? And remark, Mr. O., I am not now speaking of the doctrines or practices referred to; for instance, as to the wrongness of the heathen practice of images. Our inquiry is, if the universal consent of the church furnishes a sure ground of faith. My answer is, it cannot in principle, because it is not a revelation of God; and, secondly, that in vital points it has totally failed, and, in fact, is not to be found, and does not exist. Let me ask you, Do you believe in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary?

85 Father O. Undoubtedly. The pope decided upon it a few years ago in an assembly of several hundred prelates.

N*. And was it an article of faith before?

Father O. No, but it was celebrated by pious Catholics.

N*. I am aware of that. But can an important dogma be introduced above eighteen centuries after the Lord?

Father O. It is promulgated then as an article of faith; but when an article of faith is promulgated, it is not new; all that is maintained is, that it was always the faith of the church.

N*. But is it not true that the Dominicans and all their doctors held that this doctrine of the immaculate conception was contrary to the truth?

Father O. They did, but it was not determined by the church then.

N*. They were the inquisitors of heretical pravity, were they not?

Father O. The inquisitors were taken from that order.

N*. That is what I mean. But is it not strange that so celebrated an order, to which the maintenance of sound doctrine was specially confided in the church, should have been for centuries diligently teaching what now turns out to be heresy? I do not blame them, but how can the universal consent of the church secure our having the truth if this be so? and it was not merely a notion. They insisted on it, and used such scandalous means to make their cause good against the Franciscans, that four of their order were burned at the stake for it about the time of the Reformation.

86 Father O. You mean the history of Jetzer, at Bern?

N*. I do. They had some one to personify the Virgin Mary in an apparition, and carried it so far that the fraud was discovered.

Father O. Of course I do not excuse them. It was in dark and ignorant ages, and they were punished by the church for it.

N*. They were, they were burnt for it, because it was found out. But our question is, what is the security for the truth, when your greatest lights, your maintainers of sound doctrine and judges of heresy, have brought us into ages so dark as this, and are now judged to be maintainers of false doctrine all the time?

But we will now turn to the other means of infallible knowledge of the truth; the pope speaking ex cathedra, as they say, and councils. The first is soon disposed of. In the first place, we have seen Peter himself rebuked by Paul on the gravest question that could occupy the church of God. It is not possible to think of the first popes, whoever they were (for this is uncertain), as the authorized sources of truth, for the apostle John lived during the time of those who first occupied the See of Rome, and they were clearly bound to listen to and be subject to the apostle — that very apostle who says, "He that is of God heareth us." And if the first chiefs had not this authority, its descending down to others is all a fiction. But the case of the pope goes farther, and, without multiplying cases which would carry us too far, there are the plain cases of Marcellinus, who was a traditor, that is, gave up the scriptures in persecution, and offered incense to the gods; Honorius, who was publicly condemned for being a Monothelite by the sixth General Council confirmed by the pope; Liberius, who signed a semi-Arian creed. These we will notice a little more fully.

First, then, there is the sad case of Marcellinus, who, when pope, offered to idols and apostatised from Christ. Bellarmine says he taught nothing against the faith nor heretical. (De Sum. Pont. lib. 4, c. 8, 25.) Augustine is on safer ground. He says, "whatever he may have been it is no prejudice to the Catholic church, and in the threshing-floor there may be good and bad." But where is security for infallibility?* Bellarmine tells us it is not of much consequence if he lost the papacy by it, as he abdicated soon after, and died a martyr. I trust the poor man's weakness may have been graciously forgiven, but we are looking for infallibility and security for faith. It is easy to understand Bellarmine's motive for making it no matter, because either there would have been an apostate pope or one deposed by a local council for unfaithfulness. Marcellinus did the best thing he could do, if he abdicated, and we may trust all was right with him after all. Augustine's ground for its being no matter is a better one.

{*I do not quote authorities for this account of Marcellinus, as it is a known matter of history, to be found in any considerable church history.}

87 Father O. St. Augustine was right to say the church's faith was unaffected by it; and, indeed, as Bellarmine says, he taught nothing dogmatically wrong.

N*. Well, I should have thought it wrong every way to worship idols. A worshipper of idols is a strange security for faith. But we will turn to some other instances equally notorious: Pope Vigilius in the dispute about what are called the three chapters, two of which were sanctioned by the great General Council of Chalcedon. In truth Vigilius was elevated to the See of Rome on purpose to favour Monophysite heresy,* and restore Anthinus, the heretic, to the See of Constantinople, the Empress putting him in by force, by means of Belisarius, and banishing Silverius. When once in, he turned right round,** but quailed before the Emperor as soon as he got to Constantinople, and intrigued in vain. Then he condemned the three chapters as the Emperor had done. Then, when the fifth General Council was called, though at Constantinople, he defended the three chapters. The Council of Constantinople broke communion with him, and approved the Emperor's condemnation of the three chapters, and Vigilius, the following year, assented to the decrees of the council, and his successor, Pelagius I, acknowledged the orthodoxy of the council. Where is the security for faith here anywhere? The Council of Constantinople condemned the Council of Chalcedon, both being accounted ecumenical, nominally saving its credit, and the pope, ex cathedra, condemned, approved, and then condemned the same doctrine, what all held to be a vital question as to the Person of the Lord! You cannot deny this.

{*Baronius 9, A.D. 538, 540, etc. He had represented Rome at Constantinople. Bellarmine, De Sum. Pont. 4, 10, 16, does not contest the letter given by Liberatus (in Breviario 22); Baronius does. The facts are plain any way. Pagi adds, in a note, that there can be no doubt of it. Still, he adds, that it does not prejudice the pope's authority, because Silverius was not dead, though deposed, so that Vigilius was not really pope: a nice security for faith, a pope who could not act because he was deposed, and an acting one whose acts, though consecrated, were not valid, because the other was living.}

{**Baronius attributes this to the grace given to the papacy. But this accords but ill with his excusing his undoubted heresies afterwards, on the ground that he was not pope because the banished Silverius was alive. What a foundation for faith!}

88 Father O. I do not defend Vigilius; the persecutions of the Emperor on the one hand, and the voice of the Western church on the other, made him vacillate. And see how, after all, the church was preserved, as Baronius says, "God's hand was seen in his refusing to support the heresy when once he was really pope."*

{*He acted as pope, while Silverius, who had been banished, still lived, and so (they say) was legitimate pope. What was the validity of all the papal acts, their ordinations, etc. 7}

N*. But his condemning, and approving the three chapters, and then acknowledging the synod which had condemned him and them, were when he was pope. It is a plain example that the pope's judgment, ex cathedra, is just worth nothing at all. I admit that God has preserved the faith and the church, but it is in spite of and not by the hierarchy. But take another example: you cannot deny Liberius acquiesced in Arianism.

Father O. He never taught it.

N*. He subscribed an Arian creed, and in the largest council ever held, of some 800 prelates; and he communicated with Arians and condemned Athanasius. Bellarmine says he was deceived by ambiguous terms; but if he was, he was no security for our faith. The truth is, he did it to free himself from the persecutions of an Arian Emperor, who sought to unite all by vague expressions, which really gave up the word on which all then depended; and, as Jerome expresses it, the world was surprised to find itself Arian. But if Bellarmine is right, and he was deceived, it is just the proof that the pope is no security for faith, nor indeed a pope and council together. To say he did not teach it, when on the solemn discussion of the question with the assembled hierarchy he signed the creed, is a miserable subterfuge. Others of course, if he was any authority, were to believe what he signed. Ought a simple Christian to have followed his faith then, when he subscribed the Arian creed?

89 Father O. No; he should have abode by the faith of the church.

N*. How was he to know the faith of the church when the pope and by far the largest council ever held had subscribed deadly heresy? No, the broad fact is there. The pope and the largest body of prelates ever assembled in council signed and promulgated an Arian creed. Nor did the church, as a body, recover itself at once.

I now turn to Honorius. Bellarmine labours hard to free him also; but then he cannot deny that he was condemned and anathematized as a heretic by not one but two general councils, the pope's legates taking part in one case. Bellarmine says they wanted to secure several Eastern patriarchs being anathematized, and so, that they might succeed, threw Honorius in with them.* Moreover the pope, his successor, undertook he should be anathematized. And then, says Bellarmine, if it cannot be denied in the least that the pope was anathematized, the council made a mistake; but then the pope's legates were there, and it is accounted an Ecumenical Council amongst you. So that either the pope was a heretic, and he was struck out of what were called the Diptychs (those whose names were remembered in the public service) as unfit to be there, or pope and council confirmed by him can err, and nothing is certain. It is really a flat denial of your own history to pretend popes and councils (and both together) cannot err. There is no security for faith to be found in them.

{*Bell. de Sum. Pont. Lib. 4, c. 11.}

I might mention a multitude of cases and statements of Fathers, but I take only notorious cases, which may be found in Bellarmine, Baronius, and all church histories.* John XXII I have mentioned; his case may be seen in Bellarmine, and John XXIII** deposed by the Council of Constance.

{*Bellarmine gives a list of cases of alleged failure in infallibility. Baronius is not to be trusted without Pagi's corrections. The latter is much fairer.}

{**The numbers attached to their popes vary in different Roman Catholic historians; for, with all their boasted succession, nothing is more uncertain, irregular, and defective than the succession of the popes; often two at the time, and no one knowing who was the right one, and this not merely at the time of the great schism; and when one got the upper hand of his rival, he annulled all his ordinations, so that nobody knew who was ordained and who was not. But of this farther on.}

90 I might insist on the absurdity and ungodliness of making infallible in faith men of whom Baronius* says he must use their being in the see as a date; 'but how can we own as popes persons who were illegitimate sons of the Marquis of Tuscany's mistresses, put in by them into the see?' But I leave all this, and a great deal more, and confine myself to notorious cases, known by everyone who has read church history at all, though the general point of what the popes were is of great weight in the matter. I ask you, solemnly, if a Chinese or a Hindoo were seeking, with sincere heart led of God, for the rule of faith and means of discovering the true religion, would he find it in the most licentious, depraved, wicked series of men that ever were found? and while I admit they were not so at first, what is to be a rule of faith must be always one, to say nothing of there being two or three popes at a time.

{*Vol. 15, A.D. 912, 8.}

If we take history, we find there was no such doctrine in the early church, and further, that popes have grievously erred. Thus Cyprian, and all the African and Asiatic, and Egyptian bishops, resisted Stephen's doctrine. Before that, when Victor refused communion with the Eastern churches on a question of keeping Easter, the godly Irenaeus rebuked him, many bishops concurring. "This did not please all the bishops," says Eusebius, some of them speaking pretty sharply to him (the pope). (Eus. 5, 24.) And till the Council of Nice, the East and West continued their own observances as to what Victor excommunicates them for. So Augustine, in the case of Marcellinus (which, strange to say, Baronius quotes with approbation, thinking only of Catholic doctrine), says, "Whatever Marcellinus may have been, it is no prejudice to the Catholic church diffused in the whole world. We are in no way crowned by their innocence, nor condemned by their iniquity … In the threshing-floor (of the church) there can be good and bad." (De Unico Baptismo, Cont. Peter 16, or Ben. 39.) He had not the remotest idea of infallibility in a pope. If he was a bad one and sacrificed to idols, the faith was not affected by it. So indeed Tertullian asks triumphantly in respect of such falls, "Do we prove faith by persons, or persons by faith?" Listen to the plain language of Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate, the great friend of the pope, the great stickler for orthodoxy and church authority in his day: "Nor is the church of the Roman city to be esteemed one, and that of all the earth to be another. Both the Gauls, and Britons, and Africa, and Persia, and the East, and India, and all barbarous nations, adore one Christ, observe one rule of faith. If authority be sought, the world is greater than a city. Wherever there is a bishop, Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, or Tunis, he is of the same worth, he is of the same priesthood. The power of riches and the humility of poverty make neither a more exalted nor an inferior bishop; but all are successors of the apostles."*

{*Hieron. ad Evang. Epist. 146 (ed. Vall.)}

91 This is a poor way of treating infallibility. Cyprian expressly declares that, when Paul rebuked Peter, the latter never thought of insolently and arrogantly pretending to have the primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed. (Litt. 71.) Accordingly, as we have seen, the African bishops maintained their views against the pope. The thought of infallibility did not exist. When we come lower down in history, the claims of the popes increase, and their authority extends; but the effect was that all the most ancient part of the church, that is the East, broke off from them altogether, and remains opposed to Rome to this day.

The University of Paris solemnly condemned John XXII* for heresy, and the Council of Constance charged John XXIII with saying that the soul died with the body. Now this shews how little infallibility was supposed to be inherent in the pope. The Council of Basel says, "Many of the supreme pontiffs are said, and so we read, to have fallen into heresy and error. It is certain that the pope can err. A council has often condemned and deposed a pope as well on account of faith as morals." Now, I quite understand that you will say this council has no authority, but we are looking for a sure ground on which to found the authority of the church; and surely when the assembled prelates of Christendom declare that the popes may err, and have erred, in faith and morals, the infallibility of the pope is no longer a very sure ground. Their claiming it, which we all know they do, does not give it to them. We will enter on the ground of councils when we come to that point. I turn to the history of the popes, that we may understand what happened at Constance. There were two popes, and even three from the Council of Pisa, till after the Council of Constance: were they both infallible, both heads of the church? Half Europe obeyed one, half the other. Did not they mislead, one or both, the church of God? Where was certainty to guide the faithful here? They anathematized each other. Is this what the faith of God's church, or the saving of souls, is to rest upon? But, further, the Council of Constance, after exacting the resignation of the principal but most wicked of the three (which, after some tergiversations, he gave on being threatened to have his awful wickedness exposed), on his running away fearing the consequences of his crimes, deposed him, and chose another; the two others lingered on a little while, and then died out.

{*His history is a little pleasant. The cardinals who had to choose the pope, several of them being ambitious, would not agree, and at last agreed to leave the choice to the one who became John XXII, sure he would choose one of them; but he thought the best thing was to choose himself, and became John XXII.}

92 Father O. But the Council of Constance was not ratified by the pope.

N*. It created the pope, and all your alleged spiritual authority flows from hence, that is, from its acts; you have no pope at all if its acts are wrong. But we will speak of this when we come to councils, we are now on the popes being infallible. But here, I will add, Martin V did confirm the Council of Constance, and not only so, but Eugenius, though he afterwards found means to break it up, recalled his three bulls (one, he said, was not genuine), which condemned the Council of Basel, and gave in his adhesion, and recognised it and its acts as met in the power of the Holy Ghost; which acts fully confirmed the decrees of Constance.

M. But is all this true, Father O.?

Father O. The facts are true; but I must beg you not to interfere and enter into what you cannot possibly judge of. When Mr. N*. has done I will shew how fallacious all this is. I only now say, It is just a proof how, if men have been individually wicked, God has preserved the church. The faith of the church has remained the same, and that is all you have to say to.

93 N*. That the excessive wickedness of the popes and clergy, which we shall be obliged to look into when we speak of the marks of the true church, is a proof that the blessed God has preserved His church, and the faith of God's elect in spite of them, I admit fully and bless Him for it. But we are examining, not if God has preserved the faith for us in spite of them, but if they are a warrant and security for the faith. But if these facts are true, the popes are no kind of security for the faith, and that is our question now. Let me add, dear sir, that your rebuke to M. is the best possible proof of the untenableness of the ground he and you are upon. You say he cannot possibly judge of the validity of this ground of faith. But that is what you want us to do — only you want us to do it without honest examination. Dr. Milner says we believe the Catholic church, and therefore everything which she teaches, upon motives of credibility, and Mr. John Newman (who turned Roman Catholic) avows he has only probability, though of a high character. Now, in no case can this be a divine foundation for faith. It is upon the face of it merely human. It would be blasphemy to say that what God said was probably true.

But so utterly futile is your rule of faith, that when we begin to examine it, you tell our friend M. here that he cannot possibly judge of it. Now, where is he to get his motives of credibility? And though it may be difficult for a poor man to examine for himself folios of fathers and councils, as of course it is, yet, according to your rule of faith, he must, or be led blindfold by a man. But the facts which are brought forward by those who can examine them, shew that your rule is a dreadfully false one, and when they are thus honestly furnished to him, he can judge that the foundation you build on is utterly worthless. If the pope be a sure foundation of faith (a thing not thought of for hundreds of years) God has given a premium to the most horrible wickedness that ever disgraced human nature, for such wickedness characterizes the popes above all men on the earth. Do you deny the wickedness of John XXIII of whom we have just been speaking, or of Alexander VI, and many others? You cannot, you dare not, with any one who knows history. Even your Pope Gregory VII, who built the grandeur of the papacy, raising it above the empire, and established the celibacy (that is, the corruption of the clergy) died away from his see, having been first deposed by a council of German bishops at Worms, and afterwards condemned as a heretic, and sentenced to be deposed by the Council of Brixen, and a new pope chosen, Clement III, who was consecrated at Rome. Now, I attach no authority to this council, or their pope (though, in supporting the emperor, to whom God gave authority, against the pope, to whom God gave none, the prelates were right) but what sort of foundation for faith and salvation is all this?

94 James. Well, to think of all this being called the church of God and authority for our faith. I am glad I have the Bible and know nothing about all this. There one has holiness and truth, and not wars and ambition for Christianity. It is terrible to think what the professing church came to, if all this is true.

N*. It is terrible, and the thousandth part of it has not been told, but we must pursue our enquiry soberly. Our point is the pope's infallibility being the source of certainty as to the faith. Now, the second point I stated was that they had confessedly erred. And we have cited examples. For it is perfectly well known that plenty believed nothing at all. But I have selected cases that have been brought out in history as to the faith. Marcellinus offered incense to idols, Liberius signed a semi-Arian creed. Honorius was condemned for being a Monothelite by a general council sanctioned by Pope Agatho. Zosimus, I may add here, corrupted artfully the canons of the Council of Nice to found the authority of the See of Rome, and was detected in the East and in Africa. John XXII was charged with heresy as to the state of souls after death. John XXIII, deposed by the Council of Constance, was charged there with denying the immortality of the soul.

Father O. I do not admit all these cases. It was never proved against Marcellinus; John XXII was only condemned by a council of divines at Paris. And Zosimus' act at any rate was a fraud, not a heresy. He quoted Sardica and said Nice. And it is a question if these canons of Nice were not burnt.

N*. There is this much obscure in the case of Marcellinus, that the deacons and presbyters who bore witness to it only saw him go into the sanctuary of Vesta to do it, and did not see it done. I admit the acts of the Council of Sinuessa, in which it is fully stated, and where he is said to have confessed it on his knees, may be, and are possibly justly called in question, and I do not depend on them, though even Baronius, your great historian, did not wholly give them up, and all St. Augustine ventures to say is, that we ought not to hold him guilty till it is proved. But the account is as circumstantial as possible. It is said that he resisted the emperor's violence, but gave way to blandishments and money, and that he said he did not sacrifice, but only put a few grains of incense on the fire to the idol, the names of the priests and deacons who went with him to the door being mentioned, so that it is impossible to believe it is a mere fable. Moreover, he gave up the popedom in consequence.* But is this what faith is to rest on? As to John XXII there is no doubt whatever. Your own historians relate it, and say he coldly retracted the error before he died, and that his successor, Benedict, condemned it. So that, as a foundation of faith, we see a pope cannot be trusted.

{*Here are Bellarmine's words (De Sum. Pont. 4, 8): "The tenth is Marcellinus, who sacrificed to idols as is certain (ut constat) by the pontifical of Damascus, the Council of Sinuessa, and the epistle of Nicholas I to Michaelis. But Marcellinus taught nothing against the faith, nor was he a heretic or unfaithful, unless by an external act through fear of death. But whether on account of that external act he lost his position of pope (exciderit a pontificatu) or not, is of little moment, since he himself soon abdicated the papal see, and soon after was crowned with martyrdom. I should consider rather that he did not ipso facto lose his position of pope, since it is certain enough for all that he sacrificed to idols through fear alone." Bellarmine, therefore, had no kind of doubt about the matter. We may surely hope his sin was blotted out.}

95 As to Zosimus, I admit that it was a fraud and not a heresy; but it was a fraudulently citing as the canons of the Council of Nice what were no part of them, and what was put forward as the foundation of the whole jurisdiction and authority of the pope. The council of bishops in Africa, in which the famous St. Augustine took part, denied their genuineness, sent and got the true Greek copies in the East and rejected Zosimus' claims. And the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch, did the same thing, sending full copies of the canons of Nice. Is not this true?

Father O. Yes. But they were the canons of the Council of Sardica which he cited as those of Nice.

N*. That is, he attributed the resolutions of a little petty conclave of his own partisans, assembled to give him this power (from whence all the bishops of the East had separated when they found what they were about, meeting elsewhere, and condemning the Sardicans), to the first great General Council in order fraudulently to set up that authority of the See of Rome which it now claims: and Rome has ever since built largely on this fraud.

96 It is well to refer a little to this history as elucidating the supremacy and alleged appellative jurisdiction of Rome. I will go a little further back, as, among other things, our allegation is that we can trace the origin of these pretensions. In Cyprian's time, besides the case we have already spoken of about rebaptizing heretics, another question arose. In A.D. 252 two Spanish bishops guilty of being Libellatici (that is, having received certificates of having owned heathen idols, obtained by money from heathen magistrates without having really done so) were deposed by a provincial synod of the country. One was re-admitted to communion though not to his see, but went to Rome and complained to Pope Stephen. The pope, always glad as popes were to augment their authority, ordered the Spanish synod to restore both to their sees. Meanwhile, Cyprian being everywhere known by his activity, the bishops of the synod laid the affair before him. He summoned a local council, and they declared that Stephen had been evidently deceived, and that Basilides and Martialis (the other bishop) had greatly increased their crime by appealing from the local judgment. He declares the judgment he communicated to be conformable to the understood practice of the church. There the matter ended. The great Roman historian is careful not to notice this transaction. It may be found in other histories. (See Cyprian's letter 67, Oxford, Pam. 68.)

Cyprian in every respect maintained the independence of the episcopate against Rome. He says, "Among us there is no one who will arrogate to himself any authority over those of his own order or claim to be a bishop of bishops … inasmuch as every bishop has equal liberty of judging and determining upon all questions that come before him, and can no more be judged by, than he can judge, another. Therefore it should be our resolution to await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all our powers to govern His church are derived, and who alone has authority to call us to account" (Prologue to judgment of 87 bishops in Council of Carthage). So when Pope Cornelius had received Felicissimus, who had been excommunicated in Africa, Cyprian writes to blame him severely, and says the crime ought to be judged where it is committed, and where the witnesses are, "unless to some few desperate and lost persons the authority of the bishops established in Africa seem to be inferior. Their cause is already taken cognizance of, the sentence already passed on them," and declares a special portion of the flock is appropriated to each shepherd, which each is to rule and govern, having to give an account of his acts to God (Epist. 58, Oxford).

97 The history of Sardica, which was subsequent to this, was the following: —

When Athanasius had been condemned by the Councils of Tyre and Antioch, and banished, he first fled to Julius, who held a small assembly at Rome, and acquitted him; then to Treves, and the Emperor Constans got Constantius, emperor of the East, to call a council. This was held at Sardica. Athanasius, whose cause was to be tried, sat there. The Eastern bishops claimed that he should be excluded. This the others refused. The parties were equally divided, and the Eastern prelates seceded; the Western ones remained. The Eastern half at Philippopolis condemned Athanasius; the Sardicans acquitted him, and then gave for the first time an appeal to Rome. These latter canons Zosimus sought to foist on the African bishops as canons of the Council of Nice. But they were never heard of (as being those of a Council of Sardica) as of any authority, nor ever received in any way in the Eastern church.

And note, the giving then, which is what they do in honour of Peter, a title to Rome to require a re-examination on the spot in case of an appeal, or to take other measures, proves that he did not possess the right before. It was very convenient to Athanasius, as he had been thus acquitted by Pope Julius, and condemned in the East, to set up this power in Rome. This Council of Sardica and its canons were, however, no way recognised in the church; for three general councils, Constantinople, 381 (34 years after), Chalcedon, 451, Constantinople, 681, all decree what is entirely in opposition to the Sardican, namely — that causes should be heard by the provincial synods, with appeal to the patriarch to whose jurisdiction they belonged. It was Julius' successor, Liberius, who signed the Arian or semi-Arian creed, when Constantius, the Eastern emperor, had all his own way, and so did Hosius, one of the alleged presidents of the Sardican Council.

I will now return to Pope Zosimus. A certain presbyter, Apiarius, had been excommunicated by his bishop and others for ill conduct. He goes off to Rome. Zosimus pronounces him innocent, and sends Faustinus and two others to Africa to a synod then gathered about it. His messengers went to see Apiarius reinstated, and to urge that any presbyter might appeal to Rome. The African prelates answered there was no such rule in the church as that. Zosimus' messengers plead the canons of the Council of Nice. The prelates said these canons were not in their copies of the canons of the Council of Nice; but they would send to Constantinople and Alexandria and Antioch, the three great patriarchates, and see. Cyril of Alexandria, and Atticus of Constantinople replied, and it was found that there were no such canons of the Council of Nice at all. Zosimus was now dead, and his successor, Boniface, who pursued the claim, was dead also; and the African prelates write to Pope Caelestine to say that the Council of Nice had committed these things to the metropolitan, or a local council, or even to a general one.

98 It is worth while, though it be long, to recite what the prelates say in what they call the universal African Council of Carthage: — "No determination of the Fathers has ever taken this authority (of judging its own clergy) from the African church, and the decrees of Nice have openly committed both inferior clergymen and bishops themselves to their metropolitans. For they have provided most prudently and justly that every matter should be terminated in its own place where it arose. Nor is it to be thought that to each and every consideration the grace of the Holy Spirit will be wanting by which equity may be prudently perceived by the priests of Christ, and firmly maintained, especially because it is allowed to every one, if he be offended by the judgment on the charges, to appeal to the councils of his province, or even to a universal one. Unless perhaps there be some one who may think that our God may inspire justice in examining to a single person, whoever it may be, and deny it to innumerable priests assembled in council … For we have not found it established in any synod of the Fathers that any should be sent as legates of your holiness (tuoe sanctitatis a latere, the common name since for popish legates). For that which you formerly transmitted by the same Faustinus, our co-bishop, as on the part of the Nicene Council, in the truer copies of the Council of Nice, which we have received, sent from our co-bishop, Cyril, of the church of Alexandria, and the venerable Atticus, prelate of Constantinople, from the authentic copies, which also had already been sent by us to bishop Boniface of venerable memory, your predecessor, by the hands of Innocent, presbyter, and Marcellus, sub-deacon, by whom they were forwarded to us from them (Cyril and Atticus), we have not been able to find anything of the kind. Also do not think of sending, nor granting, upon any of ours requesting it, any of your clergy as executors (agents to enforce decrees) lest we may seem to introduce the smoky pride of this world into the church of Christ, which offers the light of simplicity and the day-light of lowliness to those who desire to see God."* And then the council declares that Africa could no longer endure the presence of Faustinus, if brotherly charity were to be preserved. Apiarius was already put out.

{*See Hardouin's Councils, 1, 950. The Latin has "in quibus" here, which does not hang together to make a sentence.}

99 Now here papal infallibility is treated with scorn by all the African bishops in council, the pope's sending legates declared to be utterly unlawful, and the canons he pleaded as his justification declared to be a fraud, and that he must know it, for they had sent the true ones from Constantinople and Alexandria to his predecessor, Boniface.

But Zosimus had had some other transactions with these African prelates, among whom was the famous Augustine. Zosimus fully sanctioned the confession of faith of Pelagius, and his teaching. Now here was the very essence of Christian grace in question. He reproves severely the African prelates for condemning him, owns him and Celestius as in communion. His predecessor had totally condemned him just before. The African prelates having done so, and communicated it, as was the custom, to Innocent, he had returned an answer condemning and excommunicating the two heretics, and claiming, I freely admit, all manner of authority in the case, for the popes were at this moment striving hard to establish their power, and profited by every opportunity. However Innocent condemned and excommunicated them by his full authority ex cathedra. Zosimus, to the said African prelates, declares them sound and in communion. And note, this was on an essential doctrine of the faith. The Africans did not of course remonstrate with Innocent for agreeing with them.

But Zosimus' pretensions set aside their judgment. They met at Carthage in May, 418, Augustine presiding, and condemned and anathematized Pelagius and his disciples, and, not content with this, took the opportunity, in the Council of Milevis, of republishing the Nicene canon, and in their 22nd decree that the appeals should be to local synods or metropolitans, and that if any appealed across the sea (that is, to Rome) he should be received into communion in no African church. Zosimus gave way, summoned Celestius, whom the Africans had condemned, and condemned him too. So much for the pope's infallibility and authority.

100 I have dwelt more on this because just at this time the pope was seeking to establish his authority over the West, having succeeded, through a quarrel of two prelates, to do it in the south-east corner of France, and in a measure in Eastern Illyria, naming the archbishop of Thessalonica there as "executor" — what the Africans call the introduction of smoky pride into the church. This had been done already some 40 years before, when that country was politically transferred to the Eastern empire, and the ambitious popes were afraid it should be ecclesiastically under the influence of Constantinople, the Eastern capital. But all this was ambition, not infallibility; and when there was moral courage, the pretensions of the pope were entirely rejected as wholly contrary to the canons, as indeed they were before the canons of Nice were made. Thus did Cyprian, thus Asia Minor, Egypt, and Syria in his day; thus Spain, thus Irenaeus in Gaul; while the popes have been proved both fallible and heretics.

In the Councils of Basel and Constance these bodies were openly declared to be superior to them, and, in the last, three popes (all infallible, we are to suppose) were set aside, one as a heinous monster. Nor has this doctrine been given up in later days. The Gallican church, that is, the Roman prelates in France summoned by Louis XIV, declared publicly that the decrees of the Council of Constance, which maintained the authority of general councils as superior to the pope's in spiritual matters, are approved and adopted by the Gallican church, and that the decisions of the pope in points of faith are not infallible, unless they be accompanied by the consent of the church. Here, then, by the authority of the clergy of that great kingdom, a person who holds the infallibility of the pope is judged to be in error. Now, in what a sea of uncertainty you plunge people if they are to discover the true rule of faith in this way, to say nothing of its being impossible for a poor man to get at it at all!

101 Father O. Yes, but the poor man has the voice of his pastor, who will not lead him astray.

N*. But this is admitted to be no security. Thus, the faithful in France would be led to hold that the pope was fallible in matters of faith.

Father O. But that is no longer the case.

N*. Where then is your rule of "what is held by all, everywhere, and always"? Moreover, many do hold this still,* and it was favoured by the Bourbons, and was, even often, by the emperor, who can do so because he names the different prelates. But see what you have brought us to. Your rule of faith in 1682, for France at least, was different from your rule of faith in 1862. Is this its certainty and clearness? Now when I turn to scripture I find that which I surely need the grace of God to understand; but what is of admitted certain authority for all (except for infidels, with whom we have nothing to do here), and the same at all times? The word of God, the direct revelation given by God by prophets and apostles and inspired men, and that with a holiness, plainness, graciousness of love, and divine love and authority which act on the mind of the poorest, and which the poorest can appreciate. You hinder his having any rule, or else he must have councils and fathers, and read through folios in Latin and Greek; and, when a man is able to do that, he finds, as we have seen, contradiction and heresy, and no sure rule anywhere. If he cannot do this, he must resign himself blindfold into a man's, perhaps a wicked man's, hand. With scripture he listens to Paul and Peter and the rest; he finds and knows in his own conscience that he has to do with the word of God, which discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. You have no certain rule of faith, nor any living word of God in what you call such which can judge your thoughts and heart.

{*This was written before the last Roman Council, which decreed the pope to be infallible: only this is an additional contradiction in church dogma.}

Father O. But the very word you quote declares Peter to be the rock on which the church is built, and that whatever he bound on earth should be bound in heaven.

N*. I do not admit that this scripture says so at all, but I have already enlarged on history, proving that the popes are not infallible, so that it is quite right you should have ample opportunity of stating your views.

102 Father O. It is written, "Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc Petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam." "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

N*. Forgive me if I interrupt you. Where does this come from?

Father O. From Matthew 16, from the scriptures.

N*. But we have not got them yet. You tell us we must first find the church to enable us to receive the scriptures, and we have not found the church yet. You must, on your own shewing, find that for us first. You cannot quote the scriptures before you prove them to be such — before you believe in them.

Father O. Well, but you do believe in them.

N*. Nor am I going to hinder your appealing to them. But as you have not made good the church's claims, the scriptures must have authority of themselves, and be intelligible too.

Father O. I receive them from the church, and the interpretation of them also.

N*. No doubt you do, but that is your private opinion. You are occupied with proving what the true church is, and you have not done that yet, and therefore cannot, if the church alone can authorize them, say anything is scripture. And this 7 is really important practically, not only to shew the unsoundness of your views, but because in fact the Romanists receive as scripture what other parts of the church do not receive as such, the ancient church and fathers included. I am not bound to listen to anything you quote from scripture, because scripture cannot have authority, you yourself tell me, till the church has declared it to be so, and we have not the church yet. But proceed: I shall not make any difficulty. Yet I take it as an admission of the absolute authority of scripture in itself, for otherwise you cannot thus quote it.

Father O. This passage then shews clearly that the church is built on Peter, and that the church built on him can never be overthrown. To him also the keys are given, and what he bound on earth was to be bound in heaven. And it could not be to him only, and then the church fail, for it was never to fail. Hence his successors must have this same authority, that is, as all admit, the pope. In confirmation of this, we find him always named the first among the apostles, as he was the first called also. Thus it is as clear as anything can make it that he had the pre-eminence, and so his successors. He always spoke the first, and took the lead. He was the president of the college of apostles, as we see all through the Acts. In the same way, after His resurrection, the Lord committed His sheep to Peter, saying, "Feed my sheep," giving him universal dominion over the church. And this was always recognized by the church, as the testimony of the fathers proves.

103 Thus Origen so very early says (Hom. 5 in Exod.), "See what is said by the Lord to that great foundation and most solid rock upon which Christ has founded His church, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt'"? So Athanasius, in his epistle to Felix, and, indeed, the Alexandrian Synod with Him, "Thou art Peter, and upon thy foundation the pillars of the church, that is, the bishops, are established." Gregory Nazianzen says, in his oration on moderation in discussions, "Peter is called a rock, and has the foundation of the church trusted to his faith." Again, Epiphanius (in Ancorato), "The Lord constituted Peter, the first of the apostles, a firm rock on which the church of God is built." So Chrysostom (Hom. 55 on Matt.), "The Lord says, Thou art Peter, and upon thee will I build my church." So Cyril, "Commodiously shewing by that word (Peter), that on him, as on a rock and most firm stone, He was going to build His church." So among the Latin fathers. Tertullian, in his remarkable book on prescription, says, "Was anything hid from Peter, called the rock of the church which was to be built?" And Hilary, "Oh! in the gift of a new name, happy foundation of the church. Oh rock! worthy of the building of it which should dissolve the laws of the infernal regions." And the martyr Cyprian, "The Lord chose Peter first, and built His church on him." And Jerome, "According to the metaphor of a rock, it is rightly said to him, 'I will build my church upon thee.'" So Ambrose. I might add a crowd of other fathers, as Augustine, but I refer to these as both ancient and of just renown in the whole church.

Only I would remark to you that Jerome refers it not only to the person but to the See of Peter. And to close all with a still greater authority, the whole Council of Chalcedon (Action 3) of 630 fathers declares Peter the foundation and basis of the church. The words which follow this declaration that he is the rock shew the extent of dominion conferred upon him. "Et tibi dabo claves regni coelorum, et quodcunque ligaveris supra terram erit ligatum et in coelis, et quodcunque solveris supra terram erit solutum et in coelis." "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."

104 M. Well, that is clear; what do you say to that, James? Is it not plain Peter had the first place, and was the foundation? And all he bound was to be bound in heaven; and sure the pope is in his place.

James. Of course Peter had the first place in a certain sense. He was blest by grace above others, as Paul says: God was mighty in him to the circumcision. No Christian denies that. But as to his being the foundation, save as a mighty instrument in God's hands, I do not believe it a moment, because Paul says, "other foundation can no man lay, save that that is laid, that is, Christ Jesus." So that, though I do not pretend to reason with learned men, and I had rather hear what these gentlemen have to say, yet, I am sure, if I were all alone, for my own soul, that Peter cannot in any true sense of the word be the foundation, because the word of God tells us there can be none but Christ. In a general way all Christians own the apostles to be foundations, and the prophets too; but if we make one real foundation, it can be only Christ. As ordained servants of His, and inspired witnesses of the truth, they are all foundations. But I could not trust my soul to any foundation but Christ. None has died for me but He. None is the truth but He. Besides, if Peter was the foundation, how can the pope be so now? The foundation of the church cannot be laid now.

But I would rather hear what Mr. N*. has to say; only these gentlemen will excuse my speaking as I was asked the question. I have no pretension to answer about fathers and all that. But I know what my own soul's hope is built upon, and on what alone it can be built, and the church, if it be the true one, too. It cannot have, as the real rock, two foundations.

Father O. You had much better hold your tongue, M., and not make your observations when you cannot know how to answer on such difficult questions, nor pretend to interpret scripture which the most learned men find hard to interpret.

N*. He did but put his Amen, Mr. O., however, to what you said. He does not alas! know the scriptures, or he would not be where he is, and I fear he will not learn much of them now. What James has said is really the true solid answer for a soul taught of God. It knows that a church built on Peter would be no church at all, that would be a ruin or rather be no church, and that no mortal sinful man can be personally the foundation of the church, and that none such could be the rock on which the church is built, if it is to stand. In the same chapter the Holy Ghost is careful to record that the Lord calls him Satan; and, even after he had received the Holy Ghost, Paul had to withstand him to the face. And I suppose the popes cannot pretend to be better than he. Still you have said the utmost that can be said. The arguments naturally are not new; and, while referring to what James has said as shewing that a divinely taught soul has its answer from the word for itself, I will take up what is, after all, the inferior part, the reasoning on scripture and quotations from the fathers; but just to learn that they are no security for anything, which indeed it would be a sin to think them. And, first, as to scripture, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." You say this is on Peter, and that it gives him, with what follows as to binding and loosing, to be the foundation and to have the primacy.

105 Now setting aside Paul for the moment, who was called later, I admit in certain respects a personal pre-eminence in Peter; no official one, nor one which could go to a successor, if he had one, which in office he had not, for he was an apostle, and they had no apostles to succeed them, and could not have. For none were eye-witnesses of Christ, and sent by Him to found the church; Paul was, and so he was in the fullest and strictest sense an apostle. I admit a personal pre-eminence in certain respects, because scripture teaches us there was: James and Cephas and John seemed to be pillars. All three were preeminent in gift and energy, and all three had names given by Christ Himself. But, even among these, Peter was preeminent. Paul tells us that God was mighty in Peter to the circumcision, as in Paul himself to the Gentiles. As the fathers note, he was the first to make that particular confession, and specially noticed then by the Lord. His ardent character made him forward sometimes in a sad way, for he spoke not knowing what he said, and he had to be called Satan, and the too great confidence it led to brought him to curse and swear he did not know Christ. Yet even this energy, when he was humbled and ceased to trust himself so much, as taught by his fall, and was filled with the Holy Ghost, served to fit him, as a vessel of God's choice, for the special ministry he was appointed to.

106 We see this pre-eminence in service, and how he was fitted for it by being humbled when the Lord says to him, "When thou art converted [restored from his fall], strengthen thy brethren." This kind of pre-eminence scripture gives him; and we find him using the keys, not of heaven, but of the kingdom of heaven, that is, administering in the kingdom. He was the first in admitting the Jews, and the first in admitting the Gentiles, to found the unity of Christians in one company on earth. All this scripture teaches us, and we bless God for His holy wisdom and sovereign pleasure in it. But he never was the apostle of the Gentiles at all, though employed to receive them first. On the contrary, when the relationship of Jews and Gentiles was settled, it was agreed by the apostles that Paul and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles and themselves to the Jews; Gal. 2:9. He was the apostle of the circumcision, God mighty in him to the circumcision, and in Paul to the Gentiles.

Nor do we ever read in scripture of Peter, or indeed any of the twelve, going to the Gentiles. There are vague traditions, and they are very vague, but no scripture and no history for it. It is certain from the Acts of the Apostles that the Lord employed other instruments than they to send the gospel forth into the world: first, those who were scattered by persecution, when the apostles all remained at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4; ch. 11:19-21); and then Paul specially called for that purpose, and sent to that work by the Lord (Acts 26:17; Rom. 11:13; Eph. 3:7-8; Rom. 1:5 where he refers to Rome), and his companions, who could say, "it is come unto you, as it is in all the world, bearing fruit and increasing" (Col. 1:6); and the same Paul positively declares, when the chief apostles "saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me as the gospel of the circumcision was committed to Peter … they gave to me [Paul] and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcision," Gal. 2.

How the commission in Matthew 28 was not fulfilled I do not stop to discuss, though I have thought of it too; but we have the apostles' authority in Paul's account for saying that what was settled by the apostles was, that Paul should take the Gentiles, and Peter and the others the Jews, as their sphere of work; and so Paul tells us elsewhere a dispensation was committed (Eph. 3:2) to him. He was debtor to Greeks and barbarians, and to those at Rome too; Rom. 1:14. He was a minister of the gospel to every creature under heaven, and besides that, specially, a minister of the church (Col. 2); and it is found on examination that he only, in all the Epistles, speaks of the church (John once of a particular church, not of the whole body).

107 The divine account, therefore, that I have of the dispensation of the gospel and the establishment of the church among the Gentiles is that Paul, not Peter, was the instrument in the Lord's hand for this work. And Paul very assiduously contends that he derived no fresh knowledge from Peter, and that he did not get his apostleship from man nor by man; and he resisted him to the face when it was needed; Gal. 2. So that I find from scripture that he to whom the dispensation of the gospel to the Gentiles, and especially Rome, was committed by God (and the ministry of the church too), was in no way subject to Peter, got nothing from him, and owed nothing to him; that God was mighty indeed in Peter to the Jew, but in Paul to the Gentiles; and we know by the Acts that in fact the world, as Paul says, was filled with the gospel by his labours, who rejected diligently all subjection to Peter, without having a hint in God's history of the matter that Peter ever went to a single Gentile after Cornelius, while we have him agreeing that Paul should, and he to the Jews.

Further, neither in discourse nor in his Epistles does Peter ever speak of the church as a body on earth, while Paul enlarges and teaches on it everywhere. No doubt this left him free to preach it to anyone, as it did Paul to preach to Jews, but the mission, the official relationship, of Peter was with Jews, not Gentiles, while the Gentiles were committed to Paul, and he carefully, in the Epistle to the Galatians, sets aside any superior authority of Peter. Is not this strange if Peter was to be the head of Gentile Christendom, and the rock and foundation of the church? It seems as if God, foreknowing what man would corruptly make of him, had taken pains for those who own the truth and authority of His word to shew it was impossible; just as He has never given a case in which the blessed Virgin applied to Christ that she was not refused. The authority of Peter, and deriving ecclesiastical position from him and the rest of the twelve, was a work of the enemy with which Paul had specially to contend, and which he wholly rejects.*

{*It is a remarkable fact that popery and all ecclesiastical unity refers itself formally to Peter, never to Paul (he merely, at the utmost, coming in by the bye); the see is Peter's See; the unity is founded on him who was never an apostle to the Gentiles at all, but gave it up to Paul.}

108 But further, in particular, we are certain that at the first Peter had nothing to do with establishing Christianity in Rome. Numerous Christians were there before any apostle was there, so that Paul addressed a letter to them, and speaks in it of a church gathered there (Rom. 16:5); and not only so, but he claims it as a part of the measure which God had allotted to him, part of the sphere of work committed to him. He was the apostle of the Gentiles, and the seat of Gentile power came within his prescribed apostolic district. He never hints at Peter's having any right or title there, or even at his having been there at all. He teaches, lays the foundation for them, as an apostle to whom they were confided as his sphere of work, shewing them the relative position of Jew and Gentile, all real difference being, as sinners on the one hand and by grace on the other, done away. "By whom," he says, "we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations [all the Gentiles] for his name, among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ," Rom. 1:5-6. And so he goes on to shew the ground of his connection with them without a thought of Peter, and really to the exclusion of their being his sphere of work, or Peter's ever claiming any apostolic relationship with them or with any other than the circumcision.

Not that only, but Paul came to Rome and laboured, though a prisoner, for two years, and we never hear of Peter. If he ever came to Rome, he must have come when the church was already long founded by another. I am aware that afterwards there was a tradition that he did it jointly with Paul; but that is certainly false, because we have the history of the Acts to prove he did not. If he came, he came into another man's measure, to use Paul's expression. Rome liked, no doubt, foolishly to give itself this credit. It is just possible he visited the Jews there, which was his sphere, as he did apparently everywhere, addressing two Epistles to the believers of the dispersion in Asia Minor.

109 The tradition given by Eusebius from Dionysius of Corinth is clearly false, or has nothing to do with the matter, for it states not merely that Peter and Paul went together to Rome, but that they had also been at Corinth together, and taught the same doctrine, and then gone on to Rome to be martyred together (Eus. Hist. Ec. 2, 25). Now either this is false, as the Acts prove, if it be taken literally, for it is said, "I have planted," which the Acts and two Epistles to Corinth prove to have been the work of Paul alone, who declares that in Christ Jesus he had begotten them all by the gospel, a fact fully maintained in the Epistle; or if it be not false it is only a flourish of words referring to some visit to Rome (and Corinth on the way when on their way to prison), and in that case the churches were founded long before. That Peter planted the church of Corinth is undoubtedly false; for not only have we in the Acts the history of its planting by Paul with Silas and Timotheus exclusively, but he says, in his Epistle to them, that if they had ten thousand instructors they had but one father, for in Christ Jesus he had begotten them all by the gospel; 1 Cor. 4:15. Thus, as to the founding of the church, Peter certainly did not found the church at Corinth, and as certainly did not found the church at Rome. This we are perfectly sure of, as we have (besides the absence of all trace of it in scripture) Paul's Epistle to the Romans and two to the Corinthians, and the history of the Acts, which exclude any possibility of Peter's having done so. If it be true that they both suffered martyrdom there under Nero, this would say nothing of founding the church there, nor of any official place they had there. If we turn to those who followed in the See of Rome, the case is, if possible, clearer, for the apostle John survived Peter and Paul some thirty years; so that the first three popes governed one of the pillars among the apostles, which is as absurd as it is wrong. The notion of the beloved apostle being subject to the supremacy of the possessor of the See of Rome is monstrous.

Father O. Of course the apostle was not subject to him, but this did not hinder others being so.

N*. Pardon me. The church of Ephesus, where John dwelt, could not be subject to the bishop of Rome when John was there to guide them, and indeed the bishop of Rome must himself, if the case arose, have been subject to the apostle, for the authority of the apostles was confessedly supreme. Thus the pretended supremacy of Peter, and of his successors too, is clearly shewn to be false, unscriptural, and impossible. We have already seen in part, when you were not with us, that other prelates, the most eminent of their day, as Cyprian, Firmilian, Augustine, while shewing the greatest respect for Rome, and treating it (as tradition then did) as Peter's chair, utterly refused to be subject to it or own its supremacy, and asserted the independent jurisdiction of the different sees. The Jewish Christians sought to set up Peter in this way; but Paul resisted everywhere the Judaising of Christianity and the supremacy of Peter with it. Alas! how has it overflowed the church since.

110 But, further, how came it that the apostles never suspected that Peter had received this supreme place by these words, to say nothing of Rome? They were afterwards continually disputing who should be the greatest. This was strange if, in presence of them all, Christ had conferred it on Peter.

Father O. But they had not yet received the Holy Ghost.

N*. True; but they acknowledged the authority of the Lord, and, when the Holy Spirit was given, we find pre-eminent activity, as we have seen, in Peter (and the blessed apostle cared more for serving His Master then than for supremacy), but we never find him claiming supremacy. Nor could he have done so, because the Lord had forbidden it: "It shall not be so amongst you, for whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant." How would this do for the pope? And how could Peter, with the Holy Ghost bringing, as was promised, these words to his memory, have set up to be great among them? Your papal system denies the precepts of the Lord, as well as the history which scripture gives us. In the Acts Peter and John are sent by the apostles to Samaria.

So in the meeting to settle the solemn question of how far the law was binding on Gentiles, much discussion took place. Then Peter, ever forward, relates the case of Cornelius, and gives his thoughts as to the burden of Judaism. Then Barnabas and Paul are listened to, giving an account of the blessing among uncircumcised Gentiles. Each takes his place freely and suitably, and James closes the whole discussion as president of the church at Jerusalem. Peter has no place at all but what his gift and apostolic place gave him. He fills up that place rightly, and we hear no more of him in the council. In the decree we read, "It pleased the apostles and elders and the whole church." There is not a trace of any supremacy of Peter. If of any, it was of James. He says, "my sentence is". and this place of James was so marked, that when Peter was at Antioch and had eaten with the Gentiles, "when certain came from James," it is said, "he withdrew and separated himself," so that Paul had to rebuke him to the face; and accordingly, when Paul speaks of those whom he found pillars at Jerusalem, he does not put Cephas first, but says, "and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars," and then it was that they gave up the work among the Gentiles to Paul.

111 It is therefore as clear as noonday that Peter had no supremacy anywhere. Personal pre-eminency in energy and service, till Paul was called, he had. After that it was not the case; even as to that, Paul laboured more than all the apostles; 1 Cor. 15:10. He tells us he was not a whit behind the chiefest of them (2 Cor. 11:5), and in particular had to rebuke Peter to his face. Nor was Peter even the first called: Andrew, who had followed Jesus, brought Peter to Him. As regards what he bound on earth being bound in heaven, it is incontrovertible that all he apostolically pronounced upon or established was sanctioned in heaven. That is in Matthew 16; but in Matthew 18:18 it is said to all His disciples, and indeed to the church, going so far as to any two or three gathered together in His name. So as to forgiveness, as far as it is administration in man's hands (though I agree with Bellarmine, who furnishes all the arguments used on this point, that binding and loosing goes much farther, and includes all he established as divinely ordained), Paul forgives, and recognizes the assembly's title to forgive too; 2 Cor. 2:5-10. And the Lord confers the title to do it expressly on all the apostles; John 20.

As to feeding Christ's sheep, it was most gracious of the Lord to commit this to him thrice after he had denied Him thrice. And that he had this charge eminently as regards the circumcision we have already seen. But he desires the elders in his Epistle to do the same thing. So Paul, when he sent for the elders of Ephesus, charges them to feed or shepherd the church of God. And this leads me to another remark, that is, whatever place Peter had, an apostle can have no successor. Those who had the authority of the twelve and Paul were invested with it immediately by the Lord, and sent of Him as eye-witnesses chosen by Him. And Paul and Peter both distinctly confirm this. Paul declares that after his decease grievous wolves would enter in, and commends the disciples to God and the word of His grace. Now, if he was to have a successor, why should he speak of the state of the church as deprived by his death of any such care as he bestowed on the saints? So Peter, in writing his Epistle, says he would take care they should have what he taught always in remembrance. He has no idea that he was going to have a successor of great authority and infallible.

112 And your own Bellarmine, the first of your controversialists, says plainly, "The bishops have no part of apostolic authority" (Bellarm. 4, 25). And again, "There can be no succession properly but to one who precedes; but there were apostles and bishops in the church together." I am aware that to avoid the consequence he distinguishes between Peter and the other apostles, and says the pope succeeds not to their extraordinary power, but to Peter's ordinary jurisdiction over the whole church. But where is this ordinary jurisdiction to be found? Not in binding and loosing, for that all had; not in finding that others did not exercise independent jurisdiction as it is called, for Paul exercises it in the most entire independence of him, names elders, sends Timothy, Titus, where he pleases, James and Cephas and John having agreed with him that he and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles, they to the Jews. And we find Paul, not Peter, exercising over the churches this wide care with authority not derived from Peter, for he very carefully disclaims this. He was not of nor by man, and withstood Peter to the face. It is all a fable. It is never said Peter had this authority, or that he exercised it, or named one elder in his life. Whereas we find Paul exercising what is called ordinary supreme pastorship (though it is really apostolic authority, and nothing else, directly received from the Lord) constantly and everywhere, and among the Gentiles, whose conversion and care the Lord had committed to him as a dispensation. As a wise master-builder, he says, he laid the foundation; 1 Cor. 3:10. He planted, others only watered after him. It is the dispensation of the grace of God given to him; Eph. 3.

As to "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church," Peter had by grace confessed what none ever had, that Christ was the Son of the living God. As entitled to be called Son of God according to promises to Messiah, He had been owned, but Son of the living God He had never been called. This the Father revealed to Peter. The Lord owns the grace conferred on him, and declares that his name should be called Peter (a stone), partaking by grace through his confession of that which he confessed, for it was upon that truth so confessed (that is, on Christ's being the Son of the living God) that He would build His church. Hence it is said that the gates of hades, of the power of death (Satan as having the power of death), should not prevail against the church. For Christ by resurrection was declared to be Son of God with power, above all the power of Satan; and, the church being built on this rock, of His being the Son of the living God, Satan's power, that of death, could not overthrow it. So Chrysostom repeatedly uses it. As James has said, to suppose any real foundation but Christ is denying the Lord. And it is in this character of a divine person having the power of life over death that He can build the church.

113 But your statements that the fathers are agreed on this explanation, though you are borne out by Bellarmine, is quite unfounded. Some of them say it is Peter, some say it is Christ, some say it is the confession of Christ. St. Augustine says, "I know that afterwards I have very often expounded that 'upon this rock' should be understood of him whom Peter confessed." And so he had. As, again, "'Upon this rock,'" he says, "which thou hast confessed 'I will build my church.'" So Chrysostom in Matthew 16:18, "'on this rock,' that is, on the faith of the confession." I do not quote as his, "'Upon this rock'; He did not say 'upon Peter,' for He built His church not upon the man but upon his faith," for it is generally considered spurious; but it is, at least, some very ancient writer under his name.

The famous passage in Iren. 3, 3 does not apply to the supremacy of Peter, but deserves a short notice here, as it is used as a foundation for the authority of the church of Rome. Irenaeus is not speaking of the authority of any church, but of security as to doctrine, found in the teaching of all apostolic churches, and then says, as it would be tedious to go through all, he will refer to Rome, with which all must agree as having "potiorem principalitatem." Then he states it to be founded by Peter and Paul, Linus following, etc. No one reading the passage, of which we have only a poor Latin translation, and comparing the context, and in the least acquainted with Irenaeus, but must see that in Greek there must have been archen, and the real meaning of the writer to be, "a more excellent origin," namely, two apostles themselves. He is using the testimony "of the faith manifested in all the world," as a proof that these hidden mysteries of the Gnostics would nave been known somewhere, if the apostles had taught them, and the rather at Rome as the two great apostles were there. Of course this has nothing to do with the supremacy of Peter.

114 So Hilary, "Upon this rock of confession is the building of the church." Origen says, "Every disciple of Christ is the rock." Pope Gregory the Great says, "Persist in the true faith, and establish firmly your life in the rock of the church, that is, in the confession of the blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles." Now, it is quite true Chrysostom also says that Peter confessing his being a sinner was made the foundation of the church. But this shews only the vague sense they use it in, for when interpreting the passage he declares it to mean his confession. Be it that he contradicts himself, or with Augustine leaves, as he expressly does, to the reader, in his Retractations, to choose which sense he likes. It only shews what the authority of fathers is worth, and what the Council of Trent requires teachers to be bound by in finding the sense of scripture. The consent of the fathers is not to be had.

But it will be well to give a specimen of the interpretation of the fathers here, which will prove that it is anything but true that they uniformly speak of Peter as the rock, and, further, what the value of their authority in such matters is. You will find almost all you have quoted. My first quotations shall disprove your assertion; the second prove that each contradicts himself: only, you will mark, it is rhetoric when they make Peter the rock, sober interpretation when they say he is not.

Origen says, in his commentary on the passage, tom. 12, c. 11, "If you think that the whole church is built by God upon Peter only, what shall we say of John, the son of thunder? Shall we dare to say that the gates of hell were not properly to prevail against Peter, but that they will prevail against the rest of the apostles and the perfect? Is it not also of all, and of each of them that is spoken what is said before? — 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and that on this rock I will build my church.' Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given to Peter alone, and shall no other of the blessed receive them? And if that also is for others also in common: 'I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' Now is not both all that is said before, and what follows as addressed to Peter?" and says much more to the same purpose, referring to its gift to all in John's Gospel, and then adds, "as the letter of the Gospel says it to that Peter, as His Spirit teaches, it is to every one who is as that Peter,"* and in the whole chapter applies it diligently to every true Christian.

{*In chapter 14 he says, "As all who claim the place of oversight (bishop's charge) use this saying as Peter, and having received the keys, etc. It is to be said they say it rightly if they have the works, on account of which it was said to that Peter, Thou art Peter (a stone), and if they are such as Christ can build His church upon … but if he is bound in the chain of his sins, in vain he binds and looses."}

If you want a totally different interpretation, where every faithful Christian is made a Peter, and the keys given to him, you may see Com. 12, 14.

Hilary de Trin. 6, 36, says, "Upon this rock of confession, therefore, is the building of the church (37). This faith is the foundation of the church; through this the gates of hell are weak against it. This faith has the keys of the heavenly kingdom," etc. So on Psa. 140, "We have known no rock but Christ, because it is said of him, 'that rock was Christ.'"

There is quoted from Origen, to support the Romanist view, the following passage, Hom. 5 (De la Rue, 2, 145).

"See what is said by the Lord to that great foundation of the church, and most solid rock on which Christ founded the church, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

This is, however, only a translation of Ruffinus, in which he professes to have added what was necessary, because Origen touched on questions often, and did not answer them, which might annoy the Latin reader.

Hilary, in the treatise on Psalm 131, says, Peter, to whom above he had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, on whom he was about to build the church against which the gates of hell should not prevail, and as to whom what he should bind and loose on earth should be bound and loosed in heaven; and what you have quoted already. But then he is really insisting on his confession.

116 As regards Athanasius, the passage quoted (of which Bellarmine speaks as so beautiful) is a notoriously spurious letter, and placed among the spurious ones by his Benedictine editors; the proofs you can see in Dupin on this Father, and it is a proof only of the practices resorted to by papal advocates to clothe their pretensions with the authority of great names, and which have acquired the name of pious frauds. We will therefore leave Athanasius, who affords you no help, though he resorted to Rome to help him against the Arians. It is strange moreover Roman Catholics should quote a letter to Felix, for Felix was a pope thrust in by the Arians, while Liberius was banished by the Arian Emperor; and Athanasius says it was a deed that bore the stamp of antichrist. Cardinal Baronius, the great Roman Catholic historian, will not admit him to be pope at all, as there cannot be two. Bellarmine says he was a fresh instance of how solid a foundation popes are for the church to be built upon. Roman Catholics cannot agree whether he was or was not a pope. When the Emperor let Pope Liberius back on his agreeing to communion with the Arians and signing an Arian or semi-Arian creed, Felix and he had to rub on together, two popes and two heads at a time, till Liberius died.

As to Gregory Nazianzen, it proves, orator as he was, what I maintain; though in rhetorical language, without exactness, he says Peter is called a rock, which is not exact as to fact, for in the text Simon is called Peter, or a stone. But his explanation of it every Christian would allow, and it is what the Fathers often say, that the foundation of the church was trusted to his faith. No doubt it was, under God's grace. But, in this figurative sense, Paul also declares that he had laid the foundation, and that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the corner stone. So in the heavenly Jerusalem, the twelve foundations have the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. In this general way no reader of scripture could for a moment make any difficulty. But it proves that the popes can have nothing whatever to say to it. For since that foundation was once laid, all others, who have that blessed privilege, are built upon it. To lay the foundation of the church now is simply to deny it and its foundation as originally laid. It is perfectly clear that no pope nor any Christian in after times could have this place. Next as to Epiphanius.

117 He does exalt Peter abundantly in the place quoted, and in the book on heresies also. In the former with much else, nearly as you say, "It became the first of the apostles, the solid rock on which the church should be built, and the gates of hell not prevail against it, by which gates the founders of heresies are meant."

Here, however, I will add a passage farther on, from the same section 9 of the Anchoret:

"He (John) learning from the Son, and receiving from the Son, the power of knowledge; but he (Peter) obtained it from the Father, founding the security of faith."

But the same Epiphanius says (Heresy of the Cathari (59) 7): — "Upon this rock of a solid faith I will build my church."

Here the faith is the rock. And note that, even in the passage in the Anchoret, the difference is founded on the immediate revelation by the Father, so that it applies only to Peter personally. Indeed, even where Peter is stated by the Fathers to be the rock, it is always on the ground of his personal faith.

Epiphanius therefore does not much help you out. It is Peter's faith one time, Peter himself another; but then because of the immediate revelation made to him by the Father. You next press Chrysostom on us; we will examine him too. You quote him on Matt. 55.

"The Lord says, 'Thou art Peter, and upon thee will I build my church.'"

This is a very unfortunate quotation of Bellarmine's. Because in the Commentary on Matt. 55, Chrysostom says just the contrary: he is insisting on the special blessedness of Peter as having owned Christ to be the Son of the living God, and directly taught there the consubstantiality of the Son. And thereon says, "Therefore He adds this: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," that is, upon the faith of the confession. The Sermon on Pentecost, which is as strong as possible in the same sense, I do not quote, as the best editors consider it spurious. There it is said, "He did not say on Peter, referring to Petra, a rock, for He did not found His church on a man, but on faith." At any rate, it is an ancient testimony.

118 However, Chrysostom's testimony is exactly the opposite to what it is alleged for

I next take Cyril.

"That in him as in a rock and most firm stone, he was going to build his church." What I do find in Cyril nearest to this is "[Christ] most suitably from the rock changed his name to Peter (petra, petron), for he was about to found his church on him." That is in Commentary on John 1 — (Paris, 1638.)

But Cyril in his dialogue on the Trinity 4, vol. 2, p. 1, 507, says on the verse, "Calling a rock, I think, by a change of word, nothing else, I think, but the immovable and firm faith of the disciples upon which, without possibility of falling, God has established and fixed the church of Christ."

We have not thus made much progress with the Fathers yet. The Greek Fathers do some of them speak of Peter, but I have taken up those presented by you, and all but one say the contrary of your interpretation, though they, several of them, contradict themselves, which it is important enough for us to remark. We have not only Fathers against Fathers, but Fathers against themselves. This is a poor foundation for faith. The Council of Trent will not allow the consent of the Fathers to be rejected in interpretation; but we find no such consent, in most cases not even of one Father with himself.

But we will turn to the Latin ones. You quote them also. You quote Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilary, and refer to Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose. I will follow here also. For one has only to know the Fathers to know what their authority is worth. Of Tertullian it is somewhat difficult to speak, because after having been a very great stickler for ecclesiastical authority (not for Rome) he became a very violent opponent of it. So that what was declared by him to be a sure foundation proved to be none in his own case. One could hardly have a more solid answer for one who would rest on his or on any Father's authority.

119 Father O. But any one may fall.

N*. No doubt, but it is a proof that what he has pleaded as a security from falling is not a very solid one. Tertullian pleaded the prescription of the church, that is, tradition, as the grand security. He abandoned it all as carnal (physical). But I add it never was the authority of Rome on which he rested his case. Not only when a Montanist (de Pud.) he charges his adversaries with overturning the manifest purpose of Christ who conferred authority personally on Peter — "I will give to thee …;" "whatsoever thou …"; in which he is perfectly right; but in the book "de Praescriptione," and the passage so much relied upon, he makes doctrine the test. "In the same way they, the heretics, will be tested by these churches, which, though they can allege no apostle nor apostolic man as their founder, as having a much later origin, yet agreeing in the same faith, are accounted apostolic by reason of consanguinity of doctrine." This we are quite ready to accept. Of Tertullian's system we have spoken. Strange to say, even this book is held by many learned men, Romanist and Protestant, to have been written when Tertullian had become a Montanist, as Dupin does on the one hand, and Allix on the other. Nor has he a thought in the treatise of setting up the authority of Rome. He insists that in Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, or Rome, you can trace up the doctrine to an apostolic source, and thus confute the heretics who have introduced new doctrines. Now we hold entirely that what was at first — not early merely, but at first — was right, and that only (see 1 John 2:24). Therefore we condemn Rome which has innovated. But it is evident that an inspired epistle of an apostle is a better evidence of what the apostle taught than a tradition after the lapse of centuries of uninspired men. What was first was and is right. But the Epistles and other scriptures are what was first, and therefore we receive them only. To shew Tertullian's mind and how little he referred exclusively to Peter, I will quote another passage of his. The apostles were all sent forth, he says, after the Lord's resurrection, "and promulgated the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations, and then founded churches in each city, from which other churches have borrowed, and daily borrow, the descent of faith and seeds of doctrine, that they may become churches; and by this they also are accounted apostolic as offspring of apostolic churches. The whole race is necessarily referred to its own origin. Therefore so many and so great churches are that first one from the apostles from which all are. Thus all are the first and apostolic, while all prove unity together." How far this is from having anything to do with Roman supremacy or Rome's being a security for truth, save as part of the whole, or Peter's being the one who ruled over all and secured truth, I need not say. It shuts out any such thought wholly. This was the common ground of those who pleaded prescription.

120 I turn to Cyprian. You quote from him, "The Lord chose Peter first and built the church on him."

I will complete the phrase. "But custom is not to be used as an authority, but one must be overcome by reasons. For neither did Peter, whom the Lord chose first and on whom He built His church, when Paul afterwards contended with him about circumcision, claim anything insolently to himself, or assume anything arrogantly, so as to say that he held any primacy."

This is a strange passage to quote to prove Peter's primacy by; but, the truth is, Cyprian was the stern and successful resister of the commencing pretensions of Rome, and maintained an active correspondence with Asia Minor, Spain, and other parts to consolidate the whole episcopacy, for that was his system against any pretensions to a primacy. He expresses himself thus: "One episcopacy diffused in the accordant multitude of many bishops." So with the whole synod of Carthage, speaking of the apostles, he says, "to whom we succeed, governing the church of God with the same power." By no one, while acknowledging Peter as a centre of unity, is the equal power of bishops and their independency more stoutly maintained.

In his fifty-fifth letter he says, "The bond of concord remaining, and individual fidelity to the Catholic church maintained, each bishop disposes and directs his own acts, rendering an account to the Lord of his course." And writing to the pope, to whom he never yielded, he says, "In which manner we neither do violence to any one, nor give the law, as each one who is set over [a church} is to have in the administration of the church the free judgment of his own will, having to render account of his conduct to God." The history of what passed between him and popes in this respect we have referred to already.

121 You quote Jerome.

"I will build my church upon thee."

Jerome does say so, and in a letter full of flattery and servility flies to Pope Damasus to know whether he is to say three hypostases or three persons; and he says, "I know that the church was built on that rock," that is, the See of Peter. And he says pretty much the same in his commentary on Isaiah, lib. 1, chap. 2, though he makes all the apostles mountains. But then on Amos, lib. 3, chap. 6, he says: "Christ is the rock who granted to His apostles that they should be also called rocks — 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.' Whoso is on these rocks, the adverse powers cannot pursue him." And this application of it to all the apostles is common in the Fathers, as Ambrose and Augustine. So Jerome himself, in his violent letter against Jovinian, in favour of celibacy, says, "Thou sayest the church is founded on Peter, although the same in another place is so upon all the apostles, and all receive the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and the stability of the church is established equally upon them." Then it suited him to say so. He says that John was more loved of Christ and dared to ask when Peter did not; knew Him when Peter did not, etc.

122 You cite Ambrose. He does call Peter a foundation. Let us see how far his statements make for your cause. "He acted in the first place (took the primacy), the primacy of confession truly, not of honour; the primacy of faith, not of rank."

And, after saying he was thus a foundation, he goes on, "Faith, therefore, is the foundation of the church; for it is said not of the flesh of Peter but of his faith that the gates of death should not prevail against it. But confession conquers hell. And this confession does not exclude one heresy. For, as a good ship, etc., the foundation of the church ought to avail against all heresies." He is speaking just as Hilary in the same case of Peter's owning Christ to be the true Son of God, his subject being the incarnation and the eternal divinity of Christ.

Augustine comes next. In his Psalm against the Donatists, a poor production — poor in thought and morality — which he says he wrote for the poorest that they might commit it to memory, and be able to meet them — he presents Peter as the rock and a sure centre of unity to these poor people. He did the same (he tells us in his Retractations) in a book also against the Donatists, not now extant. Augustine is not happy in his spirit or reasonings with these Donatists. They had resisted one who had given up his Bible in the last persecutions, being a bishop. A vast number of bishops and their flocks sided with them, and the schism lasted a very long time, more than a century. The Catholics, as they call them, appealed not to the pope but to the Emperor, and the Donatists were cruelly persecuted and put to death. Their passions were roused, and many of them took arms and fought and used violence against the other party — a wretched scene in the so-called Holy Catholic church. But so it was. Augustine cannot justify the party he espoused, but says there must be evil in the church, and the Donatists were worse. But he was every way embarrassed with these people. For, contrary to Cyprian and the East in earlier times, their baptism was held good. Now Augustine believed the Holy Ghost was conferred by baptism. They said to him, "Well, then, we confer the Holy Ghost, so we must have it." Yet he said they were not in the unity of the Catholic church, and so had not got the Holy Ghost; and here he toils and labours, to get out of the net he had got himself into, so as to make any one pity him. But I must pass on, only it is well to keep in mind what this socalled Holy Catholic church was.

123 Now hear the same Augustine when he is soberly seeking to edify souls in his sermons. In one of them we have an elaborate statement on the point, of which I can quote the kernel. It is on Matthew 14:24 (or de verbis Domini 13 in some editions). He quotes the passage 16:18, and says, "But this name that he should be called Peter was given him by the Lord; and this in such a figure as that he should signify the church, for Christ is the rock, Peter the Christian people, for rock (petra) is the principal name. Therefore it is Peter from petra (rock), not petra from Peter, as Christ is not from Christian, but Christian from Christ. 'Thou therefore,' says he, 'art Peter, and upon this rock which thou hast confessed, upon this rock which thou hast known, saying, Thou art, etc., I will build my church,' that is, upon myself, the Son of the living God, I will build my church. I will build thee upon Me, not Me upon thee." And again, "Thus they were baptized, not in the name of Paul, not in the name of Peter, but in the name of Christ, that Peter might be built upon the rock, not the rock upon Peter." This is plain enough. Faith was at work, not controversy or servile theology.

In his sermon on Pentecost (or ex Sirmondianis 22) he is equally plain. "For I am a rock, thou Peter … and upon this rock I will build my church, not upon Peter, which thou art, but upon the rock which thou hast confessed." So in the sermon on Peter and Paul's day (ser. 295, or de Diversis, 108): "Upon this which thou hast said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' I will build my church. For thou art Peter, from petra (a rock), Peter, not the rock (petra) from Peter. Do you wish to know from what rock Peter is called? Hear Paul." He then quotes 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, ending "and that rock was Christ," as whence Peter comes. He goes on then to say, "These keys not one man but the unity of the church received," and quotes John 20:22-23, to shew that it was to the whole church to whom Peter was given, there to represent in its universality and unity, all the other apostles having then received it; and then Matthew 18:15, 18, to shew that it applies to all the faithful saints, concluding "the dove binds, the dove looses, the building on the rock binds and looses." His words are, "That you may know that Peter stood there as representing the whole church, hear what is said to herself, what to all the faithful saints."

124 Such was the teaching of Augustine. In his Retractations he mentions that in the lost book against the Donatists he had called Peter the rock (he refers to the psalm, but not to Peter's being named in it), and then says, "I know I have very often afterwards [he had written the book against the Donatists when only a presbyter] expounded it as meaning him whom Peter confessed; … for it was not said to him, Thou art a rock, but Thou art Peter, but the rock was Christ." "Of these two opinions the reader may choose which is the more probable."

That makes a solid ground, by the consent of the Fathers, for your theme of Peter's being the rock. What I have cited proves two things, that is, that the Fathers generally contradict you, and that their authority is worth nothing, for they contradict themselves. No one taught of God would hesitate which to choose, the blessed Lord or Peter, for the rock on which the church or his own soul is to be built. It is evident that the Lord rests on the word, as Hilary and others say, of the blessed truth, that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Over what was founded on that he that had the power of death could not prevail. Nor will he. Happy those that are built on Him. But I will quote one more so-called father, because he was a pope, and an eminent one — Gregory the Great. Of all the earlier popes, save Leo, he, while condemning the present papal claim of universal jurisdiction as the act of a forerunner of antichrist, most pushed on the papal power. Yet he says (lib. 31, 39, Job 97), "Where rock in the sacred language is used in the singular number, what else is understood but Christ, of which Paul is witness — 'But the rock was Christ?'" In lib. 35:42, 13 of the same book, he calls it the solidity of faith, of which solidity the Lord says, "On this rock I will build my church," and refers the whole thought to the incarnation.

125 There is a passage still stronger in his letters, which I cannot lay my hand on, where he says, "Persist in the true faith, and establish your life on the rock of the church, that is the confession of Peter, the prince of the apostles." It is said forty-four Fathers and ten popes have given it the sense opposite to the one you say all give it. So Felix III, Nicholas I, and John. I have never verified the accuracy of this assertion. What we have examined suffices to shew that not only do the Fathers contradict your assertion, but each other and themselves. And we have two points where they refer to Peter. Very many make Christ, or the confession of Christ, the rock. When they make Peter the rock, it is individual — his own faith, and the grace personally given to himself; many to his personal work in founding the church — two, you allege, carry it into the See of Rome; of these, one states the contrary also, and it is only in a most servile correspondence with his patron, Damasus, that he says what you quote him for, when he was attacked as a heretic, and wanted the pope to back him up. The other case, Augustine, was an effort in controversy to gain the poor among the Donatists, while in his own expositions he carefully and elaborately taught the contrary.

What kind of a foundation of the truth is this? what security for it? for that is what we are seeking. And we have learnt another thing, that is, that the boasted Fathers are a security for nothing at all. But you have said that the famous Council of Chalcedon, composed of six hundred and thirty prelates, declare the same truth. So Bellarmine says. But alas! we have always to examine the assertions of your party. It is quite unfounded. What is said there of the prerogative of Rome is solely and exclusively the pretensions of the papal legate in giving his voice. Paschasinus, his two colleagues joining, after going through Dioscorus' misdeeds,* says, "archbishop of the great and elder Rome, Leo, by us and by the present synod, with the thrice blessed apostle Peter, worthy of all praise, who is the rock and base of the Catholic church, and foundation of the right faith, has deprived him of his dignity," etc. Then Anatolius, archbishop of Constantinople, gives his voice, and so on the rest. But the Council was very far indeed from admitting the pretensions of Rome. Indeed I am surprised that you should quote the Council of Chalcedon, only that your writers reckon on people's ignorance.

{*He had presided at what was meant to be a general council at Ephesus, which was called by the Emperor and attended by the legates of Rome, where they had beat poor old Flavian, archbishop of Constantinople, so that he died of it, and had even excommunicated the bishop of Rome, which was doubtless worse in Rome's eyes.}

126 Pope Leo, most holy and blessed, urged that the council should be held in Italy, but the Emperor would not agree. The council decreed (Action 15, 28) that Constantinople, or new Rome, should have equal privilege with old Rome in ecclesiastical matters, as it had in civil matters, having the Emperor and Senate there. In the next Action, 16, the legates complained, and said the bishops had been compelled to sign this, which they all denied, and the said Paschasinus, quoted a forged copy of a decree of the Council of Nice to give the primacy to Rome, but Constantius, the secretary, read a true copy, provided by the archdeacon of Constantinople, which confounded the legate. It gave Alexandria authority in Egypt, Antioch in its Eparchy, and Rome in its own district. The judges then — for they sat with the council — recited the decree giving equal rights to Constantinople. The bishops all declared this is a just sentence: "This we all say, this pleases us all. What is established must remain valid. All was regularly decreed. Let us go, we pray you; we all remain in this sentence, we all say the same thing." Lucentius, another of the pope's legates, then said, "The apostolic see ought not to be humbled in our presence," and begged that what had been decreed the day before in his absence might be reconsidered, or else he should have to protest against what was done, and that he might clearly know what he had to report to the apostolic man [chief bishop of the whole church],* who would judge of the injury done to his see, or any subversion of the canons. (Hardouin, vol. 2, Conc. Chal.) The bishop of Sebastia said, "We all remain in the opinions of your magnificence."** The judges said, "What we have spoken of the whole synod has approved "; and so it ended there.

{*What is in [ ] is not in the Latin copy.}

{**The Greek is wanting here, and in the Latin the sense is not very clear.}

That Rome never approved this is natural enough. But this was a general council, and held to be such in the whole of Christendom, and remained in force. Alas! it was wretched ambition on both sides. Leo's legate had orders, when he could not get the council in Italy, not to consent to anything prejudicial to Rome. But what kind of foundation is all this for the faith? Really it is miserable worldly ambition; but how is a simple soul, when told to hear the church, to find out who and what he is to hear? Can a divine faith be founded on confusion like this? It is impossible divine faith can be founded on a parish clergyman; and when I go to learn what the church holds, which requires enormous research, I am only launched in a sea of confusion. I turn to scripture, and all has divine authority.