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he is and what he says, we are still in the dark. The Romish Church are agreed about this, that it possesses infallibility; but as to what that infallibility declares, or how discovered or expressed, its members constitute themselves separate judges, and form different judgments; and upon each of the theories of that infallibility, the Church has affirmed much, which every other theory of that same infallibility induces its advocates to reject.
But waiving these preliminary difficulties, and approaching a little nearer to those which this essay is chiefly designed to propound, the theories of infal libility are at all events reducible to four; and on any of them which is at all intelligible, for one there is which is not so,-it appears at present to many Englishmen that the infallible oracle has expressed itself on one or more of the questions now adverted to, in a manner which, unless Romanists remove their doubts, must operate as an insurmountable bar to their conversion. It will not be necessary to specify the many points in dogmatic or speculative theology, in which, as it seems to Protestants, the various utterances of the infallible authority have been contradictory, on any of the proposed theories of its existence and modes of action-points, again, which are still more numerous, on the supposition of there being several such theories. These 'variations,' as Bossuet would say, (apparent, of course,) it may be desirable to mention more at large at some future time, in pursuance of the same design now contemplated, that of inducing Romanists to solve our difficulties as an indispensable condition of our conversion, if they really would have us converted at all. But at present we shall restrict ourselves to those questions in which the difficulties come athwart our
duties as loyal and patriotic citizens of a free and independent state like England; nor shall we deem it necessary to refer to the whole even of these. Meantime, we conceive we shall have done the Church of Rome signal service if we can induce any of her champions to prove, not as we have said, by the 'private judgment' of this or that author, but by an authoritative declaration of all her supposed organs of infallibility for her varying criteria of infallibility render this also necessary-not only that she does not, but never did, assume any rights inconsistent with our loyalty and patriotism; we say never did— for again, by the peculiar nature of the case, this also is necessary; since if Rome be infallible, and has ever affirmed any of these rights, she has affirmed them for ever.
Now the several theories of infallibility, (to which, as Protestants affirm, 'private judgment' has unfortunately conducted the infallible Church,) are these, that it exists either in the Pope alone, or in a general Council alone, or in a General Council and Pope conjointly, or in the Universal Church diffusively.*
* Mr Hobart Seymour, in his 'Mornings among the Jesuits at Rome,' gives an amusing account of the perplexity in which the Professors of Dogmatic Theology and of the Canon Law seemed to be involved by his challenge to prove that the Church of Rome in any canon or article, in any decree of Council or bull of Pope, had asserted her own infallibility. The circumstances under which the challenge was given were these. The reverend Professor of Theology, after several operose attempts to construct a syllogism, designed to prove that the Church of England was not the Church of Christ, from the absence of all claim to infallibility, succeeded, as he imagined, thus:
The Church of Christ in all her parts claims infallibility;
Therefore the Church of England is not the Church of Christ."
The last is the theory which is not intelligible. The Universal Church resembles some gas, enor
Hereupon Mr. Seymour says, that he retorted the argument by proving that the Church of Rome is not the Church of Christ; simply substituting 'Church of Rome' for 'Church of England,' in the minor premise and conclusion, and challenging the Jesuits to show (which they acknowledged they could not) any bull, decree, canon, or article, expressly claiming infallibility for the Church of Rome. Jeremy Taylor had employed much the same argument in reference to the alleged infallibility of General Councils,' namely, that they had never claimed it for themselves, and that, therefore, if infallibility be supposed to belong to any of their decrees, it is imputed to them on less authority than that which establishes the decrees themselves. There is no General Council,' says he, 'that hath determined that a General Council is infallible; no Scripture hath recorded it, no tradition universal hath transmitted to us any such proposition; so that we must receive the authority at a lower rate, and upon a less probability, than the things consigned by that authority.' Mr. Seymour's Reviewers, after consultation with the Jesuits at Rome, (see last edition) acknowledge, that the Church of Rome has never formally claimed infallibility, but 'that the Church expresses her claim to infallibility by all her dogmatic facts and documents in which this principle and tenet is either implied, supposed, embodied, alluded to, insisted upon, or more or less expressed?' This is a sort of constructive infallibility. Without denying the dilemma, which the challenge presents, to be a troublesome one, yet since every Roman Catholic, so far as we know, does claim infallibility on behalf of the Church of Rome, we shall argue in the present article on the theory that she assumes it, and must profess that we believe her infallibility as much as if she had formally defined and affirmed it ten thousand times. But we apprehend that it must be received (if received at all) as an intuition of faith, not as a product of syllogisms. Alas! so incompetent are Protestants to argue after the fashion of the worthy Professor of Canon Law, so distrustful are they of syllogisms of every mood and figure in which 'infallibility' enters as the middle term, and mere ‘humanity,' in any conditions, as the extremes, that they would probably even venture to take the altered syllogism proposed by Mr. Seymour, alter it still further, by making the major premise negative, and the minor positive, and still venture, in spite of VOL. III.
mously voluminous and elastic; it has no visible dimensions; no tangible solidity. It is a nebulous matter, of which the orb of Truth may be a-making, for aught we know, but of which it has never yet been made. On this last hypothesis, therefore, it is not worth while for Protestants or Romanists to argue; both because this infallibility, if it exist, is an 'infallible' nonentity, there being endless disputes as to all the parties who are conjointly competent to decide what is infallible truth; and because it is impossible, even if this point were decided, to collect the votes which are to constitute this infallible truth.* Whether we deny or concede this infallibility, it makes nothing to the controversy; simply because it affirms nothing, it demonstrates nothing, except its own absolute impotence to demonstrate anything. It is a sort of ecclesiastical Pantheism; each member of the Church is a fragment of a collective infallibility which, in fact, is never collected, nor ever can be. All that can be intelligibly said is, that the Church would be infallible in its decisions, in case it ever made any; but what they would be, is absolutely uncertain. If, therefore, there be no other infallibility — if it be not collected and expressed by appropriate representative organs, there is no infallibility at all; each man is
Aristotle and all the schoolmen, to affirm the validity of the conclusion. Thus,
'The Church of Christ claims not to be infallible, though HE does :
The Church of Rome claims to be infallible;
Therefore the Church of Rome is not the Church of Christ.'
* Jeremy Taylor says: But if there could in this case be any distinct consideration of the Church, yet to know which is the true Church is so hard to be found out, that the greatest questions of Christendom are judged, before you can get to your judge; and then there is no need of him.'
left to conjecture what would be the utterance of this mute oracle, supposing it but to have the faculty of speech. At best, its condition is like that of the youthful speaker who, in modest confusion, stammered out to his audience that 'a certain author, whose name he had forgotten, had, in a certain book the title of which had escaped him, made a profound observation - the purport of which he unfortunately could not recall,' -after which lucid statement of 'infallible truth,' he sat down.
We shall therefore dismiss, as unworthy of any farther examination, this shadowy theory of infallibility, and confine ourselves, as the generality of candid, and all intelligent advocates of the Romish Church do, to one or other of the theories already specified; that of the Pope without General Councils, that of General Councils without the Pope, or that of Pope and Council in conjunction. Now, whichever of these we take, English Protestants are apt to feel suspicious that, by distinct decrees of Popes or Councils, or that of Councils and Popes, this authority has asserted, in the expression of its own infallible mind, principles to which, as loyal and patriotic Englishmen, they cannot subscribe; or, if it has not asserted them, they feel that it is not only difficult but quite impossible to tell what it has asserted; and the infallibility itself becomes a chimera.
To take, then, first the hypothesis of the infallibility of the Pope alone.-Has he or has he not ever assumed, as of divine right and by distinct utterance, a universal authority over temporal sovereigns whose crowns, if they are heretical and contumacious, he can take away, and give to others- and whose others—and subjects he can release from their oaths of allegi