« AnkstesnisTęsti »
to his successors, what does that prove? The Church is older than the Gospels, and was as completely constituted in all that is essential to her before a single one of the Gospels was written as she is now. If there is any truth at all in the Catholic Church, she receives her doctrine, her constitution, her laws, and her powers immediately from God, not through the medium of any written word whatever. This is her profession at any rate, and it is this profession you have to combat. The Church claims to have received the written word, but she must have existed before she received it, or else she could not have been its recipient. She does not concede that she has been created or constituted by the written word, as Mahometanism was instituted by the Koran. Our Lord, according to Catholics, founded a Church, instead of writing a book as the Arabian impostordid, and as Protestants, against all the reasons and facts in the case, pretend. Our learned jurist misconceives the case, and his evidence is irrelevant and inadmissible. Nothing can be concluded against the Church from the silence of the Gospels. If Mr. Derby could find in them any text that expressly, or by implication, denies that the power given to Peter descended to his successors, it would be to his purpose ; for it would convict the Church of contradicting herself, since she teaches that the Gospels were given by divine inspiration. But their silence proves nothing, any more than a witness testifying that he did not see the accused commit a certain crime, proves that he did not commit it. Yet we do not concede that the Gospels are absolutely silent on the point. The words of our Lord, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” plainly imply the continuance of Peter as its foundation. And how was he to continue, but in his successors ?
The author promised to “test the claims and faith of the Church by those authorities on which the Church herself relies, the early Saints, Fathers, and Popes, such as Augustine, Clement, Irenæus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Eusebius, Jerome, Athanasius, Leo, and others, whom the Church reveres." From these he was to draw his proofs, and only his illustrations from the Scriptures. That is, he undertook to refute the claims and faith of the Church by those whom we regard as Catholic writers, and recognize as authorities in argument. Has he done it ? Has he cited a single authority to the effect that the Church falsely claims that the power given to Peter as the Prince of the Apostles, as the Primate and visible head of the Church, descends to his successors ? Not as we have seen, It is evident to common sense, if such Primacy was necessary to the Church in the time of Peter, when the Apostles were all living, all directed by the Holy Ghost, and all clothed with Apostolical authority in the whole Church, it was far more necessary after their death, and there remained, aside from the Apostolic See, no Apostolic power, as distinguished from the ordinary Episcopal power. The Bishops succeed to the Apostles in the Episcopacy, in so far as the Apostles were Bishops, but not in the Apostleship, in so far as they were Apostles ; they succeed to the Episcopal, but not to the Apostolic power, and unless the successors of Peter succeed to him in his Apostleship and Primacy, the Primacy and Apostleship expired with him and the rest of the Apostles, and no Apostolic power remains in the Church. The reason for continuing the Primacy of Peter after his death was far stronger than the reason for instituting it in his person. Hence, we find all the Fathers asserting its continuance in Peter's successors. Thus St. Chrysostom, speaking of our Lord, says, “Cur sanguinem effudit ? Ut has emeret oves, quas Petro et successoribus ejus tradidit.” * “Manet,” says St. Leo Magnus, as cited by Father Cercia, “dispositio veritatis, et Beatus Petrus in accepta fortitudine Petræ perseverans, suscepta Ecclesia gubernacula non reliquit : perseverat videlicet Petrus et vivit in successoribus suis.” †
That the bishops of Rome are the legitimate successors of Peter, and that he lives and speaks in them with the plenitude of the Apostolic authority, is the uniform tradition of the Church. To this fact may be cited St. Irenæus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Eusebius, St. Athanasius, Sozomen, Eulogius Alexandrinus, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, Prudentius, St. Prosper, Sulpitius, Theodoret, Isidore, Freculphus, Addo Vienensis, the Popes: Damasus, Innocent I., Leo Magnus, Gelasius, John III., Gregory Magnus, Adrian I., Nicholas I., indeed all the Popes who have written any thing touching the question, for they all with one accord claim to be successors of St. Peter, and to hold their authority on the ground of their being the occupants of his See. And to these we may add the testimony of the first five councils, which comprise together more than twelve hundred ancient bishops, the great majority of whom were Greeks. This is enough to satisfy any reasonable man acquainted with the subject, and a sufficient answer to Mr. Derby on his own grounds, for he promised to prove his case from our own witnesses.
* De Sacerdotis, Lib. II., Tom. 1, p. 454.
† Sermo. II., de Anniv. Assumpt. suæ, Tract. de Romano Pontifice, Sect. 1, Lect. XI. Neapoli, 1850.
Mr. Derby pretends that whatever power was given to Peter, the same power was given to all the Apostles alike, because he said to all indifferently, “feed ye,” “go into all the world,” “teach the Gospel.
" " teach the Gospel.” But he forgets that our Lord did not say to all indifferently, “feed my lambs,” “ feed my sheep,” but to Peter only. He said, indeed, to them all, go into all the world and teach the Gospel, and thus gave them Apostolic power, but to none of them save Peter did he deliver the keys, to none of them save Peter did he say, “when thou art converted confirm thy brethren,” to no other did he give the special charge of his lambs, his sheep, his whole flock; and therefore St. Chrysostom, who probably understood the Scriptures and traditions of the Church as well as our New England jurist, calls Peter the Coryphæus of the Apostles, and the head and mouth, caput et os, of the Apostolic body.
Mr. Derby, furthermore, thinks that Paul, not Peter, planted the Church of Rome, and the primacy, if affirmed of any one should be affirmed of Paul and not of Peter, “The Romish Church, --why could he not have written Roman, and thus have written good English ?-look
* See Father Cercia's work, just referred to, Sect. II., Lect. I., where the testimony of all these is cited at length, and which we would also give at length did our limits permit; and most of whom we shall have, perhaps, occasion to cite, as we proceed. On this whole question we refer Mr. Derby to the work we have cited, and also to the learned work on The Primacy of the Apostolic See, by Archbishop Kenrick. 4th edition, Baltimore. 1855.
(looks) principally to Peter, but it appears from Holy writ that St. Paul was the great Apostle of the Gentiles, and the principal, if not the sole founder of the Church of Rome.” He labors in the remainder of this second letter to prove this. We cite his proofs at length.
" It is true the Lord appeared in a vision to St. Peter, to dispel his impressions as to the impurity of the Gentiles, but it does not appear that St. Peter, for many years, went out of Asia, while St. Paul, enlightened by a heavenly vision, and highly educated, having been reared at Tarsus, distinguished for its schools, and at the feet of Gamaliel, a learned and leading Pharisee, and being born a Roman citizen, was converted to the faith, and sent forth the eloquent expounder of Christianity, and endowed also with the power of miracles. Refer to the Acts and Epistles. Who was the principal actor and author ? St. Paul. How often did he visit Rome, and how long did he reside there? He was there twice or thrice and
His epistles most of them bear date from Rome. Look at their conelusion. Read them all, and you will find he was in Asia, Egypt, Arabia, Thrace, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, and many other regions, founding churches and preaching the Gospel Examine his Epistle to the Galatians from Rome, chapters one and two, from the fourteenth verse of the first, to the sixteenth verse af the second chapter, and note his remarkable narrative of the heavenly vision, and his mission to the Gentiles. How it was three years after he commenced that mission, before he visited the disciples in Jerusalem, where he conferred with Peter and James, (the first bishop of Jerusalem,) the Lord's brother, and after a visit of but fifteen days to Peter, left Judea for Cilicia and Syria ; how he travelled on his mission for fourteen years, and then returned to Jerusalem where he found James and John, as well as Cephas, * pillars of the Church,' and Peter performing his mission to the circumcised ; how he met Peter at Antioch ; how Peter at first asso.ciated with the Gentiles at meals, and when the Jews appeared withdrew, and how severely Paul reproved him for this tergiversation, and withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed.' See Galatians 11:11, 14, and note that he afterwards returned to Rome, and thence addressed his apostolic letters to the bishops of various churches. Does not all this show any supremacy or infallibility on the part of St. Peter in the days of the Apostles? He may bave subsequently visited Rome, and his martyrdom may have occurred there, and his blood have cemented the foundations of the Church which St. Paul had reared there, but St. Paul was the bold, learned, eloquent, and effective preacher of the Gospel to the Leathen, and at least coördinate with St. Peter, the oldest and probably least instructed of the Disciples, who must bave been an old man when he reached Rome more than eighteen years after the death of our Saviour.”—Pp. 12–14.
Is it not a little singular, if our jurist is right, that the Church of Rome never thought of claiming the Primacy for St. Paul instead of St. Peter? She must have known, if such was the fact, that St. Paul was her founder and first Bishop ; how do you account, then, for her fixing upon Peter, according to Mr. Derby, a far less worthy character, and altogether inferior as a man and a scholar ? How do you account for the uniform tradition of the Church throughout the whole world, a tradition never questioned, so far as known, before the heretic Marsilius of Padua, in the fourteenth century, that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome? How account for the fact that, with such preponderating evidence as Mr. Derby supposes, in favor of St. Paul, there is not a vestige of proof that any one ever thought of calling the See of Rome St. Paul's See ? Is it not the most rational solution of the difficulty, after all, to conclude that the Church of Rome had no option in the case, that she called the Roman See, Peter's See, simply because it was his See, --a fact about which she could no more be mistaken than we about the fact who is at this moment Archbishop of New York. Perhaps the early Christians were not such blunderheads as Mr. Derby would have us believe. The heretics of the early ages, like heretics in all ages, were an ignorant, blundering set, no doubt, and the remains we have of their writings and speculations indicate, as Clement of Alexandria said of the Greeks, that “they could believe any thing save the truth ;” but all the remains we have of the early orthodox Christians, prove that they had, with the poor, the simple, the oppressed, the best talent of their age on their side. We do great injustice to the men who immediately succeeded the Apostles, if we suppose there were among them none who were men of enlarged and cultivated minds, of liberal education, and who were inferior to none in their times, or even in succeeding times. The fragments of their works which have escaped the wreck of time prove it. The second century was almost ushered in before the last of the Apostles, St. John, departed this life, and the men who