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dull of apprehension on this subject, we repeat, that we do not predicate this infallibility of the body of teachers in their natural capacity, nor of their personal endowments. It in no way, manner, or shape depends on their personal qualities or personal characters, however exalted, whether for intelligence, learning, sagacity, or sanctity. It is God speaking in and through them ; God, who can choose the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, weak things to bring to naught the mighty, nay, base things, and things that are not, and out of the mouth of babes and sucklings show forth his truth and perfect his praise; who can make the wrath of men praise him, and even the wicked the instruments of his will and the organs of his word; and who does do so at times, that it may be seen that his truth does not stand in human wisdom, nor his Church depend on human virtue.
For the special benefit of the same class of readers, we remark, in addition, that the infallibility claimed extends only to those matters included in the terms of the commission. These "all things whatsoever" Jesus commands. In relation to those matters Jesus did not command, or concerning which he gave no commandment, infallibility is not claimed, and could not be established if it were. Nevertheless, from the nature of the case, the Ecclesia docens must be the judge of what things Jesus has commanded her to teach, and therefore unquestionably the interpreter of her own powers. To assume to the contrary would be to deny her authority while seeming to admit it. If she alone has received authority to teach, she alone can say what she has authority to teach.
The indefectibility of the Ecclesia docens follows as a necessary consequence from what has been already established. The commission is the pledge of its own fulfilment. Whatever commission God gives must be fulfilled. This must be admitted, because the commission pledges God himself. The commission was not of a body of teachers, that is, of some body of teachers who should always be found, but it was solely, exclusively, and expressly to the Apostolic ministry. It was to the identical body to whom Jesus himself spoke. He spoke to the Apostles. It was to them, and to them only, the commission was given. But it was a commission the terms of which imply that the commissioned must remain even unto the consummation of the world. But the Apostles none of them personally did so remain. Therefore, though given to them exclusively, it was not given to them in their personal character, but was
given, as we have proved, to them as a corporation or body of teachers, in which sense they may continue unto the consummation of the world; for one of the attributes of a corporation. is immortality, and, so long as the terms of its charter are observed, it is perpetuated as the same identical corporation. Now, as the commission was given to the Apostles as a corporation, it was given only to that identical corporation, continued or perpetuated in space and time, which they were. But this commission is a commission to this corporation to teach, and to teach even to the consummation of the world. Then it must exist as the identical corporation to the consummation of the world. Then it can never fail to exist, or lose its identity. The com
mission is a pledge of infallibility. Then it can never fail, or lose its identity as an infallible body. If it fail in neither of these respects, it is indefectible, so far as we have affirmed its indefectibility; for we have affirmed its indefectibility only as a body of infallible teachers.
If there be any truth in the principles laid down, any reliance to be placed on the promises of Almighty God made through his Son Jesus Christ, it is infallibly certain that God has, through his Son, established an infallible and indefectible ministry, or Ecclesia docens, commanded it to teach all nations and individuals "all things whatsoever" he has revealed, and therefore commanded all nations and individuals to submit to it, to believe, observe, obey whatsoever it teaches as the revelation of God. The only remaining question for us is, Which of the pretended Christian ministries now extant is the true Apostolic ministry; that is to say, which is the body of teachers that inherits the promises? For if we find this one, we know then that it has the promise of infallibility, and that whatever it declares to be the word of God is the word of God. We can know then in whom we believe, and be certain. We need spend but a moment in answering this question. The ministry must be the identical Apostolic ministry, the identical corporation, to which the promises were made. It is the corporate identity that is to be established. It is known already, that it, at any period we may assume, is in existence; for it is indefectible, and cannot fail. We say, then,
It is the Roman Catholic ministry. It can be no other. It cannot be the Greek Church. The Greek Church was formerly in communion with the Church of Rome, and made one corporation with it. The Church of Rome was then the true
Church, Ecclesia docens, or it was not. If not, the Greek Church is false, in consequence of having communed with a false Church. If it was, the Greek Church is false, because it separated from it. So, take either horn of the dilemma, the Greek Church is false, and its ministry not the Apostolic ministry which inherits the promises. The same reasoning will apply with equal force to any one of the Oriental sects not in communion with the See of Rome, and a fortiori to all the modern Protestant sects. Therefore the Roman Catholic ministry is the Apostolic corporation, because this corporation can be no other.
You object, in behalf of the Greek Church, that Rome separated from her, not she from Rome. This we deny. It is historically certain that the Greek Church, prior to the final separation, agreed with the Church of Rome on the matters (the Supremacy of the Pope and the Procession of the Holy Ghost) which were made the pretexts for separation. In the separation, the Greek Church denied what she had before asserted, while Rome continued to assert the same doctrine after as before. Therefore the Greek Church was the dissentient party. Prior to the separation, the Greek Church agreed with the Roman in submitting to the papal authority. In the separation, the Greek Church threw off this authority, while the Roman continued to submit to it. Therefore the Greek Church was the separatist.
You insist, that, though the act of separation may, indeed, have been formally the act of the Greek Church, yet the separation was really on the part of Rome, who had corrupted the faith, and rendered separation from her necessary to the purity of the Christian Church. But, if this be so, whatever the corruptions of the faith Rome had been guilty of, the Greek Church participated in them during her communion with Rome. If they vitiated the Latin Church, they equally vitiated the Greek. Then both had failed, and the true Church, which we have seen is indefectible, must have been somewhere else. Then the Greek Church could become a true Church by separating from the communion of the Latin Church only on condition of coming into communion with the true Church. But it came into communion with no Church. Therefore the Greek Church, at any rate, is false.
The same reasoning applies to the before mentioned Oriental sects, and a fortiori to Protestants. Protestants were once in communion with Rome. They were then in communion with the Church of Christ, or they were not. If they were,
they are not now, because they have separated from it. If they were not, they could come into communion with the Church of Christ only by joining the true Church. But they joined none. Therefore they are not in communion with the Church of Christ, and their pretended ministries are none of them the Apostolic ministry. Therefore, we say again, it is the Roman Catholic ministry, because it can be no other, and must be some one. You object, that the true Church always subsists, indeed, but not always as a visible body, and therefore may be neither one nor another of the special church organizations extant, but in point of fact be dispersed through them all. But this objection is not pertinent; for we are not considering the question of the Church in the sense in which it is taken in this objection. The objection takes the word church in the sense of the congregation of the elect, or persons called and sanctified; we, in the question before us, take it in the sense of the congregation of Christian pastors and teachers, in which sense it can neither be invisible nor dispersed. It is the witness to the fact of revelation, and it is essential that the witness should be visible, that its competency and credibility may be judged of. It is commanded to teach all nations and individuals, and all nations and individuals are therefore commanded to believe and obey whatever it teaches. But, if invisible, this command is impractible; for we could never know where, when, or what it teaches, and therefore whether we believed and obeyed its teachings, It cannot be dispersed through various communions, because it is a corporation, and its dispersion would be its dissolution. It is a corporation of teachers. No man has a right to teach, unless commissioned by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, as we have seen, commissions individuals only in and through the commission of the body. Then one must be united to the body, as the condition of receiving a commission to teach. Therefore the teachers cannot be dispersed through different corporations. The teaching body is infallible, and, if dispersed through all communions, the truth must be infallibly taught in all communions. But it is so taught only in one communion; because all communions differ among themselves, and could not differ had they no error. As no two can be found that agree, only one can have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Therefore the ministry in question is only one, and not dispersed. It cannot be dispersed; for, if it were, it could not answer the end of its institution, which is to maintain unity of faith, perfect the saints in the knowledge of the Son of God,
and prevent us from being children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine; for to secure this end it must be public, recognizable, one, uniform, and authoritative. Nor could the individual teacher ever verify his commission, as a teacher sent from God, unless he can point to the visible body of which he is a member, and which was commissioned by Jesus Christ, and from him inherits the promises. Therefore we dismiss this notion of the invisible Church, and of an invisible body of true Christian teachers dispersed through various and conflicting communions. Such teachers would be as good as none, for no one could distinguish them from false teachers.
We repeat, then, the Roman Catholic ministry is the Apostolic ministry, for this ministry can be no other. This conclusion very few, perhaps none, would deny, if they admitted, what we have proved, that Jesus Christ did institute such a ministry as we contend for. If there be an infallible Church, authorized by the Saviour to teach, all must say, it is indisputably the Roman Catholic Church; for all see it can be no other, and, in fact, no other even pretends to be it.
But we may prove our proposition not merely by the removal or destruction of the negative, but by plain, positive, affirmative evidence. The first method of proof is conclusive in itself; the second is also conclusive in itself. All that is to be done to prove the proposition affirmatively is, to identify the Roman Catholic ministry, as a corporation, with the corporation Jesus Christ instituted and commissioned in the persons of the Apostles. The kind of evidence needed is the same as is requisite in any case of the identification of a corporation. The identity is established by showing that the corporation retains its original name, and has regularly succeeded to the original corporators. The name is not conclusive evidence, but is a presumption of identity. In the present case, it is easy to prove that the ministry in question retains the Apostolic name. This name is Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church bears it, and always has borne it. It is and always has been known and distinguished by it, and no other corporation is or ever has been known or distinguished by it. The old Donatists claimed it, but could not appropriate it. They are known only as Donatists. Some members of the English and American Episcopal Church, now and then, put on airs, and with great emphasis call themselves Catholics; but the bystanders only smile, for they see the long ears peering out from under the lion's skin. While, on the other hand, go into any city in the