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Church defines the Church to be “a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.” Art. XIX. Here something beside the orthodox faith is made essential to the Church, — namely, the sacraments duly administered. The Bishop is therefore precluded by his own Church from insisting on his definition. But if the due administration of the sacraments be, as here declared, necessary to the very being of the Church, then is necessary to the being of the Church a ministry authorized to administer them ; and separation from this authorized ministry must be separation from the Church, and therefore schism, as much as separation from the orthodox faith itself. The Reformers, as is well known, did separate from the ministry authorized to administer the sacraments; therefore were schismatics, even admitting they did not cease to be orthodox believers.
But even conceding that all orthodox believers are members of the Church, we must still ask, Who or what keeps, propounds, and defines the orthodox faith? This faith does not keep, propound, or define itself. It must have a depositary, a propounder, and a definer, or else we can never know what it is, who embrace it, and therefore who are or are not of the Church. “ I do indeed,” says the Bishop, “profess myself a believer in the one Catholic or Universal Church of the Redeemer, which forms a distinct article in the primitive creed ; but I have long cherished the opinion, that all orthodox believers are members of that Church, whatever may be the diversities of their particular communion." - p. 2. But who are orthodox believers ? What is the orthodox faith? There must be a standard of orthodoxy, and somewhere an authority competent to say what does or does not conform to it. What is this standard ? What is this authority ?
According to the Bishop, the standard is the word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible he holds to be the depositary of the word of God; belief of which is the orthodox faith. But it is essential to the orthodox faith that it be belief of the whole word of God; for God reveals nothing superfluous, and he who refuses to believe any portion of God's word, refuses to believe God just as much as he who refuses to believe the whole. Before the Bible is assumed to be the standard of orthodoxy, it must, then, be proved to contain the whole word of God. But how is this to be proved ? It cannot be proved by natural reason; because the question, how much or how little is revealed, is not a question of natural reason, but must be determined by a supernatural authority. It cannot be proved from the Bible, for the Bible nowhere professes to contain the whole word of God; nay, it does not even prosess that the whole word of God has been written, but contains several passages which indicate very clearly to the contrary. How, then, will the Bishop prove that the Bible contains the whole word of God ? But if he cannot prove that the Bible contains the whole word of God, how can he prove that he who believes it, or conforms to all that it teaches, is an orthodox believer?
Will it be said, that the orthordox faith is that faith which is necessary to salvation ; that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation ; and, therefore, he who believes what it contains is an orthodox believer ? We grant that he who believes all that is necessary for salvation is an orthodox believer ; but how know we that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation ? The Bible itself nowhere says so, and by an authority below that of the Bible the fact cannot be established. The whole question lies out of the jurisdiction of natural reason. Reason by its own light can never know that a supernatural faith is at all necessary to salvation. The necessity of such faith we know only by supernatural revelation ; consequently, supernatural revelation is as necessary to determine the extent as the subject matter of the faith itself. With nothing but the Bible and natural reason, no man can say that the Bible contains all that is necessary to be believed for salvation. Consequently, the conclusion, that he who believes all the Bible contains is an orthodox believer, is not proved. But, according to the state of the argument, the presumption is against the Bishop ; therefore, he is bound to prove that the Bible positively does contain the whole word of God, at least, all that is necessary to be believed for salvation, before he can assume it as the standard of the orthodox faith.
But, waiving this question, conceding for the moment that the Bible contains the whole word of God, one must believe that word in its genuine sense, or he is not an orthodox believer. The Bible does not interpret itself. It must be interpreted, and its genuine sense determined. But who or what is the interpreter ? According to the Bishop, the interpreter, save exceptions in favor of private reason, hereafter to be noticed, is the Church. This he is bound to hold ; because the twentieth article of his Church expressly declares the Church to
have "authority in controversies of faith," and therefore must have authority to declare what the faith is. He also insists (p. 18) that the Church is the court for expounding and applying the law. The court expounds and applies the law authoritatively. So also must the Church, if the analogy is to hold good. Then the Church must be an authoritative body, — not to make the law, for that nobody ever pretended, but to expound and apply it.
This is a point gained. It is no longer sufficient to define the Church to be simply the great body of believers in the orthodox faith ; for we must now add that it is an authoritative body, having the authority to declare what the orthodox faith is. Now, this authority is either legitimate or it is not. If the latter, it is usurped, and therefore really no authority at all, for nobody is bound to regard it. If the former, then it is from Christ, the source of all legitimate authority in the Church; then it is obligatory on all, and can be resisted by no one without sin, without rebellion against Christ, which is schism. If, then, the Reformers resisted this authority, as it is well known they did, or separated from it, they were schismatics, and the Churches they founded are out of the communion of Christ.
The Bishop concedes the Church to be an authoritative body. But the Church is not many, but one.
Therefore the authority is one. The court to expound and apply the law, then, is the universal Church, not a particular Church. The authority that declares the law must be the authority of the whole, and not of a part. This is evident from the fact, that, if the authority of the Church be a unitary authority, the authority of a part, or of some particular portion of the Church, must be inferior and subordinate to the whole, on the principle that the whole is greater than a part. The decision of a part can never be final, and the case may be carried up and argued before the full bench.
The Bishop professes to believe in the one Catholic Church. He then must admit the unity of the Church. This unity must extend to all that is embraced within the definition of the Church. This we now see, from the Bishop himself, is not only the orthodox faith, but the authority competent to declare what that faith is. The Church, then, must be one in its faith, and one in its authority. That is, its unity is not only the unity of faith, but the unity of authority. Now, whoever breaks the unity of this authority breaks the unity of the Church, as much as he who breaks the unity of the faith. But the Reformers did break this authority, and therefore were schismatics.
This conclusion we do not understand Bishop Hopkins to controvert, so far as concerns the German and Swiss Reformers, (pp. 26, 27,) but only in the case of the British Reformers. The British Reformers were not schismatics, because they did not proceed on their own individual authority, but on the authority of a national Church. His argument is, they who separate from the Catholic body by authority of the national Church, of which they are members, are not schismatics ; but the British Reformers separated by authority of the national Church; therefore, they were not schismatics.
To this we reply, 1. That the British Reformation, in point of fact, was not effected by the authority of the British Church as such, but by authority of the king and parliament, as is notorious, — an authority which the British Church herself declares incompetent to do any thing of the sort ; for she declares that " the civil magistrate hath no authority in things purely spiritual.” Art. XXXVIII.
We reply, 2. That, even if the Reformers had proceeded by authority of the national Church, they would have been none the less schismatics; because no national Church is a complete church polity in itself, but merely a part, and therefore subordinated to the whole. The Church of Christ is catholic, and knows no geographical limits, or national distinctions. It is one, and, as we have seen, one in its authority as well as in its faith. The authority of the national Church could be sufficient for the Reformers only on condition of its being a complete polity in itself, and, as to authority, independent of all other ecclesiastical bodies. But to assert this completeness and independency of the national Church would be to deny the unity of the Catholic body, and to assert as many distinct, separate, and independent Churches as there are nations in which there are Churches. To call these several distinct, separate, and independent Churches all one Church would be as false and as absurd as to call all the nations of Europe and America one and the same nation.
Again, the Bishop's argument presupposes the right of each national Church to expound the law in its own sense, and to differ as it judges necessary from all others. Consequently, he denies the obligation of the national Church to maintain the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith. For there may be rightfully as many different interpretations of the law, and therefore as many different faiths, as national Churches. He goes further ; he even lays down the doctrine, that the Church," meaning the national Church,“ hath authority in controversies of faith.” If the Church hath authority in contro
" versies of faith, the faithful must be bound to submit to it ; for the right to command involves always the obligation to obey. The faithful, then, in each nation are bound to receive the interpretations of the national Church. The authority of the Church is divine, and the Church therefore commands in the name of God.
The faithful are commanded, then, in the name of God, in each nation, to believe what the national Church teaches. Consequently, the faithful may be commanded in the name of God to believe one doctrine as orthodox in one country, and another doctrine in another. So that the Bishop's doctrine of the independence of national Churches not only breaks the unity of the ecclesiastical authority, but even the unity of faith. But we have already established both unity of faith and of authority to be essential to the unity of the Church. Therefore this doctrine of independent national Churches is inadmissible ; therefore the authority of the national Church could not justify the Reformers in seceding from the Catholic body. Therefore, their secession was, as we have said, schism.
Moreover, if we should admit this doctrine of the absolute independence of national Churches, we should be obliged to deny the possibility of a national Church ever becoming heretical or schismatic. It cannot become schismatic ; for it can become so only on condition of wilfully separating from its own authority, which is absurd. It cannot be heretical; because it is itself the supreme judge of the law and propounder of the faith. Orthodoxy is what it declares to be orthodoxy. It is impossible for it, then, to be heterodox; for heterodoxy is the doctrine repugnant to what it declares to be orthodox. It can be beterodox only on condition of denying what it declares, and even in declaring it. But a national Church may be both schismatic and heretical; for the Church of England herself declares, that, as the Church of Hierusalem, Alexandria, and
Antioch have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.” Art. XIX.
But the Bishop also seeks to justify the Reformers by asserting the right of private judgment. His doctrine is, that the Church is indeed authoritative, that the authority of the smallest sect is superior to that of the individual, that the authority of the national Church is still greater, and that of the universal Church is the greatest of all. Where the universal Church is unanimous, its authority is complete ; but where it is not agreed,