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pope, who, as an oracle ever living, and ever speaking, might cut short every question with a 'yes' or a 'no'
The plan would in truth have been convenient enough, and the remedy most easily applied. To no purpose, whatever, would the heretics have altered and forced the Word of God in order to give authority for their errors, and to render them sufficiently plausible to justify their separation. No one would have allowed himself to be seduced by such an artifice, if Christians had been persuaded that controversies were not to be decided in any other manner than by means of the papal decrees. Instead of forcing the Divine Word to their own particular meaning, they would have employed their skill on the decrees of the popes, or would have contrived to draw over the popes themselves to their opinion. The Catholics were bound to do as much on their part. But such has never been the case. Both the one and the other have resorted to the Word of God—the heretics altering and forcing it, to make their errors plausible—the Catholics employing it, on the other hand, to convince them of their error. The popes themselves, at the head of the latter, were united
with them in the endeavour to convince their adversaries by Scripture and Tradition. These, therefore, are universally recognized as the true and only rule for deciding and terminating controversies."
The pope might well say, when the Vatican Fathers too meekly appealed to tradition, “Tradizione son io;" even as Louis XIV., in the extremity of his infatuation, exclaimed, “ L'état, c'est moi !" but the absorption into an individual of the power of the whole community must end in the one case as in the other, in revolution and anarchy, in the grossest superstition or in the most hopeless infidelity.
THE PRIVILEGIUM PETRI” AND ITS RESULTS,
AS REGARDED BY THE POPES THEMSELVES.
“ He is of age : ask him : he shall speak for himself.”
JOHN ix. 21.
THE POPES ON THEIR OWN INFALLIBILITY.
THE great question into which every other must, to an Ultramontane divine, resolve itself, is not, “What saith the Scripture ?" nor, “What saith Tradition ?" nor, “What do both these guides of faith concur to teach ?" Nor yet can it be, “What do the popes say in their voluminous writings to direct the faith of the church ?" but, “When may the pope be held to teach from his chair ?” what is, in fact, an ex cathedrà utterance, that infallible revelation, and what a mere pro re natâ delivery, a private speculation or teaching? Once let us solve this question and all is clear. But yet, however solved, the result would still be most startling, and would leave us such a residuum of papal decrees as might be enough to poison for ever the purest fountains of Christian doctrine. For while we should lose all the evangelical teaching of Clement, and Leo, and Gregory—all the precious contributions to the interpretation of Scripture, which have illustrated the best ages of the history of the Roman Church - we should find left to us such doubtful treasures as the constitutions, “ Unam sanctam," "Si papa suae," "Ambitiosae,' Unigenitus,"—the Bulls“ in Cænd Domini," " Unigenitus," " Auctorem fidei,”
Ineffabilis ;" the horrible decrees of Paul IV. and Pius V., in favour of the Inquisition, and every other of the countless libels upon Christian faith and morality in which the Roman Chancery has been for three centuries so prolific. Of the ex cathedrå character of these and kindred documents, there can be no doubt. These were the “fountains of sound doctrine” to which Pope Pius VI. invited the enlightened and indignant Bishop of Chiusi and Pienza, and which were the “vinegar and gall” which he refused to take.
“See," exclaims the bishop, “the horrible consequence of this claim! The judgments of Innocent I. and Gelasius I., that infants dying without having received the eucharist are lost; of Stephen II., that baptism administered with wine is lawful; of John VIII., who condemned the addition of the filioque as an act of stupidity; of Cælestine III., who declared the dissolution of marriage, in case one of the parties became a heretic; of Urban II., who declared the lawfulness of killing an excommunicated person; of Innocent III., who held that the confession of a sacrilegious person ought to be revealed. Such are the fountains of sound doctrine to which we are directed. Is then the decree of Gregory VII. such a fountain, where he teaches the beautiful maxims that the authority of kings comes from the devil, and that the pope is alone the legitimate authority, supreme over all the world, and that he can absolve subjects from the oath of their allegiance ?
“Is the Bull of Boniface VIII. (Unam sanctam) a fountain (of sound doctrine, which decides that kings and their kingdoms are subject to the Roman pontiff, and that the sovereigns of the earth are