Faith not possible without the Church
Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1846
ART. I.— The Episcopal Observer. Boston and Baltimore. August, 1845.
THE Episcopal Observer does not appear to comprehend what it is it must do, in order to refute the argument urged against Protestants in the article headed The Church against No-Church, in our Review for April last. That argument, formally stated, is, — According to the admissions of Protestants themselves, it is not possible to be saved without eliciting an act of faith.*(footnote: * The impossibility of being saved without eliciting faith, that is, without the act of faith, assumed here and throughout the whole argument, is, of course, to be restricted to adults, or persons in whom reason is so far developed as to render them morally responsible for their acts. It is true, universally, that it is impossible to be saved without faith, " for without faith it is impossible to please God," Heb. xi. 6, and " he that believeth not shall be condemned," St. Mark, xvi. 16 ; but it is not universally true that it is impossible to be saved without eliciting faith; for infants are saved by the infused habit of faith received in the Sacrament of Baptism, without the act of faith, of which they are not capable. Nevertheless, restricted to those who have attained to that age in which they become morally responsible for their acts, the assertion in the text is strictly true ; and it is only as so restricted we understand it, or wish to have it understood.--end of footnote) But it is not possible to elicit an act of faith without the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, without the Roman Catholic Church, it is not possible to be savedv As Protestants concede the major, it is evident they can set aside the conclusion only by denying the minor, and proving affirmatively that an act of faith can be elicited without the Roman Catholic Church. The Episcopal Observer, however, contends that it will refute us, if it succeed in proving that an act of faith cannot be elicited with the Roman Catholic Church. It supposes the argument may be retorted, and the question made to turn on the merits of Catholicity, instead of the merits of Protestantism. But in this the editor labors under a mistake ; for the point at issue is not what is possible with Catholicity, but what is possible xoithout it. The argument puts Protestantism on the defensive, and requires her to vindicate herself. She cannot retort upon her accuser ; because, even were she to prove her accuser guilty, she would not establish her own innocence.
The Protestant denies the Catholic Church, and does all in his power to destroy her. Be it so. We do not, in our argument, undertake the defence of the Church against him ; but call upon him to establish the sufficiency of Protestantism for salvation. He dare not affirm that salvation is possible without faith. But faith, we tell him, out of the Catholic Church, is not possible. He must deny this, and prove that it is possible out of the Catholic Church, or else admit that in denying the Catholic Church he denies the possibility of faith, and, therefore, of salvation. It avails him nothing, even if he prove that faith is not possible with the Roman Catholic Church ; for, until he proves its possibility without it, he can conclude from the fact that it is not possible with it only that it is not possible at all.
The Observer cannot deny this, but it imagines that in an argument with us it can relieve itself of the necessity of proving affirmatively that faith is elicitable without the Church, by adopting the argumentum ad hominem. " Mr. Brownson," it says, p. 325, " assumes in the outset, as well as we, that an act of faith can be elicited in some way If we shut the mouth of his witness, he must fall back on Protestant ground, or become a faithless infidel." If we were so disposed, we could concede the Observer's premises and deny its conclusion. If faith b,e possible in some way, and not possible on Catholic ground, it must be possible on Protestant ground or on some other, we admit. But, for aught the Observer shows to the contrary, there may be some other than the Protestant ground on which it is elicitable. Therefore, it does not follow, that, even were it to shut the mouth of our witness, we must . either become Protestants or infidels.
But the Observer has no right to say that we assume in the outset that an act of faith can be elicited in some way, and therefore must admit, that, if not elicitable in the way we allege, it must be in some other way ; for we assume no such thing. We assert in the outset, and we labor throughout the argument to prove, that an act of faith is elicitable in no way, but by the authority of the Roman Catholic Church ; and, if in any part of the argument we reason on the assumption of its possibility, it is only on the ground that its possibility is conceded by Protestants in their assumption of the possibility of salvation.
An analysis of the whole argument of the article in question, so far as it bears directly against Protestants, will give us the following :
1. According to the admissions of Protestants, it is not pos
sible to be saved without eliciting an act of faith.
But it is not possible to elicit an act of faith without the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, without the Roman Catholic Church, it is not possible to be saved.
2. According to the admissions of Protestants themselves, it
is possible to elicit an act of faith, since they admit the possi
bility of salvation, and that salvation is not possible without
But it is not possible to elicit an act of faith without the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, it must be possible to elicit an act of faith with the Roman Catholic Church.
The major, in both instances, is assumed to be conceded by Protestants. The dispute, then, must turn on the minor ; for, admitting both premises, no one will dream of denying the conclusion. The Observer, then, evidently cannot refute us in the way it imagines. The argument with which it proposes to refute us, if we may be allowed to reduce it to form, is, — It is impossible to be saved without eliciting an act of faith, transeat, or we concede it. But it is not possible to elicit an act of faith with the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, it is possible to elicit an act of faith, or to be saved, without the Roman Catholic Church.
But this argument is faulty, for the conclusion does not follow from the premises ; because faith, if not elicitable with the Roman Catholic Church, may not be elicitable at all. The Observer, in order to refute us, must go a step further, and maintain this argument, namely : — It is impossible to be saved without eliciting an act of faith, transeat, or we concede it. But an act of faith is elicitable without the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, it is possible to be saved without the Roman Catholic Church. This argument, if sustained, would be good against the argument we adduced, because it is its direct negative ; but it would not, after all, be conclusive against Catholicity. The conclusion follows ad hominem, not necessarily ; for there may be something besides faith necessary to salvation, and which is attainable only through the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, if sustained, it would unquestionably refute the argument on which we in our essay relied to establish the insufficiency of Protestantism. But the Observer does not sustain it; does not even seriously attempt to sustain it. It merely attempts to' retort upon us, and show that it is as difficult to elicit an act of faith on Catholic ground as we allege it is on Protestant ground. We tell it, therefore, again, since what it attempts to prove is not the negative of our proposition, even assuming that it has done all it has attempted, which it of course has not, it has not refuted us, or relieved Protestantism in the least of the very grave objections we urged against it.
We are rather surprised that even the editor of the Observer, who, though by no means a theologian or a disciplined reason-er, is yet a man of at least ordinary natural ability, should think of controverting this. He must know that the whole question, as we presented it, turns on the sufficiency or insufficiency of Protestantism to the eliciting of an act of faith, and that, till he has proved its sufficiency, he has proved nothing to his purpose. Protestantism, if good for any thing, must be able to stand on its own merits, and be capable of being sustained, not by the assumed error of some other system, but by its own positive truth. Its advocates show but little confidence in its intrinsic strength, when they refuse to bring forward positive arguments in its defence, and seek to sustain it solely by abusing the Church, calumniating her sovereign Pontiffs, misstating her history, and misrepresenting her teachings. They themselves admit that faith is a condition sine qua non of salvation, and therefore must admit, that, if faith be not elicit-able on Protestant ground, no man living and dying a Protestant can be saved. Why, then, do they not see the necessity, before all, of establishing the fact that faith is elicitable on their ground ? Why do they so studiously evade the question ? The question is for them a question of the gravest magnitude. Their eternal all is at stake. If they are wrong **' ' in assuming that they can have faith as Protestants, as we think we have proved they are, they have and can have no well grounded hopes of salvation. How, then, can they treat this question with indifference ? Can a reasonable being rest satisfied with his condition, so long as he has room to fear that he is out of the way of salvation ? Is the eternal destiny of the soul a matter to be trifled with ? " What doth it profit, if a man gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? " St. Matt. xvi. 26. It may be humiliating to the Protestant to descend from that pinnacle of human pride and self-sufficiency on which his assumptions place him, and consent to receive instructions, as a little child, from the Church against which he has for so long a time protested, — to prostrate himself at the foot of the cross which he has despised, and to be called by a name he has done his best to make a name of reproach ; but it is better even to submit, it is better to own that he has been wrong, that he has deceived and been deceived, that he has sinned before God, blasphemed his holy name, and become unworthy to be called a son in his Father's house, than to eat husks with the swine and to lose his own soul for ever. Let the prodigal son come to himself, and ask if he can have life in the "far country " where he has wasted his substance and is perishing with hunger, and he will not refuse to say, u I will arise and return to my Father's house, where there is bread enough and to spare." Would that our Protestant brethren would once seriously reflect on their own position, once seriously ask themselves, in the solitude of their own self-communings, if they have faith, if they can have faith without returning to the bosom of the Church ; they would then soon find that where they are they have and can have no foundation on which to build, no ground of hope in God's mercy, or of a share in the heritage of the saints.
In our July number we charged the Observer with ignoring the position, which we had assumed in the article he was laboring to refute, that what one is required to believe in order to be saved is truth, not falsehood ; that is, truth without mixture of error. The editor, in his reply, appears to admit the charge, but labors to justify his neglecting the position, on the ground that it was of no consequence to him. " It was," he says, "of no consequence to us that he (Mr. Brownson) labored long to prove that the ' somewhat ' the Christian must believe, in order to be saved, is truth without any mixture of falsehood ; for his only object, in getting up his ' exact' theory, was to create a necessity for an ' infallible witness ' ; and if it turned out in the end that he could not legitimately authenticate the authority of the witness, it would follow oi" necessity that there is no such thing as faith, or that illicit processes of reasoning had betrayed Mr. Brownson into a false presentation of its claims." — p. 325. Therefore, the position and reasoning were of no consequence in the refutution of our argument !
The Observer, in the first place, labors under a mistake in saying, our " only object in getting up the exact theory was to create a necessity for an infallible witness." We merely attempted to show, from the nature of faith itself, and of its object, that without an infallible witness there can be no such thing as faith. The necessity, if we were right in our reason- . ing, was not of our creating, but in the nature of the case. It was the Observer's business, not to assume we created or imagined a necessity where none exists, but to prove that the necessity we alleged does not, exist in fact. We cannot understand how otherwise he was to refute us.
In the second place, the Observer distinctly admits, that, if our position and the processes of reasoning we adopted be admitted, it follows of necessity, either that there can be no such thing as faith, or that the infallible witness we contended for, that is, the Roman Catholic Church, must be accepted, —precisely what throughout the whole argument we were laboring to prove. And this is assigned as a reason why, when avowedly attempting to refute us, it was of no consequence to controvert our position, or show the fallacy of our reasoning ! You flatter yourself with having " the pleasure " of refuting an opponent. If you grant his position and reasoning, you own you must accept his conclusions ; therefore, in order to refute him, it is of no consequence to overthrow his position or set aside his reasoning. This would be a novel way, and, by the by, rather, an easy way, of refuting an opponent, and no doubt has many attractions for our friend of the Observer; yet we would thank him to tell us, ex professo, what in an opponent's argument he regards it as necessary to refute in order to refute the argument.
Nevertheless, the editor says he did not entirely overlook the matter ; but, all unimportant as it was, had special reference to it in stating one of the points we maintained, which needed looking after, to be, " That, unless the nice theological shades of meaning in God's word are appreciated, one cannot be saved." — p. 326. But we complained of him, first, for omitting, when giving professedly a synopsis of our argument, an important position which we had assumed, and without which the argument would be incomplete and without force ; and, secondly, for ascribing to us a proposition we neither adopted nor implied, and reasoning against it as if it were ours, and giving his readers no means of discovering it to be not ours. These two just causes of complaint, we are sorry to say, he suffers to remain. He has grossly mutilated and misrepresented our argument, and will neither acknowledge his injustice nor afford his readers the means of detecting it.
Our proposition was, simply, that what one is required to believe in order to be a Christian believer, in order to be saved, is truth, not falsehood, truth without any mixture of falsehood ; or, in other terms, — as we elsewhere expressed ourselves, — the word of God in its purity and integrity. The editor of the Observer tells his readers that we maintain, " that, unless the nice theological shades of meaning in God's word are appreciated, one cannot be saved." We submit to the candid, nay, even to the uncandid reader, if these two propositions are identical ; if, indeed, there is not a wide difference between them. The first proposition the editor omitted, and substituted for it the second. This was grossly unjust. All his reasoning, professedly against our proposition, was directed solely against the one falsely ascribed to us ; and he seemed to his readers to be refuting us, when he was really only refuting a proposition which he had himself fabricated, and without any authority asserted to be ours. Here was both falsehood and deception, from the guilt of which the editor hardly attempts to clear himself, — whether through simplicity or malice it is not for us to decide.
But let us examine these two propositions. The one the Observer ascribes to us evidently makes theology a condition sine qua non of salvation. This must be admitted. 1. Because it speaks of the " nice theological shades of meaning in God's word." The adjective theological is necessarily used here to designate the subject of the shades of meaning, and by its proper force determines that subject to be theology. If this had not been the intention of the framer of the proposition, assuming him to have attached some meaning to the words he adopted, he would have omitted the word theological, and have written simply, " Unless the nice shades of meaning in God's," &c. 2. Because the proposition affirms unless the nice theological shades of meaning be appreciated, &c. Now, faith does not appreciate distinctions or shades of meaning. That which appreciates distinctions or shades of meaning in God's word is science, and that particular science which is called theology. To appreciate is to comprehend, and nothing is appreciated that is not comprehended. But faith does not comprehend. Its peculiarity is in believing without comprehending, without appreciating, — in believing the incomprehensible and the inappreciable. Consequently, to affirm that it is necessary to salvation to appreciate all the nice shades of meaning in God's word is to affirm the necessity of theology to salvation. And there can be no doubt that this is what the editor of the Observer intended to make his readers believe we did affirm. Whoever looks through his two articles will be perfectly convinced that he means to assert we maintain, that, unless all the nice shades of theology are appreciated, unless we have a theology which embraces all the truth there is in God's word, and appreciates all its shades of meaning, and which includes no error in any respect whatever, but is in every conceivable respect the exact truth as it lies in the mind of the Holy Ghost, we cannot be saved. He will not, and dares not, deny that he has represented, and intentionally represented, us as so maintaining.
Now, we deny that our proposition warrants this. What is it we say ? That, in order to be saved, one must believe truth, not falsehood, truth without any mixture of error, or the word of God in its purity and integrity ; and we define faith to be " a theological virtue which consists in believing without doubting, explicitly or implicitly, all the truths which Almighty God has revealed, on the veracity of God alone." Is there here one word said about theology ? Is there any thing which indicates that we hold it necessary to appreciate the meaning, much more, the nice shades of meaning, there may be in God's word ? Yes, one word, says the Observer, one word which proves, that, if it spoke of theology, we also spoke of it. — p. 327. We define faith to be a theological virtue. We therefore use the word theological as well as the editor of the Observer, and speak of theology as much as he did. In reply, we add that we have proved conclusively that he did speak of theology, and not only because he used the term theological, but because he spoke of shades of meaning to be appreciated. The same word, we are sorry to be obliged to inform him, may have more than one meaning, and be used sometimes in one sense, and sometimes in another, to be determined by the connection in which it is used. We denned faith to be a theological virtue, to designate its immediate object, which is God, and to distinguish it from the moral virtues. This is a strictly proper use of the word, and has not the remotest reference to the science of theology. The Observer did not and could not use the word in this sense, for the reasons already assigned, and because it did not wish to distinguish theological shades of meaning from moral shades, and could not have so done if it had wished, since shades of meaning have no moral character.
We could not have intended to mean by faith the science of theology, for we said faith consists in believing, and we were careful through our whole article to draw the distinction between belief and science. If we had meant theology, instead of faith, we should have been compelled by the principles we laid down to have written, " Faith is a theological virtue which consists in comprehending all the truths," &c. But as we used the word believing, instead of comprehending, it is but reasonable to give us credit for meaning what we said, and to conclude that we meant faith when we said so, and not theological science.
And again ; we speak of faith as consisting in believing explicitly or implicitly. We did not contend that even an explicit faith in all the truths revealed is necessary to salvation, but admitted that an implicit faith might, at least as to some portion of the revealed word, suffice. But in theology, inasmuch as it is a science, all is necessarily explicit, and nothing implicit. It would be absurd to speak of implicit science or implicit knowledge. But we may speak of implicit faith, since he who believes a proposition believes by implication all it necessarily involves, though he may be far from mentally apprehending it all. He who believes the Church to be an infallible teacher believes implicitly all she teaches, though as a matter of fact he actually know but a small portion of what she teaches ; because her infallibility necessarily implies that all she teaches is true. Consequently, since we spoke of believing explicitly or implicitly, our words must be understood of faith, and not of theological science.
The Observer says that we " define faith as a theological virtue which embraces all the meaning there is in truth, including, of course, its shades of meaning." — p. 327. This is not strictly correct; for we define it as embracing only the truths which Almighty God has revealed, and there may, for aught we know, be truths he has not revealed. But admitting that we make faith embrace all the meaning and even the shades of meaning in the word of God, what is this to the Observer's purpose ? To believe explicitly or implicitly all the truths Almighty God has revealed is something very different from appreciating them, from noting and appreciating all their nice shades of meaning. To do this last, one must comprehend these truths, know their full significance, which transcends all mortal ability. They have depths of meaning which will excite the wonder and admiration of the saints through eternity. Even the saints in their beatified state will never be able fully to appreciate the meaning of God's word ; for it is infinite, even infinitely infinite. Yet it all may be, and is, embraced explicitly or implicitly in the simple faith of the simplest Christian believer. It is evident, therefore, from all these considerations, that we meant by faith, faith as distinguished from theology, and that we did not contend and could not have contended for such a proposition as the editor of the Observer has presented to his readers as ours. Will he candidly acknowledge that he has done us injustice, that he has deceived his readers, and claimed to have refuted us, when all he has done is to ignore our arguments, and refute a proposition which he himself has invented, and which we should be as ready to reject as he is, and perhaps even more so ?
After telling the editor in our July number that we did not expressly or by implication maintain, that, unless all the nice theological shades of meaning in God's word are appreciated, one cannot be saved, and charitably ascribing his misrepresentation to his ignorance of the distinction between faith and theology, we proceeded on the supposition that he probably intended to deny our position, that what one must believe in order to be a Christian believer, in order to be saved, is truth, not falsehood, truth without mixture of error, or the word of God in its purity and integrity, and to maintain as his own thesis the contrary doctrine, namely, in order to be a Christian believer, in order to be saved, it suffices to believe truth and falsehood, truth mixed with error, or the mutilated and impure word of God. Assuming this to be his thesis, we proceeded to combat it. In his reply to us he brings it forward again, insists on it, but studiously avoids noticing even one of the very grave objections we urged against it, and does not even attempt to show us, on divine authority, that in matters of Christian faith it is lawful to believe falsehood, nor deign to inform us how much or how little falsehood it is allowable to mix up with the truth. Why is this ? Does the editor still remain of the opinion, that the proper way to refute an argument is to ignore it, or that his word is sufficient authority for believing whatever he may take it into his head to assert ?
The editor alleges nothing new in support of the sufficiency of his "mixed" theory. He simply refers to his former argument from the alleged inadequacy of language to serve as the medium of communicating the exact truth. " We showed," he says, " that language being a fallible representative of thought, it must in some instances and to some extent fail to fulfil the end of its use." — p. 326. That the language of the Observer fails frequently to serve as the medium of communicating the exact truth, or even the truth at all, we have but too ample evidence ; but that this is the fault of language itself, rather than of him who uses it, we are not quite so ready to concede. "Mr. Brownson," it says, "would have convinced a larger circle of intelligent readers, if he could have seriously set himself to work, and have shown why, and how, and when, human language was divested of its garments of fallibility, and clothed with the attributes of unerring divinity." — ib. It will be time enough for us to show this, when we assert, or when we maintain doctrines which imply, the absolute infallibility of language. The Observer must excuse us, if we do not in all cases show a willingness to undertake to maintain the propositions he fabricates for us. We hold ourselves bound to accept every consequence fairly deducible from principles which we acknowledge ; but not every consequence the fertile fancy of the editor of the Observer, without any authority in any thing we say, chooses to tell his readers is a proposition we are bound to maintain. When he shall have proved from any thing we say or imply, that we hold language is clothed with " the unerring attributes of divinity," we will tell him why, how, and when it became clothed with them.
Whether language is adequate to the expression of all the distinctions, all the nice shades of meaning, involved in the revelation Almighty God has made us, we do not inquire ; because we have nothing to do, in matters of faith, with distinctions and shades of meaning, and because, when we believe the revelation on competent authority, we necessarily believe all that it involves, whether we recognize or mentally apprehend all the distinctions or shades of meaning it involves, or not. Moreover, though we have heard much of the imperfection of language, we have never yet found it so very imperfect as some people pretend. The imperfection, for the most part, we have found to be not so much in language as the representative of thought as in the head of him who uses it. As a general rule, he who thinks with clearness, exactness, and precision may always find language a perfect medium of his thought. But be this as it may, the Observer will not deny that language has some capabilities, that in some instances and to some extent it may serve as a perfect representative of thought. If not, we had better shut our mouths, and stop writing, for there are errors, falsehoods, and deceptions enough already in the world, without adding to the number. The simple question is not, whether language be in all cases absolutely infallible, but whether it is adequate to the exact expression of the word of God, so far forth as that word is the object of faith. When I say two and two are four, language is a perfect representative of my thought, because I assert a simple proposition, with one simple sense, in which there are and can be no distinctions, no nice shades of meaning, to be noted or expressed. So is it with the articles of faith, as propounded for our belief. They are, as formal propositions, — the only sense in which . we are required to believe them, since their matter is intrinsically incomprehensible and inappreciable, as all admit, — all simple propositions, each having one simple sense, neither more nor less, which he who believes affirms, and he who disbelieves denies. If language, as it unquestionably is, be adequate to express a simple proposition with clearness, exactness, and precision, it is adequate to the clear, exact, and precise expression of the articles of faith, and therefore the necessity of believing the exact truth, or the word of God, in its purity and integrity, cannot be denied on the ground of the imperfection of language.
We have seen, lately, this argument against the necessity of believing the exact truth, drawn from the assumed imperfection of language, insisted on from several quarters, and it appears to be resorted to as the last refuge of those who are determined not to admit the authority of the Catholic Church. But are they aware of the consequences which necessarily follow from their doctrine ? The Observer expressly teaches that Almighty God himself cannot make us a revelation which shall reach us exempt from error. Then, since Almighty God chooses to make the revelation, chooses the medium through which he makes it, he must be said to teach the error'which necessarily accompanies his word, or is necessarily mingled with it. But God can teach error in no sense and in no degree whatever, for he is prima veritas in essendo, in cognos-cendo, et. in dicendo. Then, if he cannot make a revelation without necessarily communicating a certain portion of error along with it, be it more or less, he can make us no revelation at all. Hence, the first consequence of the doctrine is THE IMPOSSIBILITY OP DIVINE REVELATION.
If we assume — as we must, if we assume that God does make us a revelation, and cannot make it exempt from error — that he makes a revelation in which he necessarily mingles error with the truth, we deny his veracity, at least his veracity in speaking,—in dicendo,— or in making the revelation. Then his veracity cannot be alleged as the sufficient ground for faith. But the veracity of God is the only ground for faith possible, and if it be not sufficient, there is no sufficient ground for faith. Then there is and can be no faith. Hence, the second consequence of the doctrine is THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF FAITH.
But, if God makes us a revelation, and does not make it exempt from error, so far forth as the error necessarily mingled with the truth extends, he in making the revelation deceives us, leads us necessarily into error. But to charge God with deception, or to accuse him of leading men into error or falsehood, in any degree whatever, is blasphemy ; for it makes him a liar. Eence, the third consequence of the doctrine is BLASPHEMY, and they who defend it are material, if not formal, blasphemers. We beg the editor of the Observer to attend to this point, and, if not prepared to accept these consequences, as we presume he is not, to show us — not merely assert, but prove — that they do not necessarily follow from his doctrine. We beg him to answer fairly, logically, candidly, without evasion, subterfuge, declamation, or abuse.
Furthermore, the Holy Ghost probably knows the capabilities of language as well as our friend of the Observer, and, since it is repugnant to his veracity to communicate any thing but the exact truth, we may reasonably conclude, that, if there are truths, though we can conceive of none, which he knows language is inadequate to express with exactness, he does not reveal them, or make them a part of the word he propounds for our assent. This, it strikes us, would be more reasonable than to conclude with the Observer that God makes us a revelation mingled with more or less of error.
The editor of the Observer would be relieved of many of his embarrassments, if he would take the pains to make himself acquainted with a few of the more ordinary terms and distinctions of theological science. A slight acquaintance with a brief course of systematic theology would save him from many of the grave errors, as well as laughable blunders, which his writings everywhere indicate to the theologian. To write confidently, even flippantly, is not always to write wisely or profoundly. We suspect, after all, that our friend of the Observer really supposes that we assert and maintain, consciously or unconsciously, that no one who entertains the least theological error, however trifling or insignificant, and whatever his love and earnest strivings for the truth, can be saved ; but we assure him that we had hoped, that, in a community where we have been known for years, and where we are not regarded as an absolute dunce, it could never be necessary for us to deny that we maintain any proposition so obviously and so grossly absurd. We are not among those who claim infallibility for the human understanding, nor has our own past experience tended to give us any very lofty notions of its ability, when left to itself, to avoid even great and dangerous errors. Unquestionably, we assert that faith must be infallible, that in matters of faith we must believe the word of God, the whole word of God, and nothing but the word of God ; but to our mind there is a wide difference between asserting this and asserting that every or any purely theological error excludes from salvation. Whoever would be saved must believe the true doctrine of the Trinity ; but it does not follow from this that he cannot be saved, if he honestly err in the account he renders of the doctrine to philosophy, in the applications he may make of it in the general explanations of science, in the conclusions he may draw from it, or the arguments by which he may attempt to render it less difficult for reason to grasp, —providing that he advance nothing which impugns the doctrine itself as a simple article of faith. The same may be said in regard to all the articles of faith. No error excludes from salvation, unless it be an error in matters strictly of faith. In matters strictly of faith, we of course contend that it is necessary to believe the exact truth ; because, if error be mingled toith the word, we cannot believe it at all. Tf we believe the word at all, we believe it because it is God's word, on the divine veracity alone.
We have and can have no other ground of belief; and if we do not believe it on this ground alone, our belief is not faith. But we have not, and cannot have, the divine veracity for error ; because God does not reveal error, and cannot speak what is not strictly true. If, then, we receive the word only as mingled with error, we do not receive it on the divine veracity ; but on some other authority, and therefore on an authority insufficient for faith.
The editor of the Observer, strange as it may seem, actually appears to be unaware of the fact that falsehood is not susceptible of the degree of evidence requisite for faith ; and he evidently reasons as if men might have faith in falsehood as well as in truth. But faith in error or falsehood is impossible. If we mingle error with the word, it must be because the evidence on which we receive the word is indistinguishable from that on which we receive the error we mingle with it. The evidence for the truth is then no higher than the evidence we have for the error. Then the truth is no better evidenced to us than it is possible to evidence falsehood. But when the truth is no better evidenced than it is possible to evidence falsehood, it is not sufficiently evidenced for faith. Consequently, when we mingle error with the word, we have no faith in the word itself. We must, then, believe the exact truth, or not have faith.
We told the Observer that it must be aware that on the definition which we gave of faith rests nearly the whole of our argument for the necessity of an infallible witness ; for, if faith consist in believing without doubting, it is obvious that it is impossible to elicit an act of faith on the authority of a fallible witness. To this the Observer replies : — "Is God speaking audibly by his word to the ear, or silently by his spirit in the heart, a fallible witness ? Did we not say in our former article that we have in the person of the Holy Ghost what answers Mr. Brownson's theory, a witness and interpreter that cannot err, therefore infallible ? " — p. 327.
1. It is fair to infer from this that the editor of the Observer means to concede our definition of faith, and that faith is not clickable without an infallible witness,—two points of some importance in the controversy. He must now prove that he has or can have an infallible witness without the Roman Catholic Church, or admit that without the Roman Catholic Church faith is not elicitable.
2. The witness he alleges is in one sense the very witness
we contend for, since we hold the Church to be the witness to
the fact of revelation only on the ground that it is the Holy
Ghost that witnesses in her testimony. If by the Holy Ghost
in person the Observer means the Holy Ghost bearing witness
through the Church as his organ, we are agreed, and there is
no controversy between us ; but if, as is the case, it means the
Holy Ghost bearing witness immediately to the individual, we
deny the assumption, and put the editor upon his proofs.
3. We cannot entertain the Observer's appeal to the per
sonal testimony suggested, for its pages bear unequivocal evi
dence that its editor does not write under the immediate dicta
tion of the Holy Ghost. The editor is a bold man, but we
do not believe that even he dare lay his hand on his heart and
solemnly assert that he truly and sincerely believes that he is
specially inspired by the Holy Ghost to say what is or is not
the word of God.
4. The Observer cannot claim, on its own principles, to have
an infallible witness, even in case it has the private testimony of
the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost can be an infallible wit
ness only on condition that he speak to the mind and heart the
exact truth ; which the Observer contends, owing to the falli
bility of language, is not possible.
5. Though the Observer may have said in its former article
that it has the infallible testimony of the Holy Ghost to the
fact of revelation, we do not recollect that it proved that it has
or even may have it ; and since it denies, to Almighty God the
ability to tell the exact truth, it must excuse us if we cannot
take its unsupported assertions as conclusive for whatever it
may allege. We cannot consent to award it an infallibility
which it denies to Almighty God.
6. The editor of the Observer has no right to allege the pri
vate testimony of the Holy Ghost as the basis of an argument
he is publicly urging ; for, according to his own admission, it
is a secret of his own bosom, not recognizable by or provable
to another. The validity of an argument that rests upon it
cannot, therefore, be publicly established ; and we trust it can
not be necessary to prove that an argument, the validity of
which cannot be publicly established, is an argument which it
is not lawful publicly to urge.
The resort to the private testimony of the Holy Ghost, or what we called private illumination, is always exceedingly suspicious, — may, in fact, be always regarded as a mere evasion of a difficulty felt to be unanswerable. It is always a virtual acknowledgment of defeat. The man finds himself condemned by reason, and appeals to unreason, — flattering himself that he will henceforth be secure, because, if he cannot prove that he has the private illumination alleged, you may find it equally difficult to prove that he has it not.
But this miserable subterfuge shall not avail the editor of the Observer. He promised himself the " pleasure " of refuting us, and we hold him to his promise. We deny in our argument that faith can be elicited without the Roman Catholic Church. He says it can be, and alleges private inspiration, what he calls the " internal monitor," as the means by which it is elicitable. His thesis, then, is, Faith is elicitable by the internal monitor, or private testimony of the Holy Ghost, without the Roman Catholic Church. This thesis he must maintain by positive proofs, or yield to his opponent. But he cannot maintain this thesis without proving, I. That faith is morally as well as metaphysically possible by this private testimony ; and 2. That it is possible in the ordinary course of God's gracious providence.
1. We did not deny that faith is elicitable without the Roman Catholic Church, because it could not have been made
elicitable in some other way ; but because it has not been.
We say expressly, " We do not deny the possibility, on the
part of God, of adopting some other method." — p. 173.
The question, then, is not a question of a priori reasoning ;
but a simple question of fact. Before the editor can refute
our thesis or maintain his own, he must prove, as a matter of
fact, that faith is actually made elicitable without the Roman
Catholic Church, and by the private testimony of the Holy
Ghost. It is not elicitable by this private testimony, unless we
have it. He must, then, in order to prove faith possible by it,
prove that we have it, or at least may have it, if we will.
2. The editor must not only prove that we have or may
have the private testimony, but that we have or may have it as
standing in the ordinary course of God's gracious providence.
For, if it does not stand in the ordinary course of God's gracious
providence, it is a miracle. But we were not discussing what
is or is not possible by means of miracles, but what is or is not
possible without miracles, — as is evident from the fact, that
we were not seeking what is possible on the part of God, but
what he has made possible on the part of man. The Church
is, indeed, a miracle in relation to the order of nature, inasmuch as it is supernatural ; but standing in the ordinary course of God's gracious providence, we do not call it a miracle, any more than we call that a miracle which stands in the order of God's natural providence, or providence as manifested in the order of nature. If the private testimony stands in the order of grace, as the ordinary method of eliciting faith, it is not to be regarded as a miracle ; but if it do not stand in the order of grace as the ordinary method of eliciting faith, it is a miracle. Hence, the editor of the Observer must prove that private illumination is the method Almighty God in the ordinary course of his gracious providence has actually adopted for eliciting faith, or fail to refute our thesis or to sustain his own. That private illumination is the method actually adopted as the ordinary method of eliciting faith, we deny, 1. Because the faith we are required to have cannot be elicited by it ; 2. Because the method actually adopted is a different method; and 3. Because faith must be elicited by this different method, or not be the faith on which the question turns.
I. The faith which would' be elicitable by means of the private testimony of the Holy Ghost, even assuming that we have or may have it, would be simply faith in a new revelation made specially to the individual. This private testimony must be sufficient, in order to meet the demand, to enable us to say, in all cases, what is and what is not the word of God. But the word must be propounded to the mind, before testimony to the fact that it is God's word can be received. It must be propounded by the Spirit privately illuminating^ or by some other authority. If by some other authority, then the sufficiency of private illumination for eliciting faith is denied, and the question comes up as to what this other authority is, and as to what'may be its competency. If by the Spirit privately illuminating, then the private illumination propounds as well as evidences the word.; which is the same thing as its revelation. Then whatever the word believed on the authority of the private illumination, it is a new revelation, and, as a formal revelation, independent of every other revelation, and has no connection with any other revelation, either express or implied.
But a new revelation made specially to the individual is not the revelation faith in which we have assumed, on the strength of Protestant admissions, to be essential to salvation, and which we have denied to be elicitable without the Roman Catholic Church ; for we say expressly, in our article on The Church against No-Church,— " But the revelation to which we are seeking a witness is not a new revelation, not a private revelation which Almighty God may see proper to make to individuals, but a revelation already made and propounded for the belief of all men." — p. 173. Throughout our whole argument we presuppose that a revelation has been made, a historical revelation, a public or catholic revelation, which we call briefly " the Christian revelation," and which must be believed, as the condition sine qua non of salvation. It is always on the means and conditions of eliciting faith in this, to us, historical revelation that the question turns. Faith in any other revelation, then, although it should embrace materially the same truths as this, would not be the faith in question. Even were it proved that faith in some other revelation is elicit-able without the Roman Catholic Church, it would be nothing to the purpose, for it might still be true that faith in this is not possible without it. The faith involved in the controversy is a faith in this formal revelation, already made and completed. But private illumination can give us faith only in a new revelation, a private revelation, made specially to the individual. Therefore, the faith we are required to have, the faith on which the whole question turns, is not elicitable by private illumination, even in case private illumination be assumed as a fact.
II. But the method of private illumination is not the method ef eliciting faith actually adopted ; because it is evident from the Holy Scriptures that another method has been adopted. The Holy Scriptures are admissible testimony in the case ; for, in the first place, we adduce them only as simple historical documents, and, in the second place, they are held by Protestants, against whom we are reasoning, to be of divine authority. According to these, the method of eliciting faith actually adopted is not by private inspiration, but. through the ministry of teachers to whom Jesus Christ committed his revelation, and whom he authorized to teach or propound it. St. Matt, xxviii. 19, 20.
1. The revelation to be believed must be propounded, and with authority. This is evident from the express assertion of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. " How can they believe him of whom they have not heard ? And how shall they hear without a preacher ? And how can they preach, unless they be sent?" — x. 14, 15. The obvious sense of this is that faith comes by hearing (verse 17), — the word must be propounded ; that hearing comes by the preacher, — there must be some one to propound the word ; and that the preacher preaches because sent,—he who propounds the word must propound it with authority, or because authorized to propound it ; — for this, in this connection, is unquestionably the meaning of the word sent. Therefore, faith is elicitable only on condition that the word is propounded, and propounded with authority, and therefore only on condition that there be pastors and teachers authorized to propound it.
But, on the assumption of private illumination as the authority for saying what is or is not the word of God, the word cannot be authoritatively propounded. To propound is to propound to others, and to propound authoritatively to others is to propound with an authority which is equally an authority for him who propounds and for them to whom he propounds, — an authority which he may adduce, and which they must admit. But private illumination is not such authority. It is not an authority common to both parties, — is not public or catholic ; but private, confined to the bosom of the individual. In the preacher, it is no authority for the hearers ; in the hearers, it is no authority for the preacher. Confined to himself, he cannot adduce it as the reason why they should believe him ; confined to them, he cannot appeal to it, for he cannot know that they have it, and has no right to presume on their having it. Moreover, to assume it in them as the authority would be to transfer the authority from him to them ; and then, if they might be said to hear with authority, he could not be said to propound with authority. Besides, this would place the one assumed to be the learner above the teacher, and subject him who is assumed to teach to them who, it is assumed, need to be taught, — an absurdity which can find place only in Congregationalism. It would compel the teacher to rely on those he teaches for the authority with which to teach, and to preach not because sent, but because called ; which would be as if the Son of God came not because sent by the Father, but because called by the sinners for whom he died.
On this ground, it is evident the preacher could not propound the word with authority. But it must be propounded with authority, or faith is not elicitable, as before proved. Therefore, either faith is not elicitable, or there is some other method than that of private illumination by which it is elicitable.
2. Another method than that of private illumination is evidently the method of eliciting faith actually adopted ; because, on the method actually adopted, it is possible for the preacher to vindicate the word and convince gainsayers. " A bishop must," the holy Apostle tells us, " embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, be able to exhort in sound doctrine and convince the gainsayers. For there are many disobedient, vain talkers, seducers, especially they of the circumcision, who must be reproved, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith." — Tit. i. 7-13. But this is impossible, if he have no authority on which to declare what is or is not sound doctrine, but the private illumination of the Holy Ghost. He can convict gainsayers, vain talkers, seducers, only on condition that he has a public or catholic authority for the word, to which they can be compelled to answer, and by which he can vindicate the truth, and refute the error. But private illumination is not a public or catholic authority. It is authority only for the individual who has it. Since, then, the preacher of the word is required to do that which he cannot do without a different authority, it is evident that some other method than private illumination for saying what is or is not the word of God, and therefore for eliciting faith, is the method actually adopted.
There is here a question of no small magnitude, and of the greatest practical importance. The whole land is evidently overrun with infidels and misbelievers. The editor of the Observer is as ready to admit this as we are. He finds men, as well as we, denying or perverting the faith. He is at war on all hands with what he regards as error. He is at war with his Puseyite brethren, who he thinks are making shipwreck of the faith ; he is virtually, whether he knows it or not, at war with the episcopal constitution of his own church, and contending, substantially, for the Congregationalism in which he was brought up, and which he has never really renounced ; nay, he enters the lists against us, and labors with might and main, though without any flattering success, to convict us of error, — to prove the Catholic Church corrupt, as good as no church at all, and that on her authority faith is not possible. But does he not see that all this is pitiably absurd, if he have no authority but private illumination for saying what is or is not the word of God ? If we demand of him evidence that he, instead of those he opposes, has the word, what answer has he to return ? He cannot appeal to private illumination, for that is a secret of his own bosom, as he himself admits, and therefore is no authority by which to prove that he is right or others wrong. He must either admit another authority, a catholic or public authority, or close his pages, and shut his mouth. His very attempt to convict us and others of error is a.proof that he himself, unless he is capable of grosser inconsistency than even we can believe him, does not rely on private illumination alone, but really believes that he has an authority for faith which is common to him and us.
3. The method of eliciting faith, or the rule of faith, actually adopted, cannot be private illumination, because the method or rule actually adopted presupposes the possibility of HERESY. " The man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid." — Tit. iii. 15. There must be, according to what we have just said, a public or catholic authority for faith, or no one can have the right or the ability to admonish another for heresy ; for he must be convicted of heresy before he can be admonished, and he cannot be convicted of heresy on a private authority. Where there is only a private authority for faith, there can be only a private faith. But where there is only a private faith, and no authority to propound a catholic or public faith, there is and can be no heresy ; for heresy is not the wilful rejection of the private faith of individuals, but of a public or catholic faith. But there can be heresy. Therefore, there must be a public or catholic faith. Therefore, a public or catholic authority for faith. But private illumination is not such authority. Therefore, there is and must be another authority than that of private illumination.
III. These considerations suffice to establish the fact, that there is another method than that of private illumination actually adopted. We proceed now to prove the third proposition, namely, that faith must be elicited by this other method, or not be the faith on which the question turns.
1. It can be elicited only by this other method. This is evident from the words of the holy Apostle already quoted. Rom. x. 14, 15. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the preacher, and the preacher preaches because sent. But the text goes further, and asserts not only that faith does come by hearing, but that it can come in no other way ; not only that hearing does come by the preacher, but that it cannot come without him ; not only that the preacher does' preach because sent, but that he cannot preach unless sent. The preacher evidently cannot be sent, without an authority competent to send him. No authority, not public or catholic, is competent to send him ; for the mission, as we have seen, is public or catholic. Therefore, without a public or catholic authority, faith is impossible. Therefore, faith must be elicited by means of a public or catholic authority, or not be the faith in question. Hence St. Augustine says, Evangelio non crederem, nisi me Ecclesm Catholic® commoveret auctoritas.
2. This is of itself conclusive ; but we add, secondly, that faith must be elicited by this other authority, as is evident from the nature of faith as a theological virtue. According to the definition of faith already given and accepted, at least accepted so far as we have occasion now to insist on it, " faith is a theological virtue which consists in believing without doubting, explicitly or implicitly, all the truths God has revealed, on the veracity of God alone."
Theological virtues are those whose immediate object is God, and God as transcending the order of nature, and apprehensible' only through supernatural revelation ; for those virtues which refer to God as their object only mediately, as revealed in the order of nature, and as he is known or may be known by the natural light of reason, are not termed theological virtues, but are simply intellectual and moral. Faith, then, as a theological virtue, is a virtue whose immediate object is God ; that is, what in faith we immediately believe is God himself. The matters beside God included in faith are not that which is immediately believed ; we believe them only mediately, by God, on his authority, — because we believe him. Thus, charity is a theological virtue, whose immediate object is'God ; for though it include the love of God and of our neighbour, yet the immediate object of our love is God ; because we are to love our neighbour not for his own sake, but in and for the sake of God. Thus in hope, as a theological virtue, what we immediately hope is God ; and the other things we hope for, such as pardon of our sins, assistance of divine grace, and final perseverance, are hoped only mediately, as pertaining to God, and for the sake of God. In like manner, in faith God is what w.e immediately believe, and the other truths revealed we believe by him, on his authority.
But faith pertains to the intellect as its subject, and the intellect stands related to its object in the order of truth. Hence the immediate object of faith is God as truth, or as essentially true ; as the immediate object of charity is God as goodness, or essentially good. God, as truth or as essentially true, is the infinite veracity in being, or, as the theologians say, pri-ma veritas in essendo. The immediate object of faith, then, in the last analysis, is God as essentially true, or, in other words, the infinite veracity of God. We must, then, in faith believe on the veracity of God ; for if not, we do not believe the veracity of God itself; and if we do not believe this, our faith, though it may be intellectual, is not theological.
Hence, were it possible to believe the matters revealed in the word of God on any other authority than the veracity of God revealing them, — say, as our Unitarian friends contend, because they appear reasonable to us, satisfy the wants of the intellect and heart, warm our sensibilities, exalt our imagination, and give us lofty and ennobling views of the worth, capacities, and destiny of the human soul, —our belief would not be theological faith, for it would not necessarily imply belief in the veracity of God. We should not, in such case, necessarily believe God, either as the ultimate truth in being, in knowing, or in speaking, and therefore God would in no sense be the immediate object believed. At best, we should believe God only mediately ; as if in charity we loved our neighbour immediately, for his own sake, we could love God only mediately, that is, for the sake of our neighbour. We must, then, believe solely on the veracity of God ; for it is only by believing on the veracity of God, that, in believing, we believe it ; and it is only by believing it, that in believing we believe God as the immediate object of our belief; and it is only by believing him as the immediate object of our belief, that our faith is theological.
But we cannot believe on the veracity of God, unless the authority that propounds the word be his authority ; for it is only on this condition that his veracity can be presented to the mind as the immediate object to be believed. Hence, theological faith is not elicitable, unless God himself propounds the word, and is not elicited unless elicited because it is his authority that propounds.
But faith is not only theological; it is a theological virtue. As a virtue, it implies an act of the will in obedience to a command. Faith depends on two faculties of the soul, the will and the understanding. It cannot be elicited, unless the will command the intellect to assent to the truth revealed ; because the matter of faith is obscure, intrinsically inevident, and does not of itself compel the intellectual assent. But this act of the will, in order to be a virtue, must be not only a command to the intellect to believe, but also itself an act of obedience to the command of God ; and in order to be a theological virtue, it must be an act of obedience to the supernatural command of God. Consequently, to the integrity of faith it is essential that it be elicited not only by the veracity of God as the ground of assent, but also in obedience to the authority of God commanding us to believe. We must believe the word not simply for the sake of believing the truth, but also for the sake of obeying God.
But. we.cannot obey God, when and where his authority is not present to command ; and we do not elicit faith, when we do not believe in obedience to his authority ; for to believe on any other authority would not be to believe because God commands us to believe. Then faith is not elicitable, unless God himself propound the word by his own authority ; and is not elicited, in fact, unless elicited in obedience to his authority. Therefore, faith must be elicited on, and in obedience to, the authority of God propounding the word, or it is not faith.
But faith is a theological virtue, and therefore can be elicited only in obedience to the supernatural authority of God. Therefore, God must propound the word in a supernatural manner. But the faith to be elicited is not a private faith, but a public or catholic faith, as we have already proved. The authority of God which propounds it must, then, be not only supernatural, but also public or catholic. Faith, as a theological virtue, may be elicited by means of private revelation, and no doubt often was so elicited under the old dispensation, and, for aught.we know, is so elicited by individuals under the new. But this, though theological, is not at the same time theological and catholic, and, moreover, it is miraculous, not in the ordinary course of God's gracious providence, and therefore is not the faith with which we are concerned. But God cannot propound his word with authority in a public or catholic manner, unless he express his authority in a public or catholic manner. Then he must express his authority through some publicly recognizable organ. The authority is not the authority of God as revealed in the natural order, and cognoscible by the natural light of reason ; but supernatural, and therefore can itself be known only as supernaturally revealed. If not revealed, or in some way made intellectually apprehensible as the authority of God, it cannot be obeyed as such. It can be revealed or made intellectually apprehensible only in two ways, visibly or invisibly. If invisibly, it is not expressed in a public or catholic manner. Then it must be visibly. If visibly, then through the inspiration of private individuals, publicly accredited by miracles and appropriate seals of the divine commission, as under the old law, or by a body of pastors and teachers, that is, the Church, or Ecclesia docens, as Catholics hold to be the fact under the new law, or Christian dispensation. For the first mode of visibly expressing the authority of God the Observer and its friends will not contend ; they must then admit the second, or deny the elicitability of the faith in question. Therefore, if faith be elicitable at all, it must be elicited in obedience to the authority of God propounding it through a body of pastors and teachers, or, briefly, in obedience to the authority of God expressed through the visible Church teaching. The visible Church teaching is the Roman Catholic Church, as proved in our former article. Therefore, faith is not elicitable without the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, faith cannot be elicited by private illumination, but must be elicited in obedience to the Roman Catholic Church teaching, or not be the faith required.
But this conclusion does not rest solely on a priori reasoning. We establish it as a fact by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
1. In our article on The Church against No-Church, we
proved that our blessed Saviour did institute the Church teach
ing, and commanded it to teach all nations even unto the con
summation of the world. St. Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. But if he
commands her to teach all nations, he commands all nations to
believe what she teaches ; for the authority to teach necessa
rily implies the corresponding duty to believe. Then we
must believe what the Church teaches, or we do not believe
what God commands us to believe ; and because she teaches,
or else in believing we do not obey God, since her authority is
his. Also we must believe what she teaches because she
teaches it; for, as a matter of fact, this is one of the things
which she teaches, and" therefore not to believe because she
teaches would be to disobey the command of God to believe
what she teaches. Therefore, we must believe the word as
propounded and because propounded by the Church, or body
of teachers Almighty God has commissioned as the visible or
gan of his authority, or not have faith.
2. Our blessed Lord says to those he authorizes to teach, "He that heareth you heareth me ; and he that despiseth you despiseth me ; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me." St. Luke, x. 16. This proves that the authority of the teachers is the authority of God, or, in other words, that God does express his authority through a visible organ ; for, otherwise, to hear the teachers would not be to hear him. Then, 1. to believe in obedience to the teachers is to believe in obedience to God, — "he that heareth you heareth me." Then, 2. not to believe in obedience to them is not to believe in obedience to God,— "he that despiseth you despiseth me ; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me." Therefore, we must believe in obedience to the teachers Almighty God has commissioned, or not believe because God commands us to believe ; and if we do not believe because he commands us to believe, we have not faith, that is, the public or catholic faith on which the question turns. We might easily multiply our proofs from the Holy Scriptures, but these are conclusive.
We have now proved that the method of eliciting faith in the word, actually adopted, is another than private illumination, that it is by a body of teachers, or the Church teaching; and that faith must be elicited by means of, and in obedience to, the Church teaching, or not be faith. Therefore, private illumination is not and could not have been the method adopted. Appeal may be made to it, but it will not avail; for such is the nature of the faith which we are commanded to have, that it cannot be elicited unless in obedience to a public or catholic authority propounding the word. We said all this in substance in our article on The Church against No-Church; for we say, —
" But the revelation to which we are seeking a witness is not a new revelation, not a private revelation which Almighty God may see proper to make to individuals, but a revelation already made and propounded for the belief of all men. This is the revelation to be established ; and since your private revelation does not establish this, or if so, only by superseding it and rendering it of no value (for it can prove it even to the individual only by its being seen to be identical with what the individual receives without it), it evidently cannot be the witness we are in pursuit of. And this is the common answer to the alleged private illumination, whatever its form. It is valid only within the bosom of the individual, and can be alleged in support of no common or public faith ; therefore can be no witness in any disputed case. It may be a private benefit, or it may not be. It is a matter not to be spoken of, and a fact never to be used, when the question concerns any thing but the individual himself. But the faith we are required to have is a faith propounded to all men, a public faith, which must be sustained by public evidence." — Vol. II., p. 173.
The Observer should have denied in the outset our assumption, that the faith we are required to have is a public or catholic faith ; or, if not prepared to do this, which, of course, it was not, it should have shown that a private witness may be competent authority for a public or catholic faith. For, till the editor had shown this, and relieved the private witness of the charge we brought against it, private illumination stood convicted of incompetency, and he had no right to introduce it.
But, though what we have said is conclusive against the theory of private inspiration, a theory which a professed Churchman should both fear and be ashamed to urge, — there is still one other consideration, of a more practical character, to which we beg leave to call the.attention of the Observer. We called its attention to it in our former reply ; but, as it has the happy faculty of overlooking the points in an opponent's argument which are somewhat difficult to refute, we must take the liberty of calling its attention to it again. The editor must be aware that he is not the only one who appeals to private inspiration. Almost every sectary, from Moritanus down to the Mormon impostor, not overlooking Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, the Anabaptists, Quakers, Puritans, and Methodists, makes precisely the same appeal. Now, it is certain that some of the sectaries who make this appeal are mistaken, for some of them teach and have taught doctrines contradictory to those taught by others, and doctrines, rash, scandalous, and pernicious, — at war with common decency, social order, and domestic peace and virtue. It is necessary, then, to observe the admonition of the holy Apostle : — " Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God ; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." — 1 St. John, iv. 1.
But we cannot try the spirits, unless we have some criterion by which to try them. This criterion cannot be the private inspiration, the " internal monitor," as the Observer calls it; because that is what is to be tried, and it would be absurd to talk of trying a spirit by itself. The criterion must be independent of the inward witness, and distinct from it, — a standard or measure by which it may itself be tested or measured. What, then, is this criterion by which we may try the spirits, and know whether they are of God, or whether they are spirits of error ? The answer is at hand. " We are of God. He that knoweth God heareth us ; and he that is not of God heareth not us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."—1 St. John, iv. 6. The test of the spirit is in the fact that it does or does not hear the Apostles. If it hear them, it is of God ; if it hear not them, it is a spirit of error. The editor of the Observer, then, must prove that he hears the Apostles, before he can have the right to assume that his internal monitor is of God ; and if he does not hear them, we have the right to tell him that it is not of God, but an error, a delusion.
But how will our friend of the Observer prove that he hears the Apostles ? Will he answer, as we have often been answered by persons who take his ground, that he hears the Apostles because he holds the Apostolic faith ? To hold the Apostolic faith is the same thing as to hear the Apostles. This, then, would be to prove idem per idem, which is not allowable. Will he allege that he hears the Apostles, because he holds the faith as contained in the Holy Scriptures ? This would be to attempt again to prove idem per idem ; for, on the assumption, which he must make, that the Scriptures contain the whole revealed word, the faith as contained in them is the same thing as the Apostolic faith, and to hold it is the same thing as to hear the Apostles. But how will he prove that he holds the faith as contained in the Holy Scriptures ? By the internal monitor ? This is what he says, but this would be to reason in a vicious circle ; for it would assume the monitor to prove the faith and the faith to prove the monitor. How, then, will he prove that he hears the Apostles ?
This is conclusive. The editor of the Observer makes, in his reply to us, the internal monitor the witness to the fact of revelation ; that is, he proves his doctrine by his private inspiration, — " God speaking audibly by his word to the ear, or silently by his spirit in the heart." But the holy Apostle tells him that he must prove his inspiration by his doctrine, for, if he have not the true doctrine, that is, if he hears not the Apostles, his inspiration is not of God, but1 is the spirit of error. He and. the beloved Apostle of our blessed Lord are diametrically opposed, and, if we are to take the Apostle's authority in preference to his, it must be conceded that the doctrine is not and cannot be proved by the internal monitor.
Let not the editor of the Observer, reply to. us again, that it is not necessary to prove the witness, that is, the internal monitor. He must prove it, not for others only, but for himself; for, according to the blessed Apostle, he must hear the Apostles, or his internal monitor is of no authority, but is a delusion, the spirit of error. Till he proves it to be of God from the fact that he hears the Apostles, he is bound to regard it as a false witness, or at least a witness not competent to testify. He must, then, prove his inspiration, establish the fact that his witness is of God. How, we ask again, will he do it ?
Will he shift his ground, and say that he is in the communion of the Apostolic Church, and hears the Apostles because he hears their legitimate successors, who continue their authority and doctrine ? This would be a good answer in our mouth, but not in his ; for it abandons private inspiration as the witness to the fact of revelation, and assumes with us the Catholic Church. If he take this ground, he makes communion the test of doctrine, and doctrine the test of the internal monitor, and by so doing condemns himself and'the whole Protestant world ; he yields the whole principle in debate, and leaves to be settled between us only the simple question of fact, — whether his church or ours be the Apostolic Church ; and that his is the Apostolic Church we deny, and he must be a bold man to assert ; for, even assuming its identity with the Anglican, which may be questioned, it is obviously schismatic and heretical, and withal only about three hundred years old, as he is well aware, and as we have proved unanswerably, in our essay in reply to the New York Churchman, in our Review for October, 1844, entitled, The Anglican Church Schismatic ; as also in the essay on The Church against No-Church, in the number for April last. The editor of the Observer is therefore precluded by his own position, by the position of his church, and the very doctrine of private illumination for which he contends, from assuming Catholic ground ; and yet it is only by assuming Catholic ground that he can prove his right to follow his internal monitor. Here is the difficulty in which he is placed. He assumes that the inward monitor is its own witness and authority, and therefore may be taken as the witness to the fact of revelation, the authority for saying what is or is not the revelation or word of God. The spirit, he assumes, witnesseth itself, and has no need to be tested by a criterion or standard distinct from itself. Here is his fundamental error, and that of all who contend for either private reason or private inspiration as the witness to the fact of revelation. But, according to the blessed Apostle, they must prove the spirit by the doctrine, and not the doctrine by the spirit. Hence, no private spirit is of any authority, even to the individual who professes to have it, unless it heareth the Apostles ; and, as we have seen, the proof that it heareth the Apostles is that it gathereth to the Apostolic communion. Hence, we are to take for our principle, The church proves the doctrine, the doctrine the private spirit ; not the private spirit proves the doctrine, and the doctrine the church or communion.
But it is due to the Observer to say that it has attempted to answer, in part, one or two of the objections we urged against its private witness. We objected, If private illumination be the witness to the fact of revelation, those not privately illuminated have not the evidence necessary to warrant faith in the revelation. But no blame can attach to a man for not believing what is not sufficiently evidenced to warrant belief. Therefore, those not privately illuminated are not to blame for not believing the revelation Almighty God has made. But whoever does not believe is to blame, for unbelief is admitted to be not merely an effect of sin, but a sin itself. Therefore, there must be, independent of private illumination, sufficient motives of credibility to warrant belief. To the argument the editor does not reply ; he merely alleges, that, if any are not privately illuminated, " the fault is their own. All may have the promptings of the Spirit, if they will. The grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men teaching," &c. — p. 327. As to the soundness of our own argument, we will here raise no question ; it will suffice to show that the editor of the Observer has not refuted it. The position, that it is their own fault if not privately illuminated, is not proved. The illumination is a free gift, not dependent on our will, nor merita-ble by us. It is not due us in the order of nature, as something which God in our nature promises us. It must, then, be proved that Almighty God has promised it in the order of grace to all who comply with the conditions of its reception which he has instituted ; or we can have no more right to say that it is our own fault if we have it not, than we should have to say it was the fault of the primitive believers that they were not all inspired as apostles and evangelists. But this the editor does not prove.
The fact alleged, that all may have u the promptings of the Spirit, if they will," if admitted, does not prove the assertion ; for there is a wide disparity between " the promptings of the Spirit" and the private illumination, which is a re-revelation of the whole word of God, and by which one is able to say, infallibly, what is or is not the word of God originally revealed. To prompt is not to illumine, but simply to incite or move to action. But, in point of fact, the promptings of the Spirit are not contingent on our will ; for they must precede the motion of the will as its necessary conditions. The Spirit does not prompt us because we will that it should prompt us, nor because we will what is pleasing to God ; but it prompts and assists us, that we may will what is pleasing to God. To deny this would be to fall into the Pelagian heresy.
The text quoted from St. Paul, Tit. ii. 11, 12, if it proves any thing to the purpose, proves too much. If the editor understands by the word grace the private illumination in question,— which, by the way, is not its meaning, — and relies on the fact that it is asserted to have appeared unto all men, it proves that all are specially and infallibly inspired, which obviously is not the fact, as he himself admits ; for, if it were, no man could err as to what is and what is not the word to be believed. But, assuming that he so intends to understand the text, we demand his authority for saying that the grace spoken of is the private illumination in question. Will he allege the fact, that the grace is said to be teaching, &c? This will not avail ; because he must prove what it teaches is the word of God we are commanded to believe. But this the text itself does not assert. The text simply asserts that '' the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that, renouncing impiety and worldly desires, we should live soberly, piously, and justly in this present world," — that is, certain practical duties which presuppose a knowledge of the faith, as already possessed. But waive this. The grace teaches — how ? Through the body of pastors and teachers ? Then the text makes for us. By private illumination ? Where are the proofs ?
We objected, again, to the private witness, that, if this were the witness, the fact whether any one embraces the faith or not could never be known out of the bosom of the individual. The Observer replies, that it is not necessary that it should be. If there is to be a public faith, it is necessary, for reasons already assigned ; and, if we may believe the blessed Apostle, according to the order actually adopted, it is necessary to be known, even if there is to be only a private faith ; because private faith must find its authority in the public faith.
The Observer asks, p. 327, " How can it be known whether this or that individual will finally be saved ? " Whether this or that individual will finally be saved is not necessary to be known ; because the fact whether he will or not is not a fact all men are required to believe, as an article of faith. The sneer, that " the Romish Church may devise arbitrary rules by which it may pretend to know who are sound in the faith and who are not, who are going to heaven and who to hell" (p. 328), may do for a writer who feels himself as little bound, in an argument, to tell the truth as to observe the rules of logic ; but its force is all in its malice. The Catholic Church claims to be able to say what is sound faith, but not who actually is sound in the faith, any farther than the internal faith is manifested by the external profession and conduct. She claims to be able to say what one must do in order to be saved ; but not whether this or that individual will or will not be saved. The doctrine the editor would charge upon the Church belongs to his own Evangelical school. We do not, as Catholics, know whether we deserve love or hatred. We know if we keep the commandments we shall enter into life, and that we can keep them if we will; but whether we do keep them in the sense demanded, or whether we shall persevere unto the end in keeping them, we know not, and cannot know unless by a special revelation. We hope, but take heed lest we fall.
But, if we object to the Observer's doctrine of private illumination, we by no means pretend that divine grace even to enlighten the understanding is not essential to the elicitation of faith. Faith is a theological virtue, and no theological virtue is possible by mere natural force. Faith demands the supernatural elevation of the subject as well as the supernatural revelation of the object. It would demand this, even if we were in the integrity of nature, and had suffered no damage from sin. It demands it, then, a fortiori, in our actual state ; for, in consequence of sin, our will is turned away from God, and our understanding is darkened. We do not love the truth ; we are not able to perceive and appreciate the motives of credibility. We have ears, but we hear not; hearts, but we understand not. Let no man dream that by mere natural force, by mere intellectual acuteness, strength, or effort, he can elicit an act of faith. Faith is the gift of God. But what is termed the grace of faith is not an inward revelation of the word, is not needed to propound the word, to supply the defect of evidence, or to strengthen, in themselves considered, the motives of credibility ; but to incline the will to the truth, and to strengthen the intellect, to remove the scales which blind the eyes of the mind, so as to enable it to see and appreciate the motives of credibility which are already furnished, and which are amply sufficient to warrant the most undoubting belief. These motives are in themselves sufficient to meet the demands of reason, and ought to command our assent, and we have no excuse for not yielding it. When we do not yield it, the fault is ours ; not in the defect of evidence, but in the perversity of our will, which hinders the grace of God from flowing into the understanding, and producing that state of mind in which to believe is easy, and without which to believe is morally impossible. But this gracious assistance, which inclines the will and elevates the understanding, is something very different from the private inspiration or illumination against which we have reasoned. The one merely puts us in the condition to believe a revelation already made and sufficiently accredited ; the other is a new revelation, superseding the external revelation, the external evidence which accredits it, and becoming itself both the word to be believed and the authority on which it is to be believed.' The grace we allege to be necessary is everywhere promised us in the Holy Scriptures ; the private illumination we reject is nowhere promised us, and we have no reason to expect it.
We have now replied to all that the editor of the Observer has suggested, or that is implied in his suggestions, which has or can have any bearing on the question at issue. We have replied fairly and fully, because we have wished not merely to refute him, but to discuss the general subject, and place it in its true light before our readers. We shall expect a fair and logical reply to what we have said ; and if the editor of the Observer do not give a fair and logical reply, we shall not hold ourselves bound to take any notice of what he may allege. It becomes neither him nor us to discuss any subject unfairly, for neither of us can, we should hope, feel any complacency in a victory won at the expense of candor or of truth.
As to the portion of the Observer's article which attacks the Catholic Church, since it has no bearing on the real question at issue, we do not hold ourselves bound by the rules of logic to reply to it. The question at issue, we have shown, is not what is possible with the Roman Catholic Church, but what is possible without it. Should the editor of the Observer prove that faith is not elicitable by means of the Roman Catholic Church, he would not advance a single step in his argument ; he would be no nearer proving that faith can be elicited without it, than when he commenced. To follow him in his attacks on the Church would only be giving him a chance to change the issue, and make the question turn on the merits of Catholicity, and not on the merits of Protestantism, to which we will neither contribute nor consent. He promised to refute our argument, and we hold him to his promise. If he succeeds in proving that he can have, the faith required without the Catholic Church, he proves all that it is necessary to prove in order to refute us. If he does not prove this, no matter what else he proves, he does not refute us. When he shall admit that he cannot prove this, and frankly abandon his Protestantism, we will meet all the difficulties he can allege in the way of eliciting faith by means of the Roman Catholic Church. But till then, he has no right to call upon us, nor are we bound by the nature of the question at issue to meet them.
Were it not that we will not consent to divert the discussion from the point we have made, we could easily remove all the difficulties the editor of the Observer has suggested ; for they are all founded in mistake as to the actual facts of ecclesiastical history, or misapprehension of Catholic faith and theology. When he speaks of the number of books which a Catholic must read in order to ascertain what he is to believe, he denies the distinction between faith and theology to which we called his attention, and overlooks the distinction between explicit faith and implicit faith, which was recognized in our definition of faith, and which he will find explained in the early part of our present article. The whole Catholic faith may be found in the catechism, and may be learned without any book at all; for the Catholic Church does not, like Protestantism, make tho knowledge of letters the condition sine qua non of salvation. Our friend forgot himself, and took up against his own side. It is not necessary to salvation that we believe explicitly all the truths Almighty God has revealed, but that we believe them explicitly or implicitly. He who believes the Church is from God and infallible, and who is in the disposition of mind and heart to believe whatever she proposes, believes, implicitly at least, the whole revelation of God, and in its "exact sense "; for, if infallible, the Church can propose it in no other than its exact sense, as " it lies in the mind of the Spirit." *(footnote: * To believe something explicitly is to believe it under the proper and particular terms under which it is proposed to us. Thus, he, who believes the Son of God assumed human nature and is God and man, believes explicitly the mystery of the Incarnation ; he who believes the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God and three persons, believes explicitly the mystery of the Trinity. But to believe something implicitly is to believe it in another; either as in a more general principle in which it is contained, or as in the doctrine of the teacher to which it pertains, or as in a shadow or figure, which is known to have significance, although the thing signified is not clearly apprehended. But it must not be inferred from any thing in the text, that belief in this last sense is the only faith that is of necessity as the medium of salvation. It is necessary to believe explicitly God as the author of the order of grace, that he will reward the just with beatitude and will punish the wicked, according to the words of the blessed apostle, Heb. xi. 6. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him." Also, a3 Catholic doctors in general teach, it is necessary to believe explicitly the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Trinity, for, according to the words of our Blessed Saviour in St. Mark, xvi. 16, " He that believeth not (that is, believeth not the Gospel) shall be condemned " ; and in St. John, xiv. 1, "Ye believe in God; believe also in me " ; iii. 36, " He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him " and, according to the words of St. Peter, Acts iv. 12, " Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." From these and many other texts which might be adduced, it is evident that explicit faith in the principal or primary doctrine is necessary as the medium of salvation. All we would say is, that the number of articles necessary 1o be believed with explicit faith is very few, and therefore the necessity, save when it concerns establishing truth or overthrowing error, of the long study the Observer alleges, does not exist.--end of footnote)
The Observer asserted that the articles of faith were expressed in the Holy Scriptures in propositions " as clear and as intelligible as language can make them." We denied this, and alleged in support of our denial that the articles of faith are more clearly and definitely expressed in the creed and decisions of the Church, which is evident from the fact that men perpetually dispute as to their meaning as expressed in the Holy Scriptures, while they do not dispute as to their meaning as expressed in the creeds and decisions of the Church. The editor of the Observer meets the argument by alleging that there are disputes among Catholics as well as among Protestants. But even if this were true, our argument might still be sound ; for it was urged only to prove that the faith as expressed in the Holy Scriptures is not expressed in propositions as clear and as intelligible as language can make them, — which is not disproved by proving that there are disputes among Catholics, but only by proving that these disputes are equal to the disputes among Protestants, and extend to as many points of faith ; — a fact the Observer has not proved, and cannot prove. But there are no disputes among Catholics that turn on the meaning of an article of faith. There are disputes among Catholics, we admit, but they are disputes concerning matters which are not of faith, which the Church has not decided. Not one of the instances the Observer cites is a dispute concerning an article of faith, but all are disputes on questions on which there is no decision of the Church, or which are not covered by her decisions. The dispute between the Gallicans and Ultramontanes is not, as it supposes, a dispute as to the meaning of a canon. Both parties admit the canon of the Council of Florence, which the editor quotes ; both parties agree as to its meaning ; and dispute only as to questions it does not cover. The question as to the temporal authority or supremacy of the Holy Father is a dispute among doctors, and has nothing to do with faith at all; for no article of faith, no decision of the Church, claims temporal supremacy or authority for the successor of St. Peter. The temporal authority which was possessed by the popes was not possessed by virtue of their office as visible head of the Church, but, if one may so speak, by virtue of what was the common Jaw of Europe ; — because that authority was an integral part of the political order which then obtained. That order has now passed away, and the office which for many ages was filled by the ecclesiastical power is now filled by the money power ; and the part of mediators between the temporal princes, which was played by the Gregories, the Innocents, the Bonifaces, is now played by the Barings, Rothschilds, and Biddies ; whether for the better or for the worse it is not for us to say.
The Observer is quite mistaken in saying, that in reference to these disputes we cannot avail ourselves of the distinction between faith and opinion. " This," it says, " is a valid plea for Protestants, but not for Romanists. We say that agreement in great fundamental truths is necessary ; and we say, further, that in these vital truths there is between all orthodox Protestants a substantial agreement, while they disagree only on those minor topics which are matters of. opinion only. But this distinction between faith and opinion, whoever else it may serve, can avail Mr. Brownson nothing ; for he avers that it is necessary to believe the whole revelation as the condition sine qua non of salvation, that faith consists in believing all the truths God has revealed." — pp. 332, 333. The distinction between faith and opinion we can avail ourselves of, but not of such a distinction as the Observer points out. The distinction we contend for is a distinction between what is revealed and what is not revealed. What is revealed we hold to be of faith ; what is not revealed is matter of science or of opinion. We can, then, very consistently contend that the whole revelation must be believed, and yet tolerate differences on matters of opinion. But the distinction the Observer speaks of is a distinction in the revealed word itself, and presupposes one part of revelation is of faith, and another part of minor importance, a matter of opinion only. Of this distinction we do not wish to avail ourselves, for we do not admit that any part of God's word is a matter of opinion only ; and we would thank the Observer to tell us by what authority it can say that any thing God has revealed may be rightfully treated as a matter of opinion.
The Observer makes it a sin in us, that u opinion has no place in " our " creed." Is that which is held as opinion held as one's creed ? What is the meaning, in theological language, of credo ? If one admits opinion into his creed, what is his creed but an opinion ? The editor of the Observer distinguishes between faith and opinion. Does he include in his creed any thing not of faith ? Of course not. Why, then, complain of us for not admitting opinion into ours ? But by what authority does he distinguish in God's word what is necessary to be believed, and what is not, and include the former in his creed, and exclude the latter from it ?
The Observer says, in these vital truths there is a substantial agreement between all orthodox Protestants. This is saying, in other words, that all who do not substantially differ do substantially agree ! Who are orthodox Protestants, and by what authority can Protestants say who are or are not orthodox ? The only answer they have to the question, what is orthodoxy and what heterodoxy, is that given by the Protestant student: — "Orthodoxy is my doxy, heterodoxy is your doxy." Protestants are all orthodox, each in his own estimation ; all heterodox in the estimation of each other. The editor of the Episcopal Observer, notwithstanding his airs, has no more right to call himself orthodox than the editors of the Christian Examiner, between whom and himself there is a fundamental difference, have to call themselves orthodox. Of all pitiable sights, the Protestant talking of orthodoxy is the pitiablest. The editor of the Observer can claim to be less heterodox than his Unitarian brethren, only because he departs less from the Catholic faith ; and the moment he alleges this, he recognizes the authority of the Catholic Church, which it is his main business to calumniate. It is worthy of note, that Protestants in general feel themselves sound in the faith just in proportion as they find themselves agreeing with the Catholic Church.
The editor of the Observer would do well, when he wishes to attack the Church on historical grounds, to be careful to draw his history from authentic sources. If he relies on such authors as Bishop Hopkins, or any authors his own church can furnish, he will be betrayed into many ridiculous mistakes. These Anglican ecclesiastical historians are in all cases unsafe guides, and in no instance, even in matters comparatively indifferent, have we found them worthy of reliance. The position of their pretended church is such that it is not safe for them either to see or to tell the truth.
The editor of the Observer would also do well, before attempting to pit council against council, to ascertain what is a council, and that the Catholic predicates infallibility of no council not held to be oecumenical, and of no acts of an oecumenical council not approved by the sovereign Pontiff. Had he known this, he would not have spoken of the second council of Ephesus, nor have told us that " the second council of Ephesus, held in 449, condemned Flavianus and sent him into banishment for rejecting the heresy of Eutyches ; and the council of Chalce-don, convened two years after, condemned and banished Dios-corus for maintaining the heresy discarded by Flavianus." — p. 330. For there was no second council of Ephesus. The only council of Ephesus was held in 431, before Eutyches had even broached his heresy. Nor was Flavian ever condemned by any council. The mistake of the learned editor arose, probably, from his confounding an illegal and tumultuous assembly, commonly known in history as the Ephesian Latro'cinium, with an oecumenical council, which it was not, and was never admitted to be. This shows the necessity of studying ecclesiastical history, before attempting to write it.
Protestants frequently allege that council has contradicted council, council has contradicted Pope, and Pope has contradicted Pope and council; but no instance of such contradiction ever has been or ever can be adduced, for no such instances exist. The instances commonly adduced are all founded in mistake, and are as easily answered as that about Flayianus and Dioscorus. The Protestant either calls that a council which was not a council, or he mistakes the real question decided, or the actual purport of the decision, in consequence of his general ignorance of Catholic theology and history.
But, as we have intimated, we have no intention of following the Observer through his attack on the Church. If he concedes his inability to maintain his own thesis, we will then meet him, or any one else, on the merits of Catholicity. But, till then, we will not consent to be diverted from the main issue we have raised.
In conclusion, we will say, our argument has run out to a greater length than we intended, and to a greater length than the feeble arguments, if arguments they can be called, of the Observer really warranted ; but we make no apology to our readers, for we have aimed to give to our remarks a general character, and a fair, full, and final discussion of that branch of the subject to which we have in the main confined ourselves, rather than to effect the comparatively insignificant purpose of refuting the editor of the Episcopal Observer.