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sents a strange instance of the power of prejudice in distorting the clearest objects. In another part of this book” you will find a striking proof that the vehemence of his party spirit goes even to impair his knowledge of the Latin language, and makes a man, whom report classes among your best scholars, render a passage into English, in a manner so far from giving the meaning of the original, that it contradicts itself in the translation. Had such inaccuracies affected only points of secondary importance, or related exclusively to the many historical facts to which Mr. Butler's book refers, I would leave them to more learned and experienced critics; but as he has besides, given an incorrect view of your most essential duties as Catholics; I must beg your attention to some remarks on that part of his book which treats of the authority of the Pope. He that, fully aware of the nature of his engagements to the Church of Rome, is still determined to obey her, should not be disturbed in the use of his discretion; but varnished accounts of religious systems must not be allowed to rivet religious prejudice, or stand as a lure to the unwary. The book of the Roman Catholic Church labours to persuade the world that the authority of the Pope over the Catholics is of so spiritual a nature, as, if strictly reduced to what the creed of that church requires, can never interfere with the civil duties of those who own that authority. That the supreme head of the Catholics has, for
* See note A,
a long series of centuries, actually claimed a para
mount obedience, and thus actually interfered with
the civil allegiance of his spiritual subjects; is as notorious as the existence of the Roman see. The question, then, is whether this was a mere abuse, the effect of human passions encouraged by the ignorance of those ages, or a fair consequence of doctrines held by the Roman church as of divine origin, and consequently immutable. I will proceed in this inquiry upon Mr. Butler's own statement of the Roman Catholic articles of faith, which is found p. 118 of the first edition of his work. “A chain of Roman Catholic writers on papal
power might be supposed: on the first link we .
might place the Roman Catholic writers who have immoderately exalted the prerogative of the Pope; on the last we might place the Roman Catholic writers who have unduly depressed it; and the centre link might be considered to represent the canon of the 10th session of the council of Florence, which defined that “full power was delegated to the bishop of Rome in the person of St. Peter, to feed, regulate and govern the universal church, as expressed in the general councils and holy canons.” . THIS (adds the author, in capitals) is the doctrine of THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH on THE AUTHORITY OF THE POPE, and beyond it no Roman Catholic is required to believe.” When I examine the vague comprehensiveness of this decree, I can hardly conceive what else the Roman Catholics could be required to believe. Full power to feed, regulate and govern the universal church, can convey to the mind of the sincere Catholic no idea of limitation. Whatever be the extent of the chain imagined by our author, the decree appears to have beenframed wide enough not to exclude the link containing the writers D
who have most exalted the papal power. The task of those on the other extremity of the chain, is certainly more difficult; for it cannot well be conceived why mere human rights should be allowed to limit a full power to govern the minds of men, derived from a direct injunction of Christ. Let this be, however, as it may, one thing is certain, that a true Catholic may understand the full power offeeding, regulating and governing the universal church according to either the Transalpine or Cisalpine explanation of the doctrine declared by the council of Florence. He may consequently believe, that the Pope has, “at the least, an indirect temporal power for effecting a spiritual good in any kingdom to which the uni
versal church extends;” and “that every state is so far subject to the Pope, that when he deems that the bad conduct of the sovereign renders it essential to the good of the church that he shall reign no longer, the Pope is authorised by his divine commission to deprive him of his sovereignty, and absolve his subjects from their
obligation of allegiance".” A Catholic may, on
* Book of the Roman Catholic Church, p. 121.
the other hand, with the divines of the Gallican church, deny to the Pope this power of deposing princes. Of these two explanations of the infallible doctrine on the Pope's supremacy, Mr. Butler says, that “neither speaks the church's faith.” This is, indeed, a remarkable fact. It is a fact from which we may infer, either that the Pope and his church do not understand the meaning of the inspiration on which they build the claim to infallibility, or that they receive that inspiration under a kind of political cipher, which, though laid before the eyes of the world, still leaves us in perfect obscurity as to its contents. Can any one doubt that the Pope, in the face of Christendom, issued a sentence of deposition against Queen Elizabeth 2 Had not a similar practice prevailed for many centuries before? Was this not done by virtue of what Popes conceived to be their divine prerogative, declared in the council of Florence? Did not the greatest part of the Catholic bishops allow, by their tacit or express consent, that the head of their church was acting in conformity with the inspired definition of his power 2 Were I not too well acquainted with