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obedience in virtue of delegated power, is bound to prove his appointment. Any attempt to deprive those who without that appointment would be his equals, of the liberty to examine the au

thority, nature, and extent of the decree which constitutes the delegate above them; is an in

vasion of men's natural liberty, as well as a strong indication of imposture. If before we come to God we must, through nature, believe that he is, surely before we yield our reason to one who calls himself God’s Vicar, our reason should be satisfied that God has truly appointed him to that supereminent post. How then stands the case between the church of Rome and the world? The church of Rome proclaims that Jesus Christ, both God and man, having appeared on earth for the salvation of mankind, appointed the apostle Peter to be his representative; made him the head of all the members of his church then existing; and granted a similar privilege to Peter's successors, without limitation of time. To this she adds, that, to the church, united under Peter and his successors, Christ ensured an infallible knowledge of the sense of the Scriptures, and an equally infallible knowledge of certain traditions, and their true meaning. On the strength of this

divine appointment, the church of Rome demands

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the same faith in the decisions of her head, when

approved “by the tacit assent or open consent of

the greatest part of her bishops,” as if they proceeded from the mouth of Christ himself. The

divine commission, on which she grounds these
claims, runs in these words of Christ to the chief
of his apostles: “Thou art Peter, and upon this
rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it: And I will give unto
thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and what-
soever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth,
shall be loosed in heaven.”
It will not be denied that between this un-
questionable authority and the statement which
precedes it, there is no verbal agreement. A man
unacquainted with the system of divinity sup-
ported by the church of Rome, would, probably,
perceive no connexion between the alleged passage

and the commentary. But let us suppose that

these words of our Saviour contain the meaning in question: yet, no man will deny, that if they do contain it, it is in an indirect and obscure manner. The fact then is, that even if the church of Rome should be really endowed with the supernatural assistance which she asserts, the divine founder of Christianity was pleased to make the existence of that extraordinary gift one of the least obvious truths contained in the Gospels. It might have been expected, however, that Peter, in his Epistles, or in the addresses to the first Christians which the Acts record, would have removed the obscurity; and that, since the grant of infallibility to him, to his peculiar church, and to his successors in the see of that church (either independently of the infallibility of others, or in combination with other privileged persons,—for this is also left in great obscurity) was made the only security against the attacks of hell; he would have taken care to explain the secret sense of Christ's address to him. Peter, however, does not make the slightest allusion to his privileges. His suc

cessors being not named in the supposed original grant of supremacy, it was in course that, by an express declaration, Peter would obviate the natural inference, that they were excluded from his own personal prerogatives. But Peter is equally silent about his successors; and to add to the original mysteriousness of the subject, he never mentions Rome, and dates his epistles from Babylon. Babylon may figuratively mean Rome; the silence of both our Saviour and his apostle may, by some strange rule of interpretation, be proved to denote those successors; the whole system, in fine, of the Roman Catholic church may be contained in the alleged passage; but, if so, it is contained like a diamond in a mountain. The plainest sense of any one passage of the Scriptures cannot be so palpable as the obscurity of the present. It follows, therefore, with all the force of demonstration, that the divine right claimed by the Pope and his church to be the infallible rule of faith having no other than an obscure and doubtful foundation, the belief in it cannot be obligatory on all Christians; who are left to follow the sug

gestions of their individual judgment as to the

obscure meaning of the Scriptures, till the Scriptures themselves shall be found to demand the resignation of that judgment. I request you to observe, that the force of my argument does not depend upon the erroneousness of the Roman interpretation of the passages alleged for the spiritual supremacy; all I contend for is the doubtfulness of their meaning: for to suppose that the divine founder of Christianity, while providing against doubt in his future followers, would miss his aim by overlooking the obscurity in which he left the remedy he wished to appoint; is a notion from which Christians must shrink. It follows, therefore, either that Christ did not intend what the Romanists believe about Peter and his church ; or that, since he concealed his meaning, an obedience to the Roman church cannot be a necessary condition in his disciples. The liberty which, upon the supposition most favourable to Rome, Christ has granted to believers in his Gospel, the Pope and his church most positively deny them. Placing themselves

between mankind and the Redeemer, they allow

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