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The Rights of the People

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    THE PIVOT OF INFALLIBILITY

    Nor yet is this all. This prerogative of interpreting the Scripture was exercised by the professed Protestantism and the Congress of the United States, in the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath of the Lord as it stands written in the commandment of God. And this is precisely the thing-the very point-upon which turns the argument for the validity of the claim of infallibility on the part of the Papacy.ROP 240.4

    The supreme point that marks the difference between Protestantism and the Papacy is, whether the Bible, and the Bible alone, or the Bible and tradition, is the true standard of faith and morals. “The Bible, and the Bible alone,” is the claim of Protestantism. “The Bible and tradition” is the claim of Catholicism. And this term “tradition” in the Catholic system does not mean merely antiquity, “but continuing inspiration. “And this “continuing inspiration” is but another form of expression for “infallibility.”ROP 241.1

    This question as to “the Bible and tradition” was not finally settled even for Catholicism until the Council of Trent. It was one of the leading questions of that council as between Protestantism and Catholicism; and it was in the settlement of the question as between these, that it was finally settled for the Catholic Church itself.ROP 241.2

    The very first question concerning the faith that was considered in the council was the one involved in this issue. There was a strong party, even of the Catholics, in the council, who were in favor of abandoning tradition and adopting the Scripture only as the standard of authority in faith and morals. This was so largely and so decidedly held in the council that the pope’s legates wrote to him that there was “a strong tendency to set aside tradition altogether, and to make Scripture the sole standard of appeal.”-Encyclopedia Britannica, Trent, Council of.ROP 241.3

    To do this, however, would certainly be to go a long way toward admitting the claims of the Protestants, and this would never do. This crisis, however, forced the ultra-Catholic portion of the council to find some way of convincing the others that “Scripture and tradition” was the only sure ground to stand upon. Although two decrees were passed April 8, 1546, favoring the view of “Scripture and tradition,” yet this was not satisfactory. The question kept constantly recurring in the counsel; many of those who had sustained the decrees were very uneasy about it. Accordingly Dr. Holtzmann writes thus:-ROP 241.4

    “The council was unanimously of the opinion of Ambrosius Pelargus that at no price should any triumph be prepared for the Protestants to be able to say that the council had condemned the teachings of the old church. But this practice caused endless trouble, without ever giving good security. Indeed, it required for this crisis that ‘almost divine sagacity’ which the Spanish legate ceded to the synod on March 15, 1562....ROP 242.1

    “Finally, at the opening of the last session, January 18, 1562, all scruples were cast aside; the archbishop of Rheggio made a speech, in which he openly declared that tradition stood higher than the Bible. For this reason alone the authority of the church could not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the former had changed the Sabbath into Sunday-not by the commandment of Christ, but solely by her own authority. This destroyed the last illusion, and it was hereby declared that tradition signified not so much antiquity, but rather continuing inspiration.”—Canon and Tradition, p. 263.ROP 242.2

    This particular part of the archbishop’s speech was as follows:—ROP 242.3

    “The condition of the heretics nowadays is such that they do not appeal to anything more than this [the Bible, and the Bible alone; the Scriptures, as in the written word, the sole standard in faith and morals], to overthrow the church under the pretext of following the word of God. Just as though the church-the body-were in conflict with the word of Christ; or as if the head could be against the body. Indeed, this very authority of the church is most of all glorified by the Holy Scriptures; for while on the one hand the church recommends the word of God, declaring it to be divine, and presenting it to us to read, explaining doubtful points and faithfully condemning all that runs counter thereto; on the other hand, by the same authority, the church, the legal precepts of the Lord, contained in the Holy Scriptures, have ceased. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been merged into the Lord’s day.... This day and similar institutions have not ceased in consequence of the preaching of Christ (for he says that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it); but yet they have been changed, and that solely by the authority of the church. Now, if this authority should be done away with (which would please the heretics very much), who would there be to testify for the truth and to confound the obstinacy of the heretics?”-Id.ROP 242.4

    There was no getting around this; for the Protestants’ own confession of faith,-the Augsburg Confession, 1530,-had clearly admitted that “the observation of the Lord’s day” had been appointed by “the church” only. As Dr. Holtzmann says, this argument “destroyed the last illusion,” because as it was clear that in observing Sunday upon the appointment of the church, instead of the Sabbath which stood in the written commandment of the Lord himself, the Protestants themselves held not to “the Bible and the Bible alone,” but to the Bible and tradition, with tradition above the Bible. By this fact and this argument, the uneasy minds in the council were set completely at rest, and the question as between “the Bible and the Bible alone,” or “the Bible and tradition,” was finally settled in the Catholic Church.ROP 243.1

    Therefore the papal position is constructed thus: (a) The Scripture and tradition is the faith of the Papacy; (b) tradition means “continuing inspiration;” (c) continuing inspiration means infallibility in matters of faith and morals; (d) and this is demonstrated in the fact of her having substituted Sunday for the Sabbath of the Lord in the written commandment. And thus it is that the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath is the pivot upon which turns the validity of the argument as against Protestants, for the infallibility of the Papacy.ROP 243.2

    This shows how fully the Protestantism and the Congress of the United States put themselves upon papal ground, in their first essay in the exercise of the prerogative of authoritative interpreter of the Scripture. They did it precisely in the likeness of the Papacy by substituting Sunday for the Sabbath of the Lord as in the written commandment.ROP 243.3

    And this is why it is that the Papacy is taking the advantage which she has already taken, and in following it up to whatever extent that she may, is only acting straightforwardly upon her own native and abiding principles. In this respect the Papacy is not in anywise to blame for what she has already done, nor for what she may do upon this basis in the times to come. For assuredly if papal principles are to prevail, who is better qualified, who has a better right, to apply these principles than the Papacy herself? Since the Government of the United States has been set bodily upon papal principles in the interpretation of the Constitution, in the authoritative interpretation of the Scriptures, and in the adoption of the very sign of papal infallibility itself, who, then, is so well qualified to guide the government and the nation in the new path, as is she who for nearly sixteen hundred years has steadily traveled that path?ROP 243.4

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