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not teach nor sanction, that was heresy. And by this rule there are no orthodox protestants; but those who are not in the one Church are all heretics together. And if Leo XIII. should be converted to-morrow to the opinions of Colonel Ingersoll, and should publish them ex cathedra, they would be orthodox doctrine, and Colonel Ingersoll would be, willy nilly, a member of the Holy Catholic Church; and, if the pope were not ungrateful, he would be made a cardinal at
And, if logical necessity determines the validity of any positive institution, I do not see how we can get away from the conclusion that orthodoxy is that which the one Infallible Church decrees. That is to say, without denying the truth of the major premise of the argument, which is: There must be somewhere upon earth an organ of infallible truth. The Protestant attempt to find such an organ in the Bible has been a melancholy failure. It had failed before it had begun. Out of the ashes of its failure came the Infallible Church. If the Bible had had any power to make dogma definite, the Infallible Church would never have been born. The sects by scores and hundreds of the Protestant world do but repeat the chaos of the early centuries, from the despair of which the Infallible Church emerged. If there must be an infallible church, it must be one; and that one must be the Roman Catholic Church, measured by all the glories of its history and the magnificence of its imperial sway.
But can we accept as valid the major premise of the argument? There must be an earthly organ of infallible truth. That is a pure assumption; and the best way of finding out whether or not it has any validity whatever is to take in hand the Church claiming to be such an organ, and examine its claim and see if it amounts to anything. The phrase in which the Church has generally been content to sum up the strength of her position is, "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus,"- "That which has been believed and practised always, everywhere, and by all." Now, something more than this might be demanded of an infallible church;
but it must be confessed that a church filling this bill would practically make good her claim. But does she fill the bill? Is hers the doctrine that is believed everywhere? Blacken a map of the two hemispheres with the area of her unqualified sway, and how much of it would be without the ebon hue! Is hers the doctrine that has been believed always? We have seen how many centuries it took to define and crystallize the doctrines generally known as orthodox. We have seen that the doctrine of her own unity was a thing of slowest growth; while the doctrine of her infallibility was consummated only yesterday in the decree of papal infallibility at the demand of a party called "an insolent faction" by John Henry Newman, who was afterward a cardinal of the Church. The same great writer wrote a book, "The Development of Doctrine," which was an out-and-out confession of the absurdity of the quod semper claim. He allowed that there had been development, but only he insisted on the lines of the original beliefs, which he ingeniously indicated so as to make good his theory. There was great need of such a theory; for transubstantiation was not established till the eighth century, nor the celibacy of the clergy till the eleventh, nor the doctrine of the atonement till the same, nor the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, which means that Mary was born of Anne without original sin, till the nineteenth, Dec. 8, 1854. The note of apostolicity goes with the "everywhere and always," to which the "by all" is only a rhetorical addition. That the Apostolic Church was any such church as the Roman Catholic is as preposterous as that the first outward church of the apostles was built by the same hand that rounded Peter's dome, and was the exact prototype of the world's great basilica. The note of sanctity, that which makes the Roman the Holy Catholic Church, is perhaps not worth considering after the others have so absurdly failed.
can least of all be justified by the
But it is the note that history of the Church.
We have instead, as Martineau has written, "the orgies of the palace, the assassinations in the street, the swarm of
flourishing informers, the sale of justice, of divorce, of spiritual offices and honors, turning the holy seat into an asylum of concupiscence and passion, and startling men into the belief that Antichrist had come."
And what do these things mean, if not that, even if the assumption that there must be an infallible church were perfectly valid, the Roman Catholic Church would shout to us in ten thousand times ten thousand voices, "It is not in me"? If there must be an infallible church, it would be more reasonable to look for it where two or three are gathered together- - men and women of probity and sincerity and loving kindness than in the vast and splendid organization of a church that has so many stains upon her garments and has done such fearful violence to the human conscience, mind, and heart.
But the assumption that there must be an infallible church has no more validity than the claim of the Roman Catholic to be that church. In the broad make of things, the things that must be are; and that there is no infallible church is proof positive that there need not be any, the Eternal being judge. And, if no infallible church, then no orthodoxy, no straight belief, any deflection from which is heresy. We are all heretics, for heresy in the root-signification of the word is only choice; and in the last analysis the dogmas of the Roman Church are as much the result of choice as those of Calvin or Wesley or Channing. The trouble with them is that they represent the choices of arrogant and overbearing majorities voting down minorities generally more intelligent and moral than themselves.
No orthodoxy! The Early Church, torn for five centuries with the conflict of opinion in every article of its belief, says, "It is not in me." The Protestant world, from one and the same Bible deducing creeds by dozens and by scores, says, "It is not in me." The Roman Church, so late in coming to self-consciousness, with her history so at variance with her pretensions, with her “development of doctrine” influenced more by superstition than by the reasonable mind,.
may say, It is in me"; but her utter failure to make good those notes of unity, catholicity, universality, and sanctity, which, she declares, must mark the One Infallible Church, wrings from each saner mind the stout rejoinder, "No: it is not in thee."
No orthodoxy! And what then? Then the free intellect ever more responsive to the solemn march and tender mystery of the world. Then not toleration, for toleration means that some are privileged to tolerate and some are not; or, if toleration, toleration all around, universal liberty for each to shape his own thought to the demands of his own mind. Then, better than infallibility, the unending search for truth, the joy of its discovery, the strenuous endeavor to embody it in forms of social help and personal good. It will be long before these things are seen as best by those who fill the ranks of the established churches of the world. It is pitiful to see the
progressive orthodox," so called, assuming those superior airs which conscious orthodoxy always has put on towards those of the advance, aping the manners of the men who are for driving them into the wilderness. But those that are able to receive the new gospel of liberty, let them receive it; and for them the heavens of truth and beauty and all spiritual good shall be opened, and in their breadth and height they shall be gathered to the innumerable company of those who in all ages have loved the truth for its own sake and walked in its increasing light with a courageous heart.
MORALITY AND RELIGION.
At the last meeting of our Unitarian Club we had a trinity of speeches which some of you heard with various degrees of admiration or dissent. But only a few of you were there, and therefore, if I take up again this morning the subject of that discussion, "Morality: Is there Anything Better?" I shall not feel that I am warming over for the majority a feast that they have had already and sufficiently enjoyed; and, as for the others, why may I not presume that the discussion at the Club had the same effect on them that it had on me, that it revived their interest in a problem which has been greatly agitated in our time, but did not satisfy it wholly,— left them pondering some things and willing to hear more about them on some fresh occasion? And why not to-day?
We had three speakers at the Club, and they were all of one opinion,—namely, that there is something better than morality; but they wore this opinion with so much difference of emphasis and illustration that it did not seem to be the same, and Miss Hultin's opinion, with which I found myself entirely sympathetic, seemed extremely different from that of Dr. Bradford and Dr. Gottheil. It is no part of my scheme this morning to pass their different speeches in review, but I shall avail myself of them freely to bring out one point after another that I wish to illustrate and enforce. The real value of Dr. Gottheil's speech was that it was a capital illustration of a method which is very common in discussions of the relative merits of morality and religion, the method of inferior definition. It can be worked both ways. Colonel Ingersoll, for example, works it just the other way