Let us here suppose two persons, one of each class, that is, from each road, let them be placed before the dread tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, and there let their case be examined and weighed, in order to ascertain whether a condemnatory or a saving sentence can justly be pronounced. They will be interrogated whether they were Christians. Both will say that they were. Whether they properly believed in Christ? Both will, in like manner, answer yea. But when they will be examined as to what they believed, and how they believed, (for this investigation, respecting right faith, precedes that concerning life and character,) when a confession of right faith will be exacted of them; he who was educated in the lap and discipline of the Catholic Church will say: -
"Having been instructed by my parents, who had learned it from their fathers and forefathers, that I should, in all things, be obedient to the Catholic Church, and revere and observe its laws, admonitions, and decrees, as if Thou, Thyself, O Lord, hadst made them, and perceiving that almost all who bore the Christian name and title in our days, and before it, and followed thy standards far and wide over the world, were and had been of the same opinion, all of them acknowledging and venerating this very Church, as the mother of their faith, and regarding it as a kind of sacrilege to depart from her precepts and constitution, I studied to approve myself to Thee by the same faith which the Catholic Church keeps and inculcates. And though new men had come with the Scripture much in their mouths and hands, who attempted to stir some novelties, to pull down what was ancient, to argue against the Church, to snatch away and wrest from us the obedience which we all yielded to it, I was still desirous to adhere firmly to that which had been delivered to me by my parents, and observed from antiquity, with the consent of most holy and most learned Fathers; and although the actual manners of many prelates and ecclesiastics were such as might move my indignation, I did not, therefore, abandon my sentiments. For I concluded, that it was my duty to obey their precepts, which were certainly holy, as Thou, God, hadst commanded in Thy Gospel, while Thou behovedst to be the only Judge of their life and actions; and, especially, since I was myself stained by the many sins which were manifest to Thee on my forehead, I could not be a fit judge of others. For these sins, I now stand before Thy tribunal, imploring not strict justice, O Lord, but rather Thy mercy and readiness to forgive."
Thus will this one plead his cause.
The other will be summoned, and will appear. He will be commanded to speak. Supposing him to be one of those who are, or have been, the authors of dissension, he will thus begin his oration: -
"Almighty God, when I beheld the manners of ecclesiastics almost every where corrupt, and saw the priests, nevertheless, from a regard to religion, universally honored, offended at their wealth, a just indignation, as I consider it, inflamed my mind, and made me their opponent; and when I beheld myself, after having devoted so many years to literature and theology, without that place in the Church which my labors had merited, while I saw many unworthy persons exalted to honors and priestly offices, I betook myself to the assailing of those who I thought were by no means pleasing and acceptable to Thee. And because I could not destroy their power without first trampling on the laws enacted by the Church, I induced a great part of the people to contemn those rights of the Church which had long before been ratified and inviolate. If these had been decreed in General Councils, I said we were not to yield to the authority of Councils; if they had been instituted by ancient Fathers and Doctors, I accused the old Fathers as unskilful and devoid of sound understanding; if by Roman Pontiffs, I affirmed that they had raised up a tyranny for themselves, and falsely assumed the name of Vicegerents of Christ: by all means, in short, I contended that all of us, thy worshippers, should shake off the tyrannical yoke of the Church, which sometimes forbids meats, which observes days, which will have us to confess our sins to priests, which orders vows to be performed, and which binds with so many chains of bondage men made free, O Christ, in Thee; and that we should trust to faith alone, and not also to good works, (which are particularly extolled and proclaimed in the Church,) to procure us righteousness and salvation - seeing, especially, that thou hadst paid the penalty for us, and by thy sacred blood wiped away all faults and crimes, in order that we, trusting to this our faith in thee, might thereafter be able to do, with greater freedom, whatsoever we listed. For I searched the Scriptures more ingeniously than those ancients did, and that more especially when I sought for something which I might wrest against them: Having thus by repute for learning and genius acquired fame and estimation among the people, though, indeed, I was not able to overturn the whole authority of the Church, I was, however, the author of great seditions and schisms in it."