THIS Tract was written under the conviction that the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, of which it treated, were, when taken in their letter, so loosely worded, so incomplete in statement, and so ambiguous in their meaning, as to need an authoritative interpretation; and that neither those who drew them up, nor those who imposed them were sufficiently agreed among themselves, or clear and consistent in their theological views individually to be able to supply it.
2. There was but one authority to whom recourse could be had for such interpretation—the Church Catholic. She had been taught the revealed truth by Christ and His Apostles in the beginning, and had in turn taught it in every age to her faithful children, and would teach it on to the end. And what she taught, all her branches taught; and this the Anglican Church did teach, must teach, if it was a branch of the Church Catholic, otherwise it was not a branch; but a branch it certainly was, for, if it was not a branch, what had we to do with it? And it being a branch, it was the duty of all its members, priests and people, ever to profess what the Universal Church had from the beginning professed, and nothing else, and nothing short of it, that is, what had been held semper et ubique et ab omnibus. Accordingly, it was their plain duty to interpret the Thirty-nine Articles in this one distinct Catholic sense, the sense of the Holy Fathers, of Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, and of all Doctors and Saints; it being impossible that in any important matters those Articles should diverge from that sense, or resist the interpretation which that sense required, inasmuch as the Divine Lord of the Church watched over all her portions, and would not suffer the Anglican or any portion to commit itself to statements which could not fairly and honestly be made to give forth a Catholic meaning.