The Catholic Dogma
CHAPTER V., Part I.
There is No Salvation Out of the Roman Catholic Church for those who die without being united to her.
§ 1. S. O. Begins to Comment ON THE ABOVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
S. O. emphatically declares that,
"Such expositions of the Church’s doctrine as applicable to modern Protestants have, to my own knowledge, done a great deal of harm to honest, well-meaning, conscientious people, and give an entirely false idea of the belief of Protestants. There is nothing to be gained by misrepresenting our own doctrines, and just as little by misrepresenting the doctrines of those who do not believe all that we do."
Is there not much ignorance contained in the above words of S. O. ? To misrepresent our own Catholic doctrines is to misrepresent God who revealed them; it is to misrepresent the Church of Christ that teaches them; and to do all this is a terrible crime.
Now, what can S. O. mean by misrepresenting Protestant doctrines? Very likely this: It is very wrong to make the devil blacker than he is, and to call him the author of Protestantism; it is very wrong to say that Protestant belief is only human belief and availeth nothing unto salvation; that this faith is no absolute, divine faith in Christ and his religion; in a word, it is very wrong to represent Protestantism such as it is.
Nothing, he says, is to be gained by misrepresenting God and the devil, the teachers from God and those from the devil, truth and falsehood, divine and human faith, true and false Christianity.
But is there nothing to be gained by misrepresenting God and his religion? Is there nothing to be gained in representing Protestant belief such as it is? Alas, S. O. seems not to see the loss in the former, nor the gain in the latter way of acting! It will, therefore, be an act of charity to continue to show him, in the sequel of this treatise, the bad consequences of misrepresenting God and his religion, and the good results of representing clearly the devil and his counterfeit religion.
§ 2. S. O. CONTINUES TO SPEAK EX CATHEDRA.
"And in the hope," he says, "of counteracting the false impressions conveyed by such teaching, I desire to submit the foregoing questions and replies to a fair examination. Let us tell the truth," he says, "and shame the devil."
To understand well the examination to which that great priest of the Church is going to submit some questions and replies of ours, it must be remembered that we had given several clear proofs for the truth that there is no salvation out of the Roman Catholic Church, namely:
Christ has solemnly declared that only those will be saved, who have done God's will on earth, as explained, not by private interpretation, but by the infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
"Not every one," says Christ, "who saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. vii. 21.)
The will of the heavenly Father is that all men hear and believe his Son, Jesus Christ.
"This is my well beloved Son. Him you shall hear."
Now, Jesus Christ said to his Apostles and to all their lawful successors:
"He that heareth you heareth me, and he that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth him, the heavenly Father, that sent me."
Now all those who do not listen to Jesus Christ speaking to them through St. Peter and the Apostles, in their lawful successors, despise God the Father; they do not do his will, and therefore heaven will never be theirs.
What non-Catholic engages a servant who tells him:
"I will serve you on condition that you give me three hundred dollars a month and let me serve you according to my will, not according to yours"?
How, then, could God the Father admit one into his Kingdom, who has always refused to do his will, - who, instead of learning to do the will of God, the full doctrine of Christ, through the Catholic Church, was himself his own teacher, his own lawgiver, his own judge, in all religious matters!
"Go and teach all nations: teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. He that believeth not all these things shall be condemned."
Our divine Saviour says:
"No one can come to the Father, except through me."
If we then wish to enter heaven, we must be united to Christ--to his body, which is the Church, as St. Paul says. Therefore, out of the Church there is no salvation.
Again Jesus Christ says:
"Whoever will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a publican," a great sinner. Therefore, out of the Church there is no salvation.
Holy Scripture says:
"The Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved." (Acts, ii. 47.)
Therefore the Apostles believed and the holy Scriptures teach that there is no salvation out of the Church.
Hence the Fathers of the Church never hesitated to pronounce all those forever lost who die out of the Roman Catholic Church: "He who has not the Church for his mother," says St. Cyprian, "cannot have God for his Father;" and with him the Fathers in general say that, "as all who were not in the ark of Noe perished in the waters of the Deluge, so shall all perish who are out of the true Church." St. Augustine and the other bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, A. D. 410, say: "Whosoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall, for the very reason that he is separated from the union of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Therefore, says St. Augustine, "a Christian ought to fear nothing so much as to be separated from the body of Christ (the Church). For, if he be separated from the body of Christ, he is not a member of Christ; if not a member of Christ, he is not quickened by his Spirit." (Tract. xxvii. in Joan., n. 6, col. 1992, tom. iii.)
"In our times," says Pius IX., "many of the enemies of the Catholic faith direct their efforts toward placing every monstrous opinion on the same level with the doctrine of Christ, or confounding it therewith; and so they try more and more to propagate that impious system of the indifference of religions. But quite of late, we shudder to say it, certain men have not hesitated to slander us by saying that we share in their folly, favor that most wicked system, and think so benevolently of every class of mankind, as to suppose that not only the sons of the Church, but that the rest also, however alienated from Catholic unity they may remain, are alike in the way of salvation, and may arrive at everlasting life. We are at a loss, from horror, to find words to express our detestation of this new and atrocious injustice that is done to us." (Allocution to the Cardinals, held on Dec. 17, 1847.) We may also add here that Pope Leo XIII., in his Encyclical Letter to the Archbishops and Bishops of Bavaria, teaches, as Pastor of the Universal Church, that "submission to the Pope is necessary to salvation."
"How grateful then," says St. Alphonsus, "ought we to be to God for the gift of the true faith. How great is not the number of infidels, heretics, and schismatics. The world is full of them, and, if they die out of the Church, they will all be condemned, except infants who die after baptism." (Catech. first command. No. 10 and 19.) Because, as St.Augustine says, where there is no divine faith, there can be no divine charity, and where there is no divine charity, there can be no justifying or sanctifying grace, and to die without being in sanctifying grace, is to be lost forever. ( Lib. I. Serm. Dom. in monte, cap. V.)
This faith, as we have already seen, the Church teaches very plainly in the profession of faith which she requires converts to make before they are received into the Church; the very first article reads as follows:
"I, N. N., having before my eyes the holy Gospel which I touch with my hand, and knowing that no one can be saved without that faith which the holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church holds, believes and teaches, against which I grieve that I have greatly erred," etc.
So it is evident that there is no salvation out of the Church. We gave several of these proofs for this great truth in Familiar Explanation. Coxe, the Protestant bishop, and S. O. have dishonestly suppressed them, and the latter has impudently asserted that we have misrepresented the Catholic Doctrine; he, therefore, also asserts that this Doctrine, which we have proved by the words of Our Lord, of his Apostles, and of the Fathers of the Church, has been misrepresented by our Lord himself, by his Apostles, and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What great piety, this!
But, you know, a little volume, like Familiar Explanation, giving so many plain reasons to show that salvation out of the Church is impossible, is a bad hand, which should not fall into the hands of non-Catholics, because the perusal of it might induce them to join the Roman Catholic Church.
In answer to Q. 19. we put ten popular reasons together for one argument to show that no salvation is possible for those who culpably adhere to Protestant principles and die in them. These reasons are: 1. Because true Protestants or true heretics have no divine faith; 2. Because they make a liar of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the Apostles; 3. Because they have no faith in Jesus Christ; 4. Because they fell away from the true Church of Christ; 5. Because they are too proud to submit to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ; 6. Because they cannot perform good works whereby they can obtain heaven; 7. Because they do not receive the Body and Blood of Christ; 8. Because they die in their sins; 9. Because they ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and the Saints of heaven; 10. Because they slander the Spouse of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church.
We proved each of these assertions; but Bishop Coxe and S. O. dishonestly again suppressed eight of these proofs, because they would have been so many bad hands for non-Catholics, who, after the perusal of these reasons, might have made up their minds to join the Catholic Church, in spite of all difficulties. What an excellent way to tell the truth by suppressing and concealing it from the public! What a ridiculous way to shame the devil! What an honorable way to shame themselves!
To prevent non-Catholics from getting the little volume containing such clear proofs for the truth of our religion, they made an attack upon some reasons we gave to show that true Protestants have no faith in Christ.
S. O. has taken up some of those reasons to show that we have misrepresented both Catholic and Protestant belief. Let us see again how he has told the truth and shamed the devil and especially himself. It must be remembered that he had to show that salvation out of the Church is possible, for we have proved by many reasons that it is impossible. As he has solemnly declared that we have misrepresented this Catholic doctrine, he should have proved from Holy Scripture, from the General Councils of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers, that his assertion is true; for his anonymous authority is worth nothing. He has proved none of his assertions, nor is he able to disprove our doctrine, for by saying the contrary he would be a heretic. Is not this a nice way to tell the truth, to shame the devil and especially himself!
§ 3. S. O. EXAMINES AND EXPLAINS THE QUESTION AND ANSWER.
"Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ? Ans. They never had."
To this answer S. O. replies:--
"I ask, then, what do all Protestants, save those called Unitarians, believe about Jesus Christ? They believe precisely what the Catholic Church teaches, namely, that He is true God and true man, the Person of the Word of God incarnate, conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary; that He is the Messiah, the Redeemer; that by His infinite merits alone is the salvation of mankind possible or obtainable." S. O. asserts that Protestants believe precisely what the Catholic Church teaches about Christ; but let it be remembered that they do not believe those truths because the Catholic Church teaches them; if they believe them, it is because they choose to believe them. Our faith in Christ is absolute and divine; that of Protestants is all human. But our would-be theologian probably never understood the difference between divine and human faith, or he would have made the distinction that we make, and then he could not have said what he says of Catholic and Protestant faith in Christ. So let us teach him the difference.
§ 4. WHAT CATHOLIC FAITH IS.
No one can go to heaven unless he knows the way to heaven. If we wish to go to a certain city, the first thing we do is to ask the way that leads to it. If we do not know the way, we cannot expect to arrive at that city. So, too, if we wish to go to heaven, we must know the way that leads to it. Now, the way that leads to it is the knowing and doing of God's will. But it is God alone who can teach us his will; that is, what he requires us to believe and to do, in order to be happy with him in heaven.
The end for which man was created - his everlasting union with God - says the Vatican Council, is far above the human understanding. It was, therefore, necessary that God should make himself known to man, and teach him the end for which he was created, and what he must believe and do in order to become worthy of everlasting happiness.
"If you wish to judge well of a grand edifice, you must study in detail its form and dimensions; you must examine minutely its style of architecture and strive to comprehend the architect's design. All this will cause you much trouble and impatience, and still your knowledge of the edifice will not be complete.
"But, if the architect himself explains to you his plan, and, in addition to the knowledge you already have of the building, gives you sufficient information of its first cause, then you will be able to give a full, distinct description of the whole edifice.
"In like manner, a learned man may strive on all occasions, and by all natural means in his power, to know the first cause of the grand edifice of creation, its plan and object. All this will give him much trouble, and yet his knowledge of the work of creation will be very incomplete so long as he has not learned its first cause, and plan, and object from the divine Architect himself." (St. Thomas Aquinas.)
Now, God himself, in his infinite mercy, came to tell us why he had created us; he came and taught us the truths which we must believe, the commandments which we must keep, and the means of grace which we must use to work out our salvation.
To know God's will is to know the true religion or the true way to heaven. As God is but one, so his holy will is but one, and therefore his religion is but one and the same. In order that we might learn, with infallible certainty, this one true religion, Almighty God appointed but one infallible teaching authority - the Roman Catholic Church - and commanded all to hear her and believe her infallible doctrine, under pain of exclusion from eternal life.
Now, God is infinite truth itself. He knows things only as they are, and can speak them only as he knows them. As sovereign Author and Lord of all things, he has an absolute authority over all men, - an authority which he can exercise either directly by himself, or through an angel, or a prophet, or one or more of his reasonable creatures. God, therefore, has a right to command, under pain of eternal damnation, the human understanding to believe certain truths; he has a right to command the human will to perform certain duties, and the senses to make certain sacrifices. Nothing can be more reasonable than to submit to such a command of God. This submission of the understanding and the will to God's revelation is called faith, which, as St. Paul says, "bringeth into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ." (II. Cor. x. 5.) As soon, then, as man bears the voice of his Maker, he is bound to say: Amen, it is so; I believe it, no matter whether I understand it or not. The Lord of heaven and earth is the Infallible Truth itself. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. He is the wherefore and the why of my belief.
Hence, St. Basil says: "Faith, always powerful and victorious, exercises a greater ascendancy over minds than all the proofs which reason and human science can furnish, because faith obviates all difficulties, not by the light of manifest evidence, but by the weight of the infallible authority of God, which renders them incapable of admitting any doubt."
"There is," says Thomas Aquinas, "more certainty in faith than in human science and all the other intellectual virtues. We must consider the certainty of a thing in its cause, or the object that receives it. The cause of our faith is God, the source and origin of all truth, So, by this principle, no certainty is comparable to that of faith.
"It may be said that he who knows perceives better than he who believes. Does it hence follow that natural knowledge has more certainty than faith? No; for a thing is to be considered rather by its cause than by the disposition of him who receives it.
"Human science and art are only contingencies, but the object of faith is the knowledge of eternal truths. Prudence and knowledge proceed from reason and experience; but faith comes by the operation of the Holy Ghost. All our sensitive organs and intellectual faculties are liable to err; but faith is infallible, for it is founded on the word of God: ‘Because you received it from us, not as the word of men, but as the true word of God.'" (Thess. ii. 13.)
Now, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has revealed our religion and invested all the truths of his revelation in an infallible Teaching Body - the Holy Roman Catholic Church, through which he has made it known, and continues to make it known, to all nations, to the end of time, in a manner most easy and infallible. She is the heir to the rights of Jesus Christ. She is the faithful depository of the spiritual treasures of Jesus Christ. She is the infallible Teacher of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. She wields the authority of Jesus Christ. She lives by the life and spirit of Jesus Christ. She enjoys the guidance and help of Jesus Christ. She speaks, orders, commands, concedes, prohibits, defines, looses, and binds in the name of Jesus Christ. In the light of divine faith, which the Catholic has received in baptism, he believes the divine authority of the Church, and therefore he believes and obeys her in all things; and in believing and obeying her, he believes and obeys Almighty God himself, who said to the Apostles and their lawful successors in the Catholic Church: "He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me." (Luke, x. 16.) The faith of the Catholic, therefore, is divine, because it is based on divine authority: He knows and believes that Jesus Christ speaks to him through his Church, and therefore he believes all the truths she teaches him, with the utmost firmness and simplicity, with an unwavering conviction of their reality. The fact that Jesus Christ has said it, has done it, has taught it to his infallible Church, and commanded her to teach it to all nations, is for him the weightiest of all reasons to believe it. The famous word of the Pythagoreans, "The master has said it," was with them a foolish idolatry, believing, as they did, that no one could be deceived. Applied, however, to Jesus Christ, it is a first principle, a sacred axiom for every Catholic. The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but "the truth of the Lord remaineth forever." (Ps. cxvi. 2.) The good Catholic silences every objection to his faith by saying: "The Son of God, Jesus Christ, has revealed it to us by his Church, and we have no more questions to ask." Hence St. Thomas Aquinas says: -
"The principles and rule of faith depend on the authority and doctrine of the one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. So, out of the true Church there is no faith or salvation. When the light of faith and grace flashes upon the soul, then man firmly believes all that God has revealed and proposes for our belief by his Church. Hence an act of faith differs from all the other acts of the human intellect as to what is true or false."
This is the reason why the Church allows none of her children to call into question her divine mission. The light of faith which shines upon the mind of a Catholic so utterly consumes doubt, that, hereafter he cannot entertain it except by his own great fault.
"Faith," says St. Alphonsus, "is a virtue, or a gift, which God infuses into our souls in baptism, by which gift we believe the truths which God himself has revealed to the Holy Church, and which she proposes to our belief.
"By the Church is meant the Congregation of all who are baptized and profess the true faith under a visible Head, that is, the Sovereign Pontiff.
"I say, the true faith, to exclude heretics who, though baptized, are separated from the Church.
"I say, under a visible head, to exclude schismatics, who do not obey the Pope, and on that account easily pass from schism to heresy. St. Cyprian well says: 'Heresies and schisms have no other origin than this - the refusal to obey the Priest of God, and the notion that there can be more than one priest at a time presiding over the Church, and more than one judge at a time filling the office of Vicar of Christ.'
"We have all the revealed truths in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Traditions gradually communicated by God to his servants. But how should we be able to ascertain what are the true Scriptures and the true Traditions, and what is their true meaning, if we had not the Church to teach us? This Church Jesus Christ established as the pillar and ground of truth. To this Church our Saviour himself has promised that she shall never be conquered by her enemies. 'The gates of hell shall not prevail against her' (Matt. xvi. 18). The gates of hell are the heresies and heresiarchs that have caused so many deluded souls to wander from the right path. This Church it is that teaches us, through her pastors, the truths which we must believe. Hence St. Augustine says: 'I would not believe the Gospel were I not moved by the Authority of the Church. The cause, then, which imposes on me the obligation to believe the truths of faith is, because God, the Infallible Truth, has revealed them, and because the Church proposes them to my belief. Our rule of faith, therefore, is this: My God, because thou who art the Infallible Truth, hast revealed to the Church the truths of faith, I believe all that the Church proposes to my belief." (First Command. n. 4, 5, 6).
Such is the faith which God prescribes in the first commandment. It is only by such faith that he is truly honored and worshipped; for, by such faith we acknowledge him as the Sovereign Being of infinite Perfections, made known to us by revelation; and as the Sovereign Truth, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
When the famous and valiant Count de Montfort was told that our Lord in the Sacred Host had appeared visibly in the hands of the priest, he said to those who urged him to go and see the miracle: "Let those go and see it who doubt it; as for myself, I believe firmly the truth of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, as our Mother the Holy Church teaches it. Hence I hope to receive in heaven a crown more brilliant than the crowns of the angels; for they being face to face with God, have not the power to doubt."
Look at the martyrs who, from being pagans, became Christians. They did not die for the sake of a religious opinion; they died for the sake of religion, because they were certain and convinced of its truth. The martyrs saw the truth, and how could they but speak what they had seen?
They might shudder at the pain, but they could not help seeing the truth of their religion. Threats could not undo the heavenly truths, and therefore could not silence their confession of them. "Truth," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "is the good of the intellect, the life of the intellect, whilst falsehood is the evil, the death of the intellect. As long as man remained innocent, it was impossible for man's intellect to believe that to be true which was really false. As in the body of the first man there could not be the presence of any evil, so, in like manner, in his soul there could not be the belief in anything false." Hence we easily understand why even innocent Catholic children have an intuition of truth without fear and confusion, and talk of God and his mysteries as if they had conversed with angels, while they display a clear knowledge of the whole circle of revealed truths, in comparison with which knowledge the wild guesses and perpetual contradictions of the most famous and learned pagans, or unbelieving philosophers or sectaries, are but inarticulate cries.
One day a little Irish girl was weeping to find herself in a Protestant school, to which she had been carried by force, and where it was considered a useful employment of time to blaspheme the Mother of God. "How do you know she is in heaven?" said a grim Protestant spinster to the little girl. The child knew very well that Our Lady is the Queen of heaven, and enthroned by the side of her divine Son, but had never asked herself how she knew it, nor met any one before who was impudent enough to deny it. She winced for a moment, as if she had received a blow, then flinging back the long hair which fell over her face, this child of a Galway peasant fiercely answered: "How do I know she is in heaven? Why, you Protestants don't believe in purgatory. If she is not in heaven she must be in hell. It's a pretty son who would send his mother to hell!" Such an answer will surprise no Catholic; it may astonish a Protestant. Other children say like words a hundred times. The gift of faith is a light of the Holy Ghost, which enlightens the minds of the faithful, even of children, to know and to believe that what the Church teaches is a holy and divine doctrine.
Without this inestimable gift of grace - the light of divine faith - it is impossible to be saved, as we have shown in our Familiar Explanation. But Coxe and S. O. have dishonestly suppressed this truth and concealed it from their fellow-men.
§ 5. WHAT PROTESTANT BELIEF IN CHRIST IS.
Of ourselves we can do only what is not above our natural strength. Whenever we are to do something above our natural strength, we need the help of another. Man is endowed with great natural gifts, - with the gifts of understanding, will, and memory. By means of these gifts, man can do great things: he can learn languages, build churches, palaces, great cities, steamboats, railroads; he can count days, dates, distances, and money. By the natural power of his reason, man can understand various kinds of truths about this world, about human society, about the realms of space, about matter, about the soul. By his natural reason, man can inquire, argue, and draw conclusions, about religious truth. His thoughts and words, however, about religious truths will not extend beyond mere reasoning.
Cardinal Newman tells us that, some years ago, there was much talk in the world of a man of science, who was said to have found out a new planet. How did he find it out? Did he watch night after night, wearily and perseveringly, in the chill air, through the tedious course of the starry heavens, for what he might find there, till at length, by means of some powerful glass, he discovered, in the dim distance, this unexpected addition to our planetary system? Far from it. It is said that he sat at his ease in his library, and made calculations on paper in the daytime: and thus, without looking once up at the sky, he determined, from what was already known of the sun and the planets, of their number, their positions, their motions, and their influences, that, in addition to them all, there must be some other body in that very place where he said it would be found, if astronomers did but turn their instruments upon it. Here, was a man who read the heavens, not with eyes, but by reason. In like manner, reason and conscience may lead, the natural man to discover, and in a measure, pursue, objects which are, properly speaking, supernatural and divine. The natural reason is able, from the things which are seen, from the voice of tradition, from the existence of the soul, and from the necessity of the case, to infer the existence of God.
A man without eyes may talk about forms and colors. A blind man may pick up a good deal of information of various kinds, and be very conversant with the objects of sight, though he does not see. He may be able to talk about them fluently, and may be fond of doing so; he may even talk of seeing as if he really saw, till he almost seems to pretend to the faculty of sight. He speaks of heights, and distances, and directions, and the dispositions of places, and shapes and appearances, as naturally as other men; and yet he is not duly aware of his own pitiable privation. How does this come about? It is partly because he hears what other men say about these things, and he is able to imitate them, and partly because he cannot help reasoning upon the things he hears, and drawing conclusions from them; and thus he comes to think that he knows what he does not know at all.
"Now, this will explain the way in which the natural man is able partly to understand, and still more to speak upon, supernatural subjects. There is a large floating body of Catholic truth in the world. It comes down by tradition from age to age; it is carried forward by preaching and profession from one generation to another, and is poured about into all quarters of the world. It is found in fulness and purity in the Church alone; but portions of it, larger or smaller, escape far and wide, and penetrate into places which have never been under the teaching of divine grace. Now, men may take up and profess these scattered truths, merely because they fall in with them. These fragments of revelation, such as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, or of the Atonement, are the religion which they have been taught in their childhood; and therefore they retain them, and profess them, and repeat them, without really seeing them as the Catholic sees them, but as receiving them merely by word of mouth, from imitation of others. In this way it often happens that a man, external to the Catholic Church, writes sermons and instructions, draws up and arranges devotions, or composes hymns which are faultless, or nearly so, which are the fruit, not of his own illuminated mind, but of his careful study, sometimes of his accurate translation, of Catholic originals. The natural heart can burst forth, by fits and starts, into emotions of love toward God. The natural imagination can depict the beauty and glory of the divine attributes.
"Catholic truths and rites are so beautiful, so great, so consolatory, that they draw one on to love and admire them with a natural love, as a prospect might draw one on, or a skilful piece of mechanism. Hence men of lively imagination profess this doctrine or that, or adopt this or that ceremony or usage, for their mere beauty's sake, not asking themselves whether they are true, and having no real perception or mental hold of them. Thus, too, they will decorate their churches, stretch and strain their ritual, and attempt candles, vestments, flowers, incense, and processions, not from faith but from poetical feeling.
"Moreover, the Catholic creed, as coming from God, is so harmonious, so consistent with itself, holds together so perfectly, so corresponds part to part, that an acute mind, knowing one portion of it, would often infer another portion, merely as a matter of just reasoning. Thus an accurate thinker might be sure that, if God is infinite and man finite, there must be mysteries in religion. It is not that he feels the mysteriousness of religion, but he infers it; he is led to it as a matter of necessity; and, from mere clearness of mind and love of consistency, he maintains it.
Learned men, outside the Church, may compose most useful works on the evidences of religion, or in defence of particular doctrines, or in explanation of the whole scheme of Catholicism. In these cases reason becomes the handmaid of faith. Still it is not faith; it does not rise above an intellectual view or notion; it affirms, not as grasping the truth, not as seeing, but as "being of opinion," as "judging," as "coming to a conclusion."
"The natural man, then, can feel; he can imagine, he can admire, he can reason, he can infer. In all these ways he may proceed to receive the whole or part of Catholic truth; but he cannot see, he cannot love. His religious sentiments may be right and good in themselves, but not in him. His heretical sentiments on other points are a proof that he does not see what he speaks of.
"The natural conscience may ascertain and put in order the truths of the great moral law, nay, even to the condemnation of that concupiscence which it is too weak to subdue and is persuaded to tolerate.
''The natural will can do many things really good and praiseworthy; nay, in particular cases, or at particular seasons, when temptation is away, it may seem to have strength which it has not, and to be imitating the austerity and purity of a saint. One man has no temptation to hoard; another has no temptation to gluttony and drunkenness; another has no temptation to ill-humor; another has no temptation to be ambitious and overbearing. Hence human nature may often show to advantage; it may be meek, amiable, kind, benevolent, generous, honest, upright, and temperate; and so a man may talk of Christ and heaven, too, read Scripture, and ‘and do many things gladly,' in consequence of reading, and exercise a certain sort of belief, however different from that faith which is imparted to us by grace.
"The natural man, therefore, before he is brought under the grace of divine birth, can but inquire, reason, argue, and conclude about religious truth, but he does not, cannot see it." (Cardinal Newman, on Grace). He does not and he cannot have such faith in Christ as is necessary for salvation. Hence we said that they (Protestants) never had any divine faith in Christ. "He who does not believe all that Christ has taught," says St. Ambrose, "denies Christ himself." (In Luc. c. 9.) "It is absurd for a heretic," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "to assert that he believes in Jesus Christ. To believe in a man is to give our full assent to his word and to all he teaches. True faith, therefore, is absolute belief in Jesus Christ and in all he has taught. Hence he who does not adhere to all that Jesus Christ has prescribed for our salvation has no more the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of his Church, than the Pagans, Jews and Turk's have." "He is" says Jesus Christ, "a heathen and publican." As S. O. has impudently asserted that we have misrepresented Protestant doctrine, no doubt, he would not feel in the least ashamed even to tell St. Thomas Aquinas in his face, that he misrepresents Protestant faith, when he says that it is absurd for a heretic to say he believes in Jesus Christ, etc.
S. O. tells again the readers of the C. U. and T. that "They (Protestants) say with us, in the language and meaning of the Apostle: 'There is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved."
This applies only to Catholics who have the true religion of Christ, and do the will of his heavenly Father; for Christ has solemnly declared: "Not every one who saith to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. vii. 21.)
As Protestants have no absolute faith in Jesus Christ, neither can they have any absolute faith in these words of Christ. We say these words in truth, because we have divine faith, and a Protestant has only human faith in them. Here is the difference between Protestant and Catholic belief, as we shall soon more clearly explain.
"This," he says, "being the undeniable truth," (that is, the faith of Catholics and Protestants in Christ is the same) "what must we think of the reason given why they said never to have had any faith in Christ! Let us hear it again: ‘Q. Why not? Ans. Because there never lived such a Christ as they imagine and believe in.' This answer put into the Catholic's mouth is false, for Protestants do believe in just such a Christ as did live and die for us all, just such a Christ as we believe and know to have lived, suffered, and died.’"
Let S. O. read over again the above answer of St. Thomas and St. Ambrose. We repeat again, that Protestants have no absolute or divine faith in Christ, and therefore the above answer put in a Catholic's mouth is perfectly true. But, as it is a good work to instruct the ignorant, let us dwell for a few moments on the words of S. O. He is not ashamed to tell us Catholics "that Protestants believe in just such a Christ as we Catholics believe and know to have lived, suffered, and died." Now we Catholics believe in a Christ in whom we have absolute, divine faith; and this absolute, divine faith we have not only in Christ himself, but also in all he has done for our salvation, and teaches through his one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Now a Protestant can have no divine faith in Christ nor in his teaching. For, "to reject but one article of faith taught by the Church," says St. Thomas Aquinas, " is enough to destroy faith, as one mortal sin is enough to destroy charity; for the virtue of faith does not consist in merely adhering to the holy Scriptures, and in revering them as the Word of God; it consists principally in submitting our intellect and will to the divine authority of the true Church charged by Jesus Christ to expound them. 'I would not believe the Holy Scriptures,' says St. Augustine, ' were it not for the divine authority of the Church.' ‘He, therefore, who despises and rejects this authority, cannot have true faith. If he admits some supernatural truths, they are but simple opinions, as he makes them (the truths) depend on his private judgment." (De Fide, q. v., art. 3.)
"Indeed, a religion," say, Cardinal Manning, "which men put together for themselves, a Christianity which men make by picking and choosing a doctrine here and a doctrine there, a form of belief which is made by the selection of texts from Holy Scripture, are all human. The fragments out of which such religions are made may be taken out of the word of God; nevertheless, they have ceased to be the word of God as soon as any human intellect and human hand has taken them to pieces, and put them together, and for this reason: Suppose that any man should take the four Gospels, and out of them select certain texts, and put them together, could that be a fifth gospel? No; the Gospel of St. Matthew was written by St. Matthew, that of St. Mark by St. Mark, that of St. Luke by St. Luke, that of St. John by St. John, and any man who endeavored to make a fifth gospel would make a gospel of his own and not of any Evangelist, because he would not know the sense, meaning, and coherence of the texts so as to make that gospel an inspired book. These texts were dictated to inspired writers by the Spirit of God, and it would only be a fragmentary Christianity made out of the fragments of the truths; it would simply be a religion of human institution, and no truth which comes from man can be the matter of our faith."
But some Protestants; for instance, the Anglicans, think that they approach very near to the Catholic Church: They will tell you that their prayers and ceremonies are like many prayers and ceremonies of the Catholic Church, that their creed is the Apostles' Creed. But, in principle, they are very far off. "Thus," says Mr. Marshall, "they profess to believe in one Church, which has unfortunately become half a dozen; in unity, which ceased to exist long ago for want of a centre; in authority, which nobody needs obey, because it has lost the power to teach; in God's presence with the Church, which does not keep her from stupid errors; in a divine constitution, which needs to be periodically reformed; in a mission to teach all nations, while she is unable to teach even herself; in saints, to whom Anglicans would be objects of horror and aversion; and in sanctity of truths which their own sect has always defiled. What foolish belief. Even an untutored Indian Chief, by the aid of his rude common-sense, and the mere intuition of natural truth, does not fail to see the folly of Protestant belief; and confounds it before those Protestant missionaries who come to convert his tribe to Protestantism. Elder Alexander Campbell, in a lecture before the American Christian Missionary Association, relates the following: Sectarian missionaries had gone among the Indians to disseminate religious sentiments. A council was called, and the missionaries explained the object of their visit. 'Is not all the religion of white men in a book?' quoth a chief. 'Yes,' replied the missionaries. ‘Do not all white men read the book?' continued the chief. Another affirmative response. 'Do they all agree upon what it says?’ inquired the chief, categorically. There was a dead silence for some moments. At last one of the missionaries replied; 'Not exactly; they differ upon some doctrinal points.' ‘Go, then, white man,' said the Chief, ‘call a council, and when the white men all agree, then come and teach the red men.' How the absurdity of Protestantism is so easily perceived and confounded even by the rude child of the forest!" Hence it is that the famous convert and American Reviewer says: " What Protestants call their religion is only a disguised secularism 'which is amply provided for by the secular press, the instincts of nature, and the anti-Catholic sentiment of the country." (Brownson’s Review, January, 1873.)
It is, therefore, quite absurd to speak of Protestantism as of a religion or Church; and it is scandalously absurd for S. O. to assert that the Protestant faith in Christ is the same as that of Catholics! The truth is one; errors are many; the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, is one; sects are many, that deny the truth and the Church's infallible authority to teach truth. Every sensible man, then, seeing a class of men drawn into a whirlpool of endless religious variations and dissensions, is forced to say: "This is only an ephemeral sect, without substance and without any divine authority; it is a plant not planted by the hand of Almighty God, and therefore it will be rooted up; it is a kingdom divided against itself, and therefore it will be made desolate; it is a house built on sand, and therefore it cannot stand; it is a cloud without water, which is carried about by the winds; a tree of autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, by want of divine faith, and therefore it will be plucked up by the roots; a raging wave of the sea, foaming out its own confusion; a wandering star, to which the storm and darkness are reserved forever; a withered branch cutoff from the body of Christ, the One, Holy, Roman Catholic Church, which alone is established by Christ on earth as his "pillar and ground of truth," in one fold, watched over by his own chief shepherd, ever immovable amid the storms of hell; with unshaken faith, amid the variations of philosophical systems, the infernal persecutions of the wicked, the revolutions of empires, the attacks of interest, of prejudice, of passion, the dissolving labors of criticism, the progress of physical, historical, and other sciences, the unrestrained love of novelty, the abuses which sooner or later undermine the most firmly-established human institutions. The faith of this Church alone is divine, because she alone teaches divinely revealed truths with divine authority.
This is clear to every unprejudiced and well-reflecting mind. Mr. T. W. M. Marshall relates the following, in one of his lectures:
"A young English lady, with whom I became subsequently acquainted, and from whose lips I heard the tale, informed her parents that she felt constrained to embrace the Catholic faith. Hereupon arose much agitation in the parental councils, and a reluctant promise was extorted from the daughter that she would not communicate with any Catholic priest till she had first listened to the convincing arguments with which certain clerical friends of the family would easily dissipate her unreasonable doubts. These ministers were three in number, and we will call them Messrs. A., B., and C. The appointed day arrived for the solemn discussion, which one of the Ministers was about to commence, when the young lady opened it abruptly with the following remark: ‘I am too young and uninstructed to dispute with gentlemen of your age and experience, but perhaps you will allow me to ask you a few questions?’ Anticipating an easy triumph over the poor girl, the three ministers acceded with encouraging smiles to her request. ‘Then I will ask you,’ she said to Mr. A., 'whether regeneration always accompanies the sacrament of baptism.' ' Undoubtedly,’ was the prompt reply; 'that is the plain doctrine of our Church.' ‘And you, Mr. B.,’ she continued, - ‘do you teach that doctrine?’ 'God forbid, my young friend,' was his indignant answer, 'that I should teach such soul-destroying error! Baptism is a formal rite, which,' etc., etc. ‘And you, Mr. C.,’ she asked the third, ‘what is your opinion?’ ‘I regret,’ he replied with a bland voice, for he began to suspect they were making a mess of it, ‘that my reverend friends should have expressed themselves a little incautiously. The true doctrine lies between these extremes’—and he was going to develop it when the young lady, rising from her chair, said: ‘I thank you, gentlemen; you have taught me all that I expected to learn from you. You are all ministers of the same Church, yet you each contradict the other, even upon a doctrine which St. Paul calls one of the foundations of Christianity. You have only confirmed me in my resolution to enter a Church whose ministers all teach the same thing.' And then they went out of the room, one by one, and probably continued their battle in the street. But the parents of the young lady turned her out of doors the next day, to get her bread as she could. They sometimes do that sort of thing in England.
"Another friend of mine, also a lady, and one of the most intelligent of her sex, was for several years the disciple of the distinguished minister who has given a name to a certain religious school in England. Becoming disaffected toward the Episcopalian Church, which appeared to her more redolent of earth, in proportion as she aspired more ardently toward heaven, she was persuaded to assist at a certain Ritualistic festival, which, it was hoped, would have a soothing effect upon her mind. A new church was to be opened, and the ceremonies were to be prolonged through an entire week. All the Ritualistic celebrities of the day were expected to be present. Her lodging was judiciously provided in a house in which were five of the most transcendental members of the High Church party. It was hoped that they would speedily convince her of their apostolic unity, but; unfortunately, they only succeeded in proving to her that no two of them were of the same mind. One recommended her privately to pray to the Blessed Virgin, which another condemned as, at best, a poetical superstition. One told her that the Pope was, by divine appointment, the head of the Universal Church; another, that he was a usurper and a schismatic. One maintained that the 'Reformers' were profane scoundrels and apostates; another, that they had, at all events, good intentions. But I need not trouble you with an account of their various creeds. Painfully affected by this diversity, where she had been taught to expect complete uniformity, her doubts were naturally confirmed. During the week she was invited to take a walk with the eminent person whom she had hitherto regarded as a trustworthy teacher. To him she revealed her growing disquietude, and presumed to lament the conflict of opinions which she had lately witnessed, but only to be rewarded by a stern rebuke; for it is a singular fact that men who are prepared at any moment to judge all the saints and doctors, will not tolerate any judgment which reflects upon themselves. It was midwinter, and the lady's companion, pointing to the leafless trees by the roadside, said, with appropriate solemnity of voice and manner: 'They are stripped of their foliage now, but wait for the spring, and you will see them once more wake to life. So shall it be with the Church of England which now seems to you dead.' 'It may be be,' she replied; 'but what sort of a spring can we expect after a winter which has lasted three hundred years? You will not be surprised to hear that this lady soon after became a member of a Church which knows nothing of winter, but within whose peaceful borders reigns eternal spring."
Alas! S. O. has not been ashamed to assert that we have misrepresented Protestant belief, though we have said of it only what St. Thomas Aquinas and all the great Doctors of the Church have said of it!
§ 6. MORE FALSE ORACLES OF S. O.
"It is," he says, "neither true nor honest to say that the Protestant believes as he pleases. The fact is, he believes what he believes his Creator and God wishes him to believe. He is in error as to the divine will. This we know."
This is a down-right falsehood, and a great insult to God. God wishes every Protestant to believe all that Christ teaches him through his Church, and he wishes him to believe it with divine faith; and S. O. avows this truth by saying: "He (the Protestant) is in error as to the divine will. This we know." Is it not strange how this priest contradicts himself almost in the same breath!
"But," continues S. O. to say, "he (the Protestant) is guilty because ‘he is wrong’ is to say more than God has ever authorized any human being to say." Well, was not St. Paul a human being? Was he not authorized by the Holy Ghost to say: "For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law." (Rom. ii. 10.) If those Protestants who live in inculpable ignorance of the true religion are not guilty of the sin of heresy, does it follow that they are not guilty of sins against their conscience? But this needs a good explanation, which we will give later on; it needs a better one than the most prominent priest of the U. S. gives by saying: "To think that we Catholics are the only honest people is to be guilty of the most contemptible kind of pharisaism. The true Catholic never thinks in that foolish way. He thanks God that he is right and knows that he is right and prays that all may be led to a knowledge of the truth. He does not find it in his theology or in his heart to damn anybody or wish anybody to be damned."
By honest people, S. O. here means people that have the true faith; for he says, "He (the Catholic) thanks God that he is right, and knows that he is right, and prays that all may be led to a knowledge of the truth." It is therefore false to say that "To think that we Catholics are the only true believers, is to be guilty of the most contemptible kind of pharisaism." The true Catholic is bound in conscience to think in that way, because he knows that the Catholic religion is the only true religion. How foolish to say the contrary. But when S. O. says: "He (a Catholic) does not find it in his theology or in his heart to damn anybody or wish anybody to be damned," he is right; but in order to be honest, he should have added, immediately after these words, "nor does the Rev. M. Muller, C.SS.R., teach anything of the kind in his Explanation of Christian Doctrine. But a true, educated Catholic does not find in his theology nor in his heart the great falsehoods which S. O. tells when he solemnly asserts that "Protestants believe all that the Catholic believes of the facts of his (Christ's) divine life, miracles, passion, death, and resurrection."
What a scandalous assertion this! If it came from the lips of a Protestant, we would declare it a down-right lie, but coming, as it does, from the lips of S. O., it is a terrible scandal. Is there any fact of Christ's divine life more evident than the establishment of his - the Roman Catholic Church? Do Protestants believe this divine fact?
"Reason, it is true," says the Roman Catechism, "and the senses, are compelled to ascertain the existence of the Church, that is, of a society of men devoted and consecrated to Jesus Christ; no faith is necessary to understand a truth which is acknowledged by Jews and Turks; but do Protestants believe the privileges and dignity of the Church as Catholics believe them? By no means, because they have not the light of faith, which alone enables us to say I believe the Catholic Church."
Again, has not God ordained from the beginning of the world that men should give him the honor of adoration by offering sacrifice to him. Has this law ever been abolished by God, in the Old Testament, or by Jesus Christ in the New Law? Has he not, on the contrary, confirmed this law by the institution of the unbloody sacrifice of his Body and Blood in Holy Mass, which is to be offered up to the end of the world? And has not Jesus Christ, for this purpose, established a new order of priesthood at the Last Supper? Are not the seven sacraments, the visible means of grace, so many facts of Christ's divine life? Do Protestants believe all these and many other facts of Christ's divine life? Ah! that most prominent priest of the U. S. knows only too well that Protestants do not believe these facts. How can he then so impudently tell such a lie to the readers of the B U., aye, to all Catholics, whose faith in these facts, he says, is also that of Protestants? Do Catholics deny these facts? In the very instant that a Catholic would deny any of these facts, he would be a Protestant, a heretic, and cut off as a rotten member of the Church of Jesus Christ.
The above assertion of S. 0. is a true insult to the Catholic faith, which is an absolute, divine, faith, a gratuitous gift of the Holy Ghost, while Protestant belief is all human, only an opinion alterable at pleasure, without foundation; it reminds one of the Brahmin's theory of the support of the earth. The Hindoo says: " The world rests on the back of an elephant, the elephant rests on the back of a turtle." But what does the turtle rest on? So it is with the Protestant Brahmins. They will tell you, with all the coolness of Hindoo hypocrisy and pretension, that religion depends on the written word of God, and they make the word of God depend on private interpretation; but they do not say what the "turtle" stands on. This is the dilemma in which all are caught who rest religion on a human or an atheistical basis. They cut religion loose from its assigned divine Teacher - the Roman Catholic Church, and set it a-going on human authority. Bat the trouble is, they have no support for this "turtle."
For the benefit of S. 0. we repeat here the words of Dr. O. A. Brownson.
"That Protestants, that so-called orthodox Protestants at least, profess to hold, and claim as belonging to their Protestantism, many things that are also held by Catholics, nobody denies; but these things are no part of Protestantism, for the Church held and taught them ages before Protestantism was born. They are part and parcel of the one Catholic faith, and belong to Catholics only. Protestants can rightfully claim as Protestant only those things wherein they differ from the Church, which the Church denies, and which they assert; that is, what is peculiarly or distinctively Protestant. We cannot allow them to claim as theirs what is and always has been ours; we willingly accord them their own, but not one whit more. All which they profess to hold in common with us is ours, not theirs. Adopting this rule, which is just and unimpeachable, nothing in fact is theirs but their denials, and as all their denials are, as we have seen, made on no Catholic principle or truth, they are pure negations, and hence Protestantism is purely negative, and consequently is no religion, for all religion is affirmative."
§ 7. S. O. DECLARES TRUTH TO BE RANT AND ABUSE. HE CONTINUES TO QUOTE FROM “EXPLANATION:"
“Q. In what kind of a Christ do they believe? Ans. In such a one of whom they can make a liar with impunity."
“What possible meaning," he says, “can such language and such an assertion convey to the mind of any one, Catholic or Protestant? It is rant and abuse, and nothing less. The idea of any one believing in or wishing to believe in one whom, as his Saviour, he can make a liar of with impunity, is too absurd to deserve a moment's consideration."
Softly, softly, S.O. When we gave the above answer, we also gave the proofs for it. But you and Coxe have dishonestly suppressed these proofs, in order to be able to call our answer rant and abuse, and to say that it is too absurd to deserve a moment's consideration. A man like you, who sees no difference between divine and human faith, will answer as you do. Do you, then, mean to say that, when St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist, wrote, "He that believeth not the Son (Jesus Christ), maketh him a liar" (I. John, v., 10.), the Holy Ghost told through him rant and abuse, and that these words of the Holy Ghost are too absurd to deserve a moment's consideration?
"Not to believe all that Christ has said," says Cornelius a Lapide, "is as much as to say that Christ is a liar, and this is an awful blasphemy." Hero we add the proofs which you have passed over in silence.
Jesus Christ says: “Hear the Church." "No;" say Luther and all Protestants, "do not hear the Church, protest against her with all your might!”
Jesus Christ says: "If any one will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a publican." “No,” says Protestantism, “if any one does not hear the Church, look upon him as an apostle, as an ambassador of God."
Jesus Christ says: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church." "No," says Protestantism, “’Tis false; the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church for a thousand years and more."
Jesus Christ has declared St. Peter, and every successor to St. Peter - the Pope - to be his Vicar on earth. "No," says Protestantism, "the Pope is Anti-Christ."
Jesus Christ says: "My yoke is sweet, and my burden light." (Matt. xi. 30.) "No," said Luther and Calvin "it is impossible to keep the commandments."
Jesus Christ says: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matt. xix. 17.) "No," said Luther and Calvin, "faith alone, without good works, is sufficient to enter into life everlasting."
Jesus Christ says: " Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke, iii. 3.) "No," said Luther and Calvin, "fasting, and other works of penance are not necessary in satisfaction for sin.”
Jesus Christ says: "This is my body." "No," said Calvin, "this is only the figure of Christ's Body, it will become his body as soon as you receive it."
Jesus Christ says: "I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery." (Matt. xix. 9.) "No," say Luther and all Protestants, to a married man, “you may put away your wife, get a divorce, and marry another."
Jesus Christ says to every man: “Thou shalt not steal." “No," said Luther to secular princes, “I give you the right to appropriate to yourselves the property of the Roman Catholic Church."
There are about three hundred millions of Catholics living at present all over the world. Ah! how they feel shocked at these insults which Protestants offer to Jesus Christ. Even little children are shocked by them.
A Calvinist nobleman was once disputing about the real presence with the father of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Frances was at that time only five years of age. Whilst the dispute was going on she advanced and said to the nobleman: "What, sir! do you not believe that Jesus Christ is really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and yet he has told us that he is present? You then make him a liar. If you dared attack the honor of the king, my father would defend it at the risk of his life, and even at the cost of yours; what have you then to expect from God for calling his Son a liar?" The Calvinist was greatly surprised at the child's zeal, and endeavored to appease his young adversary with presents; but full of love for her holy faith, she took his gifts and threw them into the fire, saying "Thus shall all those burn in hell who do not believe the words of Jesus Christ."
“God gives the frail and feeble tongue
A doom to speak on sin and wrong."
S. O. says that Protestants believe that Christ is "true God" and true Man. If they believe that he is true God, why is it that they do not believe all his words and all that he has done for our salvation? Why is it that they do not honor him as God, but refuse to believe his whole doctrine? How have they treated Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? It is too horrible to relate. Can it be expected that those who so terribly have dishonored Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament will, as they should, honor, and treat, and believe Jesus Christ in heaven? How have they honored Him in those who take his place on earth, of whom Christ says: “He who heareth you, heareth me; and he who despiseth you, despiseth me, and he who despiseth me, despiseth Him (God the Father) who sent me.” (Luke, x. 16) Glance again over chapter III., and you will find how Jesus Christ has been treated by Protestants in the Pope, the bishops, and the priests of the Roman Catholic Church.
To establish the sacrilegious doctrine of his primacy over the English Church, Henry VIII. Had put to death two cardinals, three archbishops, eighteen bishops and archdeacons, five hundred priests, sixty superiors of religious houses, fifty canons, twenty-nine peers, three hundred and sixty knights, and an immense number both of the gentry and people. He confiscated to the crown, and distributed among his favorites, the property of six hundred and forty-five monasteries and ninety colleges, one hundred and ten hospitals, and two thousand three hundred and seventy-four free chapels and chantries.
And how have they treated Jesus Christ in the poor members of his body? “Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt. xxv.40)
For over three hundred years the Irish people have suffered, struggled, and died for the faith. They suffered poverty with all its bitterness, they endured exile with all its sorrows, they suffered outrage and even death itself, rather than lose their God. The minions of hell enacted the fiendish penal laws, and soon that country, so rich and fruitful in colleges and convents, became one vast, dreary wilderness. In tracts of country, thirty, forty, fifty miles in extent, the smoke from an inhabited house, as English chroniclers themselves declare, was nowhere to be seen. The people had disappeared and left only skeletons in the land. The living were to be met only in glens and dark caves and mountains. There they dragged out a wretched existence, feeding on the weeds and garbage of the earth. Like shadows they moved about, haggard and wan, starving and wounded, and they endured the cruel pangs of hunger, till God, in his mercy, took them to a better world. Again and again were these harrowing scenes repeated. Ireland became prosperous again in spite of the most galling oppression; and the people of Ireland were again starved and massacred for their faith, and those that survived were shipped off to the British West Indies, and sold there as slaves. The British fleet was ordered around the coast. Over eighty thousand of the most influential and most distinguished of the Irish Catholics were packed on board, and their bones have long since rotted in the soil of the English sugar-plantations of Jamaica.
The last effort of tyranny is still fresh in the minds of many—I mean the late famine years. There are, no doubt, some of our readers who have witnessed the appalling scenes of that gloomy period, and once witnessed, they can never, never be forgotten. Ah! No. Like living fire, these horrid scenes burn into the memory, and leave their a horrid scar—a mark that can never be effaced. There were thousands and thousands wasting away and dying of hunger. They were falling and dying as the leaves fall in autumn. The food that was sent to the poor people from America was kept in harbors till it rotted. And there, in the sight of the famishing people, the wealthy Protestant, the overfed wives and daughters of the sleek, oily Protestant parsons, had plenty of foof for their cattle; they had food in abundance for their pet birds or their lapdogs, whilst the poor starving Catholics wished to even eat the husks of the swine, and it was not given them.
A few years before the gloomy reign of terror, there lived near a certain town in Ireland a poor, honest farmer with his wife and children. They were poor, indeed, but yet they were contented and happy. Never did the poor or the stranger pass their door without partaking of their hospitality; and what they had, they gave with a willing heart. But the famine year came on. The good farmer was unable to pay the tithes. His little property was distrained. The police entered his farm; they seized his unreaped corn; they took away his crops; they drove his cattle to the pound. The poor unhappy man himself was expelled from that little spot of earth on which he was born, where he had lived so long, and where he had hoped to die. He was turned into the public road with his wife and children. No roof, no food, no clothing - he was cast, in beggary and nakedness, into the cold, heartless world. He sought for a shelter for his little ones. He sought for employment, but could find none. He was Catholic. His neighbors around were bitter Protestants of the blackest dye. They offered him shelter, food, and clothing, but on on condition—that he would apostatize.
O God! who shall tell the agony of that poor, heart-broken father? No hope to sheer him save the hope of death; no eye to pity him save the all-merciful eye of God! He saw his poor wife dying before his eyes. He saw her wasting day by day - slowly pining away while praying and weeping over her starving children; he heard his famished children crying for food, and, their piteous cries rent his very soul. Oh! he could help them, he could provide them food, clothing, and a pleasant home - but then he must apostatize, he must renounce his holy faith! Oh! what a sore trial, what a cruel martyrdom! His loving wife died before his eyes - died of hunger. She died with words of patience, words of hope upon her lips. The poor husband wrung his hands in anguish. He bent over the lifeless form of his wife. Dark night was thickening around him - thickening even within him; he felt the cruel pangs of hunger gnawing at his very vitals. And were he not upheld by his holy faith, he would have yielded to despair. But the cries of his children aroused him. He forgot for a moment his own sufferings. He took his two weak, starving babes in his trembling arms, and hurried away with tottering steps. He begged from house to house, from door to door; he begged for a crumb of bread for his poor, starving little ones, but no one gave him a morsel of food. They offered him food, and clothing, and shelter if he would only apostatize, if he would give his children to be brought up in their false creed: "But," cried the heart-broken father, "oh! how could I give my children to be brought up in the false creed and deny their holy faith? Oh! how could I sell their souls to the Evil One for a mess of pottage?" After some time the unhappy man felt a heavy load weighing like lead upon his trembling arm. He looked. One of his poor babes had ceased moaning. It was dead - cold and stiff in death. The heart-broken father sat down beneath a tree by the wayside and prayed, but he could not weep. Ah! no; his eyes were dry, his heart was withered. In wild, passionate tones he called on heaven to witness his agony - he called God to witness that he did not wish the death of his children, that he would gladly lay down his life to save his family, but he could not - oh! no! no! - he could not deny his holy faith; he could not sell their souls to the devil. He tried once more to obtain some food for his remaining child, but in vain, and at last the poor innocent sufferer gasped and died too in his arms. Ah! whose heart can remain unmoved at the sufferings of the Irish Catholic? Whose heart, at the same time, does not rejoice at their constancy in the faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, when hanging on the cross, excused those who had crucified him. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke xxiii. 34.) They did not know that Christ was their God. “For," says St. Paul, "if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory." (I. Cor. ii. 8.) But the most prominent priest of the U. S, solemnly assures us that Protestants believe in the divinity of Christ. How, then, is such faith compatible with such treatment of Christ? Alas! we repeat, what a shame for S. O. to tell Catholics and Protestants that their faith in Christ is all the same!
§. 8. S. O. CONTINUES TO DECLARE FALSE WHAT IS TRUE.
He continues to quote part of our Answer: —“Whose(Christ's) doctrines they can interpret as they please.”
“This again is false,” he says; "Protestants do not believe they can interpret the doctrines of Christ as they please, and anyone who asserts it misrepresents Protestant teaching.”
Before our would-be theologian said that our answer was false, he should have shown that Protestants have a rule and an infallible authority by which they must go in interpreting Christ's doctrines, and that they never interpreted Christ's doctrines as they pleased. But he knows he cannot furnish any proofs for the truth of his assertions.
Whence, then, we ask, has Protestantism and all other isms risen? Is it not from the private interpretation of Holy Scripture, and Christ's doctrines? Has not Protestantism introduced the principle that "there is no divinely-appointed authority to teach infallibly; let every man read the Bible and judge for himself"? Is not this a historical fact? Monseigneur de Cheverus, in his sermons, often dwelt on the necessity of a divine teaching authority, to render unwavering the faith of the unlearned as well as of the ignorant. To convince Protestants of this necessity, he often repeated, in his discourses to them, these simple words: "Every day, my dear brethren, I read the holy Scripture like yourselves; I read it with reflection and prayer, having previously invoked the Holy Ghost, and yet, at almost every page, I find many things that I cannot understand, and I find the great necessity of some speaking authority, which may point out to me the meaning of the text, and render my faith firm." And his hearers immediately made the application to themselves. “If Monseigneur de Cheverus,” said they, “who is more learned than we cannot comprehend the Sacred Scripture, how is it that our ministers tell us that the Bible is to each of us a full and clear rule of faith, easily understood of itself, and requiring no aid in understanding its meaning?"
From the time of the apostles to the present day, there have risen unlearned men, as well as men accomplished in every kind of learning, who undertook to interpret the Bible according to their own private opinions. The consequence was, that the ignorant were led into errors for want of knowledge, and the learned, through pride and self-sufficiency. Instead of interpreting Scripture according to the teaching of the Church, and learning from her what they should believe, they have tried to teach the Church false and perverse doctrines of their own. They avail themselves of the Scriptures to prove their errors. They say that they have the Scriptures on their side, which are the fountain of truth. But those deluded men do not consider that the truth is found, not by reading, but by understanding the holy Scriptures. This arrogance in interpreting the Bible according to their fancy proceeds from pride. But God resists the proud, and withholds from them the light of faith. In punishment for their pride and want of submission to the teaching of his Church, he permits such men to fall into all kinds of errors, absurdities, and vices; he permits the Holy Scriptures, which are a great fountain of truth, to become to them a great fountain of errors, so that to them may be applied the words of our divine Saviour, "You err, not knowing the Scriptures;" (Matt. Xxii. 29.) and of St. Peter, “They wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction." (II. Pet. iii. 16.)
The Adamites pretended to find in the Book of Genesis that they were as pure as our first parents, and need not be ashamed of being naked any more than Adam and Eve before the fall. Arius pretended to find, in forty-two passages of the Bible, that the Son of God was not equal to the Father. Macedonius maintained that from holy Scripture he could prove that the Holy Ghost was not God; and Pelagius asserted, on the authority of holy Scripture, that man could work out his salvation without the grace of God. Luther asserted that he found in Isaias that man was not free; and Calvin tried to prove from Scripture that it is impossible for man to keep the commandments. There is no error so monstrous, no crime so heinous, no practice so detestable, which perverse men have not endeavored to justify by some passage of Scripture. St. Augustine asks, "Whence have risen heresies and those pernicious errors that lead men to everlasting perdition?" and he answers: “They have risen from this: that men understand the Scriptures wrongly, and then maintain presumptuously and boldly what they thus understand wrongly." (In Joan. tr. xviii.) Thus, "the Gospel," as St. Jerome observes, "is, for them, not the Gospel Christ any longer, but the Gospel of man, or of the devil: for the Gospel consists, not in the words, but in the sense, of Scripture, wherefore, by false interpretation, the Gospel of Christ becomes the gospel of man, or of the devil.” “My thoughts, saith the Lord, are not as your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways; for, as the heavens are exalted above the earth, even so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts." (Isa. l. 8, 9.) Who, then, shall by his private reason, pretend to know, to judge, to demonstrate, to interpret, the unsearchable ways of God and the incomprehensible, divine mysteries hidden in the Holy Scripture? “How can I understand it, if no one explains it to me?” (Acts, viii.)
To sum up what has been said: In the order of time, the Catholic Church precedes the Scripture. There was no time when a visible and speaking divine authority did not exist, to which submission was not due. Before the coming of Jesus Christ, that authority among the Jews was in the synagogue. When the synagogue was on the point of failing, Jesus Christ himself appeared; when this divine personage withdrew, he left his authority to his Church, and with her his Holy Spirit. All the truths which we believe to be divine, and which are the objects of our faith, were taught by the Church, and believed by millions of Christians, long before they were committed to writing, and formed what is called the New Testament. And those truths would have remained to the end of the world, pure and unaltered, had that primitive state continued; that is, had it never seemed good to any of the apostolic men, as it did to St. Luke, to commit to writing what they had learned from Christ. He did it, he says, that Theophilus, to whom he writes, might know the verity of these words in which he had been instructed.
A Catholic, therefore, never forms his faith by reading the Scriptures; his faith is already formed before he begins to read; his reading serves only to confirm what he always believed; that is, it confirms the doctrine which the Church had already taught him. Consequently, if these books had not existed, the belief in the facts and truths of Christianity would have been the same; and it would not be weakened if those books were no longer to exist.
As the Catholic Church made known to the Christians those facts and truths long before they were recorded in writing, she alone could afterward rightly decide, and infallibly state, what books did, and what did not, contain the pure doctrine of Christ and his apostles; she alone could and did know what books were, and what were not, divinely inspired; she alone could and did make that inspiration an object of faith; she alone can, with infallible authority, give the true .meaning, and determine the legitimate use of the Holy Scriptures. Although the Scripture, the true word of God, is not to us a rule of faith, taken independently of the teaching authority of the pastors of the Church, the successors of the apostles, yet it is not inferior to the Church in excellence and dignity. It is inspired, holy, and divine. Hence, it is the custom of the Church to erect a throne in the middle of councils, on which she places the Sacred Books as presiding over the assembly, occupying, as it were, the first place, and deciding with supreme authority. When celebrating Mass, she wishes that the faithful, during the reading of the Gospel, should all rise, and remain standing, to show their reverence for the sacred truths. We venerate the Scriptures as a sacred deposit bequeathed to us by the kindest of parents, containing truths of the highest moment, practical lessons of saving morality, and facts of history relating to the life of our divine Saviour, and the conduct of his disciples, eminently interesting and instructive. For all this we are very grateful.
Besides, the Scriptures come forward with a powerful aid, to support, by the evidence of the contents, both the divine authority of the Church, and the divine truths of the faith which we have received from her, applying that aid to each article, and giving a lustre to the whole. So Theophilus, when he read that admirable narration which St. Luke compiled for him, was more and more confirmed in the verity of things in which he had been instructed. (St. Luke, i. 1-4)
For those, however, who reject the divine authority of the Church, the holy Scriptures can no longer be authentic and inspired writings— they are for them no longer the word of God; for they have no one who can tell them, with divine certainty, what books are, and what are not, divinely inspired; they have no one who, in the name of God, can command them to believe in the divine inspiration of the writers of those books. Explaining them, as they do, according to their fancy, and translating them in a way favorable to their errors, they have, in the Scriptures, not the Gospel of Christ, but that of man or the devil, calculated only to confirm the ignorant in their errors, and the learned in their pride and self-sufficiency. We read, in the Gospel of St. Matthew and of St. Luke, that Satan hid himself under the shade of the Scripture when he tempted our divine Saviour. He quoted passages from holy Scripture, in order to tempt him to ambition and presumption. But he is answered: "Begone, Satan; it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Satan, being overcome, left for a time. But not long after, under the mask of Arius, Nestorius, Pelagius, Luther, Calvin, John Knox, Henry VIII., and a host of other heresiarchs, he renewed his attacks on Jesus Christ, in the person of the Catholic Church. This demon is heresy, which hides itself under the shade of Scripture. Were Satan to utter blasphemies, he would be known at once, and men would flee from him in horror. So he deceives them under the appearance of good; he repeats passages from holy Scripture, and men naturally listen to him, and are apt to believe and follow him. But the good Catholic answers him: “Begone, Satan! It is written, he that will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen and the publican.” (Matt. xviii. 16.) This is the great, the infallible, and the only rule of faith, that leads to him who gave it,—Jesus Christ.
''The heretics and Catholics to whom St. Dominic preached the Gospel put together in writing the strongest arguments in defense of their respective doctrines. The Catholic arguments were the work of St. Dominic, who confirmed the Catholic doctrine by many passages of Holy Scripture. The heretics, too, quoted Holy Scripture in confirmation of their doctrine. It was proposed that both writings should be committed to the flames, in order that God might declare, by his own interposition, which cause he favored. Accordingly, a great fire was made; and the two writings were cast into it: that of the heretics was immediately consumed to ashes, whilst that of the Catholic remained unhurt, after it had been cast into the fire three times, and taken out again.
This public miracle happened at Fanjaux; the fruit of it was the conversion of a great number of heretics of both sexes. The same kind of miracle happened at Montreal. St. Dominic drew up in writing a short exposition of the Catholic faith, with proof of each article from the New Testament. This writing he gave to the heretics to examine. Their ministers and chiefs, after much altercation about it, agreed to throw it into the fire, saying that, if it burned, they would regard the doctrine which it contained as false. Being cast thrice into the flames, it was not damaged.
Let us unceasingly thank Almighty God for the grace of being children of the Catholic Church. St. Francis de Sales exclaims: "O dear Lord! many and great are the blessings thou hast heaped on me, and I thank thee for them. But how shall I ever be able to thank thee for enlightening me with thy holy faith? O God! The beauty of they holy faith appears to me so enchanting, that I am dying with love of it; and I imagine I ought to enshrine this precious gift in a heart all perfumed with devotion.” St. Teresa never ceased to thank God for having made her a daughter of the holy Catholic Church. Her consolation at the hour of death was to cry out: “I die a child of the holy Church, I die a child of the holy Church.”
All this being undeniably true, by what right, then, does S. O. call false what is a well known fact and an undeniable truth? And does not he himself say: “The Protestant doctrine of the rule of faith, - each one’s private interpretation of the written word of God, - is unquestionably erroneous”? Does he not give himself the lie in these words? Can he understand anything else by private interpretation than the Catholic Church understands by it? He tries to make believe that no sensible Protestant believes he can interpret Holy Scripture as he pleases, just as little as he believes a private citizen has a right to interpret the laws of the State as he pleases; that he has to go by the decisions of the Supreme Court. Of course, every Protestant understands that he must go by the decisions of the Supreme Court. But does it follow therefrom that Protestants do not interpret the Bible as they please? What poor logic is this?
From the fact that no Protestant as a private citizen has a right to interpret the laws of the State, but must follow the decision of the Supreme Court, Protestants should, of course, understand that Almighty God did not leave his laws and written word to be interpreted by private individuals, but by the Roman Catholic Church, the supreme authority appointed by Jesus Christ to teach all men infallibly his doctrine, and interpret infallibly the written and unwritten word of God. But Protestants have rejected this divine teaching authority, and interpret the Bible by private interpretation. S. O. avows this to be wrong, but excuses Protestants for doing what is wrong, because “what seems so clear to us is not so clear to others who exist in a condition so different from ours that they cannot see things as we see them.” Why can they not? It is because they have no divine faith, and have rejected Christ and his teaching when they rejected the divine teacher - the Roman Catholic Church; and therefore we conclude again, that no one can be saved in such a faith.
§ 9. S. O. DECLARES WHOLLY UNTRUE WHAT HE CANNOT UNDERSTAND.
He goes on to say: “The reply of the book continues: - ‘A Christ who does not care what a man believes provided he be an honest man before the public’
“I cannot conceive how the author could have brought himself to pen that sentence. It is wholly untrue, beginning, middle, and end. The personality the author sets up as the Christ of Protestants is a caricature which the author should not have associated with the Holy Name."
Softly, S. O., softly; you have probably read two treatises, My Clerical Friends and Church Defence written by a celebrated English Convert. The able and pleasing writer has, by the strength and solidity of his reasoning, turned all church pretensions of the Anglicans into perfect ridicule.
His Eminence Cardinal Wiseman has left them not an inch of ground to stand on, and has blown their church pretensions to the winds.
“It is not difficult," says Brownson, “to turn Anglicans and their church pretensions into ridicule, and we confess that we have hardly ever been able to treat either seriously. As to the High Church party, his Eminence Cardinal Wiseman has left nothing to be said; he has left them not an inch of ground to stand on; and has blown their church pretensions to the winds. As for Low-Churchmen, or the Evangelicals - the Exeter Hall people - they hold from Calvin, and have no church pretensions at all. They are to be placed in the same category with Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Congregationalists, and Methodists, who place the essence of religion in emotion, and count dogma of no great importance, perhaps of none. They are unmistakably Protestants, and alternate between fanaticism and indifference.” You see, nothing but a caricature of Christ is left to these people.
Indeed, is not a caricature of a man left, after his arms, feet and head have been cut off? Would you not have a caricature of a Christ, if you were to deny either his divinity, or his humanity, or his human soul and will? Would you not have a caricature of baptism, if you baptized with wine, or in only the name of the Father, or only in the name of the Son, or only in the name of the Holy Ghost? Well, has not Protestantism lopped off the head off Christ’s body, which is the Catholic Church? Has it not lopped off the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist?; the divine Christian sacrifice offered in the Mass; confession of sins, most of the sacraments; the invocation of saints? Has it not tried to annihilate, if possible, the Head and Body of Christ—the Catholic Church, etc.? What has Protestantism left of Christ and his doctrine, except a caricature of Christ and a caricature of his religion? Hence St. Thomas says: “True faith is absolute faith in Christ and all his doctrine. Pagans and Jews, in publicly denying his divinity, are real infidels; but the heretic adopts or rejects the precepts of the Gospel according to his own private judgment, with full liberty of conscience. So this kind of doctrine, founded on private judgment, fantasy, and interest of individuals, is but a hideous carcass, a frightful skeleton of religion, and is no more the doctrine of Jesus Christ and his Church than that of Jews, Pagans, or Turks.” (Rev. E. O’ Donnell’s Comp. Theo. S. Thomas, vol. 2. chapt. iii.) O great St. Thomas, and Angelic Doctor of the Church! Had S. O. lived at the time when you published those words, he would have called them wholly untrue, beginning, middle, and end. He would never have forgiven you for calling Protestant doctrine a hideous carcass, a frightful skeleton of religion, and for saying that it is no more the doctrine of Christ and his Church than that of Jews, Pagans, or Turks. In the days of St. Thomas Aquinas it would also have been very difficult to find an editor of a newspaper who, like the Rev. Father Cronin, would have cheerfully endorsed the doctrine of S. O.
Alas! he cannot see the difference between divine and human faith--between the faith of Catholics and that of Protestants, how could he see and understand the consequences of Protestant belief? He never learned logic enough to draw right conclusions from right premises. Not being able to see that our answer is a very natural conclusion from its premises—the belief of Protestants in Christ, he impudently calls it wholly untrue, beginning, middle, and end. How far the beginning of the answer goes, where the middle of it begins, and how far it goes, and where the end of it begins, he does not tell, nor does he give the least reason why the beginning of the answer is wholly untrue, nor does he prove that the middle and end of it are false. All proud ignorant men give such answers, when they are unable to give a better one. It is an answer that a Protestant preacher may give, but is not expected from S. O. If this is not for him the way to tell the truth, and shame the devil, it is most assuredly the best way to shame himself.
As we have explained to him the premises of our answer, we must now also make clear to him the conclusion--the answer drawn from its premises. He says quite correctly that “the personality of the author (Rev. M. Muller, C. SS. R.) sets up as the Christ of Protestants is a caricature which the author should not have associated with the Holy Name” Well, is there any worse caricature of Christ than the personality of Antichrist, as described in Holy Scripture? And yet, how often does not Holy Scripture associate this caricature of Christ with the Holy Name when speaking of the true Christ? But be it remembered that, as the apostasy of the Gentiles from the Patriarchal faith brought forth the worst caricatures of the true God, - idols and idol-worship, so, in like manner, the apostasy of Protestants from the true Catholic faith in Christ will finally bring forth the worst caricature of the true Christ - the personality of Antichrist.
A body which has lost the principle of its animation becomes dust. Hence it is an axiom that the change or perversion of the principles by which anything is produced is the destruction of that very thing. If you can change or pervert the principles from which anything springs, you destroy it. For instance, one single foreign element introduced into the blood produces death; one false assumption admitted into science destroys its certainty; one false principle admitted into faith and morals is fatal. The so-called Reformers started wrong. They would reform the Church by placing her under human control. Their successors have, in each generation, found they did not go far enough, and have, each in turn, struggled to push it further and further, till they find themselves without any Church life, without faith, without religion, and beginning to doubt if there be a God. It is a well-known fact that, before the so-called Reformation, infidels were scarcely known in the Christian world. Since that event they have come forth in swarms. It is therefore historically correct that the same principle that created Protestantism three centuries ago has never ceased, since that time, to spin it out into a thousand different sects, and has concluded by covering Europe and America with that multitude of free-thinkers and infidels who place countries on the verge of ruin.
The individual reason taking, as it does, the place of faith, the true Protestant, whether he believes it or not, is an infidel in germ, and an infidel is a Protestant in full bloom. In other words, infidelity is nothing but Protestantism in the highest degree. Hence it is that Edgar Quinet, a great herald of Protestantism, is right in styling the Protestant sects the thousand gates open to get out of Christianity.
No wonder, then, that thousands of Protestants have ended and continue to end in framing their own formula thus: I believe in nothing." And here I ask, what is easier, from this state of religion and infidelity, than the passage to idolatry?
This assertion may seem incredible to some at this day, and may be considered an absurdity; but idolatry is expressly mentioned in the Apocalypse as existing in the time of Antichrist. And, indeed, our surprise will much abate, if we take into consideration the temper and disposition of the present times. When men divest themselves, as they seem to do at present, of all fear of the Supreme Being, of all respect of their Creator and Lord; when they surrender themselves to the gratification of sensuality; when they give full freedom to the human passions, and direct their whole study to the pursuits of a corrupt world, with a total forgetfulness of a future state; when they give children a godless education, and have no longer any religion to teach them, may we not say that the transition to idolatry is easy? When all the steps to a certain point are taken, what wonder if we arrive at that point? Such was the gradual degeneracy of mankind in the early ages of the world, that brought on the abominable practices of idol-worship.
Of course, it will be said that we have the happiness of living in the most enlightened of all ages; our knowledge is more perfect, our ideas more developed and refined, the human faculties more improved and better cultivated, than they ever were before; in fine, that the present race of mankind may be reckoned a society of philosophers, when compared to the generations that have gone before. How is it possible, then, that such stupidity can seize upon the human mind as to sink it into idolatry?
This kind of reasoning is more specious than solid. For, allowing the present times to surpass the past in refinement and knowledge, it must be said that they are proportionately more vicious. Refinement of reason has contributed, as every one knows, to refine upon the means of gratifying the human passions.
Besides, however enlightened the mind may be supposed to be, if the heart is corrupt, the excesses into which a man will run are evidenced by daily experience.
Witness our modern spiritism (spiritualism). What else is our modern spiritualism than a revival of the old heathen idol-worship?
Satan is constantly engaged in doing all in his power to entice men away from God, and to have himself worshipped instead of the Creator. The introduction, establishment, persistence, and power of the various cruel, revolting superstitions of the ancient heathen world, or of pagan nations in modern times, are nothing but the work of the devil. They reveal a more than human power. God permitted Satan to operate upon man’s morbid nature, as a deserved punishment upon the Gentiles for their hatred of truth and their apostasy from the primitive religion. Men left to themselves, to human nature alone, however low they might be prone to descend, never could descend so low as to worship wood and stone, four-footed beasts, and creeping things. To do this needs satanic delusion.
Paganism in its old form was doomed. Christianity had silenced the oracles and driven the devils back to hell. How was the devil to re-establish his worship on earth, and carry on his war against the Son of God and the religion which he taught us? Evidently only by changing his tactics and turning the truth into a lie. He found men in all the heresiarchs who, like Eve, gave ear to his suggestions, and believed him more than the Infallible Word of Jesus Christ. Thus he has succeeded in banishing the true religion from whole countries, or in mixing it with false doctrines. He has prevailed upon thousands to believe the doctrines of vain, self-conceited men, rather than the religion taught by Jesus Christ and his Apostles. It is by heresies, revolutions, bad secret societies, and godless State school education, that he has succeeded so far as to bring thousands of men back to a state of heathenism and infidelity. The time has come for him to introduce idolatry, or his own worship. To do this he makes use of spiritualism. Through the spirit-mediums he performs lying wonders. He gives pretended revelations from the spirit-world, in order to destroy or weaken all faith in divine revelation. He thus strives to re-establish in Christian lands that very same devil-worship which has so long existed among heathen nations, and which our Lord Jesus Christ came to destroy. The Holy Scriptures assure us that all the gods of the heathens are devils (“Omnes dii gentium doemonia.” --Ps.) These demons took possession of the idols made of wood or stone, of gold or silver; they had temples erected in their honor; they had their sacrifices, their priests, and their priestesses. They uttered oracles. They were consulted through their mediums in all affairs of importance, and especially in order to find out the future, precisely as they are consulted by our modern spiritualists at the present day.
In modern spiritualism the devil communicates with men by means of tables, chairs, tablets, or planchette; or by rapping, writing, seeing and speaking mediums. It is all the same to the devil, whether he communicates with men and leads them astray by means of idols, or by means of tables, chairs, planchette, and the like.
Assuredly, if the philosopher is not governed by the power of religion, his conduct will be absurd and even despicable to the most ignorant individual of the lowest rank.
Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, are said to have been acquainted with the knowledge of one Supreme God; but they had not courage to profess his worship, and in their public conduct basely sacrificed to stocks and stones with the vulgar. When men have banished from their heart the sense of religion, and despise the rights of justice, (and is this not the case with numbers?) will many of them scruple to offer incense to a statue, if by so doing they serve their ambition, their interest, or whatever may be their favorite passion? Where is the cause for surprise, then, if infidelity and irreligion be succeeded by idolatry? That pride alone, when inflamed, when inflamed with a constant flow of prosperity, may raise a man to the extravagant presumption of claiming for himself divine honors, we see in the example of Alexander, the celebrated Macedonian conqueror, and of several emperors of Babylon and ancient Rome. From suggestions of that same principle of pride, it will happen that Antichrist, elevated by a continued course of victories and conquests, will set himself up for a god. And as at that time the propagation of infidelity, irreligion, and immorality will have become universal, this defection from faith, disregard for its teachers, licentiousness in opinions, depravity in morals, will so far deaden all influence of religion, and cause such degeneracy in mankind, that many will be base enough even espouse idolatry, to yield to the absurd impiety of worshipping the worst caricature of Christ, Antichrist, as their Lord and some out of fear for what they may lose, others to gain what they covet.
Then will it be evident to all that infidelity, and even idolatry, existed in the Protestant principle of private judgment, as the oak exists in the acorn, as the consequence is in the premise; or, in other words, that this principle was but a powerful weapon of Satan to carry on his war against Christ; of the sons of Belial to fight the keepers of the law; of false anti-social liberty to destroy true and rational liberty - to make worshippers of the devil out of the worshippers of God.
§ 10. S. O. AVOWS THAT OUR CONCLUSION IS CORRECT, BUT TELLS MORE D—D LIES.
S. O. continues to quote from our Explanation of Christian Doctrine and to comment on it.
“Q. Will such a faith in such a Christ save Protestants? Ans. No sensible man will assert such an absurdity."
“The answer is correct, for such a faith in such a Christ would bring about such a salvation as every sensible man would be perfectly willing to resign to such an author."
We have shown in our Explanation that the Roman Catholic Church only is the true Church of Jesus Christ; —that Christ's doctrine is to be found only in this true Church; that only the members of this Church have absolute divine faith in Christ and in all that he has done for salvation; that only in this divine faith salvation is possible, because it is the foundation of justification; we have shown that Protestants have rejected all divine faith in Jesus Christ and in his doctrine; that, by rejecting Christ's Church, they have rejected Christ himself and his doctrine, and that therefore, we say, it is an absurdity for people to believe that they can be saved in their faith, which is but a human invention which has led and still leads to the kinds of abominations. But as S. O. seems to have so much faith and confidence in the faith of Protestants in Christ, all Catholics are perfectly willing not to disturb him in his honest belief and in his invincible ignorance. But at the same time we protest against the lies he tells in his continuation of the above answer, namely:
“It is strange how some pious and good people consider it their religious duty and pleasure to see to it that their dissenting neighbors are properly and comfortably damned. They remind one of certain persons immortalized in Hudibras, who:—
‘Compound for sins they are inclined to
BY damning those they have no mind to,'
or words to that effect.”
Here S. O. most impudently asserts that some pious and good people (Catholics, especially the Rev. M. Muller, C. S. S. R., the author of Explanation of Christian Doctrine consider it their religious duty and pleasure ! to see to it that their dissenting neighbors are properly and comfortably—damned !
Did ever a more infamous calumny come from the lips of a heretic against Catholics! Alas! the Rev. Editor of the B. C. U. and T. solemnly assures us that the above words come neither from a Jew nor from a heretic; he solemnly assures us that they were written by the most prominent priest in the U. S. , and he has cheerfully endorsed them and had them printed for the benefit of the readers of the C. U. and T.
See, how, in plain words, S. O. gives himself the lie in palpable and shameful manner by quoting from our Explanation the following answer:—
“Q. What are we to think of the salvation of those who are out of the pale of the Church without any fault of theirs, and who never had any opportunity of knowing better? Ans. Their inculpable ignorance will not save them; but if they fear God and live up to their conscience, God, in his infinite mercy, will furnish them with the necessary means of salvation, even so as to send, if needed, an angel to instruct them in the Catholic faith, rather than let them perish through inculpable ignorance.”
Alas! what a shame for S. O. to fall from one abyss of lies and false assertions into another!
§ 11. S. O. DECLARES THAT THE FINAL SENTENCE OF THE ETERNAL JUDGE ON THE LAST DAY WILL FALL ONLY UPON BAD CATHOLICS – FROM HIS OWN ARGUMENT IT IS PROVED THAT PROTESTANTS TOO ARE INCLUDED IN THAT SENTENCE.
He quotes again:—
“Q. What will Christ say to them on the day of judgment? Ans. I know you not, because you never knew me.”
“It is not,” he says, “special pleading for me to take the author at his word, since his argument is that Protestants do not know the true Christ, and to say that at the day of judgment no man will be condemned by Christ because he never knew Him. No man will be condemned on account of his ignorance, neither Protestant, nor heathen, nor, I may add, Catholic either. He can be condemned only because, when knowing Christ, he has refused to accept Him, to believe in Him, to do His will and keep His commandments. Instead of our Lords’ saying that to Protestants, who never knew the truth of his doctrines as taught by the Catholic Church, it is those Catholics he threatens to disown who, knowing Him, have denied Him by their sinful lives, —who, knowing the will of the Lord, did it not. “And he shall say to you: I know you not whence you are, depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” (St. Luke, xiii. 26-27).”
As it is not special pleading for S. O. to take the Author of Explanation at his word, because the Author's argument is that Protestants do not know the true Christ, it will, anyhow, be special pleading for the author of Explanation to take S. O. at his word, since his argument has been all along that Protestants do know the true Christ and believe precisely what the Catholic Church teaches concerning Christ. If S. O. then declares that the above sentence affects “those Catholics who, knowing Christ, have denied him by their sinful lives, - who, knowing the will of the Lord, did it not," he must also, for the very same reason, declare that those Protestants, too, are included in the sentence of the eternal judge, who, knowing Christ, have denied him by their sinful lives, - who, knowing the will of the Lord, did it not.
As S. O., like Protestants, uses his own private interpretation of Holy Scripture, at least of the above sentence of the eternal judge, contrary to what the Vatican Council declared on this subject, we here add what St. Augustine (Serm. 23.) says concerning those words of Christ, “I know you not." “If he who knows all things," says this great Doctor of the Church, declares ‘I know you not,’ he means to say, “I reprobate you," because I never knew you as belonging to my fold by absolute, divine faith in all my words and in all I have done for your salvation, and so you have always remained separated from me, and therefore I reprobate you."
S. O. will do well to reflect on this interpretation of the above final sentence of Christ. We also submit to his examination the following words of Christ, which he and all his Protestant friends will hear on the day of doom.
"He that shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels." (Mark. viii. 38.) In this text it is stated in the plainest terms that to be ashamed, not only of Christ, but also of his words, that is, of his doctrine, of his religion, and consequently of his Church, - the depositary of that faith, - is a mortal sin, and will entail on the soul eternal damnation. But if to be ashamed of Christ and his doctrine will condemn the soul to hell, how much more the denying of Christ and of his, the holy Catholic, Church! Is not S. O. to a certain degree ashamed of Christ and of his doctrine when he says so much in favor of Protestant belief, and so very little in favor of Catholic faith; when he declares that we have misrepresented Catholic and Protestant doctrines; when he asserts that the proofs we gave and which are given by the best theologians for the truth that there is no salvation out of the Church, are false, etc., etc.? Is it not to deny, to a certain degree, Christ and his doctrine, when he declares that the faith of Protestants in Christ is precisely the same as that of Catholics? Is not this as much to say: The devil’s religion is as good as that of God; falsehood is as good as truth; counterfeit Christianity is as good as true Christianity; human faith is as good as divine faith; the way to hell is as good as the way to heaven?
O happy Protestants! A little while ago, S. O. said of you, that “you believe precisely what the Catholic Church teaches, namely, that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, etc. ; that Protestants believe all that the Catholic Church believes of the facts of his divine life, miracles, passion, death and resurrection. This is an undeniable truth.” And now he says, “that you never knew the truth of Christ’s doctrines as taught by the Catholic Church;” and what he called an undeniable truth, he here denies in plain words. He also says of you that “the Protestant doctrine of the rule of faith, - each one’s private interpretation of the written Word of God, is unquestionably erroneous, and immediately after he says that you do not believe in this rule. He says that Protestants are in error as to the divine will. This we know; but on account of this error, they are not guilty before God; and then again he partly denies this assertion by saying that willful, obstinate, truth-rejecting Protestants are guilty.” What a consolation for Protestants to learn these infallible oracles from S. O., to be assured by him that the words of Christ, “I know you not whence you are, all ye workers of iniquity," will be addressed, not to Protestants, but only to Catholics; to learn from him for certain that “no man will be condemned on account of his ignorance, neither Protestant, nor heathen, nor Catholic either." Although all Catholic theologians teach that culpable ignorance of the means of salvation and of our great duties is a mortal sin, yet he emphatically assures every Protestant, every heathen, and every Catholic that "no man will be condemned on account of his ignorance." If your ignorance has been inculpable, so much the better, because, though you should commit sins against your conscience, yet you will not be condemned, because no one is condemned on account of such inculpable ignorance! What dazzling theological light beams forth for modern Protestants from the infallible oracles of S. O! How consoling for them to be quite sure that in this case; as in every other, he has displayed his customary omniscience. Catholic theology, dogmatic and moral, logic, history of the Catholic Church and of society, as every one can see, are his strong points. He might possibly err in other matters, but not in these. The less fortunate ancestors of modern Protestants had no such guide. What little help they could get from the writings of St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church, they had; but the surer and more luminous teaching of S. O., communicated through the Catholic U. and T. of Buffalo, was reserved for the Protestants of the present generation. The sun of that journal has not been long above the horizon. It arose to receive and to reflect upon its readers the electric theological rays of one of the greatest oracles that ever lived - who looks upon himself as an apostle of enlightenment and measures the success of his enlightenment by the success he hopes to have in persuading, not only Catholics, but especially Protestants, and even the heathen, to believe that the Rev. M. Muller, C.SS.R., has in his Explanation misrepresented Catholic and Protestant belief - God and the devil.
§ 12. S. O. DECLARES THE HONEST LIFE OF PROTESTANTS A STANDING REPROACH TO BAD CATHOLICS.
"Many Protestants," says S. O., "by reason of their honest, upright, and charitable lives, are a standing reproach to bad Catholics."
We teach, indeed, and we firmly believe, that there is no salvation out of the Catholic Church; yet we do not teach that all who are members of the Catholic Church will be saved. "Certainly, in our cities and large towns," says Dr. O. A. Brownson, "aye, even in small villages of our great country, may be found many so-called liberal or nominal Catholics, who are no credit to our religion, to their spiritual Mother, the Church. Subjected as they were, in the land of their birth, to the restraints imposed by Protestant or quasi-Protestant governments, they feel, on coming here, that they are loosed from all restraint; and forgetting the obedience that they owe to their pastors, to the prelates whom the Holy Ghost has placed over them, they become insubordinate, and live more like non-Catholics than Catholics. The children of these are, to a great extent shamefully neglected and suffered to grow up without sufficient moral and religious instruction, and to become the recruits of our vicious population. This is certainly to be deplored, but can easily be explained without prejudice to the truth and holiness of the Catholic religion, by adverting to the condition to which those individuals were reduced before coming to this country; to their disappointments in a strange land; to their exposure to new and unlooked for temptations; to the fact that they were by no means the best of Catholics, even in their native countries; to their poverty, destitution, ignorance, insufficient culture, and a certain natural shiftlessness and recklessness as well as to the great lack of Catholic schools, Churches, and fervent priests. As low and degraded as this class of the Catholic population may be, they are not so low as the corresponding class of non-Catholics in every nation; at the worst, there is always some germ that, with proper care, may be nursed into life, that may blossom and bear fruit. Their mother, the Church, never ceases to warn them to repent and be cleansed from their sins by the sacrament of penance. If they do not heed the voice of their mother, but continue to live in sin to the end of their lives, their condemnation will be greater than that of those who were born in an inheritance of error, and whose minds have never been penetrated by the light of truth. 'That servant,' says Jesus Christ, 'who knew the will of his Lord, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.' (Luke, xii. 47.)
No doubt, it is, generally speaking, far more easy to reconcile with God a disedifying Catholic, who has not renounced the faith, than to get a Protestant so far as to renounce his errors, and prejudices, and secret sins that he may be addicted to, and to do all that is necessary to obtain forgiveness. How many Catholics have there been, who, for several years, led disedifying lives, and afterwards became models of virtue, even great saints. A disedifying Catholic, no doubt, displeases God on account of his sins, but not on account of his faith. A Protestant, however, cannot please God, as long as he remains without divine faith, without which it is impossible to please God, says the Holy Ghost in Holy Scripture. And if faith, without good works, is dead to a certain degree, it should be remembered that good works performed without divine faith are also dead.
What right, therefore, has S. O. to say that, by reason of their honest, upright, and charitable lives, many Protestants are a standing reproach to bad Catholics. It would have been more honorable for him, it would have done more good to Protestants, if he had said that the millions of Catholics in Ireland and other countries, who have died for their faith in the persecutions they had to suffer from Protestants, are a standing reproach to all kinds of Protestants; that the lives of virginity and self-sacrifice that so
many saintly Catholics lead, especially thousands of holy sisters, brothers, and priests, is a standing reproach to Protestants as long as they live in heresy.
§ 13. S. O. 's PHARISAICAL LANGUAGE.
"This Explanation," says S. O., " is a book which wounds the sincere Protestant who is honestly seeking the truth, and causing him to turn hopelessly and despairingly from the true spouse of Christ his Redeemer."
There is nothing in which the great Apostle of the Gentiles seems more to glory than in his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, and in the sincerity of his heart in delivering to the world the sacred truths of eternity pure and uncorrupted. He was not ashamed of these divine truths; he rejoiced when he was called to suffer for them; he had no worldly interest in view in preaching them; he sought not the esteem and favor of men in delivering them; his only view was to promote the honor of his blessed Master, and to gain souls to him, and therefore he had no idea of using flattering words, or of accommodating the doctrine of the Gospel to the humors of men.
He knew that the truths revealed by Jesus Christ are unalterable; that " heaven and earth shall pass away, but his words shall never pass away; " and that, therefore, to corrupt these sacred words, though but in one single article, would be " a perverting the Gospel of Christ" (Gal. i.7), a sin so grievous, that the Holy Ghost, by his mouth, pronounces a curse upon any one, though an angel from heaven, who shall dare to be guilty of it. Hence he describes his own conduct in preaching the Gospel as follows;
" Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, in what; manner I have been with you for all the time ... How I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have preached it to you, and taught you publicly, and from house to house." (Acts xx. 18, 20.) " We had confidence in our God, to speak to you the Gospel of God in much carefulness; ... not not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts; for neither have we used at any time the speech of flattery, as you know, nor taken occasion of covetousness; God is witness. Nor sought we glory of men, neither of you, nor of others." (I. Thess. ii. 2, 4.) " For we are not as many, adulterating the Word of God; but with sincerity, as from God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ." (II Cor. ii. 17.) " We renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the Word of God, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God; for we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord" (II. Cor. iv. 2, 5) "Do I speak to please men? If I yet pleased men I should not be a servant of Christ." (Gal. i. 10.) Now, "Christ sent me to preach the Gospel, not in
wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void; for the word of the cross to them, indeed, that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God . . . And it pleased God by the foolishness of our preaching to save them that believe . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men . . . and the foolish things of the world God hath chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen that he may confound the strong . . . that no flesh should glory in his sight." (I. Cor. i. 17.) " But I am not ashamed of the Gospel; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Rom. i. 16.) And therefore, " I, when I came among you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of Christ; and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in showing of the Spirit, and in power; that your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (I. Cor. ii. 1.)
The Church of Christ, animated by the same divine spirit of truth which inspired this holy Apostle, has at all times regulated her conduct according to the model set before her in his own words and example. " Earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints " (Jude, ver. 3.) her continual care is " to keep that which is committed to her trust" pure and undefiled, " avoiding all profane novelties of words" (I. Tim. vi. 20.), that the sacred words of God, "once put into her mouth, may never depart from her, from henceforth and for ever." (Isa. lix. 21.) She therefore knows not what it is to temporize in religion, in order to please men, nor to adulterate the Gospel of Christ to humor them; she declares the sacred truths revealed by Jesus Christ in their original simplicity, without seeking to adorn them with the persuasive words of human wisdom, much less
to disguise them in a garb not their own. Truth, plain, and unadorned, is the only weapon she employs against her adversaries, regardless of their censure or their approbation. " This is the truth," she says, " revealed by God; this ye must embrace, or ye can have no part with him." If the world look upon what she says as foolishness, she is not surprised, for she knows that " the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God ; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand " (I. Cor. ii. 14.), but that " the foolishness of God is wiser than men "; and pitying this blindness, she earnestly prays God to enlighten them, " with modesty admonishing them, . . . if, peradventure, God may give them repentance to know the truth." (II. Tim. ii. 25.)
If ever there was a time when this conduct of the Church was necessary, the present age seems particularly to demand it. At present the gates of hell seem opened, and infidelity of every kind stalks lawless on the earth; the sacred truths of religion are reviled and denied, the Gospel; adulterated by countless contradictory interpretations; its original simplicity disfigured by loftiness of speech and the persuasive words of human wisdom. A thousand condescensions and compliances are admitted and received, by which the purity of faith and morals greatly suffers, and the " narrow way that leads to life," is converted into the " broad road that leads to destruction." This observation applies particularly to that latitudinarian opinion, so common nowadays, that a man may be saved in any religion, provided he lives a good moral life according to the light he has; for, by this, the faith of Christ is made void, and the Gospel rendered of no avail. A Jew, a Mahometan, a heathen, a deist, an atheist, are all comprehended in this scheme, and if they live a good moral life, have an equal right to salvation with a Christian! To be a member of the Church of Christ is no longer necessary; for whether we belong to her or not, if we live a good moral life, we are in the way of salvation! What a wide field does this open to human passions! What license does it give to the caprice of the human mind! It is therefore of the utmost consequence to state and to show plainly the revealed Catholic truth that " there is no salvation out of the Catholic Church."
A strong, vigorous, and uncompromising presentation of this Catholic truth must be made against those soft, weak, timid, liberalizing Catholics, who labor to explain away all the points of Catholic faith offensive to non-Catholics, and to make it appear that there is no question of life and death, of heaven and hell, involved in the differences between us and Protestants. This truth is hated by many, we know, and yet it is a truth revealed by God to his Church for our salvation.
St. Thomas asks the question: " Can man hate truth?" and he answers: " Truth in general never provokes hatred, but it can in a particular manner. As to good, which is always desireable, no one could resist its attractions or hate it ; but it is not the same in regard to truth. Truth, in general, is always in harmony with our nature, but it may happen in certain cases that it is not agreeable to our feelings and prejudice. Hence St. Augustine says: ' man likes the splendor and beauty of truth, but he cannot bear its precepts and remonstrances.' The great Apostle says likewise : ' Am I then become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?' " (Gal. iv. 16.)
St. Thomas also asks the question: " Should Christ have preached to the Jews without offending them? "
The salvation of the people is preferable to the caprice and bigotry of individuals. If their perversity and fanaticism is huffed at what the true minister of God preaches, he , must not be daunted and troubled on that account, for the Word of God is free, in spite of tongue and sword. If the truth scandalizes the wicked, says St. Gregory, it is better to suffer their scandal than to discontinue the doctrine of grace and truth. Who were those who took offence at our Saviour's doctrine? A small number of fanatic Scribes and Pharisees, full of hypocrisy and wickedness, who, through malice and jealousy, opposed the divine doctrine, which alone could save and sanctify the people. " Let them alone," said our divine Saviour, " they are blind, and if the blind leads the blind they shall both fall into the pit." (Matt.xv. 14.)
"At the time of the Vatican Cauncil," says Cardinal Manning, " there were some who thought that the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope should not he defined, lest schismatics and heretics should be repelled yet further from the Church. But their reason was not good. The reason that prevailed for the definition of the dogma in question was that Catholics have a right to be taught by the Council what they are to believe in so weighty a matte, lest the pernicious error of the time should in the end infect simple minds and the masses of the people unawares. Hence it was that the Fathers of Lyons and of Trent deemed themselves bound to establish the doctrine of the truth, not withstanding the offence that might be taken by schismatics heretics. For if these seek the truth in sincerity, they will not be repelled, but, on the contrary, drawn towards us, when they see on what foundations chiefly repose the truths taught by the Catholic Church. But should any of them feel repelled by stating the truth, they are only such as seek a pretext for not joining the Catholic Church. (See Postulatum of Vat. Counc.)
If we desire that all those who are not members of the Catholic Church should cease to deceive themselves as to the true character of their belief, and propose to them considerations which may contribute to that result, it is certainly not from enmity to their persons, nor from indifference to their welfare. As long as they remain victims of a delusion as gross as that which makes the Jew still cling to his abolished synagogue, and which only a miracle of grace can dispel, some of them will probably resent the counsel of their truest friends; but why should they take as for enemies. " The Christian," says Tertullian, " is the enemy of no one," not even of his persecutors. He hates heresy because God hates it; but he has only compassion for those who are caught in its snares. Whether he exhorts or reproves them, he displays not malice, but charity. He knows that they are, of all men, the most helpless; and when his voice of warning is, most vehement, he is only doing what the Church has done from the beginning. His voice is but the echo of hers. We are told that, before the Council of Nice, she had already condemned thirty-eight different heresies; and in every case she pronounced anathema upon those who held them. And she was as truly the mouthpiece of God in her judicial as in her teach ing office.
The Church is, indeed, uncompromising in matters of truth. Truth is the honor of the Church. The Church is the most honorable of all societies. She is the highest standard of honor because she judges all things in the light of God, who is the source of all honor. A man who has no love for the truth, a man who tells a wilful lie or takes a false oath, is considered dishonored. No one cares for him, and it would be unreasonable to accuse of intolerance or bigotry because he refuses to associate with a man who has no love for the truth. It would be just as unreasonable to accuse the Catholic Church of intolerance, or bigotry, or want of charity, because she excludes from her society, and pronounces anathema upon, those who have no regard for the truth, and remain wilfully out of her communion.
If the Church believed that men could be saved in any religion whatever, or without any at all, it would be uncharitable in her to announce to the world that out of her there is no salvation. But as she knows and maintains that there is but one faith, as there is but one God and Lord of all, and that she is in possession of that one faith, and that without that faith it is impossible to please God, and be saved, it would be very uncharitable in her and in all her children, to hide Christ's doctrine from the world. To warn our neighbor when he is in imminent danger of falling into a deep abyss, is considered an act of great charity. It is a greater act of charity to warn non-Catholics of the certain danger in which they are of falling into the abyss of hell, since Jesus Christ, and the Apostles themselves, and all their successors, have always most emphatically asserted that out of the church there is no salvation.
This answer, we think, is plain enough for S. O. The heretical animus, which characterizes his Queer Explanation throughout, is calculated only to keep honest Protestants as far from the Catholic Church as ever.