Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 135.

SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.

CHAPTER V.

Popery as Ancient as Christianity.


SECTION I.—NO CHRISTIAN CHURCH TEACHING A DOCTRINE OPPOSITE TO POPERY, EVER APPEARED IN THE WORLD BEFORE IT.

Tis morally impossible, that a considerable revolution should happen either in Church, or state, without being; ever taken notice of by any historian writing in or about the time, when it happened. Nay, the thing is contrary not only to experience, but the very immediate end of history, which is to instruct posterity in the knowledge of what has happened in former ages; and though transactions of the greatest moment may be mangled, and disguised b}' authors according as they are affected, they can never be wholly overlooked, or omitted by them.

This is particularly true in reference to any considerable changes in religion: because such changes being the constant source of extraordinary events, by causing disturbances, and many times entire revolutions in the state, can never escape the notice of an historian. And a person may as soon make me believe the greatest contradiction in nature, as that such changes may really happen, and not to be mentioned in any history of that state, or kingdom, in which they happened.

What historian has ever written the life of Queen Elizabeth, but made the changes in religion, and the establishment of the reformation in England, the principal subject of his history ? The same may be said of those, who wrote the lives of the first Christian emperors, whose histories are all filled with ample relations of the heresies, that started up in their times, and the disturbances they occasioned both in Church and state: the opposition they met with: the princes that favored them, the fathers that wrote against them, the councils wherein they were condemned, etc. Nay, I dare challenge any Protestant to name me one considerable heresy, I mean, what both Papists and Protestants own to be a heresy, whereof there is not a particular account in some history of note. As, who was the first author of it: where and when it was first broached: what progress it made: what influence it had upon the affairs of Christendom: what bishops opposed it: what books were written against it; what councils called to condemn it: and other such particulars, as are a full evidence for the truth of the main fact.

Hence I infer first, That an universal silence of historians in relation to any considerable change in matters of religion is a proof amounting to a moral demonstration, that there never happened any such change.

I infer secondly, That to accuse any Church of gross errors, whereof no particular author, or beginning is to be found in any authentic record, is a mere groundless charge, and cannot be maintained with any color of justice, or reason.

It is upon these two principles I shall ground my argument to prove, that the doctrine called Popery, is as ancient as Christianity: and I have endeavored to set the whole matter in as clear a light as is possible in the following manner.

If the doctrine called Popery, be not as ancient as Christianity, then Protestancy, as far as it is directly opposite to it, must be the religion which Christ and his Apostles established in the world. I presume all Protestants will readily grant this. Nay, if I am not under a very great mistake, it is what they principally contend for. Because the most plausible thing, they can say for themselves, is, that the whole business of the reformation was to recover religion from the corruptions introduced into it, and bring it back to its ancient purity.

But it follows hence, that there have been two great changes in the state of the Christian religion, since its first establishment by Christ and his Apostles. The first, from Protestancy to Popery, (for Popery had full possession of the whole visible Church for many hundred years before the reformation^) The second, from Popery to Protestantism, which was affected by that reformation. These two changes, therefore, must be clearly made out from the incontestible evidence of authentic histories and records. For if it cannot be thus evidently proved, that the first change, viz.: " from Protestancy to Popery," happened as really and truly, as the second, viz.: " Popery to Protestantism," then it will follow, that Protestancy never had a being before Popery; the consequence whereof will be, that Popery had its beginning from the very time of the Apostles.

Now these two changes, if they both really happened, may be called at least equally great. Nay, the first, viz.: " from Protestancy to Popery," appears evidently far more difficult, than the second, by reason of some doctrines in the Church of Rome, which, if they were not taught by the Apostles could never be introduced but with the greatest difficulty imaginable. I shall instance in a few.