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.
But St. Paul foresaw no such change. He doubted not, but Christ would be forever faithful to his spouse; and as the most effectual pledge of his love, " present her to himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Eph. v. v. 27. He therefore, calls the Church, "the pillar and ground of truth." 1 Tim. iii. v. 15, which would be flatly false, if she were capable of teaching anything contrary to God's revealed word. For the same reason, Christ himself has declared, that "he, who will not hear the Church, shall be reputed as a heathen and a publican." Matt, xviii. v. 17. And can any man deserve these infamous characters, for not hearing a Church, that shall teach false doctrine ? Finally, for the same reason, Christ has pronounced, that, "he who believes shall be saved, and he who believes not shall be damned." Mark xvi. v. 16. But what is it we are bound to believe under pain of eternal damnation ? It is, doubtless, the doctrine of that Church, which Christ established on earth: for there can be no other true one. And is it possible, that Christ should oblige mankind under pain of eternal damnation, to believe a Church, which he foresaw, would seduce them in process of time ? Shall a man be damned for not believing a seducer?
This implies a contradiction to another part of Christ's own doctrine, who expressly commands us " to beware of false prophets." Matt, vii. v. 15. For if we are bound to beware of them, and yet the Church herself may turn false prophet, and mislead us; then we are both commanded to beware of her, and at the same time, threatened with eternal damnation, if we refuse to believe her. What strange stuff is this! What incoherence do men run themselves into, when they once abandon the truth? But Christ in commanding us to beware of false prophets, has set a mark of infamy upon all broachers of new doctrine to distinguish them from his Church, which therefore, he commands us to believe under pain of eternal damnation; and by laying this command upon us, he showed plainly, that it was his intention to establish an infallible Church upon earth: a Church, that should be a safe and unerring guide, to those who followed her doctrine: finally, a Church, that should be taught and guided by the spirit of truth, even unto the end of the world.
Thus we see the many sacred testimonies, upon which the belief of an infallible Church is founded. I know very well, that no text of holy scripture is so clear, but persons of much wit and little sincerity, may find interpretations to perplex it, or set it in a false light. The true sense of it, may be eluded by precarious distinctions, or perverted by false glosses: as scarce any man can express himself so clearly, but wit and malice may put a misconstruction upon his words. But the question is not, whether the texts I have produced, may with some pain and study, be interpreted otherwise, than the Roman Catholic Church has always understood them, but whether in their natural, obvious, and literal sense, they do not lead an unbiased reader to the idea and belief of an infallible Church? This certainly is a point, which deserves to be taken seriously into consideration, by all sincere lovers of truth.