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.
I prove it, secondly, In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Church of Rome was the only Christian Church upon earth, that could show a perpetual visibility from the time of the Apostles down to that age. For the reformed churches began not to creep out of the shell till the year 1517; and the Greek Church, (considered precisely as a schismatical Church), began about the middle of the ninth century.
Now then, the true Church of Christ was either always visible, or she was invisible for several hundred years before the sixteenth century. If she was always visible, and if the Church of Rome was not this true Church of Christ, to which all his promises of infallibility were made, then Protestants are bound to mark out distinctly, in what other external communion, or visible society of men the true Church of Christ subsisted for the space of 1500 years before the reformation. Which if they pretend to do, then I infer these two consequences from it: 1. That the Church of England ought to have received her ordination and mission from this true visible Church of Christ, and not from the anti-Christian and idolatrous Church of Rome (as Protestants commonly style her), from which notwithstanding the Church of England labors all she can to prove that her ordination and mission is derived. 2. That all the reformed Churches were bound to have joined themselves to the external communion of this true visible Church of Christ, and not to have set up separate communions of their own. Whereas both Luther and Calvin declared publicly (as I shall show hereafter) that they had separated themselves from the whole Christian world.
But if they say, that the true Church of Christ was invisible, for several hundred years; then it is manifest, that none of the reformed Churches at their separation from the Church of Rome, joined themselves to the true Church of Christ. For I cannot well conceive how men can either receive instructions from, or join themselves to an invisible Church. But I am still less capable of apprehending how the Church of England could receive her ordination and mission from the hands of invisible bishops and pastors. So that this ridiculous system of an invisible Church overthrows the very pretence of any real ordination, mission, or hierarchy in that Church.
Hence it follows, that the Church of England at least is obliged to own, that the true Church of Christ has always been visible. And since the promises of Christ were only made to his own true Church, I conclude again that they were not made to any Church, that ever was invisible since the time of the Apostles.
Now all the reformed Churches were invisible for many hundred years, as is fairly owned by Protestant authors, whom I shall quote hereafter; the fact being wholly undeniable: and the Greek Church is actually guilty of heresy, even in a fundamental point; as Protestants must likewise own; the consequence, therefore, is, that if the Church of Christ be infallible, as I have proved she is, the Roman Catholic Church alone can maintain her title to it; as having been always visible in a succession of bishops and pastors teaching one and the same faith from the beginning of Christianity down to this very time.