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 IV. The Church of Rome Vindicated.
SECTION II.—THE ANTIQUITY OF THE DOCTRINE CALLED POPERY PROVED FROM PROTESTANT WRITERS.
First: Bishop Tillotson, Serm. 49, p. 588, writes thus: "In the beginning of the reformation, when antichrist sat securely in the quiet possession of his kingdom, Luther arose" etc. These words, " securely,'' and in the " quiet possession," must be owned to be very emphatical; though I cannot draw any positive consequence from them, as to the number of years, which that secure and quiet possession had already lasted: but since so learned a man as the bishop was, could not be ignorant of it, it is probable he foresaw the advantage we should make of it, had he been too particular: and, therefore, judged it not safe to speak out; but chose rather to leave the reader in the dark, than let him know more, than was fitting for him.
Perkins in his exposition upon the creed, p. 400, ventures to be a little plainer. His words are these: " We say that before the days of Luther, for the space of many hundred years, an universal apostasy overspread the whole face of the earth, and that our Church was not then visible in the world." Here Popery, which the author is pleased to call " an universal apostasy," is owned to have " overspread the whole face of the earth for many hundred years" before the days of Luther. However, he did not think it proper to specify, as he might have done, how many hundred years this universal apostasy had already lasted. But every intelligent reader will be apt to guess, that when a man says " many hundred years," he does not mean a very small number.
But the Protestant Homily book, in order to set forth in the most pathetical manner the danger of Popery, which the composer has the charity to call " abominable idolatry;" this book, I say, (the authority whereof, cannot be questioned) has ventured to explain some part of Perkins' " many hundred years." The words are as follows: "Laity and clergy, learned and unlearned; all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women and children of whole Christendom, had been at once drawn in abominable idolatry; and that for the space of eight hundred years and more." Hom, against peril of idolatry. Part III. p. 251, printed London, anno 1687.
Here, then, we have " eight hundred years," with a "more" at the end of them, allowed to Popery before the reformation. The word " more " may be made to signify as much, or as little as every one pleases. But it may modestly be extended so far, as to make the total number amount to about nine hundred years in all; which brings universal Popery to St. Gregory's time, who transplanted it into England ; where it flourished just nine hundred years before the reformation. So that now we have brought it safe to the beginning of the seventh century : that is, within a hundred and fifty years of the fourth general council: and now I have only this small interval of time to provide for it; which if I can do with the help of a good Protestant guide, it will easily find its way to the very time of the Apostles.
But I have luckily met with one, who even out-goes my wishes, and has conducted Popery not only to the fourth, but even beyond the first great general council of Nice. The person I speak of, is Mr. Napier: who, in his book upon the Revelations, Prob. 37, p. 68, is so sincere as to own that Popery, which he cannot forbear giving an ugly name, to, reigned universally in the very beginning of the fourth century, and under the first Christian emperor, that ever was in the world. But lest any one should through mistake, think Mr. Napier to be an obscure, or inconsiderable writer, Mr. Collier in his Historical Dictionary, has taken care to publish his merits, for he styles him a " profound scholar, and of great worth."
This learned and worthy person, then writes thus: " From the year of Christ, three hundred and sixteen, the anti-Christian and papistical reign has begun: reigning universally, and without any debatable contradiction, one thousand, two hundred and sixty years.' And again, chap. 11, p. 145 : 1 The Pope and clergy, have possessed the outward visible Church, even one thousand, two hundred and sixty years.' " I presume he counts to the time, that the reformation was established in Great Britain.