Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 133.

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.


This, however, is precise and clear; though the other three gentlemen were more, or less upon the reserve. Tillotson has only favored us with a broad hint. Perkins, indeed, allows Popery many hundred years ; but is careful not to let us know how many. The Homilist gives it eight hundred years and more; but his " more," is like a string, that may be let out, or drawn in as much as every one shall fancy. But the learned and worthy Napier speaks boldly, and may serve as a comment upon the other three. For we are certified by him that the papistical reign began from the year of Christ, three hundred and sixteen: that is, precisely a year more than twelve hundred before Luther commenced reformer. What pity is it, that he has not specified the very day of the month, on which Popery began its universal reign? For when his hand was in, he might have done the one with as much ease as the other: and then Papists might have had the pleasure to keep the anniversary feast of its accession to the empire of the universal Christian world.

But though Mr. Napier has done Popery a considerable service, by allowing it an universal reign, even in the beginning of the fourth century, yet the four Protestant annalists, commonly called the Magdeburgians, carry it still higher, and stick not to date their pretended " decay of the Christian doctrine," and the straw and stubble of papistical errors," as they call them, even from the age immediately after Christ and his Apostles. Thus God has confounded the enemies of his Church, by making them become witnesses of the truth against their wills; and proclaim the antiquity of her faith in those very writings, which they intended for the sharpest invectives against it. 

Upon the whole, I cannot but make this observation, viz.: If Popery had its beginning in any age since the time of the Apostles, it is morally impossible, but so considerable an event must have been transmitted to posterity, I will not say by one, or two historians of note, but by hundreds, who would have marked out the time, when it happened, with such an unquestionable certainty, that it would have been impossible either to doubt of it, or differ in opinions about it. Thus we know exactly the very year when Arianism and Lutheranism began. The facts were never questioned by any man in the world; and the certainty of them leaves no room for any diversity of opinions about them.

If then, there were any ancient records, or authentic history, that fixed precisely the time when Popery began, would not all Protestants have quoted them for the chronology of a fact, which must have sunk the credit of the Church of Rome to all intents and purposes, and established the reformed churches upon the most solid foundation ? It is very sure, they never would have overlooked an advantage of that importance; nay, every man of learning would have had it without book; and the date of every branch of Popery, would have been as well known, as that of the reformation; concerning which, there never were two opinions among thousands, that have written of it.