Monday, 19 September 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 150

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.


The case, then, fairly and impartially stated, is this, viz.: Whether this one single man, without commission, or authority from any lawful superior, was more to be depended upon in the great cause of faith and religion, than the whole visible Church that was against him, when he first took upon himself the title of reformer? I cannot but think that every impartial judge will decide it in the negative.

To set this matter in its clearest light, I shall put a case almost parallel to it. Suppose some private man in Great Britain should take upon him to run down the whole constitution ; and tell the people, that the king and parliament have no legislative power; that the judges are a pack of fools and knaves; and understand nothing of the law; that no regard is to be had to the king's lieutenants, justices of the peace, or other subaltern 'officers ; suppose, I say, extravagances of this nature, tending manifestly to the disturbance and subversion of the government, should be talked, or written by any private man; I ask whether it would be rational to believe him in opposition to the sense of the whole nation ? No, surely. But, on the contrary, he would be either treated as a madman, or persecuted as a disturber of public peace: which in all likelihood would have been the fate of Martin Luther, had he not found the secret to shelter himself under the favor and protection of his sovereign, the duke of Saxony, by setting before him the sweet bait of filling his coffers with the revenues of the Church, and plunder of rich monasteries ; which was every where the first fruit of the reformation, as all the world knows.

But, to make now the application of the case supposed; when the reformation was first thought of, the Roman Catholic Church was the only established Church of all the principal kingdoms and states of Europe. This Church was governed by the pope as head. Each kingdom by its primate, and each particular diocese by its respective bishop and pastors under him; just as Great Britain is governed by king and council, lord lieutenants, justices of peace, etc. The Scriptures, canons, and decrees of councils, were the law, according to which the Church was governed both in her faith and discipline. She had then prescription for what is now called Popery, of many hundred years; as is acknowledged by the most eminent Protestants. All the bishops, divines, and learned men of Europe, and many other parts of the world, were united in the same faith, and believed themselves to be in the bosom of the true Church. Martin Luther alone, a private Austin friar, starts up, and tells the world, that this whole Church was tainted with many gross errors: that himself was the only true interpreter of Scriptures; that the canons and decrees of councils signified nothing. That the Pope was antichrist, and all the bishops, doctors, and divines, were no better than a parcel of blockheads and impostors. For this was the main scope of all his reforming writings. I speak modestly: for according to his usual good manners, he calls them all calves and asses. Nay, the very fathers of the Church, those great lights and ornaments of j the Christian faith, were treated no better by, him; and Dr. Tillotson had all the reason in) the world, to call him " a bold and rough man,! and a fit wedge to cleave a knotty block." -But, to conclude the parallel, I have but this one question to ask; whether it was more rational to believe this single man in opposition to the concurring faith and authority of the universal Church, than it would be now to believe a single factious fellow against the sense and judgment of the whole nation ? For if this cannot be judged rational, as surely it cannot, then the doctrine of the reformation appears manifestly unsound in its very head and source: and time, which cannot change the nature of things, nor turn falsehood into truth, has not in the least bettered its cause.