Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 151.

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 Council of Nicaea, with Arius depicted beneath the feet of the Emperor Constantine and the bishops

I shall here take the freedom to demand a thing, wherein if any Protestant can but give me some tolerable satisfaction, I will not only give up this whole chapter relating to Luther, but likewise own, that a reformer of the Church's faith, and a heretic are not synonymous terms. I question not but every Protestant will grant, that there have been heretics in the world: and I shall mention one, of whose just claim to that title, no true Protestant can doubt. I mean, Arius, who denied the consubstantiality of the Son: and though he pretended to have plain Scripture for his doctrine, (as these words of Christ, " my Father is greater than I") this hindered not his being condemned for a heretic by the great council of Nice. And, indeed, he had all the marks of one: as, broaching a doctrine contrary to the faith, of the whole visible Church of Christ in being: preaching without a commission from her: appealing from her authority to the dead letter of Scriptures, and making his own private judgment the sole interpreter of it. In a word an invincible obstinacy even after sentence juridically pronounced against him, first by his immediate superior, and afterwards by the supreme tribunal of the Church. These are the usual marks of what we call an arch-heretic, and were undoubtedly very notorious in Arius.

Now the thing I demand is precisely this, viz.: Some satisfactory reason, why Arius was a heretic any more than Luther. Or (which amounts to the same) that some proper and distinguished mark of a heretic may be found to belong to Arius, which cannot be appropriated to Martin Luther. Whoever can perform this will do the reformation a signal piece of service. But if it cannot be done, (and I fear the task will prove somewhat hard) then it follows, that the respective churches founded by Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, etc., are all heretical churches like the Arians, and no part of the Church of Christ.

If any one be so weak as to say, that the great difference between Arius and Luther is, that Arius opposed the doctrine of the Church, when she was pure, but Luther rose up against her, when she was corrupt in her doctrine: I shall only answer him, that this is begging the question, instead of proving; and the followers of Arius will say just the same in defence of their masters, and plain Scripture will be pretended for it. So that if nothing can be produced to distinguish Luther's behavior towards his mother-Church from that of Arius; if they be found to sympathize in all the proper and characteristic marks of what we commonly mean, by a true and staunch heretic; we cannot judge otherwise, than that either both must be absolved, or both condemned.

However, if Martin Luther may be allowed to be a judge in his own cause, he has not been wanting to himself in pronouncing sentence in favor of his new doctrine; though not altogether with the modesty of an evangelical preacher. His own words shall be the best proof of what I say. Tom. 2. fol. 333, 1, against Henry VIII. of England: "I am certain," says he, " I have my doctrine from heaven; it shall stand, and the pope shall fall in spite of all the gates of hell, and the powers of the air, the earth, and sea."

I should be glad to know, whether that part of his doctrine was from heaven, which he learnt in the colloquy he had with the devil, related at large by himself.

Again. Tom. 7, fol. 274. "I was the first, to whom God vouchsafed to reveal the things which have been preached to you; and certain I am, that you have the pure word of God."