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.
Q. What errors are condemned by the church concerning predestination and reprobation ?
A. First, that of Origen, who affirmed that men's souls were created before the world, and were predestinated upon account of the good works they had performed before they, were united to bodies. Secondly, the Pelagians, who taught, that good works without grace, by nature alone, might be a motive of predestination. Thirdly, the Semipelagians, who though they owned salvation could not be obtained without grace (wherein they differed from the Pelagians) yet they affirmed, God predestinated mankind, upon a foresight of some natural endeavors, toward obtaining grace. Fourthly, the Calvinists, who think themselves infallibly certain of their predestination. Fifthly, Calvinists, Lutherans, Jansenists, and others, who say God has not a will, or gives not sufficient grace to all persons to be saved. Sixthly, Calvinists, etc., who affirm that God has an absolute will to damn some persons, without any foresight of their sins.
Q. Which are the principal effects of predestination ?
A. 1. An efficacious call. 2. Justification and perseverance. 3. Glorification.
Q. What difference do you make in believing a God, believing God, and believing in God ? (1. Credo Deum. 2. Credo Deo. 3. Credo in Deum.)
A. To believe a God, is to believe there is such a being. To believe God, is to believe all to be true that he has revealed. To believe in God, is to love him, and to put our trust in him, as our last end.
Q Having explained what belong to the divine attributes, we are to proceed to some other matters; and first, why do you call God Father ?
A. A Father is he who begets children, and gives them a being: in which sense God is the Father of all mankind, whom he produced by creation, preserves their being, and provides them with all necessaries and conveniences which is the character of a kind father, but in a more particular manner, he is the father of all good Christians, whom he has adopted and made heirs of his kingdom.
Q. What further instructions can you draw from the word father?
A. Several very useful, in order to pay a grateful acknowledgement to the Divine Majesty for all the benefits we are made partakers of. Creation, in the first place, is so surprising a meditation, that words cannot express, what we are indebted to him on that account. There is nothing that happens between man and man, in the way of being obliged to one another, that can have an resemblance to it; it is so extraordinary a subject of humility, that it strikes us dumb, and in a manner thoughtless with confusion; preservation has in a manner the same influence upon us, for as we were created out of nothing, so we should in an instant be reduced to nothing, unless the same hand which created us continued to support us: this reflection obliges us to have recourse to him upon all occasions. I might descend to many more particulars, as his providential care in supplying us with all things we want, our redemption, vocation, justification, perseverance, and everlasting happiness, which are the effects of his being our Father.
Q. You have given rather the moral and metaphorical sense of the word father: what is the literal meaning of the word as it stands in the creed ?
A. Literally the word father points out the mystery of the Trinity, and namely the first person, who is called father, upon account of his begetting the second person, by an eternal generation.
Q. A father is prior to his son; how does this agree with the son's eternal existence?
A. We are not to conceive any priority among the divine persons, as to time, or dignity, but only as to origin, so that the Father is called the first person, because he is unbegotten and proceeds from no other person; whereas the second person is begotten by the Father, and the third person proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Q. Pray explain in a few words, what we are obliged to believe concerning the Trinity, and how the learned explain their thoughts upon this high subject?
A. The mystery of the Trinity is one God, in three persons; or, more distinctly, three persons, that have the same nature, essence, or substance; which are equivalent terms, according to the use that is made of those words upon the present occasion.
Q. Are there no more, nor less, than three persons in God, and how are they distinguished from one another, and from the divine essence ?
A. It was an error against faith, of the Sabellians and others, that in God, as there was only one essence, or nature, so there was only one person, and that the three names given to God in the Scriptures, did not import different persons, but took their appellations from different operations of the same person. Other heretics, among which were the Arians, held that as there were three persons in God, so there were three natures, not substantial. Now the doctrine of the Catholic church is, that the three persons, though really distinct in themselves, are not distinct as to the same nature wherewith they are identified.
Wherein the error of Gilbert of Poiree, bishop of Poictiers, is condemned, in the council of Paris in the year 1147; as likewise in the council of Rheims in the following year, who was of opinion, that the three persons were really distinct from the divine essence, whereby he seems obliged to assert a quaternity of persons.
Q. What do divines mean by processions ?
A. By procession they understand the emanation or flowing of one thing from another. Hence, they distinguish in God two processions, one whereby the Son proceeds from the Father, the other whereby the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. And it is an article of faith that there are neither more nor less.
Q. Why is God's omnipotency inserted in this article, rather than any other of the divine attributes ?
A. Chiefly for two reasons. First, because, mention is there made of the world's creation, which requires an omnipotent power. Secondly, because the first person is the origin of all power.
Q. Are not the second and third persons likewise omnipotent?
A. Yes, equally, they all having the same essential and absolute perfections. Yet works of power, are commonly attributed to the first person, upon account of his being the origin of power; works of wisdom to the second person, on account of the wisdom he showed in our redemption : works of goodness to the third, on account of our sanctification and divine assistance ; though at the same time all the three persons are equally concerned in all outward works of power, wisdom, and goodness.
Q. In the next place you call God the Father Creator, may not each person be called Creator ?
A. Yes, but creation is there attributed to the first person, for the reasons above recited.