Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 4.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

Q. What is Creation ?

A. It is the production of a thing out of nothing.

Q. What errors have men fallen into concerning the world's creation ?

A. Aristotle, and several other of the heathen philosophers had no notion of creation: and hence, they established the principle (Ex niliilo nihil fit) nothing is made out of nothing. And further, those who believed God was an eternal Being, conceived the material world to be also eternal; and as it were an essential property belonging to God. But we have a more perfect account of the Deity from the Scriptures, which gives the particulars of the world's creation, and reason tells us that no material thing can belong to God essentially, only originally as a first cause. Gen. i.

Q. What do you understand by heaven and earth, which you say was created ?

A. By heaven I understand every thing in heaven; by earth every thing on earth.

Q. What are angels, and what properties belong to them ?

A.. Angel is a word according to its etymology which signifies a messenger: as the word apostle signifies a public messenger; so that they imply not a nature but a power or office. If an angel be considered as to its nature, it is a spiritual substance created by God without a body.

Q. Is it an article of faith that the angels have no bodies ?

A. I cannot say it is; but it is approaching that way, and generally held by the church.

Q. Are they not commonly painted with bodies and wings ?

A. Yes, not that they really have bodies, but because they assume them, when they appear to men. They are represented with wings, to signify that their motions are as quick as thought.

Q. What other properties belong to them ?

A. They have a clear knowledge of nature, both as to causes and effects: they have also great power proportioned to their vast knowledge, and were created in grace with free will, which some made a good use of, but others abused it.

Q. Who are they who abuse it ?

A. The wicked angels, we call devils.

Q. Have these also still great knowledge and power ?

A. They lost not their natural perfections by their rebellion against God, but only such as were supernatural; so that their knowledge still extends to all the secrets of nature; and God permits them to exercise great power over men, so as to tempt them to sin, possess their bodies, but not force their will; which is always free, and out of their power.

Q. Divines tell us, there are several orders, and degrees, among those spiritual beings; pray give an account of them, and the grounds you have to make a distinction among them ?

A. Divines gather this distinction of spiritual beings from the Scriptures, especially from the prophets, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, which are particularly described by St. Gregory the Great in his 34th Homily upon the Gospels, where he tells us the Scriptures make mention of nine orders, or degrees of those blessed spirits, viz.: Seraphims, cherubims, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, virtues, archangels, and angels. Isaiah, vi. 1. Gen. iii. 24. Heb. ix. 5. Ephes. i. 21. Colos. i. 16. Thessal. iv. 15.

Q. Has every man an angel-guardian allotted him?

A. Yes, all mankind, but especially Christians, who, after baptism, has a particular care of, and protects them from the devil's power and stratagems. As also our angel-guardian is appointed to hinder us from falling into temporal calamities, or any misfortune. This doctrine of having an angel-guardian appointed for every one, is a certain truth, universally held by the church against Calvin and others; who contradict it.

Q. Can you produce any proof from the Scriptures and fathers, that every one has an angel-guardian appointed him?

A. Yes, I can from the 18th chapter of St. Matt. ver. 10. Where Christ saith, "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you y their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" Again, out of the 12th chapter of the Acts, ver. 15, "And they said it is his angel." Also, out of the 33d and 90th Psalm, ver. 8. ver. 11. Now as to the fathers, nothing can be more clear and fully expressed, than what St. Basil, St. Ambrose, and St. Chrysostom write in confirmation of this doctrine. (Vide St Bas. Serm. 3. Ad ver. Eunomium. St Ambr. expo, in Psal. 118. H. 9. St. Chrys. Hom. 60. cap. 18. Mat.)

Q. What account have we in the Scriptures concerning man's creation? When was he created? What does his nature consist of? What conditions or state was he in, upon and after his creation?

A. Adam and Eve, were made on the sixth day, his body formed from clay, and hers from one of Adam's ribs: man in the whole consists of a body and soul united together, in such a manner, that the body was in subjection to the soul. As to the condition, and state man was in, it was far different at his creation, from what he found himself in afterwards.

Q. What condition was man placed in at his creation ?

A. It was in his power not to die, had he made use of the means: his soul was created in grace, accompanied with other supernatural gifts: his body was entirely submissive to his soul, free from concupiscence, or any irregular appetites ; and no creature whatever, was capable of giving him any pain or affliction. Again, "his soul was an immortal being, created according to God's likeness, with a will, memory, and understanding, and entirely free in his actions, which are prerogatives, that other creatures could not pretend to, who were either inanimate, or animal beings.

Q. Do men still claim all these perfections, or only some of them, or if they lost any of them, how, and what are they ?

A. Man lost God's grace, and all supernatural gifts, by his disobedience; and as an effect of this was made liable to death, concupiscence, pain, trouble, and all those vexations which are incident to human life. Whereby the Pelagian heresy is condemned, which consists in this, that man was not created in grace, that he was not to be immortal, though he had not sinned, and that death, concupiscence, and the miseries of human life, were not the consequence of Adam's sin, but circumstances belonging to the state wherein he was first placed; and from hence they inferred, as the Calvinists do, that there was no other sin transferred by Adam to posterity, besides concupiscence, which they maintain to be that original sin, so. often mentioned in the Scriptures. However, though man lost these advantages, he still retained free will. But the Lutherans and Calvinists pretend, we only enjoy free will in regard of evil, not in regard of good. Indeed, free will is much impaired by the misfortune of original sin, but not destroyed.