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 is merit?
A. Merit in general, is a work that one way or other deserves a reward, either rigorously, according to its intrinsic value; or by virtue of a promise, or out of a kind of decency. Christ merited our redemption in the first manner: good works of just men produced by actual grace, merit heaven in the second manner: and the good works of sinners, without habitual grace, but with the assistance of actual grace, may be said to merit some spiritual reward, in the third manner. The first two are called merit properly; (De Condigno.) the last is called merit improperly. (De Congruo.) Yet, all our merit proceeding from Christ's merits, being God's pure gift, and only applying his merits, the whole body of our good actions, are ascribed to him. From hence, commonly five things are required in merit properly. (De Condigno.) First, that it be good in itself and all its circumstances. Secondly, that a person be in the state of habitual grace. Thirdly, he is to be put upon earth, because there can be neither merit nor demerit, either in heaven, hell, or purgatory; the work of salvation and damnation being entirely completed. Fourthly, that it be free. Fifthly, that there be a promise of reward from Almighty God for such works.
Q. What conditions are required to merit improperly ? (De Congruo.)
A. Neither the state of grace, nor any compact, or promise of reward; all that is required, is, that the action be good, and proceed from actual grace; for it is congruous, and seems agreeable to the infinite goodness of God, that such works, even of a sinner, should one way or other be considered, in order to dispose him towards happiness.
Q. It remains now that you say something of the following words of the second article, viz.: His only Son our Lord. In what sense is Christ the Son of God, and how his only Son ?
A. Christ is the natural Son of God, by virtue of his eternal generation. And again, he is the only Son of God, upon the same account: however, God has more sons than one, by adoption, viz.: All men that are in the state of grace, whom he makes choice of, as heirs to his kingdom.
Q. What errors are prescribed by this article ?
A. Several, the chief whereof are: first that of the Arians, who affirmed, that the second person of the blessed Trinity, was not equal to the Father; had not the same nature or essence; that there was a time when he was not; that he was created, etc. Secondly, the Eutychians are condemned, who affirmed Christ had not two distinct natures: they were condemned in the general council of Chalcedon, in the year 451. Thirdly, the Nestorians are condemned, who affirm the union of the two natures in Christ, was not really physical and hypostatical in the same person, but only moral and denominative, and by consequence that in Christ there were really two persons; divine and human; and that the Virgin Mary was not really the mother of God. They were condemned in the general council of Ephesus, in the year 431. Fourthly, another error of the Arians (which was condemned in the council of Sardica, in the year 347) was, that Christ was only the adopted, and not the natural Son of God; which followed from their capital error, that he was only a creature. Now, adoption, is assuming a foreign person, to a right of inheritance; which cannot be ascribed to Christ, whose person was divine. By the same rule, Felix and Elipandus, are convicted of an error; they maintained that Christ as man was the adopted Son of God; which must not be allowed, because adoption falls upon the person. From the whole it appears, that two nativities or generations, are to be conceived in Christ; one eternal, whereby he proceeds from the father; the other temporal, whereby he was born of the mother; and by this means he is God's only Son, and she the mother, both of God and man.
Q. Now give us the sense of the last words of this article, our Lord.
A. He is our Lord, first, by the title of his divine person and nature; and again, he is our Lord, as man; because he is our redeemer, and purchased us with the price of his most precious blood.