Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 9.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. Which is the fourth article ? A. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.

Q. How was Christ capable of suffering ? As God, it was impossible; again, his union with the divine person, as also the state of beatitude he enjoyed from the beginning, excluded suffering.

A. As the union of the divine and human nature was a miraculous work, so it was attended with many other supernatural circumstances; among which, one was, the suspension of the properties of a glorified body, whilst Christ was upon earth. By this means he was in a capacity of suffering, both in body and soul, and obnoxious to all the infirmities of human nature; excepting sin and ignorance, viz.: Grief, fear, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, and even death; which last circumstance is the most inconsistent with a glorified body, had not a miracle interposed.

Q. Why is the name of Pontius Pilate inserted in the creed ?

A. Though it may seem not to be a material circumstance, yet he is taken notice of, chiefly upon two accounts. First, by fixing the date of Christ's suffering, the truth of the history was confirmed, and might be compared with the public records of the Roman empire, under which, Pontius Pilate then governed Judea. Secondly, to signify that the predictions were fulfilled, whereby it had been frequently foretold, that Christ should suffer, both from Jews and Gentiles.

Q. Why is particular mention made of the manner of Christ's death by crucifixion ?

A. This was specified to show that the prophecies were fulfilled by his dying that death, which was not only foretold, but the several instruments, etc., were mentioned, which were employed on that occasion. Again, to put us in mind of Christ's great humility, and love for mankind, in suffering a death which was ignominious, both among the Jews and Gentiles, and inflicted upon none but notorious malefactors : such a death was a folly to the Gentiles and a scandal to the Jews.

Q. What occasion is there to specify Christ's death, after his crucifixion, or that he was buried ? We may reasonably suppose that he died, and was buried, from his being crucified. Again, how could he die, and what difference is there between his death and the rest of mankind ?

A. It was requisite to specify he was dead against those, who held his crucifixion was only in appearance, and by consequence, that Christ did not really die, which was an error of some primitive heretics; and afterwards of the Manicheans, contrary to all the four evangelists, who agree that he gave up the ghost. Mat, xxvii. 50. Mark xv. 37. Luke xxiii. 46. John xix. 30. As to his burial, that was also a circumstance proper to be inserted, to be a proof of his resurrection, which might have been contested with more show of truth, had not his body been laid in the grave. Now, how Christ could die being God; it must be observed that death did not affect his divinity, but only his humanity. For what is death ? It is a separation of the soul from the body, and in this manner Christ was subject to death as he was to the other infirmities of man's nature; yet at the same time, Christ was immortal, by the hypostatical union, and it was a miraculous condescension, which made him capable of dying and of being subject to the other infirmities. The difference on his side, was, his death was miraculous and voluntary, though in obedience to his father's will and precept. John x. 17, 18. And, again, his body was not liable to corruption, as other bodies are; according to that of the Psalmist, "thou wilt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption." Psalm xv. 10.

Q. Was the divine person during the three days of the body and soul's separation, still united to them both ?

A. Yes, though the soul descended into the lower parts of the earth, the body still remaining in the grave.

Q. Which are the principal benefits derived from Christ's death ?

A. He died for all mankind, and not only for the predestinate, as Calvin erroneously taught, and the Jansenists assert, who esteem it Semi-pelagianism, to say that Christ died for all mankind. 2 Cor. v. 15. Whereas, St. Paul says, that " Christ died for all," and in another place, he says that " Christ gave himself a redemption for all." 1 Tim. ii. 5. At the same time, though Christ died, merited and satisfied for the sins of all mankind, all are not partakers of those favors, unless they apply them by faith, the sacraments and good works, which are the channels through which they are conveyed. Again, every action of Christ, from the beginning, was infinitely meritorious, but the whole work of man's redemption was consummated by his death. Lastly, it was by his death, and upon the view of his merits, that all in the law of nature and law of Moses were justified, and that the gates of heaven were first opened to them.