Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 116.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

But I am less surprised at their not distinguishing between the allegorical and literal interpretations of scriptures, than I am at their overlooking the plain meaning of the second part of St. Cyril's words; viz.: "On which the Church of Christ is so settled, and established, as never to fall, but to bear up against the gates of hell, and to remain for ever." In which the doctrine of infallibility, is as strongly and clearly asserted, as words can express it. I shall only add some passages from' St. Austin, and so end this chapter.

Aug. Enarr, in Psalm 57, Num. 6. Tom. 4. p. 545, [they have gone astray from the womb, and spoken lies, Psalm 57]. "Were they, therefore, gone astray from the womb; because they have spoken lies? Or rather have they not spoken lies, because they were gone astray from the womb? For it is in the Church's womb that truth remains. Whosoever is separated from this womb of the Church, must of necessity speak lies. I say, he must necessarily speak lies, who refuses to be conceived, or being conceived has been thrown out by the mother."

Serm. de Symb. ad Catech. Tom. 6. p. 554. "After a confession of the Trinity, follows the Holy Church. Here is shown God and his temple—which is the Holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church, which fights against all heresies. Fight she may, but she cannot be foiled. All heresies have gone out from her like useless branches lopped off from the vine, but she remains in her root, in her vine, in her charity. 'The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.'"

Enarr. 2, in Psalm 101, upon these words, " In the assembling the people together in one, and kings to serve our Lord, he answered him in the way of his strength." St. Austin writes thus: " But that Church which was spread through all nations, now has no longer a being. It is quite lost. This is the cry of those who are not in the Church. O impudent clamor ! She is not, because you do not belong to her I See, that you have not for that reason lost your being. For she will have a being, though you have none. This abominable and accursed calumny, full of presumption and deceit, void of all truth, wisdom and reason, idle, temerarious, rash and perniciuous, the spirit of God foresaw, when even, as it were, against them he proclaimed her unity, 4 in assembling the people in one, and kings to serve our Lord'—because there were to arise some, that would say against her, it is true, she was, but now, she is perished. Show me, says she, the fewness of my days. I do not inquire for my days in the next world. Those are without end. It is not those days of eternity I ask for. I desire to know my continuance in this world. These days I desire you to show me. And he has showed me, neither was the answer insignificant. And who was it but he that is the very way ? And what was the information he gave me ? ' Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world ' "

And now I leave it to the judgment of any impartial reader, whether the fathers I have quoted, were Protestants, or Catholics in their principle, relating to the matter under debate. They wrote against the heretics of their times, who all pretended the Church had failed. But they, on the contrary, not only maintained that she had not failed, (nay, St. Austin calls it an impudent clamor, an abominable and accursed calumny, to say she had failed) but also, that she cannot fail: that it is in the Church's womb, that truth remains: that being the spouse of Christ, she cannot become an adulteress, but will always be pure and uncorrupt in her doctrine; that she will always remain in her root, and continue to do so to the end of the world: all which St. Austin proves from these two texts: "The gates of hell shall never prevail against it." Matt. xvi. v. 18. " And lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." Matt, xxviii. v. 20. Whence it follows, that all the passages I have quoted, contain as full a condemnation of the present reformed churches, as those of the heretics, against whom they were written; and that not only the word of God, but the whole current of antiquity is flatly against them: unless they will call unto their assistance old excommunicated heretics, and shelter themselves under the protection of the professed enemies of the Church of Christ. For let them look back as far as they please into primitive ages, it is amongst heretics alone, they will find any friends. These were the men that pleaded for a fallible Church; and their arguments, which the fathers answered, are now revived by Protestant writers, and turned against the Church of Rome, as we shall see hereafter.

It was for this reason, that Luther no sooner began his pretended reformation, but he declared open war against the fathers, whom he treated with as much arrogance and contempt, as if they had been a parcel of blockheads, or mere school boys. Good manners, indeed, ought to have made him forbear the latter, but the badness of his cause obliged him to the former. For he could not but be against antiquity, when antiquity was against him: and let the reformed Churches put the fairest glosses they please upon their separation from the Church of Rome, the antiquity of her doctrine maintained in the primitive ages, by persons, who certainly delivered the public faith of the Church in their times, is an argument of such weight against them as will ever carry the cause in the judgment of any thinking man, in whom the love of the world has not stifled all sense of a future state.

The reason, therefore, why I have produced the testimony of these ancient fathers maintaining the Church's infallibility against the heretics of their times, is to convince the reader, that the primitive Church understood the promises of Christ, which are the sole foundation of her infallibility, in the same sense as Roman Catholics now do. And that by consequence, the sense we give them, is not a precarious interpretation of private judgment; but has the whole authority of the Church of Christ to support it: since those eminent saints and doctors cannot be regarded otherwise, than as authentic witnesses of what her public faith was in those primitive ages.