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.
The first part, therefore, of the distinction, namely, " that the Church cannot err in fundamentals," is most certainly true. However, I cannot let it pass, without drawing some consequences from it, before I offer my reasons against the second part, which denies her infallibility in points, that are not fundamental.
The first consequence I draw from it is, that the Protestants of England, are guilty of the blackest calumny and injustice in charging the Church of Rome with idolatry. For who can be so blind as not to see, that the charges of idolatry is not only a flat contradiction to their owning, that she never erred in fundamentals, but wholly inconsistent with their so much magnified charity in allowing salvation to be attainable in that Church ? What! can a Church be orthodox, nay, infallible in fundamentals, and yet fall into idolatry ? Can the divine spirit be said to lead her into all fundamental truths, and at the same time permit her to teach, " that divine worship is to be paid to creatures ?" Or is salvation consistent with the practice of it? These incoherences are so manifest, that if calumny be a deadly sin, and restitution of fame an indispensable duty, truly, I cannot see how the authors, or abettors of so black a calumny, as is that of charging a whole Christian Church with idolatry, can have any pretence to salvation, without making that Church as effectual a reparation of honor, as the divines of Helm-stat have already done. Nay, the reparation ought to be as general and public, as the slander has been. Dr. Stillingfleet's large treatise to prove Papists idolaters, and many other books and sermons upon the same subject ought to be solemnly condemned; and the people made sensible, that a Church free from fundamental errors, cannot be an idolatrous Church: that the true worship of God, which is owned to be in the Church of Rome, is as opposite to idolatry, as Christ is to Belial, or light to darkness. In a word, that since Protestants cannot deny, but that the members of the Roman Catholic Church may be orthodox, and live and die well, and obtain salvation, it is inconsistent with all sense and reason, to charge them with a crime, which, being a violation of the very first commandment of the decalogue, must unavoidably make them forfeit their titles to the kingdom of God. This is the reparation they are bound in conscience to make to the Church of Rome. Nor can they refuse to do it, without resolving to continue not only in a deadly sin, but the grossest contradiction to themselves.
But what should make Protestants, who neither want wit, nor learning, become guilty of so palpable a contradiction, as suffices to startle any thinking man, in whom all sense of natural justice, truth and honor is not utterly extinguished ? Truly, I can give no other reason for it, than their being blindly persuaded of the lawfulness to blacken Papists by any methods whatsoever, whether foul, or fair, just, or unjust, right, or wrong. Now both the parts of the contradiction, I have proved upon them, are most proper to answer this honest end. Idolatry is an abominable crime, therefore, Papists must be made guilty of it; for it will render them very odious. Yet salvation must not be denied them ; because this charitable opinion (the nonsense whereof will not be perceived by every body) will serve as a foil to set off the uncharitableness of Papists, who deny salvation to all, that are not of their Church. I thank God, we have at least charity enough to return good for evil, and pray heartily for the salvation of those, who hate and slander us in such an unchristian manner.