Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 120.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila
I am sensible, I shall here be taxed with uncharitableness, in denying salvation to all Churches, but my own. To which I answer, First, that if I believe myself to be in the true Church of Christ, I cannot do otherwise without contradicting the faith of that Church, which teaches, that there is no salvation for those who keep wilfully and obstinately out of it. I answer, secondly, that I can never think it an uncharitable office to admonish persons of the danger, in which I conceive they are; though I should really be mistaken in my judgment of the matter. But I own sincerely, that I cannot make it a point of honor to pretend to be more charitable than the holy fathers were in the primitive ages ; who agreed unanimously in declaring all those to be in the state of damnation, who separated themselves from their Church; and I dare say, with the greatest assurance, they were all in communion with the see of Rome. I shall choose a few passages out of many.

N. B. That most of the fathers, I shall quote, wrote against heretics, who denied none of those articles which Protestants call fundamental.

St. Irenaeus, L,. 4. adv. Haer. c. 62, writes thus: "God will judge those, who make schisms; who are abominable, void of the love of God; and having more concern for their own convenience, than for the unity of the Church : who for inconsiderable reasons, divide and break asunder the great and glorious body of Christ, and endeavor as much as in them lies, to ruin it utterly; having peace in their mouths, but working nothing but destruction; truly straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. For, whatever evils they design to redress, it will be much less than the evil of schism."

St. Cyprian, de Unit. Eccl. " Whosoever," says he, '' leaving the Church, cleaves to an adulteress, is cut off from the promises of the Church. He that falls from the Church of Christ, shall never come to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, he is a profane person, he is an enemy. He cannot have God for his father, who has not the Church for his mother. If it were possible for any to escape, that was not in the ark of Noah, it shall likewise be possible for him to escape, who is not in the Church."

Idem infra. "What peace can the enemies of their brethren promise themselves ? What kind of sacrifices 4o they imagine they offer np, who are in contention with the Priests? Can they think that Christ is with them in their meetings, being assembled out of the unity of the Church ? Such as these, though they suffer death in the confession of his name; yet is not their blood capable of washing out their stain. The unpardonable and horrid crime of schism, is not to be expiated by suffering. He can be no martyr, who is not in the Church. They are enemies to God, who will not keep peace in the Church. Though they deliver their bodies to be burnt, or are torn to pieces by wild beasts, yet this will never be a crown of their faith, but a punishment of their treachery: nor a glorious issue of a Christian courage, but a desperate end. Such a one may be put to death, but he can never be crowned."

St. John Chrysostom, Hom. 11. in cap. 4. Epist. ad Ephesios: "This is spoken," says he, "not only to those who rule, but also to subjects, who are under their government. A certain holy man spoke a thing, which was very bold, and yet he spoke it. And what was it ? He affirmed, that this sin [of schism] 'cannot be washed away, even with the blood of martyrdom.' For tell me, for what reason do you suffer martyrdom ? Is it not for the glory of Christ ? And how can you, who desire to lay down your lives for Christ, in the mean time overthrow the Church, for which Christ shed his blood ?"

St. Aug. L. de Unit. Eccl. c. 19: "None can arrive to salvation, or life everlasting, but he that has Christ for his head. And it is impossible, that any should have Christ for his head, unless he be a member of his body, the Church."

Idem Epist. 204. ad Donat: " Being out of the pale of the Church, separated from its unity, and bond of charity, thou wouldst not escape damnation, though thou shouldst be burnt alive for confessing the name of Christ."

N. B. That St. Augustine was no uncharitable man.

Idem L. 2. contra. Epist. Parm. c. 11: " We produce these instructions from holy writ, that it may evidently appear, that there is no wickedness can compare with the sacrilege of schism, because there is no just necessity for separation."

St. Fulgentius ad Petrum Diaconum, c. 39: " Believe steadfastly," says he, u and doubt not at all, but that every man, who is a heretic, or schismatic, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if he be not in the unity of the Catholic Church, though he gives ever so much alms, and lose his life for the name of Christ, yet he cannot be saved. For neither baptism, nor liberal alms, nor death itself for the profession of Christ, can avail a man any thing in order to salvation, if he does not hold the unity of the Catholic Church."

This was the language of the ancient fathers, which fully justifies the doctrine of the Church of Rome, in excluding from salvation, all such as are guilty of heresy, or schism. For it is a plain case, that it was their judgment, that though a man be a Christian by baptism, and the belief of Christ, nay, though he suffers death for professing Christ, yet he cannot escape eternal damnation, if he be separated from the unity of the Catholic Church.

What an authentic condemnation is this of Luther and Calvin, and other leaders of the pretended Reformation ? And, indeed, of all the reformed churches: which, though they are Christian churches, by their due administration of baptism, and their belief of the incarnation, death, resurrection and divinity of Jesus Christ, yet (if the judgment of the ancient Church be of any weight) are incapable of salvation, in being separated from their mother-Church, from which they all went forth, just as those heretics and schismatics did, against whom the fathers, quoted by me, have pronounced sentence of eternal damnation. To which those eminent saints were not prompted by heat, or passion, or uncharitableness, (whereof the Church of Rome is now accused for adhering to their doctrine) but merely by the force of truth, and an ardent zeal for retrieving those prodigals, who had quitted their father's house, and saving from perdition the sheep that were gone astray.

If any one objects, that the Church of Rome is alone accountable for the separation, as being the cause of it, by excommunicating the reformed churches; if any one, I say, objects this by way of jest, (for I presume no man of sense can do it seriously) I answer him, however, first, that the Arians, and all other heretics, that ever were in the world, have the same plea. The Arminians have it against the Church of Holland; and the Socinians against the Church of England. For the fourth canon of the national Synod, under king Charles I. anno 1640, orders, that any one, who is accused of Socinianism, unless he will absolutely and in terms abjure it, be excommunicated.

I answer, secondly, that the sentence of excommunication pronounced by the Church of Rome presupposed the schism, and was the punishment, but not the cause of it: As a bill of attainder against rebellious subjects, (which is a kind of lay excommunication) is not the cause of rebellion, but a just punishment of it.

Lastly, I answer him in the words of an ingenious Protestant, who, in his apology for the non-juring clergy, in answer to Dr. Sharpe, late Archbishop of York, by whom they were accused of schism, writes thus: " You," says he, "have separated from them, and not they from you. For they are just where they were when you left them, and have not budged a foot from their Church. You cannot say they have broken from you, unless you will affirm, that when a ship breaks from the shore, where she lay at anchor, the shore removes from her, and not she from the shore."

This represents exactly the case between the Church of Rome, and the reformed churches; and particularly between the Roman Catholics (though now contemptible in their number) and the Protestants in Great Britain. The Roman Catholics are just where the Protestants left them, and have not budged a foot from their Church. Their faith and religion is the very same as it was, not only when the Reformation began, but for nine hundred years before it was ever thought of; that is, ever since England's conversion. And Protestants can no more say, that Roman Catholics have broken from them, than they will affirm, "that when a ship breaks from the shore, where she laid at anchor, the shore removes from her, and not she from the shore." And who, then, are authors of the schism? Who are accountable to God for the damnation of so many souls ? But this is too much in answer to so weak an objection. I shall now proceed to examine the second part of the distinction.