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.
SECTION IV.—IT GIVES THE LIE TO THE NICENE CREED.
The antiquity and authority of the Nicene Creed, is owned by all: and it being next after the Apostle's Creed the shortest summary of Christian religion, I question not but Protestants will easily grant, that all its articles are fundamental. I should, therefore, be glad to know what they think, or mean, when they pronounce this article, " I believe One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." I presume the true meaning of it is, that Christ has a Church on earth, which is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
This, then, is an article of the Christian faith; and since articles of faith are unchangeable, it has always been, and will always continue to be one. For if it should ever cease to be true, that Christ has such a Church on earth, whoever should then pronounce that article of the Nicene Creed, instead of professing an article of faith, would make profession of a downright falsehood : which being absurd in itself, it is manifest that the Church described in the Nicene Creed, can never cease to have a being upon earth.
Whence I argue thus. The Church described in the Nicene Creed, will have a being as long as the world lasts. But if she should at any time become guilty of any errors whatsoever against the revealed word of God, she would then cease to have a being; therefore, the Church described in the Nicene Creed, (which is undoubtedly the Church of Christ) can never become guilty of any such errors.
That she would then cease to have a being, I prove thus. Because she would then neither be One, nor Holy, nor Catholic, nor Apostolic.
First, She would not be One. Because there can be no unity of faith, where there is no faith at all. Now the Church loses her whole faith by any one error against the revealed word of God; as I have already showed. Therefore, if she should ever become guilty of any such error, her unity of faith must of consequence, be destroyed by it.
I prove again, that heresy and unity of faith, are inconsistent. Because heresy is the natural product of private judgment; and private judgment is a constant source and principle of division. The reason whereof is manifest; because men differ not only from one another in their private judgment, nay, it is morally impossible it should be otherwise, but are frequently inconsistent even with themselves: so that as often as they see things in a different light, they are apt to change their belief accordingly. Hence it is, that no heresy ever came into the world, but various sects spawned from it soon after; and a dunghill is not more fruitful in breeding vermin, than private judgment, and Scripture corrupted by it are in producing sects. It is, therefore, morally impossible, that a Church corrupted with any heresy, should be one.
Secondly. She would also cease to be Holy. Because this title cannot belong to a Church adulterated in her doctrine, and void of faith.
Thirdly. She would not be Catholic ; because she would want universality of time. For since truth is more ancient than error, the former would have had a priority of time before the latter. In a word, she is called Catholic because her faith is Catholic; and no errors can be the objects of Catholic faith, nor have I ever heard of Catholic heresies in my whole life.
Lastly. She would not be Apostolic, any more than the schismatical Churches of the Donatists, Novatians, and other heretics, who never erred in fundamentals. But why may not their Churches be called Apostolic ? Because the Apostles never taught errors of any kind whatever, whether fundamental, or non-fundamental. And, therefore, if the doctrine of the Church of Christ were at any time of this linsey-woolsey texture, made up of fundamental truths and non-fundamental lies, it would cease to be a doctrine derived from the Apostles; and a Church cannot be called Apostolic, unless she has the whole body of her doctrine from them.