Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 153.



When God raises men in an extraordinary manner, as he did the Prophets and Apostles, he never fails to qualify them accordingly: and all those, who had their mission immediately from him, were manifestly guided by his spirit. The virtues, that shone in their actions, and the miracles they wrought, were their credentials, and it was impossible to see their works, without being convinced of the truth of their words.

This may likewise be said of the great reformers of manners, whom God has raised from time to time to repair the gradual decays of Christian morality; as St. Benedict, St. Bernard, St. Dominick, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, and other holy founders of religious orders. They were all powerful in works and words. They prepared themselves for the great work of the conversion of sinners, by retirement, prayer, fasting, mortification of their senses, and an entire contempt of the world. And what is very remarkable in the lives of these great men, they never made a step but with obedience and submission to their lawful superior. Meekness and humanity two virtues peculiarly recommended by Christ, were the most distinguishing parts of their character; and even their greatest enemies could never reproach them with any one irregular practice.

But, alas! How far is Martin Luther, the founder of the reformation, from coming up to the least part of this noble character! He pretends to have had his mission immediately from God. But must we take his own bare words for it ? Where are his credentials ? What miracles has he wrought? What extraordinary virtues can he show to convince us of the truth of what he says ? I have already discovered some considerable flaws both in his principles and practice, which are no marks of an extraordinary call. However, allowing these to be but after-slips of human frailty, if he was really called to the ministry of the gospel immediately by God himself, the least we can suppose is, that God infused into him the proper previous dispositions to fit him for so high a station, and above all, inspired him with a most ardent love of him; this being a quality inseparable from a true zeal for the service of his holy Church. But to prevent our falling into this mistaken good opinion of him, Luther himself has taken care to inform us of the true state of his soul the year before he set up separate communion. " Out of thy own mouth I judge thee thou wicked servant." Luke xix. 22.

For in the preface to his first tome, p. 6, he tells us how his soul was at that time affected towards God. "I was mighty desirous," says he, " to understand Paul in his epistle to the Romans: but was hitherto determined, not by any faintheartedness, but by one single expression in the first chapter, viz.: 4 therein is the righteousness of God revealed.' For I hated that word, c the righteousness of God because I had been taught to understand it of that formal and active righteousness, by which God is righteous, and punishes sinners, and the unrighteous. Now knowing myself, though I lived a monk of an irreproachable life, to be in the sight of God a sinner, and a most unquiet conscience, nor having any hopes to appease him with my own satisfaction, I did not love, nay, I hated this righteous God, who punishes sinners; and with heavy muttering, if not with silent blasphemy, I was angry with God, and said, as if it were not enough for miserable sinners, who are lost to all eternity by original sin, to suffer all manner of calamity by the law of the decalogue, unless God by the Gospel adds sorrow to sorrow, and even by the gospel, threatens us with his righteousness and anger. Thus did I rage with a fretted and disordered conscience."

Blessed God! What a disposition is here to prepare a man for the ministry of the gospel, the preaching of the pure word of God, and the reformation of Christ's Church! What strange marks are these of an extraordinary call? A man, raging with a fretted and disordered conscience; angry with God, murmuring against him, nay, hating, and silently blaspheming his justice for punishing sinners?

How can we represent the very damned souls in hell in blacker colors ? For the very worst we can say of them is, that they hate, curse, and blaspheme God's justice for punishing their past crimes. Because to hate any of God's attributes, is to hate God himself; and the very thought of hating God carries horror with it.

How happy is the Church of Rome in having such an accuser I The infamy of the evidence is her full justification, and a convincing proof, that the spirit of God had no part in a work, wherein Martin Luther was a principal actor. If a man, who by his own confession hated and blasphemed God, is to be depended on in the great concern of religion; and that, upon the credit of his having been divinely inspired, and called in an extraordinary manner; then let the Church of Rome be thought guilty of the errors, whereof he has accused her.

But we have hitherto seen but one part of his true picture. He has been so just to posterity as to leave it drawn at full length in his own writings. Let us then take a full view of him, and when we have considered him attentively, judge, whether he bears the least resemblance of a man divinely inspired, and commissioned immediately by Christ to reform his Church.

The passages I have made use of, are all taken out of his works, printed at Wittemberg. The first tome anno 1582, the second 1562, the third 1583, the fourth 1574, the fifth 1554, the sixth 1580, the seventh 1558. And all these have, at the beginning, Martin Luther and his protector, the duke of Saxony, represented at their prayers before a crucifix. If any Protestant can convict me of unfair dealing in my quotations, I shall be ready to make any public reparation, that shall be demanded of me.