What Is The Catholic Faith? According To "Pope" Francis, Not The Catholic Faith!
Where to start? So much craziness going on in the Vatican and by one "Pope" Francis, I put "Pope" like this until one Jorge Bergoglio converts to the Catholic Faith, his actions, words, are attacking and destroying the Sacred Office of the Papacy. Let me link some news posts from the new News site, From Rome: It is a grave duty, to denounce Bergoglio for all his heresies and blasphemies Do Not Say The New Heretical 'Our Father' by Bergoglio
From Complicit Clergy: 'Does Pope Francis Repudiate The Great Commission?'
Now, all the craziness has been shared, let us go to Henry Edward Cardinal Manning and his four lectures on the Catholic Faith: " REVEALED TRUTH DEFINITE AND CERTAIN.
ST. JOHN xvii. 3.
“This is life everlasting, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
MY purpose is to speak of the grounds of Faith; I do not mean of the special doctrines of the Catholic theology, but of the grounds or foundation upon which all Faith rests.
This is a subject difficult to treat: partly, because it is of a dry and preliminary nature; and partly, because it is not easy to touch upon a matter so long controverted, without treating it likewise in a controversial tone. But I should think it a dishonour to the sacredness of truth itself, if I could treat a matter so sacred and so necessary in a tone of mere argument, I desire to speak, then, for the honour of our Lord, and, if God so will, for the help of those who seek the truth. To lay broad and sure the foundations on which we believe is necessary at 2all times, because as the end of man is life eternal, and as the means to that end is the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, our whole being, moral, intellectual, and spiritual, demands that we should rightly know, and by knowledge be united with, the mind and will of God. And what is necessary at all times is especially so at this. For this land, once full of light, once united to the great commonwealth of Christendom, and grafted into the mystical vine, through whoso every branch and spray life and truth circulate, three hundred years ago, by evil men for evil ends, was isolated from the Christian world, and torn from the unity of Christ. Since that time, what has been the religious history of England? The schism which rent England from the Divine Tradition of Faith, rent it also from the source of certainty; the division which severed England from the unity of the Church throughout the world planted the principle of schism in England itself. England, carried away from Catholic unity, fell as a landslip from the shore, rending itself by its weight and mass. England, Scotland, Ireland, parted from each other, each with a religion of its own, each with its rule of faith. With schism came contradiction; with contradiction uncertainty, debate, and doubt.
Nor did it stop here. That same principle of schism which rent asunder these three kingdoms propagated itself still further. In each country division followed division. Each Protestant church, as it was established, contained within itself the principle both of its creation and dissolution, namely private judgment. And private judgment, working out its result in individual minds, caused schism after schism; until we are told by a writer, Protestant himself, that in the seventeenth century, during the high time of Protestant ascendency, the sects of England amounted to between one and two hundred.
But there are causes and events nearer to our day which render it more than ever necessary to turn back again to the only foundations of certainty, and lay once more the basis of faith. The establishment so long by many believed to be a Church, a body with a tradition of three hundred years, up held by the power of this mighty nation, maintained by the sanction of law and legislature, in vested with dignity and titles of state, possessing vast endowments, not of land or gold alone, but of that which is more precious, of treasures which the Catholic Church had gathered, and of which it was rudely spoiled; universities, colleges, and schools: that vast body, cultivated in intellect, embracing the national life in all its strength and ripeness, in an hour of trial was questioned of its faith, and prevaricated in its answer. It was bid to speak as a teacher sent from God; it could not, because God had not sent it. And thus the last remaining hope of certainty among Protestant bodies in this land revealed its own impotence to teach. The body which men fondly believed to partake of the divine 4office of the Church, proclaimed that alike in its mission and its message it was human.
What then do we see in this land? Sects with out number, perpetually subdividing; each equally confident, all contradictory: and that dominant communion which claims to be authoritative in teaching, itself confounded by internal contradictions of its own. How has this come to pass? It is because the Rule of Faith is lost, and the principle of certainty destroyed. Put a familiar illustration: suppose that in this teeming commercial city, where men, in fret and fever from sunrise to sunset, buy and sell, barter and bargain, the rules of calculation and the laws of number were to be come extinct; what error would ensue, what litigation, what bankruptcy, and what ruin! Or suppose that in this great mercantile empire, whose fleets cover the seas, the science of astronomy and the art of navigation were to perish; the shores of all the world would be strewn with our wrecks. So it is in the spiritual world. The Rule of Faith once lost, souls wander and perish. The effect of this is that men have come to state, as scientifically certain, that there is no definite doctrine in revelation. As if, indeed, truth had no definite outline. And we find in serious and even good men an enmity against the definite statement of religious truth. They call it dogmatism. The Athanasian Creed they cannot away with. It is too precise and too presumptuous. They feel as men who turn suddenly upon the image of our crucified Lord. They 5start at it from its very definiteness; and as the sight of a crucifix unexpectedly produces a shock, so will the definite statement of truth. It forces home the reality of faith. People now-a-days assume that religious truth can have no definite out line, and that each man must discover and define it for himself. And however definite he may choose to be, one law is binding equally upon us all. No one must be certain. Each must concede to his neighbour as much certainty as he claims for him self. The objective certainty of truth is gone. The highest rule of certainty to each is the conviction of his own understanding. And this, in the revelation of God; in that knowledge which is life eternal.
I. In answer, then, I say, that all knowledge must be definite; that without definiteness there is no true knowledge. To tell us that we may have religious knowledge which is not definite, is to tell us that we may have colour which is not distinguishable. Every several truth is as distinct as the several colours in the rainbow. Blend them, and you have only confusion. So is it in religious knowledge. Doctrines definite as the stars in heaven, when clouded by the obscurities of the human mind, lose their definiteness, and pass from sight.
Is not this true in every kind of knowledge? Take science, for example. What would a mathematician think of a diagram which is not definite? What would any problem of physical science be, as in optics, or in mechanics, or engineering, or in any 6of the arts whereby man subjugates nature to his use, if it were not definite? How could it be expressed, by what calculus could it be treated? What, again, is history which is not definite? History which is not the record of definite fact is mythology, fable, and rhapsody. Where history ceases to be definite, it begins to be fabulous. Or take moral science; what are moral laws which are not definite? A law which is not definite carries with it no obligation. If the law cannot be stated, it cannot be known; if not known, it has no claim on our obedience. Unless it definitely tell me what I am to do and what I am not to do, it has no jurisdiction over my conscience. And as in human knowledge, so, above all, in divine. If there be any knowledge which is severely and precisely definite, it is the knowledge which God has revealed of Himself. Finite indeed it is, but definite al ways: finite as our sight of the earth, the form of which is round; and yet. because our narrow sight can compass no more, to us it seems one broad expanse.
Again, take an example from the highest knowledge. When we speak of wisdom, goodness, or power, we carry our mind upward to the attributes of God. When we see these moral qualities reproduced in a finite being, we call them still by the same titles. So with knowledge. What is knowledge in God but an infinite and definite apprehension of uncreated and eternal truth? The knowledge which God has of Himself and of His works is a science divine, the example and type of all. To descend from the divine perfection; what is knowledge in the angels but equally definite, though in a finite intelligence? And what was the knowledge of man before the fall, but, though finite, definite still? What, then, is the knowledge which God has restored to man through revelation but a definite knowledge, a participation of His own? The truth which has been revealed, what is it in the mind of God who reveals it, but one, harmonious and distinct? What was that knowledge as revealed by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but one, harmonious and distinct? What was the conception of that knowledge in inspired men, but one, harmonious and distinct also? And what was that knowledge when communicated by those who were inspired to those who believed, but one, harmonious and distinct as before? And what is this unity and harmony and distinctness of knowledge, which God revealed of Himself through Jesus Christ, but the faith we confess in our creed? Our baptismal faith, its substance and its letter, the explicit and the implicit meaning, article by article, is as definite, severe, and precise, as any problem in science. It is of the nature of truth to be so; and where definiteness ends, knowledge ceases.
Observe, then, the distinction between finite knowledge and definite knowledge. Is not science definite? Yet it is also finite. The theory of gravitation, definite as it is, is finite too. The theory of electricity is definite as far as we know it, but 8finite also. Go through the whole range of physical sciences, what is it but an example of the same condition of knowledge, definiteness in conception with finiteness of reach? What has astronomy revealed to us? The starry heavens, in which we trace the laws and revolutions of heavenly bodies. We find centre after centre, and orbit beyond orbit, until at last we reach what has been long fixed upon as the centre of the universe; and yet even here, science now tells us that probably this, our central point, which we believed to be fixed, is again itself a planet revolving around some mightier centre which science cannot attain. Here, then, are the conditions of definiteness and finiteness combined. So in revealed truth. If we have not a definite knowledge of what we believe, we may be sure we have no true knowledge of it.
II. But, further, it is evident that knowledge must also be certain. When we speak of certainty, we mean one of two things. Sometimes we say, that a thing is certain; at other times, that we are certain. When we say a truth is certain, we mean, that the proofs of that truth are either self-evident, or so clear as to exclude all doubt. This is certainty on the part of the object proposed to our intelligence. But when we say we are certain, we mean that we are inwardly convinced, by the application of our reason to the matter before us, of the sufficiency of the evidence to prove the truth of it. In us, certainty is rather a moral feeling, a complex state of mind. As light manifests itself 9by its own nature, but sight is the illumination of the eye; so certainty means truth with its evidences illuminating the intelligence, or, in other words, the intelligence possessed by truth with its evidences.
This we call certainty. I ask, then, is there not this twofold certainty in the revelation which God has given? Was not the revelation which God gave of Himself through Jesus Christ made certain on His part by direct evidence of the Divine act which revealed it? Is it not also certain on our part by the apprehension and faith of the Church? Was not God manifest in the flesh that He might reveal Himself? Did not God dwell on earth that He might teach His truth? Has not God spoken to man that man might know Him? Did not God work miracles that man might believe that He was present? What evidence on the part of God was wanting that men might know that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God?
And if there was certainty on the part of God who revealed, was there not certainty also on the part of those that heard? Look back into the sacred history. Had not Prophets and Seers certainty of that which they beheld and heard? Had not Abraham certainty when he saw a dark mist and a smoking furnace, and a fiery lamp moved between the portions of the sacrifice? Was not Moses certain when he beheld the pattern shown to him on the Mount? Was not Daniel certain when the angel Gabriel flew swiftly and touched 10him at the time of the evening sacrifice? Were not Apostles and Evangelists certain when they companied with our Lord, and said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have diligently looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life”? Were not the Twelve certain in the upper chamber? Were they not certain on the day of Pentecost? Was not Paul certain in Arabia, when lie teamed the Gospel, not of man, nor of flesh and blood, but “by the revelation of Jesus Christ?” Was not John certain in Patmos, when heaven was opened, and the vision of the future was traced before his eye? And were not they certain to whom Patriarchs, Prophets, Seers, Apostles, Evangelists, preached and wrote? Has not the Church of God been certain from that hour to this of the revelation given and received at the first?
What, then, is the first condition of faith but certainty? He that has not certain faith has no faith. We are told that to crave for certainty implies a morbid disposition. Did not Abraham, and Moses, and Daniel, the Apostles and Evangelists desire certainty in faith, and crave to know beyond doubt that God spake to them, and to know with definite clearness what God said? Was this a morbid craving? Surely this is not to be reproved. But rather the contrary disposition is worthy of rebuke. How can we venture to content ourselves with uncertainty in matters where the truth and honour of God and the salvation of our own souls are at stake? This truly is not without sin.
We are told, indeed, that to be certain is in consistent with faith, that probability is the atmosphere in which faith lives, and that if you extinguish probabilities, faith dies. Did the Apostles then believe the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity upon a probability? Did they believe the doctrine of the Incarnation upon conjecture? Was it because they walked in twilight that their faith in their Divine Lord was acceptable?
To what are we come? In this Christian land, once full of light, once in unity with the Church of God, once replenished with truth,—to what are we come? A new virtue is promulgated; to be uncertain of the truth and of the will of God; to hold our faith on probabilities. And yet, what is the very idea of Revelation but a Divine assurance of Truth? Where faith begins uncertainty ends. Because faith terminates upon the veracity of God; and what God has spoken and authenticated to us by Divine authority cannot be uncertain." Next Section Speaks On What Is Going On In The Church " I am aware, brethren, that much of what I have said has no application to you. You are the heirs of a Divine inheritance. As the science of astronomy, in its severity and truth, has descended by intellectual tradition from the first simple observations made on the plains of Chaldea down to the abstract and complex demonstrations of these later times, so has the tradition of faith, the science 12 of God, come down to you. You have been born within its sphere. You know it by a manifold assurance, by the certainty of God revealing it, the Scriptures of God recording it, the Church of God preserving it, the Councils of the Church defining it, the Holy See from age to age condemning error and setting its seal upon the faith. You have it brought down to you with imperishable certainty. Your guide is not human but Divine. Why then do I speak to you? Because you have a mission to fulfill. You have to bring others to a share of the same inheritance. I bespeak your charity and your patience in their behalf. I cannot better put before you the state of those who have lost what to you has been preserved, than by a parallel. Suppose I were to write an inscription, and show it to you. Having read it, the meaning of that inscription passes, so to speak, into the very substance of your mind. It is ineffaceably impressed upon your memory. Then tear it into twenty pieces, and give one piece to twenty men respectively; set them to discover the whole. I know it, because I wrote it; you know it, because you have seen and read it. They know it only in part. They have each a fragment; but they cannot conjecture the rest. So is it with the sects that are around the Church of God. The one inscription, written, not by man, out by the Spirit of God upon the illuminated reason of the Church, has descended perfect and entire until now. But each several sect as it departed from unity carried away a fragment. The children of schismatics inherit a fragment only. As “faith cometh by hearing,” so theology cometh by hearing, and the doctrine of the Catholic Church in its harmony, unity, and distinctness, comes by hearing. They who never heard that faith, to whom the science in its fullness has not descended, have but a fragment, from which they labour in vain to conjecture the remainder. You can help them. Not by controversy; not by destroying what they have already. To destroy even a fragment of the Truth is Satan’s controversy. The divine way of establishing faith among men is not to throw down, but to build up: to add, to develop, to perfect. Every truth that a man possesses is so far a pledge that you have a share in him, that so far he is with you Hold him fast by that truth. Add to it the next which follows in Divine order; and so in patience and in charity lead him on from truth to truth, as by the links of a chain, and bind him to the altar of God.
And now, of those who reject the principles I have stated, and deny to theology the character of definiteness and certainty, I would ask two questions:—
1. First, I would ask, What do you believe? Put it in words. Conceive it in thought. Fix your mind’s eye upon it. Put it in writing in some silent hour: know at least what it is. As you value your eternal soul, as you believe that the end of your being is to be united with God eternally, and that the means to that eternal union is the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, be not content a day to abide in uncertainty and indefiniteness concerning the truth, which you know to be vitally necessary to your salvation.
Again I say, put it in words. First, what do you believe of the Godhead? You believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? This you hold definitely and without a doubt. What do you believe of the Incarnation of the Son of God? That in Him two whole and perfect natures are united in one person, never to be divided. You believe the Godhead, presence, and office of the Holy Ghost? But there remain other articles of your creed. We come next to “the Holy Catholic Church.” What do you believe in this article of Faith? Will you say, “We have definite and certain knowledge of the former articles, but not of the latter. When I come to ‘the Holy Catholic Church’ I come to a region where uncertainty is lawful”? But uncertainty is doubt, and doubt and faith are contradictory. You may not doubt in your baptismal faith, or be uncertain as to the articles of your creed. May we make an open question, for example, of the resurrection of the dead? Why not be also uncertain whether or no the Holy Spirit of God be in the world now; or, being now in the world, whether He have a present office to teach? You believe this; but why believe this, and doubt of other doctrines of the same creed? And if you believe that the Holy Spirit does still teach the world, how does He teach? Each several man by immediate inspiration? If not, then how? You will say perhaps, that He teaches through the Church. But if through the Church, through what Church? How are we the better or the wiser by knowing that the Spirit of God teaches the world at this hour, and that He has an organ through which to speak, if we know not which, nor where that organ is? How then shall you know that you hear His voice? If you knew that of twelve men who stood before you, one only possessed a secret upon which your life depended, would you be careless to know which man bore the treasure in his possession? Why then may you be indifferent to ascertain which is the accredited messenger upon whom your faith depends?
Try therefore to define your meaning. You say you believe a Church, because your baptismal faith says, “I believe one Holy Catholic Church:” holy, because the Holy Spirit teaches in it; Catholic, because throughout all the world; and one. Why one? Why do you say that you believe in one God? Because there is not more than one God. Why one Lord? Because not two. Why one baptism? Because one alone. Why one faith? Because no other. All these are numerically one. Why then one Church? Because numerically one; two there cannot be. Through that one Church speaks the one Spirit of the one God, teaching the one faith in which is salvation. Which then is this true and only Teacher sent from God? You look about you, and see a Church in Greece, in 16 Russia, in America, in England, and in Rome. Which of all these is the one only true? Can you be content with this guess-work instead of faith?
2. And further: I would ask another question. I have asked you what you believe; I will now ask you why you believe it; upon what basis of certainty you are convinced of it. and why? Do you say that you have applied the best powers of your understanding to it? So have others who contradict you. Why are you more surely right than they are? You have not had a message from heaven, sent by special indulgence to make you sure, while others wander. What then is the basis of your certainty? The persuasion of your own mind is not enough. At that rate all men are certain. False coins pass in every land; false miracles take the semblance of true. The whole world is full of counterfeits. What I ask you is this: How do you distinguish between your certainty and the certainty of other men, so as to know that their certainty is human, and yours divine? Why are they wrong, and you right? Where is the test to determine this? You know it cannot exist within you, for every body may claim the same. You look then without you and around to find it.
Well, you will perhaps tell us that you have inherited the faith you hold. The inheritance of faith, that is a divine principle. We bow before the principle of inheritance. But why did you cut off the entail of your forefathers? Why, three hundred years ago, did you cut off the entail of that inheritance? If it be not cut off, why is the contest? If it be cut off, why was it cut off? To inherit the faith is the divine rule. It needs only one thing, infallibility, ii secure it. It needs only one support to give it substance and certainty; a divine tradition flowing from the Throne of God through Prophets, Seers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Saints, and Doctors in one world-wide stream, ever deepening, never changing, from the beginning until now. Show this divine certainty as the basis of your conviction, and then inherit both truth and faith. But the inheritance of opinion in a family, or a diocese, or a province, or nation, what is it? Human in the beginning, and human to the end: “the traditions of men.”
You say you have inherited the faith, and that this is the Church of your forefathers. Go back three hundred years ago, and ask the priests of God who stood then at the altar how they would expound the faith you still profess to hold. Ask them what they believed while they ministered in. cope and chasuble. Go back to the Apostle of England who first bore hither again the light of the Gospel after Saxon paganism had darkened this fair land. Ask St. Augustine what he believed of those words, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.” Give your exposition, and ask his. What would he have taught you of visible unity? What would he teach you of the Church of God? Ask him, Is it one numerically, or one only by metaphor? Is it visible, that all men may see “the City seated on a mountain,” or invisible, that men may weary themselves, and never find it? Has it a head on earth, representing its Divine Head in heaven? Or has it no head, and may it set up many of its own? What would he have taught yon of your baptismal creed? Or that great saint who sent him from the Apostolic throne, what would he have testified to you of those doctrines of faith which you are taught to look upon as errors? Ask Gregory, first and greatest of the name, what he believed of the powers left by the Incarnate Son to His Church on earth: what he taught of the power of the keys transmitted by his predecessors in lineal descent from the hands of his Divine Lord? Ask what he taught of the power of absolution in the sacrament of penance; what he believed of the Reality on the altar, and of the Holy Sacrifice daily offered in all the world; of the Communion of Saints ever inter ceding, by us ever invoked; of the intermediate state of departed souls, purifying for the kingdom of God. Ask Gregory, saint and doctor, to whom we owe the faith, what he taught of those doctrines which you have rejected.
If the disciple and his master, if he that was sent, and he that sent him, were to come now and tread the shore of this ancient river, whither would they turn to worship? Would they go to the stately minster, raised by their sons in the faith, where even now rests a sainted king of Catholic England? Would they bend their steps thither to worship the God of their fathers, and their Incarnate Lord from whom their mission and their faith descended? Or would they not rather go to some obscure altar in its neighbourhood, where an unknown despised priest daily offers the Holy Sacrifice in communion with the world-wide Church of God?
If, then, you claim inheritance as the foundation of your faith, be true to your principle, and it will lead you home. Trifle not with it. Truth bears the stamp of God. and truth changes man to the likeness of God. Trifle not with the pleadings of the Holy Spirit within you; for He has a delicate touch, and sensitively shrinks from wilfulness and unbelief. If truth struggle within you, follow it faithfully. Tread close upon the light that you possess. Count all things loss that you may win truth, without which the inheritance of God’s kingdom is not ours. Labour for it, and weary your selves until you find it. And forget not that if your religion be indefinite, you have no true knowledge of your Saviour; and if your belief be uncertain, it is not the faith by which we can be saved." In Lecture Two by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, he goes for the knock out against these open heresies being taught by Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, even "Pope" Francis. " LECTURE II.
THE CHURCH A HISTORICAL WITNESS.
This is life everlasting, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
BEFORE we go on to the subject that stands next in order, it will be well to re-stale the conclusions at which we have thus far arrived.
From these words of our Divine Lord, we have seen that the end of man is eternal life, and the means to that end the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. Union with God in knowledge, love, and worship, is life eternal. And that man might attain to this end of his creation, God has revealed Himself to us in His Son. We have, therefore, noted the error of those who say that in Revelation doctrine is either not definite, or not certain. It is manifest that all knowledge must be definite; for if it be not definite, we may have guess, or conjecture, or probability, but true knowledge we cannot have. We have seen also that it must be certain, and that unless we have certainty we can have no faith, because the mind cannot rest upon uncertainty, as hunger cannot sate itself on air.
We have obtained, then, two principles; the one, that knowledge, though indeed it be finite, as it must be in a finite intelligence, is nevertheless, so far as it is known to us, perfectly definite. It is as a complex mathematical figure winch we see only in part, but in all we can see is perfect, harmonious, and proportionate, capable of being under stood, calculated, and expressed. Being in the mind of God one, harmonious and distinct, it is cast on the limited sphere of man’s intelligence in its unity, harmony, and distinctness. The other principle is, that the knowledge which God has given us of Himself is, in every sense, certain. We cannot conceive that the contradictory of that which God has spoken can be true, or that Prophets and Apostles were uncertain of what they believed and taught.
And now we will go on to examine what is the foundation upon which this certainty descends to us. It is, in one word, the authority of the Church of God. But this authority of the Church is twofold: it is either the outward and extrinsic, which I may call the human and historical authority; or it is the inward and intrinsic, that is, the super natural and the divine authority. The latter we must consider hereafter. For the present we will examine only the outward or historical authority of the Church, upon which the certainty of revelation as a fact in history is known to us.
All who have traced the history of the faith know that there is no doctrine which has not been made the subject of controversy. Look at the records of Christianity, and you will find that heresy began with the first publication of the truth. In the first age, we find heresies assailing the doctrine of the Godhead of the Father, the Creator of the world. In the next age heresies assailed the doctrine of the Godhead of the Son; later again, the doctrine of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost; next the doctrine of holy Sacraments; later still, the doctrine of the Church itself. A vast schism arose, justifying itself by denying the existence and the authority of the visible Church as such. And because the existence and authority of the visible Church was so denied, the foundation of certainty was broken up, and the principle of uncertainty introduced. Age by age, and article by article, the faith has been denied, until we come down to a period when the characteristic heresy of the day is, not a denial of the Godhead of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost, and the like, though these too are denied, but the denial of the foundation of certainty in faith. The master-heresy of this day, the fountain and source of all heresy, is this, that men have come first to deny, and then to disbelieve the existence in the world of a foundation, divinely laid, upon which revealed truth can certainly rest.
Let us ask those who deny the existence of this basis of certainty, upon what do they rest when they believe in the fact of a revelation? The revelation was not made to them, personally. It was not made to-day. It was made to others: it was made eighteen hundred years ago. By what means, I ask, are men now certain that eighteen hundred years ago, to other men, in other lands, a revelation from God was given? They are forced back upon history. They were not there to see or hear. Revelation does not spring up by inspiration in their inward consciousness. They are, therefore, thrown upon history; they are compelled to go to the testimony of others. All men who at this hour believe in the Advent of the Son of God, and in the fact of the day of Pentecost, all alike rest upon history. Not but that Catholics rest on more (of this, however, hereafter); but they who do not rest upon the divine office of the Church rest on history alone. Then, I ask, by what criterion are they certain that their historical views are true? Let them throw the rule of their examination into some form of words. Unless they can put into intelligible words the principle of certainty upon which they rest, it is either useless or false: useless, if it cannot be stated, for if it cannot be stated, it cannot be applied; false, if the nature of it be such that it will not admit of expression I would beseech any who are resting upon such a certainty as this, not to confound a sensation of positiveness with the sense of certainty. The sense of certainty is a Divine gift. It is the inward testimony of our whole intelligent nature. A sensation of positiveness springs out of obstinacy, or prejudice. Let them not confound the resolution to believe themselves in the right with the reason for knowing that they are in the truth. Let them analyses deeper, and find what is their principle, and state that principle in intelligible words. To take an example. We all believe, apart from revelation, that the world was created. How so? We proceed to prove it. The world is not eternal, for then it would be God. It did not make itself, for that is contradiction. Therefore, it remains of necessity that it had a maker. I ask them only to be as definite as this: for life is short and eternity is long, and we are saved by truth; and truth which is not definite is no truth to us; and indefinite statements have no certainty; and without certainty there is no faith.
In answer to this we are told that all men can read the Holy Scriptures, and that this is enough. I reply, Scripture is not Scripture except in the right sense of Scripture. Your will after you are dead is not your testament unless it be interpreted according to your intention. The words and syllables of your testament may be so interpreted as to contradict your purpose. The will of the deceased is the intention of the deceased known by his testament. So of Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture is Holy Scripture only in the right sense of Holy Scripture.
But we are further told, that notwithstanding these superficial contradictions, all good men agree in essentials. First, then, I ask, What are essentials? Who has the power to determine what is essential and what is not? By whose judgment are we to ascertain it? The Church knows only one essential truth, and that is, the whole revelation of God. It knows of no power to determine between truth and truth, and to say, “though God has revealed this, we need not believe it.” The whole revelation of God comes to us with its intrinsic obligation on our faith, and we receive it altogether as God’s word. They who speak of all good men agreeing in essentials, mean this: “I believe what I think essential, and I give my neighbour leave to believe what he thinks essential.” Their agreement is only this, not to molest each other: but they mutilate the revelation of God.
In opposition to these opinions, let us state the grounds of our own certainty.
I. We believe, then, that we have no knowledge of the way of salvation through grace, except from the revelation of God. No one can deny this. It is a truism that we have no knowledge of the way of redemption by grace except through divine revelation. The whole world is witness of the fact. For four thousand years the world wandered on, and knew not the way of grace except by a thread of light which from Adam to Enoch, and from Enoch to Noe. and from Noe to Abraham, and from Abraham to Moses, and from Moses to the promised Seed, ran down, keeping alive in the world the expectation of a Redeemer. Outside this path of light the way of grace was not known; nor was it known even there except by revelation.
And round about that solitary light, what was there? Was there a knowledge of the way of salvation through grace? The heathen nations, their polytheism, their idolatry, their morality, their literature, their public and their private life, do these give testimony to the way of grace? Take their schools, their philosophies, their greatest intellects, what do they prove? One of the greatest practical intellects of the Eastern world believed that matter was eternal, and that the soul of the world was God. The loftiest of all in speculation was blind when lie came to treat of the first laws of purity. In the west, the greatest orators, poets, and philosophers, either believed in no God at all, or in a blind and imaginary deity, stripped of personality. This was all that Nature had done. Nature without revelation had no true knowledge of God, and absolutely none of salvation through grace.
It was not until four thousand years had passed that the way of salvation through grace was revealed. Look at the mightiest effort Nature in its own strength ever made,—the empire of Rome; that vast power extending itself in all the world; the whole earth wondering at the onward march of its victorious armies; races falling back before its legions; its frontiers expanding whithersoever they trod; a mighty, world-wide dominion, whose capital 27spread from the Mediterranean to the Alban hills, in circuit sixty or seventy miles, within which nations dwelt together: the palace of the aristocracy of the earth; for magnificence, splendour, and civilisation, never exceeded among mankind. Human nature here was taxed to its utmost strength: human intelligence reached its utmost bound; and what knew Rome of the way of grace, or of salvation through Jesus Christ? What was the morality of Rome? What was its religion? It was the high place of all the gods; the deities of the greater and lesser nations, and of the surrounding cities which it conquered, were incorporated with its own superstitions. All impieties were in veneration, and every falsehood had its shrine. Only truth was persecuted, only one worship was forbidden; and that, the only doctrine and the only worship riot of this world. Nature did its utmost; the intelligence of man bore testimony to all it could attain. The Babel of confusion was built to teach mankind for ever that human nature without God could never rise to a knowledge of the way of grace.
The manifestation of God in the flesh; the effusion of light and revelation through the Holy Spirit; the setting up of the mystical ladder at the head of which the Lord stands, and on which Angels ascend and descend; the gathering together of truths that had wandered to and fro on earth; and the uniting of all in one hierarchy of faith: nothing less was needed before man could know the way of eternal life.
It is certain, then, that we have no natural knowledge of the way of salvation through grace; that is, through the Incarnation, the Atonement, the mystical Body of Christ; through the Sacraments, which are the channels of the Holy Spirit. Without revelation we have no true knowledge of sin, whereby we forfeited our sonship; nor of regeneration, whereby we regain it; nor of the relation of grace to the free-will of man; and the like. But all these are doctrines upon which union with God and eternal life depend, and yet of these not a whisper was heard on earth until revelation came by Jesus Christ.
II. But, further, we believe, in the second place, that as we have no knowledge of the way of salvation through grace, except from the revelation of God, so neither have we any certainty what that revelation was, except through the Church of God. As the fountain is absolutely one and no other, so the channel through which it flows is absolutely one and no other. As there is no source of certainty but revelation, so there is no channel through which it can flow but the Church of God. For certainty as to the revelation given eighteen hundred years ago, of the Church we needs must learn. Now he also goes after all Schismatic Groups Pretending To Be Catholic To what other can we go? Who besides has the words of eternal life? Shall we go to the nations of the world? Can they teach the faith which they knew not before Christ came, neither have since believed? Shall we go to the fragments of Christendom broken off from age to age by heresy and schism? Their testimony is but local, limited, and contradictory. What certainty can the Monophysite, Eutychian, Nestorian, or Protestant, give of the day of Pentecost? To whom, then, shall we go? To that one mystical body which came down from the upper chamber to possess the earth; to that one moral person upon whom the Holy Spirit then descended; to that kingdom of the God of heaven, which, spreading from Jerusalem through out all lands, penetrated into every country, province, and city, erecting its thrones, ascending in might and power, expanding throughout the earth, gathering together its circumference, filling up the area of its circuit, until the world became Christian; and then sat in sovereignty, displacing and replacing the empire of the world. This universal kingdom, one and indivisible, reigning continuous and perpetual in unbroken succession from the day of Pentecost, was the eye-witness and the ear- witness of revelation. This one moral person alone can say, “When the Word made flesh spake, I heard; when the tongues of fire descended from heaven, I saw: with my senses I perceived the presence of God; with my intelligence I understood His voice; with my memory I retain to this hour the knowledge of what I then heard and saw; with my changeless consciousness I testify what was spoken.” To this one, and this one only witness in the world, can we go for certainty.
Put the case thus. Will you go to the Monophysite, Eutychian, or Nestorian heresies, ancient 30 as they are, which separated from the Church of Christ in the fifth and sixth centuries? Will they bear witness? Yes; but only a partial testimony. They were witnesses so long as they were united to the one Church; but their testimony ceased when they separated from it. They are witnesses so far as they agree with that one Church, but not when they contradict it. The testimony derived from separated bodies amounts to this: it is the borrowed light which even in separation they receive from the Church itself.
And as with early, so with later heresies. Shall we go to the separated Greek communion, which claims to be the only orthodox Church? Will that give a trustworthy testimony? Yes; so far as it agrees with the body from which it departed. Its witness after the separation is but local. Shall we go to the great division of these later times, to the huge crumbling Protestantism of the last three centuries? Is there in it any sect descending from the day of Pentecost? When did it begin? A hundred years ago, probably, or it may be two, or at most three hundred years ago. At that time a traceable change produced it. Does Protestantism reach up ward to the original revelation? Has it a succession of sense, reason, memory, and consciousness, uniting it with the day of Pentecost?
If, then, what has been said as to the only source and channel of knowledge and certainty be true, sufficient reason has been shown to make every one who is resting on the testimony of bodies separated from the Universal Church mistrust his confidence. Must he not say, Eighteen hundred years ago a revelation was given; my life reaches but a span, my memory but a few years; how do I know what passed on that day? How shall they tell me whose life, like my own, touches only upon the last generation? I go to this and to that separated communion, but they all fall short. There is one and one only living witness in the world, which, as it touches on the present hour in which I live, unites me by a lineal consciousness, by a living intelligence, with the moment when, in the third hour of the day, “there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming, and filled the whole house.”
Let it be remembered that I am speaking of the external authority of the Church simply as a historical argument. We will confine ourselves for the present to this alone. I put it forward as it was cited by a philosophical historian, one of the greatest of this age, who, having passed through the windings of German unbelief, found at last his rest in the one True Fold. Explaining the ground of his submission, Schlegel gave this reason; that he found the testimony of the Catholic Church to be the greatest historical authority on earth for the events of the past. It is in this sense I am speaking.
And therefore, when I use the word authority, I mean evidence. The word “authority” may be used in two senses. It may either signify power, as the jurisdiction which the Church has over 32 the souls committed to its trust; or it may mean evidence, as when we say, we have a statement on the authority, or evidence, of an eye-witness.
Suppose, then, we were to reject this highest historical evidence; suppose we were to say that the authority of the Catholic Church, though of great weight, is not conclusive: I would ask, what historical evidence remains beyond it? To whom else shall we go? Is there any other authority upon which we can rest? If we receive not the authority of the Universal Church, we must descend from higher to lower ground, we must come down to the partial authority of a local church. Will this be to ascend in the scale of certainty? If the testimony of the Universal Church be not the maximum of historical evidence in the world, where shall we find it? Shall we find it in the church of Greece, or of America, or of England? Shall we find it in the church of a province, or in the church of a diocese? If the Universal Episcopate be not the maximum of external evidence, where shall it be found? And, in fact, they who reject the evidence of the Universal Church for the primitive faith, necessarily rest their belief on the authority of a local body, or on the authority of a man. It was by divine intuition that our Lord said, “Call none your father upon earth;” for they who will not believe the Church of God must be in bondage to human teachers. If they are Calvinists, they must be in bondage to Calvin; or Lutherans, to Luther; or Arians, to Arius; or if they be members of a church separated from Catholic unity, they must be in bondage to its self-constituted head. The ultimate authority in which they trust is human. From this false confidence in man the Catholic Church alone can redeem us. We trust not in the judgment of an individual, howsoever holy or wise, but in the witness of an universal and perpetual body, to which teachers and taught alike are subject; and because all are in subjection to the Church, all are redeemed from bondage to individual teachers and the authority of men.
Thus far we have spoken of the Church as a mere human witness. To us, indeed, brethren, its voice is not mere human testimony God has provided for faith a certainty which cannot fail; the mystical Body of Christ, changeless and indestructible, spread throughout the world. Wonderful creation of God; but far more wonderful if it be the creation of man: if, after all man’s failures to construct an imperishable kingdom, to hold together the human intelligence in one conviction, the human will in one discipline, and the human heart in one bond of love; if, after four thousand years of failure, mere human power framed the Catholic Church, endowed it with resistless power of expansion, and quickened it with the life of universal charity. More wonderful far, if it was man’s work to create the great science of theology, in which the baptismal formula, “I baptise thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” expands into the creed, and the creed again expands into the science of God on which the illuminated reason of eighteen hundred years has spent itself. Wonderful, indeed, if this be a mere human creation! To us it is the work and voice of God; to us the line of Bishops and of Councils by which the Faith has been declared in perpetual succession is the testimony which God Himself has counter signed, the witness God Himself has sent. This continuous testimony from the Council of Aries to the Council of Nice, from the Council of Nice to that of Chalcedon, from Chalcedon to Lateran, from Lateran to Lyons, and from Lyons to Trent, is one harmonious science, ever expanding as a reflection of the mind of God; preserving and unfolding before us the one Truth revealed in the beginning, in its unity and harmony and distinctness. This is the basis of our certainty.
What is the history of the Catholic Church but the history of the intellect of Christendom? What do we see but two lines, the line of faith and the line of heresy, running side by side in every age; and the Church, as a living Judge, sitting sovereign and alone with unerring discernment, dividing truth from error with a sharp two-edged sword? Every several altar, and every several see, gives testimony to the same doctrines; and all conspiring voices ascend into the testimony of that One See, which in its jurisdiction is universal, and in its presence every where; that one See, the foundation-stones of which were cemented in the blood of thirty Pontiffs; chat See which recorded its archives in the vaults 35of catacombs, and when the world was weary with persecuting, ascended to possess itself of imperial basilicas. This is the witness upon whose testimony we securely rest. The Church is a living history of the past. Cancel this, and what record is there left? If Rome be gone, where is Christendom?" I urge you to finish reading Lecture 3 and Lecture 4 Andrew B. ***