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The visible unity of the Catholic Church maintained against opposite theories (Volume 1) online

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Btes^ed virgin ^s regards that sinless one, the most favoured and most

^^^^'^' exalted of all favoured and sublime creatures ; her,

wliom all generations of the faithful hail as Blessed?

England is not at one with Eome, nor with the great

i)e natiira et gratia, St. Austiu, wlicu lie says : — ' For the honour of the

cap. xxxvi. n. 42. , ... , . ., . ,

Lord, i Will have no question at an entertamed con-
cerning the Holy Virgin Mary, when there is any
discussion about sins.' Exceptd itaque sanctd viryine
Marid^ de qua propter honorem Domini nullam pror-
sus cum de peccaiis agitur^ haberi volo qucestionem.
The Scarce twenty years have fled, since the letters of

Conception. thc llomaii Poiitiff' Went forth over the whole earth,
asking the testimony of every Bishop as to the tradi-
tionary faith of his own particular diocese, respecting
the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary: — Whethei- for one single moment, the great
Mother of our God and Saviour had been under
Satan's tlu'aldom? — Whether the-re w^as ever one
single instant, during which her blessed soul was
defiled with Adam's sin?


The universal globe made answer ; and the
Supreme Pontiir, aided by the light of God,
discerned the ' mind of Christ,' the divinely ap- i Cor. ii. le.
pointed moment, and the movement of the Holy

A vast assembly is convened atEome, and around
the great Apostle's earthly resting-place large multi-
tudes are thronging into the noblest of God's temples.
The solemn but joyful rites commence, and in mea-
sured cadence there swells up from that crowed of
Christian men as if they had one only voice, the cry
for aid from Heaven — ' Veni Creator Spiritus.' It
ceases, and all is still. Then arises in the strength of
the Lord God, as if filled with that blessed Spirit, the
holy and august Pontiff of old Home, and he pro-
claims to the universe, by a power not his own, tliat
after prayers and fastings, and earnest supplications
from himself and the Church to Almighty God
through Jesus Christ His Son, he now, assisted by
the Holy Ghost, declares, that : —

' To the honour of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Litt. Apost.
to the dignity and glory of the Virgin Mother of God, Dogmat. Defin.
to the exaltation of the Catholic Faitli, and the in- "^"^' °"''" "^' "^"
crease of the Christian religion, by the authority of
our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter
and Paul, and Our Own, we declare, pronounce, and
define that the d(jctrine which maintains that the most
blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her con-
ception was, by the singular grace and privilege of
Almighty God, in consideration of the merits of
Christ Jesus, the Sa\iour of the human race, preserved


exempt iVom all stain of original sin, is a doctrine
revealed by God, and therefore to be firmly and con-
stantly believed by all the faithful. Wherefore, if
any, which may God avert, shall presume to entertain
m their hearts an opinion at variance with this doc-
trine which we define, be it known to such persons,
and let them moreover understand, that they are
condemned by theh: own judgment, that they have
suffered sliip wreck concerning the faith, and have
fallen off from the unity of the Church. . .

'Therefore, let no man infringe upon this our decla-
ration, publication, and definition, or with rash daring
oppose and contradict it. But if any one shall pre-
sume to attempt it, be it known to hmi that he will
incur the indignation of the Omnipotent God, and of
the blessed Peter and Paul, His Apostles.'

The Pontiff ceased, and the gorgeous vaults re-
echoed with the Te Deum of thanksgiving from the
thousands who were gathered under that stupendous
dome. The strain was caught up outside ; it was
boi'iic on throuuhout the universe; and the pure
angehc vaults of heaven re-echoed the joy of Chris-
tian hearts below, that none amongst them now could
have a doubt that God's Mother was Immaculate;
that their own Mother, Mary, was always without a

What part has the so-called 'Church of England'
taken in this triumphant hymn of praise resounding
throughout all space ? How has she borne her
' separate witness ' to this article of the one faith ?


Nay, what testimony does slie give at all to the filial
love and veneration due to Mary, "which nature itself
should teach to all who believe in their heart that of
her ' was born Jesus,' and that Jesus is their God ?

These are not idle questions ; nor is it any idle impoi'tauce
motive which has induced me to explain these dif- considerations,
ferences so fully. My object is to dispel the mis-
chievous delusion which is raising a mist before the
eyes of so many earnest Christians, and cheating
into rest those who are in a position of schism and
of heresy. I do not seek by these expressions to
give offence, but I vnah. to call things what they
are. I have shown, from authorities whose testi-
mony cannot be questioned, the doctrine which
Eome teaches to be the faith on the points wliich
have been mentioned. She teaches it as the one only
faith ; the ftxith of the Apostles, ' once delivered to the
saints.' She teaches it as the original revelation of
the eternal God of Truth, through Christ ' the light
of the world,' and through the Holy Spirit on the
Day of Pentecost. She teaches that there is no
salvation for those who wilfully reject this faith. If
England accepts it, then why does she remain apart?
Would not this alone be schism? If England rejects
it, then in what sense can it be said that ' w^e bear
separate witness still to the one faith which Christ
gave to His Church, the faith of the creeds'?

I am prepared for the reply. It will be said that Tiie tiuoiy
the points to which England objects are additions to to be false.


the one fuitli ; thut they are not true explanations, but
alterations of the creeds. Such an answer shows at
once how fallacious is the theory of an imaginary
objective luiity, invisibly existing, through Christ the
unseen Head. Can those be one in Christ, who are
di\'ided as to the interpretation of the articles of the
saving faith which Christ revealed and taught ?

On this point I rejoice to be able to appeal to the
testimony of Dr. Puse3\ In his explanation of the
theoiy before us, he teaches that it maintains unity of
Eiren. pp. 53-56. faith to be esscntial. He says distinctly, — ' They have
not the same Lord, who do not believe the same
truth as to Him ' ; and he shows that he intends by
this, more than the faith respecting His Divine Person,
since he refers to the Pelagians as not believing ' in
what He wrought for us, and the Donatists ' as deny-
ing ' the existence of that mystical body, whereof He
was the Head.'

He proceeds : — ' The ftiith, St. Paul says, is one,
one unchangeable faith, admitting neither of enlarge-
ment nor (liiniiiulioii, so that eitlicr wliat the Apostles
believed and taught the wliole Cliurch as faith, should
cease to be faith, or that anything should become
faith which they, full of the Holy Ghost, knew not
and taught not as the faith. But since the faith is
one, one whole, then whosoever parteth with, or
altereth any ])i)rli()ii of tlic one faith, in fact changes
the whole, so that it is not the same faith, whence the
.stress in the Athanasian Creed on "keeping the faith
whole and undefiled."' He includes among those
things which ' if any wilfully reject, they reject


Christ,' ' one comiuoii faitli, that wliicli was given
once for all, with the anatliema that we hold no
doctrine at variance w^ith it, although an angel from
heaven were to preach it.'

Dr. Forbes asserts the same. lie says that ' ob- vide sup. p. 70.
jective unity' 'requires, on our part, continuity of
the commission which Christ gave to His Apostles,
and perseverance in the faitli whicli lie committed
to the Church.'

It has been seen that Eome teaches, as a portion
of the faith, that Christ committed to the Apostle
Peter, and his successors, the charge of the whole
' flock of God,' Vv'itli supreme authority over tlie
Universal Church ; and that every baptized Christian
owes ' true obedience to the Bishop of Eome ' as
'Vicar of Jesus Christ.' England rejects this portion
of the faith, and will not acknowledge this commis-
sion. What then becomes of unity between tlie two ?

It has been showii further that, in other respects
also, either Eome has added to the faith, or England
has taken away from it. So that, according to the
' Eirenicon ' itself, either one or the other has
' changed the whole faith,' and botli ' cannot have
the same Lord, who do not believe tlie same truth
as to Him.'

Which of the two is right? Has England 'rejected
Christ ' ? Or is Eome ' at variance witli the faith '?
Is there no one left on earth to teacli infallibly
what that one faith is, whicli ' Christ commitled to
the Church;' which 'the Apostles believed and
taught ; ' and ' out of which no one can be saved ' ?



The Sacraments

may exist


Clirist's Church.

See above,
pp. 15, 16.

De Eapt.

Lib. iv. n. 1.

It is perfectly true as regards individual Christians
that baptism made tliein one in Cluist. On this
very groinid, as has been already stated, the one
only Church lays claim to them all as her children.
By whomsoever they may have been baptized, tlie
Roman Catholic Chiu'ch alone is the Church of their
baptism and their spiritual Mother.

I venture to add another extract to those I have
already produced from the works of that great
Doctor, St, Augustine, on this subject. In refer-
ence to a passage in an Epistle of St. Cyprian's,
he observes : — ' The comparison of the Chmxli to
Paradise is an indication to us that men can truly
receive her baptism even outside her, but no man
can either obtain or hold fast beatific salvation
{salutem beatitudinis) outside her. For the rivers
also from the fountain of Paradise flowed largely
even outside it, as Scripture testifies. In fact, they
are commemorated by name, and eveiy one knows
what lands they flow through, and tliat tlieir streams
have been established outside Paradise ; yet neither
in Mesopotamia nor in Egypt, whither those rivers
reach, is there the felicity of hfe which is remem-
bered in Paradise. Thus it comes to pass, that,
though the water of Paradise is outside Paradise, still
there is no beatitude excepting it be inside Paradise.
So tiien, tliere may be the Baptism of tlie Church
outside the Church, but the gift of a blessed life is
nowhere found unless inside the Church {sic ergo
Oaptiwius Ecclesiw potest esse extra Ecclesiaw^ rmmus


autein heatce vitw non nisi intra Ecclesiam reperitur) :
which also is founded on the rock, which has re-
ceived the keys of binding and of loosing.'

The theory says that England and lionie are united
in the faith and tlie holy sacraments. It has been
above shown that the facts on both sides contradict it.
But, even if England possessed the fulness of the
faith, and the entirety of the sacraments ; even this
w^ould afford no guarantee that she was united with
the one Church. On this point also we have the au-
thority of St. Augustine, who says that everything,
except salvation, may be found outside tlie Clun-cli.
The following passage, though frequently quoted,
has never yet been answered: — 'A man may have s. Aup:. Sonno
everything outside the Catholic Church, except sal- EcciesiiePiebem.ii.G.
vation. He may have honour, he may have sacra-
ments, he may sing Allehiia, lie may answer Amen,
he may hold the gospels, he may both have the
faitli and preach it in the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; but, no-
where except in the Catholic Church, will he be able
to find salvation. For all these things pass away, my
brethren.' Extra Ecclesiam Catholicam totiun potest
prceter salutem. Potest habere honorem, potest habere
sacramentum^ potest cantare Halleluia^ potest respon-
dere Amen, potest Evangelium tenere, potest in nomine
Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti Jidem et h<(bere et
prwdicare : sed nusquam, nisi in Ecclesid Catholicd
salutem p>oterit invenire. Transeunt enini omnia
ista,fr aires mei


Coutra Littcras ' "Wliat caii be iiiore mad,' he asks elsewhere, ' tlian
lib. ii!n."i'26. to commiuiicatc in tlie sacraments of the Lord, and
not to communicate in the words of the Lord ? '

There are certain rehgionists who profess union
with Christ, althougli they deny the necessity of
baptism and of any sacrament. The answer given by
Anghcans in such case, will apply also to their own
assertion, that they hold to Christ the Head although
severed from His visible representative on earth.
They acknowledge a visible church, and visible
sacraments ; yet they deny the necessity of visible
Seo extract, above, unity. They profcss that Christ Himself speaks and

Eirenicon, p. 60. acts tlirougli a visible and external ministry for the
teaching of tlie faithful, and the administration of
the sacraments ; but tliey will not believe that He
has constituted one visible external head, through
whom He rules and governs the whole body, as
tlie crown of the Church's hierarchy, and the centre
of her unity. The Eoman teaching is more con-
sistent. It is as follows : —


of the

Council of Trent,

part i. ch. x.

St. John xxi

' Shoultl any one object that the Church, content with
one liead and spouse, Jesus Christ, requires no other besides
Him, tlie answer is at hand. For, as we have Christ the
Lord not only the author of every one of the sacraments,
but also their inward giver (for He it is that baptizes and
that absolves, and yet He institutes men the external
ministers of the sacraments) ; so has He placed over His
fhurch, which He Himself rules hy His indwelling Spirit,
a man to be the vicar and minister of His power ; for
since a visible Cbiuch re([iiires a visible head, therefore
our Saviour constituted Peter head and pastor of the
universal family of the faitlifid, when He entrusted to him


His sheep to be fed, in terms most full, so that He evidently
willed that whoever should succeed him should have the
same power of ruling- and governing the whole Church.'

The theory which we have been discussing asserts The theory
the possibihty of unity between Christian Churches doubly fallacious,
without visible intercommunion ; and maintains that
rehgious bodies may be united to the Church
through Christ above, although visibly disunited
from the Vicar of Christ on earth. Thus it reverses
the doctrine of the great St. Thomas, who says : —
' The unity of the Church consists in two things Snmm.a

... , , 1' \ ^ ■ ^ 1 2'3a 2<l^ Q. 39, Art. I.

[in auoous attenaitur), namely, m the mutual connec-
tion of the members of the Church with one anotlier,
or communication [communicatione) : and again in the
order of all the members of the Church towards
one head, according to what is said. Col. ii.: —
' Puffed up by the sense of his flesh, and not
holding the head, from Avhich the whole body, by
joints and bands being supplied with nourishment
and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God.'
— But this Head is Christ Himself, whose Vicar in
the Church is the Supreme Pontiff. And therefore
they are pronounced to be schismatics who refuse
to be under [subesse) the Supreme Pontiff, and wlio
will not join the communion (commimicare) of the
members of the Church who are subject to him.'

Divine Providence is wont to select the simplest
means for the attainment of its ends of wisdom ;
' ordering all things sweetly.' The Churrh is com- Wisdom viii. i.
posed of human elements, though animated by a



Divine Spirit. Her members and her ministers are
men, not angels ; and men are liable to differences
and divisions.

Christ willed His Cluircli's unity to be abiding ;
and He did not neglect to make provision for that
end. He selected for her the organization best
calculated to preserve her unity, and, with the
help of divine grace, to ensure its unceasing main-
tenance. There can, ordinarily, be no lasting union
amongst men without a supreme authority ; and
there is no reason why the Church should form
an exception to this rule. The Church requires an
interpreter, as Holy Scripture does ; and Christ has
not neglected to provide her with an ever-present
final tribunal, wdiose judgment is decisive and in-
fallible on all tilings which concern man's salvation.
It is true she has her general councils. But who is to
interpret their meaning on any disputed question re-
specting it, if there is no abiding supreme authority ?
Nay, who is to declare with certainty of any one
particular council that it is ecumenical and duly
represents the universal Church ? To refer the
solution of such points to another future council, is
simply to postpone tlie difficulty. Who, in turn, is to
interi)ret tliat future council's decisions ? Who is to
assure men tliat it is ecumenical ? Take the instance
of the addition of tlie words Jilioque to the Creed,
and the question as to whether that addition was in
opposition to the decrees of early councils. The
Council of Florence defined that it was not so ; and


the Popes had previously permitted it. CathoHcs
regard this decision as the teacliing of God ; for tlie
Pope confirmed the comicil But those who reject
the Pope's authority, reject the council also ; and
what can remain for them but private judgment and
its natural consequences ? If men refuse obedience
to a sovereign authority, they must accept the alter-
native of perpetual division and never-ending dis-
cord. Therefore, as St. Jerome says, although the Adv. Jovin. i. 20.
Church is founded and solidly estabhshed on tlie
Apostles collectively, who all received the keys,
' yet one amongst the twelve is chosen, that a head
being constituted, occasion of schism may be re-
moved.' Tame?! propterea inter duodecim unus eli-
gitur^ lit capite coiistituto, schismatis tollatur occasio.


Pleec est Ecclesia Romana, cui qui non communicat, lia?reticu»
est. Illius interest consulere omnibus, judicare de omnibus,
omnibus providere, ad quam in Petro vox ista dirigitur : Et tu
aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos.

S. Aelredi Serm. 23 in Isaiam.

The dissensions which at various times have arisen Historical
between different portions of tlie Cathohc Churcli,
are appealed to by Anglicans as precedents for the
existing divisions of Christendom ; and as instances
of the acknowledged subsistence of real though in-
visible unity, in the case of outwardly separated

p 2


Dr. Pusey observes : —

Eiroii. p. r^9. ' No one, in the face of Ohnrch-history, can or does

maintain that all interrnptions of intercommunion destroy
unity. For Chiirch-hLstor}^ records too many such inter-
ruptions, which (although never probably without fault,
on the one side or on both) yet did not exclude either side
from the body of Christ. Unlove began its work even
in Apostles' times. At Corinth, already our Lord's words,
" B}^ this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if
ye have love one to another," were in a degree eclipsed.
Divisions began within the single Church. In the next
century was that first wider rent in the Christian body,
when the Bishop of Rome, against the remonstrance of
many Bishops, renounced the communion of the Asiatic
Churches, because they followed, as to the keeping of
Easter, a tradition different from that of Rome and of the
A.lv. ITwr. other Churches. " The East," says St. Epiphanius, " dif-
'• • • ^- '^- fcring from the West, they received not from each other
tokens of peace." The strife ceased not until the Council
of Nice,'

Tho instancos Uncloubtetll}' there are various steps and degrees

aiiMiogoiis. of dissension Avhich fall short of an absolute breach
of unity. But the existing rents of Christendom are
far more serious in their nature, and amount to
notliing less than absolute and consummated schism.
It will be found on investigation, that the instances
which are })roduced from history, do not afford
authority for tliat systematic and persevering repu-
diation of the divinely constituted authority of the
Koman See, which characterises tlie ' Church of
England;' nor Inr her foimal and lasting breach
of communion with that universal body of the
Spctherrofcssionof Aiithful whicli ' acknowlcdijes the Holy, Catholic,

Faith, p. 101.


Apostolic, Eomaii Church for tlie mother and mis-
tress of all Churches ;' and renders 'true obedience
to the Bishop of Eome, successor of St. Peter, Prince
of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Clnist.'

The local dissensions at Corinth involved no breach Diss^cnsions
of communion with the universal Church. They Cui-iuth.
continued, however, or were renewed after St. Paul
had received his crown ; and it was to Rome that
Corinth turned for succour. We learn this from the
words of the reply of Pope St. Clement I., written Ep. div. ciementis
in the name of the Eoman Church ; where he ex- CorinUiios i. i.
plains the causes of delay in giving attention to
' tho.se matters respecting whicli,' he says, ' they
enquired, and to the abominable and unlioly dis-
cord ' whicli caused ' their honoured and well-known
name to be greatly evil spoken of.' This is that
celebrated epistle which of ancient practice used Eusob. iiist. EwIos.

. . iv. 23.

to be read in the church at Corinth ; and of
which St. Irenasus tells us, that 'the Church which Cont. Hyeres. in. :i.
is in Eome wrote under Clement to the Corinthians
most powerful letters, reconciling them in peace
amongst themselves, renewing their faith, and an-
nouncing to them the tradition which she had
recently received from the Apostles.'

The great Apostle and Evangelist St. John, sur-
vived St. Clement. Why did the Church of Corinth
pass him by, and appeal to Eome ? lie was the
disciple ' whom Jesus loved ; ' who leaned upon His
bosom, and learnt from His sacred heart that lesson


of love, which, even till he joined his Lord in glory,
he never ceased repeating, — ' Little children, love one
another.' Who more fit than he to teach that lesson
to the divided church at Corinth ? He was, more-
over, the last of the long line of God's inspired
prophets, the eagle-sighted Seer to whom was re-
vealed the great vision of the Apocalypse. He was
the last remaining of the blessed twelve, the one
sole Apostle left on earth. Yet it was not to him
that Corinth turned in her distress ; it was to Eome ;
to that church which Tertullian hailed as pre-emi-
De Praesci-ipt. iicret. ncutly ' happy, ou wliich the Apostles have poured
forth all their doctrine with their blood ' {ista quam
felix Ecclesia ! cui totam doctrinam Apostoli cum
sanguine suo profuderunt) ; and with which St.
c.nt. iia-r. III. 2. Ircnoius declared it to be ' necessary for the whole
Church to agree, on account of its more excellent
pre-eminence.' Ad lianc enim Ecclesiam propter
potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire

St. Victor The degree to which the difference extended be-

Abiiitic Churches, twccu St. Victor and the Churches oi Asia Minor, is
a well-known matter of discussion amongst ecclesias-
tical historians. Dr. Puscy appears to have over-
rated it, and to have fallen into some inaccuracy.
It is by no means certain that the Asiatic churches
were even momentarily cut off by St. Victor from
ecclesiastical communion ; but the whole case aflbrds
remarkable and important testimony to the manifest


exercise, and tlie iniquestioiiiiig ackiiowledguient oi"
tlie power and authority of the Eomau See, even at
that early period (a.d. 198).

The Chiirclie.s of Asia Minor retained down to tiio prouuds
that time, a peculiar custom — which had originated, tiio ditiewncc.
perhaps, in tender consideration for the converts from
Judaism — of celebrating the Pasch at the period of
the Jewish Passover, being the 14th of the month
Nisan, on whatever day of the week it might happen
to fall ; and they terminated their fasts on the same
day, whether it was a Sunday or otherwise. When

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