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

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glory of blessed Peter, as to believe that there are any parts
of the Church which are not ruled by his solicitude and
strengthened by his power ?'

The graphic words of St. Hilary of Poitiers are as
applicable now in the person of Pope Pius IX. as they
have been heretofore through liis long line of pre-
decessors, and as they will continue to be to the end : —
' Blessed Simon, after his confession of the mystery,
supporting the edifice of the Church and receiving
the keys of the heavenly kingdom.' — ' Post sacra-
menti confessionem heatus Simon oedijicationi Ecclesice
siibjacens et claves regni ccelestis accipiens.'

I have but glanced at this vast and all-
important subject, which lies at tlie very root of
Christianity, and gives it an aspect under which
a denial of the Pope's supremacy in the Church
becomes visibly 'another gospel.' Nor have I


done more than glean, here and there, one authority
among thousands in proof of my assertions.
Whole volumes might be filled, and have been filled,
with the arguments and testimony of centuries,
in support of this fundamental article of Christian
belief. But, unless God prepare men's hearts, and
unless men co-operate with God's grace, the most
convincing of proofs will be unavailing. It is
humbling to reflect that prejudice can have so great
a power to close the human heart against the
reception of a Christian truth so strongly and
clearly attested, and, at the same time, so consoling,
strengthening, and encouraging ; so analogous to all
we know of God's mercy and of His dealings, and so
abounding in His love for us ; — as is that truth of His
ever-present rule and care, not only invisibly from
the realms above, but visibly, tangibly, here on
earth, in the venerable person of His own represen-
tative. Like all the other manifestations of His over-
ilow^hig goodness, it is too great for human littleness ;
men can hardly rise to its conception ; and unless His
grace gives larger and more generous powers of appre-
ciation and of confiding love, they cannot comprehend
the vast munificence of His condescension. truly
' slow of heart ' are we, like the disciples on the way si. Luke xxiv. 20.
to Emmaus, ' to believe in all things which the
prophets have spoken ! ' Christ's resiuTcction was
to them a thouglit too glorious, too full of joy, to be
true. Christ's perpetual presence with us through His
Vicar may be, to many, a doctrine which so realizes


to tlie full all their visions of a Christian Church, that
they think the happiness too great for earth, and
accuse of sordid ambition that very See of Peter, in
which Christ Himself presides through a human
Visible and present Nevertheless, not only sacred scripture and the
testimony. ^^^^y fathers, uot Only venerable antiquity and all
Christian history, proclaim this truth with the voices
of ages that are past, and teach that out of the apo-
stolical communion of Eome, no Church can be apo-
stolic; but it is written with the finger of Cod in the
passmg events of the day and hour. Where else, save
in the Eoman Pontiff, is to be found the apostolic type
at the present moment? Where else the image of
God's tranquil power undisturbed by the rude con-
fusions and wickedness of mankind? Patient, and
meek, and tender, but strong with a superhuman
strength. Forgiving, as Christ forgave ; but testify-
ing to truth and justice and everlasting right, as
Christ also testified upon the cross. Here, in spirit
and in letter, is beheld the apostolic pattern : —
2 Cor. vi. 3-1(1. ' Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be
not blamed : but in all things let us exhibit ourselves
as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribu-
lation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons,
in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings, in
chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweet-
ness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the
word of truth, in tlie power of God ; by the armour
of justice on the riglit liand and on the left, by


honour and dishonour, by evil report and good
report : as deceivers, and yet true : as unknown, and
yet known : as dying, and behold we live : as chas-
tised, and not killed : as sorrowful, yet always re-
joicing : as needy, yet enriching many : as having
nothing, and possessing all things.' The quotation
may be continued, for the apostolic voice now re-
sponds to all who, remaining separated, still long for
unity, — 'Our mouth is open to you, our heart is en- ibki. ii, 12.
larged. You are not straitened in us : but in your
own bowels you are straitened.'

Let thoughtful men compare, at this very moment,
the world-wide labours and zeal ; the devotion and
earnestness ; the faith, charity, and unity ; the spirit
of self-sacrifice ; the chastity and heroic virtue ; the
prevailing concord of bishops and priests among
themselves, with Eome, and with the people ; so
apparent among Christians in communion with the
Apostolic See ; — let them compare these present
facts, not with this or that individual instance which,
from its nearness and its very singularity, assumes
undue proportions, but with the general condition,
and the usual religious standard of any other Chris-
tian body ; and let them say whether the Divine pre-
sence and the Apostolic rule of life are to be discerned
in any other. That which amongst others is excep-
tional, if found at all, is set before Eoman Catholics
as their ordinary rule. Many, no doubt, fall short ;
but many press on beyond it, and attain to heroic
virtues not to be found elsewhere. Eome begins where


Others end. The most advanced outside her, are but
hke tyros in her school of sanctity. Her very starting
points for perfection are the evangehcal counsels of
continence, poverty, and obedience, virtues which
she preaches on the housetops, and acknowledges as
divine for all who are called to practise them. Whereas
too commonly elsewhere, they must not be named
unless in secret, and if practised at all it must be more
or less by stealtli. Far be it from me to withhold
an earnest sympathy from all who anywhere may
aim at them ; far be it from me to make light of these
or any other virtues wherever they may be found.
I seek but to give tliem their perfection ; to point
out their true home, their natural birthplace, their
congenial soil. To the established Enolish Church
they are exotic, foreign and unwelcomed by the mass.
How many of lier bishops are there who encourage
the diffusion of these counsels of the Gospel, or who
acknowledge them at all as such? Nay, to speak
only of essential doctrine, her clergy are not agreed
amongst themselves respecting many most funda-
mental truths of Christianity, such as our Lord's
presence in the Holy Eucharist, the efficacy of Bap-
tism, the existence of tlie Sacrament of Penance,
and tlie like.

It is not hard to discern the one supernatural
liome on eartli of all most true and most heroic in
man's religious life. Tlie only home of apostolic doc-
trine, and of apostolic virtues, is the Apostolic Cluirch.
Elsewhere, indeed, they may seem to be transplanted


and to flourish for a while, isolated and strange: else-
where, too, may natural virtue be so highly culti-
vated as to seem, in human sight, to wear the aspect
of divine ; though not so in the eyes of God. But, at
the best, such cases are the exception. In the lioman
Catholic Church alone, is to be found the supernatural
life of grace in that spontaneous and full develop-
ment, which bespeaks its birthplace and its native
air. It is there that, through its exuberance of
growth ; its full, vigorous, and prolific energy, recog-
nised, welcomed, and familiar to all ; its profusion
of flower and prodigality of fruit ; it reveals the
divine fecundity of the soil, and gives evidence that
its being; and its strena;th are drawn from that exultinsf
and abounding river, which gladdens the city and the
vineyard of our God ; which has its source in the
pierced side and most precious wounds of Jesus,
and flows on to us through the channel of the
Apostolic chair of Peter.

God has given in charge to Peter the eternal ^ome

interests of all mankind ; and has constituted Peter's ti^„ ^.H^^.^ of
See the guardian of His gifts of grace. Rome alone ""'*^-^"

dares claim this world-wide rule, and Eome alone
possesses it. In her lives on, and ever will live on, the
blessed rule of Peter. In her, through him, its liead,
the whole college of the Apostles is represented to us.
Out of her communion no Church can be Apostolic.
Christ Himself dwells in her, and He has estab-
lished that imperishable dynasty as the everlasting
basis of His everlastino; Church. He has constituted

64 THE CHURCH can i^eveu lose

each succeeding Roman Pontiff the teacher of His
faith ; the centre of His Chuixh's Unity ; the ruler and
the shepherd of His fiock ; on him alone has He
conferred the divine right of delegating His juris-
diction throughout the universe, and of sending

Rom. X. 15. forth the messenoiers of whom it is written : — ^ IIoiv
beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of
jjeace, of them that biding glad tidings of good things!'

The Church Tliis Apostolic missiou is from Christ, and the model

bears the image „ . . ^^. . . „

of her or it IS His owu uiissiou irom the r ather. He, too,

gives the Chmxh her Unity, her Sanctity, her Catho-
licity. Tiiey are, all of them, the purchase of His
most precious blood ; the gifts of His most sacred
Heart. They form the image and the expression of
His own divine perfections, Who dwells Himself
within her.
Apoe. V. 9, 10. ' Redemisti nos^ Deiis, in sanguine tuo ex omni

tribu, et lingua, et jwpido, et natione, et fecisti nos
Deo nostro regnum.'


Quia non potest destriii, constat non esse divisnm. Non enim
dividitur unita.s, ncc scinditur ; et idco nee coiTiiptelaj subditur,
nee ajtati. — S. Amhros. de Fide, lib. I. c. i. n. 11.

The Church's notes TiiESE arc tlic marks by which the Churcli of Christ

permanent may bc knowu ; thcsc arc her credentials. Tliey

always visible, arc intimately connected with one anotlier, and they

are all of tliem essential; tliey cannot be divided,

nor can any one of them 1)e dispensed wit]i. But if


they are notes tliey must be visible. When a person
is described in a document it is by visible marks and
features ; it would be mere trifling to draw his picture
in lineaments which could not always be recognised.
If the visible Church is to endure till the end of all
things, it follows that every one of her notes must
endure also, permanent as herself and equally visible
and characteristic as at the beginning. It would be
more consistent to deny the necessity of a visible
church and visible sacraments altogether, than
whilst affirming it, at the same time to profess that
any one of the essential notes of that Church can
ever be lost to sight. Those notes remain for all
generations, and form collectively a token and a
signal marking the abode upon earth of that God
' Who will have all men to be saved.' The mission i Tim.
of the Church, the very end of her existence, is the
salvation of the whole human race, not of any privi-
leged class alone ; and God cannot at any time allow
her to be deprived of those marks by which she is
always to be known through all the ages, to all who
sincerely wish for salvation ; not only to such as
have leisure and learning to turn over the pages of
the Fathers, and laboriously investigate the teach-
ings of antiquity, but to the poor, the ignorant, the
labouring, the masses of the human race.

Each one of the four notes of Christ's Church is
affirmed as a matter of fliith by the Creed, and no
man can reasonably trust his soul to any communic^n
which does not visibly possess them all.

VOL. 1. F




the theory

of the suspension


visible unity.

Paradise Lost,
iv. 811.

test of truth.

I. St. John iv.
1, 2, 3.

Consciences troubled by a sense of their separated
position are naturally soothed and attracted by a
theory which represents the existing divisions of
Christendom in the light of a mere suspension of
outward intercommunion, happening in chastisement
for the sins of men, but involving no guilt of schism.
There is a seeming humility in the teaching that
separation ought therefore to be submitted to with
resignation by individuals, though not ^vithout ear-
nest prayers and endeavours for a general reconcilia-
tion. But this apparent angel of light is in reality a
wolf in sheep's clothing, a delusive and seductive
phantom, which will not stand the test of Ithuriel's
bright spear of truth, —

' for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness.'

The Apostle ' whom Jesus loved,' has w\arned us
against false spirits, and taught us how to detect
them : —

* Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but tr}^ the
spirits if they be of God : because many false prophets are
gone out into the world. By this is tlie spirit of God
known. Every spirit, which confesseth that Jesus Christ
is come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that dis-
Rolveth Jesus,' is not of God : and this is Antichrist, of
whom you liave heard that he cometh, and he is now
already in the world.'

• Ancient codices quoted by Socrates, Hist. Eccl. vii. 32,
read: — o \vei roy 'Itjuovv ; the Vulgate has: — solvit .lestim. —
Note in Prof. Oin.sl)y's edition of Card. Mai's Greek Testament.
Dublin, IHr.O.

her Unity ;


The meaning is tlie same in the Oxford Greek,
which has : — b ju,^ b[xoXoys7 tov 'Irjcrouv 'Kpia-rov Iv
(rapx) s7\.rj7vvS6ra.

The Church is at once the fruit, and the apph- The test applied.
cation, and the continuance on earth, of the Incar-
nation of the Son of God. Holy Scripture declares
it to be, ' His body, and the fulness of Him, who is Eph. i. 23.
filled all in all.' Whatever doctrine, then, dissolves
the Church, dissolves Christ's presence upon earth.
Whatever doctrine teaches that any one of the visible
notes of the Church has failed, so far tends to deny
tliat Christ is still with us in the Church.

Now, tlie theory in question asserts that the The theory tends
Church, through the sins of her members, has for- the church's notes :
feited the gift of visible unity. This would resemble
the judgment which fell upon the proud sons of
men whose language was confounded at Babel.
They were building a tower of pride to reach the
heavens, and God at once frustrated their design by
depriving them of outward unity. This one curse
sufficed. We are not told that they were less one
inwardly, less united in their evil hearts than
before, but their speech was rendered diverse ; they
were scattered into all lands ; they lost their out-
ward unity, and they were impotent to build.
God's Church is God's own tower, by which He
bids the humble of heart ascend to highest heaven.
Can it be true that He has turned her into Babylon
in anger at her children's sin, when it was sin she
was sent to cure ?

F 2


Her Sanctity ; The iiiflictioii of SO severc a jiulgment woiikl seem
to imply an amount of wickedness incompatible with
the Church's attribute of sanctity. Although her pale
upon earth comprises sinners as well as saints, yet
if sin can have so far prevailed within her as to have
led to the suspension of her outward unity, it must
also have obscured her visible note of holiness.

Her CathoUcity ; If the Churcli's outward unity were thus suspended,
and her inward energies crippled by prevailing sin,
she could scarcely maintain her Catholicity through-
out the regions of the earth, and certainly she would
no longer be Catholic as to time. She would be a


different Church from that of the early ages ; nor
w^ould they recognise her in her state of outward
division and inward falling off.
Her Apostoiicity. The Church's missiou is from Christ and from the
Holy Spirit, whose abiding presence Christ has pro-
st. John xiv. 16, 17. mised shall be for ever with her, — 'the Spirit of Truth,
whom the world cannot receive.' Were it even pos-
sible that this blessed Spirit of Ilohness could continue
with the Church after hvv lioliness was obscured by
sin, yet His teaching w^ould no longer be discernible
amidst the disagreement of division. In fact, the
maintainers of the theory of suspended unity hold
tliat the infallible voice of the Church is suspended
likewise, and that men must now seek it as best they
can by ascertaining what it was that she taught at
the time when slie was visibly and wholly one. Yet
they do not point to any authority which can declare
or explain that teaching witli divine certitude. So




this doctrine.

that, according to this doctrine, the Cliurch's mission
as the infalHble teacher of the nations is in abeyance
also, and lier note of ApostoUcity has become as in-
visible as her other notes.

Thus does the aforesaid theory tend directly to
dissolve the Church, Christ's body ; it tends to a
denial of the abiding constancy of the Fruit of the
Incarnation amongst us in its fulness ; it would rob
us of our Emmanuel, our ' God with us,' of ' Christ
come in the flesh. '-r-This, St. John warns us, is the
mark of Antichrist.

Yet, as before observed, the same theory is so
calculated to lull conscientious doubts regarding the
safetj^ of the Anglican position, that men who would
abhor its consequences if perceived by them, have
been beguiled into its acceptance and defence. Dr.
Pusey's ' Eirenicon ' is based upon it, and it is almost
dogmatically put forth in the following extracts from
a work by the Anghcan Bishop of Brecliin, Dr.

After stating that unity is an 'attribute of the
church,' and ' very clearly taught in the Holy Scrip-
tures ; ' and asserting that ' the one truth requires
one vehicle of its tradition, the society which was a. h. Forbes, d.c.l,
visibly to bear the image of the one Christ on ppltiT -? fndtm.
earth,'— Dr. Forbes endeavours to show how real ^°"^^"">^^^'''^''^^^^-
though unseen unity may still exist, beneath the
divisions we behold.

* Unity,' he says, 'may be divided into objective and sub-
jective. Objective unity is that inwrought by our Head, Jesus

theory stated.

of the
Niceue Creed,



Himself, through imiou with Himself. It is wrought on
His side, by the communication of the ' one Spirit,' and
by the Sacraments, making us all one body in Him. It
requires, on our part, continuity of the commission which
He gave to His Apostles, and perseverance in the faith
which He committed to the Church. Subjective unity
is unity of will, and intercommunion with one another.
Subjective unity may be suspended, while objective unity
is maintained. Subjective unity was suspended during
the schism at Antioch, yet objective unity is maintained,
for the blessed Meletius is a saint. Subjective unity was
suspended in the quarrels between the British and Western
Churches in the Saxon times, yet nobody doubts of the
salvation or sanctity of St. Aidan or St. Cuthbert. Sub-
jective unity was suspended during the struggles of the
antipopes, yet no one considers the followers of Peter de
Luna as either heretics or schismatics. And this must
also apply to the mighty dissension between the East and
tlie West, and between ourselves and the rest of Christen-
dom. It is deeply to be deplored that the state of the
Church is as it is ; but let us hope that the evil is not so
great as it seems, and that there is a fund of unity, if
men only understood each other ; that the fissures are
only surface ones ; that the disorder is functional, not

Dosire Doubtlcss a better understandiDoj would remove

fur . . ^. .

botitiiDuit'israudiiig. many hindrances to re-union. But it is mere self-
delusion to conceal the fact that the divisions extend
far below the surface. They have to do with points
of dogma ; with truths revealed by God to man,
which admit indeed of explanation, but not of com-
promise. Still, ' if men only understood each other,'
much more of common ground would be discovered
than they are now aware of.


It follows then, as a necessary consequence, that
every man should do what he can to understand,
and to make himself understood ; that no one
should shrink from listening to, or from giving,
full and patient explanation ; that no one should
rest on statements which have no foundation in
fact, or persist in them when proved to be false ;
that none should dwell on hearsay rumours and idle
tales with which our common enemy seeks to be-
guile men from the truth ; it follows, too, that no
opportunity for Mr discussion, in a spirit of charity,
should be withheld or avoided ; that no conse-
quences should be shrunk from, which God's truth
may involve ; that we all, in a word, should be
true, generous, and loving, candid, open-hearted,
simple, honest, and loyal, to God, to one another,
and to ourselves. How far each one is so, is a ques-
tion for each one to ask himself. Would to God we
all made it our business to understand and to love
each other better !

Dr. Forbes returns to the subject. At p. 285 he d - Forbps's


sketches the present divided state of Christendom, of

• 1 T ^^'^ subject.

and asks, — 'What are we to say with regard to
it? how are we to justify it?' He rejects the
doctrine that any single one of the various
Christian bodies, whether Greek, Anglican, Eomaii
Catholic, or any other, can be exclusively the one
Church : —

* What is this,' he says, ' but the spirit of Donatisra ? Can p, 286-7.
this really satisfy the enlightened conscience of the Chris-


tian ? How, on tliijj ground, shall we account for the evi-
dent good that exists beyond our own sj^stem ? Shall
the Roman Catholic gainsay the grace which has been
poured out on the Greek Obedience, so that nations of
heathens or of heretics have since the schism been
gathered into the faith in Christ? Shall the Anglican be-
lieve, that the merits of ('arlo Borromeo, the most perfect
type of the Christian bishop which the world ever saw,
are as the evidence of grace in a man accidentally better
than his system ? Shall either Greek or Roman speak of
the devout Ken, or George Herbert, or Launcelot An-
drewes, as devils' blinds to keep men by a simulated
disguise of goodness from what they term the true
Church? Nay, shall men undervalue the unsacramental
grace of those, who like Spener and Gerhard have
adorned systems, which, in their logical consequences, and
generally in their practical results, have led to the most
miserable consequences ?'

r. 287. He equally rejects indifferentism, and the theory

of an invisible Church, as ' incompatible witli a real
belief in the Incarnation of the Word, ' for,' he ob-
serves, ' that Word has been made manifest, has
become visible, and therefore must energize in some
definite visible body.' He adds : ' There are also
distinct texts in Scripture which attach salvation to
belonging to the One Body of Christ. There are
certain outward conditions, such as Baptism, the
Euchari,<t, common worship, and tlie like, which
necessarily imply some visible body.'
Pp. 288-91. He then proceeds : —

Dr. I'oii.cs's 'The tiutli tlien nuist Ije somewhere between these two

exp :uiatiou. theories. On the one hand, we must avoid Donatism; on

the other, Latiludinarianisni. Ib'ly Scrij)turc sets fortri


what Christian^!, as individuals, or collectively as the living
Body of Christ, ought to be ; but it does not say what
degree of shortcoming shall forfeit the blessings of the
Cfospel. The Church and her children in her were pur-
chased by the blood of Grod, that they should be holy, the
temple of the Holy Grhost, full of love anS peace and all
other fruits of the Spirit. It was said of individuals, "By this
shall men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love
one to another ; " as much as it was said of the whole
Church, " That they may be one as We are." It was said
of every Priest, " The lips of the Priest should keep
knowledge," as much as it was said of the whole Church,
" Thy teachers shall not be removed into a corner any

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