Friday, December 18, 2009

His aversion to heretics and infidels was so great

The faith of Camillus was likewise show in the aversion which he always had for infidels. So that when he had occasion to speak of the heresies that were then so widely spread in France, Germany, and England, especially against the obedience due to the Holy See and the Roman Church, he would lift up his eyes to heaven and cry out with tears: "Is it possible that men should be so blind and not see the truth of our faith?...."

His aversion to heretics and infidels was so great that he seemed to know them by their smell. Thus, when he was once traveling from Milan with a large company on horseback, he conversed freely with all but one, who he said smelt like a heretic; and so indeed the man turned out to be. He remembered the counsel of St. John, not even to salute or eat with infidels, and so would have nothing to do with them or with Jews, especially with those who showed no respect at all for our religion.

The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis by Father Sanzio Ciccatelli, trans. by Father Frederick Faber. p. 207

Monday, September 7, 2009

so many souls go to eternal perdition through want of priests

"...Where there are a great many Indians, who are still walking on the road to eternal perdition. Alas, is it not awfully said to see so many souls go to eternal perdition through want of priests!":

"...but...they...preferred living among civilized rather than with wild people, which, of course, is more comfortable; but the poor Pagans continue to be thereby the prey of that infernal 'lion, who goes about and seeks whom he may devour'; who never rests and does much more for the eternal ruin of souls than those priests do for their salvation! My heart bleeds when I think of this misery...."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Their life had only been preserved by God until they could receive baptism and hence be saved

St. Francis Xavier, May, 1546: "Here (Ambon Island of Indonesia) there are altogether seven towns of Christians, all of which I went through and baptized all the newborn infants and the children not yet baptized. A great many of them died soon after their baptism, so that it was clear enough that their life had only been preserved by God until the entrance to eternal life should be opened to them." Coleridge, Henry. The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier. (1872) p. 375

Fr. De Smet, Dec. 9, 1845: "I have often remarked that many of the children seem to await baptism before winging their flight to heaven, for they die almost immediately after receiving the sacrament." Laveille, Eugene. The Life of Father de Smet, S. J. (1915) p. 93 "… over a hundred children and eleven old people were baptized. Many of the latter [the old people], who were carried on buffalo hides, seemed only to await this grace before going to rest in the bosom of God." Laveille, Eugene. The Life of Father de Smet, S. J. (1915) p. 172

The Life of St. Isaac Jogues, p. 92: "The Huron sorcerers...claimed... the Blackrobes caused people to die by pouring water on their heads; practically everyone they baptized died soon after." Talbot, Francis. Saint Among Savages: The Life of Saint Isaac Jogues

" Among these people was a little child about one year old....It was happily baptized. God preserved its life only by a miracle, it would seem, so that it might be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and might bless His mercies forever." The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, p. 51Fr. Lalemant wrote: " has happened very often, and has been remarked more than a hundred times, that where we were most welcome, where we baptized most people, there it was in fact where they died the most ; and, on the contrary, in the cabins to which we were denied entrance, although they were sometimes sick to extremity, at the end of a few days one saw every person prosperously cured. We shall see in heaven the secret, but ever adorable, judgments of God therein. Meanwhile, it is one of our most usual astonishments and one of our most solid pleasures, to consider, in the midst of all those things, the gracious bounties of God in the case of those whom he wishes for himself; and to see oftener than every day his sacred and efficacious acts of providence, which so arrange matters that it comes about that not one of the elect is lost, though hell and earth oppose." The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, p. 93

St. Columba said: "My sons, today you will see an ancient Pictish chief, who has kept faithfully all his life the precepts of the natural law, arrive in this island ; he comes to be baptised and to die." Immediately after, a boat was seen to approach the shore with a feeble old man seated in the prow, who was recognized as the chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two of his companions took him up in their arms and brought him before the missionary, to whose words, as repeated by the interpreter, he listened attentively. When the discourse was ended the old man asked to be baptised ; and immediately after breathed his last breath, and was buried in the very spot where he had just been brought to shore.

At a later date, in one of his last missions, when, himself an old man, he travelled along the banks of Loch Ness...he said to the disciples who accompanied him, " Let us make haste and meet the angels who have come down from heaven, and who wait for us beside a Pict who has done well according to the natural law during his whole life to extreme old age : we must baptise him before he dies." Then hastening his steps and outstripping his disciples, as much as was possible at his great age, he reached a retired valley, now called Glen Urquhart, where he found the old man who awaited him. Here there was no longer any need of an interpreter, which makes it probable that Columba in his old age had learned the Pictish dialect. The old Pict heard him preach, was baptised, and with joyful serenity gave up to God the soul which was awaited by those angels whom Columba saw. Montalembert, Charles. Saint Columba: Apostle of Caledonia (1868) p.63-64

St. Columba preached and worked miracles among the Picts, and, though he spoke by an interpreter, he made converts. One day on the banks of Loch Ness he cried: Let us make haste to meet the angels, who are come down from heaven and await us beside the death-bed of a Pict, who has kept the natural law, that we may baptize him before he dies." He was then aged himself, but he outstripped his companions, and reached Glen Urquhart, where the old man expected him, heard him, was baptized, and died in peace. And once, preaching in Skye, he cried out, "You will see arrive an aged chief, a Pict, who has kept faithfully the natural law; he will come here to be baptized and to die;" and so it was. New Catholic World (1867) p. 668

Within four months fifty-six had been "regenerated of water and the Holy Ghost" and become children
of God and members of His holy church. He says: "Among them were some who soon after they had received
the grace of baptism entered eternity, clothed in the white garment of baptismal innocence, with which
they were immediately admitted to the nuptial-banquet of the Lamb." Life and Labours of Rt. Reverend Frederic Baraga (1900) p. 209

In October, 1847, F. Baraga went from Copper Harbor to Fond du Lac, most probably by boat . The good people of Fond du Lac felt exceedingly happy to again meet their missionary. During his stay there many received the grace of holy Baptism. It was a particular joy to him to have admitted an entire pagan family through the door of Baptism into the fold of the Good Shepherd.

He was especially consoled by the conversion of a very old pagan woman who was perhaps ninety years of age. When he arrived at Fond du Lac he heard that this poor old woman was very weak and sick. He went, therefore, to her wigwam in which she was lying quite alone. She had been abandoned by her pagan relatives, who went far into the woods to winter there. She was alone and helpless until at last a Christian family took pity on her, cared for her. nourished her, and kept her fire burning day and night.

It is thus pagan Indians at times acted toward their aged parents or grand parents when the latter became so old and feeble that they could no longer help themselves— they simply abandoned them. Should this happen in an Indian village, there was always some one to take them and care for them until they died. This was generally done by Christian families. Baraga says that it often happened that such poor old creatures were abandoned in the midst of the forest by their own children and grand-children, in which case they would perish miserably from starvation and cold.

So, also, this poor old woman had been forsaken, but had now been taken in and cared for by a Christian family: When Baraga learned that she had been long sick, he determined to go and visit her and try to save this poor soul;After having crawled with difficulty into her very small and miserable wigwam, he saluted her. The Christian Indian woman, who had the care of her and who had accompanied the Father, told the poor old creature that the Blackrobe had come to visit her. She could not see the priest, for she wasblind, but she stretched out her hands towards him and when he reached his hand she seized it with both her hands and exclaimed: "Nosse, nosse, jawenimishin!" "My father, my father, have pity on me!" Baraga compassionated her abandoned condition and then spoke to her about religion, trying to make her understand how happy she would be in the other world, if she would but receive and believe the word of the Great Spirit and receive holy Baptism. He explained to her the principal doctrines of our holy religion and asked her from time to time whether she understood and believed what he told her. As he was satisfied from her answers that she was well disposed he intended to baptize her immediately. But then again, believing there was no immediate danger he thought it might perhaps be better to come back the next day and instruct her a little more, before administering Baptism. On leaving the wigwam, however, his first thought came again, namely, to baptize her immediately, which he did. When he came home it was late. He felt very happy and satisfied that he had baptized the poor old creature. Early the next morning the head of the Christian family, that had taken care of her, came to tell Baraga that during the night the good old woman had quietly "fallen asleep in the Lord." Only a Christian heart can imagine the unspeakable joy, which the pious missionary felt at this news. He thanked God most fervently for having inspired him with the thought not to postpone holy Baptism till next day, as he had first intended. It was a mysterious disposition of eternal love, whose weak instrument he considered himself to be, which wanted to take directly this poor soul to the eternal joys of heaven. "Parcet pauperi et inopi et animas pauperum salvas faciet." "He shall spare the poor and needy and He shall save the souls of the poor." (Ps. 71, v. 13). He also had the great joy of admitting to their first Holy Communion thirteen poor Indians, whom he had diligently prepared for that holy Sacrament. Ibid, pp. 235-6

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Body and Soul of the Church

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller:

"Unquestionably, all must enter into the Church," some will say; "but not necessarily into the visible Church. We must distinguish between the Body or exterior communion of the Church, and the soul, or interior communion. The dogma of faith simply says: out of the Church there is no salvation, and you have no right to add the word visible or exterior."

"We add the word exterior or visible," says Dr. O. A. Brownson, "to distinguish the Church out of which there is no salvation from the invisible Church contended for by Protestants, and which no Catholic does or can admit. Without it, the dogma of faith contains no meaning. Unquestionably, as our Lord in his humanity had two parts, his body and his soul, so we may regard the Church, his Spouse, as having two parts, the one exterior and visible, the other interior and invisible, or visible only by the exterior, as the soul of man is visible by his face; but to contend that the two parts are separable, or that the interior exists disconnected from the exterior and is sufficient independently of it, is to assert, in so many words, the prevailing doctrine of Protestants, and so far as relates to the indispensable conditions of salvation, to yield them, at least in their understanding, the whole question. In the present state of controversy with Protestants, we cannot save the integrity of the faith, unless we add the epithet, visible or external. But it is not true that by so doing we add to the dogma of faith. The sense of the epithet is necessarily contained in the simple word Church itself, and the only necessity there is of adding it at all is in the fact that heretics have mutilated the meaning of the word Church, so that to them it no longer has its full and proper meaning. Whenever the word Church is used generally, without any specific qualification, expressed or necessarily implied, it means, by its own force, the visible as well as the invisible Church, the Body no less than the Soul; for the Body, the visible or external communion, is not a mere accident, but is essential to the Church.. The Church, by her very definition, is the congregation of men called by God through the evangelical doctrine, and professing the true Christian faith under their infallible Pastor and Head - the Pope. This definition takes in nothing not essential to the very idea of the Church. The Church, then, is always essentially visible as well as invisible, exterior as well as interior; and to exclude from our conception of it the conception of visibility would be as objectionable as to exclude the conception of body from the conception of man. Man is essentially body and soul; and whosoever speaks of him - as living man - must, by all the laws of language, logic and morals, be understood to speak of him in that sense in which he includes both. So, in speaking of the Church, if the analogy is admissible at all. Consequently, when faith teaches us that out of the Church there is no salvation, and adds herself no qualification, we are bound to understand the Church in her integrity, as Body no less than as Soul, visible no less than invisible, external no less than internal. Indeed, if either were to be included rather than the other, it would be the Body; for the Body, the congregation or society, is what the word primarily and properly designates; and it designates the soul only for the reason that the living Body necessarily connotes the soul by which it is a living Body, not a corpse. We have then, the right, nay, are bound by the force of the word itself, to understand by the Church, out of which there is no salvation, the visible or external as well as the invisible or internal communion.

"What Bellarmine, Billuart, Perrone, and others say of persons pertaining to the soul and yet not to the Body of the Church makes nothing against this conclusion. They, indeed, teach that there is a class of persons that may be saved, who cannot be said to be actually and properly in the Church. Bellarmine and Billuart instance catechumens and excommunicated persons, in case they have faith, hope, and charity; Perrone, so far as we have seen, instances catechumens only; and it is evident from the whole scope of their reasoning that all they say on this point must be restricted to catechumens, and such as are substantially in the same category with them; for they instance no others, and we are bound to construe every exception to the rule strictly, so as to make it as little of an exception as possible. If, then, our conclusion holds true, notwithstanding the apparent exception in the case of catechumens and those substantially in the same category, nothing these authors say can prevent it from holding true universally.

"Catechumens are persons who have not yet received the visible sacrament of baptism in re (in reality), and therefore are not actually and properly in the Church, since it is only by baptism that we are made members of Christ and incorporated into his Body. 'With regard to these there is no difficulty,' says Bellarmine, 'because they are of the Faithful, and if they die in that state may be saved; and yet no one can be saved out of the Church, as no one was saved out of the ark, according to the decision of the fourth Council of Lateran, C. 1: "Una est fidelium Universalis Ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur." Still, it is no less certain that catechumens are in the Church, not actually and properly, but only potentially, as a man conceived, but not yet formed and born, is called man only potentially. For we read (Acts, ii. 41.) "they therefore that received his word were baptized; and there were added to them that day about three thousand souls." Thus the Council of Florence, in its instructions for the Armenians, teaches that men are made members of Christ and of the Body of the Church when they are baptized; and so all the Fathers teach . . . Catechumens are not actually and properly in the Church. How can you say they are saved, if they are out of the Church?"

"It is clear that this difficulty, which Bellarmine states, arises from understanding that to be in the Church means to be in the visible Church, and that, when faith declares, out of the Church no one can be saved, it means out of the visible communion. Otherwise it might be answered, since they are assumed to have faith, hope, and charity, they belong to the soul of the Church, and that is all that faith requires. But, Bellarmine does not so answer, and since he does not, but proceeds to show that they do in a certain sense belong to the body, it is certain that he understands the article of faith as we do, and holds that men are not in the Church unless they, in some sense, belong to the body. "But," Bellarmine continues, "The author of the book 'De Ecclesiasticis Dogmatibus,' replies, that they are not saved. But this appears too severe; certain it is that St. Ambrose, in his oration on the death of Valentinian, expressly affirms that catechumens can be saved, of which number was Valentinian when he departed this life. Another solution is therefore to be sought. Melchior Cano says that catechumens may be saved, because, if not in the Church properly called Christian, they are yet in the Church which comprehends all the faithful, from Abel to the consummation of the world. But this is not satisfactory; for, since the coming of Christ there is no true Church but that which is properly called Christian, and therefore, if catechumens are not members of this, they are members of none. I reply therefore, that the assertion, 'out of the Church no one can be saved,' is to be understood of those who are of the Church neither actually nor in desire, as theologians generally say when treating of baptism." (De. Eccl. Milit. lib. 3, cap. 3)

"I have said," says Billuart, "that catechumens are not actually and properly in the Church, because, when they request admission into the Church, and when they already have faith and charity, they may be said to be in the Church proximately and in desire, as one may be said to be in the house because he is in the vestibule for the purpose of immediately entering. And in this sense must be taken what I have elsewhere said of their pertaining to the Church, that is, that they pertain to her inchoately, as aspirants who voluntarily subject themselves to her laws; and they may be saved, notwithstanding there is no salvation out of the Church; for this is to be understood of one who is in the Church neither actually nor virtually—nec re nec in voto. In the same sense St. Augustine, (Tract. 4 in Joan. n. 13.) is to be understood when he says, 'Futuri erant aliqui in Ecclesia excelsioris gratiae catechumeni,' that is, in will and proximate disposition, 'in voto et proxima dispositione.' (Theolog. de Reg. Fid. Dissert. 3, art. 3.)

"It is evident, both from Bellarmine and Billuart, that no one can be saved unless he belongs to the visible Communion of the Church, either actually or virtually, and also that the salvation of catechumens can be asserted only because they do so belong; that is, because they are in the vestibule, for the purpose of entering, have already entered in their will and proximate disposition. St. Thomas teaches with regard to these, in case they have faith working by charity, that all they lack is the reception of the visible sacrament in reality; but, if they are prevented by death from receiving it in reality before the Church is ready to administer it, that God supplies the defect, accepts the will for the deed, and reputes them to be baptized. If the defect is supplied, and God reputes them to be baptized, they are so in effect, have in effect received the visible sacrament, are truly members of the external communion of the Church, and therefore are saved in it, not out of it. (Summa, 3, q. 68, a. 2, corp. ad 2. et ad 3.

"The case of the catechumens disposes of all who are substantially in the same category. The only persons, not catechumens, who can be in the same category, are persons who have been validly baptized, and stand in the same relation to the sacrament of Reconciliation that catechumens do to the sacrament of Faith. Infants, validly baptized, by whomsoever baptized, are made members of the Body of our Lord, and, if dying before coming to the age of reason go immediately to heaven. But persons having come to the age of reason, baptized in an heretical society, or persons baptized in such society in infancy, and adhering to it after having come to the years of understanding - for there can be no difference between the two classes - whether through ignorance or not, are, as we have seen, out of unity, and therefore out of charity, without which they are nothing. Their faith, if they have any, does not avail them; their sacraments are sacrilegious. The wound of sacrilege is mortal, and the only possible way of being healed is through the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance. But for these to stand in the same relation to this sacrament that catechumens do to the sacrament of Faith, they must cease to adhere to their heretical societies, must come out from among them, seek and find the Church, recognize her as the Church, believe what she teaches, voluntarily subject themselves to her laws, knock at the door, will to enter, standing waiting to enter as soon as she opens and says, Come in. If they do all this, they are substantially in the same category with catechumens; and if, prevented by death from receiving the visible sacrament in reality, they may be saved, yet not as simply joined to the soul of the Church, but as in effect joined or restored to her external Communion. By their voluntary renunciation of their heretical or schismatic society, by their explicit recognition of the Church, by their actual return to her door, by their dispositions and will to enter, they are effectually, if not in form, members of the Body as well as the soul. Persons excommunicated stand on the same footing as these. They are excluded from the Church, unless they repent. If they repent and receive the visible sacrament of Reconciliation, either in reality or in desire, they may be saved because the Church, in excommunicating them, has willed their amendment, not their exclusion from the people of God; but we have no authority to affirm their salvation on any other condition.

St. Thomas Aquinas on the necessity of explicit Faith in the Incarnation and Trinity for salvation

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller:

Hence it has always been, from the beginning, absolutely necessary for salvation to know, by divine faith, God as the Creator of heaven and earth and the eternal Rewarder of the good and the wicked, and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and consequently the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; "For he that cometh to God," says St. Paul, "must believe that he is, and is a rewarder of those who seek him." (Heb. xi. 6.) Upon these words of the great Apostle, Cornelius a Lapide comments as follows:

"The knowledge of God acquired from the contemplation of the world teaches only that God is the Author of the world and of all natural blessings, and that only these natural goods can be obtained and asked of him. But God wishes to be honored and loved by men, not only as the Author of natural goods, but also as the Author of the supernatural and everlasting goods in the world to come; and no one can in any other way come to him and to his friendship, please him, and be acceptable to him. Hence true, divine faith is necessary, because it is only by the light of divine faith that we know God, not only as the Author of nature, but also as the Author of grace and eternal glory; and therefore the Apostle says that to know that there is a God, who rewards the good and punishes the wicked, is to know him as such, not only from natural knowledge, and belief, but also from supernatural knowledge and divine faith.

"But if St. Paul speaks here only of these two great truths, it does by no means follow, that he wishes to teach that the supernatural knowledge of these two truths only and divine faith in them are sufficient to obtain justification, that is, to obtain the grace to become the children of God; but they are necessary in order to be greatly animated with hope in undergoing hard labors and struggles for the sake of virtue. However, to obtain the grace of justification, we must also believe other supernatural truths, especially the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ and that of the Most Holy Trinity." (Comm. in Ep. ad Heb., ix. 6.)

"Some theologians," says St. Alphonsus, "hold that the belief of the two other articles - the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Trinity of Persons - is strictly commanded but not necessary, as a means without which salvation is impossible; so that a person inculpably ignorant of them may be saved. But according to the more common and truer opinion, the explicit belief of these articles is necessary as a means without which no adult can be saved." (First Command. No. 8.) According to St. Augustine (De Praedest. Sanctorum C. 15.) and other Theologians, the predestination, election, and Incarnation of Christ alone were owing, not to the foreseen merit of any one, not even to that of Christ himself, but only to the good pleasure of God. However, the predestination of all men in general, or the election of some in preference to others, is all owing to the merit of Christ, on account of which God has called all men to life everlasting and gives them sufficient grace to obtain it, if they make a proper use of his grace, especially that of prayer.

"That faith," says the same great Doctor of the Church , "is sound, by which we believe that neither any adult nor infant could be delivered from sin and the death of the soul, except by Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man." ( Ep. 190, olim 157, parum a principio.) Hence St Thomas says: Almighty God decreed from all eternity the mystery of the Incarnation, in order that men might obtain salvation through Christ. It was therefore necessary at all times, that this mystery of the Incarnation should, in some manner, be explicitly believed. Undoubtedly, that means is necessarily a truth of faith, by which man obtains salvation. Now men obtain salvation by the mystery of the Incarnation and Passion of Christ; for it is said in the Holy Scripture: "There is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." (Acts, iv. 10.) Hence it was necessary at all times that the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ should be believed by all men in some manner (aliqualiter, either implicitly or explicitly), however, in a different way, according to the circumstances, of times and persons.

Before the fall, man believed explicitly the Incarnation of Christ. Ante statum peccati homo habuit explicitam fidem de Christi incarnatione, secundum quod ordinabatur ad consummationem gloriae, non autem secundum quod ordinabatur ad liberationem a peccato per passionem et resurrectionem, quia homo non fuit praescius peccati futuri. But that he had the knowledge of Christ's Incarnation seems to follow from his words: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife." (Gen. 11. 24) And St. Paul calls this a great sacrament in Christ and in the Church; (Eph. v. 32.) and therefore it cannot be believed that the first man was ignorant of this sacrament.

After the fall of man, the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ was explicitly believed, that is, not only, the Incarnation itself, but also the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, by which mankind is delivered from sin and death; for otherwise they could not have prefigured Christ's Passion by certain sacrifices offered as well before as also after the Written Law, the meaning of which sacrifices was well known to those whose duty it was to teach the religion of God; but as to the rest of the people, who believed that those sacrifices were ordained by God to foreshadow Christ to come, they had thus implicit faith in Christ.

[St. Thomas said:] As the mystery of the Incarnation was believed from the beginning, so, also, was it necessary to believe the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; for the mystery of the Incarnation cannot be explicitly believed without faith in the Most Holy Trinity, because the mystery of the Incarnation teaches that the Son of God took to himself a human body and soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence, as the mystery of the Incarnation was explicitly believed by the teachers of religion, and implicitly by the rest of the people, so, also, was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity explicitly believed by the teachers of religion and implicitly by the rest of the people. But in the New Law it must be explicitly believed by all." (De Fide, Q ii., art. vii. et viii.)

God revealed these great truths of salvation to our first parents immediately after the fall. He preserved the knowledge of them through the holy patriarchs and prophets who, in clear language, foretold that the Redeemer would come, and "be a priest upon his throne" (Zach. vi. 13.), "a priest according to the order of Melchisedech," (Ps. cix. 4.), and that he himself would be the victim offered up for the sins of mankind.

[The same text of St. Thomas in slightly different wording: pg 289 of Catechism of Perseverance ]

Correcting misinterpretation of St. Augustine

St. Augustine wrote:
There are some also who as yet live wickedly, or even lie in heresies or the superstitions of the Gentiles, and yet even then "the Lord knoweth them that are His." For, in that unspeakable foreknowledge of God, many who seem to be without are in reality within, and many who seem to be within yet really are without. Of all those, therefore, who, if I may so say, are inwardly and secretly within, is that "enclosed garden" composed, "the fountain sealed, a well of living water, the orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits." The divinely imparted gifts of these are partly peculiar to themselves, as in this world the charity that never faileth, and in the world to come eternal life; partly they are common with evil and perverse men, as all the other things in which consist the holy mysteries.

In this context St. Augustine is not talking about being within the Church or outside the Church; he is talking about being within the predestinate or being out of it.

He says that there are some who "seem to be without," viz., outside the predestinate; headed for hell). The first category is bad Catholics
- those "who as yet live wickedly." The second category is non-Catholics - those who "lie in heresies or the superstitions of the Gentiles. St. Augustine continues on to say that God, by his "foreknowledge" knows that some of the bad Catholics and the non-Catholics will convert to being good Catholics and hence be saved, and therefore are actually "within" the predestinate.

Catholics "who as yet live wickedly" are obviously in state of perdition; St. Augustine couldn't have meant that they were in the state of grace at the same time. If the phrase "as in this world the charity that never faileth" is interpreted as saying that non-Catholics were in state of grace by having charity, then it would also have to be interpreted as saying that Catholics "who as yet live wickedly" (that is, in the state of mortal sin) are in the state of grace as well, which is impossible, since Catholics in mortal sin cannot be in the state of grace. In the same context St. Augustin continues:

"Wherefore, if those appear to men to be baptized in Catholic unity who renounce the world in words only and not in deeds, how do they belong to the mystery of this ark in whom there is not the answer of a good conscience? Or how are they saved by water, who, making a bad use of holy baptism, though they seem to be within, yet persevere to the end of their days in a wicked and abandoned course of life?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some important passages in The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Michael Müller C.Ss.R

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller

"Some theologians," says St. Alphonsus, "hold that the belief of the two other articles - the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Trinity of Persons - is strictly commanded but not necessary, as a means without which salvation is impossible; so that a person inculpably ignorant of them may be saved. But according to the more common and truer opinion, the explicit belief of these articles is necessary as a means without which no adult can be saved." (First Command. No. 8.)
[St. Thomas said:] As the mystery of the Incarnation was believed from the beginning, so, also, was it necessary to believe the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; for the mystery of the Incarnation cannot be explicitly believed without faith in the Most Holy Trinity, because the mystery of the Incarnation teaches that the Son of God took to himself a human body and soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence, as the mystery of the Incarnation was explicitly believed by the teachers of religion, and implicitly by the rest of the people, so, also, was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity explicitly believed by the teachers of religion and implicitly by the rest of the people. But in the New Law it must be explicitly believed by all." (De Fide, Q ii., art. vii. et viii.)
This doctrine is clearly expressed in the following words of the Athanasian Creed: "He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must thus think of the Trinity," that is, he must believe the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as explained in this Creed. "Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence St. Peter says: "Be it known to you, that there is no salvation in any other name than that of Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." (Acts, iv. 10, 10). "Thus," says St. Alphonsus, "there is no hope of salvation except in the merits of Jesus Christ. Hence St. Thomas and all theologians conclude that, since the promulgation of the Gospel, it is necessary, not only as a matter of precept, but also as a means of salvation (necessitate medii, without which no adult can be saved), to believe explicitly that we can be saved only through our Redeemer." (Reflections on the Passion of Jesus Christ, Chapt. I., No. 19). The explicit belief in the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and of the Incarnation of the Son of God is therefore of the greatest importance. This belief teaches the origin of the world, its creation by God the Father; it teaches us the supernatural end of man, his fall, and the redemption of mankind by God the Son; it teaches the sanctification of souls by the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

"The Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved." (Acts, ii. 47.)

Therefore the Apostles believed and the holy Scriptures teach that there is no salvation out of the Church.

Hence the Fathers of the Church never hesitated to pronounce all those forever lost who die out of the Roman Catholic Church: "He who has not the Church for his mother," says St. Cyprian, "cannot have God for his Father;" and with him the Fathers in general say that, "as all who were not in the ark of Noe perished in the waters of the Deluge, so shall all perish who are out of the true Church." St. Augustine and the other bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, A. D. 410, say: "Whosoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall, for the very reason that he is separated from the union of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Therefore, says St. Augustine, "a Christian ought to fear nothing so much as to be separated from the body of Christ (the Church). For, if he be separated from the body of Christ, he is not a member of Christ; if not a member of Christ, he is not quickened by his Spirit." (Tract. xxvii. in Joan., n. 6, col. 1992, tom. iii.)


"How grateful then," says St. Alphonsus, "ought we to be to God for the gift of the true faith. How great is not the number of infidels, heretics, and schismatics. The world is full of them, and, if they die out of the Church, they will all be condemned, except infants who die after baptism." (Catech. first command. No. 10 and 19.) Because, as St.Augustine says, where there is no divine faith, there can be no divine charity, and where there is no divine charity, there can be no justifying or sanctifying grace, and to die without being in sanctifying grace, is to be lost forever. ( Lib. I. Serm. Dom. in monte, cap. V.)


"For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law." (Rom. ii. 10.) If those Protestants who live in inculpable ignorance of the true religion are not guilty of the sin of heresy, does it follow that they are not guilty of sins against their conscience?


Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, are said to have been acquainted with the knowledge of one Supreme God; but they had not courage to profess his worship, and in their public conduct basely sacrificed to stocks and stones with the vulgar. When men have banished from their heart the sense of religion, and despise the rights of justice, (and is this not the case with numbers?) will many of them scruple to offer incense to a statue, if by so doing they serve their ambition, their interest, or whatever may be their favorite passion?


If the Church believed that men could be saved in any religion whatever, or without any at all, it would be uncharitable in her to announce to the world that out of her there is no salvation. But as she knows and maintains that there is but one faith, as there is but one God and Lord of all, and that she is in possession of that one faith, and that without that faith it is impossible to please God, and be saved, it would be very uncharitable in her and in all her children, to hide Christ's doctrine from the world. To warn our neighbor when he is in imminent danger of falling into a deep abyss, is considered an act of great charity. It is a greater act of charity to warn non-Catholics of the certain danger in which they are of falling into the abyss of hell, since Jesus Christ, and the Apostles themselves, and all their successors, have always most emphatically asserted that out of the church there is no salvation.


We read in Holy Scripture that Almighty God, at different times, scattered the Jews among the heathen and performed great miracles in favor of his chosen people. He thus wished the Gentiles to come to the knowledge of the true God. In like manner, Almighty God has scattered the Roman Catholics, the children of his Church, among the heathens of our time and the Protestants. He has never failed to perform miracles in the Catholic Church. Who has not heard of the many great miracles performed in France, and elsewhere, by the use of the miraculous water of Lourdes? Who has not witnessed the wonderful protection of the Catholic Church? Who has not read the truths of the Catholic Church, even in Protestant newspapers? Who has not heard of the conversion of so many wealthy and learned Protestants to the Catholic Church? The Lord, who wishes that all should come to the knowledge of the true religion, makes use of these and other means to cause doubts to arise in the souls of those who are separated from his Church. Hence it is, as Bishop Hay says, next to the impossible for those Protestants who live among Catholics to be in a state of invincible ignorance.

Such doubts as to their salvation in Protestantism are, for our separated brethren, a great grace, as Almighty God, by these doubts, begins to lead them to the way of salvation, by obliging them to seek in all sincerity for light and instruction. But those who do not heed these doubts remain culpably erroneous in a matter of the greatest importance; and to die in this state is to die in the state of reprobation; it is to be lost forever through one's own fault, as we have seen above.

But let us remember here, that "it is a mistake," as Bishop Hay well says, "to suppose that a formal doubt is necessary to render one's ignorance of his duty voluntary and culpable; it is enough that there be sufficient reason for doubting, though from his unjust prejudices, obstinacy, pride, or other evil dispositions of the heart, he hinder these reasons from exciting a formal doubt in his mind. Saul had no doubt when he offered sacrifice before the prophet Samuel came; on the contrary, he was persuaded that he had the strongest reasons for doing so, yet he was condemned for that very action, and himself and his family rejected by Almighty God. The Jews believed that they were acting well when they put our Saviour to death; nay, their high priest declared in full council that it was expedient for the good and safety of the nation that they should do so. They were grossly mistaken, indeed, and sadly ignorant of their duty; but their ignorance was culpable, and they were severely condemned for what they did, though it was done in ignorance. And, indeed, all who act from a false and erroneous conscience are highly blamable for having such a conscience, though they have never entertained any formal doubt. Nay, their not having such a doubt when they have just and solid grounds for doubting, rather renders them the more guilty, because it shows greater corruption of the heart, greater depravity of disposition. A person brought up in a false faith, which the Scriptures calls sects of perdition, doctrines of devils, perverse things, lies, and hypocrisy—and who has heard of the true Church of Christ, which condemns all these sects, and sees their divisions and dissensions—has always before his eyes the strongest reason to doubt the safety of his own state. If he makes any examination with sincere dispositions of heart, he must be convinced that he is in the wrong; and the more he examines, the more clearly will he see it, —for this plain reason, that it is simply impossible that false doctrine, lies, and hypocrisy should ever be supported by solid arguments sufficient to satisfy a reasonable person, who sincerely seeks the truth and begs light from God to direct him in the search. Hence, if such a person never doubt, but go on, as is supposed, bona fide, in his own way, notwithstanding the strong grounds of doubt which he daily has before his eyes, this evidently shows either that he is supinely negligent in the concern of his soul, or that his heart is totally blinded by passion and prejudice. There were many such persons among the Jews and heathens in the time if the apostles, who, notwithstanding the splendid light of truth which these holy preachers everywhere displayed, and which was the most powerful reason for leading them to doubt of their superstitions, were so far from having such doubts, that they thought by killing the apostles they did God a service. Whence did this arise? St. Paul himself informs us. "We renounce," says he, "the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the Word of God, but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Here he describes the strange light of the truth which he preached; yet this light was hidden to great numbers, and he immediately gives the reason: "And if our Gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine upon them." (II. Cor. iv. 2.) Behold the real cause of their incredulity: they are so enslaved to the things of this world by the depravity of their heart, and the devil so blinds them, that they cannot see the light; but ignorance arising from such depraved dispositions is a guilty, a voluntary ignorance, and therefore never can excuse them.

If this kind of material heretics, then, are lost, they are not lost on account of their heresy, which for them was no sin, but on account of the grievous sins that they committed against their conscience. "For whosoever have sinned without the law," says St. Paul, "shall perish without the law." (Rom. ii. 10.) The great Apostle wishes to say: Those of the heathens who do not know anything of the Christian Law, but sin against the natural Law, their conscience, will be lost, not on account of the sin of infidelity; which was no sin for those who were invincibly ignorant of the Christian Law, but on account of the great sin which they committed against the voice of' God speaking to them by their conscience. The same must be said of those Protestants who are inculpably ignorant of the Catholic religion, but sin grievously against their conscience.

"God," says St. Thomas, "enlightens every man who comes into the world, and produces in all mankind the light of nature and of grace, as the sun does the light which imparts color and animation to all objects. But if any obstacle prevented its rays from falling on a certain object, would you attribute that defect to the sun? Or if you closed up all your windows and made your room quite dark, could you say the sun is the cause of that darkness? It is the same with the man who, by grievous sins, closes the eyes of his understanding to the light of heaven; for he is then enveloped in profound obscurity and walks in moral darkness. A scholar, who wishes to learn a more sublime science or doctrine, must have a brighter and more comprehensive conception, in order to understand clearly his master. In like manner, man, in order to be more capable of receiving divine inspirations, must have a particular disposition for them. "The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist, neither do I withdraw from Him.' (Isai. i. 5.) Hence all vices are contrary to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, because they are in opposition to divine inspiration; and they are also contrary both to God and to reason, for reason receives its lights and inspirations from God. Therefore he who grievously offends God, and is, on this account, not enlightened to know and believe the truths of salvation, must blame himself for his spiritual misfortune and punishment. Of these St. Paul says: In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them. (Cor. iv. 4.) `Blind the heart of this people, and shut their ears and eyes.' (Isai. vi. 10.)"

Be it also remembered that the light of faith is withheld from those Protestants who resemble the Pharisees. "They form to themselves," says Bishop Hay, "a great idea of their good works, not observing the vast difference there is between natural good moral actions, and supernatural Christian good works, which alone will bring a man to heaven. However corrupted our nature is by sin, yet there are few or none of the seed of Adam, who have not certain good natural dispositions, some being more inclined to one virtue, some to another. Thus some are of a humane, benevolent disposition; some tender-hearted and compassionate towards others in distress; some just and upright in their dealings; some temperate and sober; some mild and patient; some also have natural feelings of devotion, and of reverence for the Supreme Being. Now, all such good natural dispositions of themselves are far from being Christian virtues, and are altogether incapable of bringing a man to heaven. They indeed make him who has them agreeable to men, and procure him esteem and regard from those with whom he lives; but they are of no avail before God with regard to eternity. To be convinced of this, we need only observe that good natural dispositions of this kind are found in Mahometans, Jews, and heathens, as well as among Christians; yet no Christian can suppose that a Mahometan, Jew, or heathen, who dies in that state, will obtain the kingdom of heaven by means of these virtues.

The Pharisees, among the people of God, were remarkable for many such virtues; they had a great veneration for the law of God; they made open profession of piety and devotion; gave large alms to the poor; fasted and prayed much; were assiduous in all the public observances of religion; were remarkable for their strict observance of the Sabbath, and had an abhorrence of all profanation of the holy name of God; yet Jesus Christ himself expressly declares: "Except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. v. 20.) We are told that one of their number went up to the temple to pray, who was, in the eyes of the world, a very good man, led an innocent life, free from those grosser crimes which are so common among men, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed; yet Christ himself assures us that he was condemned in the sight of God. All this proves that none of the above good dispositions of nature are capable in themselves of bringing any man to heaven. And the reason is, because "there is no other name given to men under heaven by which we can be saved, but the name of Jesus only," (Acts iv. 10); therefore, no good works whatsoever, performed through the good dispositions of nature only, can ever be crowned by God with eternal happiness. To obtain this glorious reward, our good works must be sanctified by the blood of Jesus, and become Christian virtues. Now, if we search the Holy Scriptures, we find two conditions absolutely required to make our good works agreeable to God, and conducive to our salvation. First, that we be united to Jesus Christ by true faith, which is the root and foundation of all Christian virtues; for St. Paul expressly says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. xi. 6.). Observe the word impossible; he does not say it is difficult, but that it is impossible. Let, therefore, a man have ever so many good natural dispositions, and be as charitable, devout, and mortified as the Pharisees were, yet if he have not true faith in Jesus Christ, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. They refused to believe in him, and therefore all their works were good for nothing as to their salvation; and unless our righteousness exceed theirs in this point, as Christ himself assures us, we shall never enter into his heavenly kingdom. But even true faith itself, however necessary, is not sufficient alone to make our good works available to salvation; for it is necessary, in the second place, that we be in charity with God, in his friendship and grace, without which even true faith itself will never save us. To be convinced of this, let us only give ear to St. Paul, who says, "Though I should have all faith, so as to remove mountains, though I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, though I should give my body to be burnt, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (I Cor. xiii. 2.) So that, let a man be ever so peaceable, regular, inoffensive, and religious in his way, charitable to the poor, and what else you please, yet if he have not the true faith of Jesus Christ, and be not in charity with God, all his apparent virtues go for nothing; it is impossible for him to please God by them; and if he live and die in that state, they will profit him nothing. Hence it is manifest that those who die in a false religion, however unexceptionable may be their moral conduct in the eyes of men, yet, as they have not the true faith in Christ, and are not in charity with him, they are not in the way of salvation; for nothing can avail us in Christ but "faith that works by charity." (Gal. v. 6.)


Not guilty of the sin of heresy are all those who, without any fault of theirs, were brought up in a sect of Protestantism, and who never had an opportunity of knowing better. This class of Protestants are called invincibly or inculpably ignorant of the true religion, or material heretics...

...material heretics may call them selves Christians, and their sects Christian Churches; but they are not the right sort of Christians and their sects are not the true Church of Christ. They are not Catholic Christians....

As long, then, as a material heretic, though through inculpable ignorance, adheres to an heretical sect, he is separated from Christ, because he is separated from his Body—the Catholic Church. In that state he cannot make any supernatural acts of divine faith, hope, and charity, which are necessary to obtain life everlasting, and therefore, if he dies in that state, he is pronounced infallibly lost by St. Augustine, St. Alphonsus and all the great Doctors of the Church.


One of the effects of Baptism is that, when children are validly baptized, they receive, together with the indelible character of a Christian, the habit of faith,—or a capacity, a power or faculty which enables them, when they come to the use of reason, and are instructed by the Catholic Church in revealed truths, to make acts of divine faith, this habit of faith enabling them to see clearly and believe firmly the truths of the Catholic religion. A baptized child is a child of God, and God lives in the soul of that child and is its Father. So, when God speaks through his Church to that child, it easily recognizes the voice that speaks to him as the voice of God, and firmly believes whatever that voice teaches him to believe. But this habitual divine faith is lost by the profession of heresy, material heresy not excepted. To a child that is brought up in heresy, God does not speak when it hears the voice of a heretical teacher; if it believes that teacher, it believes not God, but man, and its faith is human, which cannot lead it to God. (See St. Thomas, De Fide, Q. V., art. iii.; Cursus Compl. Theologae, vol. 21, Q. III., art. iii., de Suscipientibus Baptismum. Instruction in Christ, Doct. chapt. ii.)

This may be more clear from the following: If a person who has come to the use of reason and professes heresy at the time of his baptism, he is indeed indelibly marked as a Christian, but he is not sanctified—the other supernatural effects of baptism being suspended for want of the proper dispositions or preparations which are required to receive not only the sacrament, but also its supernatural effects. One of the most essential requisites to receive these effects is to have the true faith, i.e., to believe God, speaking through the Catholic Church. Now heresy, material heresy not excepted, is a want of this faith, on account of which the supernatural effects of baptism are suspended. God cannot unite himself with a soul that lives in heresy, even though it be only material heresy. As the supernatural sanctifying effects in this case are suspended, so they are for the same reason, destroyed in him who was baptized in his infancy and became a heretic, though only a material heretic, when he came to the use of reason. This person, to be again reconciled with God, must renounce heresy, believe the Catholic Church, and receive worthily the sacrament of penance; or if this cannot be had, he must have perfect contrition or charity with the desire (at least implicit) to receive the sacrament of penance. The other person, however, will be reconciled with God and truly sanctified, as soon as he renounces heresy, believes the Catholic Church, and has at least attrition (imperfect supernatural sorrow) for his sins, because it is then that the supernatural sanctifying effects of baptism take place. It is therefore evident that, if these persons and others like them were to die in heresy, they would be lost forever. (See Theolog. Curs. Compl. De Confirmatione, Part II., Q. II., art. vi.)


"But, suppose," some one will say, "a person, in his inculpable ignorance, believes that he is on the right road to heaven, though he is not a Catholic; he tries his best to live up to the dictates of his conscience. Now, should he die in that state of belief, he would, it seems, be condemned without his fault. We can understand that God is not bound to give heaven to anybody, but, as he is just, he certainly cannot condemn anybody without his fault."

Whatever question may be made still in regard to the great truth in question is sufficiently answered in the explanation already given of this great truth. For the sake of greater clearness, however, we will answer a few more questions. In the answers to these questions we shall be obliged to repeat what has already been said. Now, as to the question just proposed, we answer with St. Thomas and St. Augustine: "There are many things which a man is obliged to do, but which he cannot do without the help of divine grace: as, for instance, to love God and his neighbor, and to believe the articles of faith; but he can do all this with the help of grace; and to whomsoever God gives his grace he gives it out of divine mercy; and to whomsoever he does not give it, he refuses it out of divine justice, in punishment of sin committed, or at least in punishment of original sin, as St. Augustine says. (Lib. de correptione et gratia, c. 5 et 6; Sum. 22. q. ii. art. v.) "And the ignorance of those things of salvation, the knowledge of which men did not care to have is without doubt, a sin for them; but for those who were not able to acquire such knowledge, the want of it is a punishment for their sins," says St. Augustine; hence both are justly condemned, and neither the one nor the other has a just excuse for being lost." (Epist. ad Sixtum, Edit. Maur. 194, cap. vi., n. 27.)

Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of sanctifying grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Saviour, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. "Invincible ignorance," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "is a punishment for sin." (De Infid. q. x., art. 1.) It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation.

But if we say that inculpable ignorance cannot save a man, we thereby do not say that invincible ignorance damns a man. Far from it. To say, invincible ignorance is no means of salvation, is one thing; and to say, invincible ignorance is the cause of damnation is another. To maintain the latter, would be wrong, for inculpable ignorance of the fundamental principles of faith excuses a heathen from the sin of infidelity, and a Protestant from the sin of heresy; because such invincible ignorance, being only a simple involuntary privation, is no sin. Hence Pius IX. said "that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord, who knows the heart and thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer any one to be lost forever without his own fault."
St. Augustine, in the same age, says: "The Catholic Church alone is the body of Christ; the Holy Ghost gives life to no one who is out of this body." (Epist. 185, § 50, Edit. Bened.) And in another place, "Salvation no one can have but in the Catholic Church. Out of the Catholic Church he may have anything but salvation. He may have honor, he may have baptism, he may have the Gospel, he may both believe and preach in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; but he can find salvation nowhere but in the Catholic Church." (Serm. ad. Caesariens. de Emerit.) Again, "In the Catholic Church," says he, "there are both good and bad. But those that are separated from her, as long as their opinions are opposite to hers, cannot be good. For though the conversation of some of them appears commendable, yet their very separation from the Church makes them bad, according to that of our Saviour (Luke, xi. 23), 'He that is not with me is against is against me; and he that gathers not with me scattereth.'" --(Epist. 209, ad Feliciam.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

In the Old Testament, all the world was damned except few Israelites

Of the Great Scarcity of the Predestinate, by Fr. Drexelius, S.J.:

...Saint Vincent Ferrerius of Saint Dominic's order, that mirror of preachers and religious men, did once in a public Sermon discourse with great efficacy of the scarcity of the predestinate and confirmed it with a wonderful example; whose words in reverence of so great a person I will be as exact in reporting, as the difference of language will give me leave. [S. Vinc. Domin. Sepiuag serm. 6. post initium.] Before our Savior's coming into the world, says he, in human flesh, more than five thousand years were already past, and except some few of the Children of Israel who departed to Limbo, all the rest of the world was damned. Imagine with yourself besides, in the time of the law of Moyses how many Children have died without Circumcision; as also in the time of the law of Christ how many without Baptism; of all which number likewise not one is saved. Moreover how many Jews, Saracens, Pagans and Infidels, how many wicked Christians (for faith and Baptism cannot save a man unless they be accompanied with good life) and how many other Christians are there besides, who although they have faith, are yet proud, avaricious, of lewd life, and given to many other vices etc. And here note the example of the Archdeacon of Lyons, who having resigned his benefice, undertook a course of austere penance for forty years together in the wilderness. This holy man after his death appeared to the Bishop of Lyons, who desiring of him to discover [disclose] somewhat unto him of the other world, the Saint answered that thirty thousand in the world had died the same day with him, whereof only 5 were saved, himself and S. Bernard being two of them, who ascended immediately to heaven, the other three remaining in Purgatory, and all the rest irrecoverably damned. This is the reason why our Savior advises us with so much solicitude to enter by the narrow gate: Intrare per augustam portam. This narrow gate of Paradise is the will of God to which everyone must conform himself who desires to enter into Paradise. The broad gate is our own will, and the spacious way is worldly conversation; as to eat and drink our fill, to follow our lustful appetites, take our pleasure, revenge ourselves of those who have injured us, and the like. So as pauci sunt electi, but a few are saved. To which exhortation of Saint Vincent we will add another example recounted by an approved Author....

Whether Everyone may be Saved in His Own Religion by Fr. Lessius:

The fundamental reason whereupon this opinion especially relies, is of no moment. For first, if it be not incredible that God for the space of some thousands of years hath left the whole world in Idolatry, excepting only the Jewish nation being but a little portion or corner of the whole world, and to have permitted it to be utterly overthrown, albeit there were so many rare wits among them, so many diligent worshipers of God, and all human justice, and honesty; it should not also seem incredible, if we say that now, also he suffers the Turks and Jews to perish.

From PDF pg. 10 of Fr. William Smith's

Qui Non Credit Condemnatibur (PDF):

God (say they) is most merciful, and therefore it would be much repugnant to his infinite mercy, to damn for all eternity, any man that believes in him, and in Jesus Christ, as his Redeemer; so that withal he forbear doing of all wrong, but lead a virtuous (or at least, a moral) life, though in other articles of less importance he may err. To this I answer, with the Apostle, [Rom. cap. 11.) O altitudo dibitiarum sapientia & scientia Dei! God's judgments are inscrutable, and to be admired, not to be overcuriously pried into. If it was his divine pleasure, for many ages to make choice only of the Jewish Nation (a very handful to the whole earth) for his elected people, and suffer all the rest of the world (generally speaking) to lie drowned in Idolatry, and therefore to be damned. And if also after our Savior's Incarnation, he vouchsafed not, for the space of many ages, to enlighten whole Countries with the Gospel of Christ, but permitted them to continue (to their souls' eternal perdition) in their former Idolatry & Heathenism; yea suffering even to this very day (and how longer after, his divine Majesty only knows) divers vast Countries to persevere in their foresaid Infidelity, if (I say) this proceeding in God is best liking to himself, and that for the same he cannot be truly charged with Injustice or cruelty, seeing he gave the insufficient means of salvation by the law of Nature, and did not withdraw from them grace sufficient leaving them thereby without excuse. Then much less can any man expostulate God of injustice or want of mercy (for his divine goodness is nothing but justice and mercy itself) if he suffer men to perish eternally, and damn them for want of an entire, complete, and perfect faith an all the articles of Christianity; especially in these times, when no Christian can pretend for excuse any invincible ignorance in matters of faith, by reason that the true articles of Christian Religion, are sufficiently propounded and divulged by God's Church, to all Christians whatsoever; therefore touching God's secret judgments and disposals herein, we will conclude with [Cap 30) Esay: Deus judicii Dominus.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whether Everyone may be Saved in His Own Religion

PDF pp. 239-278 of Lessius' book: A Consultation what Faith and Religion is Best to be Imbraced (PDF pg. 1-179) (transcribed, updated spelling from Early Modern English)

Whether Everyone may be Saved in His Own Religion

We have before in the Preface to our Consultation, set down and briefly confuted a certain gross error, which holds it enough for our salvation to believe in Christ and that he died for our sins. But because it is much spread, and has sunk deeply into the minds of many; I was requested to treat of the matter more at large, and therefore now I will divide it into several Questions, bringing arguments for either part.

The first question shall be, Whether it be sufficient for salvation to believe in God and do no man injury? which is as much to say as, Whether every man may be saved in his own Faith which he professes, if therein he endeavor to live honestly?

The second Question, Whether it be sufficient to salvation to believe in Christ, and that he died for our sins, although we believe not many other articles of faith?


CONCERNING the first Question many in these times do hold & are of opinion that every man may be saved in his own religion, & their principal reason wherewith they are moved to this, is, because it seems unto them incredible that all Jews and Turks, many of whom do devoutly worship God, and deal justly with their neighbors, should perish for all eternity, only because they have not believed in Christ, especially since for want of this belief they seem not to deserve much blame, they being from their infancy trained up in a religion different from Christianity. For why, say they, should God who would all men to be saved, so straiten the way unto heaven? Why should those miserable souls, who according to their capacity do their best to please him, & do wrong to no man, & do lead a just and honest life, be condemned to eternal pain for the ignorance of that thing wherein they were never sufficiently instructed?

The I. Reason.

But this opinion of theirs, although in natural reason it may seem to carry some color of truth & equity, yet considering those things which are revealed unto us in holy Scriptures, it is a mere paradox. For if every Turk and Jew may be saved in their belief, then in vain have the Apostles and holy Fathers so much labored in preaching & planting of the Christian faith. In vain so many martyrs by all manner & kind of torment have shed their blood, and spent their life in the confession thereof. For they might have abstained from this doctrine & profession without any prejudice to their salvation, and have rested contented with the Jews in the profession and acknowledging of one God. I add further: Then in vain was Christ made man; in vain did he work so many Miracles, that so he might be acknowledged and believed to be the Messias & Savior of the world; in vain was he crucified, and died. For none of all these things was necessary to man's salvation, it being sufficient to send preachers about the world to persuade men to the belief of one God. After this manner reasons the Apostle Gal. 2. If justice be by the Law, then in vain (sayth he) is Christ dead: which is as much to say, if Justice can be obtained by the knowledge of one God, and observation of the Law, in vain was Christ crucified, because then the death of Christ had not been necessary for our salvation.

The 2. Reason.

Besides, hence it must necessarily follow, that the whole Scripture is false, since that it tells us [Rom. 3. Apoc. 1.&7. Act. 4] how Christ is our Savior, Mediator, and Redeemer, and propounds him unto us as a propitiation by faith in his blood, by whose Sacrifice we are reconciled unto God by his blood, our sins are washed away, and with whose faith we are justified. Neither is there any other name under heaven given unto men in which they ought to be saved. Thus speaks the holy Scripture: and all this must needs be frivolous and false, if every man may be saved in his own Religion.

But some may perhaps object, that Christ is indeed our Redeemer, and that all our good comes from him, yet his faith not withstanding is not absolutely necessary. For it is sufficient that we believe, that all our good comes and proceeds from the bountiful goodness of God unto us: neither is it needful for us to know by what means it is bestowed upon us.

But this not only repugns to the holy Scripture, but also it is against the reason of the holy Scripture, because the said holy Scripture doth evidently teach us that Christ's redemption is not applied unto us but by faith, and therefore, all such as are destitute of the faith of Christ are void of their justification; and remaining still guilty of sin, are the children of wrath, and in danger of eternal damnation.

It repugns to reason, because to the end that we may become partakers of any great and unaccustomed benefit, all reason requires, that we acknowledge the benefit, and our benefactor, & that we honor him as it becomes us, with all thanksgiving: for both the condition of the benefit and of our benefactor doth require of us this gratefulness of mind. Seeing therefore that the benefit of our redemption is so great and unaccustomed, & he who bestowed it upon us so great and famous, as also the means whereby he bestowed it upon us, so strange and marvelous; it is requisite we should acknowledge all these things, lest we should live an die ungrateful toward so great a benefactor, and lest instead of blessing & thanking him after the manner of the Jews, we curse and blaspheme him. It is therefore an absurd thing, to esteem those who do not believe in Christ, to be partakers of eternal salvation prepared for us by Christ. The which also by this may be confirmed, because none can be saved who doth not know God and the benefit of his creation: for otherwise all Idolators might be saved: neither therefore can he be saved, who doth not know the benefit of his redemption, because the benefit of our redemption is far greater and more admirable, and doth more appertain to the Glory of God, and of Christ our Redeemer, and requires also of us greater honor, service, & thanksgiving.

Neither is it sufficient for us to know in general that all good things come unto us from God, for this is not sufficient for the honor and gratitude which is due unto him, but we must also know what and how great the benefit is, as also by what manner, way, and means he bestowed it upon us: that is to say, that he hath delivered us from sin, and everlasting death, and that he hath opened unto us the way to eternal life, & that after a most admirable manner, to wit by joining our nature unto his, and by suffering therein death for us. For this especially commends his charity, mercy, and justice: this also exacts at our hands all duty, praise, and thanksgiving, these therefore are most necessarily to be known to salvation.

The 3. Reason.

If everyone may be saved in his own faith, then therefore that faith is sufficient to salvation which is not a gift of God, but an human persuasion, conceived by our private judgment, relying upon human authority, & built upon a deceitful foundation. For the Turks, although they believe one God to be the Creator of heaven and earth, and to be the rewarder of both good and evil works, [The ground of faith among the Jews & Turks is false] their faith notwithstanding is not of the holy Ghost, but of their own private judgment, or rather of the devil: for they do not believe so because God hath revealed it unto men by any true Prophet, but because Mahomet, whom they think to be the Prophet of God, & his instrument to teach mortal men, hath so set it down in his Alcoran [Koran]. Albeit therefore that which they believe, be true, yet because the ground of their belief, and the whole reason thereof is false and pestilent, to wit, that Mahomet is a Prophet of God; the faith itself whereby they believe, is deceitful, and the foundation thereof whereupon it is grounded is hurtful to salvation, necessarily inclining and forcing the mind to cast itself into all the pestiferous errors of that sect. How therefore can that faith be called sufficient for them unto salvation, or that they can be saved by that faith? How can that which is uncertain, deceitful, & pestiferous, be made the foundation of our justice before God, or of eternal salvation?

In like manner, albeit the Jews do believe the same, or rather more things agreeable unto truth, yet the faith whereby they do believe them, is deceitful and void of the spirit of God. For the whole reason or cause of their belief is, because the Rabbis and doctors of their synagogue, do so interpret the holy Scriptures unto them. For they are the rule of their belief, or which is all one, the holy Scripture, as it is subject to their interpretation. But this whole reason of their belief is deceitful, and no less hurtful and dangerous, than that of the Turks: for it is no less hurtful to believe, that their Rabbi's interpreting the holy Scriptures are endued with the spirit of God, than to believe that Mahomet is the Prophet of God: neither are they drawn into lesser absurdities by the force of that principle. How therefore can that faith be the foundation, or ground of salvation?

The 4. Reason.

Finally this opinion makes no difference betwixt Turcism [Islam], Judaism and Christianity, but in some few indifferent matters, and nothing necessary unto salvation; insomuch that it is all one in what religion thou livest; seeing that thou may indifferently in all of them obtain thy salvation; the which is nothing else, but to open the way to the Alcoran, & to make Mahomet equal with Christ, or rather manifestly to bring in Atheism. For to approve every Religion is to take away all Religion, and to think none necessary, seeing that the true Religion can be but one.

The fundamental reason whereupon this opinion especially relies, is of no moment. For first, if it be not incredible that God for the space of some thousands of years hath left the whole world in Idolatry, excepting only the Jewish nation being but a little portion or corner of the whole world, and to have permitted it to be utterly overthrown, albeit there were so many rare wits among them, so many diligent worshipers of God, and all human justice, and honesty; it should not also seem incredible, if we say that now, also he suffers the Turks and Jews to perish.

Secondly, the Turks and Jews are less to be excused now, in that they do not believe in Christ, than the Heathens were in times past in not acknowledging one God to be the Creator of heaven and earth. The reason is, because when almost the whole world was in Idolatry, the fervent heat of the common custom carried all by force away with it: neither was there any reason offered unto private men why they should greatly doubt of their Religion: neither if there had been doubt objected unto them could they find out any easy way to know the truth. But now after that the faith and Religion of Christ is divulged throughout the whole world, and that Christians are everywhere extant, it cannot be, but that many occasions are offered unto the Turks and Jews of doubting of their Religion. They are bound therefore to discuss, and confer the matter with the Christians dwelling nigh unto them; the which if they do not, but avert their minds from these kind of thoughts, by reason of the hatred they bear unto Christian Religion, or upon some other cause, they make themselves inexcusable before God: for the business of our Religion & salvation is of so great weight and importance, that it ought to be preferred before all other things, & when there is any just reason of doubting offered, it must withal diligence be examined, albeit we should for that purpose be forced to go into far countries for our resolution.

Lastly, if there be any who have heard nothing of Christian Religion or which do think that there is nothing whereby they may be justly moved to any further inquisition, those men shall not be damned for the sin of infidelity, that is to say, because they have not believed in Christ, but for some other things, which they have done against the law of nature, the which by help of God they might have eschewed: for God hath not let them so destitute of his providence and help, but that they may avoid those sins which they do commit, if they would; as they may & ought to cooperate with God's holy inspirations, and take comfort and pleasure therein. None therefore can impute his damnation unto God, albeit the way be strait unto salvation, but unto himself, to his own negligence, I say, and wickedness, whereby he hath neglected God's holy inspirations, and contemned his profitable admonitions, and willingly and wittingly against his own conscience hath thrown himself headlong into sin, it being his utter overthrow.


THE other question is, whether it be sufficient to salvation to believe in Christ, and that he died for our sins albeit we will not believe many other things. Many, especially of the common sort of people, do esteem it sufficient, so that those things be believed which are set down in the Apostle's Creed, of God and Christ; other things they account indifferent, and every one may believe what with a good faith he pleases, but they will have the Apostle's Creed believed of everyone, in that sense which seems best unto any of them. They conclude therefore, that any who confesses Christ may be saved in his own faith, whether he be a Papist, or a Lutheran, or a Calvinist, or an Anabaptist, or of any other sect, for all these have the same head, which is Christ, all do rely upon the same Foundation which is Christ Jesus; [Colloss. 2, I. Cor. 3.] they cannot therefore be deceived of their salvation albeit they disagree in all other things. Hereupon some noble men who do use these new religions to the establishment and increase of their power and dominions, do labor very much to make one Church of the Lutherans and Calvinists, and they go about to persuade us, that there is no difference amongst them, but in some small points, & indifferent matters.

But this opinion does include in it many inconveniences.

The I. Reason.

First, because it saves almost all the ancient heretics: for most of them did confess Christ & believe Creed in their own sense. The Arians therefore might be saved in their heresy who denied God the Son to be consubstantial with his Father. The Macedonians who made the holy Ghost lesser than God the Son. The Nestorians who affirmed there were two Persons in Christ. The Eutichians who held that the flesh of Christ was converted into his divinity. The Apollinarists who said that the divine Word was united in Christ, as a reasonable soul is united to the body. The Monothelites, who affirmed that there was one only will and operation in Christ. The Pelagians, who denied original sin, and taught that a man by his natural forces might deserve the Grace of God, and his salvation. The Donatists who affirmed that the Church of God was everywhere perished, but only in Donatus's company. The Novatians who denied penance to those that had denied their faith. The Montanist who thought Montanus to be the Holy Ghost. All these according to this opinion, everyone in his own faith and heresy might be saved, because they believed in Christ, & did hold the Apostle's Creed no less to be believed, than now-a-days the Lutherans and Calvinists do. But what can be said more absurd or more like a paradox in the Church of God? For if eternal salvation may be obtained by this kind of faith, why have there been held so many Councils against those heresies, the Bishops throughout the whole world being assembled together with so great labor and charges? why have those heresies been so often condemned by Excommunication? why have the holy Fathers so much labored in the extirpation thereof? why have Catholics so much detested the conversation and company of those heretics? why would some of them rather choose to suffer banishment, death, and all kind of torments than to subscribe unto any of these heresies? All these things truly have been done in vain, foolishly and wrongfully, if in these sects eternal salvation might have been obtained: the which seeing no wise man can say, we must of necessity confess, that those heresies were the plagues of souls, and that salvation could by no means consist with them.

The 2. Reason.

Secondly, because it condemns all antiquity of error, who hath always judged, that heretics cannot be saved, and therefore it hath opposed itself so vehemently against them, and has always very diligently confuted them.

The 3. Reason.

Thirdly, because it condemns the Apostle himself, who in his third to Titus commands us in this sort: Eschew an heretic after one or two admonitions, knowing certainly, that he which is such a one, is overthrown, and sins, being condemned by his own proper judgment. Why doth he command him to be eschewed, if his error be not a hindrance to salvation? why doth he say, that he is overthrown & condemned? In like manner in his 2. Tim 2. Their speech (sayth he) creeps as a canker. Even as therefore the canker is a disease which kills a man's body unless it be cut away, so is an heretic unto a company of Christians and Catholics.

But some peradventure will object, and say, that none is to be accounted an heretic, but he who rejects Christ, or denies something belonging unto the Creed. But this is absurdly, & unwisely spoken, for so he should not be an heretic who should take away both the old and new Testament and should say, that those things are either feigned, or written by the spirit only of a man, and as the writings of profane authors subject to many errors. He were not an heretic who should deny hell; or the eternity of the pains thereof, or should affirm that all the devils should once be saved, seeing that there is no mention made of these things in the Apostle's Creed: he should not be an heretic who should forbid marriage, and who should say that marriages were ordained by the devil, who also should affirm that some kind of flesh is of its own nature unclean; all whom notwithstanding the Apostle judges to be heretics I. Tim. 4. He were not an heretic, who should say that there are two persons in Christ, whom notwithstanding S. John calls an heretic, and Antichrist Epist. I. 6. 4. He were not an heretic, who should deny Baptism, and all other Sacraments. And finally none of those of whom we have spoken before, were to be accounted heretics: the which is contrary to all antiquity, and all the doctors who have lived in these ten or twelve ages past.

The 4. Reason.

Fourthly, this opinion doth make all the foresaid heresies, and sects equal with the Catholic faith and Religion, affirming that we may as well be saved in them as in it. The Catholic Religion therefore shall be no better than Arianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Eurichianism, and other false Religions; the which both in itself is most absurd, and nothing else but to induce a new Atheism. For to affirm all Religions to be good, and that it little imports the work of our Salvation what Religion we profess, is to make no account of any Religion: for if there be any Religion, it cannot be but one, as there is but one Truth, one Justice, one Faith, one happiness, one Lord and God, and one Man Jesus Christ, mediator of God and man.

The 5. Reason.

Fifthly, it is a scornful thing to say, that is is sufficient for everyone to believe the Creed according to their own sense and understanding thereof, seeing there is but one only Truth, to the which if we do not attain, we believe that which is false: but a false faith avails nothing to salvation. It is therefore all one whether thou believest the Creed after such a manner, or after no manner at all: one therefore may be saved albeit he doth not absolutely believe many articles. The same also may be said of the holy Scriptures. For if it be sufficient to believe the holy Scriptures understood in their own sense, seeing that this sense may often times be erroneous, it will not suffice, albeit thou dost not believe them at all; for a false faith can be no more needful to salvation than no faith at all, that is to say, whereby one doth absolutely believe nothing at all.

If thou doest say, that the Creed must be believed in a true sense, then thou condemns all the sects of this time, whereof there is none which believes all the articles of the Creed in the same sense with Catholics, or which doth not differ one from another in the explication of the Creed. Wherefore seeing that there is but only one Truth, it necessarily follows, that all Religions saving one do err from the truth, & therefore are not sufficient to salvation.

But it is evident, that they differ much in the understanding of the Creed, for that Article, And in Iesus Christ his only Son, the Arians, Tritheitans, and many Calvinists affirming the Son lesser than the Father, do otherwise explicate it than the Lutherans, & Catholics do, who hold God the Son to be equal ad consubstantial with his Father. The article of Christ's descending into hell, the Calvinists do otherwise understand, who do think that Christ suffered there the torments of the damned souls, and that he doubted of his salvation, and that he was afraid lest he should be wholly consumed by everlasting death: otherwise Catholics and Lutherans hold, who say that such an exposition is not the sense of that Article, but the blasphemy of Calvin. The article of Christ's ascending into heaven, is otherwise understood by the Lutherans, and Ubiquitarists ho hold Christ's body to be present everywhere and in all places, as his divinity is present everywhere: otherwise the Calvinists and Catholics hold, who do not doubt to affirm, but that by this exposition the whole Creed is overthrown, and that Christ's Incarnation, Nativity, Passion, death, ascending to heaven, and his coming to Judgment is thereby quite taken away. The article of judging the quick and the dead, the Catholics do otherwise expound, who hold that God shall so judge us that he will reward our good works with heaven, and punish our evil deeds with hell: otherwise the Calvinists and Lutherans, who deny all reward to good works, and that God only in his divine judgment will principally esteem, and reward a special faith only. The article of the Holy Ghost, the Catholics, and Lutherans do otherwise understand than the Arians, and many Calvinists. The article of the Church, the Lutherans and Calvinists do understand of the invisible congregation of those which are predestinate: the Catholics do understand it of the visible company of Catholics, wherein many are predestinate, many are reprobate. The article of Communion of Saints, the Lutherans and Calvinists do so extenuate that they take away almost all the communion held by Catholics. The article of Remission of Sins, they explicate of not imputation only, not acknowledging any inward renovation by inherent justice and the infused gifts of God, after which manner the Catholics do hold that sins are forgiven.

By these it is manifest, how great a difference there is in the understanding of the Creed. Seeing therefore that there is but only one Truth, and this in our Consultation we have showed to be among Catholics; it necessarily follows, that all other sects do hold a false doctrine, and faith of the Creed. If therefore a true faith of the Creed be necessary, it cannot possibly be, that everyone may be saved in his own faith and Religion. If a false faith suffice, how can a false faith help us to salvation?

The 6. Reason.

Sixthly, the Holy Scripture is of no less authority than the Apostle's Creed, neither doth he a less injury unto God, who denies anything clearly expressed in Holy Scripture, than he who rejects some article of the Creed: there is therefore no reason why faith should be restrained unto the Creed only, and that we may believe at our pleasure in all other things what we list, seeing that we are no less bound to know distinctly all such things as are in Holy Scripture, we are bound notwithstanding in general to believe all things; insomuch that without the sin of heresy, we may not reject as false and doubtful, anything contained therein. By what color therefore or probability can it be said, that it little imports, how in other matters thou believest, so that thou believe still in Christ and his Creed. Why must the Creed rather be still kept than all the Holy Scripture, seeing that the authority of the Creed is no greater than that of the Holy Scripture? this fancy truly is very foolish and simple, and altogether void of any good ground whereon it may rely.

The 7. Reason.

Seventhly, in every act of faith we must not only regard what we do believe, but also, and that principally, upon what ground we believe, & what is the whole reason of our belief; for of what kind the motive or reason of our belief is, of the same is our faith: if it be certain and infallible: if it be uncertain, our faith also will be uncertain, and subject to error; as for example's sake: The Turk believes there is one God Creator of all things, because his Alcoran doth teach him so, which he thinks to be written by the spirit of God; his faith, albeit he believe that which is true, relies upon a false and deceitful reason: by the force whereof he is moved to believe many false and blasphemous things; as that there are not three Persons in the B. Trinity, and that Christ is not God, and that Christ is inferior to Mahomet, and that Circumcision & the like are still to be kept. That faith therefore by reason of the foundation is both deceitful and hurtful: the same happens unto all heretics, the which being supposed I urge the argument in this manner.

That faith which relies upon a false foundation, albeit it believes some things which are true, cannot be sufficient to salvation: but the faith of all the sects of this time relies upon a false foundation: it cannot be therefore sufficient for salvation. The first proposition in manifest in itself, for how can that which is deceitful & uncertain be the foundation of our eternal salvation? How can the true Religion whereby we please God, be grounded in a false deceitful faith? Truly it is no less repugnant to reason, than if thou should say, that truth is grounded upon lies, wisdom upon error, and virtue upon folly.

The second proposition, to wit, that all sects are grounded upon a false and deceitful foundation, I prove in this manner: for either they believe their opinions for the authority of their Apostles Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, Zwinglius &c. whom they judge to be endued with the spirit of God, or because every one of them in their own private judgment do believe those things to be conceived in holy Scripture, or lastly because their own private spirit doth inwardly testify unto them, that those things are true, or that this is the meaning of holy Scripture: for whatsoever the sects of these times do believe, they are moved thereunto by one of these three reasons, and they appoint one of them to be the foundation or reason of their belief: but these foundations and reasons be altogether false and deceitful.

As for the first reason, to wit the authority of Luther, Calvin, and the rest who first invented these new Religions, that it is deceitful, is manifest, because we see by experience that both they might, and have been often deceived, for they have revoked many things, corrected many things, and in many things have they contradicted themselves, as hath been declared in our Consultation of Religion in the 9. Consideration, and the sixth Reason. Hence it comes to pass that few nowadays will rely upon their authority, because they say, they were men, and therefore subject to error, wherefore their followers also do leave them at their own pleasure, when they think they have found anything fitter for their purpose: their authority therefore is deceitful, & uncertain, even by the judgment of their own scholars, and followers.

Neither is the other, to wit, their private Judgment, whereby they expound the Holy Scripture, less deceitful: for many false things by that private judgment seem to be true, and many things which before seemed true are afterward judged false. From hence arises so great variety and inconstancy in many of them concerning matters of faith, because indeed man's judgment is weak, especially in the mysteries of our faith, and the understanding of Holy Scripture, the which far exceeds the reach of man's wisdom and reason.

Many do answer, that they do not rely upon their judgment in matters of faith, but upon the Holy Scriptures which cannot err: wherein how miserably they are deceived by this appears, because almost all the sects do say, that they rely upon Holy Scripture, whereas notwithstanding they differ among themselves in most of the matters, one teaching contrary unto another, the which could by no means come to pass, if they did not rest upon their own judgments, but upon the lawful and common understanding of the Holy Scripture: for the Holy Scripture is no where contrary unto it. lf, neither doth it anywhere disagree from itself: that therefore they so greatly jar & disagree among themselves, is caused, by that they make a sense to the Holy Scripture according to their own private judgment, the which is diversly framed by them, according to the diversity of judgments and understanding among them: they rely therefore upon the Holy Scripture, not as it is interpreted by the Catholic Church & the holy Fathers, but as they in their private judgment do interpret it: for the virtue and force of the holy Scripture doth not only consist in the bear words, but in the sense and meaning thereof: but the private judgment invents this sense, and joins it to the words of the Scripture as life unto the body : the whole reason of their faith therefore is their private judgment, the which how deceitful oftentimes it is, may easily be declared by the disagreement of so many sects. For it is all one whether thou say that thou rely upon Scripture as it is interpreted by they proper judgment, or that thou rely upon thy own judgment precisely in itself.

Finally, the third reason whereupon many nowadays do rely, is most deceitful and scornful of all, a manifest sign whereof is that among the Anabaptists, who above all others are guided by the instinct of the spirit, there is the greatest variety of sects, and disagreement of faith; the which could not be, but that the spirit whereupon they rely, and by whom they are governed is deceitful and variable. The same also is to be seen among Calvinists, and Lutherans, and amongst their sects and divers factions, for their own opinion is certain an evident unto every one of them by the testimony of their own private judgment, the which inwardly reaches every one of them and affords the testimony of truth unto everyone of them, whereby it is manifest that this spirit is not the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, who cannot teach contraries, or be opposite unto itself; but it is a wicked spirit, spirit of error, who is a liar from the beginning, & the father of lies, who works in the children of incredulity, of whom the Apostle says, Because they have not received the charity of truth, he will therefore send them the operation of error, that they may believe in lies. [2. Thess. 6.] And in another place. In the last days there shall some depart from their faith attending to the spirits of error, and doctrines of the devil. For every heresy is the doctrine of the devil. And S. John says, Do not believe every spirit but try their spirits, whether they be of God or not. For many false prophets are gone out into the world. [I. Tim. 4]

This therefore is the spirit which bears rule in the hearts of heretics, whose testimony & operation they feel inwardly engrafted in their hearts, and yet they think it to be the work of the Holy Ghost, who so blinds their mind, and fantasizes, that they judge light to be darkness, and darkness light, that they think the most clear truth of the Catholic faith to be an error, and most filthy errors to be the clear truth. And truly if they were not wholly blinded & bewitched, they might easily perceive that spirit whom they feel inwardly, not to be the spirit of God, or at the least they might begin to doubt thereof, seeing that all sects among whom there is so great assention & variety of opinions, do all equally feel, boast of, and follow that testimony of this spirit, and rely upon it in the confirmation of their most contrary opinions: but this happens by the just judgment of God: for as the Jews who would not receive Christ were permitted o be blinded by the devil, as it is manifest by the Apost 2. ac Thes. 2 so heretics because they have forsaken the Catholic faith (the which is no less a fault than that of the Jews) are delivered unto him, that he may as it were bewitch their minds, & drive them into all kind of error.

[The devil doth sooner bewitch heretics than Jews]

But if any will attentively consider he shall easily perceive a more potent operation of the devil an bewitching of minds in our heretics, than either in Jews or Mahometans, and that for two reasons. First because the Jews agree in the same faith, neither is there any variety of sects among them; among the Mahomets there are only two sects and there is no great difference betwixt them. But among heretics of these times here are many sects, some arising by the increase of new opinions, who condemn one another's heresy, and all there are risen within the space of 90. years, the which is a manifest sign, that the devil marvelously possesses inwardly the hearts of these men troubling their fancies, perverting their imaginations and judgments, that they cannot remain or be quiet anywhere.

Secondly, because the common sort of people among the Jews and Turks do not rely upon their own judgment, or upon the testimony and instinct of the private spirit, but upon the judgment of their doctors, or (which is all one) upon their own Scripture, as it is interpreted unto them by the doctors of their Religion; they have therefore the rule of their faith and ground of their belief conformable as it were to reason, that is to say, the common consent of their predecessors, or the Scripture explicated unto them by the consent of the doctors of their Religion. But most of the heretics of these times do not respect their Superiors and Apostles from whom they first received this new Gospel, but they forsake them as men subject to error, and they rely wholly upon their own judgment, or upon the testimony of the private spirit, or which is all one, upon the Scripture only, understood after the sense of their own Judgment & private spirit, the which is an evident sign, that Satan doth so effectually work in them & bewiten their minds, that not only every one feigns unto himself new heresies and opinions, but also that he places the foundation of his belief & rule of faith in himself, & in his own inward sense and judgment: for everyone thinks himself to be taught by our Lord and endued with the Magistery of the spirit, albeit they be women & young girls, & therefore to be free from error, and all the holy Fathers to have been men subject to error. The same they judge of their Apostles and ministers. But what greater bewitching or deceiving of people can there be, than this? hence it comes to pass that they have no certain and established opinions among them, neither can they set down or frame any body of doctrine and religion, but they must wander up and down in uncertainties, as the private spirit leads them; neither can there any disputation be made with them concerning their opinions, seeing that they do not defend any one opinion, they being by reason of the ignorance of their predecessors altogether unlearned. But of this spirit of folly & madness we have written more at large in our Consultation in the 9. Consideration, & the 11. Reason.

By these it is manifestly concluded that all the ground and foundation of faith whereupon the sects of our times rely, is false and uncertain, and therefore their faith which relies thereon is unprofitable, and avails nothing to salvation.

The 8. Reason.

Eightly, if everyone who doth acknowledge Christ may be saved in his own faith, why is there so great disagreement among religions? Why do they excommunicate and condemn another of heresy? Why do Lutherans refuse to acknowledge the Calvinists for their brethren: and in their public sermons and books do call them wicked & blasphemous persons? Why do the chief of the Calvinists, among whom Theodore Beza, the Father of them all, & as it were their pope next after Calvin, handle the Lutherans like manner? why do the Anabaptists call those only of their own sect, to be the faithful, & Christians, and account all others as Infidels? Whereby it is evident, that this new opinion of doctrine is not only contrary to Catholic Religion, but to all other sects also, who have in them any zeal of piety & religion, & to be banished as Atheism only.

The 9. Reason.

Ninthly, that any man be saved it suffices not to keep only one, two, or three commandments, but it is necessary to keep all, according to those words of Christ Matth. 19. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. As if any be an adulterer, or thief, albeit he keep the other commandments he may not be saved, as the holy Scripture often teaches. In like manner therefore it is not sufficient to salvation to believe two, three, or four articles, but it is necessary to believe all those things which God hath revealed and set down to us in his Church to be believed, for faith is no less necessary to salvation than obedience of the commandments of the law of God: neither should faith be less perfect than the obedience and keeping of the law of God. As therefore obedience must extend itself to all the commandments, so must faith extend itself to all things which are revealed; the which may be confirmed by the words of S. James in the 2. Chap. Whosoever hath keep the whole Law, but offends in one, he is made guilty of all: for he who said, thou shall not commit adultery, said also thou shall not kill: as if he should say, he is made guilty of all, and shall be punished as a breaker of the whole law, because he hath despised the law-maker, who is the author of the whole law, In like manner therefore he which shall deny one article, although he believe all the rest, is made guilty of violating his whole faith and Religion, because he contemns God who is the first Truth, who no less revealed this than the other: he contemns the Catholic Church the spouse of Christ, who is the pillar & strength of Truth, whereby he hath no less determined we should believe this than the other. And this is the reason why he is no less an heretic who with pertinacity denies one point of faith, than he which denies a hundred, because in that he denies one, he contemns God, who is the first truth and did reveal it: he contemns the authority of the Church, the which did propose it unto us: he makes the Church subject to error and a liar, whereby he is made also uncertain of all the rest, and looses all his divine faith: for the ground of his divine faith being taken away, his whole faith must needs perish, and consequently there remains only an opinion or human faith, subject to error, whereby he believes all the rest.

The 10. Reason.

Tenthly and lastly, this opinion is very dangerous is the practise thereof, for it makes a man that he cares not what religion he hold, what he believes or not believes: he doth not therefore seek after the truth, and he doth as easily and with as great security lay hold on false as true things, yet all men not only Catholics but even the more principal sects, & those which are learned wisemen do absolutely affirm, that none can be saved without the true faith and religion, and whosoever are deprived thereof shall perish forever. The followers therefore of this opinion are condemned of all, and they only promise unto themselves salvation without any author, testimony or reason for it, relying and trusting only in their own vain imagination of their foolish brain: let then therefore hear out of S. Fulgentius what antiquity hath always held and what the Catholic Church hath taught in all ages. Thus therefore he writes, setting down the rules of our common faith in his book de fide ad Petrum Diaconum, Cap. 38. Believe assuredly (sayth he) and doubt nothing at all, that not only all Pagans, but also all Jews, Heretics and Schismatics who shall die out of the Catholic Church shall go into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his Angels. And in the 39. Cap. Believe assuredly & doubt nothing, that every heretic or Schismatic christened in the name of the Father, & of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if he be not withing the number of those which are of the Catholic Church, what alms soever he hath made, albeit he shall shed his blood for the name of Christ, can be no means be saved: for neither baptism, nor large and charitable alms, nor death itself suffered for Christ's sake, will avail that man, who doth hold the unity of the Catholic Church, as long as his heretical or schismatical wickedness which leads to perdition, shall continue in him.

This hath always been the faith of the Catholic Church, and the most certain and undoubted doctrine of the holy Fathers: the which I would to God all those who remain out of the Church of God would attentively and diligently consider; they would truly and easily perceive in how dangerous a state they continue. Thou, O Christ, the light of the world, shine unto their minds, and enlighten their hearts. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe