by Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Extracted from the "Catholic Controversy" (originally published by Burns and Oates, London 1886)
Translated by Rev. Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B.
That we need some other rule besides the Word of God.
That the Church is an infallible guide for our faith. That the True Church is visible. Definition of the Church.
The Catholic Church is one. First mark. It is under one visible head; that of the Protestants is not.
Unity of the Church (continued). Of the unity of the Church in doctrine and belief. The True Church must be one in its doctrine. The Catholic Church is united in belief, the so-called Reformed church is not.
Of the sanctity of the Church: second mark.
Second mark (continued). The True Church ought to be resplendent in miracles
Sanctity of the Church (continued). The Catholic Church is accompanied with miracles, the pretended is not.
Sanctity of the Church (continued). The spirit of prophecy ought to be in the True Church. The Catholic Church has the spirit of prophecy; the pretended has it not.
Sanctity of the Church (continued). The True Church must practice the perfection of the Christian life.
Sanctity of the Church (continued). The perfection of the evangelic life is practiced in our Church; in the pretended, it is despised and given up.
Of the universality or catholicity of the Church: third mark.
Catholicity of the Church (continued). The True Church must be ancient. The Catholic Church is most ancient, the pretended quite new.
Catholicity of the Church (continued.) The True Church must be perpetual. Ours is perpetual, the pretended is not.
Catholicity of the Church (continued). The True Church ought to be universal in places and persons. The Catholic Church is thus universal, the pretended is not.
Catholicity of the Church (continued). The True Church must be fruitful. The Catholic Church is fruitful, the pretended barren.
Once when Absalom wished to form a faction against his good father, he sat in the way near the gate, and said to all who went by: ”There is no man appointed by the king to hear thee…O that they would make me judge over the land, that all that have business might come to me, and I might do them justice. (2 Kings xv.). Thus did he undermine the loyalty of the Israelites. But how many Absaloms have there been in our age, who, to seduce and distract the people from obedience to the Church, and to lead Christians into revolt, have cried up and down the ways of Germany and of France: There is no one appointed by the Lord to hear and resolve differences concerning faith and religion; the Church has no. power in this matter!" If you consider well, Christians, you will see that whoever holds this language wishes to be judge himself, though he does not openly say so, more cunning than Absalom. I have seen one of the most recent books of Theodore Beza, entitled: Of the true, essential and visible marks of the true Catholic Church; he seems to me to aim at making himself, with his colleagues, judge of all the differences which are between us; he says that the conclusion of all his argument is that "the true Christ is the only true and perpetual mark of the Catholic Church,"-understanding by true Christ, he says, Christ as he has most perfectly declared himself from the beginning, whether in the Prophetic or Apostolic writings, in what belongs to our salvation. Further on he says: "This was what I had to say on the true, sole, and essential mark of the true Church, which is the written Word, Prophetic and Apostolic, well and rightly ministered." Higher up he had admitted that there were great difficulties in the Holy Scriptures, but not in things which touch faith. In the margin he places this warning, which he has put almost everywhere in the text: "The interpretation of Scripture must not be drawn elsewhere than from the Scripture itself, by comparing passages one with another, and adapting them to the analogy of the faith." And in the Epistle to the King of France: " We ask that the appeal be made to the holy canonical Scriptures, and that, if there be any doubt as to the interpretation of them, the correspondence and relation which should exist among these passages of Scripture and the articles of faith, be the judge." He there receives the Fathers as of authority just as far as they should find their foundation in the Scriptures. He continues: "As to the point of doctrine we cannot appeal to any irreproachable judge save the Lord himself, who has declared all his counsel concerning our salvation by the Apostles and the Prophets." He says again that "his party are not such as would disavow a single Council worthy of the name, general or particular, ancient or later, (take note)-" provided," says he, "that the touchstone, which is the word of God, be used to try it." That, in one word, is what all these reformers want--to take Scripture as judge. And to this we answer Amen: but we say that our difference is not there; it is here, that in the disagreements which we shall have over the interpretation, and which will occur at every two words, we shall need a judge. They answer that we must decide the interpretation of Scripture by collating passage with passage and the whole with the Symbol of faith. Amen, Amen, we say: but we do not ask. how we ought to interpret the Scripture, but- who shall be the judge? For after having compared passages with passages, and the whole with the Symbol of the faith, we find by this passage: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xvi), that S. Peter has been chief minister and supreme steward in the Church of God: you say, on your side that this passage: The kings of the nations lord it over them... but you not so (Luke xxii.), or this other (for they are all so weak that I know not what may be your main authority): No one can lay another foundation, etc. (1 Cor. iii. 11), compared with the other passages and the analogy of the faith makes you detest a chief minister. The two of us follow one same way in our inquiry concerning the truth in this question - namely, whether there is in the Church a Vicar General of Our Lord - and yet I have arrived at the affirmative and you have ended in the negative; who now shall judge of our difference? Here lies the essential point as between you and me.
I quite admit, be it said in passing, that he who shall inquire of Theodore Beza will say that you have reasoned better than I, but on what does he rely for this judgment except on what seems good to himself, according to the prejudgment he has formed of the matter long ago? -and he may say what he likes, for who has made him judge between you and me?
Recognize, Christians, the spirit of division: your people send you to the Scriptures; -we are there before you came into the world, and what we believe, we find there clear and plain. But, -it must be properly understood, adapting passage to passage, the whole to the Creed; -we are at this now fifteen hundred years and more. You are mistaken, answers Luther. Who told you so? Scripture. What Scripture? Such and such, collated so, and fitted to the Creed. On the contrary, say I, it is you, Luther, who are mistaken: the Scripture tells me so, in such and such a passage, nicely joined and adjusted to such and such a Scripture, and to the articles of the faith. I am not in doubt, as to whether we must give belief to the holy Word; -who knows not that it is in the supreme degree of certitude? What exercises me is the understanding of this Scripture -the consequences and conclusions drawn from it, which being different beyond and very often contradictory on the same point, so that each one chooses his own, one here the other there-who shall make me see truth through so many vanities? Who shall give me to see this Scripture in its native color? For the neck of this dove changes its appearance as often as those who look upon it change position and distance. The Scripture is a most holy and infallible touchstone; every proposition, which stands this test I accept as most faithful and sound. But what am I to do, when I have in my hands this proposition: the natural body of our Lord is really, substantially and actually in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. I have it touched at every angle and on every side, by the express and purest word of God, and by the Apostles' Creed. There is no place when I do not rub it a hundred times, if you like. And the more I examine it the finer gold and purer metal do I recognize it to be made of. You say that having done the same you find base metal in it. What do you want me to do? All these masters have handled it already, and all have come to the same decision as I, and with such assurance, that in general assemblies of the craft, they have turned out all who said differently. Good heavens! who shall resolve our doubts? We must not speak again of the touchstone or it will be said: The wicked walk about (in circuitu) (Ps. xi. 9). We must have some one to take it up, and to test the piece himself; then he must give judgment, and we must submit, both of us, and argue no more. Otherwise each one will believe what he likes. Let us take care lest with regard to these words we be drawing the Scripture after our notions, instead of following it. If the salt hath lost its savor, with what shall it be salted? (Matt. v. 13). If the Scripture be the subject of our disagreement, who shall decide?
Ah! whoever says that Our Lord has placed us in the bark of his Church, at the mercy of the winds and of the tide, instead of giving us a skillful pilot perfectly at home, by nautical art, with chart and compass, such a one says that he wishes our destruction. Let him have placed therein the most excellent compass and the most correct chart in the world, what use are these if no one knows how to gain from them some infallible rule for directing the ship? Of what use is the best of rudders if there is no steersman to move it as the ship’s course requires? But if every one is allowed to turn it in the direction he thinks good, who sees not that we are lost?
It is not the Scripture which requires a foreign light or rule, as Beza thinks we believe; it is our glosses, our conclusions, understandings, interpretations, conjectures, additions, and other such workings of man's brain, which, being unable to be quiet, is ever busied about new inventions. Certainly we do not want a judge to decide between us and God, as he seems to infer in his Letter. It is between a man such as Calvin, Luther, Beza, and another such as Eckius, Fisher, More; for we do not ask whether God understands the Scripture better than we do, but whether Calvin understands it better than S. Augustine or S. Cyprian. S. Hilary says excellently (Lib. 2 de Trin. xviii.) "Heresy is in the understanding, not in the Scripture, and the fault is in the meaning, not in the words." and S. Augustine (In Joan. Tr. xviii, i.): "Heresies arise simply from this, that good Scriptures are ill-understood, and what is ill-understood in them is also rashly and presumptuously given forth." It is a true Michol's game; it is to cover a statue, made expressly with the clothes of David (1 Kings xix.) He who looks at it thinks he has seen David, but he is deceived, David is not there. Heresy covers up, in the bed of its brain, the statue of its own opinion in the clothes of Holy Scripture. He who sees this doctrine thinks he has seen the Holy Word of God, but he is mistaken; it is not there. The words are there, but not the meaning. "The Scriptures," says S. Jerome, ( Adv. Lucif. 28. ) "consist not in the reading but in the understanding:" that is, faith is not in the knowing the words but the sense. And it is here that I think I have thoroughly proved that we have need of another rule for our faith, besides the rule of Holy Scripture. "If the world last long “said Luther once by good hap (Contr. Zwin. et. Oecol)”, “it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of the faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge." He acknowledges that formerly they were received, and that afterwards they will have to be.
I have dwelt on this at length, but when it is well understood, we have no small means of determining a most holy deliberation.
I say as much of Traditions; for if each one will bring forward Traditions, and we have no judge on earth to make in the last resort the difference between those which are to be received and those which are not, where, I pray you, shall we be? We have clear examples. Calvin finds that the Apocalypse is to be received, Luther denies it; the same with the Epistle of S. James. Who shall reform these opinions of the reformers? Either the one or the other is ill formed, who shall put it right? Here is a second necessity which we have of another rule besides the Word of God.
There is, however, a very great difference between the first rules and this one. For the first rule, which is the Word of God, is a rule infallible in itself, and most sufficient to regulate all the understandings in the world. The second is not properly a rule of itself, but only in so far as it applies the first and proposes to us the right doctrine contained in the Holy Word. In the same way the laws are said to be a rule in civil causes. The judge is not so of himself, since his judging is conditioned by the ruling of the law; yet he is, and may well be called, a rule, because the application of the laws being subject to variety, when he has once made it we must conform to it.
The Holy Word then is the first law of our faith; there remains the application of this rule, which being able to receive as many forms as there are brains in the world, in spite of all the analogies of the faith, there is need further of a second rule to regulate this application. There must be doctrine and there must be some one to propose it. The doctrine is in the Holy Word, but who shall propose it? The way in which one deduces an article of faith is this: the Word of God is infallible; the Word of God declares that Baptism is necessary for salvation; therefore Baptism is necessary for salvation. The 1st Proposition cannot be gainsayed, we are at variance with Calvin about the 2nd;- who shall reconcile us? Who shall resolve our doubt? If he who has authority to propose can err in his proposition all has to be done over again. There must therefore be some infallible authority in whose propounding we are obliged to acquiesce. The Word of God cannot err, He who proposes it cannot err; thus shall all be perfectly assured.
Now is it not reasonable that no private individual should attribute to himself this infallible judgment on the interpretation or explanation of the Holy Word? -otherwise, where should we be? Who would be willing to submit to the yoke of a private individual? Why of one rather than of another? Let him talk as much as he will of analogy, of enthusiasm, of the Lord, of the Spirit,-all this shall never so bind my understanding as that, if I must sail at hazard, I will not jump into the vessel of my own judgment, rather than that of another, let him talk Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Tartar, Moorish, and whatever you like. If we are to run the risk of erring, who would not choose to run it rather by following his own fancy, than by slavishly following that of Calvin or Luther? Everybody shall give liberty to his wits to run promiscuously about amongst opinions the most diverse possible; and, indeed, he will perhaps light on truth as soon as another will. But it is impious to believe that Our Lord has not left us some supreme judge on earth to whom we can address ourselves in our difficulties, and who is so infallible in his judgments that we cannot err.
I maintain that this judge is no other than the Church Catholic, which can in no way err in the interpretations and conclusions she makes with regard to the Holy Scripture, nor in the decisions she gives concerning the difficulties which are found therein. For who has ever heard this doubted of?
All that our adversaries can say is that this infallibility is only true of the invisible Church. But they arrive at this their opinion of the invisibility of the Church by two roads; for some say it is invisible because it consists only of persons elect and predestinate: the others attribute this invisibility to the rareness and scattering of the believers and faithful. Of these the first consider the Church to be invisible at all times, the others say that this invisibility has lasted about a thousand years, more or less; that is, from S. Gregory to Luther, during which time the papal authority was peaceably established among Christians for they say that during this time there were some true Christians in secret, who did not manifest their intentions, and were satisfied with thus serving God in concealment. This theology is imagination and guesswork; so that others have preferred to say, that during those thousand years the Church was neither visible nor invisible, but altogether effaced and suffocated by impiety and idolatry. Permit me, I beseech you, to say the truth freely; all these words are the incoherencies of fever, they are but dreams had while awake, and not worth the dream Nabuchodonosor had while asleep. And they are entirely contrary to it if we believe Daniel's interpretation (Dan. ii); for Nabuchodonosor saw a stone cut out of a mountain without hands which went rolling till it overthrew the great statue, and so increased that having become a mountain it filled the whole earth: this Daniel understood of the Kingdom of Our Lord, which shall last for ever. If it be as a mountain, and a mountain so large as to fill the whole earth, how shall it be invisible or secret? And if it last for ever, how shall it have failed a thousand years? And it is certainly of the Kingdom of the Church militant that this passage is to be understood; for that of the triumphant will fill heaven, not earth only, and will not arise during the time of the other Kingdoms, as Daniel's interpretation says, but after the consummation of the world. Add to this that to be cut from the mountain without hands, belongs to the temporal generation of Our Lord, according to which he has been conceived in the womb of the Virgin, and engendered of her own substance without work of man, by the sole benediction of the Holy Ghost. Either then Daniel has badly prophesied, or the adversaries of the Catholic Church have done so when they have said the Church was invisible, hidden and destroyed. In God's name have patience; we will go in order and briefly, while showing the vanity of those opinions. But we must, before all things, say what the Church is.
Church comes from the Greek word meaning to call. Church then signifies an assembly, or company of persons called. Synagogue means a flock, to speak properly. The assembly of the Jews was called Synagogue, that of Christians is called Church: because the Jews were as a flock of animals, assembled and herded by fear; Christians are brought together by the Word of God, called together in the union of charity, by the preaching of the Apostles and their successors. Wherefore S. Augustine has said (In Ps. LXXXI) that the Church is named from convocation, the synagogue from flock, because to be convoked belongs more to men, to be driven together refers rather to cattle. Now it is with good reason that we call the Christian people the Church, or convocation, because the first benefit God does to a man whom he is about to receive into grace is to call him to the Church. Those whom he predestinated them he also called, said S. Paul to the Roman (viii.30); - that is the first effect of his predestination: and to the Colossians (iii. 15): Let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body. To be called in one body is to be called in the Church, and in those comparisons which Our Lord makes, in S. Matthew (xx. xxii.), of the vineyard and the banquet to the Church, the workmen in the vineyard and the guests at the banquet, he names the called and invited ones: Many, says he, are called, but few are chosen. The Athenians called the assemblage of the citizens the church, an assemblage of strangers was called by another name-diaklesis. Whence the word Church belongs properly to Christians, who are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints and domestics of God (Eph. ii. 19) You see whence is taken the word Church, and here is its definition:(from Ephes. v. 27; John xi. 52; S. Cyprian de unit Eccl.; Ephes. iv. 4; Matt. xvi.; Heb. vii. 11; Ephes. iv. 11, 12). The Church is a holy university or general company of men united and collected together in the profession of one same Christian faith; in the participation of the same Sacraments and Sacrifice; and in obedience to one same Vicar and Lieutenant-general on earth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and successor of S. Peter; under the charge of lawful Bishops.
I will not dwell long on this point. You know that all we Catholics acknowledge the Pope as Vicar of Our Lord. The universal Church acknowledged him lately at Trent, when she addressed herself to him for confirmation of what she had resolved, and when she received his deputies as the ordinary and legitimate presiding body of 'the Council. I should lose time also [to prove that] you have no visible head; you admit it. You have a supreme Consistory, like those of Berne, Geneva, Zurich and the rest, which depend on no other. You are so far from consenting to recognize a universal head, that you have not even a provincial head. Your ministers are one as good as another, and have no prerogative in the Consistory, yea, are inferior in knowledge and in vote to the president who is no minister. As for your bishops or superintendents, you are not satisfied with lowering them to the rank of ministers, but have made them inferior, so as to leave nothing in its proper place.
The English hold their queen as head of their church, contrary to the pure Word of God. Not that they are mad enough, so far as I know, to consider her head of the Catholic Church, but only of those unhappy countries.
In short, there is no one head over all others in spiritual things, either amongst you or amongst the rest of those who make profession of opposing the Pope.
How many times and in how many places is the Church, as well militant as triumphant, both in Old and New Testament, called house and family! It would seem to me lost time to search this out, since it is so common in the Scriptures that he who has read them will never question it, and he who has not read them will find, as soon as he reads them, this form of speech in a manner everywhere. It is of the Church that S. Paul says to his dear Timothy (I. iii. 15): That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church, the pillar and ground of the truth. It is of her that David says: Blessed are they who dwell in thy house, O Lord (Ps. lxxxiii. 5). It is of her that the angel said: He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever (Luke i. 32). It is of her that Our Lord said: In my Father’s house there are many mansions (John xiv. 2). The kingdom of heaven is like to a master of a family, in Matthew, chapter 20, and in a hundred thousand other places.
Now the Church being a house and a family, the Master thereof can doubtless be but one, Jesus Christ: and so is it called house of God. But this Master and householder ascending to the right hand of God, having left many servants in his house, would leave one of them who should be servant-in-chief, and to whom the others should be responsible; wherefore Christ said: Who (thinkest thou) is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his family (Matt. xxiv. 45). In truth, if there were not a foreman in a shop, think how the business would be done-or if there were not a king in a kingdom, a captain in a ship, a father in a family-in fact it would no longer be a family. But hear Our Lord in S. Matthew (xii.): Every city or house divided. against itself shall not stand. Never can a province be well governed by itself, above all if it be large. I ask you, gentlemen so wise, who will have no head in the Church, can you give me an example of any government of importance in which all the particular governments are not reduced to one? We may pass over the Macedonians, Babylonians, Jews, Medes, Persians, Arabians, Syrians, French, Spaniards, English, and a vast number of eminent states, in regard to which the matter is evident; but let us come to republics. Tell me, where have you ever seen any great province which has governed itself? Nowhere. The chief part of the world was at one time in the Roman Republic, but a single Rome governed; a single Athens, Carthage, and so of the other ancient republics; a single Venice, a single Genoa, a single Lucerne, Fribourg and the rest. You will never find that the single parts of some notable and great province have set to work to govern themselves. But it was, is, and will be necessary that one man alone, or one single body of men residing in one place, or one single town, or some small portion of a province, has governed the province if the rest of the province were large. You, gentlemen, who delight in history, I am assured of your suffrages; you will not let me be contradicted. But supposing (which is most false) that some particular province was self-governed, how can this be said of the Christian Church, which is so universal that it comprehends all the world? How could it be one if it governed itself? And if not, there would be need to have a council of all the bishoprics always standing-and who would convoke it? It would be necessary for all the bishops to be absent; and how could that be ? And if all the bishops were equal, who would call them together? And how great a difficulty would it be, if there were some doubt in a matter of faith, to assemble a council! It cannot then possibly be that the whole Church and each part thereof should govern itself, without dependence of one part on the other.
Now, since I have sufficiently proved that one part should depend on another, I ask which part it is on which the dependence should be, whether a province, or a city, or an assembly, or a single person? If a province, where is it? It is not England, for when a city, it must be one of the Patriarchal ones: now of the Patriarchal cities there are but five, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Jerusalem. Which of the five?-all are pagan except Rome. If then it must be a city, it is Rome; if an assembly, it is that at Rome. But no; it is not a province, not a town, not a simple and perpetual assembly; it is a single man, established head over all the Church: A faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord hath appointed. Let us conclude then that Our Lord, when leaving this world, in order to leave all his Church united, left one single governor and lieutenant-general, to whom we are to have recourse in all our necessities.
Which being so, I say to you that this servant general, this dispenser and governor, this chief steward of the house of Our Lord is S. Peter, who on this account can truly say: O Lord, for I am thy servant(Ps. cxx. 16), and not only servant but doubly so: I am thy servant, because they who rule well are worthy of double honor (1. Tim. v. 17). And not only thy servant, but also son of the handmaid. When there is some servant of the family kin he is trusted the more, and the keys of the house are willingly entrusted to him. It is therefore not without cause that I introduce S. Peter saying: O Lord, for I am thy servant, etc. For he is a good and faithful servant, to whom, as to a servant of the same kin, the Master has given the keys: To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. S. Luke shows us clearly that S. Peter is this servant; for after having related that Our Lord had said by way of warning to his disciples (Luke xii.): Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: Amen I say to you, that he will gird himself , and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister to them:-. S. Peter alone asked Our Lord Dost thou speak this parable to us, or likewise to all? Our Lord answering S. Peter does not say: Who (thinkest thou) are the faithful servants? -as he had said: Blessed... are those servants,-but: Who (thinkest thou) is the faithful and wise steward whom his Lord setteth over his family to give them their measure of wheat in due season? And in fact Theophylact here says that S. Peter asked this question as having the supreme charge of the Church, and S. Ambrose in the 7th book on S. Luke, says that the first words, blessed, etc. refer to all, but the second, who, thinkest thou, refer to the bishops, and much more properly to the supreme bishop. Our Lord, then, answers S. Peter as meaning to say: what I have said in general applies to all, but to thee particularly: for whom dost thou think to be the prudent and faithful servant?
And truly, if we sift this parable a little, who can be the servant who is to distribute the bread except S. Peter, to whom the charge of feeding the others has been given: feed my sheep? When the master of the house goes out he gives the keys to the chief steward and procurator; and, is it not to S. Peter that Our Lord said: I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven? Everything has reference to the governor, and the rest of the officers depend on him for their authority, as all the building does upon the foundation; thus S. Peter is called the stone on which the Church is founded: Thou art- Cephas, and upon this rock etc. Now Cephas means a stone in Syriac as well as in Hebrew; but the Latin translator has said Petrus, because in Greek there is petros, which also means stone, like petra. And Our Lord in S. Matthew chapter vii., says that the wise man builds and founds his house on the rock, supra petram (note the pronoun hanc). Whereof the devil, the father of lies, the ape of Our Lord, has wished to make a sort of imitation, founding his miserable heresy principally in a diocese of S. Peter (Geneva), and in a Rochelle (“little rock”).
Further, Our Lord requires that this servant should be prudent and faithful. And St. Peter truly has these two qualities; for how could prudence be wanting to him, since neither flesh nor blood directs him but the heavenly Father? And how could fidelity fail him, since Our Lord said: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not (Luke xxii. 32)?- and he, we must believe, was heard for his reverence (Heb. v. 7) And that he was heard he gives an excellent testimony when he adds: And thou being converted, confirm thy brethren.. As if he would say : I have prayed for thee, and therefore be the confirmer of the others, because for the others I have only prayed that they may have a secure refuge in thee. Let us then conclude that as Our Lord was one day to quit his Church as regards his corporal and visible being, he left a visible lieutenant and vicar general, namely S. Peter, who could therefore rightly say: O Lord, for I am thy servant.
You will say to me: Our Lord is not dead, and moreover is always with his Church, why then do you give him a vicar? I answer you that not being dead he has no successor but only a vicar; and moreover that he truly assists his Church in all things and everywhere by his invisible favor, but, in order not to make a visible body without a visible head, he has willed further to assist it in the person of a visible lieutenant, by means of whom, besides invisible favors, he perpetually administers his Church, and in a manner suitable to the sweetness of his providence. You will tell me, again, that there is no other foundation than Our Lord in the Church: No one can lay another foundation than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus (I Cor. iii. 11) I grant you that as well the Church militant as the triumphant is supported and founded on Our Lord, as on the principal foundation but Isaiah has foretold to us that in the Church there were to be two foundations. In chapter xxviii.: Behold I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion, a tried stone, a corner stone, a precious stone, founded in the foundation. I know how a great personage explains it, but it seems to me that that passage of Isaiah ought certainly to be interpreted without going outside chapter xvi of St. Matthew in the Gospel of today [probably S. Peter’s Chair, Jan . or Feb. 1596]. There then Isaiah, complaining of the Jews and of their prophets, in the person of Our Lord, because they would not believe:-Command, command again; expect, expect again, and what follows,-adds: Therefore thus saith the Lord: and hence it was the Lord who said Behold I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion. He says in the foundations, because although the other Apostles were foundations of the Church: (And the wall of the city, says the Apocalypse (xxi. 14), had twelve foundations, and in them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb:- and elsewhere: Built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone (Eph. ii. 20): -and the Psalmist (lxxvi.): The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains). Yet, amongst all, there is one who by excellence and in the highest sense is called stone and foundation, and it is he to whom Our Lord said: Thou art Cephas, that is, stone, tried stone. Listen to St. Matthew: he declares that Our Lord will lay a tried stone; -what trying would you have other than this: whom do men say that the Son of man is? A hard question, which St. Peter, explaining the secret and difficult mystery of the communication of idioms, answers so much to the point that more could not be, and gives proof that he is truly a stone, saying: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Isaiah continues and says: a precious stone; hear the esteem in which Our Lord holds St. Peter: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona :-corner stone; Our Lord does not say that he will build only a wall of the church, but the whole,-My Church; he is then a corner-stone:-founded in the foundation; he shall be a foundation, but not first: for there will be another foundation-Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. See how Isaiah explains St. Matthew, and St. Matthew Isaiah.
I should never end if I would say all that comes to my mind when I have this subject before me. Now let us see the conclusion of it all. The true Church ought to have a visible head in its government and administration ; yours has none, therefore it is not the true church. On the other hand, there is in the world one true Church and lawful, which has a visible head: no one has [but ours], therefore ours is the true Church. Let us pass on.
Is Jesus Christ divided? No, surely, for he is the God of peace, not of dissension, as S. Paul taught throughout the Church. It cannot then be that the true Church should be in dissension or division of belief and opinion, for God would no longer be its Author or Spouse, and, like a kingdom divided against itself, it would be brought to desolation. As soon as God takes a people to himself, as he has done the Church, he gives it unity of heart and of path the Church is but one body, of which all the faithful are members, compacted and united together by all its joints; there is but one spirit animating this body: God is in his holy place: who maketh men of one manner to dwell in a house (Ps. lxvii. 7); therefore the true Church of God must be united, fastened and joined together in one same doctrine and belief.
It is necessary, says S. Irenaeus (iii. 3) that all the faithful should come together and unite themselves to the Roman Church [on account of] its superior ruling power. She is the mother of their sacerdotal dignity, says Julius I. (ad Euseb.) "She is the commencement of the unity of the priesthood, she is the bond of unity," says S. Cyprian (Ep. 5 5). Again: "We are not ignorant that there is but one God, one Christ and Lord, whom we have confessed, one Holy Spirit, one pastoral office (episcopatus) in the Catholic Church " (de un. Ec. iv.). The good Optatus also said to the Donatists (ii. 2, 3) : " Thou canst not deny that thou knowest that in the city of Rome the chief chair has been first granted to S. Peter, in which sat the chief of the Apostles, S. Peter, whence he was called Cephas ; the chair in which the unity of the whole was preserved, in order that the other Apostles might not seek to put forward and maintain each his own, and that henceforward he might be a schismatic who would set up another chair against this one chair. Therefore in this one chair, which is the first of its prerogatives, was first seated S. Peter." These are almost the words of this ancient and holy doctor; and every Catholic of this age is of the same conviction. We hold the Roman Church to be our refuge in all our difficulties; we all are her humble children, and receive our food from the milk of her breasts; we are all branches of this most fruitful stock, and draw no sap of doctrine save from this root. This is what clothes us all with the same livery of belief; for knowing that there is one chief and lieutenant general in the Church, what he decides and determines with the other prelates of the Church when he is seated in the chair of Peter to teach Christendom, serves as law and measure to our belief. Let there be error everywhere throughout the world, yet you will see the same faith in Catholics. And if there be any difference of opinion, either it will not be in things belonging to the faith, or else, as soon as ever a General Council or the Roman See shall have determined it, you will see every one submit to their decision. Our understandings do not stray away from one another in their belief, but keep most closely united and linked together by the bond of the superior authority of the Church, to which each one gives in with all humility, steadying his faith thereon, as upon the pillar and ground of truth. Our Catholic Church has but one language and one same form of words throughout the whole earth.
On the contrary, gentlemen, your first ministers had no sooner got on their feet, they had no sooner begun to build a tower of doctrine and science which was visibly to reach the heavens, and to acquire them the great and magnificent reputation of reformers, than God, wishing to traverse this ambitious design, permitted amongst them such a diversity of language and belief, that they began to contradict one another so violently that all their undertaking became a miserable Babel and confusion. What contradictions has not Luther's reformation produced! I should never end if I would put them all on this paper. He who would see them should read that little book of Frederick Staphyl's de concordid discordi, and Sanders, Book 7 of his Risible Monarchy, and Gabriel de Preau, in the Lives of Heretics: I will only say what you cannot be ignorant of, and what I now see before my eyes.
primate, a name which Calvin so greatly detests: the Puritans in England hold as an article of faith that it is not lawful to preach, baptize, pray, in the Churches which were formerly Catholic, but they are not so squeamish in these parts. And note my saying that they make it an article of faith, for they suffer both prison and banishment rather than give it up. Is it not well known that at Geneva they consider it a superstition to keep any saint's day? -yet in Switzerland some are kept; and you keep one of Our Lady. The point is not that some keep them and others do not, for this would be no contradiction in religious belief, but that what you and some of the Swiss observe the others condemn as contrary to the purity of religion. Are you not aware that one of your greatest ministers teaches that the body of our Lord is as far from the Lord's Supper as heaven is from earth, and are you not likewise aware that this is held to be false by many others? Has not one of your ministers lately confessed the reality of Christ's body in the Supper, and do not the rest deny it? Can you deny me that as regards Justification you are as much divided against one another as you are against us:-witness that anonymous controversialist. In a word, each man has his own language, and out of as many Huguenots as I have spoken to I have never found two of the same belief.
But the worst is, you are not able to come to an agreement:-for where will you find a trusted arbitrator? You have no head upon earth to address yourselves to in your difficulties; you believe that the very Church can err herself and lead others into error: you would not put your soul into such unsafe hands; indeed, you hold her in small account. The Scripture cannot be your arbiter, for it is concerning the Scripture that you are in litigation, some of you being determined to have it understood in one way, some in another. Your discords and your disputes are interminable, unless you give in to the authority of the Church. Witness the Colloquies of Lunehourg, of Malbron, of Montbeliard, and that of Berne recently. Witness Titman, Heshusius and Erastus, to whom I add Brenz and Bullinger. Take the great division there is amongst you about the number of the Sacraments. Now, and ordinarily amongst you, only two are taught; Calvin made three, adding to Baptism and the Supper, Order; Luther here puts Penance for the third, then says there is but one : in the end, the Protestants, at the Colloquy of Ratisbonne, at which Calvin assisted, as Beza testifies in his life, confessed that there were seven Sacraments. How is it you are divided about the article of the almightiness of God? -one party denying that a body can by the divine power be in two places, others denying absolute almightiness; others make no such denials. But if I would show you the great contradictions amongst those whom Beza acknowledges to be glorious reformers of the Church, namely, Jerome of Prague, John Hus, Wicliff, Luther, Bucer, Cecolampadius, Zuingle, Pomeranius and the rest, I should never come to an end Luther can sufficiently inform you as to the good harmony there is amongst them, in the lamentation which he makes against the Zuinglians and Sacramentarians, whom he calls Absaloms and Judases, and fanatic spirits (in the year 1527).
His deceased Highness of most happy memory, Emmanuel [of Savoy], related to the learned Anthony Possevin, that at the Colloquy of Cormasse ,when the Protestants were asked for their profession of faith, they all one after the other departed from the assembly, as being unable to agree together. That great prince, most worthy of trust, relates this as having been present there. All this division has its foundation in the contempt which you have for a visible head on earth, because, not being bound as to the interpretation of God's Word by any superior authority, each one takes the side which seems good to him. This is what the wise man says, that among the proud there are always contentions (Proverbs xiii. 10), which is a true mark of heresy. Those who are divided into several parties cannot be called by the name of Church, because, as S. Chrysostom says, the name of Christ is a name of agreement and concord. But as for us, we all have the same canon of the Scriptures, one same head, one like rule for interpreting them; you have a diversity of canon, and in the understanding you have as many heads and rules as you are persons. We all sound the trumpet of one single Gideon, and have all one same spirit of faith in the Lord, and in his Vicar, the sword of the decisions of God and the Church, according to the words of the Apostles: It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us (Acts xv. 28). This unity of language amongst us is a true sign that we are the army of the Lord, and you can but be acknowledged as Madianites, whose opinions are only cries and shouts: each in your own fashion you slash at one another, cutting one another's throats, and cutting your own throats by your dissensions, as God says by Isaiah (xix.) :The Egyptians shall fight against the Egyptians . . . and the spirit of Egypt shall be broken. And S. Augustine says that as Donatus had tried to divide Christ, so he himself was by a daily separation of his party divided within himself.
This mark [of unity] alone ought to make you quit your pretended church, for he who is not with God is against God. God is not in your church, for he only inhabits a place of peace, and in your church there is neither peace nor concord.
THE Church of Our Lord is holy; this is an article of faith. Our Lord has given himself for it, that he may sanctify it. It is a holy nation ,says S. Peter (I. ii. 9) The bridegroom is holy, and the bride holy. She is holy as being dedicated to God, as the Elders under the ancient synagogue were called holy on this account alone; she is holy again because the Spirit who informs her is holy, and because she is the mystical body of a head who is called most holy; she is holy, moreover, because all her actions, interior and exterior, are holy; she neither believes nor hopes nor loves but holily; in her prayers, sermons, sacraments, sacrifices, she is holy. But this Church has her interior sanctity, according to the word of David (Ps. xliv. 14): All the glory of the King’s daughter is within; she has also her exterior sanctity in golden borders clothed about with varieties (Ib.). The interior sanctity cannot be seen; the exterior cannot serve as a mark, because all the sects vaunt it, and because it is hard to recognize the true prayer, preaching and administration of the Sacraments; but beyond this there are signs by which God makes his Church known, which are as it were perfumes and odors; as the Spouse says in the Canticles (iv. 11): The smell of thy garments as the smell of frankincense. Thus can we by the scent of these odors and perfumes run after and find the true Church and the trace of the son of the unicorn[probably a reference to Psalm xxviii. 6]The True Church Ought to be Resplendent in Miracles
THE Church then has milk and honey under her tongue and in her heart, which is interior sanctity, and which we cannot see: she is richly wrought with a fair robe, beautifully bordered with varieties, which are her exterior sanctities, which can be seen. But because the sects and heresies disguise their clothing, and by false stuffs make them look like hers, she has, besides that, perfumes and odors which are her own, and these are certain signs and shinings of her sanctity, which are so peculiarly hers, that no other society can boast of having them, particularly in our age.
For, first, she shines in miracles, which are a most sweet odor and perfume, and are express signs of the presence of the immortal God with her, as S. Augustine styles them. And, indeed, when Our Lord quitted this world he promised that the Church should be filled with miracles: These signs, he said, shall follow them that believe: in my. name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues they shall take up serpents, poison shall not hurt them, and by the imposition of hands they shall heal the sick. (Mark ult.).
Consider, I pray you, these words closely. (1) He does not say that the Apostles only would work these miracles, but simply, those who believe: (2) he does not say that every believer in particular would work miracles, but that those who believe will be followed by these signs: (3) he does not say it was only for them-ten or twenty years-but simply that miracles will follow them that believe. Our Lord, then, speaks to the Apostles only, but not for the Apostles only; he speaks of the faithful; of the body and general congregation …of the Church; he speaks absolutely, without limitation of time; let us take his holy words in the extent which Our Lord has given them. The believers are in the Church, the believers are followed by miracles, therefore in the Church there are miracles: there are believers in all times, the believers are followed by miracles, therefore in all times there are miracles.
But let us examine a little why the power of miracles was left in the Church. There is no doubt it was to confirm the Gospel preaching; for S. Mark so testifies, and S. Paul, who says that God gave testimony by miracles to the faith which they announced (I Cor. ii. 4). God placed these instruments in the hand of Moses, that he might be believed: wherefore Our Lord said that if he had not done miracles the Jews . would not have been obliged to believe him. Well now, must not the Church ever fight with infidelity? -and why then would you take away from her this good stick which God has put into her hand? I am well aware that she has not so much need of it as at the beginning; now that the holy plant of the faith has taken firm and good root, one need not water it so often; but, all the same, to wish to have the effect altogether taken away, the necessity and cause remaining intact, is poor philosophy.
Besides, I beg you to show me at what period the visible Church may have been without miracles, from the time that it began until the present? In the time of the Apostles there were miracles beyond number; you know that well. After that time, who knows not the miracles, related by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, worked by the prayers of the legion of Christian soldiers who were in his army, which on this account was called thundering? Who knows not the miracles of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, S. Martin, S. Anthony, S. Nicholas, S. Hilarion, and the wonders concerning Theodosius and Constantine, for which we have authors of irreproachable authority - Eusebius, Rufinus, S. Jerome, Basil, Sulpicius, Athanasius? Who knows not again what happened at the Invention of the Holy Cross, and in the time of Julian the Apostate? In the time of SS. Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, many miracles were seen, which they themselves relate why then would you have the same Church now cease from miracles? What reason would there be? In truth, what we have always seen, in all varieties of times, accompanying the Church, we cannot do otherwise than call a property of the Church.
The true Church then makes her sanctity appear by miracles. And if God made so admirable the Propitiatory, and his Sinai, and his Burning Bush, because he wished to speak with men, why shall he not have made miraculous this his Church in which he wills to dwell for ever?
HERE now I desire that you show yourselves reasonable, free from quibbling and from obstinacy. It is found on informations duly and authentically taken that about the commencement of this century S. Francis of Paula was renowned for undoubted miracles, such as are the raising of the dead to life. We find the same as to S. Diego of Alcala. These are not uncertain rumors, but proved, signed informations, taken in regular process of law.
Would you dare to deny the apparition of the cross granted to the valiant captain Albukerque, and to all those in his fleet, which so many historians describe, [See Raynald, ad an. 15 13] and so many persons had part in?
The devout Gaspar Berzee, in the Indies, healed the sick by simply praying to God for them in the Mass, and so suddenly that other than God's hand could not have done it.
The Blessed Francis Xavier has healed the paralyzed, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, and raised a dead man to life; his body has had power to remain entire though buried with lime, as those have testified who saw it entire fifteen years after his death ; and these two died within the last forty-five years.
In Meliapor has been found a cross cut on a stone, which is considered to have been buried by the Christians in the time of S. Thomas. A wonderful but true thing !-almost every year, about the feast of this glorious Apostle, that cross sweats a quantity of blood, or liquid like blood, and changes color, becoming white, pale, then black, and sometimes blue, brilliant and then of softer hue, and at last it returns to its natural color: this many people have seen, and the Bishop of Cochin sent a public attestation of it to the holy Council of Trent. Miracles, therefore, are worked in the Indies, where the faith is not yet established, a whole world of which I leave on one side, in order to observe due brevity.
The good Father Louis of Granada, in his Introduction on the Creed, narrates many recent and unquestionable miracles. Amongst others he brings forward the cures which the Catholic kings of France have worked in our age, even in incurable cases of king's evil, by saying no more than these words: May God heal you; -and the king touches the person, no other disposition being required than Confession and Communion on that day.
I have read the history of the miraculous cure of James, son of Claude Andrew, of Belmont, in the bailiwick of Baulme in Burgundy. He had been helpless during eight years; after making his devotions in the Church of S. Claude, on the very day of the feast, 8th June 1588, he found himself immediately cured. Do you not call that a miracle? I am speaking of things in the neighborhood; I have read the public act, I have spoken to the notary who took it and sent it, rightly and duly signed-Vion. Witnesses were not wanting, for there were people in crowds. But why do I stay to bring forward the miracles of our age? S. Malachy, S. Bernard, and S. Francis-were they not of our Church? You cannot deny it. Those who have written their lives are most holy and learned men, for S. Bernard himself has written that of S. Malachy, and S. Bonaventure that of S. Francis, men who lacked neither knowledge nor conscientiousness, and still many miracles are related therein. But, above all, the wonders which take place now, at our gates, in the sight of our princes and of our whole Savoy, near Mondovi, ought to close the door against all obstinacy. Now, what will you say to this? Will you say that Antichrist will do miracles? S. Paul testifies that they will be false( I Thess. ii 9.), and the greatest S. John mentions is that he will make fire descend from heaven; Satan can work miracles, indeed has done so, no doubt, but God will leave a prompt remedy with his Church; for, to those false miracles, the servants of God, Elias and Enoch, as the Apocalypse and interpreters witness, will oppose other miracles of very different make. For not only will they employ fire to punish their enemies miraculously, but will have power to shut the heavens so that there may be no rain, to change and convert the waters into blood, and to strike the earth with what chastisements they like for three days and a half: after their death they shall rise again and ascend to heaven ; the earth shall tremble at their ascension. Then, therefore, by the opposition of the true miracles, the illusions of Antichrist will be discovered; and as Moses at last made the magicians of Pharaoh confess: The finger of God is here, so Elias and Enoch will effect that their enemies shall give glory to the God of heaven: Elias will do at that time some of those holy prophet's deeds of his, which he did of old to put down the impiety of the Baalites and other professors of false religions.
I wish then to say: (1) that the miracles of Antichrist are not such as those we bring forward for the Church; and therefore it does not follow that if those are not marks of the Church these likewise are not so. The former will be proved false and be overcome by greater and more solid ones, the latter are solid, and no one can oppose to them more certain ones: (2) the wonders of Antichrist will be simply an illusion of three years and a half; but the miracles of the Church are so properly hers, that since her foundation she has always shone in miracles. The miracles of Antichrist will be unnatural, and will not endure; but in the Church they are grafted as it were naturally on her supernatural nature, and therefore they ever accompany her, to verify these words: These signs shall follow them that believe.
You will be ready to say that the Donatists worked miracles, according to S. Augustine: but they were only certain visions and revelations of which they themselves boasted, without any public testimony. Certainly the Church cannot be proved true by these private revelations ; on the contrary, these visions themselves cannot be proved or held as true save by the testimony of the Church, says the same S. Augustine. And if Vespasian healed a blind and a lame man, the doctors themselves, according to Tacitus, decided that it was a blindness and an infirmity which were not incurable: it is no marvel then if the devil was able to heal them. A Jew having been baptized went and presented himself to Paulus, a Novatian bishop, to be rebaptized, says Socrates (vii. 17); the water of the font immediately disappeared. This wonder was not to confirm the truth of Novatianism, but of holy Baptism, which it was not right to repeat. In the same manner were some wonders done amongst the Pagans, says S. Augustine, not in proof of Paganism, but of innocence, virginity, fidelity, which, wherever they are, are loved and valued by God who is the author thereof. Further, these wonders are done but rarely, and from them no conclusion can be drawn the clouds sometimes give forth light, but it is only the sun which has for its mark and property the giving of light. Let us then conclude this subject: the Church has always been accompanied by miracles, solid and certain as those of her Spouse; therefore she is the true Church: for, to use the argument of the good Nicodemus (John iii. 2) in like case, I will say: No society can do these miracles which this does, so glorious and so continual, unless God was with it. And what did our Lord say to the disciples of S. John (Matt. xi. 5): Say, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, to show that he was the Messias. Hearing that in the Church are done such grand miracles, we must conclude that the Lord is indeed in this place (Gen. xxviii. 16). But as regards your pretended Church, I can say nothing more to it than: If it can believe, all things are possible to him that believes (Mark ix. 2 2): if it were the true Church it would be followed by miracles. You acknowledge to me that it is not your province to work miracles, nor to drive out devils; once it turned out ill with one of your great masters who wanted to try it,-so says Berzee. "Those raised up the living from the dead," says Tertullian (De Praesc. xxx.), "these make dead men out of the living." A rumor is current that one of yours has once cured a demoniac; it is however not stated when or how the person was cured, nor what witnesses there were. It is easy for apprentices to a trade to make a mistake in their first trial. Certain reports are often started amongst you to keep the simple people going, but having no author they must be without authority. Besides this, in driving out the devil we must not so much regard what is done as we must consider the manner and the form in which it is done; if it is by the rightful prayers, and invocations of the name of Jesus Christ. Again, one swallow does not make the summer; it is the perpetual and ordinary succession of miracles which is the mark of the true Church, not something accidental. But it would be fighting with a shadow and with air to refute this rumor, which is so timid and so feeble that nobody ventures to say from which side it came.
The total answer that I have got from you in this extreme necessity is that people do you a wrong when they ask miracles from you. And so they do, I agree with you; it would be turning you into ridicule, like asking a blacksmith to make an emerald or a diamond. Nor do I ask any from you: only I request you to confess frankly that you have not made your apprenticeship with the Apostles, Disciples, Martyrs and Confessors, who have been masters of the craft.
But when you say you have no need of miracles, because you do not want to establish a new faith, tell me then again whether S. Augustine, S. Jerome, S. Gregory, S. Ambrose and the rest preached a new doctrine. And why then were there done miracles so great and so numerous as theirs? Certainly the Gospel was better received in the world than it is at present; there were then pastors more excellent; many martyrs and miracles had gone before; but the Church was still not wanting in that gift of miracles, for the greater glory of most holy religion. Or if miracles were to cease in the Church, it would have been in the time of Constantine the Great, after the Empire had become Christian, the persecutions had ceased and Christianity been quite secured; but so far were they from ceasing then that they were multiplied on all sides.
Moreover, the doctrine which you preach has never been proclaimed, either in general or in detail; your heretical predecessors have preached it, with each of whom you agree on some points, and with all on none, as I will make clear afterwards. Where was your church eighty years ago? It has only just begun, and you call it old. Ah ! you say, we have made no new Church, we have rubbed up and cleaned the old money, which, having long lain in decayed buildings, had become discolored, and encrusted with dirt and mold. Say that no more, I beg you, that you have the metal and the mold. Are not the faith, the Sacraments, necessary ingredients in the composition of the Church?-and you have changed everything both in the one and the other. You are then false coiners, if you do not show the power which you claim to put false stamps stamps on the King's coin. But let us not delay on this. Have you purified this Church, have you cleaned this money? Show us then the characters which it had when you say that it fell on the ground and began to get rusty. It fell, you say, in the time of S. Gregory, or a little after. You may say what you like, but at that time it had the character of miracles; -show it to us now? For if you do not show us most unmistakably the inscription of the King on your money, we will show it you on ours; ours will pass as royal and good, yours, as being light and clipped, will be sent back to the melting-pot. If you would represent to us the Church as it was in the time of S. Augustine, show it to us not only speaking well but doing well, in miracles and holy operations, as it was then. If you would say that then it was nearer than it is now, I answer that so notable an interruption as that which you pretend of nine hundred or a thousand years, makes this money so strange that unless we see on it, in large letters, the ordinary characters, the inscription and the image, we will never receive it. No, no: the ancient Church was powerful in all seasons, in adversity and prosperity, in work and in word, like her Spouse; yours has nought but talk, whether in prosperity or in adversity. At least let it now show some vestiges of the ancient mark: otherwise it will never be received as the true Church, nor as daughter of that ancient mother. If it would boast further, it must have silence imposed upon it with these holy words: If you are the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham.(John viii. 39) The true Church of believers is to be ever accompanied by miracles; there is no Church of our age which can show them save ours; therefore ours alone is the true Church.
PROPHECY is a very great miracle, which consists in the certain knowledge which the human understanding has of things, without any experience or any natural reasoning, by supernatural inspiration; and therefore all that I have said of miracles in general ought to be predicated of this. The prophet Joel foretold (ii.) that in the last days, that is, in the time of the Gospel Church, as S. Peter interprets (Acts ii.), Our Lord would pour out his holy Spirit upon his servants, and that they shall prophesy; as Our Lord had said: These signs shall follow ,them that believe. Prophecy then is to be ever in the Church, where the servants of God are, and where he ever pours out his Holy Spirit.
The Angel says in the Apocalypse (xix. 10) that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy: now this testimony of the assurance of Our Lord is not only given for unbelievers, but principally for believers, St. Paul says (I Cor. xiv. 22); how then do you say that Our Lord having given it once to the Church has taken it away afterwards? The chief reason for which it was granted remaining still, the concession therefore also remains. Add, as I said of miracles, that at all times the Church has had prophets; we cannot therefore say that this is not one of her qualities and properties, and a good portion of her dowry.
Jesus Christ, ascending on high, led captivity captive, he gave gifts to men…And some indeed he gave to be apostles, and some prophets, and others evangelists, and others pastors and teachers (Eph. iv.): the apostolic, evangelic, pastoral and teaching spirit is always in the Church, and why shall the spirit of prophecy also not be left in her? It is a perfume of the garments of this Spouse.
There have been scarcely any saints in the Church who have not prophesied. I will only name these more recent ones: S. Bernard, S. Francis, S. Dominic, S. Anthony of Padua, S. Bridget, S. Catherine of Siena, who were most sound Catholics. The saints of whom I spoke above are of the number, and in our age Gaspar Berzee and Francis Xavier. You would find no one of the older generation who did not repeat with full belief some prophecy of Jean Bourg ; many of them had seen and heard him: The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
And now bring forward some one of yours who has prophesied in your church. We know that the sibyls were in some sort the prophetesses of the Gentiles, and almost all the Ancients speak of them. Balaam also prophesied, but it was for the true Church, and hence their prophecies did not give credit to the church in which they were made, but to the Church for whom they were made:-though I deny not that there was among the Gentiles a true Church, consisting of a few persons, maintaining by divine grace faith in a true God and the observance of the natural commandants. Witness Job, in the Old Testament, and the good Cornelius with seven other soldiers fearing God, in the New. Now where are your prophets? And if you have none be sure that you are not of that body for the edification of which the Son of God has left [them],. according to the word of S. Paul (Eph. iv.). The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Calvin has tried, apparently, to prophesy in the preface to his Catechism of Geneva; but his prediction is so favorable to the Catholic Church that when we get its fulfillment we will be content to consider him as something of a prophet.
HERE are the sublimer instructions of Our Lord and the Apostles. A rich young man was protesting that he had observed the commandments of God from his tender youth. Our Lord, who sees everything, looking upon him loved him, a sign that he was such as he had said be was, and still he gave him this counsel (Matt. xix. Mark x.): If thou wouldst be perfect, go sell all that thou hast, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me. S. Peter invites us by his example and that of his companions (Matt. xix.): Behold we have left all things and have followed thee. Our Lord returns this solemn promise: You who have followed me . . . shall sit upon twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that shall have left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall possess life everlasting. You see the words, now behold the example: The Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke ix. 58):he was entirely poor to make us rich; he lived on alms, says S. Luke-certain women ministered to him of their substance (viii. 3). In two Psalms (cviii. and xxxix.) which properly regard his person, as S. Peter [Acts ii.] and S. Paul [Heb. x.] interpret, he is called a beggar. When he sent his Apostles to preach he taught them that they should carry nothing on their journey save a staff only, that they should take neither scrip, nor bread, nor money in their purse, that they should be shod with sandals and not be furnished with two coats. I know that these instructions are not absolute commands, though the last was commanded for a time; nor do I mean to say that they were more than most wholesome counsels and advice.
Here are others similar on another subject (Matt. xix.): There are eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that can receive it, let him receive it.
It is precisely that which had been foretold by Isaiah (1vi): Let not the eunuch say: behold I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord to the eunuchs: They that shall keep my Sabbaths, and shall choose the things that please me, and shall hold fast my covenant, I will give them in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name which shall never perish. Who sees not here that the Gospel exactly comes to fit in with prophecy? And in the Apocalypse xiv. those who sang a new canticle which no other than they could utter were those who are not defiled with women, for they are virgins: these follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. To this refer the exhortations of S. Paul (I Cor. vii.): It is good for a man not to touch a woman:…now, I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they so continue, even as I. . . . Concerning virgins I have no commandment, but I give counsel, as having received mercy of the Lord to be faithful. And here is the reason: He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you, but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord without impediment . . . He that giveth his virgin in marriage Both well, and he that giveth her not doth better. Then speaking of the widow: Let her marry to whom she will, only in the Lord. But more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, according to my counsel ; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God. Behold the instructions of Our Lord and his Apostles, having the authority of the example of Our Lord, of Our Lady, of S. John Baptist, of S. Paul, S. John, S. James, who have all lived in virginity; and in the Old Testament, Elias and Eliseus, as the Ancients have pointed out.
Lastly, the most humble obedience of Our Lord, which is so particularly signified in the Evangelists, not only to his Father, to which he was obliged, but to S. Joseph, to his Mother, to Caesar (to whom he paid tribute), and to all creatures in his Passion:- for the love of us,He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8): -the humility which he shows in having come to teach us, when he said (Matt. xx., Luke xxii.): The Son of man is not come to be ministered unto but to minister. . . . I am amongst you as he that serveth-are not these perpetual repetitions and expositions of that most sweet lesson (Matt. xi.): Learn from me because I am meek and humble of heart and that other (Luke ix.): If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me? He who keeps the commandments denies himself sufficiently for salvation; to humble oneself in order to be exalted is quite enough but still there remains another obedience, humility and self-denial, to which the examples and instructions of Our Lord invite us. He would have us learn humility from him, and he humbles himself, not only to those whose inferior he was, in so far as he was wearing the form of a servant, but also to his actual inferiors. He desires then, that as he abased himself, never indeed against his duty but beyond duty, we also should voluntarily obey all creatures for love of him: he would have us renounce ourselves, after, his example, but he has renounced his own will so decisively that he has submitted to the cross itself, and has served his disciples and servants-witness he who finding it extraordinary said (John xiii.): Thou shalt not wash my feet for ever. What remains then save that we should recognize in his words a sweet invitation to a voluntary submission and obedience towards those to whom otherwise we have no obligation, not resting, however lightly, on our own will and judgment, according to the advice of the Wise Man (Prov. iii.), but making ourselves subjects and enslaved to God, and to men for the love of the same God. So the Rechabites are magnificently praised in Jeremiah xxxv., because they obeyed their father Jonadab in things very hard and extraordinary, in which he had no authority to oblige them, such as were not to drink wine, neither they nor any of theirs, not to sow, not to plant, not to have vineyards, not to build. Fathers certainly may not so tightly fasten the hands of their posterity, unless they voluntarily consent thereto. The Rechabites however, are praised and blessed by God in approval of this voluntary obedience, by which they had renounced themselves with an extraordinary and more perfect renunciation.
Well now, let us return to our road. Such signal examples and instructions as these, in poverty, chastity, and denial of self, - to whom have they been left? To the Church. But why? Our Lord tells us: He who can receive, let him receive. And who can receive them? He who has the gift of God; and no one has the gift of God but he who asks for it ;-but, how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed. . . . How shall they believe . . . without a preacher ! And how can they preach unless they be sent (Rom. x.)? Now, there is no mission outside the Church, therefore the he who can receive let him receive, is addressed immediately only to the Church, or for those who are in the Church, since outside the Church it cannot be put in practice. S. Paul shows it more clearly : I speak this, he says, for your profit, not to make snares and nets for you, but to persuade you to that which is decent, and which may give you power and facility to attend upon the Lord, and to honor him without impediment.. And, in fact, the Scriptures and the examples that are therein are only for our utility and instruction; the Church then ought to use, and put into practice, these most holy counsels of her Spouse otherwise they would have been vainly and uselessly left, and proposed to her: indeed she has well known how to take them for herself, and to profit by them: -and see how.
Our Lord had no sooner ascended into heaven than every one amongst the first Christians sold his goods and brought the price to the feet of the Apostles. And S. Peter, putting in practice the first rule, said: Gold and silver have I none (Acts iii.). S. Philip had four daughters, virgins, whom Eusebius testifies to have always remained such. S. Paul kept virginity or celibacy ; so did S. John and S. James; and when S. Paul (I Tim. v.) reproves, as having damnation, certain young widows who, after they have grown wanton in Christ will marry, having damnation because they have left their first faith, -the fourth Council of Carthage (at which S. Augustine assisted) S. Epiphanius, S. Jerome, with all the rest of antiquity, understand it of widows who, being vowed to God and to the observance of chastity, broke their vows, entering into the ties of marriage against the faith which previously they had given to the heavenly Spouse. From that time, then, the counsel of [being] eunuchs, and the other which S. Paul gives, were practiced in the Church.
Eusebius of Coesarea records that the Apostles instituted two lives; the one according to commandment, the other according to counsel. And that so it was, evidently appears; for, on the model of the perfection of life followed and counseled by the Apostles, a countless number of Christians have so closely formed theirs, that history is full of it. Who does not know how admirable are the accounts given by Philo the Jew of the life of the first Christians at Alexandria, in the book entitled Of the Life of the Beseechers (De vita Contemplativa sive supplicium virtutibus) wherein he treats of S. Mark and his disciples, as Eusebius, Nicephorus, S. Jerome, bear witness; and amongst the rest, Epiphanius (Haer. xxix. cc. 4, 5.), who assures us that Philo, when writing of the Jessenes, was speaking of the Christians under this name, who for some time after the Ascension of Our Lord, whilst S. Mark was preaching in Egypt, were so called, either on account of the name of Jesse, from whose race Our Lord sprang, or on account of the name of Jesus, their Master's name, which they ever had in their mouth. Now he who will look at the books of Philo, will see in these Jessenes or Therapeuts (healers or servers) a most perfect renunciation of oneself, of one's flesh, of one's goods.
S. Martial, a disciple of Our Lord, in an Epistle which he wrote to the Tolosians, relates that at his preaching the blessed Valeria, wife of an earthly king, had vowed the virginity of her body and of her spirit to the celestial King. S. Denis, in his Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, says that the Apostles, his masters, called the religious of his time Therapeuts, that is, servers or adorers, on account of the special service and worship they paid to God, or monks,' on account of the union with God, in which they made progress. Behold the perfection of the Evangelic life excellently practiced in this first time of the Apostles and their disciples, who, having traced this path thus straight to heaven, and ascended by it, have been followed, one after another, by many excellent Christians. S. Cyprian observed continency, and gave all his goods to the poor, as Pontius the Deacon records. The same did S. Paul, the first Hermit, S. Anthony and S. Hilarion, witness S. Athanasius and S. Jerome. S. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola-S. Ambrose is our authority-of an illustrious family in Guienne, gave all his goods to the poor, and, as if discharged from a weighty burden, said farewell to his father and his family, to serve his God more devotedly. By his example it was that S. Martin quitted all, and excited others to the same perfection. George, Patriarch of Alexandria, relates that S. Chrysostom gave up all and became a monk. Politian, an African gentleman, returning to the Emperor's court, related to S. Augustin, that in Egypt there were a great number of monasteries and religious, who manifested a great sweetness and simplicity in their manners, and that there was a monastery at Milan, outside the town, furnished with a good number of religious, living in great union and brotherhood, to whom S. Ambrose, bishop of the place, was as Abbot. He told them also that near the town of Treves, there was a monastery of good religious, in which two courtiers of the Emperor had become monks; and that two young ladies who were betrothed to these two courtiers, having heard the resolution of their spouses, similarly vowed their virginity to God, and retired from the world to live in religion, poverty, and chastity. S. Augustine himself tells all this. Possidius relates the same, and says that he had instituted a monastery ; which S. Augustine himself relates in one of his Epistles. These great Fathers have been followed by S. Gregory, Damascene, Bruno, Romuald, Bernard, Dominic, Francis, Louis, Anthony, Vincent, Thomas, Bonaventure, who having all renounced and said an eternal adieu to the world and its pomps, have presented themselves as a perfect holocaust to the living God.
Now let us conclude. These consequences seem to me inevitable. Our Lord has had these instructions and counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience laid down in his Scriptures: he has practiced them, and has had them practiced in his early Church: all the Scripture and all the life of Our Lord were but an instruction for the Church which was to make profit by them, and it was then to be one of the institutions of the Church, this chastity, poverty, obedience or self-renunciation. Moreover, the Church has always put in practice these things at all times and in every season; this then is one of her properties: and what would be the use of so many exhortations if they were not to be put in practice? The true Church therefore ought to shine in the perfection of the Christian life; not so that everybody in the Church is bound to follow it; it is enough that it be found in some notable members and parts, in order that nothing may be written or counseled in vain, and that the Church may make use of all the parts of Holy Scripture.
THE Church which is now, following the voice of her Pastor and Saviour, and the track beaten by her ancestors, praises, approves, and greatly esteems the resolution of those who give themselves up to the practice of the Evangelical counsels, of whom she has a very great number. I have no doubt that if you had frequented the assemblies of the Chartreux, Camaldolese, Celestines, Minims, Capuchins, Jesuits, Theatines and numberless others, amongst whom religious discipline flourishes, you would be uncertain whether you should call them earthly angels or heavenly men, and that you would not know which to admire the more, whether in such blooming youth so perfect a chastity, or in such great knowledge so profound a humility, or in so much diversity so close a fraternity: and all, like heavenly bees, work in and compose, with the rest of Christianity, the honey of the Gospel, these by preachings, these by writings, these by meditations and prayers, these by teaching and disputations, these by the care of the sick, these by the administration of the Sacraments, under the authority of the pastors.
Who should ever detract from the glory of so many religious of all orders, and of so many secular priests, who, leaving their country, or, to say it better, their own world, have exposed themselves to the mercy of wind and tide, to get to the nations of the New World, in order to lead them to the true faith, and to enlighten them with the light of the Gospel; who, without other equipment than a lively confidence in the Providence of God, without other expectation than of labors, miseries and martyrdom, without other aim than the honor of God and the salvation of souls, here hastened amongst the Cannibals, Canarians, Negroes, Brazilians, Malays, Japanese, and other foreign nations, and made themselves prisoners there, banishing themselves from their own earthly country in order that these poor people might not be banished from the heavenly Paradise? I know that some Ministers have been thither, but they went having their means of support from men, and when these failed they returned and did no more, because an ape is always an ape, but ours remained there, in perpetual continency to fertilize the Church with these new plants, in extreme poverty to enrich these people with the Gospel, and died in bondage to place that world in Christian liberty.
But if, instead of making your profit of these examples, and refreshing your minds with the sweetness of so holy a perfume, you turn your eyes towards certain places where monastic discipline is altogether ruined, and where there remains nothing sound but the habit; -you will force me to say that you are looking for the sewers and dung heaps, not the gardens and orchards. All good Catholics regret the ill-behavior of these people, and blame the negligence of the pastors and the uncontrollable ambition of certain persons who, being determined to have power and authority, hinder legitimate elections, and the order of discipline, in order to make the temporal goods of the Church their own. What can we do? The master has sown good seed, but the enemy has oversown cockle. The Church, at the Council of Trent, had looked to the good ordering of these things, but its ordinances are despised by those who ought to put them into execution; and so far are Catholic doctors from consenting to this evil that they consider it a great sin to enter into such disorderly monasteries as these. Judas prevented not the honor of the Apostolic order, nor Lucifer of the angelic, nor Nicholas of the diaconate; and in the same way these abominable men fought not to tarnish the righteousness of so many devout monasteries, which the Catholic Church has preserved amidst all the dissolution of this age of iron, in order that not one word of her Spouse should be in vain or fail to be put in practice.
On the contrary, gentlemen, your pretended church despises and contradicts all this as much as she can. Calvin in the 4th Book of his Institutions aims only at the abolition of the observance of the Evangelical counsel you cannot show me any effort or good will amongst your party, in which every one down to the ministers marries, every one labors to gather together riches, nobody acknowledges any other superior than force makes him submit to - an evident sign that this pretended church is not the one for which Our Lord has preached and draw the picture of so many excellent examples. For if everybody marries, what will become of the advice of S. Paul (I Cor. vii.) : It is good for a man not to touch a woman? If everybody runs after money and possessions, to whom will that word of Our Lord (Matt. vi.) be addressed: Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, or that other (Ib. xix.): Go sell all, give to the poor? If every one will govern in his turn, where shall be found the practice of that most solemn sentence (Luke ix): He who will come after me let him deny himself?
If then your Church puts itself in comparison with ours, ours will be the true Spouse, who puts in practice all the words of her Beloved, and leaves not one talent of the Scripture idle; yours will be false, who hears not the voice of the Beloved, yea, despises it. For it is not reasonable that to keep yours in credit we should make vain the least syllable of the Scriptures, which being addressed only to the true Church, would be vain and useless if in the true Church all these parts are not made use of.
THAT great Father, Vincent of Lerins, in his most useful Memorial, says that he must before all things have a great care to believe "that which has been believed by all [always and everywhere] " . . such as the jugglers and tinkers; for the rest of the world call us Catholic; and if we add Roman, it is only to inform people of the See of that Bishop who is general and visible Pastor of the Church. And already in the time of S. Ambrose to be Roman in communion was the same thing as to be Catholic.
But as for your church, it is called everywhere Huguenot, Calvinist, Heretical, Pretended, Protestant, New, or Sacramentarian. Your church was not before these names, and these names were not before your church, because they are proper to it. Nobody calls you Catholics, you scarcely dare to do so yourselves. I am well aware that amongst you your churches call themselves Reformed, but just as much right to that name have the Lutherans, and the Ubiquitarians, Anabaptists, Trinitarians, and other offshoots of Luther, and they will never yield it to you. The name of religion is common to the Church of the Jews and of the Christians, in the Old Law and in the New; the name of Catholic is proper to the Church of Our Lord; the name of Reformed is a blasphemy against Our Lord, who has so perfectly formed and sanctified his Church in his blood, that it must never take other form than of his all lovely Spouse, of pillar and ground of truth. One may reform the nations in particular, but not the Church or religion. She was rightly formed, change of formation is called heresy or irreligion. The tint of Our Saviour's blood is too fair and too bright to require new colors.
Your church, then, calling itself Reformed, gives up its part in the form which the Saviour had established. But I cannot refrain from telling you what Beza, Luther, and Peter Martyr think on this. Peter Martyr calls you Lutherans, and says you are brothers to them; you are then Lutherans; Luther calls you Zwinglians and Sacramentarians; Beza calls the Lutherans Consubstantiators and Chymists, and yet he puts them in the number of Reformed churches. See then the new names which the reformers acknowledge for one another. Your church, therefore, not having even the name of Catholic, you cannot with a good conscience say the Apostles' Creed; if you do, you judge yourselves, who, confessing the Church Catholic and universal, obstinately keep to your own, which most certainly is not such. If S. Augustine were living now, he would remain in our Church, which from immemorial time is in possession of the name of Catholic.
THE Church to be Catholic must be universal in time, and to be universal in time it must be ancient; antiquity then is a property of the Church. And in relation to heresies it must be more ancient than any of them, and must precede all, because as Tertullian excellently says (De Praesc. xxix.): ”Error is a corruption of truth, truth then must precede.” The good seed is sown first, the enemy who oversows cockle comes afterwards. Moses was before Abiron, Dathan, and Core; the Angels were before the devils; Lucifer stood in the light before he fell into the eternal darkness; the privation must follow the form. S. John says of heretics (I Ep. xix. 19): They went out from us; they were then within before they went out; the going out is heresy, the being within is fidelity; the Church then precedes heresy. So the coat of Our Lord was whole before it was divided. And although Ismael was before Isaac, that does not signify that error was before truth, but that the true shadow Judaism, was before the body, Christianity, as S. Paul says (Gal. iv.).
Tell us now, I pray you, quote the time and the place when and where our Church first appeared after the Gospel? -the author and doctor who called it together. I will use the very words of a doctor and martyr of our age (Campion, Decem Rationes, 7), and they are worthy of close attention.
"You own to us, and would not dare to do otherwise, that for a time the Roman Church was holy, Catholic, Apostolic. Certainly then, when it deserved those holy praises of the Apostle (Rom. i. xv. xvi.): Your faith is spoken of in the whole world…I make it a commemoration of you always…I know that when I come to you I shall come in the abundance of the blessing of the gospel of Christ…All the Churches of Christ salute you…. For your obedience is published in every place; then, when S. Paul, in prison free, sowed the Gospel; when S. Peter was governing the Church assembled in Babylon; when Clement, so highly praised by the Apostle, was stationed at the rudder; when the profane Caesars, like Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Antoninus, were massacring the Bishops of Rome; yea and then also when Damasus, Siricius, Anastasius, and Innocent were holding the Apostolic helm: this on the testimony of Calvin himself, for he freely confesses that at that time they had not yet strayed from the Evangelic doctrine. Well then, when was it that Rome lost this widely renowned faith? When did it cease to be what it had been? at what time? under what bishop? by what means? by what force? by what steps did the strange religion take possession of the City and of the whole world?-what protest, what troubles, what lamentations did it evoke? How! was everybody asleep throughout the whole world, while Rome, Rome I say, was forging new Sacraments, new Sacrifices, and new doctrines? Is there not to be found one single historian, either Greek or Latin, friend or stranger, to publish or leave behind some traces of his commentaries and memoirs on so great a matter?”
And, in good truth, it would be a strange hap if historians, who have been so curious to note the most trifling changes in cities and peoples had forgotten the most noteworthy of all those which can occur, that is, the change of religion in the most important city and province of the world, which are Rome and Italy.
I ask you, gentlemen, whether you know when our Church began the pretended error. Tell us frankly; for it is certain that, as S. Jerome says (Adv. Lucif. 28) "to have reduced heresy to its origin is to have refuted it." Let us trace back the course of history up to the foot of the cross; let us look on this side and on that, we shall never see that this Catholic Church has at any time changed its aspect -it is ever itself, in doctrine and in Sacraments.
We have no need against you, on this important point, of other witnesses than the eyes of our fathers and grandfathers to say when your pretended Church began. In the year 1517 Luther commenced his Tragedy: in '34. and '35 they composed an act in these parts; Zwingle and Calvin were the chief players in it. Would you have me detail by list with what fortune and deeds, by what force and violence, this reformation gained possession of Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, and other towns -what troubles and woes it brought forth? You will not find pleasure in this account; we see it, we feel it. In a word, your Church is not yet eighty years old; its author is Calvin ; its result the misery of our age. Or if you would make it older, tell us where it was before that time. Beware of saving that it existed but was invisible: for if it were not seen who can say that it existed? Besides, Luther contradicts you, who confesses that in the beginning he was quite alone.
Now, if Tertullian already in his time bears witness that Catholics refuted the errors of heretics by their posteriority and novelty, when the Church was only in her youth-" We are wont," says he, [De Praesc. xxx. seqq.] "to prescribe against heretics, for brevity's sake, on the argument of posteriority " -how much more right have we now? And if one of the Churches must be the true, this title falls to ours which is most ancient; and to your novelty the infamous name of heresy.
ALTHOUGH the Church might be ancient, yet it would not be universal in time if it had failed at any period. The heresy of the Nicolaites is ancient but not universal, for it only lasted a very little while. And as a whirlwind which seems ready to displace the sea then suddenly is lost in itself, or as a mushroom, which is born of some noxious vapor in a night, appears and in a day is gone,-so every heresy, ancient as it may be, has at last disappeared but the Church endures perpetually.
I will say to you, as I have said above: show me a decade of years since Our Lord ascended into heaven in which decade our Church has not existed. The reason why you find yourselves unable to say when our Church began is that it has always existed. And if you would care to make yourselves honestly clear about this, Sanders in his Visible Monarchy, and Gilbert Genebrard in his Chronology would furnish you light enough, and particularly the learned Coesar Baronius in his Annals. But if you are not willing all at once to abandon the books of your masters, and have not your eyes blinded with too excessive a passion, you will, if you look closely into the Centuries of Magdebourg, see everywhere nothing but the actions of Catholics; for, says very well a learned man of our age, if they had not collected these there they would have left one thousand five hundred years without history. I will say something on this point afterwards.
Now, as to your Church, let us suppose its lie to be truth, that it was in the time of the Apostles; it will not on that account be the Catholic Church, for the Catholic Church must be universal in time: she must then always continue. But tell me, where was your Church a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago? Point it out you cannot, for it did not exist: therefore it is not the true Church. It existed, some one will perhaps say to me, but unknown.. Goodness of God! who cannot say the same?-Adamite, Anabaptist, everybody will take up this argument. I have already shown that the Church militant is not invisible; I have shown that she is universal in time; I will show you that, she cannot be unknown.
THE universality of the Church does not require that all provinces or missions receive the Gospel at once, it is enough that they do so one after another; in such sort, however, that the Church is always seen, and is always known as that which has existed throughout the whole world or the greater part thereof; so that one may be able to say: Come let us go up into the mountain of the Lord (Is. ii. 3) For the Church shall be as the sun, says the Psalm, and the sun is not always shining equally in all countries: enough if by the end of the year there is no one who can hide from its heat (Ps. xviii.) So will it suffice that by the end of the world Our Lord's prediction be fulfilled, that it behooves that. penance, and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all. nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke ult.).
Now the Church in the time of the Apostles everywhere spread forth its branches, covered with the fruits of the Gospel, as S. Paul testifies (Rom. i.). S. Irenaeus says the same of his time, (iii. 3)' speaking of the Roman or papal Church, to which he will have all the rest of the Church subject on account of its superior authority.
Prosper speaks of our Church, not of yours, when he says (De Ingratis. 40): "In the pastoral honor, Rome, see of S. Peter, is head of the universe, which she has not reduced to her dominion by war and arms, but has acquired by religion." You see clearly that he speaks of the Church, that he acknowledged the Pope of Rome as its head. In the time of S. Gregory there were Catholics everywhere, as may be seen by the Epistles which he wrote to bishops of almost all nations. In the time of Gratian, Valentinian and Justinian, there were everywhere Roman Catholics, as may be seen by their laws. S. Bernard says the same of his time; and you know well that it was so in the time of Godfrey de Bouillon. Since then, the same Church has come to our age, ever Roman and papal. So that even if our Church now were much less than it is, it would not cease to be most Catholic, because it is the same Roman Church which has been, and which has possessed all the provinces of the nations, and peoples without number: -but, it is still now extended over the whole world; in Transylvania, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, and throughout all Germany; in France, in Italy, in Sclavonia, in Candia, in Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Malta, Corsica, in Greece, in Armenia, in Syria, and everywhere.
Shall I add to the list the Eastern and Western Indies? He who would have a compendium of these must attend a general Chapter or assembly of the Religious of S. Francis, called Observantines. He would see Religious arrive from every quarter of the world, Old and New, under the obedience of a simple, lowly, insignificant man: so that these alone would seem enough for the Church to fulfill that part of the prophecy of Malachy (i.) In every place there is sacrifice …to my name.
On the contrary, gentlemen, the pretenders pass not the Alps on our side, nor the Pyrenees on the side of Spain; Greece knows you not; the other three parts of the world do not know who you are, and have never heard of Christians without sacrifice, without altar, without head, without cross, as you are; in Germany your comrades the Lutherans, Brentians, Anabaptists, Trinitarians, eat into your portion; in England the Puritans, in France the Libertines;-how then can you be so obstinate, and continue thus apart from the rest of the world, as did the Luciferians and Donatists? I will say to you, as S. Augustine said to one of your fellows (Contra Don.): "Be good enough, I beseech you, to enlighten us on this point;-how it can be that Our Lord has lost his Church throughout the world, and has began to have none save in you alone." Surely you reduce Our Lord to too great a poverty, says S. Jerome (Contra Lucif. ). But if you say your church was already Catholic, in the time of the Apostle, show us that it existed at that time, for all the sects will say the same. How will you graft this little scion of pretended religion on that holy and ancient stock? Make your church touch by a perpetual continuation the primitive Church, for if they touch not, how can the one draw sap from the other. But this you will never do, unless you submit to the obedience of the Catholic [Church], you will never be, I say, with those who shall sing (Apoc. v. 9): Thou hast redeemed us in thy blood, from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, and hast made us a kingdom to our God.
PERHAPS you will say, at last, that after a time your church will spread its wings, and will become Catholic by process of time; but this is talking in the air. For if an Augustine, a Chrysostom, an Ambrose, a Cyprian, a Gregory, and that great multitude of excellent pastors, have not been able to manage well enough to prevent the Church from tumbling over soon after their time, how [shall] Calvin, Luther, and the rest [do so]? What likelihood is there that it should grow stronger now, under the charge of your ministers, who neither in sanctity nor in doctrine are comparable with those? If the Church in its spring, summer, and autumn has not been fruitful, how would you have one gather fruits from it in winter? If in its youth it has made no progress, how far would you have it run in its old age?
But I say further; your church is not only not Catholic, but never has been, not having the power nor the faculty of producing children, but only of stealing the offspring of others, as the partridge does. And yet it is certainly one of the properties of the Church to be fertile; it is for that, amongst other reasons, that she is called Dove. And if her Spouse, when he would bless a man, makes his wife fruitful, like a fruitful vine on the sides of his house (Psalm cxxvii.), and makes the barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of many children (Psalm cxii.), ought he not himself to have a bride who should be fruitful, yea, according to the holy Word (Is. liv.), this desolate one should have many children, this new Jerusalem should be most populous, and have a great generation The Gentiles shall walk in thy light, says the Prophet (Ib. lx.). and kings in the glory of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see; all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side: and (liii) because his soul hath labored . . . therefore will I distribute to him very many. Now this fertility and these great nations of the Church come principally by preaching, as S. Paul says (I Cor. iv. 15): In the Gospel I have begotten you. The preaching, then, of the Church ought to be as a flame: Thy word is fiery, O Lord (Ps. cxviii. 140) And what is more active, lively, penetrating, and more quick to alter and give its form to other matters than fire?
Such was the preaching of S. Augustine in England, of S. Boniface in Germany, of S. Patrick in Ireland, of Willibrord in Frisia, of Cyril in Bohemia, of Adalbert in Poland, of Stephen in Hungary, of S. Vincent Ferrer and John Capistran; such the preaching of . . . . Francis Xavier, and a thousand others, who have overturned idolatry by holy preaching; and all were Roman Catholics.
On the contrary, our ministers have not yet converted any province from paganism, nor any country. To divide Christendom, to create factions there, to tear in pieces the robe of Our Lord, is the effect of their preachings. Christian doctrine is as a gentle rain, which makes unfruitful soil to bring forth: theirs rather resembles hail, which beats down and destroys the harvests, and makes barren the most fertile lands. Take notice of what S. Jude says: Woe to them who …have perished in, the gainsaying of Core (Core was a schismatic); these are spots in their banquets, feasting together without fear, feeding themselves, clouds without water which are carried about by the wind : - they have the exterior of the Scriptures, but they have not the interior moisture of the Spirit:-unfruitful trees of the autumn, -which have not the leaves of the letter nor the fruit of the inner. meaning ; twice dead, -dead to charity by schism, and to faith by heresy;-plucked up by the roots, unable any more to bear fruit; aging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion of disputes, contests and violent changes; wandering stars which can serve as guides to no one, and have no firmness of faith but change about in every direction. What wonder then that your preaching is sterile? You have but the bark without the sap, and how would you have it germinate? You have only the sheath without the sword, the letter without the meaning; no wonder you cannot uproot idolatry. So S. Paul (Tim. 3:9) speaking of those who separate from the Church, protests that they shall advance no further. If then your Church can in no way style itself Catholic up to this present, still less can you hope it may do so afterwards, since its preaching is so feeble, and its preachers have never undertaken, as Tertullian says (de Praesc. xlii.), the business or commission "of converting heathens, but only of perverting our own.” Oh what a Church, then, which is neither one, not holy nor Catholic, and, which is worse, can have no reasonable hope whatever that it will ever become so.