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Robert Ingersoll Letters Rome Or Reason 1

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Rome Or Reason 1

Robert Green Ingersoll

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Cardinal Manning.

The Vatican Council, in its Decree on Faith has these words:
"The Church itself, by its marvelous propagation, its eminent
sanctity, its inexhaustible fruitfulness in all good things, its
catholic unity and invincible stability, is a vast and perpetual
motive of credibility, and an irrefragable witness of its own
Divine legation." ("Const. Dogm. de Fide Catholica, c.iii.) Its
Divine Founder said: "I am the light of the world;" and, to His
Apostles, He said also, "ye are the light of the world," and of His
Church He added, "A city seated on a hill cannot be hid." The
Vatican Council says, "The Church is its own witness." My purpose
is to draw out this assertion more fully.

These words affirm that the Church is self-evident, as light
is to the eye, and through sense, to the intellect. Next to the sun
at noonday, there is nothing in the world more manifest than the
one visible Universal Church. Both the faith and the infidelity of
the world bear witness to it. It is loved and hated, trusted and
feared, served and assaulted, honored and blasphemed: it is Christ
or Antichrist, the Kingdom of God or the imposture of Satan. It
pervades the civilized world. No man and no nation can ignore it,
none can be indifferent to it. Why is all this? How is its
existence to be accounted for?

Let me suppose that I am an unbeliever in Christianity, and
that some friend should make me promise to examine the evidence to
show that Christianity is a Divine revelation; I should then sift
and test the evidence as strictly as if it were in a court of law,
and in a cause of life and death; my will would be in suspense; it
would in no way control the process of my intellect. If it had any
inclination from the equilibrium, it would be towards mercy and
hope; but this would not add a feather's weight to the evidence,
nor sway the intellect a hair's breadth.

After the examination has been completed, and my intellect
convinced, the evidence being sufficient to prove that Christianity
is a divine revelation, nevertheless I am not yet a Christian. All
this sifting brings me to the conclusion of a chain of reasoning;
but I am not yet a believer. The last act of reason has brought me

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to the brink of the first act of faith. They are generically
distinct and separable. The acts of reason are intellectual, and
jealous of the interference of the will. The act of faith is an
imperative act of the will, founded on and justified by the process
and conviction of the intellect. Hitherto I have been a critic:
henceforward, if I will, I become a disciple.

It may here be objected that no man can so far suspend the
inclination of the will when the question is, has God indeed spoken
to man or no? Is the revealed law of purity, generosity,
perfection, divine, or only the poetry of imagination? Can a man be
indifferent between two such sides of the problem? Will he not
desire the higher and better side to be true? and if he desire,
will he not incline to the side that he desires to find true? Can
a moral being be absolutely between two such issues? and can two
such issues be equally attractive to a moral agent? Can it be
indifferent and all the same to us whether God has made Himself and
His will known to us or not? Is there no attraction in light, no
repulsion in darkness? Does not the intrinsic and eternal
distinction of good and evil make itself felt in spite of the will?
Are we not responsible to "receive the truth in the love of it?"
Nevertheless, evidence has its own limits and quantities, and
cannot be made more or less by any act of the will. And yet, what
is good or bad, high or mean, lovely or hateful, ennobling or
degrading, must attract or repel men as they are better or worse in
their moral sense; for an equilibrium between good and evil, to God
or to man, is impossible.

The last act of my reason, then, is distinct from my first act
of faith precisely in this: so long as I was uncertain I suspended
the inclination of my will, as an act of fidelity to conscience and
of loyalty to truth; but the process once complete, and the
conviction once attained, my will imperatively constrains me to
believe, and I become a disciple of a Divine revelation.

My friend next tells me that there are Christian Scriptures,
and I go through precisely the same process of critical examination
and final conviction, the last act of reasoning preceding, as
before, the first act of faith.

He then tells me that there is a Church claiming to be
divinely founded, divinely guarded, and divinely guided in its
custody of Christianity and of the Christian Scriptures.

Once more I have the same twofold process of reasoning and of
believing to go through.

There is, however, this difference in the subject-matter:
Christianity is an order of supernatural truth appealing
intellectually to my reason; the Christian Scriptures are
voiceless, and need a witness. They cannot prove their own mission,
much less their own authority or inspiration. But the Church is
visible to the eye, audible to the ear, self-manifesting and self-
asserting: I cannot escape from it. If I go to the east, it is
there; if I go to the west, it is there also. If I stay at home, it
is before me, seated on the hill; if I turn away from it, I am
surrounded by its light. It pursues me and calls to me. I cannot

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deny its existence; I cannot be indifferent to it; I must either
listen to it or willfully stop my ears; I must heed it or defy it,
love it or hate it. But my first attitude towards it is to try it
with forensic strictness, neither pronouncing it to be Christ nor
Antichrist till I have tested its origin, claim, and character. Let
us take down the case in short-hand.

1. It says that it interpenetrates all the nations of the
civilized world. In some it holds the whole nation in its unity, in
others it holds fewer; but in all it is present, visible, audible,
naturalized, and known as the one Catholic Church, a name that none
can appropriate. Though often claimed and controversially assumed,
none can retain it; it falls off. The world knows only one Catholic
Church, and always restores the name to the right owner.

2. It is not a national body, but extra-national, accused of
its foreign relations and foreign dependence. It is international,
and independent in a supernational unity.

3. In faith, divine worship, sacred ceremonial, discipline,
government, from the highest to the lowest, it is the same in every

4. It speaks all languages in the civilized world.

5. It is obedient to one Head, outside of all nations, except
one only; and in that nation, his leadership is not national but

6. The world-wide sympathy of the Church in all lands with its
Head has been manifested in our days, and before our eyes, by a
series of public assemblages in Rome, of which nothing like or
second to it can be found. In 1854, 350 Bishops of all nations
surrounded their Head when he defined the Immaculate Conception. In
1862, 400 Bishops assembled at the canonization of the Martyrs of
Japan. In 1867, 500 Bishops came to keep the eighteenth centenary
of St. Peters martyrdom. In 1870, Bishops assembled in the Vatican
Council. On the Feast of the Epiphany, 1870, the Bishops of thirty
nations during two whole hours made profession of faith in their
own languages, kneeling before their head. Add to this, that in
1869, in the sacerdotal jubilee of Pius IX., Rome was filled for
months by pilgrims from all lands in Europe and beyond the sea,
from the Old World and from the New, bearing all manner of gifts
and oblations to the Head of the Universal Church. To this, again,
must be added the world-wide outcry and protest of all the Catholic
unity against the seizure of sacrilege of September, 1870, when
Rome was taken by the Italian Revolution.

7. All this came to pass not only by reason of the great love
of the Catholic world for Pius IX., but because they revered him as
the successor of St. Peter and the Vicar of Jesus Christ. For that
undying reason the same events have been reproduced in the time of
Leo XIII. In the early months of this year Rome was once more
filled with pilgrims of all nations, coming in thousands as
representatives of millions in all nations, to celebrate the
sacerdotal jubilee of the Sovereign Pontiff. The courts of the
Vatican could not find room for the multitude of gifts and
offerings of every kind which were sent from all quarters of the
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8. These things are here said, not because of any other
importance, but because they set forth in the most visible and
self-evident way the living unity and the luminous universality of
the One Catholic and Roman Church.

9. What has thus far been said is before our eyes at this
hour. It is no appeal to history, but to a visible and palpable
fact. Men may explain it as they will; deny it, they cannot. They
see the Head of the Church year by year speaking to the nations of
the world; treating with Empires, Republics and Governments. There
is no other man on earth that can so bear himself. Neither from
Canterbury nor from Constantinople can such a voice go forth to
which rulers and people listen.

This is the century of revolutions. Rome has in our time been
besieged three times; three Popes have been driven out of it, two
have been shut up in the Vatican. The city is now full of the
Revolution. The whole Church has been tormented by Falck laws,
Mancini laws, and Crispi laws. An unbeliever in Germany said some
years ago, "The net is now drawn so tight about the Church, that if
it escapes this time I will believe in it," Whether he believes, or
is even alive now to believe, I cannot say.

Nothing thus far has been said as proof. The visible,
palatable facts, which are at this moment before the eyes of all
men, speak for themselves. There is one, and only one, world-wide
unity of which these things can be said. It is a fact and a
phenomenon for which an intelligible account must be rendered. If
it be only a human system built up by the intellect, will and
energy of men, let the adversaries prove it. The burden is upon
them; and they will have more to do as we go on.

Thus far we have rested upon the evidence of sense and fact.
We must now go on to history and reason.

Every religion and every religious body known to history has
varied from itself and broken up. Brahminism has given birth to
Buddhism; Mahometanism is parted into the Arabian and European
Khalifates; the Greek schism into the Russian, Constantinopolitan,
and Bulgarian autocephalous fragment; Protestantism into its
multitudinous diversities. All have departed from their original
type, and all are continually developing new and irreconcilable,
intellectual and ritualistic, diversities and repulsions. How is it
that, with all diversities of language, civilization, race,
interest, and conditions, social and political, including
persecution and warfare, the Catholic nations are at this day, even
when in warfare, in unchanged unity of faith, communion, worship
and spiritual sympathy with each other and with their Head? This
needs a rational explanation.

It may be said in answer, endless divisions have come out of
the Church, from Arius to Photius, and from Photius to Luther.

Yes, but they all came out. There is the difference. They did
not remain in the Church, corrupting the faith. They came out, and
ceased to belong to the Catholic unity, as a branch broken from a
tree ceases to belong to the tree. But the identity of the tree

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remains the same. A branch is not a tree, nor a tree a branch. A
tree may lose branches, but it rests upon its root, and renews its
loss. Not so the religions, so to call them, that have broken away
from unity. Not one has retained its members or its doctrines. Once
separated from the sustaining unity of the Church, all separations
lose their spiritual cohesion, and then their intellectual
identity. Ramus proecisus arescit.

For the present it is enough to say that no human,
legislation, authority or constraint can ever create internal unity
of intellect and will; and that the diversities and contradictions
generated by all human systems prove the absence of Divine
authority. Variations or contradictions are proof of the absence of
a Divine mission to mankind. All natural causes run to
disintegration. Therefore, they can render no account of the world-
wide unity of the One Universal Church.

Such, then, are the facts before our eyes at this day. We will
seek out the origin of the body or system called the Catholic
Church, and pass at once to its outset eighteen hundred years ago.

I affirm, then, three things: (1) First, that no adequate
account can be given of this undeniable fact from natural causes;
(2) that the history of the Catholic Church demands causes above
nature; and (3) that it has always claimed for itself a Divine
origin and Divine authority.

I. And, first, before we examine what it was and what it has
done, we will recall to mind what was the world in the midst of
which it arose.

The most comprehensive and complete description of the old
world, before Christianity came in upon it, is given in the first
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Mankind had once the
knowledge of God: that knowledge was obscured by the passions of
sense; in the darkness of the human intellect, with the light of
nature still before them, the nations worshiped the creature --
that is, by pantheism, polytheism, idolatry; and, having lost the
knowledge of God and of His perfections, they lost the knowledge of
their own nature and of its laws, even of the natural and rational
laws, which thenceforward ceased to guide, restrain, or govern
them. They became perverted and inverted with every possible abuse,
defeating the end and destroying the powers of creation. The lights
of nature were put out, and the world rushed headlong into
confusions, of which the beasts that perish were innocent. This is
analytically the history of all nations but one. A line of light
still shone from Adam to Enoch, from Enoch to Abraham, to whom the
command was given, "Walk before Me and be perfect." And it ran on
from Abraham to Caiaphas, who crucified the founder of
Christianity. Through all anthropomorphisms of thought and language
this line of light still passed inviolate and inviolable. But in
the world, on either side of that radiant stream, the whole earth
was dark. The intellectual and moral state of the Greek world may
be measured in its highest excellence in Athens: and of the Roman
world in Rome. The state of Athens -- its private, domestic, and
public morality -- may be seen in Aristophanes.

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The state of Rome is visible in Juvenal, and in the fourth
book of St. Augustine's "City of God." There was only one evil
wanting. The world was not Atheist. Its polytheism was the example
and the warrant of all forms of moral abominations. Imitary quod
colis plunged the nations in crime. Their theology was their
degradation; their text-book of an elaborate corruption of
intellect and will.

Christianity came in "the fullness of time." What that
fullness may mean, is one of the mysteries of times and seasons
which it is not for us to know. But one motive for the long delay
of four thousand years is not far to seek. It gave time, full and
ample, for the utmost development and consolidation of all the
falsehood and evil of which the intellect and will of man are
capable. The four great empires were each of them the concentration
of a supreme effort of human power. The second inherited from the
first, the third from both, the fourth from all three. It was, as
it was foretold or described, as a beast, "exceeding terrible; his
teeth and claws were of iron; he devoured and broke in pieces; and
the rest he stamped upon with his feet." (Daniel, vii. 19.) The
empire of man over man was never so widespread, so absolute, so
hardened into one organized mass, as in Imperial Rome. The world
had never seen a military power so disciplined, irresistible,
invincible; a legislation so just, so equitable, so strong in its
execution; a government so universal, so local, so minute. It
seemed to be imperishable. Rome was called the eternal. The
religions of all nations were enshrined in Dea Roma; adopted,
practiced openly, and taught. They were all religiones licitoe,
known to the law; not tolerated only, but recognized. The
theologies of Egypt, Greece, and of the Latin world, met in an
empyreuma, consecrated and guarded by the Imperial law, and
administered by the Pontifex Maximus. No fanaticism ever surpassed
the religious cruelties of Rome. Add to all this the colluvies of
false philosophies of every land, and of every date. They both
blinded and hardened the intellect of public opinion and of private
men against the invasion of anything except contempt, and hatred of
both the philosophy of sophists and of the religion of the people.
Add to all this the sensuality of the most refined and of the
grossest luxury the world had ever seen, and a moral confusion and
corruption which violated every law of nature.

The god of this world had built his city. From foundation to
parapet, everything that the skill and power of man could do had
been done without stint of means or limit of will. The Divine hand
was stayed, or rather, as St. Augustine says, an unsurpassed
natural greatness was the reward of certain natural virtues,
degraded as they were in unnatural abominations. Rome was the
climax of the power of man without God, the apotheosis of the human
will, the direct and supreme antagonist of God in His own world. In
this the fullness of time was come. Man built all this for himself.
Certainly, man could not also build the City of God. They are not
the work of one and the same architect, who capriciously chose to
build first the city of confusion, suspending for a time his skill
and power to build some day the City of God. Such a hypothesis is
folly. Of two things, one. Disputers must choose one or the other.
Both cannot be asserted, and the assertion needs no answer -- it
refutes itself. So much for the first point.

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II. In the reign of Augustus, and in a remote and powerless
Oriental race, a Child was born in a stable of a poor Mother. For
thirty years He lived a hidden life; for three years He preached
the Kingdom of God, and gave laws hitherto un-known to men. He died
in ignominy upon the Cross; on the third day He rose again; and
after forty days He was seen no more. This unknown Man created the
world-wide unity of intellect and will which is visible to the eye,
and audible, in all languages, to the ear. It is in harmony with
the reason and moral nature of all nations, in all ages, to this
day. What proportion is there between the cause and the effect?
What power was there in this isolated Man? What unseen virtues went
out of Him to change the world? For change the world He did; and
that not in the line or on the level of nature as men had corrupted
it, but in direct contradiction to all that was then supreme in the
world. He taught the dependence of the intellect against its self-
trust, the submission of the will against its license, the
subjugation of the passions by temperate control or by absolute
subjection against their willful indulgence. This was to reverse
what men believed to be the laws of nature: to make water climb
upward and fire to point downward. He taught mortification of the
lusts of the flesh, contempt of the lusts of the eyes, and hatred
of the pride of life. What hope was there that such a teacher
should convert imperial Rome? that such a doctrine should exorcise
the fullness of human pride and lust? Yet so it has come to pass;
and how? Twelve men more obscure than Himself, absolutely without
authority or influence of this world, preached throughout the
empire and beyond it. They asserted two facts: the one, that God
had been made man; the other, that He died and rose again. What
could be more incredible? To the Jews the unity and spirituality of
God were axioms of reason and faith; to the Gentiles, however
cultured, the resurrection of the flesh was impossible. The Divine
Person Who had died and risen could not be called in evidence as
the chief witness. He could not be produced in court. Could
anything be more suspicious if credible, or less credible even if
He were there to say so? All that they could do was to say, "We
knew Him for three years, both before His death and after He rose
from the dead. If you will believe us, you will believe what we
say. If you will not believe us, we can say no more. He is not
here, but in heaven. We cannot call him down." It is true, as we
read, that Peter cured a lame man at the gate of the Temple. The
Pharisees could not deny it, but they would not believe what Peter
said; they only told him to hold his tongue. And yet thousands in
one day in Jerusalem believed in the Incarnation and the
Resurrection; and when the Apostles were scattered by persecution,
wherever they went men believed their word. The most intense
persecution was from the Jews, the people of faith and of Divine
traditions. In the name of God and of religion they stoned Stephen,
and sent Saul to persecute at Damascus. More than this, they
stirred up the Romans in every place. As they had forced Pilate to
crucify Jesus of Nazareth, so they swore to slay Paul. And yet, in
spite of all, the faith spread.

It is true, indeed, that the Empire of Alexander, the spread
of the Hellenistic Greek, the prevalence of Greek in Rome itself,
the Roman roads which made the Empire traversable, the Roman peace
which sheltered the preachers of the faith in the outset of their
work, gave them facilities to travel and to be understood. But

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these were only external facilities, which in no way rendered more
credible or more acceptable the voice of penance and mortification,
or the mysteries of the faith, which was immutably "to the Jews a
stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness." It was in
changeless opposition to nature as man had marred it; but it was in
absolute harmony with nature as God had made it to His own
likeness. Its power was its persuasiveness; and its persuasiveness
was in its conformity to the highest and noblest aspirations and
aims of the soul in man. The master-key so long lost was found at
last; and its conformity to the wards of the lock was its
irrefragable witness to its own mission and message.

But if it is beyond belief that Christianity in its outset
made good its foothold by merely human causes and powers, how much
more does this become incredible in every age as we come down from
the first century to the nineteenth, and from the Apostolic mission
to the world-wade Church, Catholic and Roman, at this day.

Not only did the world in the fullness of its power give to
the Christian faith no help to root or to spread itself, but it
wreaked all the fullness of its power upon it to uproot and to
destroy it. Of the first thirty Pontiffs in Rome, twenty-nine were
martyred. Ten successive persecutions, or rather one universal and
continuous persecution of two hundred years, with ten more bitter
excesses of enmity in every province of the Empire, did all that
man can do to extinguish the Christian name. The Christian name may
be blotted out here and there in blood, but the Christian faith can
nowhere be slain. It is inscrutable, and beyond the reach of man.
In nothing is the blood of the martyrs more surely the seed of the
faith. Every martyrdom was a witness to the faith, and the ten
persecutions were the sealing of the work of the twelve Apostles.
The destroyer defeated himself. Christ crucified was visibly set
forth before all the nations, the world was a Calvary, and the
blood of the martyrs preached in every tongue the Passion of Jesus
Christ. The world did its worst, and ceased only for weariness and
conscious defeat.

Then came the peace, and with peace the peril of the Church.
The world outside had failed; the world inside began to work. It no
longer destroyed life; it perverted the intellect, and, through
intellectual perversion, assailed the faith at its center. The
Angel of light preached heresy. The Baptismal Creed was assailed
all along the line; Gnosticism assailed the Father and Creator of
all things; Arianism, the God-head of the Son; Nestorianism, the
unity of His person; Monophysites, the two natures; Monothelites,
the divine and human wills; Macedonians, the person of the Holy
Ghost. So throughout the centuries, from Nicasa to the Vatican,
every article has been in succession perverted by heresy and
defined by the Church. But of this we shall speak hereafter. If the
human intellect could fasten its perversions on the Christian
faith, it would have done so long ago; and if the Christian faith
had been guarded by no more than human intellect, it would long ago
have been disintegrated, as we see in every religion outside the
unity of the one Catholic Church. There is no example in which
fragmentary Christianities have not departed from their original
type. No human system is immutable; no thing human is changeless.
The human intellect, therefore, can give no sufficient account of

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the identity of the Catholic faith in all places and in all ages by
any of its own natural processes or powers. The force of this
argument is immensely increased when we trace the tradition of the
faith through the nineteen Ecumenical Councils which, with one
continuous intelligence, have guarded and unfolded the deposit of
faith, defining every truth as it has been successively assailed,
in absolute harmony and unity of progression.

What the Senate is to your great Republic, or the Parliament
to our English monarchy, such are the nineteen Councils of the
Church, with this only difference: the secular Legislatures must
meet year by year with short recesses; Councils have met on the
average once in a century. The reason of this is that the
metabolites of national life, which are as the water -- floods,
need constant remedies; the stability of the Church seldom needs
new legislation. The faith needs no definition except in rare
intervals of periodical intellectual disorder. The discipline of
the Church reigns by an universal common law which seldom needs a
change, and by local laws which are provided on the spot.
Nevertheless, the legislation of the Church, the Corpus Juris, or
Cannon Law, is a creation of wisdom and justice, to which no
Statutes at large or Imperial pandects can bear comparison. Human
intellect has reached its climax in jurisprudence, but the world-
wide and secular legislation of the Church has a higher character.
How the Christian law connected, elevated, and completed the
Imperial law, may be seen in a learned and able work by an American
author, far from the Catholic faith, but in the main just and
accurate in his facts and arguments -- the gesta Christi of Charles
Loring Brace. Water cannot rise above its source, and if the Church
by mere human wisdom corrected and perfected the Imperial law, its
source must be higher than the sources of the world. This makes a
heavy demand on our credulity.

Starting from St. Peter to Leo XIII., there have been some 258
Pontiffs claiming to be, and recognized by the whole Catholic unity
as, successors of St. Peter and Vicars of Jesus Christ. To them has
been rendered in every age not only the external obedience of
outward submission, but the internal obedience of faith. They have
borne the onset of the nations who destroyed Imperial Rome, and the
tyranny of heretical Emperors of Byzantium; and, worse than this,
the alternate despotism and patronage of the Emperors of the West,
and the substraction of obedience in the great Western schisms,
when the unity of the Church and the authority of its Head were, as
men thought, gone for ever. It was the last assault -- the forlorn
hope of the gates of hell. Every art of destruction had been tried:
martyrdom, heresy, secularity, schism; at last, two, and three, and
four claimants, or, as the world says, rival Popes, were set up,
that men might believe that St. Peter had no longer a successor,
and our Lord no Vicar, upon earth; for, though all might be
illegitimate, only one could be the lawful and true Head of the
Church. Was it only by the human power of man that the unity,
external and internal, which for fourteen hundred years had been
supreme, was once more restored in the Council of Constance, never
to be broken again? The succession of the English monarchy has
been, indeed, often broken, and always restored, in these thousand
years. But here is a monarchy of eighteen hundred years, powerless
in worldly force or support, claiming and receiving not only

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outward allegiance, but inward unity of intellect and will. If any
man tell us that these two phenomena are on the same level of
merely human causes, it is too severe a tax upon our natural reason
to believe it.

But the inadequacy of human causes to account for the
universality, unity, and immutability of the Catholic Church, will
stand out more visibly if we look at the intellectual and moral
revolution which Christianity has wrought in the world and upon

The first effect of Christianity was to fill the world with
the true knowledge of the One True God, and to destroy utterly all
idols, not by fire but by light. Before the Light of the world no
false god and no polytheism could stand. The unity and spirituality
of God swept away all theogonies and theologies of the first four
thousand years. The stream of light which descended from the
beginning expanded into a radiance, and the radiance into a flood,
which illuminated all nations, as it had been foretold, "The earth
is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of
the sea;" "And idols shall be utterly destroyed." (Isaias, xi. 9-
11, 18.) In this true knowledge of the Divine Nature was revealed
to men their own relation to a Creator as of sons to a father. The
Greeks called the chief of the gods Zeus Pater, and the Jupiter;
but neither realized the dependence and love of sonship as revealed
by the Founder of Christianity.

The monotheism of the world comes down from a primeval and
Divine source. Polytheism is the corruption of men and of nations.
Yet in the multiplicity of all polytheism, one supreme Deity was
always recognized. The Divine unity was imperishable. Polytheism is
of human imagination: it is of men's manufacture. The deification
of nature and passions and heroes had filled the world with an
elaborate and tenacious superstition, surrounded by reverence,
fear, religion, and awe. Every perversion of what is good in man
surrounded it with authority; everything that is evil in man
guarded it with jealous care. Against this world-wide and imperious
demonology the science of one God, all holy and supreme, advanced
with resistless force. Beelzebub is not divided against himself;
and if polytheism is not Divine, monotheism must be. The overthrow
of idolatry and demonology was the mastery of forces that are above
nature. This conclusion is enough for our present purpose.

A second visible effect of Christianity of which nature cannot
offer any adequate cause is to be found in the domestic life of the
Christian world. In some nations the existence of marriage was not
so much as recognized. In others, if recognized, it was dishonored
by profuse concubinage. Even in Israel, the most advanced nation,
the law of divorce was permitted for the hardness of their hearts.
Christianity republished the primitive law by which marriage unites
only one man and one woman indissolubly in a perpetual contract, It
raised their mutual and perpetual contract to a sacrament. This at
one blow condemned all other relations between man and woman, all
the legal gradations of the Imperial law, and all forms and pleas
of divorce. Beyond this the spiritual legislation of the Church
framed most elaborate tables of consanguinity and affinity,
prohibiting all marriages between persons in certain degrees of
kinship or relation. This law has created the purity and peace of

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domestic life. Neither the Greek nor the Roman world had any true
conception of a home. The Eoria or Vesta was a sacred tradition
guarded by vestals like a temple worship. It was not a law and a
power in the homes of the people. Christianity, by enlarging the
circles of prohibition within which men and women were as brothers
and sisters, has created the home with all its purities and

Such a law of unity and indissolubility, encompassed by a
multitude of prohibitions, no mere human legislation could impose
on the passions and will of mankind. And yet the Imperial laws
gradually yielded to its resistless pressure, and incorporated it
in its world-wide legislation. The passions and practices of four
thousand years were against the change; yet it was accomplished,
and it reigns inviolate to this day, though the relaxations of
schism in the East and the laxities of the West have revived the
abuse of divorces, and have partially abolished the wise and
salutary prohibitions which guard the homes of the faithful. These
relaxations prove that all natural forces have been, and are,
hostile to the indissoluble law of Christian marriage. Certainly,
then, it was not by natural forces that the Sacrament of Matrimony
and the legislation springing from it were enacted. If these are
restraints of human liberty and license, either they do not spring
from nature, or they have had a supernatural cause whereby they
exist. It was this that redeemed woman from the traditional
degradation in which the world had held her. The condition of women
in Athens and in Rome -- which may be taken as the highest points
of civilization -- is too well known to need recital, Women had no
rights, no property, no independence. Plato looked upon them as
State property; Aristotle aschattels; They were the prey, the
sport, the slaves of man. Even in Israel, though they were raised
incomparably higher than in the Gentile world, they were far below
the dignity and authority of Christian women. Libanius, the friend
of Julian, the Apostate, said, "O ye gods of Greece, how great are
the women of the Christians!" Whence came the elevation of
womanhood? Not from the ancient civilization, for it degraded them;
not from Israel, for among the Jews the highest state of womanhood
was the marriage state. The daughter of Jepthe went into the
mountains to mourn not her death but her virginity. The marriage
state in the Christian world, though holy and good, is not the
highest state. The state of virginity unto death is the highest
condition of man and woman. But this is above the law of nature. It
belongs to a higher order. And this life of virginity, in
repression of natural passion and lawful instinct, is both above
and against the tendencies of human nature. It begins in a
mortification, and ends in a mastery, over the movements and
ordinary laws of human nature. Who will ascribe this to natural
causes? and, if so, why did it not appear in the first four
thousand years? And when has it ever appeared except in a handful
of vestal virgins, or in Oriental recluses, with what reality
history shows? An exception proves a rule. No one will imagine that
a life of chastity is impossible to nature; but the restriction is
a repression of nature which individuals may acquire, but the
multitude have never attained. A religion which imposes chastity on
the unmarried, and upon its priesthood, and upon the multitudes of
women in every age who devote themselves to the service of One Whom
they have never seen, is a mortification of nature in so high a

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degree as to stand out as a fact and a phenomenon, of which mere
natural causes afford no adequate solution. Its existence, not in
a hand full out of the millions of the world, but its prevalence
and continuity in multitudes scattered throughout the Christian
world, proves the presence of a cause higher than the laws of
nature. So true is this, that jurists teach that the three vows of
chastity, poverty, and obedience are contrary to "the policy of the
law," that is, to the interests of the commonwealth, which desires
the multiplication, enrichment, and liberty of its members.

To what has been said may be added the change wrought by
Christianity upon the social, political, and international
relations of the world. The root of this ethical change, private
and public, is the Christian home. The authority of parents, the
obedience of children, the love of brotherhood, are the three
active powers which have raised the society of man  above the level
of the old world. Israel was head and shoulders above the world
around it; but Christendom is high above Israel. The new
Commandment of brotherly love, and the Sermon on the Mount, have
wrought a revolution, both in private and public life. From this
come the laws of justice and sympathy which bind together the
nations of the Christian world. In the old world, even the most
refined races, worshiped by our modern philosophers, held and
taught that man could hold property in man. In its chief cities
there were more slaves than free men. Who has taught the equality
of men before the law, and extinguished the impious thought that
man can hold property in man? It was no philosopher: It was no
lawgiver, for all taught the lawfulness of slavery till
Christianity denied it. The Christian law has taught that man can
lawfully sell his labor, but that he cannot lawfully he sold, or
sell himself.

The necessity of being brief, the impossibility of drawing out
the picture of the old world, its profound immoralities, its un-
imaginable cruelties, compels me to argue with my right hand tied
behind me. I can do no more than point again to Mr. Brace's "Gesta
Christi," or to Dr. Dollinger's "Gentile and Jew," as witnesses to
the facts which I have stated or implied. No one who has not read
such books, or mastered their contents by original study, can judge
of the force of the assertion that Christianity has reformed the
world by direct antagonism to the human will, and by a searching
and firm repression of human passion. It has ascended the stream of
human license, contra ictum fluminis, by a power mightier than
nature, and by laws of a higher order than the relaxations of this

Before Christianity came on earth, the civilization of man by
merely natural force had culminated. It could not rise above its
source; all that it could do was done; and the civilization in
every race and empire had ended in decline and corruption. The old
civilization was not regenerated. It passed away to give place to
a new. But the new had a higher source, nobler laws and
supernatural powers. The highest excellence of men and of nations
is the civilization of Christianity. The human race has ascended
into what we call Christendom, that is, into the new creation of
charity and justice among men. Christendom was created by the
worldwide Church as we see it before our eyes at this day.

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Philosophers and statesmen believe it to be the work of their own
hands: they did not make it; but they have for three hundred years
been unmaking it by reformations and revolutions. These are
destructive forces. They build up nothing. It has been well said by
Donoso Cortez that "the history of civilization is the history of
Christianity, the history of Christianity is the history of the
Church, the history of the Church is the history of the Pontiffs,
the greatest statesmen and rulers that the world has ever seen."

Some years ago, a Professor of great literary reputation in
England, who was supposed even then to be, as his subsequent
writings have proved, a skeptic or non-Christian, published a well-
known and very candid book, under the title of "Ecce Homo." The
writer placed himself, as it were, outside of Christianity. He
took, not the Church in the world as in this article, but the
Christian Scriptures as a historical record, to be judged with
forensic severity and absolute impartiality of mind. To the credit
of the author, he fulfilled this pledge; and his conclusion shall
here be given. After an examination of the life and character of
the Author of Christianity, he proceeded to estimate His teaching
and its effects under the following heads:

1. The Christian Legislation.
2. The Christian Republic.
3. Its Universality.
4. The Enthusiasm of Humanity,
5. The Lord's Supper.
6. Positive Morality.
7. Philanthropy.
8. Edification.
9. Mercy.
10. Resentment.
11. Forgiveness.

He then draws his conclusion as follows:

"The achievement of Christ in founding by his single will and
power a structure so durable and so universal is like no other
achievement which history records. The masterpieces of the men of
action are coarse and commonplace in comparison with it, and the
masterpieces of speculation flimsy and unsubstantial. When we speak
of it the commonplaces of admiration fail us altogether. Shall we
speak of the originality of the design, or the skill displayed in
the execution? All such terms are inadequate. Originality and
contriving skill operate indeed, but, as it were, implicitly. The
creative effort which produced that against which it is said the
gates of hell shall not prevail cannot be analyzed. No architect's
designs were furnished for the New Jerusalem; no committee drew up
rules for the universal commonwealth. If in the works of nature we
can trace the indications of calculation, of a struggle with
difficulties, of precaution, of ingenuity, then in Christ's work it
may be that the same indications occur. But these inferior and
secondary powers were not consciously exercised; they were
implicitly present in the manifold yet simple creative act. The
inconceivable work was done in calmness: before the eyes of men it
was noiselessly accomplished, attracting little attention. Who can
describe that which unites men? Who has entered into the formation

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of speech, which is the symbol of their union? Who can describe
exhaustively the origin of civil society? He who can do these
things can explain the origin of the Christian Church. For others
it must be enough to say, 'The Holy Ghost fell on those that
believed.' No man saw the building of the New Jerusalem, the
workmen crowded together, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets;
no man heard the clink of trowel and pickaxe: 'it descended out of
heaven from God.'"

And yet the writer is, as he was then, still outside of

We come now to our third point, that Christianity has always
claimed a Divine origin and a Divine presence as the source of its
authority and powers.

To prove this by texts from the New Testament would be to
transcribe the volume; and if the evidence of the whole New
Testament were put in, not only might some men deny its weight as
evidence, but we should place our whole argument upon a false
foundation. Christianity was anterior to the New Testament and is
independent of it. The Christian Scriptures presuppose both the
faith and the Church as already existing, known, and believed.
Prior liber quam stylus: as Tertullian argued. The Gospel was
preached before it was written. The four books were written to
those who already believed, to confirm their faith. They were
written at intervals: St. Matthew in Hebrew in the year 39, in
Greek in 45. St. Mark in 43, St. Luke in 57, St. John about 90, in
different places and for different motives. Four Gospels did not
exist for sixty years, or two generations of men. St. Peter and St.
Paul knew of only three of our four. In those sixty years the faith
had spread from east to west. Saints and Martyrs had gone up to
their crown who never saw a sacred book. The Apostolic Epistles
prove the antecedent existence of the Churches to which they were
addressed. Rome and Corinth, and Galatia and Ephesus, Philippi and
Colossae, were Churches with pastors and people before St. Paul
wrote to them. The Church had already attested and executed its
Divine legation before the New Testament existed; and when all its
books were written they were not as yet collected into a volume.
The earliest collection was about the beginning of the second
century, and in the custody of the Church in Rome. We must,
therefore, seek to know what was and is Christianity before and
outside of the written books; and we have the same evidence for the
oral tradition of the faith as we have for the New Testament
itself. Both alike were in the custody of the Church; both are
delivered to us by the same witness and on the same evidence. To
reject either, is logically to reject both. Happily men are not
saved by logic, but by faith. The millions of men in all ages have
believed by inheritance of truth divinely guarded and delivered to
them. They have no need of logical analysis. They have believed
from their childhood. Neither children nor those who infantibus
aequiparantur are logicians. It is the penance of the doubter and
the unbeliever to regain by toil his lost inheritance. It is a hard
penance, like the suffering of those who eternally debate on
"predestination, freewill, fate."

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Between the death of St. John and the mature lifetime of St.
Irenaeus fifty years elapsed. St. Polycarp was disciple of St.
John. St. Irenaeus was disciple of St. Polycarp, The mind of St.
John and the mind of St. Irenaeus had only one intermediate
intelligence, in contact with each. It would be an affectation of
minute criticism to treat the doctrine of St. Irenaeus as a
departure from the doctrine of St. Polycarp, or the doctrine of St.
Polycarp as a departure from the doctrine of St. John. Moreover,
St. John ruled the Church at Ephesus, and St. Irenaeus was born in
Asia Minor about the year A.D. 120 -- that is, twenty years after
St. John's death, when the Church in Asia Minor was still full of
the light of his teaching and of the accents of his voice. Let us
see how St. Irenaeus describes the faith and the Church. In his
work against Heresies, in Book iii. chap. i., he says, "We have
known the way of our salvation by those through whom the Gospel
came to us; which, indeed, they then preached, but afterwards, by
the will of God, delivered to us in Scriptures, the future
foundation and pillar of our faith. It is not lawful to say that
they preached before they had perfect knowledge, as some dare to
affirm, boasting themselves to be correctors of the Apostles. For
after our Lord rose from the dead, and when they had been clothed
with the power of the Holy Ghost, Who came upon them from on high,
they were filled with all truths, and had knowledge which was
perfect." In chapter ii. he adds that, "When they are refuted out
of Scripture, they turn and accuse the Scriptures as erroneous,
unauthoritative, and of various readings, so that the truth cannot
be found by those who do not know tradition" -- that is, their own.
"But when we challenge them to come to the tradition of the
Apostles, which is in custody of the succession of Presbyters in
the Church, they turn against tradition, saying that they are not
only wiser than the Presbyters, but even the Apostles, and have
found the truth." "It therefore comes to pass that they will not
agree either with the Scriptures or with tradition." "Therefore,
all who desire to know the truth ought to look to the tradition of
the Apostles, which is manifest in all the world and in all the
Church. We are able to count up the Bishops who were instituted in
the Church by the Apostles, and their successors to our day. They
never taught nor knew such things as these men madly assert." "But
as it would be too long in such a book as this to enumerate the
successions of all the Churches, we point to the tradition of the
greatest, most ancient Church, known to all, founded and
constituted in Rome by the two glorious Apostles Peter and Paul,
and to the faith announced to all men, coming down to us by the
succession of Bishops, thereby confounding all those who, in any
way, by self-pleasing, or vainglory, or blindness, or an evil mind,
teach as they ought not. For with this Church, by reason of its
greater principality, it is necessary that all churches should
agree; that is, the faithful, wheresoever they be, for in that
Church the tradition of the Apostles has been preserved." No
comment need be made on the words the "greater principality," which
have been perverted by every anti-Catholic writer from the time
they were written to this day. But if any one will compare them
with the words of St. Paul to the Colossians (chap. i. 18),
describing the primacy of the Head of the Church in heaven, it will
appear almost certain that the original Greek of St. Irenaeus,
which is unfortunately lost, contained either -a -eo*,;a, (*) or
some inflection of "xru"o" * (* GREEK - computer will not generate

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Greek characters.) which signifies primacy. However this may be,
St. Irenaeus goes on: "The blessed Apostles, having founded and
instructed the Church, gave in charge the Episcopate, for the
administration of the same, to Linus. Of this Linus, Paul, in his
Epistle to Timothy, makes mention. To him succeeded Anacletus, and
after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement received
the Episcopate, he who saw the Apostles themselves and conferred
with them, while as yet he had the preaching of the Apostles in his
ears and the tradition before his eyes; and not he only, but many
who had been taught by Apostles still survived. In the time of this
Clement, when no little dissension had arisen among the brethren in
Corinth, the Church in Rome wrote very powerful letters
potentissimas litteras to the Corinthians, recalling them to peace,
restoring their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had so
short a time ago received from the Apostles." These letters of St.
Clement are well known, but have lately become more valuable and
complete by the discovery of fragments published in a new edition
by Lightfoot. In these fragments there is a tone of authority fully
explaining the words of St. Irenaeus. He then traces the succession
of the Bishops of Rome to his own day, and adds: "This
demonstration is complete to show that it is one and the same life-
giving faith which has been preserved in the Church from the
Apostles until now, and is handed on in truth." "Polycarp was not
only taught by the Apostles, and conversed with many of those who
had seen our Lord, but he also was constituted by the Apostles in
Asia to be Bishop in the Church of Smyrna. We also saw him in our
early youth, for he lived long, and when very old departed from
this life most gloriously and nobly by martyrdom. He ever taught
that what he had learned from the Apostles, and what the Church had
delivered, those things only are true." In the fourth chapter, St.
Irenaeus goes on to say: "Since, then, there are such proofs (of
the faith), the truth is no longer to be sought for among others,
which it is easy to receive from the Church, forasmuch as the
Apostles laid up all truth in fullness in a rich depository, that
all who will may receive from it the water of life." "But what if
the Apostles had not left us the Scriptures: ought we not to follow
the order of tradition, which they gave in charge to them to whom
they intrusted the Churches? To which order (of tradition) many
barbarous nations yield assent, who believe in Christ without paper
and ink, having salvation written by the Spirit in their hearts,
and diligently holding the ancient tradition." In the twenty-sixth
chapter of the same book he says: "Therefore, it is our duty to
obey the Presbyters who are in the Church, who have succession from
the Apostles, as we have already shown; who also with the
succession of the Episcopate have the charisma veritatis certum"
the spiritual and certain gift of truth.

I have quoted these passages at length, not so much as proofs
of the Catholic Faith as to show the identity of the Church at its
outset with the Church before our eyes at this hour, proving that
the acorn has grown up into its oak, or, if you will, the identity
of the Church at this hour with the Church of the Apostolic
mission. These passages show the Episcopate, its central
principality, its succession, its custody of the faith, its
subsequent reception and guardianship of the Scriptures. Its Divine
tradition, and the charisma or Divine assistance by which its
perpetuity is secured in the succession of the Apostles. This is

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almost verbally, after eighteen hundred years, the decree of the
Vatican Council: Veritatis et fidei nunquam deficientis charisma.
("Const. Dogmatica Prima de Ecclesia Christi," cap. iv.)

But St.Irenaeus draws out in full the Church of this day. He
shows the parallel of the first creation and of the second; of the
first Adam and the Second; and of the analogy between the
Incarnation or natural body, and the Church or mystical body of
Christ. He says:

Our faith "we received from the Church, and guard . . . as an
excellent gift in a noble vessel, always full of youth, and making
youthful the vessel itself in which it is. For this gift of God is
intrusted to the Church, as the breath of life (was imparted) to
the first man, so this end, that all the members partaking of it
might be quickened with life. And thus the communication of Christ
is imparted; that is, the Holy Ghost, the earnest of incorruption,
the confirmation of the faith, the way of ascent to God. For in the
Church (St. Paul says) God placed Apostles, Prophets, Doctors, and
all other operations of the Spirit, of which none are partakers who
do not come to the Church, thereby depriving themselves of life by
a perverse mind and worse deeds. For where the Church is, there is
also the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is
the Church, and all grace. But the Spirit is truth. Wherefore, they
who do not partake of Him (the Spirit) and are not nurtured unto
life at the breast of the mother (the Church), do not receive of
that most pure fountain which proceeds from the Body of Christ, but
dig out for themselves broken pools from the trenches of the earth,
and drink water soiled with mire, because they turn aside from the
faith of the Church lest they should be convicted, and reject the
Spirit lest they should be taught." Again he says:

"The Church, scattered throughout the world, even unto the
ends of the earth, received from the Apostles and their disciples
the faith in one God the Father Almighty, that made the heaven and
the earth, and the seas, and all things that are in them." &c.

He then recites the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the
Incarnation, the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and His coming again to raise all men, to judge men
and angels, and to give sentence of condemnation or of life
everlasting. How much soever the language may vary from other
forms, such is the substance of the Baptismal Creed. He then adds:

"The Church having received this preaching and this faith, as
we have said before, although it be scattered abroad through the
whole world, carefully preserves it, dwelling as in one habitation,
and believes alike in these (doctrines) as though she had one soul
and the same heart: and in strict accord, as though she had one
mouth, proclaims, and teaches, and delivers onward these things,
And although there may be many diverse languages in the world, yet
the power of the tradition is one and the same. And neither do the
Churches planted in Germany believe otherwise, or otherwise deliver
(the faith), nor those in Iberia, nor among the Celtae, nor in the
East, nor in Egypt, nor in Libya, nor they that are planted in the
mainland. But as the sun, which is God's creature, in all the world
is one and the same, so also the preaching of the truth shineth

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everywhere, and lightened all men that are willing to come to the
knowledge of the truth. And neither will any ruler of the Church,
though he be mighty in the utterance of truth, teach otherwise than
thus (for no man is above the master), nor will he that is weak in
the same diminish from the tradition; for the faith being one and
the same, he that is able to say most of it hath nothing over, and
he that is able to say least hath no lack." (St. Irenaeus, lib. i.
c. x.)

To St. Irenaeus, then, the Church was "the irrefragable
witness of its own legation." When did it cease so to be? It would
be easy to multiply quotations from Tertullian in A.D. 200, from
St. Cyprian A.D. 250, from St. Augustine and St. Optatus in A.D.
350, from St. Leo in A.D. 450, all of which are on the same
traditional lines of faith in a divine mission to the world and of
a divine assistance in its discharge. But I refrain from doing so
because I should have to write not an article but a folio. Any
Catholic theology will give the passages which are now before me;
or one such book as the Loci Theologici of Melchior Canus will
suffice to show the continuity and identity of the tradition of St.
Irenaeus and the tradition of the Vatican Council, in which the
universal church last declared the immutable faith and its own
legation to mankind.

The world-wide testimony of the Catholic Church is a
sufficient witness to prove the coming of the Incarnate Son to
redeem mankind, and to return to His Father; it is also sufficient
to prove the advent of the Holy Ghost to abide with us for ever.
The work of the Son in this world was accomplished by the Divine
acts and facts of His three-and-thirty years of life, death,
Resurrection, and Ascension. The office of the Holy Ghost is
perpetual, not only as the Illuminator and Sanctifier of all who
believe, but also as the Life and Guide of the Church. I may quote
now the words of the Founder of the Church: "It is expedient to you
that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but
if I go, I will send Him to you." (St. John, xvi. 7.) "I will ask
the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may
abide with you for ever." (Ibid, xiv. 16.) "The Spirit of Truth,
Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not nor knoweth
Him; but you shall know Him, because He shall abide with you and
shall be in you." (St. John, xiv. 16, 17.) St. Paul in the Epistles
to the Ephesians describes the Church as a body of which the Head
is in heaven, and the Author of its indefectible life abiding in it
as His temple. Therefore the words, "He that heareth you heareth
Me." This could not be if the witness of the Apostles had been only
human. A Divine guidance was attached to the office they bore. They
were, therefore, also judges of right and wrong, and teachers by
Divine guidance of the truth. But the presence and guidance of the
Spirit of Truth is as fall at this day as when St. Irenaeus wrote.
As the Churches then were witnesses, judges, and teachers, so is
the Church at this hour a world-wide witness, an unerring judge and
teacher, divinely guided and guarded in the truth. It is therefore
not only a human and historical, but a Divine witness, This is the
chief Divine truth which the last three hundred years have
obscured. Modern Christianity believes in the one advent of the
Redeemer, but rejects the full and personal advent of the Holy
Ghost. And yet the same evidence proves both. The Christianity of

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reformers always returns to Judaism, because they reject the full,
or do not believe the personal, advent of the Holy Ghost. They deny
that there is an infallible teacher, among men; and therefore they
return to the types and shadows of the Law before the Incarnation,
when the Head was not yet incarnate. and the Body of Christ did not
as yet exist.

But perhaps some one will say, "I admit your description of
the Church as it is now and as it was in the days of St. Irenaeus;
but the eighteen hundred years of which you have said nothing were
ages of declension, disorder, superstition, demoralization." I will
answer by a question: was not this foretold? Was not the Church to
be a field of wheat and tares growing together till the harvest at
the end of the world? There were Cathari of old, and Puritans
since, impatient at the patience of God in bearing with the
perversities and corruptions of the human intellect and will. The
Church, like its Head in heaven, is both human and divine. "He was
crucified in weakness," but no power of man could wound His divine
nature. So with the Church, which is His Body. Its human element
may corrupt and die; its divine life, sanctity, authority, and
structure cannot die; nor can the errors of human intellect fasten
upon its faith, nor the immoralities of the human will fasten upon
its sanctity. Its organization of Head and Body is of divine
creation, divinely guarded by the Holy Ghost, who quickens it by
His indwelling, and guides it by His light. It is in itself
incorrupt and incorruptible in the midst of corruption, as the
light of heaven falls upon all the decay and corruption in the
world, unsullied and unalterably pure. We are never concerned to
deny or to cloak the sins of Christians or of Catholics. They may
destroy themselves, but they cannot infect the Church from which
they fall. The fall of Lucifer left no stain behind him.

When men accuse the Church of corruption, they reveal the fact
that to them the Church is a human institution, of voluntary
aggregation or of legislative enactment. They reveal the fact that
to them the Church is not an object of Divine faith, as the Real
Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. They do not perceive or
will not believe that the articles of the Baptismal Creed are
objects of faith, divinely revealed or divinely created. "I believe
in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of
Saints, the forgiveness of sins," are all objects of faith in a
Divine order. They are present in human history, but the human
element which envelops them has no power to infect or to fasten
upon them. Until this is perceived there can be no true or full
belief in the advent and office of the Holy Ghost, or in the nature
and sacramental action of the Church. It is the visible means and
pledge of light and of sanctification to all who do not bar their
intellect and their will against its inward and spiritual grace.
The Church is not on probation. It is the instrument of probation
to the world. As the light of the world, it is changeless as the
firmament. As the source of sanctification, it is inexhaustible as
the River of Life. The human and external history of men calling
themselves Christian and Catholic has been at times as degrading
and abominable as any adversary is pleased to say. But the sanctity
of the Church is no more affected by human sins than was Baptism by
the hypocrisy of Simon Magus. The Divine foundation, and office,
and mission of the Church is a part of Christianity. They who deny

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it deny an article of faith; they who believe it imperfectly are
the followers of a fragmentary Christianity of modern date. Who can
be a disciple of Jesus Christ who does not believe the words? "On
this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it;" "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you;"
(St. John, xx. 21.) "I dispose to you, as My Father hath disposed
to Me, a kingdom." (St. Luke, xxii. 29.) "All power in heaven and
earth is given unto Me. Go, therefore, and teach all nations;" (St.
Matthew, xxii. 29.) "He that heareth you heareth Me;" (St. Luke, x.
10.) "I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world;"
(St. Matthew, xxviii. 20.) "When the days of Pentecost were
accomplished they were all together in one place: and suddenly
there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming, and
there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were, of fire:" "And
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost;" (Acts, ii. 1-5.) "It
seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no other
burdens." (Acts, xv. 28.) But who denies that the Apostles claimed
a Divine mission? and who can deny that the Catholic and Roman
Church from St. Irenaeus to Leo XIII. has ever and openly claimed
the same, invoking in all its supreme acts as witness, teacher, and
legislator the presence, light, and guidance of the Holy Ghost? As
the preservation of all created things is by the same creative
power produced in perpetual and universal action, so the
indefectibility of the Church and of the faith is by the perpetuity
of the presence and office of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.
Therefore, St. Augustine calls the day of Pentecost, Natalis
Spirtus Sancti.

It is more than time that I should make an end; and to do so
it will be well to sum up the heads of our argument. The Vatican
Council declares that the world-wide Church is the irrefragable
witness of its own legation or mission to mankind.

In proof of this I have affirmed:

1. That the imperishable existence of Christianity, and the
vast and undeniable revolution that it has wrought in men and in
nations, in the moral elevation of manhood and of womanhood, and in
the domestic, social and political life of the Christian world,
cannot be accounted for by any natural causes, or by any forces
that are, as philosophers say, intra possibilitatem naturae, within
the limits of what is possible to man.

2. That this world-wide and permanent elevation of the
Christian world, in comparison with both the old world and the
modern world outside of Christianity, demands a cause higher than
the possibility of nature.

3. That the Church has always claimed a Divine origin and a
Divine office and authority in virtue of a perpetual Divine
assistance. To this even the Christian world, in all its fragments
external to the Catholic unity, bears witness. It is turned to our
reproach. They rebuke us for holding the teaching of the Church to
be infallible. We take the rebuke as a testimony of our changeless
faith. It is not enough for men to say that they refuse to believe
this account of the visible and palpable fact of the imperishable
Christianity of the Catholic and Roman Church. They must find a

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more reasonable, credible, and adequate account for it. This no man
has yet done. The denials are many and the solutions are many; but
they do not agree together. Their multiplicity is proof of their
human origin. The claim of the Catholic Church to a Divine
authority and to a Divine assistance is one and the same in every
age, and is identical in every place. Error is not the principle of
unity, nor truth of variations.

The Church has guarded the doctrine of the Apostles, by Divine
assistance, with unerring fidelity. The articles of the faith are
to-day the same in number as in the beginning. The explicit
definition of their implicit meaning has expanded from age to age,
as the ever changing denials and perversions of the world have
demanded new definitions of the ancient truth. The world is against
all dogma, because it is impatient of definiteness and certainty in
faith. It loves open questions and the liberty of error. The Church
is dogmatic for fear of error. Every truth defined adds to its
treasure. It narrows the field of error and enlarges the
inheritance of truth. The world and the Church are ever moving in
opposite directions. As the world becomes more vague and uncertain,
the Church becomes more definite. It moves against wind and tide,
against the stress and storm of the world. There was never a more
luminous evidence of this supernatural fact than in the Vatican
Council. For eight months all that the world could say and do, like
the four winds of heaven, was directed upon it. Governments,
statesmen, diplomatists, philosophers, intriguers, mockers, and
traitors did their utmost and their worst against it. They were in
dread lest the Church should declare that by Divine assistance its
Head in faith and morals cannot err; for if this be true, man did
not found it, man cannot reform it, man cannot teach it to
interpret its history or its acts. It knows its own history, and is
the supreme witness of its own legation.

I am well aware that I have been writing truisms, and
repeating trite and trivial arguments. They are trite because the
feet of the faithful for nearly nineteen hundred years have worn
them in their daily life; they are trivial because they point to
the one path in which the wayfarer, though a fool, shall not err.

Card. Archbishop of Westminster.

****     ****

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The Bank of Wisdom Inc. is a collection of the most thoughtful,
scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of
suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the
Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and
religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to
the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so
that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

Bank of Wisdom
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Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

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