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Church, since the Incarnation, is nothing other than the Word Himself, in whom is all Truth. Thus, the verities which can be met with in all sects, for the last two thousand years, are radiations of the Word. There also, the Church is, where a living verity is found, and all those who with good faith follow the law which they have known or or have been able to know, are members of the body of Christ, or of His Church.
"At bottom, all the difference between Catholics and sectarians may be resumed in this :--the former profess the universal unity of all verities wherever dispersed, confessing the indivisibility of the Word and of the universal Church; the latter, on the contrary, shatter the unity of Christ, hy following their own peculiar interpretations."
From this it follows, as an inevitable corollary, that toleration is Catholic, that a man who professes himself a Christian and is intolerant of the beliefs and worships of others, is contradicting the essence of his religion, is violating his profession. “Pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis” is the moral law of Christianity in its all comprehension, and every member of the Church is bound in principle to say of himself, that he is
"intolerant to none,
Christianity is, in fact, the reintegration of all scattered religious convictions, and this accounts for the adoption by the Church of so many usages belonging primarily to paganism, and for the doctrines of the Creed resembling in so many
1 Gabriel : Le Christ et le Monde, Paris, 1863, p. 12-14, 24-26.
points the traditions of heathendom. In most religions we find many of the ingredients of Christianity displaced, confused and mutilated may be, but certainly present, as,the unity of God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, creation, the fall, the immortality of the soul, resurrection, the judgment, sacrifice, prayer, baptism and communion. “The use of the temple,” says M. Gilliot, “ of churches dedicated to saints, and adorned with branches of trees on certain occasions, incense, lamps, tapers, votive offerings made upon convalescence, holy water, asylum, festivals and ember seasons, calendars, processions, the benediction of land, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the marriage ring, turning to the East, devotion to images; even, may be, the strains of the Church, the Kyrie Eleison,-all these customs and many others are of oriental origin, sanctified by the adoption of the Catholic Church."! And Le Maistre says: "It may be demonstrated that all ancient traditions are true; and that all paganism is but a system of corrupted and displaced verities; and that all that is needed is to wash them, so to speak, and to put them in their proper places."?
It has been the fashion of Protestants to cast it in the teeth of the Roman Catholics that their ceremonies are distinctly traceable to heathenism, but these objectors are perhaps unaware that the articles of their belief are also to be deduced from Paganism, that the ancient Egyptian, Persian, and Indian faiths contain nearly all the articles of the Apostles' Creed. Worship is the exterual expression of belief; if it be justifiable to hold beliefs of heathenism, it is legitimate to use the same methods of giving those beliefs utterance. Catholicism therefore contains paganism entire, down to its most adulterated notions, polytheism and idolatry. It contains them, as truth contains error; that is to say by adopting all that is positive in them, and leaving out whatever is negative. Error, as I have already shewn, is negation, division introducing antagonism in the bosom of verity. What is Polytheism, but division introduced into the idea of God? That which is affirmative in it is the idea of God, and that Christianity embraces. It only rejects that which is, in itself, nothing, the negation which breaks up the unity of this indivisible verity.
1 Gilliot: L'Orient, l'Occident et le Nouveau-Monde. ? Soirées de S. Pétersbourg, xie, entretien.
What, again, is idolatry in all its forms, but division pluralizing unity, and transporting the idea of God and His worship from the infinite to the finite, and therefore a negation of the Absolute by the erection of a relative object into the Absolute, an opposition of the finite to the infinite ? That which is positive in idolatry, the idea of worship due to God, Catholicism has absorbed and assimilated, rejecting only the negation which cuts up the indivisible unity of this eternal verity. “Behold then !” exclaimed Bossuet, “Religion is always uniform, or rather, it is always the same from the beginning of the world.
“ What a consolation for the children of God! the Catholic Church unites within herself all the authority of past ages,
and all the ancient traditions of the human race from its origin.” 1
In like manner Catholicism contains all the positive ideas enunciated by the sects. If, from the standpoint of the Ideal, nothing exists, and nothing can exist, outside of Catholicism, if it is of the essence of Catholicism to be all that is and all that can be, that is to say, to comprehend in itself all that man can love, know and practise, Catholicism must contain everything that heretical and schismatical
Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle, ii. art. i. c. 31.
bodies believe and affirm. It will, however, affirm in totality what they affirm in part; it will believe all that they admit, but it will believe a great deal more besides.
This fundamental notion of the Ideal of Catholicism has been thus expressed by Le Maistre in his Letter to a Protestant Lady:'-“It is now,” he says, “ eighteen hundred and nine years that a Catholic Church has been in the world, and has always believed what it believes now. Your doctors will tell you a thousand times that we have innovated; but if we have innovated, it seems strange that it needs such long books to demonstrate it; whereas to prove that you have varied—and you are only of yesterday-no trouble is needed.
“But let us consider an epoch anterior to all the schisms that now divide the world. At the commencement of the tenth century, there was but one faith in Europe. Consider this faith as an assemblage of positive dogmas :- the Unity of God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence, &c.; and to simplify our idea, let us suppose the number of positive dogmas to amount to fifty. The Greek Church, having denied the procession of the Holy Ghost and the Supremacy of the Pope,1 has therefore only fortyeight points of belief; thus, you see, we believe all that she believes, although she denies two things that we hold. Your sixteenth century sects pushed matters much further and denied a host of other dogmas; but those which they retained are common to us. Finally, the Catholic religion includes all that the sects believe,—this is incontestable. “The sects, be they what they may, are not religions, they
I shall shew in another chapter that this is a mistake of Le Maistre, the dogma of the Supremacy of the Pope is a Negation, not a Positive assertion ; it is a negation of the equal authority of others.
are negations, that is to say, they are nothing in themselves, for directly they affirm anything they are Catholic.
" It follows as a consequence of the most perfect certainty, that the Catholic who passes into a sect, apostatizes veritably, for he changes his belief, by denying to-day what he believed yesterday: but the sectary who passes into the Church abdicates no dogma, he denies nothing that he believed; on the contrary, he begins to believe what previously he had denied.
“He that passes out of a Christian sect into the Mother Church is not required to renounce any dogma, but only to avow that beside the dogmas which he believed, and which we believe every whit as truly as he, there are other verities of which he was ignorant, but which nevertheless exist.”
Let us illustrate this truth in the same way that we illustrated it in reference to philosophy.
Catholicism proclaims the union of the divine and human natures in Christ. Arianism appeared, and, abandoning more or less completely the first of these two terms, it reproduced the second alone. What did Arianism affirm ? The humanity of Christ. Catholicism equally affirms this, it believes all that Arianism believed. What did Arianism add to that article of faith? A negation of the first term, i.e.-Nothing
Catholicism proclaims the co-existence of grace and freewill, that is to say of divine and human action, the first the initiative of the second, as the Increate is necessarily the origin of the create. Pelagianism started up and left on one side, more or less formally, the first of these two terms, and reproduced the second alone. What did it affirm? The existence of human liberty. Catholicism had affirmed it long before and believed in all that Pelagianism held.