No, for St. Paul says : "It is impossible to please God without faith." (Heb. xi, 6.) To be saved, we must do the will of God : "Not every one that saith to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt, vii, 21.) The will of God the Father is that men hear and believe his Son, Jesus Christ : "This is my well-beloved Son. Him you shall hear." Now, Jesus Christ said to his apostles and their lawful successors : "He that heareth you heareth me, and he that despiseth you despiseth me, and he that despiseth me,despiseth him that sent me," the heavenly Father. Now, Protestants despise God the Father, because they do not listen to his Son speaking to them through Peter and the apostles, in their lawful successors. Turning, as they do, their back upon them most contemptuously, they follow their own will in all religious matters. Assuredly no Protestant would engage and pay a servant who would tell him, "I will serve you according to my will, not according to yours." How, then, could God the Father admit one into his kingdom who has always refused to do his will, who, instead of learning the will of God, the full doctrine of Christ, through the Catholic Church, was himself his own teacher, his own lawgiver, his own judge, in religious matters? Every one who is not a Catholic
should remember that there never was a time, from the beginning of the world, when God left men free to fashion their own religion, to invent their own creed and their own form of worship. Christ never designed that the sacred truths of his religion should be submitted to the people by the apostles and their successors for discussion, for criticism, and for private interpretation, with liberty to alter and amend, or reject them, as ignorance, prejudice, or caprice might dictate. He never submitted his doctrines to the opinions or criticisms of the Scribes, Pharisees, or Sadducees of Jerusalem, or the learned Pagan philosophers, he never sanctioned what is termed, in modern times, "freedom of conscience" and "private interpretation" on the contrary, from the beginning of the world, God established on earth a visible teaching authority, to which it was the bounden duty of every man to submit, if he would be saved. If one, then, who is not a Catholic, seriously considers the question, "Is it God that speaks through the Catholic Church?" he fulfils a most sacred duty, and acts according to reason. Far from offending God, he honors him by using his reason to distinguish the voice of God from that of man the supreme, divine authority from mere human authority. But as soon as he is convinced that the authority of the Church is from God, he is bound to believe most firmly all that he is told on this authority. Common-sense tells him that, when he hears God speak, he hears nothing but truth ; no matter whether or not he understands it, he is obliged to say, Amen, it is so. "Without such faith" says St. Paul, "it is impossible to please God." Take the case of one who is not a Catholic, but who has studied all the doctrines of the Church. He makes up his mind that all that the Church teaches is reasonable and consistent with holy Scripture, and so he believes, and becomes a Catholic. Is his faith divine ? Does he become a Catholic in the right way ? No; his faith is based, as yet, on individual reason alone. There is another. He considers the antiquity of the Roman Catholic Church, her unity in faith, the purity and holiness of her doctrine ; her establishment by poor fishermen all over the world, in spite of all kinds of opposition ; her invariable duration from the time of the apostles, the miracles which are wrought in her ; the holiness of all those who live according to her laws, the deep science of her doctors, the almost infinite number of her martyrs, the peace of mind and happiness of soul experienced by those who have entered her bosom; the fact that all Protestants admit that a faithful Catholic will be saved in his religion, the frightful punishment inflicted by God upon all the persecutors of the Catholic Church ; the melancholy death of the authors of heresies; the constant fulfilment of the words of our Lord, that his Church would always be persecuted. He seriously considers all this; he is enlightened by God's grace to see that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church of Jesus Christ; he is convinced that her authority is from God, and that to hear and obey her authority is to hear and obey God himself: and so he accepts and believes all that she teaches, because it comes to him on the authority of God, and therefore must be true ; not because he himself sees how or why it is true. This is true divine faith this is the right way to become a Catholic. Such faith is absolutely necessary. It is necessary by necessity of precept. Our blessed Lord says : "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be condemned." This pre- cept is affirmative; in as far as it obliges us to believe all that God has revealed ; it is negative, in as far as it for bids us to hold any opinions contrary to the revealed truth. Such faith is necessary by necessity of medium, for, "without faith, it is impossible to please God," (Heb. xi,
6.) "If you believe not, you shall die in your sins." (John v, 38 ; viii, 27.)
Must, then, all who wish to be saved die united to the Catholic Church ?
Yes ; for out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation :
1. because she alone teaches the true faith ;
2. because in her alone are found the means of grace and salvation.
Our divine Saviour says : "No one can come to the Father except through me." If we then wish to enter heaven, we must be united to Christ, to his body, which is the Church, as St. Paul says. We must then be united to his Church. Therefore out of that Church there is no salvation. Again, Jesus Christ says : "Whoever will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a great sinner." Therefore, out of the Church there is no salvation. Holy Scripture says ( Acts ii, 47) : "The Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved." Therefore the apostles believed, and the holy Scriptures teach, that there is no salvation out of the Church. Hence the Fathers of the Church never hesitated to pronounce all those forever lost who die out of the Roman Catholic Church : "He who has not the Church for his mother," says St. Cyprian, "cannot have God for his Father" and with him the Fathers in general say that," as all who were not in the ark of Noe perished in the waters of the Deluge, so shall all perish who are out of the true Church." St. Augustine and the other bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, A. D. 412, say : "Whosoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall, for the very reason that he is separated from the union of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Therefore, says St. Augustine, "a Christian ought to fear nothing so much as to be separated from the body of Christ (the Church). For, if he be separated from the body of Christ, he is not a member of Christ, if not a member of Christ, he is not quickened by his Spirit." (Tract, xxvii, in Joan., n. 6, col. 1992, torn, iii.) "ln our times," says Pius IX, "many of the enemies of the Catholic faith direct their efforts toward placing every monstrous opinion on the same level with the doctrine of Christ, or confounding it therewith ; and so they try more and more to propagate that impious system of the indifference of religions. But quite of late, we shudder to say it, certain men have not hesitated to slander us by saying that we share in their folly, favor that most wicked system, and think so benevolently of every class of mankind as to suppose that not only the sons of the Church, but that the rest also, however alienated from Catholic unity they may remain, are alike in the way of salvation, and may arrive at everlasting life. We are at a loss, from horror, to find words to express our detestation of this new and atrocious injustice that is done us. We love, indeed, all mankind with the inmost affection of our hearts, yet not otherwise than in the love of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which had perished, who died for all, who wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth ; who, therefore, sent his disciples into the whole world to preach the Gospel to every creature, proclaiming that those who should believe and be baptized should be saved, but that those who should not believe should be condemned. Let those, therefore, who wish to be saved, come to the pillar and the ground of faith, which is the Church, let them come to the true Church of Christ, which, in her bishops and in the Roman Pontiff, the chief head of all, has the succession of apostolical authority which has never been interrupted, which has never counted anything of greater importance than to preach, and by all means to keep and defend the doctrine proclaimed by the apostles at Christ's command. This apostolical authority of the Church has, from the apostles time, ever increased in the midst of
difficulties of every kind ; it has become illustrious through out the whole world, by the splendor of miracles and by the blood of martyrs ; it has been exalted by the virtues of confessors and virgins, it has been strengthened by the most wise testimonies and writings of the Fathers, it has flourished, and does flourish, in all the regions of the earth, and shines refulgent in the perfect unity of faith, of sacraments, and of holy discipline. We who, though unworthy, hold this supreme See of the Apostle Peter, wherein Christ has laid the foundation of the same Church of his, shall never at any time abstain from any cares or labors that, by the grace of Christ himself, we may bring those who are ignorant, and who are going astray, to this only road of truth and salvation. But let all those who oppose themselves, remember that heaven and earth shall indeed pass away, but that nothing can ever pass away of the words of Christ, nor change be made in the doctrine which the Catholic Church has received from Christ, to be kept, defended, and preached. (Allocution to the Cardinals, held on the 17th Dec., 1847.)
To be continued . . . . . . .