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and eventually was allowed by the Pope, who at first was violently enraged at a measure which thwarted his pre-determined plan.
His Holiness began to fear that the free spirit already shewn by some of the fathers would prove very detrimental to his interests. To counteract this evil required artful management and perpetual watchfulness. Under his directions, the council was divided into three congregations, one being assigned to each of the legates, at whose residence their meetings were held. The reasons alleged for this division were, the dispatch of business and the prevention of disorder; but the true motives, as avowed by Pallavicini, were these : first, that separation would facilitate government, according to the old maxim, - divide et impera ;” secondly, that cabals and intrigues would be checked ; thirdly, that the boldness of any independent prelate would only influence the congregation to which he was attached, and would not infect the whole council. * The same business was brought before each meeting, and a general congregation was afterwards convened, when the results of the discussions were embodied in a decree. Every evening the legates assembled by themselves, reported their observations on the opinions and behaviour of the prelates, and matured their plans and negotiations: thus they preserved the mastery. t.
The next session was appointed to be held on the 4th of February. The day was fast approaching, but nothing definitive was agreed upon, and the legates were at a loss how to act, in the absence of instructions from Rome. In this dilemma, Bertani, Bishop of Fano, remarked, that as the ancient councils had usually promulgated a creed, it appeared highly proper that the same should be done again; he therefore proposed that the Nicene creed should be recited in the forthcoming decree, as the received faith of the church. In vain was it objected that it would be very ridiculous to hold a session for the purpose of repeating a creed 1200 years old, and which was universally believed; that it would be of no service against the Lutherans, who received it as well as themselves; and that the heretics would take occasion to say,
* Pallav. I. vi. c. 8. s. 5.
† Vargas, p. 52.
and with good reason, that if that creed contained the faith of the church, they ought not to be compelled to believe anything else. The legates were so pleased with the expedient that they procured its adoption. Nevertheless, many of the fathers could not help expressing their discontent, and were heard complaining to one another as they left the assembly, that the negotiations of twenty years had ended in coming together to repeat the belief.
The third session was celebrated on the appointed day. The following decree was passed :
6 In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
“The sacred, holy, æcumenical, and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, under the presidency of the three before-mentioned legates of the apostolic see ;-considering the importance of the subjects to be discussed, and especially of those which are included in these two articles, the extirpation of heresies and the reformation of manners, for which causes chiefly the council has been assembled ;-moreover, acknowledging with the apostle, that its wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the spirits of wickedness in high places,' doth in the first place, after the example of the same apostle, exhort all persons to be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power, in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith they may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one, and the helmet of salvation, with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.'* Therefore, that this its pious care may, both in its commencement and its progress, enjoy the favour of God, it hath appointed and decreed, that before all things confession of faith be made; following in this the examples of the fathers, who were accustomed, in their sacred councils, at the very beginning of their proceedings, to hold up this shield against all heresies; by which means alone they have not unfrequently drawn infidels to the faith,confuted heretics, and confirmed believers. Where fore, the council hath thought proper to recite, in that form of words which is read in all churches, the confession of faith adopted by the holy Roman church, which contains the first
in one God, thevail. It is as follogainst which
principles in which all who profess the faith of Christ necessarily agree, and is the firm and only foundation, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. It is as follows :
“ I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,* Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages.t God of God; Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And the third day he
*“Let him, who by the divine bounty believes these truths, constantly beseech and implore God ...... that, admitted one day into the eternal tabernacles, he may be worthy to see how great is the fecundity of the Father, who, contemplating and understanding himself, begot the Son like and equal to himself; how a love of charity in both, entirely the same and equal, which is the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, connects the begetting and the begotten by an eternal and indissoluble bond ; and that thus the essence of the Trinity is one, and the distinction of the three persons perfect.” Catechism of the Council of Trent, translated by the Rev. J. Donovan, p. 20.
† “ Amongst the different comparisons employed to elucidate the mode and manner of this eternal generation, that which is borrowed from thought seems to come nearest to its illustration ; and hence St. John calls the Son, the Word ;' for as the mind, in some sort looking into and understanding itself, forms an image of itself, which theologians express by the term word ;' so God, as far, however, as we may compare human things to divine, understanding himself, begets the Eternal Word.” Ibid. p. 35.
I“ As soon as the soul of Christ was united to his body, the divinity became united to both; and thus at the same time his body was formed and animated, and the divinity united to body and soul. Hence, at the same instant, he was perfect God and perfect man, and the most Holy Virgin, having at the same moment conceived God and man, is truly and properly called Mother of God and man.” “As the rays of the sun penetrate, without breaking, or injuring in the least, the substance of glass ; after a like, but more incomprehensible manner, did Jesus Christ come forth from his mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity, which, immaculate and perpetual, forms the just theme of our eulogy.” Ibid. p. 39, 42.
ş“ When, therefore, we say that Jesus died, we mean that his soul was disunited from his body; not that his divinity was so separated. On the contrary, we firmly believe and profess, that when his soul was dissociated from his body, his divinity continued always united both to his body in the
rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and he is to come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who, together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified; who spoke by the prophets : and one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins, and I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."*
As the object of this work is to furnish a correct view of the peculiar tenets of the church of Rome, it is not necessary to offer any observations on those doctrines which she holds in common with other professing Christian communities, such as, the Trinity, the Deity, incarnation, and atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Deity of the Holy Spirit, &c. How far these truths are held in righteousness, and whether their glory is not obscured, and their influence thwarted, by the errors and corruptions which are included in the system, are inquiries which will occur in the sequel.
It is somewhat surprising that the decrees of the Council of Trent contain no definition or description of the true church. This deficiency must be supplied.
The church, according to Roman-catholic writers, “consists principally of two parts, the one called the church triumphant, the other, the church militant:" in the former are comprised the blessed spirits in heaven, in the latter, all the faithful still dwelling on earth.† The church militant is further described as “a body of men united in the profession of the same Christian faith, and communion of the same sacraments, under the government of lawful pastors, and particularly of the Roman Pontiff, Christ's only vicar on earth.”! It is " composed of two classes of persons, the good and the bad, both professing the same faith, and partaking of the same sacraments, yet differing in their manner of life and morality ;” but “ the condition of both is very different: the wicked are contained in the church as the chaff is mingled with the grain in the threshing-floor, or as dead members, sometimes, remain attached to a living body.”*
sepulchre, and to his soul in limbo.” “ It is not, however, our belief, that the body of Christ was alone interred: these words propose, as the principal object of our belief, that God was buried, as, according to the rule of Catholic faith, we also say with the strictest truth, that God was born of a virgin, that God died; for as the divinity was never separated from his body which was laid in the sepulchre, we truly confess that God was buried.”—Ibid. p.49–51.
* Sarpi, 1. ii. s. 39, 40. Pallav. I. vi. c. 8, 9. + Catechism, p. 94. | Bellarmine, de Eccles, militante, c. 2. “Q. What is the Church ? A.
Four marks of the true church are generally mentioned by the same writers. 1. Unity, in faith and worship, under “one ruler and governor—the invisible one, Christ, whom the Eternal Father hath made head over all things for the church, which is his body;' the visible one, him who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, fills the apostolic chair.”+ 2. Holiness ; " because she is consecrated and dedicated to God, as other things, such as vessels, vestments, altars, when appropriated and dedicated to the worship of God, although material, are called holy;" because, 6 as the body, she is united to her head, Christ Jesus, the fountain of all holiness,” (notwithstanding that this same body is said to “ consist of two classes, the good and the bad !") and because she “ alone has the legitimate worship of sacrifice, and the salutary use of the sacraments, by which, as the efficacious instruments of divine grace, God establishes us in true holiness ; so that, to possess true holiness, we must belong to this church !!! These assertions are usually attempted to be proved by reference to the holy men who are said to have lived in the Romish communion, and to the supposed constant succession of miracles, the divine attestations of holiness. 3. Catholicity. “ Unlike republics of human institution, or the conventicles of heretics, she is not circumscribed within the limits of any one kingdom, nor confined to the members of
It is the congregation of all the faithful under Christ Jesus, their invisible head, and his vicar on earth, the Pope.”—Abstract of the Douay Catechism, p. 22.
* Catechism, p. 95, 96. “The unbaptized, heretics and apostates, the excommunicate and schismatics, do not belong to the church. But the nonpredestinate, the imperfect, and even open sinners and concealed infidels, do belong to the church, if they hold the sacraments and the profession of faith, and are subject to the Roman Pontiff,” Bellarmine, ut supra.
† Catechism, p. 97.