FROM SCRIPTURE, FROM TRADITION,
AND FROM THE WRITINGS OF SOME OF THE MOST EMINENT
CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT AUTHORS WHO HAVE
TREATED ON THE SUBJECT;
IN SIXTEEN LETTERS,
WITH NOTES AND APPENDICES,
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER,
AND DEDICATED BY PERMISSION
TO HIS IMPERIAL AND ROYAL MAJESTY THE
EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA, KING OF HUNGARY,
BY M. D. TALBOT.
A long time ago the holy Fathers assured us, that the devil is the author of all heresies, and that separatists are the disciples of this bad master. The illustrious St. Augustine says: " Seeing that men had abandoned the temples which they had dedicated to him, and that they ran to the Mediator who truly delivers all those who place their confidence in his name, he raised up heretics who, under the name and appearance of Christians, combat the doctrine of Jesus Christ."— (St. August. Lib. 18, de Civ. Dei. c. 51.)
St. Cyprian had written the same before him; in speaking of the Novatian schismatics, he says: " The spirit of malice, seeing that the people in crowds embrace the religion of Jesus Christ, the idols and the temples which were before his dwellings were now abandoned, that he made use of a new stratagem to deceive, under the appearance of the name of Christians, those who were not sufficiently on their guard against his hypocritical machinations; he caused to rise up heresies and schisms to upset the faith, to corrupt the truth, and to destroy unity, and in this manner surprises and deceives, by the errors of new doctrines, those whom he cannot retain in the darkness of their former course."— (St. Cypr. Tract 3, de Sinip. prcelat.)
Even if the Fathers of the Church, the venerable witnesses of the faith, had not given us this information, the Gospel would have instructed us on this point, when it calls the devil the father of lies.—(St. John viii. 44.) It is easy therefore to conclude, that he is the father of all pernicious falsehoods, which corrupt the sacred doctrine of the Church, which extinguish the spirit of God (Thess. v. 19) in our souls, and destroy faith. But if common sense points out to Catholics the propriety of attributing all heretical doctrines to the devil, surely the same common sense ought to convince separatists of the mad folly of being guided by him. The design of heresy is to pass for the truth; the means which she takes to insure success are detestable, and equally as vile and infamous as her origin, springing as she does from the father of lies. Thus all separatists, far from declaring their opinions to proceed from the devil, endeavour by all means in their power to persuade the world that they were revealed by God; they wish it to be believed, that their doctrines proceed from the Holy Ghost, or that the Holy Spirit speaks through their mouths,—thus they consider it to be of vital importance to make God appear to be the author of the doctrine which they wish to have received. To accomplish their object, they therefore corrupt, with the most unblushing effrontery, the sacred Scriptures, and following as they do their own whims and fancies, they consequently never agree among themselves upon the meaning of the texts of holy Scripture; for on that passage alone, " This is my body," (St. Matthew xxvi. 26,) I remark no less than sixty different interpretations given to it. Martin Luther and his adherents expound these words, " This is my body," literally, and therefore believe the real presence of Christ's body in the sacrament; but being however resolved to incommode the Pope, as Luther says, (Epist. ad Calvin,) they add, that the substance of the bread and wine is likewise there; and to extricate themselves from a difficulty which attends the real presence, they affirm moreover, that the body of Christ is everywhere. And thus they have brought forth two new points of faith never before heard of, namely, consubstantiation and ubiquity; and this the writers of the Church of England call an absurd and monstrous doctrine. Zuinglius, in contradiction to Luther, asserts that these words must only be understood in reference to the simple figure of the body of Christ. Calvin endeavoured to reconcile these two interpretations, but I cannot discover what he really wishes to express when he says, " that the body of Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist, but only by faith." Zuinglius tells us, that he himself was the first that found out this exposition, by the help of a certain angel which appeared to him, but whether he was black or white, he says, he cannot tell; so that, for aught he knew, it may be the doctrine of the devil. I am sure Luther at least thought so, (See Epist. ad Calvin,) for he calls Calvin a devil, for offering to obtrude his doctrine upon the world, and for wresting the plain words of our Saviour to such a sense.