"In Christian doctrine there is this most remarkable and probably wholly unparalleled phenomenon. The writers of the eighteenth century hold everything positive which was held by the writers of the sixteenth, and these again all that was held by those before them, and so on as far as any documents will carry us. One century after another deduced its own conclusions from premises unwittingly supplied by its predecessor. Now, supposing the Church to have the whole sum of doctrine before her at the first, this is intelligible: supposing her not to have had it (as Protestants assert), then it does not appear that this coherence or consistency of doctrine could be brought about by anything but design; such design cannot be denied without denying in principle final causes altogether. Either Almighty God, who knew, in the fifth century, what would be wanted in subsequent ones, so taught His Church the Incarnation as to pave the way to the recognition of Mary's privileges, or the Church did it by chance. Either God is a liar, when He promises to be with His Church to the end of days; or, let God be true, and men are liars when they deny this evidence of a wise designer. When the Church, in making statements about the Trinity, paved the way to her subsequent teaching about the Incarnation or Double Procession, and laid down principles admirably suited to the proof of these, she acted, we say, by a Divine instinct. But when, with the same appearance of foresight, in discussing the Incarnation, Predestination, or Grace, she laid down principles admirably suited to prove the Immaculate Conception and dignity of Mary, she acted, you [Protestants] ought to say, by a diabolical delusion. An unprejudiced philosopher would regard the one as much as the other as an instance either of organic growth of doctrine, or gradual display of things secretly known. 'The faith,' says Leo, 'which is but one, cannot be in anything unlike itself.'*

"Neither is this altogether a novel view of things, as will appear from the following passage from one of Pope Gelasius's Letters, written in the fift century: 'Whatever our Catholic ancestors and learned bishops, in the case of every heresy that came up on each occasion, once sanctioned in a Council in defence of the Catholic and Apostolic truth and communion, following the track of Scripture and the preaching of their ancestors, that they would have ever after to continue unshaken and settled; nor did they, upon one and the same subject, allow that points, before fixed, should, on the score of any novel presumption, be handled over again; most wisely foreseeing, that, if anybody and everybody had leave to retrace things once soberly decreed, the Church would have no fixed constitution against any single error whatever, and every sound definition would be perpetually liable to disturbance from the recurrence of the same phrensies. For, however clear the truth might be made, there is never wanting a something for mischievous falsehood to bring forward, deficient though it may be in reasons or authorities, yet through mere contentiousness, refusing to give in. And this our ancestors, by Divine inspiration beholding, necessarily took precaution that what the synod, collected against each heresy, had promulgated in behalf of the faith, that they would not allow to be mutilated afterwards by being handled over again.'+ And what is here said of Councils, extends to particular Fathers. If Basil or Athanasius seem in places, when treating of the Consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, to gainsay subsequent teaching about the wisdom of Christ's soul, still the positions they established about the Consubstantiality remain fixed for ever after. Cyril, Augustine, Leo, or Maximus take them for granted, and reason from them when discussing the Incarnation. In the same way, later writers take the principles of these last for granted, when they reason about the Blessed Virgin. Heretical doctrines, on the contrary, stultify the principles of preceding ages. Thus the doctrine of the single Procession renders the formulas elicited in controversy for expressing the doctrine of the Trinity null and void.

* Epist. 29, 1.

+ Harduin, ii. p. 906. A passage to the same purpose may be added here from Montagne, alias Tournely, De Gratia, p. 149, ed. Migne: "It is quite possible that matters which were not before proposed to be believed explicitly, should afterwards be so proposed: but the Church's firmness and immobility in her decrees does not permit that she should at one time have required faith of some mystery, and expelled from her bosom those who hold otherwise, and then afterwards allow the same faith to be wiped out."



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