“I am now concerned to show how your ministers have degraded the holiness and majesty of the spouse of Jesus Christ. They cry out loud and clear that she has remained eight hundred years adulterous and antichristians, from S. Gregory to Wycliffe – whom Beza considers the first restorer of Christianity. Calvin indeed would shield himself under a distinction, saying that the Church can err in things unnecessary for salvation, not in others. But Beza openly confesses that she has so far erred that she is no longer the Church. And is this not to err in things necessary for salvation, although he avows that outside the Church there is no salvation? It follows then from what he says – let him turn and turn about as he likes – that the Church has erred in things necessary for salvation. For if outside the Church there is no salvation, and the Church has so gravely erred that she is no more the Church, certainly in her there is no salvation. Now she can only lose salvation by giving up the things necessary for salvation; she has therefore erred in things necessary for salvation; otherwise, having what is necessary for salvation, she would be the true Church, or else men can be saved outside the true Church, which is impossible. And Beza says that he learnt this way of speaking from those who instructed him in his pretended religion, that is, from Calvin. Indeed if Calvin thought that the Church of Rome had not erred in things necessary for salvation he would have done wrong to separate himself from it, for being able to secure his salvation in it, and true Christianity residing in it, he would have been obliged to stay therein for his salvation, which could not be in two different places.
Perhaps I may be told that Beza says indeed that the Roman Church, as it is now, errs in things necessary for salvation, and that therefore he left it but that he does not say the true Church has ever erred. He cannot, however, escape in that direction, for what Church was there in the world two, three, four, five hundred years ago, save the Church Catholic and Roman, just exactly as it is at present? There was certainly no other, therefore it was the true Church – and yet it erred; or there was no Church in the world – and in that case again he is constrained to confess that this disappearance of the Church arose from intolerable error, and error in things necessary for salvation. For as to that dispersion of the faithful, and that secret Church that he fancies he can bring forward, I have already sufficiently exposed the vainness of it. Besides the fact that when they confess the visible Church can err, they dishonor the Church to which Our Lord directs us in our difficulties, and which S. Paul calls the pillar and ground of truth. For it is only of the visible Church that these testimonies are understood, unless we would say that Our Lord had sent us to speak to an invisible and unperceivable thing, a thing utterly unknown, or that S. Paul instructed his Timothy to converse in a society of which he had no knowledge.
But is it not to violate all the respect and reverence due to this Queen, this spouse of the heavenly King, to have brought back into the realm almost all the rout which with such cost of blood, of sweat and travails, she had by solemn penal sentence banished and driven from these her confines, as rebels and sworn enemies of her crown? I mean this setting up so many heresies and false opinions which the Church had condemned, infringing thereby the sovereignty of the Church, absolving those she had condemned, condemning those whom she has absolved. Examples follow.
Simon Magus said that God was the cause of sin, says Vincent of Lerins…But Calvin and Beza say no less; the former in the treatise on eternal predestination, the latter in his answer to Sebastian Castalio; though they deny the word, they follow the things and substance of this heresy, if heresy it is to be called, and not atheism. But of this so many learned men convict them by their own words that I will not stay upon it.
Judas, says S. Jerome…thought that the miracles he saw worked by the hand of Our Lord were diabolical operations and illusions. I know not whether your ministers think of what they are saying, but when we bring forward miracles, what do they say but that they are sorceries? The glorious miracles which Our Lord does, O men of this world, instead of opening your eyes, how do you speak of them?
The Pepusians, says S. Augustine…admitted women to the dignity of the priesthood. Who is ignorant that the English brethren hold their Queen Elizabeth to be head of their Church?
The Manicheans, says S. Jerome, denied free will: Luther has composed a book against free will…for Calvin I appeal to yourselves.
The Donatists believed that the Church was destroyed throughout the world and remained only with them: your ministers say the same. Again, they believe that a bad man cannot baptize; Wycliffe said just as much, whom I bring forward in mockery, because Beza holds him for a glorious reformer. As to their lives, their virtues were such as these: they gave the most precious Sacrament to the dogs, they cast the holy Chrism upon the ground, they overthrew the altars, they broke the chalices and sold them, they shaved the heads of the priests to take the sacred unction from them, and they took and tore away the veil from nuns to reform them.
Jovinian, as S. Augustine testifies, would have any kind of meat eaten at any time and against every prohibition; he said that fasting was not meritorious before God, that the saved were equal in glory, that virginity was no better than marriage and that all sins were equal. Your masters teach the same.
Vigilantius, as S. Jerome says, denied that the relics of the Saints are to be honored, that the prayers of the Saints are profitable, that priests should live in celibacy; [he rejected] voluntary poverty. And what of all those things do you not deny?
About the year 324, Eustathius despised the ordinary fasts of the Church, ecclesiastical traditions, the shrines of the holy Martyrs and places dedicated to their honor. The account is given by the Council of Gangra in which for these reasons he was anathematized and condemned. See how long your reformers have been condemned.”
– Saint Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy –
– Lucas G. Westman