A DOCTRINAL CATECHISM; WHEREIN DIVERS POINTS OF CATHOLIC FAITH
AND PRACTICE ASSAILED BY MODERN HERETICS ARE SUSTAINED BY AN APPEAL TO THE
HOLY SCRIPTURES, THE TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENT
FATHERS, AND THE DICTATES OF REASON, by R E V. S T E P H E N K E E N A N.
CHAPTER I. – HOW is the SINNER JUSTIFIED
Q. What is justification?
A. It is a grace which makes us friends of God.
Q. Can a sinner merit this justifying grace?
A. No, he cannot; because all the good works which the sinner performs whilst he is in a state of mortal sin, are dead works, which have no merit sufficient to justify.
Q. Is it an article of the Catholic faith, that the sinner, in mortal sin, cannot merit the grace of justification?
A. Yes; it is decreed in the seventh chap of the sixth sess. of the Council of Trent, that neither faith, nor good works, preceding justification, can merit the grace of justification.
Q. How then is the sinner justified?
A. He is justified gratuitously by the pure mercy of God, not on account of his own or any human merit, but purely through the merits of Jesus Christ; for Jesus Christ is our only mediator of redemption, who alone, by his passion and death, has reconciled us to his Father.
Q. Why then do Protestants charge us with believing, that the sinner can merit the remission of his sins?
A. Their ignorance of the Catholic doctrine as the cause of this, as well as many other false charges.
Q. Must we then conclude, that the sinner cannot, by good works, obtain the grace of justification?
A. The sinner may obtain the grace of justification by good works proceeding from a broken and penitent heart, because these are necessary predispositions and conditions, but no works of his own can ever MERIT the grace of justification.
CHAPTER II. – FAITH IN JUSTIFICATION?
Q. What part has faith in the justification of the sinner?
A. It is its root or foundation, the first step to its attainment, an all-necessary condition, without which no man can ever be justified; because the Apostle says: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
Q. But is faith alone sufficient to justify the sinner?
A. No; God requires other dispositions in order to the reception of justifying grace. He requires the sinner to fear God, to love God, to hope in God, to be sorry for past sin, and to have a well-grounded purpose not to sin again.
Q. Does God require these as necessary conditions, or as meritorious works?
A. As necessary conditions, without which he will not receive the sinner in grace.
Q. What do the Scriptures say on the subject?
A. “And when thou shalt seek there the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him; yet so, if thou seek him with all thy heart and all the affliction of thy soul.“—Deut. chap. iv, 29. “But if the wicked man do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments and do judgment and justice, living, he shall live, and shall not die.”—Ezek. chap, xviii, 21. “If you keep my commandment, you shall abide in my love;….you are my friends, if you do the things that I command you.”—John, chap. xv, 10, 14.
Q. What do you conclude from these passages?
A. In the first place, that the sinner can never he justified, unless he comply with these necessary conditions; and, secondly, that faith alone is not sufficient to justify him.
Q. Does not the Baptist say, John, chap, iii, 36: “He that believe in the Son hath life everlasting?” [pg. 141]
A. Yes; but St. John speaks here of efficacious faith, that is, he who believe in the Son, so as to believe all that he teaches and practices, all that he commands, shall have everlasting life.
Q. Does not St. Paul, Rom. chap. iii, 28, say: We account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law?”
A. True, but St. Paul is speaking here of the Jewish, not the Christian law; For St. Paul cannot contradict St. James. Now, St. James says, in words about which there can be no dispute, chap. ii, 22, 24: “See thou that faith did co-operate with his works, and by works, Faith was made perfect:….do you see, that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only;” and, ver. 26, he adds: “For even as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
Q. Does not St. Paul, Rom. chap. v, 1, say: “Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?”
A. Yes; but the same St. Paul, 1 Corinth. chap. xiii, 1, 2, says: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity. I am become as a sounding brass;….and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” So that it is quite clear the Apostle speaks, in the passage quoted, of that lively faith, animated by charity, which is ever producing good works.
Q. Protestants suppose, that good works are the necessary effect of faith, as heat is of fire or light of the sun: is this supposition correct?
A. No; for St. John, chap. xii, 42, says “Many of the chief men also BELIEVED in him; but because of the Pharisees, they did NOT CONFESS him;….for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.”
CHAPTER III. – MORTAL SIN NOT IN HEAVEN
Q. Can any one, who is in a state of mortal sin, merit heaven by any good work or works?
A. No; he can neither merit justification, nor heaven; because, all the works he performs while in a state of mortal sin are dead works, and of course have no merit.
Q. Can one who is in a state of grace merit heaven?
A. The just, who are in a state of grace, may, by good works, merit an increase of glory, but even they can never, by any or every good work, merit the first degree of glory that is, a right to heaven.
Q. To whom do we owe our permission to enter heaven?
A. Solely to the mercy of God and the merits of Jesus Christ: for it is by the sufferings and death of Jesus that we acquired heaven as our inheritance; and it is God’s mercy alone, which gave us such a Mediator and Redeemer.
Q. Why have you said that the just may, by good works, merit an increase of glory in heaven?
A. Because, in Scripture, heaven is proposed to us as a recompense, and a recompense or reward is due only to merit.
Q. What does St. Matthew say on this matter? (Chap. v, 12.)
A. “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” In Prov. chap. xi, 18—”But to him that sow in justice, there is a faithful reward.” St. James, chap. i, 12 “Blessed is the man that endure temptation, for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.” St. Paul, 2 Tim. chap. iv, 7, adds: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; as to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day.”
Q. What have Protestants to object against this Scriptural doctrine?
A. Nothing that is either rational or Scriptural; for the learned among themselves have taught the very same. The Apology for the Protestant Confession of Augsburg, p. 96, says: “We teach, that good works merit a temporal and spiritual reward in this world, as well as in the next.”
Q. What then have Protestants to say to Catholics on the subject of merit and good works?
A. All they have to say arises from their ignorance of the Catholic doctrine.
CHAPTER IV. – VALUE TO GOOD WORKS
Q. What is that which gives their value to good works?
A. Sanctifying grace, which is within us.
Q. Is this sanctifying grace our own, or is it from God?
A. It is the pure gift of God’s liberality to us.
Q. How does St. Paul express himself on this subject? (Rom., chap. v, 3.)
A. “The charity of God,” he says, “is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.”
Q. What are the effects of sanctifying grace? A. It makes us the friends and children of God
Q. To whom do we owe this inestimable grace?
A. To the merits of Jesus Christ, and to these alone.
Q. Have you any thing to remark on on the efficacy of the merits of Christ?
A. Yes; he was not satisfied with meriting heaven for us; he also, by his grace, put us in a condition to merit greater degrees of glory in heaven.
Q. Does not our Saviour say, Luke, chap. xvii, 10—”So you also, when you shall have done all those things that are commanded you say, we are unprofitable servants?”
A. This is quite in accordance with our doctrine; we are certainly unprofitable servants to God, whatever good we do; for nothing which we can do, either adds to, or takes from, his essential glory. We are not, however, unprofitable servants to ourselves, since these good works secure for us the rewards God has been pleased to promise.
Q. Could God order us to perform good works without promising us any recompense?
A. Certainly; because we are his creatures, and the grace which enables us is his. The Council of Trent, Sess. xvi, chap. 16, says “God’s goodness to man is so great, that he even desires his own gifts to be converted into our merit.”
Q. Have we reason to trust
much in our own works?
A. “God forbid,” says the same Council “‘that any Christian should glory, or confide in himself, and not in the Lord.”
Q. How is it, then, that Protestants reproach Catholics with placing too much confidence in their good works?
A. They reproach us, because they do not know us; and the only return we should make for their ill-treatment of us, is to pray, as Christ did for the ignorant Jews, who put him to death: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
CHAPTER V. – CAN MAN SATISFY FOR HIS OWN SIN
Q. Can a man satisfy for his own sins?
A. No; neither man nor angel, nor both men and angels, can ever satisfy for one mortal sin. Jesus Christ alone could and has satisfied for our sins.
Q. Can we apply to ourselves the satisfaction of Jesus?
A. We can, certainly, with the help of God’s grace.
Q. How is the satisfaction of Christ applied to us?
A. In two ways, either when we receive a full remission of temporal as well as eternal punishment, or when the eternal is remitted and some temporal punishment is reserved for us to endure.
Q. In what case are both the eternal and temporal punishment remitted by the application of the satisfaction of Christ to our souls?
A. In baptism, by which all sin, and all punishment due to sin, is remitted.
Q. When are the satisfactions of Jesus so applied to our souls, that, though the eternal punishment be remitted, we may have some temporal punishment to endure?
A. Commonly in the sacrament of penance.
Q. Are not the guilt and the punishment remitted together?
A. No; for it often happens that God, in forgiving the sinner, changes the eternal punishment which he has deserved by his sins, into a temporal or temporary punishment.
Q. Make this clear by an example from 2 Kings, xii chap.
A. David is guilty of murder, which deserves the eternal punishment of hell. Nathan warns him of his danger. David repents—”I have,” says he,”sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replies—”The Lord also hath taken away thy SIN; THOU SHALT NOT DIE.” Behold the eternal punishment taken away; but what is substituted in its place? Mark what follows, a temporal punishment is substituted in its place—”Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; for this thing, THE CHILD THAT IS BORN TO THEE SHALL SURELY DIE.” (Prot. Vers., 2 Sam. xii.)
Q. Give another Scriptural example that all doubt may be removed.
A. In the xxiv chap. of same Book, (Protest. Vers., 2 Sam. xxiv chap.,) David repents of his sinful pride in numbering the people: God forgives him, but on condition, that he should suffer, as a temporal punishment, either seven years of famine, or three months of flight before his enemies, or three days of pestilence; and, in addition, the prophet God orders him to erect an altar and offer sacrifice to the Lord.
Q. Can the penitent sinner pay, in any manner, the debt of TEMPORAL punishment is due to the justice of God?
A. Yes; as is quite evident from the above two passages. Indeed, the Scripture counsels it in express terms. Daniel, chap. iv, 24—”Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to thee; redeem thou thy sins with alms, and thy iniquities with works of mercy to the poor.” The same may be drawn from Protestant Vers., chap. iv, 27, though much corrupted to suit a Protestant purpose. Our Saviour himself, Luke, chap. xi, 4, says: “GIVE ALMS, and BEHOLD ALL THINGS ARE CLEAN UNTO YOU.”
REFUTING PROTESTANTISM WITH DOCTRINAL CATECHISM 1846 continues next with…INDULGENCES