No Salvation Outside of the Catholic Church


by Bishop George Hay of Scotland [1729-1811],

An Inquiry, Whether Salvation Can Be Had Without True Faith,
and out of the Communion of the Church of Christ


Q. 40. What are the dispositions and behavior which this inestimable goodness of God requires in the members of His Church towards one another?

   A. St. Paul describes them to us in a very strong light, as follows: "I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation in which ye are called with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity; careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. One body, one spirit, as ye are called in one hope of our calling; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all." [Eph. 4: 1] See here in what strong colors he shows that humility, meekness, and brotherly love, are virtues essential to our vocation, and that everything belonging to our holy religion requires that we should live in the constant practice of them; that we are all united in one body, the Church of Christ-----animated by one spirit, the spirit of Jesus, which guides and conducts that body into all truth; that we are called to one hope of our calling, the possession of God Himself in eternal glory; that we all serve one Lord, Our Lord Jesus Christ; that we all profess one Faith, that Holy Faith which He revealed to mankind, without which it is impossible to please God; that we are all sanctified by one Baptism, that we all serve one God; that we are all children of one Father, and that this heavenly Father is ever present with us, and our whole conduct is naked and open before Him. How unbecoming, then, must it be in the eyes of this Our Father, to see us entertaining discords or ill-will among ourselves? And how unworthy of our vocation, and dishonorable to our religion, if, being members of the same body, servants of the same master, and children of the same father, united together in so many strong ties of religion, we should live in animosity and enmity with each other?

   In another place, the same holy Apostle, describing the dispositions necessary for those whom God has called, as His elect, to the inestimable grace of being members of His Holy Church, says: "Put ye on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another: if anyone have a complaint against another, even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do ye also." [Col. 3: 12] 
And the contrary behavior is so unbecoming and so unworthy of our vocation, that St. James declares it to be even diabolical. "If ye have bitter zeal and contentions in your heart, glory not, and be not liars against the truth; for this is not wisdom descending from above, but earthly, sensual, devilish." [James 3: 14] All this is drawn from the express doctrine of our great Master Himself, Who not only commands all His followers to live in brotherly love and union among themselves, but declares this to be so connected with their vocation, that it is the distinguishing sign of their belonging to him: "By this shall all men know," says He, "that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another." [John 13: 35]

    Q. 41. What are the dispositions which the members of the Church of Christ ought to have, and what line of conduct should they follow towards those who are separated from their Communion?

   A. It is impossible to have a real and sincere love of God, without also loving everything that is connected with Him; and the more nearly anything is connected with God, the greater must our love be towards it. Now, all those who are in a false religion, though separated from the Communion of the Church, yet have in many other respects a very near connection with God, for they are His creatures, the work of His hands, made for His glory; they are His images, made after the likeness and similitude of God; they are redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, Who died for mankind; they are created to be eternally happy with Him in Heaven for God wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn and live. All these considerations show that we are bound to have a sincere and fervent love for them, and a charitable zeal for their eternal salvation, and consequently to have the most tender sympathy and compassion for them, considering the danger in which their souls are; and this is the radical and essential disposition of our hearts, which we are bound to have towards all mankind, without exception. Of this we have a beautiful example in St. Paul, who thus expresses the dispositions of his heart towards his brethren, the unbelieving Jews: "I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great sadness and sorrow in my heart: for I wished myself to be anathema" (that is, a curse) "from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh." [Rom. 9: 1]

   Now, this sincere love and zeal for their salvation ought to show itself principally in these following points:

   (1.) "To be always ready to satisfy everyone that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us." [1 Pet. 3: 15]-----that is, to be always willing and ready to explain our Holy Faith to them and to show them the grounds upon which our Faith is built, whenever any of them ask us to do so. This should be done with all modesty and mildness towards them, not entering into idle disputes, nor keeping up contentions with heat and acrimony, even though they should be ever so unreasonable in what they say against us, but giving an account of the hope that is in us with mildness and charity, and leaving the test to the dispositions of Divine Providence; for the Scripture says, "Avoid foolish questions, knowing that they beget strifes; but the servant of the Lord must not wrangle, but be mild towards all men, apt to teach, patient, with modesty admonishing them that resist the truth, if peradventure God may give them repentance to know the truth, and they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captive at will," 
[2 Tim. 2: 23]; and "to walk with wisdom towards them that are without; so that your speech be always in grace seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." [Col. 4: 5]

   (2.) To be earnest in praying to God for their conversion and salvation, is as expressly commanded in Scripture: "I desire, therefore, first of all, that supplications; prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, be made for all men, . . . for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." [1 Tim. 2: 1] We have a beautiful example of this in the same holy Apostle, who, full of charity for the salvation of the Jews, pities their mistaken zeal for their own errors, and pours forth the prayers of his heart for them: "Brethren," says he, "the will of my heart, indeed, and my prayer to God, is for them unto salvation; for I bear them witness that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." [Rom. 10: 1]

   (3.) To give them good example, by the exercise of good works, and the practice of all Christian virtues. Nothing is of greater efficacy to give others a favorable opinion of our holy religion than a good life. This is a living argument which teaches the most ignorant and convinces the most obstinate. And hence we find this repeatedly commanded in the Scriptures on purpose to give edification to those who are without, and to excite them to glorify God. "So let your light shine," says Jesus Christ Himself, "before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your heavenly Father." [Matt. 5: 16] And St. Peter expresses himself thus, on this important duty: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against your soul, having your conversation good among the Gentiles; that whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, considering you by your good works, they may give glory to God in the day of visitation; . . . for so is the will of God, that by doing well ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." [1 Pet. 2: 11, 15] St. Paul also requires the same thing, saying, "In all things show thyself an example of good works, in doctrine, in integrity, in gravity; thy speech sound that cannot be blamed, that he who is on the contrary part may be afraid, having no evil to say of us." [Tit. 2: 7]

    But (4.) Lastly, if not withstanding such pious and edifying behavior, persecutions and trials should be permitted by the Divine Providence to come upon us for His Own wise and just purpose, if we should be evil spoken of falsely, if the truths of our holy religion should be calumniated, and our doctrine misrepresented, we must not be surprised nor disheartened; but remember that this is the way the world treated Our Lord and Master Himself, Who foretold that His faithful followers should be treated in the same manner. St. Peter also assures us that this is one of the signs of those who follow sects of perdition, to speak evil of the truth, "through whom," says he, "the way of truth shall be evil spoken of," [2 Pet. 2: 2]; and St. Jude adds, "that they blaspheme whatever things they know not." [Jude 10] Neither ought such trials to diminish, even in the smallest degree, our sincere charity for them, and our desire of their salvation; but rather increase our pity and compassion for their poor souls, and make us more earnest in praying for them, imitating our blessed Savior Who, on the Cross itself, prayed for His persecutors: "Father," said He, "forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Above all things, we must never entertain the least thought of revenge, "not rendering evil for evil, not railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; for unto this ye are called, that may inherit a blessing." [1 Pet. 3: 9] On the contrary, looking on our trials as all disposed and ordered by the hand of God, "Without Whom not a hair of our head can fall to the ground," we must "rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer ignominy for the sake of Christ." [Acts 5: 41] For "if also ye suffer anything for justice' sake, blessed are ye; . . . for it is better doing well (if such be the will of God) to suffer, than doing ill." [1 Pet. 3: 14, 17] And therefore, "Dearly beloved, think not strange the burning heat that is to try you, as if some new thing happened to you; but if ye partake of the sufferings of Christ rejoice that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may also be glad With exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, ye shall be happy; for that which is of the honor, glory, and power of God and that which is His spirit, resteth upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a railer, or a coveter of other men's things; but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name," [1 Pet. 4: 12]-----always remembering the words of Our Lord: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all that is evil against you falsely, for My sake: be glad, and rejoice, for your reward is great in Heaven." [Matt. 5: 2]
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