No Salvation Outside of the Catholic Church
of Scotland [1729-1811],
Whether Salvation Can Be Had Without True Faith,
Q. 4. Is it not a very uncharitable doctrine, to say that none can be saved out of the Church, or who do not believe as the Church does?
A. If this doctrine were a mere human opinion, or the result indeed of human reasoning, it might be called uncharitable; but it is a doctrine into which mere human reason does not enter. It is a point which depends solely on the will of the Almighty; and the only question is to know what He has been pleased to decide concerning it. Now, His Holy Scriptures declare in the plainest terms that He has been pleased to ordain that none shall be saved out of the Church of Christ, or without the true Faith; and who shall dare to say, a doctrine taught and declared by God is uncharitable?
But the mistake into which many fall arises from not reflecting that God is not obliged to save anyone. He pursued the fallen Angels with the utmost rigor of justice, and He could justly have treated man in the same manner. If, therefore, He is pleased to offer salvation to mankind through the merits of Jesus Christ, this is the effect of His infinite mercy; and as He is perfect master of His Own gifts, He is at full liberty to require whatever conditions He pleases for bestowing them upon us. Now, the whole tenor of His revealed will declares that He requires our being members of His Church, and having the true Faith of Jesus Christ, as indispensable conditions of salvation and who shall dare to find fault with Him for doing so? Or who shall say, it is uncharitable to think and believe what He has so expressly and so repeatedly declared in His Holy Scriptures?
Observe further, that it is not the Catholic Church alone that holds this doctrine. We have seen that the founders of the Protestant Church of Scotland hold, in express terms, that "out of the true Church of Christ there is no ordinary possibility of salvation," and have inserted it as an article of their Faith in the public authentic standard of their religion, the "Confession of Faith," which all her ministers must subscribe.
of England also, in the same manner, declares, as an article of her
"That except a man do keep the Catholic faith whole and undefiled,
doubt he shall perish everlastingly;" and assures her members that this
Creed can be proved by the most evident texts of Holy Scripture; which,
therefore, all her ministers must subscribe. Moreover, she affirms that
"those are to be accursed who presume to say that every man (even
he be not in the true Faith of Jesus Christ) shall be saved by the
law or sect which he professeth."
Catholic Church, always consistent and uniform in her doctrine, always
preserving the words once put in her mouth by her Divine Master,
at all times and in all ages has believed and taught the same doctrine
as a truth revealed by God, that "out of the true Church of Christ, and
without His true Faith, there is no possibility of salvation;" and the
most authentic public testimony of her enemies proves that this is the
doctrine of Jesus, and of His holy gospel, whatever private persons,
selfish and interested motives, may say to the contrary. Neither is she
afraid of being thought uncharitable on this account. On the contrary,
she considers it the height of charity to warn men of their danger, in
an affair of such immense importance as is that of their eternal
and, with compassion for their situation, she uses every means in her
particularly fervent prayer to God, for the conversion of all who are
of the true way, that they may be brought to the knowledge of the
and be saved.
It is plain,
therefore, that the charge of being uncharitable is only
and slander, employed to render the Catholic Church and her doctrine
Her enemies saw that want of charity was a crime shocking to every
mind, and must excite odium and aversion, if charged on her. They knew
their followers, who were ever ready to believe anything against her,
take no pains to examine the grounds for such a charge-----would
take it for granted that she was guilty upon their bold assertion; and
the result has verified their opinion. But the smallest attention must
show that her conduct is the effect of genuine charity. Was St. Paul
when he declared that "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
etc., shall possess the kingdom of God?" [1 Cor. 6: 9]; or when he
"a curse upon anyone, though an Angel from Heaven, who should preach
other gospel than what he had
How then can the Catholic Church be deemed uncharitable for only saying what He declares, and from the same charitable motive? An unfavorable opinion she certainly has of all those who are not of her communion; but to call this uncharitable, is a mere imposition on the unreflecting.
Q. 5. But if a man act according to the dictates of his conscience, and follow exactly the light of reason which God has implanted in him for his guide, is that not sufficient to bring him to salvation?
This is, indeed, a specious proposition; but a fallacy lurks under it.
When man was created, his reason was then an enlightened
Q. 6. Does Holy Scripture give any light in this matter?
A. Nothing can be more striking than the words of Holy Scripture. "There is a way," says the wise man, "that seemeth right to a man, but the ends thereof lead to death," [Prov. 14: 12]. This is repeated, [Prov. 16: 25]. What can be more plain than this, to show that a man may act according to what he thinks the light of reason and conscience, persuaded he is doing right, and yet, in fact, be only running on in the way to perdition? And do not all those who are seduced by false prophets, and false teachers, think they are in the right way? Is it not under the pretext of acting according to conscience that they are seduced? And yet the Mouth of Truth itself has declared, that "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit," [Matt. 15: 14].
In order to
to what excess of wickedness man may go under the pretense of following
his conscience, the same Eternal Truth says to His Apostles, "The hour
cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth God a
[John 16: 2]; but observe what He adds, -----"And
these things will they do, because they have not known the Father nor
[ver. 3]. Which shows that if one has not the true knowledge of God and
of Jesus Christ, which can be obtained only through True Faith, there
no enormity of which he is not capable while thinking he is acting
to reason and conscience. Had we only the light of reason to direct us,
we would be justified in following it; but as God has given us an
guide in His Holy Church, to assist and correct our blinded reason by
light of Faith, our reason alone, unassisted by this guide, can never
sufficient for salvation.
Conscience tells a heathen that it is not only lawful, but a duty to worship and offer sacrifice to idols, the work of men's hands. Will his doing so, according to his conscience, save him? Or will these acts of idolatry be innocent or agreeable in the sight of God, because they are performed, according to conscience? The answer which the Word of God gives to this question; to which add that of the wise man,-----The idol that is made by hands is cursed, as well as he that made it, for that which is made, together with him that made it, shall suffer torments," [Wis. 14: 8, 10]; also, "He that sacrificeth to gods shall be put to death, save only to the Lord," [Exod. 22: 20].
manner, a Jew's
conscience tells him that he may lawfully and meritoriously blaspheme
Christ, and approve the conduct of his forefathers in putting Him to
upon a tree. Will such blasphemy save him, because it is according to
dictates of his conscience? The Holy Ghost by the mouth of St. Paul
"If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema,"
that is, "accursed,"
A Mahometan is taught by his conscience that it would be a crime to believe in Jesus Christ, and not believe in Mahomet; will this impious conscience save him? The Scripture assures us that "there is no other name given to men under Heaven by which we can be saved," but the name of Jesus only; and "he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remaineth on him."
All the various sects which have been separated from the True Church, in every age, have uniformly calumniated and slandered her, speaking evil of the truth professed by her, believing in their conscience that this was not only lawful, but highly meritorious. Will calumnies and slanders against the Church of Jesus Christ save them because of their approving conscience? The Word of God declares, "That the nation and the kingdom that will not serve her shall perish" and "there shall be lying teachers who shall bring in damnable heresies, bringing upon themselves swift destruction, through how the way of truth shall be evil spoken of," [2 Pet. 2: 1].
In all these,
cases, their conscience is their greatest crime, and shows to what a
of impiety conscience and reason can lead us, when under the influence
of pride, passion, prejudice, and