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. 17. How can it be proven that in the above mentioned passage of St. Paul (Q. 16), is meant our vocation or calling to the Faith and Church of Christ?

   A.  Nothing is more evident from the whole tenor of the New Testament; for, wherever the object of our calling or vocation is spoken of, it is always declared to be the Faith, and Church of Christ. Thus St. Paul, speaking of his own vocation, says: '"It pleased Him who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son to me." [Gal. 1: 15] So, exhorting us to walk worthy of the vocation in which we are called, by humility and charity, he immediately adds the objects of our vocation as a most powerful motive for us to do so: "One body," says he, "one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism." [Eph. 4: 4] Again, "Let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts wherein also ye are called in one body." [Col. 3: 15] Also, "We testified to every one of you that ye would walk worthy of God, Who hath called you to His Kingdom and glory;" [Thess. 2: 12] to His kingdom here, and to His glory hereafter. The object, therefore, of our vocation is the one Faith of Christ; the body of Christ, and the kingdom of Christ, which is His Church. Hence the same holy Apostle says in another place, "But ye are come to Mount Sion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to the company of many thousands of Angels, and to the Church of the first-born who are written in Heaven." [Heb. 12: 22] See here the object of our vocation, the Church of Christ; and St. Peter says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that ye may declare His virtues who hath called you out of darkness into His admirable light." [1 Pet. 2: 9] To be a member, then, of this holy nation, to be one of this purchased people, to be brought to this admirable light of the True Faith, is the great end to which our calling brings us.

   Q. 18. But how can we reconcile this with the infinite goodness of God, that none shall be saved without the True Faith of Christ, and without being in the Communion of His Church, since according to it by far the greater part of mankind must be lost, seeing that the number of those who have not the Faith, and are not in the Communion of His Church, always greatly exceeds the number of those who are?

   A. That the greater number of mankind will be lost is a truth which Christ Himself declares when He, says that "many are called, but few are chosen," and that "many walk, in the broad road to destruction, but few there are that find the narrow way to life." The difficulty of reconciling this with the goodness of God will disappear if we consider what the Christian revelation teaches; for by it we learn that man, by the voluntary abuse of his free-will, having forfeited that happy state in which God had created him, rendered himself unworthy of any favor or mercy from God; so that God, with the greatest justice, could, if He pleased, have left him without remedy to that misery which sins deserved, as He actually did leave the fallen Angels. It was therefore the effect of His infinite goodness alone that God was pleased to show any mercy to man; and still more so, to provide so unheard-of a remedy for his evils. "God so loved the world," says the Gospels, "that He gave His only begotten Son," to seek and save, those that were lost by dying upon a Cross for them. But as man, by the voluntary abuse of his free-will, had lost the favor of his God, therefore God decreed that none who come to the full use of their reason should reap the benefit of the redemption of Christ but by voluntary performance of the conditions which He requires from them; for Christ "is become the cause of eternal salvation to all that obey him." 
[Heb. 5: 9]

   Man, by the miserable corruption of his nature by sin, was absolutely incapable of himself of performing these conditions; therefore God, out of the riches of His goodness, and the desire that all should be saved through the merits of Jesus Christ, gives to all mankind such supernatural helps of His grace as He sees proper for their present state, with a view to their salvation. God by these graces moves men to do good and avoid evil; and if they cooperate with His favors, He will give them new and greater graces. If they continue to correspond He will give them still more; till He brings them at last to the True Faith and Church of Christ, and to a happy end; but if they resist His graces, if they abuse them and act contrary to them, if they reject these calls and offers of mercy bears with them for a time, but at length He stops the continuance of such undeserved favors, and leaves them perish in their ingratitude and obstinacy. Hence if the greater part of mankind be lost, it is wholly owing to themselves in abusing the goodness of God, and resisting the means He uses for their salvation; so that our salvation is only from the goodness of God, and our perdition wholly from ourselves, according to what He says by His prophet, "Destruction is thine, O Israel; thy help is only in Me." [Hosea 13: 9]

    Q. 19. This is, indeed, a full vindication of the Divine goodness; but there are some parts of which need to be explained; and first, how does it appear from Scripture that God gives to all mankind the graces here mentioned with a view to their salvation?

   A. This is manifest, from three strong reasons recorded in Scripture: 
First, the Scripture assures us that God wills all men to be saved, and that none should be lost. Thus, "As, I live," saith the Lord God, "I will not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." [Ezek. 33: 2] So our Savior declares, "It is not the will of our Father, Who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish." [Matt. 18: 14] "God dealeth patiently for your sake," says Peter, "not willing that any should, perish, but that all should return to penance." [2 Peter 3: 9] And St. Paul affirms it in express terms: "God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." [1 Tim. 1: 4] He wills, all men to be saved, and He wills them to come to the knowledge of the truth, as an essential condition of salvation. Now, from this sincere will of God for the salvation of all men, it follows as a necessary consequence that He gives to all men such helps of His grace as are sufficient, if they make good use of them, to bring them both to the knowledge of the truth, and to salvation; for as they are absolutely incapable of taking any step towards this end without His aid, if He wills the end, He must also apply the means in such a manner that if the end be not accomplished it is not owing to Him. If God did not do so, we could not conceive Him affirming that He wills, all men to be saved, and that He wills not the death of the wicked.

      Second, the Scripture declares that Jesus Christ died for the redemption of all mankind, without exception. Thus, "Jesus Christ gave Himself a redemption for all." [1 Tim. 2: 6] "If one died for all, then all are dead, and Christ died for all." [2 Cor. 5: 15] "We hope in the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful." 
[1 Tim. 4: 10] "If any man, sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just, and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." [1 John 2: 1] Hence St. John the Baptist said of Him, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sins of the world." [John 1: 29] And He Himself says, "The bread that I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world." [John 6: 52] Again, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost;" [Luke 19: 10] and "I come not to judge the world, but to save the world;" [John 12: 47] and St. Paul says of Him, "A faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners." [1 Tim. 1: 15] But as all were lost, as all without exception were sinners, therefore Jesus Christ came to seek and to save all. Now, from this it also follows, as a necessary consequence, that all, without exception, must receive, in some degree or other, such fruits and benefits of His redemption, either directly or indirectly, mediately or immediately, as are sufficient to procure their salvation, if they cooperate with them. If anyone, then, be not actually saved, this cannot be owing to any deficiency on the part of Jesus Christ, but to their own abuse of His graces; for it would be trifling to say that He is the Savior of all, if all did not receive the fruits of His redemption with a view to their salvation.

   Third, the Scriptures assure us that all men do actually receive from God, in that degree, manner, and proportion which He sees proper, according to their present state, such helps of His graces as would enable them to secure their salvation, if they cooperated with them. For, in the first place, Almighty God, out of His sincere desire for the salvation of all, "sent His Son into the world, that the world might be saved by Him." [John 3: 17] From which St. Paul draws this plain argument: "He that spared not even His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also with Him given us all things?" [Rom. 8: 32]; at least all things absolutely necessary for our salvation, and without which it would never be in our power to attain it? Now, as He delivered His Son for all, without exception, and with this very view, "that the world," that is, all mankind, "might be saved by Him:" therefore, to all without exception He gives with Him such helps and graces as, either mediately or immediately, directly or indirectly, put it in their power to be saved. Secondly, the Scripture declares that Christ "is the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world," [John 1: 9] Consequently every man that cometh into this world partaketh of His light in such degree and proportion as He sees proper to give, and in such time, place, and manner as He thinks fit. For, thirdly, "To every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ;" [Eph. 4: 7] and "the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men." [Tit. 2: 2] Fourthly, the goodness and mercy of God to all mankind is thus displayed in Scripture: "Thou hast mercy upon all, because Thou canst do all things, and over lookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance; for Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint or make anything hating it; . . . but thou sparest all because they are Thine, O Lord, Who lovest souls." [Wis. 11: 24] Now, how could He be said "to spare all," and to "have mercy on all," for the sake of repentance, if He did not give to all such graces at least as are absolutely necessary to help them and bring them to repentance? 

Lastly, Our Savior Himself says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me; and to him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with Me in My throne." [Rev. 3: 20] He knocks at every door, at every heart, by the motions of His holy grace; and if any man whatsoever shall open and cooperate with His grace, so as to overcome, all will be well. From this it is manifest that all men, without exception, in whatever state they may be, at some time or other receive graces from God, as the fruits of the redemption of Jesus, with a view to their eternal salvation, and which, either mediately or immediately, would bring them to that end, if they made a proper use of them; if, therefore, they be not saved, the fault is entirely their own. Graces, indeed, are not given in the same degree and proportion  to all, but "according to the measure of the giving of Christ;" for "every one has his proper gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that." [1 Cor. 7: 7] In the distribution of the talents, one received five, another two, and another only one-----for God being master of His Own gifts, may give more abundantly to one than to another, as He pleases; but what every one receives is sufficient for his present purpose, and he who received only one talent had it fully in his power to obtain
the same reward as the other two, had he improved his talent as they did; but as he was negligent and unprofitable, he was justly condemned for his sloth.

   Q. 20. How can it be shown that if a man cooperate with those graces which God bestows, he will always revolve more and more from

    A. This is evident, (1) From the very end which God has in giving them; for all the graces which God bestows on man, through the merits of Christ, are given with a view to his salvation, and from the desire of saving him. If man, therefore, put no obstacle on his part, but improves the present grace, the same gracious desire which God has of his salvation, and which moved Him to give the first, must also move Him to give a second, a third, and so on, till he perfect the great work for which He gives them; and hence, the Scripture says, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who had begun the good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus." [Philip. 1: 6] It is an undoubted truth, then, that God will never fail on His part to give us all further necessary helps, if we make a good use of those He has already given; for He will never abandon us, if we do not first forsake Him. Hence the same holy Apostle exhorts us, "With fear and trembling to work out our own salvation; for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will," [Philip. 2: 12]-----showing us that God will not be wanting if we do our part, and work, with fear and trembling, according to the graces He bestows. Hence, also, the
frequent exhortations of the same Apostle "Not to neglect the grace of God;" [1 Tim. 4: 14] "To stir up the grace of God that is in us;" 
[2 Tim. 1: 6] "Not to receive the grace of God in vain;" [2 Cor. 6: 1] and "to look diligently that no man be wanting to the grace of God." 
[Heb. 12: 15]

   The same truth appears (2) From those testimonies of Scripture where we are assured that if we serve God and obey Him we shall advance in His love and in union with Him; for to serve  and obey Him is to make a good use of the graces He gives us: and to be more loved by Him and united to Him is to receive from Him still greater graces. Thus our Savior says, "If any man love Me, he will keep My word" (that is, do My will, correspond with My grace), "and My Father will love him, We will come to him, and will make our abode with him." [John 14: 23] So also St. James says, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and He will exalt you." [James 4: 8, 10] Hence St. Peter exhorts us "to take heed not to fall from our own steadfastness, but to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ;" [2 Pet. 3: 17] because the continuing steadfast in His service, by corresponding with His grace, is the sure way, to obtain more from Him.

    It is proved (3) By the express declaration of Jesus Christ Who says, "I am the vine, and My Father is the husbandman: . . . every branch in Me that beareth fruit He will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit." [John 15: 1] Also in the parable of the talents, he ordered the given talent to be taken from the unprofitable servant, and given to the other that had ten talents and then adds, "I say unto you that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound," [Luke 19: 26]: that is, to every one that hath, and makes a good use of what he hath; for when the master went away he gave one talent to each of his servants, "and said to them, trade till I come." [Ver. 13] And when he came back he found that one had gained ten talents, but the slothful servant none at all, for he had kept the talent he had received laid up in a napkin; so that the only difference between these two was, that one had improved what be had received from his master, and the other had not; and therefore to the one, who had improved his talent, more and more was given; that he might abound. The expression is repeated by Our Savior, on different occasions, but particularly Mark 4: 24, where, considering the great grace bestowed on the Jews, in communicating to them His holy Word, He exhorts them, to be careful to make an ample return to God, by improving that grace, and promises if they do so that more shall be given them: "Take heed," says He to them, "what ye hear: with what measure ye shall mete, it shall be measured to you again; and more shall be given to you;" and then He immediately adds, as a general rule, "for he that hath, to him shall be given." [Ver. 25]  In like manner Almighty God says to all sinners whose hearts He touches with His reproofs, and the check of their conscience, "Turn ye at My reproof; behold I will utter My spirit to you, and I will show, you My words." [Prov. 1: 23] If they cooperate with the grace of His reproof, and turn, He will bestow greater favors upon them.

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