By Henry Edward, Manning. Cardinal Archbishop Of Westminster.
THE DIVINE GLORY OF THE SACRED HEART.
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only-begotten of the Father. S. John i. 14.
S. John, in his first epistle, writes thus: ' Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is already in the world.' (S. John iv. 3.) The meaning of the words 'that dissolveth Jesus' is this: —whosoever denies that the Son of God is come in the flesh, that is, the truth of His Incarnation, or in any way destroys the distinction of His two natures, or the unity of His Divine Person, or denies that He is the Incarnate God, or refuses to Him divine worship and the honour which is due to God alone— whosoever in these, or in any other way, destroys or denies the truth of the Incarnation, dissolveth Jesus,' and, whether he know it or not, is a disciple of Antichrist.
The Person of our Divine Lord has been, from the beginning, the centre of all the chief heresies that have tormented the Christian world. Like as in warfare, the hottest conflict is always around the person of the king, so, in the whole history of the Christian Church, the keenest assaults of heresy and the most concentrated enmity of heretics have been directed against the Incarnation of the Son of God.
In the beginning there were those who assailed His manhood, and taught that it was a phantom. Then came Apollinaris, who taught that He had a human body but not a human soul. Then came Arians, who affirmed that, if He had a Godhead, it was inferior to the Father. Then arose a cloud of semi-Arian heresies shading off in their distinctions, but all alike in denying His true Godhead. Then came Nestorius, who affirmed that He had a human person: then Monophysites, who taught that His two natures were confused into one: then Monothelites, who taught that He had only one will. For centuries the Church was tormented by a succession of heresies, all surrounding and assailing the person of the Incarnate Word, and all alike striving to 'dissolve Jesus.'
And so it has been in these later times. Three hundred years ago there was what was called a reformation of the Church of God. Among the agents of that reformation there were three who bore the most fatal sway. A hand friendly to them, thinking to glorify them in what he wrote, composed for one of them an epitaph, and it runs thus:
'Tota jacet Babylon, destruxit tecta Lutherus,
Calvinus muros, sed fundamenta Socinus.'
'Babylon is utterly fallen. Luther pulled off the roof (denying the true doctrine of our Justification); 'Calvin pulled down the walls' (denying the doctrine of the Sacraments); ' Socinus tore up the foundations' (because he denied the Incarnation of the Son of God, and therefore our redemption in His Precious Blood). These three agents of destruction have ever been at work all over what is called the Reformed Church to this day. They have been tormenting Poland and Switzerland and France—I grieve to say England in some part—and the New World, to which heresy has been carried together with Christianity. What is called Unitarianism— the denial of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the denial therefore of the proper Incarnation of the Word—is the legitimate result of the Reformation. And this subtil heresy has spread widely in England, and its coldness has spread still more widely than its formal errors. The Church which is established by law in England, so far as its books are concerned, is not indeed responsible for this. It retains the creeds, and it retains what is called the creed of S. Athanasius, in which the true and proper doctrine of the Incarnation is fully enunciated. A century ago a number of clergymen, who were at heart Unitarians, tried hard to get rid of the Athanasian Creed. In these days this effort has been renewed. Those who have authority have resisted the attempt, and I thank God for it. It is one more barrier in the way of the descent of religion —it is one more bond to hold the Christianity of England from hastening down the rapids which have wrecked the faith of Germany and Switzerland. I speak, therefore, of the Established Church of England so far with hope, and I bear a true affection to multitudes of those who are in it. I believe them to be in good faith. If they knew the light of the truth, they would give their lives for it. They would not for the world speak a syllable to derogate from the glory of the Incarnation. Therefore let nothing I am about to say be understood as reflecting on those whom I honour and-love, though they be in error and in separation from the Catholic Church.