8. The Vatican Council

{299} IN beginning to speak of the Vatican Council, I am obliged from circumstances to begin by speaking of myself. The most unfounded and erroneous assertions have publicly been made about my sentiments towards it, and as confidently as they are unfounded. Only a few weeks ago it was stated categorically by some anonymous correspondent of a Liverpool paper, with reference to the prospect of my undertaking the task on which I am now employed, that it was, "in fact understood that at one time Dr. Newman was on the point of uniting with Dr. Dollinger and his party, and that it required the earnest persuasion of several members of the Roman Catholic Episcopate to prevent him from taking that step,"—an unmitigated and most ridiculous untruth in every word of it, nor would it be worth while to notice it here, except for its connexion with the subject on which I am entering.

But the explanation of such reports about me is easy. They arise from forgetfulness on the part of those who spread them, that there are two sides of ecclesiastical acts, that right ends are often prosecuted by very unworthy means, and that in consequence those who, like myself, oppose a line of action, are not necessarily opposed to the issue for which it has been adopted. {300} Jacob gained by wrong means his destined blessing. "All are not Israelites, who are of Israel," and there are partisans of Rome who have not the sanctity and wisdom of Rome herself.

I am not referring to anything which took place within the walls of the Council chambers; of that of course we know nothing; but even though things occurred there which it is not pleasant to dwell upon, that would not at all affect, not by an hair's breadth, the validity of the resulting definition, as I shall presently show. What I felt deeply, and ever shall feel, while life lasts, is the violence and cruelty of journals and other publications, which, taking as they professed to do the Catholic side, employed themselves by their rash language (though, of course, they did not mean it so), in unsettling the weak in faith, throwing back inquirers, and shocking the Protestant mind. Nor do I speak of publications only; a feeling was too prevalent in many places that no one could be true to God and His Church, who had any pity on troubled souls, or any scruple of "scandalizing those little ones who believe in" Christ, and of "despising and destroying him for whom He died."

It was this most keen feeling, which made me say, as I did continually, "I will not believe that the Pope's Infallibility will be defined, till defined it is."

Moreover, a private letter of mine became public property. That letter, to which Mr. Gladstone has referred with a compliment to me which I have not merited, was one of the most confidential I ever wrote in my life. I wrote it to my own Bishop, under a deep sense of the {301} responsibility I should incur, were I not to speak out to him my whole mind. I put the matter from me when I had said my say, and kept no proper copy of the letter. To my dismay I saw it in the public prints: to this day I do not know, nor suspect, how it got there; certainly from no want of caution in the quarter to which it was addressed. I cannot withdraw it, for I never put it forward, so it will remain on the columns of newspapers whether I will or not; but I withdraw it as far as I can, by declaring that it was never meant for the public eye.

1. So much as to my posture of mind before the Definition: now I will set down how I felt after it. On July 24, 1870, I wrote as follows:—

"I saw the new Definition yesterday, and am pleased at its moderation—that is, if the doctrine in question is to be defined at all. The terms are vague and comprehensive; and, personally, I have no difficulty in admitting it. The question is, does it come to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council?

"Now the prim‚ facie argument is in favour of its having that authority. The Council was legitimately called; it was more largely attended than any Council before it; and innumerable prayers from the whole of Christendom, have preceded and attended it, and merited a happy issue of its proceedings.

"Were it not then for certain circumstances, under which the Council made the definition, I should receive that definition at once. Even as it is, if I were called upon to profess it, I should be unable, considering it came from the Holy Father and the competent local {302} authorities, at once to refuse to do so. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that there are reasons for a Catholic, till better informed, to suspend his judgment on its validity.

"We all know that ever since the opening of the Council, there has been a strenuous opposition to the definition of the doctrine; and that, at the time when it was actually passed, more than eighty Fathers absented themselves from the Council, and would have nothing to do with its act. But, if the fact be so, that the Fathers were not unanimous, is the definition valid? This depends on the question whether unanimity, at least moral, is or is not necessary for its validity? As at present advised I think it is; certainly Pius IV. lays great stress on the unanimity of the Fathers in the Council of Trent. 'Quibus rebus perfectis,' he says in his Bull of Promulgation, 'concilium tant‚ omnium qui illi interfuerent concordi‚ peractum fuit, ut consensum plane a Domino effectum esse constiterit; idque in nostris atque omnium oculis valdŤ mirabile fuerit."

"Far different has been the case now,—though the Council is not yet finished. But, if I must now at once decide what to think of it, I should consider that all turned on what the dissentient Bishops now do.

"If they separate and go home without acting as a body, if they act only individually, or as individuals, and each in his own way, then I should not recognize in their opposition to the majority that force, firmness, and unity of view, which creates a real case of want of moral unanimity in the Council.

"Again, if the Council continues to sit, if the dissentient {303} Bishops more or less take part in it, and concur in its acts; if there is a new Pope, and he continues the policy of the present; and if the Council terminates without any reversal or modification of the definition, or any effective movement against it on the part of the dissentients, then again there will be good reason for saying that the want of a moral unanimity has not been made out.

"And further, if the definition is consistently received by the whole body of the faithful, as valid, or as the expression of a truth, then too it will claim our assent by the force of the great dictum, 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum.'

"This indeed is a broad principle by which all acts of the rulers of the Church are ratified. But for it, we might reasonably question some of the past Councils or their acts."

Also I wrote as follows to a friend, who was troubled at the way in which the dogma was passed, in order to place before him in various points of view the duty of receiving it:—

July 27, 1870.
"I have been thinking over the subject which just now gives you and me with thousands of others, who care for religion, so much concern.

"First, till better advised, nothing shall make me say that a mere majority in a Council, as opposed to a moral unanimity, in itself creates an obligation to receive its dogmatic decrees. This is a point of history and precedent, and of course on further examination I may find myself wrong in the view which I take of history and {304} precedent; but I do not, cannot see, that a majority in the present Council can of itself rule its own sufficiency, without such external testimony.

"But there are other means by which I can be brought under the obligation of receiving a doctrine as a dogma. If I am clear that there is a primitive and uninterrupted tradition, as of the divinity of our Lord; or where a high probability drawn from Scripture or Tradition is partially or probably confirmed by the Church. Thus a particular Catholic might be so nearly sure that the promise to Peter in Scripture proves that the infallibility of Peter is a necessary dogma, as only to be kept from holding it as such by the absence of any judgment on the part of the Church, so that the present unanimity of the Pope and 500 Bishops, even though not sufficient to constitute a formal Synodal act, would at once put him in the position, and lay him under the obligation, of receiving the doctrine as a dogma, that is, to receive it with its anathema.

"Or again, if nothing definitely sufficient from Scripture or Tradition can be brought to contradict a definition, the fact of a legitimate Superior having defined it, may be an obligation in conscience to receive it with an internal assent. For myself, ever since I was a Catholic, I have held the Pope's infallibility as a matter of theological opinion; at least, I see nothing in the Definition which necessarily contradicts Scripture, Tradition, or History; and the "Doctor Ecclesiś" (as the Pope is styled by the Council of Florence) bids me accept it. In this case, I do not receive it on the word of the Council, but on the Pope's self-assertion. {305}

"And I confess, the fact that all along for so many centuries the Head of the Church and Teacher of the faithful and Vicar of Christ has been allowed by God to assert virtually his own infallibility, is a great argument in favour of the validity of his claim.

"Another ground for receiving the dogma, still not upon the direct authority of the Council, or with acceptance of the validity of its act per se, is the consideration that our Merciful Lord would not care so little for His elect people, the multitude of the faithful, as to allow their visible Head, and such a large number of Bishops to lead them into error, and an error so serious, if an error it be. This consideration leads me to accept the doctrine as a dogma, indirectly indeed from the Council, but not so much from a Council, as from the Pope and a very large number of Bishops. The question is not whether they had a right to impose, or even were right in imposing the dogma on the faithful; but whether, having done so, I have not an obligation to accept it, according to the maxim, 'Fieri non debuit, factum valet.'"

This letter, written before the minority had melted away, insists on this principle, that a Council's definition would have a virtual claim on our reception, even though it were not passed conciliariter, but in some indirect way; the great object of a Council being in some way or other to declare the judgment of the Church. I think the Third Ecumenical will furnish an instance of what I mean. There the question in dispute was settled and defined, even before certain constituent portions of the Episcopal body had made their appearance; and this, with a protest of sixty-eight of the Bishops then present {306} against the opening of the Council. When the expected party arrived, these did more than protest against the definition which had been carried; they actually anathematized the Fathers who carried it, and in this state of disunion the Council ended. How then was its definition valid? In consequence of after events, which I suppose must be considered complements, and integral portions of the Council. The heads of the various parties entered into correspondence with each other, and at the end of two years their differences with each other were arranged. There are those who have no belief in the authority of Councils at all, and feel no call upon them to discriminate between one Council and another; but Anglicans, who are so fierce against the Vatican, and so respectful towards the Ephesine, should consider what good reason they have for swallowing the third Council, while they strain out the nineteenth.

The Council of Ephesus furnishes us with another remark, bearing upon the Vatican. It was natural for men who were in the minority at Ephesus to think that the faith of the Church had been brought into the utmost peril by the definition of the Council which they had unsuccessfully opposed. They had opposed it on the conviction that the definition gave great encouragement to religious errors in the opposite extreme to those which it condemned; and, in fact, I think that, humanly speaking, the peril was extreme. The event proved it to be so, when twenty years afterwards another Council was held under the successors of the majority at Ephesus and carried triumphantly those very errors whose eventual success had been predicted by the minority. But Providence is {307} never wanting to His Church. St. Leo, the Pope of the day, interfered with this heretical Council, and the innovating party was stopped in its career. Its acts were cancelled at the great Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical, which was held under the Pope's guidance, and which, without of course touching the definition of the Third, which had been settled once for all, trimmed the balance of doctrine by completing it, and excluded for ever from the Church those errors which seemed to have received some sanction at Ephesus. There is nothing of course that can be reversed in the definitions of the Vatican Council; but the series of its acts was cut short by the great war, and, should the need arise (which is not likely) to set right a false interpretation, another Leo will be given us for the occasion; "in monte Dominus videbit."

In this remark, made for the benefit of those who need it, as I do not myself, I shelter myself under the following passage of Molina, which a friend has pointed out to me:—"Though the Holy Ghost has always been present to the Church, to hinder error in her definitions, and in consequence they are all most true and consistent, yet it is not therefore to be denied, that God, when any matters have to be defined, requires of the Church a cooperation and investigation of those matters, and that, in proportion to the quality of the men who meet together in Councils, to the investigation and diligence which is applied, and the greater or less experience and knowledge which is possessed more at one time than at other times, definitions more or less perspicuous are drawn up and matters are defined more exactly and completely at one {308} time than at other times ... And, whereas by disputations, persevering reading, meditation, and investigation of matters, there is wont to be increased in course of time the knowledge and understanding of the same, and the Fathers of the later Councils are assisted by the investigation and definitions of the former, hence it arises that the definitions of later Councils are wont to be more luminous, fuller, more accurate and exact than those of the earlier. Moreover, it belongs to the later Councils to interpret and to define more exactly and fully what in earlier Councils have been defined less clearly, fully and exactly." (De Concord. Lib. Arbit., &c., xiii. 15, p. 59.) So much on the circumstances under which the Vatican Council passed its definition.

2. The other main objection made to the Council is founded upon its supposed neglect of history in the decision which its Definition embodies. This objection is touched upon by Mr. Gladstone in the beginning of his Pamphlet, where he speaks of its "repudiation of ancient history," and I have an opportunity given me of noticing it here.

He asserts that, during the last forty years, "more and more have the assertions of continuous uniformity of doctrine" in the Catholic Church "receded into scarcely penetrable shadow. More and more have another series of assertions, of a living authority, ever ready to open, adopt, and shape Christian doctrine according to the times, taken their place." Accordingly, he considers that a dangerous opening has been made in the authoritative teaching of the Church for the repudiation of ancient truth and the rejection of new. However, as {309} I understand him, he withdraws this charge from the controversy he has initiated (though not from his Pamphlet) as far as it is aimed at the pure theology of the Church. So far it "belongs," he says, "to the theological domain," and "is a matter unfit for him to discuss, as it is a question of divinity." It has been, then, no duty of mine to consider it, except as it relates to matters ecclesiastical; but I am unwilling, when a charge has been made against our theology, unsupported indeed, yet unretracted, to leave it altogether without reply; and that the more, because, after renouncing "questions of divinity" at p. 14, nevertheless Mr. Gladstone brings them forward again at p. 15, speaking, as he does, of the "deadly blows of 1854 and 1870 at the old, historic, scientific, and moderate school" by the definitions of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility.

Mr. Gladstone then insists on the duty of "maintaining the truth and authority of history, and the inestimable value of the historic spirit;" and so far of course I have the pleasure of heartily agreeing with him. As the Church is a sacred and divine creation, so in like manner her history, with its wonderful evolution of events, the throng of great actors who have a part in it, and its multiform literature, stained though its annals are with human sin and error, and recorded on no system, and by uninspired authors, still is a sacred work also; and those who make light of it, or distrust its lessons, incur a grave responsibility. But it is not every one that can read its pages rightly; and certainly I cannot follow Mr. Gladstone's reading of it. He is too well informed indeed, {310} too large in his knowledge, too acute and comprehensive in his views, not to have an acquaintance with history, far beyond the run of even highly educated men; still when he accuses us of deficient attention to history, one cannot help asking, whether he does not, as a matter of course, take for granted as true the principles for using it familiar with Protestant divines, and denied by our own, and in consequence whether his impeachment of us does not resolve itself into the fact that he is Protestant and we are Catholics. Nay, has it occurred to him that perhaps it is the fact, that we have views on the relation of History to Dogma different from those which Protestants maintain? And is he so certain of the facts of History in detail, of their relevancy, and of their drift, as to have a right, I do not say to have an opinion of his own, but to publish to the world, on his own warrant, that we have "repudiated ancient history"? He publicly charges us, not merely with having "neglected" it, or "garbled" its evidence, or with having contradicted certain ancient usages or doctrines to which it bears witness, but he says "repudiated." He could not have used a stronger term, supposing the Vatican Council had, by a formal act, cut itself off from early times, instead of professing, as it does (hypocritically, if you will, but still professing) to speak, "supported by Holy Scripture and the decrees both of preceding Popes and General Councils," and "faithfully adhering to the aboriginal tradition of the Church." Ought any one but an oculatus testis, a man whose profession was to acquaint himself with the details of history, to claim to himself the right of bringing, on his own authority, so {311} extreme a charge against so august a power, so inflexible and rooted in its traditions through the long past, as Mr. Gladstone would admit the Roman Church to be?

Of course I shall be reminded that, though Mr. Gladstone cannot be expected to speak on so large a department of knowledge with the confidence decorous in one who has made a personal study of it, there are others who have a right to do so; and that by those others he is corroborated and sanctioned. There are authors, it may be said, of so commanding an authority from their learning and their honesty, that, for the purposes of discussion or of controversy, what they say may be said by any one else without presumption or risk of confutation. I will never say a word of my own against those learned and distinguished men to whom I refer. No: their present whereabout, wherever it is, is to me a thought full of melancholy. It is a tragical event, both for them and for us, that they have left us. It robs us of a great prestige; they have left none to take their place. I think them utterly wrong in what they have done and are doing; and, moreover, I agree as little in their view of history as in their acts. Extensive as may be their historical knowledge, I have no reason to think that they, more than Mr. Gladstone, would accept the position which History holds among the Loci Theologici as Catholic theologians determine it; and I am denying not their report of facts, but their use of the facts they report, and that, because of that special stand-point from which they view the relations existing between the records of History and the enunciations of Popes and Councils. They seem to me to expect from History more than {312} History can furnish, and to have too little confidence in the Divine Promise and Providence as guiding and determining those enunciations.

Why should Ecclesiastical History, any more than the text of Scripture, contain in it "the whole counsel of God"? Why should private judgment be unlawful in interpreting Scripture against the voice of authority, and yet be lawful in the interpretation of history? There are those who make short work of questions such as these by denying authoritative interpretation altogether; that is their private concern, and no one has a right to inquire into their reason for so doing; but the case would be different were one of them to come forward publicly, and to arraign others, without first confuting their theological prśambula, for repudiating history, or for repudiating the Bible.

For myself, I would simply confess that no doctrine of the Church can be rigorously proved by historical evidence: but at the same time that no doctrine can be simply disproved by it. Historical evidence reaches a certain way, more or less, towards a proof of the Catholic doctrines; often nearly the whole way; sometimes it goes only as far as to point in their direction; sometimes there is only an absence of evidence for a conclusion contrary to them; nay, sometimes there is an apparent leaning of the evidence to a contrary conclusion, which has to be explained;—in all cases there is a margin left for the exercise of faith in the word of the Church. He who believes the dogmas of the Church only because he has reasoned them out of History, is scarcely a Catholic. It is the Church's dogmatic use of History in which the Catholic believes; and she uses other informants also, {313} Scripture, tradition, the ecclesiastical sense or [phronema], and a subtle ratiocinative power, which in its origin is a divine gift. There is nothing of bondage or "renunciation of mental freedom" in this view, any more than in the converts of the Apostles believing what the Apostles might preach to them or teach them out of Scripture.

What has been said of History in relation to the formal Definitions of the Church, applies also to the exercise of Ratiocination. Our logical powers, too, being a gift from God, may claim to have their informations respected; and Protestants sometimes accuse our theologians, for instance, the medieval schoolmen, of having used them in divine matters a little too freely. Still it has ever been our teaching and our protest that, as there are doctrines which lie beyond the direct evidence of history, so there are doctrines which transcend the discoveries of reason; and, after all, whether they are more or less recommended to us by the one informant or the other, in all cases the immediate motive in the mind of a Catholic for his reception of them is, not that they are proved to him by Reason or by History, but because Revelation has declared them by means of that high ecclesiastical Magisterium which is their legitimate exponent.

What has been said applies also to those other truths, with which Ratiocination has more to do than History, which are sometimes called developments of Christian doctrine, truths which are not upon the surface of the Apostolic depositum—that is, the legacy of Revelation,—but which from time to time are brought into form by theologians, and sometimes have been proposed to the {314} faithful by the Church, as direct objects of faith. No Catholic would hold that they ought to be logically deduced in their fulness and exactness from the belief of the first centuries, but only this,—that, on the assumption of the Infallibility of the Church (which will overcome every objection except a contradiction in thought), there is nothing greatly to try the reason in such difficulties as occur in reconciling those evolved doctrines with the teaching of the ancient Fathers; such development being evidently the new form, explanation, transformation, or carrying out of what in substance was held from the first, what the Apostles said, but have not recorded in writing, or would necessarily have said under our circumstances, or if they had been asked, or in view of certain uprisings of error, and in that sense being really portions of the legacy of truth, of which the Church, in all her members, but especially in her hierarchy, is the divinely appointed trustee.

Such an evolution of doctrine has been, as I would maintain, a law of the Church's teaching from the earliest times, and in nothing is her title of "semper eadem" more remarkably illustrated than in the correspondence of her ancient and modern exhibition of it. As to the ecclesiastical Acts of 1854 and 1870, I think with Mr. Gladstone that the principle of doctrinal development, and that of authority, have never in the proceedings of the Church been so freely and largely used as in the Definitions then promulgated to the faithful; but I deny that at either time the testimony of history was repudiated or perverted. The utmost that can be fairly said by an opponent against the theological decisions of those {315} years is, that antecedently to the event, it might appear that there were no sufficient historical grounds in behalf of either of them—I do not mean for a personal belief in either, but—for the purpose of converting a doctrine long existing in the Church into a dogma, and making it a portion of the Catholic Creed. This adverse anticipation was proved to be a mistake by the fact of the definition being made.

3. I will not pass from this question of History without a word about Pope Honorius, whose condemnation by anathema in the Sixth Ecumenical Council, is certainly a strong prim‚ facie argument against the Pope's doctrinal infallibility. His case is this:—Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, favoured, or rather did not condemn, a doctrine concerning our Lord's Person which afterwards the Sixth Council pronounced to be heresy. He consulted Pope Honorius upon the subject, who in two formal letters declared his entire concurrence with Sergius's opinion. Honorius died in peace, but, more than forty years after him, the Sixth Ecumenical Council was held, which condemned him as a heretic on the score of those two letters. The simple question is, whether the heretical documents proceeded from him as an infallible authority or as a private Bishop.

Now I observe that, whereas the Vatican Council has determined that the Pope is infallible only when he speaks ex cathedr‚, and that, in order to speak ex cathedr‚, he must at least speak "as exercising the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, defining, by virtue of his Apostolical authority, a doctrine whether of faith or of morals for the acceptance of the universal Church" {316} (though Mr. Gladstone strangely says, p. 34, "There is no established or accepted definition of the phrase ex cathedr‚"), from this Pontifical and dogmatic explanation of the phrase it follows, that, whatever Honorius said in answer to Sergius, and whatever he held, his words were not ex cathedr‚, and therefore did not proceed from his infallibility.

I say so first, because he could not fulfil the above conditions of an ex cathedr‚ utterance, if he did not actually mean to fulfil them. The question is unlike the question about the Sacraments; external and positive acts, whether material actions or formal words, speak for themselves. Teaching on the other hand has no sacramental visible signs; it is an opus operantis, and mainly a question of intention. Who would say that the architriclinus at the wedding-feast who said, "Thou hast kept the good wine until now," was teaching the Christian world, though the words have a great ethical and evangelical sense? What is the worth of a signature, if a man does not consider he is signing? The Pope cannot address his people East and West, North and South, without meaning it, as if his very voice, the sounds from his lips, could literally be heard from pole to pole; nor can he exert his "Apostolical authority" without knowing he is doing so; nor can he draw up a form of words and use care and make an effort in doing so accurately, without intention to do so; and, therefore, no words of Honorius proceeded from his prerogative of infallible teaching, which were not accompanied with the intention of exercising that prerogative; and who will dream of saying, be he Anglican, Protestant, unbeliever, or on {317} the other hand Catholic, that Honorius on the occasion in question did actually intend to exert that infallible teaching voice which is heard so distinctly in the Quant‚ cur‚ and the Pastor ∆ternus?

What resemblance do these letters of his, written almost as private instructions, bear to the "Pius Episcopus, Servus Servorum Dei, Sacro approbante Concilio, ad perpetuam rei memoriam," or with the "Si quis huic nostrś definitioni contradicere (quod Deus avertat), prśsumpserit, anathema sit" of the Pastor ∆ternus? what to the "Venerabilibus fratribus, Patriarchis primatibus, Archiepiscopis, et Episcopis universis, &c., with the "reprobamus, proscribimus, atque damnamus," and the date and signature, "Datum Romś apud Sanctum Petrum, Die 8 Dec. anno 1864, &c., Pius P.P. IX." of the Quant‚ cur‚?

Secondly, it is no part of our doctrine, as I shall say in my next section, that the discussions previous to a Council's definition, or to an ex cathedr‚ utterance of a Pope, are infallible, and these letters of Honorius on their very face are nothing more than portions of a discussion with a view to some final decision.

For these two reasons the condemnation of Honorius by the Council in no sense compromises the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. At the utmost it only decides that Honorius in his own person was a heretic, which is inconsistent with no Catholic doctrine; but we may rather hope and believe that the anathema fell, not upon him, but upon his letters in their objective sense, he not intending personally what his letters legitimately expressed. {318}

4. And I have one remark to make upon the argumentative method by which the Vatican Council was carried on to its definition. The Pastor ∆ternus refers to various witnesses as contributing their evidence towards the determination of the contents of the depositum, such as Tradition, the Fathers and Councils, History, but especially Scripture. For instance, the Bull, speaks of the Gospel ("juxta Evangelii testimonia," c. 1) and of Scripture ("manifesta S.S. Scripturarum doctrina," c. 1: "apertis S.S. Literarum testimoniis," c. 3. "S.S. Scripturis consentanea," c. 4.) And it lays an especial stress on three passages of Scripture in particular—viz., "Thou art Peter," &c., Matthew xvi. 16-19; "I have prayed for thee," &c., Luke xxii. 32, and "Feed My sheep," &c., John xxi. 15-17. Now I wish all objectors to this method of ours, viz. of reasoning from Scripture, would view it in the light of the following passage in the great philosophical work of Butler, Bishop of Durham.

He writes as follows:—"As it is owned the whole scheme of Scripture is not yet understood, so, if it ever comes to be understood, before the 'restitution of all things,' and without miraculous interpositions, it must be in the same way as natural knowledge is come at, by the continuance and progress of learning and of liberty, and by particular persons attending to, comparing, and pursuing intimations scattered up and down it, which are overlooked and disregarded by the generality of the world. For this is the way in which all improvements are made by thoughtful men tracing on obscure hints, as it were, dropped us by nature accidentally, or which {319} seem to come into our minds by chance. Nor is it at all incredible that a book, which has been so long in the possession of mankind, should contain many truths as yet undiscovered. For all the same phenomena, and the same faculties of investigation, from which such great discoveries in natural knowledge have been made in the present and last age, were equally in the possession of mankind several thousand years before. And possibly it might be intended that events, as they come to pass, should open and ascertain the meaning of several parts of Scripture," ii. 3, vide also ii. 4, fin.

What has the long history of the contest for and against the Pope's infallibility been, but a growing insight through centuries into the meaning of those three texts, to which I just now referred, ending at length by the Church's definitive recognition of the doctrine thus gradually manifested to her?

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