Lecture 2. On the Roman Teaching as Neglectful of Antiquity

{47} WE differ from Roman Catholics, as I have said, more in our view of historical facts than in principles; but in saying this, I am speaking, not of their actual system, nor of their actual mode of defending it, but of their professions, professions which in their mouths are mere professions, while they are truths in ours. The principles, professed by both parties, are at once the foundation of our own theology, and what is called an argumentum ad hominem against theirs. They profess to appeal to primitive Christianity; we honestly take their ground, as holding it ourselves; but when the controversy grows animated, and descends into details, they suddenly leave it and desire to finish the dispute on some other field. In like manner in their teaching and acting, they begin as if in the name of all the Fathers at once, but will be found in the sequel to prove, instruct, and enjoin simply in their own name. Our differences from them, considered not in theory but in fact, are in no sense matters of detail and questions of degree. In truth, there is a tenet in their theology which assumes quite a new position in relation to the rest, when we pass from the abstract and quiescent theory to the practical workings of the system. The infallibility of the existing Church is then found to be its first principle, whereas, before, it was {48} a necessary, but a secondary doctrine. Whatever principles they profess in theory, resembling, or coincident with our own, yet when they come to particulars, when they have to prove this or that article of their creed, they supersede the appeal to Scripture and Antiquity by putting forward the infallibility of the Church, thus solving the whole question, by a summary and final interpretation both of Antiquity and of Scripture [Note 1].

This is what takes place in the actual course of the controversy. At the same time it is obvious that, while they are as yet but engaged in tracing out their elementary principles, and recommending them to our notice, they cannot assign to this influential doctrine the same sovereign place in their system. It cannot be taken for granted as a first principle in the controversy; if so, nothing remains to be proved, and the controversy is at an end, for every doctrine is contained in it by implication, and no doctrine but might as fairly be assumed as a first principle also. Accordingly, in order to make a show of proving it, its advocates must necessarily fall back upon some more intelligible doctrine; and that is, the authority of Antiquity, to which they boldly appeal, as I described in my last Lecture. It follows that there is a striking dissimilarity, or even inconsistency between their system as quiescent, and as in action, in its abstract principles, and its reasonings and discussions on particular points. In the Creed of Pope Pius not a word is said expressly about the Church's infallibility; it forms no Article of faith there. {49} Her interpretation, indeed, of Scripture is recognized as authoritative; but so also is the "unanimous consent of Fathers." But when we put aside the creeds and professions of our opponents for their actual teaching and disputing, they will be found to care very little for the Fathers, whether as primitive or as concordant; they believe the existing Church to be infallible, and if ancient belief is at variance with it, which of course they do not allow, but if it is, then Antiquity must be mistaken; that is all [Note 2]. Thus Romanism, which even in its abstract system, must be considered a perversion or distortion of the truth, is in its actual and public manifestation a far more serious error. It is then a disproportionate or monstrous development of a theory in itself extravagant. I propose now to give some illustration of it, thus considered, viz. to show that in fact it substitutes the authority of the Church for that of Antiquity [Note 3].


First, let us understand what is meant by saying that Antiquity is of authority in religious questions. Both the Roman school and ourselves maintain as follows:—That {50} whatever doctrine the primitive ages unanimously attest, whether by consent of Fathers, or by Councils, or by the events of history, or by controversies, or in whatever way, whatever may fairly and reasonably be considered to be the universal belief of those ages, is to be received as coming from the Apostles. This Canon, as it may be called, rests upon the principle, which we act on daily, that what many independent and competent witnesses guarantee, is true. The concordant testimony of the Church Catholic to certain doctrines, such as the Incarnation, is an argument in its behalf the same in kind as that for the being of a God, derived from the belief of all nations in an intelligent Providence. If it be asked, why we do not argue in this way from the existing as well as from the ancient Church, we answer that Christendom now differs from itself in all points except those in which it is already known to have agreed of old; so that we cannot make use of it if we would. So far, then, as it can be used, it is but a confirmation of Antiquity, though a valuable one. Besides, the greater is the interval between a given age and that of the Apostles, and the more intimate the connexion and influence of country with country, the less can the separate branches of the Church be considered as independent witnesses. In the Roman controversy, then, the witness of a later age would seldom come up to the notion of a Catholic Tradition, inasmuch as the various parts of Christendom either would not agree together, or when they did, would not be distinct witnesses. Thus Ancient Consent is, practically, the only, or main kind of Tradition which now remains to us [Note 4]. {51}


The Rule or Canon which I have been explaining, is best known as expressed in the words of Vincentius of Lerins, in his celebrated treatise upon the tests of Heresy and Error; viz. that that is to be received as Apostolic which has been taught "always, everywhere, and by all." Catholicity, Antiquity, and consent of Fathers, is the proper evidence of the fidelity or Apostolicity of a professed Tradition. Infant Baptism, for instance, must have been appointed by the Apostles, or we should not find it received so early, so generally, with such a silence concerning its introduction. The Christian faith is dogmatic, because it has been so accounted in every Church up to this day. The washing of the feet, enjoined in the 13th chapter of St. John, is not a necessary rite or a Sacrament, because it has never been so observed:—Did Christ or His Apostles intend otherwise, it would follow, (what is surely impossible,) that a new and erroneous view of our Lord's words arose even in the Apostles' lifetime, and was from the first everywhere substituted for the true. Again; fabrics for public worship are allowable and fitting under the Gospel, though our Lord contrasts worshipping at Jerusalem or Gerizim with worshipping in spirit and truth, because they ever have been so esteemed. The Sabbatical rest is changed from the Sabbath to the Lord's-day, because it has never been otherwise since Christianity was a religion.


It follows that Councils or individuals are of authority, when we have reason to suppose they are trustworthy informants concerning Apostolical Tradition. If a Council is attended by many Bishops from various parts of Christendom, and if they speak one and all the same doctrine, without constraint, and bear witness to their having received it from their Fathers, having never heard of any {52} other doctrine, and verily believing it to be Apostolic,—great consideration is due to its decisions. If, on the other hand, they do not profess to bear witness to a fact, but merely to deduce from Scripture for themselves, besides or beyond what they received from their Fathers, whatever deference is due to them, it is not of that peculiar kind which is contemplated by the Rule of Vincentius. In like manner, if some great Christian writer in primitive times, of high character, extensive learning, and ample means of information, attests the universality of a certain doctrine, and the absence of all trace of its introduction short of the Apostles' age, such a one, though an individual, yet as the spokesman of his generation, will be entitled to especial deference. On the other hand, the most highly gifted and religious persons are liable to error, and are not to be implicitly trusted where they profess to be recording, not a fact, but their own opinion. Christians know no master on earth; they defer, indeed, to the judgment, obey the advice, and follow the example of good men in ten thousand ways, but they do not make their opinions part of what is emphatically called the Faith. Christ alone is the Author and Finisher of Faith in all its senses; His servants do but witness it, and their statements are then only valuable when they are testimonies, not deductions or conjectures. When they speak about points of faith of themselves, and much more when they are at variance with Catholic Antiquity, we can bear to examine and even condemn the uncertain or the erroneous opinion. Thus Pope Gregory might advocate a doctrine resembling Purgatory; St. Gregory Nyssen may have used language available in defence of Transubstantiation; St. Ephraim may have invoked the Blessed Virgin; St. Austin might believe in the irrespective Predestination of individuals; St. Cyril might afford a handle to Eutyches; Tertullian might be a Montanist; Origen might deny the eternity of future {53} punishment; yet all such instances, whatever be their weight from other circumstances, still, as not professing to be more than expressions of private opinion, have no weight at all, one way or other, in the argument from Catholic Tradition. In like manner, Universality, of course, proves nothing, if it is traceable to an origin short of Apostolic, whether to existing influences from without, or to some assignable point of time. Whatever judgment is to be formed of a certain practice or doctrine, be it right or wrong, and on whatever grounds, at any rate, it is not part or adjunct of the Faith, but must be advocated on its intrinsic propriety, or usefulness, or, if tenable, is binding in duty only on particular persons or parties, ages or countries, if its history resembles that of the secular establishment of the Church, or of Monachism, or of capital punishment for religious opinions, or of sprinkling in Baptism, or of the denial of the cup to the laity, or of Ecclesiastical Liberty [Note 5], or of the abolition of slavery, subjects which I do not, of course, put on a footing with each other, but name together as being one and all external to that circle of religious truth which the Apostles sealed with their own signature as the Gospel Faith, and delivered over to the Church after them.


But here it may be asked, whether it is possible accurately to know the limits of that Faith, from the peculiar circumstances in which it was first spread, which hindered it from being realized in the first centuries in its complete proportions. It may be conjectured, for instance, that the doctrine of what is familiarly called "Church and King" is Apostolic, except that it could not be developed, while a heathen and persecuting power was sovereign. This is {54} true; and hence a secondary argument is derivable from Ancient Consent in any doctrine, even when it does not appeal to traditionary reception; viz. on the principle that what was in an early age held universally, must at least in spirit have been unconsciously transmitted from the Apostles, if there is no reason against it, and must be the due expression of their mind and wishes, under changed circumstances, and therefore is binding on us in piety, though not part of the Faith. The same consideration applies to the interpretation of Scripture; but this is to enter on a distinct branch of the subject, to which I shall advert hereafter.


In the foregoing remarks I have not been attempting any systematic discussion of the argument from Antiquity, which is unnecessary for our present purpose, but have said just so much as may open a way for illustrating the point in hand, viz. the disrespect shown towards it by the Roman divines. In theory, indeed, and in their professions, as has already been noticed, they defer to the authority of the Rule of Vincent as implicitly as we do; and commonly without much hazard, for Protestantism in general has so transgressed it, that, little as it tells for Rome, it tells still more strongly against the wild doctrines which they oppose under that name. Besides, they are obliged to maintain it by their very pretensions to be considered the One True Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the same time there is this remarkable difference, even of theory, between them and Vincentius, that the latter is altogether silent on the subject of the Pope's Infallibility, whether considered as an attribute of his see, or as attaching to him in General Council. If Vincentius had the sentiments and feelings of a modern Roman Catholic, it is incomprehensible [Note 6] that, in {55} a treatise written to guide the private Christian in matters of Faith, he should have said not a word about the Pope's supreme authority, nay, not even about the Infallibility of the Church Catholic. He refers the inquirer to a triple rule, difficult, surely, and troublesome to use, compared with that which is ready-furnished by Rome now. Applying his own rule to his work itself, we may unhesitatingly conclude that the Pope's supreme authority in matters of Faith, is no Catholic or Apostolic truth, because he was ignorant of it.

However, Roman Catholics are obliged by their professions to appeal to Antiquity, and they therefore do so. But enough has been said already to suggest that, where men are indisposed towards such an appeal, where they determine to be captious and take exceptions, and act the disputant and sophist rather than the earnest inquirer, it admits of easy evasion, and may be made to conclude anything or nothing. The Rule of Vincent is not of a mathematical or demonstrative character, but moral, and requires practical judgment and good sense to apply it. For instance: what is meant by being "taught always"? does it mean in every century, or every year, or every mouth? Does "everywhere" mean in every country, or in every diocese? And does "the Consent of Fathers" require us to produce the direct testimony of every one of {56} them? How many Fathers, how many places, how many instances constitute a fulfilment of the test proposed? It is, then, from the nature of the case, a condition which never can be satisfied as fully as it might have been; it admits of various and unequal application in various instances; and what degree of application is enough must be decided by the same principles which guide us in the conduct of life, which determine us in politics, or trade, or war, which lead us to accept Revelation at all, for which we have but probability to show at most; nay, to believe in the existence of an Intelligent Creator. This character, indeed, of Vincent's Canon, will but recommend it to the disciples of the School of Butler, from its agreement with the analogy of nature; but it affords a ready loophole for such as do not wish to be persuaded, of which both Protestant and Roman controversialists are not slow to avail themselves [Note 7].


As to the latter, with whom we are here concerned, let us suppose some passage from Antiquity to contradict their present doctrine, and then its being objected to them that what even one early writer directly contradicted in his day was not Catholic teaching at the time he contradicted it;—forthwith they unhesitatingly condemn the passage as unsound and mistaken [Note 8]. And then follows the question, is the ancient writer who is quoted to be credited as reporting {57} the current views of his age, or had he the hardihood, though he knew them well, to contradict, yet without saying he contradicted them? and this can only be decided by the circumstances of the case, which an ingenious disputant may easily turn this way or that. They proceed in the same way, though a number of authorities be adduced; one is misinterpreted, another is put out of sight, a third is admitted but undervalued. This is not said by way of accusation here, though of course it is a heavy charge against the Romanists; nor with the admission that their attempts are successful, for, after all, words have a distinct meaning in spite of sophistry, and there is a true and a false in every matter. I am but showing how Romanists reconcile their abstract reverence for Antiquity with their Romanism,—with their creed, and their notion of the Church's infallibility in declaring it [Note 9]; how small their success is, and how great their unfairness, is another question. Whatever judgment we form either of their conduct or its issue, such is the fact, that they extol the Fathers as a whole, and disparage them individually [Note 10]; they call them one by one Doctors of the Church, yet they explain away one by one their arguments, judgment, and testimony. They refuse to combine their separate and coincident statements; they take each by himself, and settle with the first before they go on to the next [Note 11]. And thus their boasted reliance on the Fathers comes, at length, to this,—to identify Catholicity with the decrees of Councils, and to admit those Councils only which the Pope has confirmed. {58}

Such is that peculiarity of Romanism which is now to be illustrated; and with this purpose I will first quote one or two passages from writers of authority, by way of showing the abstract reverence in which Romanism holds the Fathers, and then show from others how little they carry it into practice.


Bossuet, in his celebrated Exposition, thus speaks: "The Catholic Church, far from wishing to become absolute mistress of her faith, as it is laid to her charge, has, on the contrary, done everything in her power to tie up her hands, and to deprive herself of the means of innovation; for she not only submits to Holy Scripture, but in order to banish for ever these arbitrary interpretations, which would substitute the fancies of men for Scripture, she hath bound herself to interpret it, in what concerns faith and morality, according to the sense of the Holy Fathers, from which she professes never to depart; declaring by all the Councils, and by all the professions of faith which she has published, that she receives no dogma that is not conformable to the Tradition of all preceding ages." [Note 12]

Milner, in his End of Controversy, adopts the same tone. "When any fresh controversy arises in the Church, the fundamental maxim of the Bishops and Popes, to whom it belongs to decide upon it, is, not to consult their own private opinion or interpretation of Scripture, but to inquire 'what is and has ever been the doctrine of the Church' concerning it. Hence, their cry is and ever has been, on such occasions, as well in her Councils as out of them, 'So we have received, so the Universal Church believes, let there be no new doctrine, none but what has been delivered down to us by Tradition.'" Again: "The {59} infallibility ... of our Church is not a power of telling all things, past, present, and to come, such as the Pagans ascribed to their oracles; but merely the aid of God's Holy Spirit, to enable her truly to decide what her faith is, and ever has been, in such articles as have been made known to her by Scripture and Tradition." [Note 13] It seems from these passages, that the writings of Antiquity are to be considered as limitations and safeguards put upon the Church's teaching, records by which she is ever bound to direct her course, out of which she ascertains and proves those doctrinal statements in which, when formally made she is infallible. The same view is contained in the following extracts from Bellarmine, except that, writing, not an Apology, but in controversy, he insists less pointedly upon it. For instance: "We do not impugn, nay we maintain against impugners, that the first foundation of our faith is the Word of God," that is, written and unwritten, "ministered by Apostles and Prophets: … only we add, that, besides this first foundation, another secondary foundation is needed, that is, the witness of the Church. For we do not know for certain what God has revealed, except by the testimony of the Church." [Note 14] And in another place: "That alone is matter of faith, which is revealed by God, either mediately or immediately; but divine revelations are partly written, partly unwritten. And so the decrees of Councils and Popes, and the Consent of Doctors, ... then only make a doctrine an article of faith, when they explain the Word of God, or deduce anything from it." [Note 15]


Let us now proceed from the theory of the Roman Church to its practice. This is seen in the actual conduct {60} of its theologians, some of whom shall here be cited as a sample of the whole.

1. First, I refer to the well-known occasion of Bishop Bull's writing his "Defence of the Nicene Faith." He was led to do so by an attack upon the orthodoxy of the Ante-Nicene Fathers from a quarter whence it was at first sight little to be expected. The learned assailant was not an Arian, or Socinian, or Latitudinarian, but Petavius, a member of the Jesuit body. The tendency of the portion of his great work on Theological Dogmas which treats of the Holy Trinity, is too plain to be mistaken. The historian Gibbon does not scruple to pronounce that its "object, or at least, effect," was "to arraign," and as he considers, successfully, "the faith of the Ante-Nicene Fathers;" and it was used in no long time by Arian writers in their own justification. Thus, Romanist, heretic, and infidel unite with one another in this instance in denying the orthodoxy of the first centuries, just as at this moment the same three parties are banded together to oppose ourselves. We trust we see in this circumstance an omen of our own resemblance to the Primitive Church, since we hold a common position with it towards these parties, and are in the centre point, as of doctrine, so of attack. But to return to Petavius. This learned author, in his elaborate work on the Trinity, shows that he would rather prove the early Confessors and Martyrs to be heterodox, than that they should exist as a court of appeal from the decisions of his own Church; and he accordingly sacrifices, without remorse, Justin, Clement, IrenŠus, and their brethren, to the maintenance of the infallibility of Rome. Or to put the matter in another point of view, truer, perhaps, though less favourable still to Petavius,—he consents that the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity should so far rest on the mere declaration of the Church [Note 16], that before {61} it was formally defined, there was no heresy in rejecting it, provided he can thereby gain for Rome the freedom of making decrees unfettered by the recorded judgments of Antiquity.


This it was which excited the zeal of our great theologian, Bishop Bull, whom I will here quote, both in order to avail myself of his authority, and because of the force and clearness of his remarks. In the introduction then of his celebrated work, after enumerating certain heretical and latitudinarian attempts to disparage the orthodoxy of the Ante-Nicene centuries, he speaks as follows of Petavius:—

"But I am beyond measure astonished at that great and profoundly learned man, Dionysius Petavius; who, for all the reverence which he professes for the Nicene Council, and his constant acknowledgment that the faith confirmed in it against the Arians, is truly Apostolic and Catholic, yet makes an admission to them, which, if it holds, goes the full length of establishing their heresy, and of disparaging, and so overthrowing, the credit and authority of the Nicene Council; namely, that the Rulers and Fathers of the Church before its date were nearly all of the very same sentiments as Arius … What was Petavius's view in so writing, it is difficult to say. Some suspect that he was secretly an Arian, and wished by these means insidiously to recommend the heresy to others. This was the opinion of Sandius," the heretical writer, "whom I just now mentioned ... However, Petavius's own writings make it, I think, abundantly clear, that this pretender's supposition is altogether false. If some underhand purpose must be assigned for his writing as he {62} did, and it be not sufficient to ascribe it to his customary audacity and recklessness in criticizing and animadverting on the Holy Fathers, I should give my opinion that this author, as being a Jesuit, had in view the interest of Popery rather than of Arianism. For, granting the Catholic Doctors of the first three centuries held nearly all of them that very error of doctrine, which the Nicene Council afterwards condemned in Arius as heresy (which is Petavius's statement), two things will readily follow: first, that little deference is to be paid to the Fathers of the first three centuries, to whom reformed Catholics specially appeal, as if in their time the chief articles of the Christian faith were not yet sufficiently understood and developed; next, that Œcumenical Councils have the power of framing or (as Petavius speaks) of establishing and publishing new articles of faith, which may fitly serve to prepare the ground for those additions which the Fathers at Trent annexed to the Rule of Faith and obtruded on Christendom; though even this will not be a sufficient defence of the Roman faith, since the meeting at Trent was anything but a General Council. However, the masters of that school, it seems, feel no compunction at erecting their own pseudo-catholic faith on the ruins of that which is truly Catholic. The Divine oracles themselves are to be convicted of undue obscurity, the most holy Doctors, Bishops and Martyrs of the primitive Church are to be charged with heresy; so that in one way or other the credit and authority of the degenerate Roman Church may be patched up and made good. At the same time these sophists, to be sure, are the very men to execrate us as brethren of cursed Ham, and scoffers and despisers of the venerable Fathers of the Church, and to boast that they themselves religiously follow the faith of the ancient Doctors, and hold their writings in highest reverence. That such a nefarious purpose led to Petavins's statement, {63} I do not dare say for certain, but leave the matter to the heart-searching God. Meanwhile, what the Jesuit has written, as it is most welcome to modern Arians (all of whom on that account revere and embrace him as their champion), so, as I would affirm confidently, it is manifestly contrary to truth, and most injurious and slanderous as well towards the Nicene Fathers as the Ante-Nicene." [Note 17]

So remarkable an instance as this is not of every day's occurrence. I do not mean to say there have been many such systematic and profound attempts as this on the part of Petavius, at what may be justly called parricide. Rome even, steeled as she is against the kindlier feelings, when it is required by her interests, has more of tender mercy left than to bear them often. In this very instance, the French Church indirectly showed their compunction at the crime, on Bull's subsequent defence of the Nicene Anathema, by transmitting to him, through Bossuet, the congratulations of the whole clergy of France assembled at St. Germain's, for the service he had rendered to the Church Catholic [Note 18].


2. However, not even the Gallican Church, moderate as she confessedly has been, can side with Rome without cooling in loyalty towards the primitive ages; as will appear by the following remarks extracted from the Benedictine edition of St. Ambrose. The Benedictines of St. Maur are, as is well known, of a school in the Roman {64} Church distinct from the Jesuits, to whom Petavius belonged. So much so, that the Benedictine edition of Bossuet's works is accused of Jansenism, at least so I understand the English editor of his Exposition, who speaks of its being "infected with the spirit of that sect which disfigures everything that it touches." [Note 19] Their learning and candour are well known; and one can hardly accuse those who spend their lives in an act of ministration towards the holy Fathers, of any intentional irreverence towards them. The following passage occurs in their introduction to one of the works of St. Ambrose, on occasion of that Father making some statements at variance with the present Roman views of the intermediate state:—

"It is not indeed wonderful that Ambrose should have written in this way concerning the state of souls; but what seems almost incredible is the uncertainty and inconsistency of the holy Fathers on the subject, from the very times of the Apostles to the Pontificate of Gregory XI. and the Council of Florence; that is, for almost the whole of fourteen centuries. For they not only differ from one another, as ordinarily happens in such questions before the Church has defined, but they are even inconsistent with themselves, sometimes allowing, sometimes denying to the same souls the enjoyment of the clear vision of the Divine Nature." [Note 20]

It may be asked, how it is the fault of the Benedictines if the Fathers are inconsistent with each other and with themselves in any point; and what harm there is in stating the fact, if it is undeniable? But my complaint with them would be on a different ground, viz. that they profess to know better than the Fathers; that they, or rather the religious system which they are bound to follow, consider questions to be determinable on which {65} the early Fathers were ignorant, and suppose the Church is so absolutely the author of our faith, that what the Fathers did not believe, we must believe under pain of forfeiting heaven [Note 21]. Whether Rome be right or wrong, this instance contains an acknowledgment, as far as it goes, that her religion is not that of the Fathers; that her Creed is as novel as those Protestant extravagancies from which in other respects it is so far removed.


3. I will pass on to another instance of the disrespect shown by Roman theologians towards the ancient Fathers, from Bellarmine's celebrated work on the Controversies of Faith. The name of this eminent writer is familiar to most persons who have ever so little knowledge of our disputes with Rome; but it brings with it less favourable associations than its owner deserves. The better the man individually, the worse the system that makes him speak uncandidly or presumptuously; and that both as a man and as a writer he has no ordinary qualities, will be clear from what is said of him by two English authors of this day, who are far from agreeing either with him or with each other. Bishop Marsh, in his Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome, calls him "the most acute, the most methodical, the most comprehensive, and {66} at the same time one of the most candid among the controversialists of the Church of Rome." [Note 22] On the other hand, a recent writer of very different religious sympathies from the Bishop, speaks of him in a spirit honourable both to himself and the subject of his panegyric. "I cannot read," he says, "the pious practical works of Bellarmine, himself the great defender of Popery, and know that he said, 'upon account of the uncertainty of life it is most safe to rely on Christ alone,' without hoping that he was led before his death to renounce all confidence in anything but God's testimony concerning His Son, and so became a child of our heavenly Father, and an heir of our Saviour's kingdom." [Note 23] Others may humbly trust he was all through his life, as he had been first made in Baptism, a child of grace; but, however this be, the testimony afforded to Bellarmine's personal piety in this extract is express and under the circumstances remarkable.

To these may be added what Mosheim says of him: "His candour and plain dealing exposed him," he says, "to the censures of several divines of his own communion; for he collected with diligence the reasons and objections of his adversaries, and proposed them for the most part in their full force with integrity and exactness. Had he been less remarkable on account of his fidelity and industry, had he taken care to select the weakest arguments of his antagonists, and to render them still weaker by proposing them in an imperfect and unfaithful light, his fame would have been much greater among the friends of Rome than it actually is." [Note 24] {67}


Let us turn then to the work of an author thus candid as a theologian, thus highly endowed as a man.

In his treatise in defence of Purgatory, he uses severe language against Calvin, who represents the Fathers as speaking doubtfully concerning that doctrine. "This," he says, "is intolerable hardihood or ignorance; for first, had they nowhere mentioned Purgatory by name, yet their sentiments about it had been sufficiently plain from their distinct statements that the souls of certain believers need relief and are aided by the prayers of the living. Next, there are the clearest passages in the Fathers, in which Purgatory is asserted, of which I will cite some few." Then follow extracts from twenty-two Fathers in evidence; and so he brings his proof to an end, and dismisses that head of his subject. Now will it be believed that in a subsequent chapter, in recounting the various errors concerning Purgatory, he enumerates some of the same Fathers, as holding one or other of them, nay, holding them in some of the very passages which he had already adduced in proof of the tenet of his Church! He enumerates Origen, St. Ambrose, St. Hilary, Lactantius, and St. Jerome, as apparently, in one or other respect, contravening or diverging from the Tridentine doctrine. Of these he surrenders Origen altogether; Jerome he exculpates, but rather by means of other extracts than as clearing up what was objectionable in the passage he first quoted. As to the rest, he allows that they all "sound erroneous," but says that "they may be understood" in an unexceptionable sense; though after all, of one of the two best meanings which may be put upon the words of some of them, he can but pronounce at most that he "neither affirms nor condemns it." [Note 25] {68}

To explain the state of the case, it is necessary to observe, that various early writers speculate on the possibility of fire constituting at the Judgment a trial of the integrity of all believers, however highly gifted in faith and holiness. This opinion, whatever be its value, differs from the notion of Purgatory, not to mention other respects, in time, place, and subjects; yet certain passages from the Fathers containing it and other private notions, are enumerated by Bellarmine, first as instances in his inductive proof, then as exceptions to the doctrine thereby established. The only alleviation of this strange inconsistency is that he quotes, not the very same sentences both for and against his Church's doctrine, but neighbouring ones.


Now, do I mean to accuse so serious and good a man as Bellarmine of wilful unfairness in this procedure? No. Yet it is difficult to enter into the state of mind under which he was led into it. However we explain it, so much is clear, that the Fathers are only so far of use in the eyes of Romanists as they prove the Roman doctrines; and in no sense are allowed to interfere with the conclusions which their Church has adopted; that they are of authority when they seem to agree with Rome, of none if they differ. But, if I may venture to account in Bellarmine's own person for what is in controversy confessedly unfair, I would observe as follows, though what I say may seem to border on refinement.

A Romanist then cannot really argue in defence of the Roman doctrines; he has too firm a confidence in their truth, if he is sincere in his profession, to enable him critically to adjust the due weight to be given to this or that {69} evidence. He assumes his Church's conclusion as true; and the facts or witnesses he adduces are rather brought to receive an interpretation than to furnish a proof. His highest aim is to show the mere consistency of his theory, its possible adjustment with the records of Antiquity. I am not here inquiring how much of high but misdirected moral feeling is implied in this state of mind; certainly as we advance in perception of the Truth, we all become less fitted to be controversialists.


If this be the true explanation of Bellarmine's strange error, the more it tends to exculpate him, the more deeply it criminates his system. He ceases to be chargeable with unfairness only in proportion as the notion of the infallibility of Rome is admitted to be the sovereign and engrossing tenet of his communion, the foundation-stone, or (as it may be called) the fulcrum of its theology [Note 26]. I consider, then, that when he first adduces the above-mentioned Fathers in proof of Purgatory, he was really but interpreting them; he was teaching what they ought to mean,—what in charity they must be supposed to mean,—what they might mean, as far as the very words went,—probably meant, considering the Church so meant,—and might be taken to mean, even if their authors did not so mean, from the notion that they spoke vaguely, and, as children, that they really meant something else than what they formally said, and that, after all, they were but the spokesmen of the then existing Church, which, though in silence, certainly held, as being the Church, that same doctrine which Rome has since defined and published. This is to treat {70} Bellarmine with the same charity with which he has on this supposition treated the Fathers, and it is to be hoped with a nearer approach to the matter of fact.

So much as to his first use of them; but afterwards, in noticing what he considers erroneous opinions on the subject, he treats them not as organs of the Church Infallible, but as individuals, and interprets their language by its literal sense, or by the context, and in consequence condemns it. The Fathers in question, he seems to say, really held as modern Rome holds; for if they did not, they must have dissented from the Church of their own day; for the Church then held as modern Rome holds. And the Church then held as Rome holds now, because Rome is the Church, and the Church ever holds the same. How hopeless then is it to contend with Romanists, as if they practically agreed with us as to the foundation of faith, however much they pretend to it! Ours is Antiquity [Note 27], theirs the existing Church. Its infallibility is their first principle; belief in it is a deep prejudice quite beyond the reach of anything external. It is quite clear that the combined testimonies of all the Fathers, supposing such a case, would not have a feather's weight against a decision of the Pope in Council, nor would matter at all, except for the Fathers' sake who had by anticipation opposed it. They consider that the Fathers ought to mean what Rome has since decreed, and that Rome knows their meaning better than they themselves did. That venturesome Church has usurped their place, and thinks it merciful only not to banish outright the rivals she has dethroned [Note 28]. By an act, {71} as it were, of grace, she has determined that when they contradict her, though not available as witnesses against her, yet as living in times of ignorance, they are only heterodox and not heretical; and she keeps them around her to ask their advice when it happens to agree with her own.

Let us then understand the position of the Romanists towards us; they do not really argue from the Fathers, though they seem to do so. They may affect to do so in our behalf, happy if by an innocent stratagem they are able to convert us; but all the while in their own feelings they are taking a far higher position [Note 29]. They are teaching, not disputing or proving. They are interpreting what is obscure in Antiquity, purifying what is alloyed, correcting what is amiss, perfecting what is incomplete, harmonizing what is various. They claim and use all its documents as ministers and organs of that one infallible Church, which once forsooth kept silence, but since has spoken; which by a divine gift must ever be consistent with herself, and which bears with her, her own evidence of divinity.


I have said enough perhaps to illustrate the subject in hand; yet various instances shall be added, which are noticed by our divines in the controversy [Note 30]. They are from such and so various quarters, as make them fair samples of the system.

4. Cardinal Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who suffered death during the troubles in King Henry the 8th's reign, is a man, as readers of our history know, of no ordinary name. He is supposed to have assisted Henry in his work {72} against Luther, and while in prison received a Cardinal's hat from the Pope. He surely is as fair a specimen of the Roman controversialist as could be taken. Now in one of his works against Luther, he thus speaks on the subject of modern rise of Indulgences and Purgatory:—"There are many things, about which no question was agitated in the Primitive Church, which, by the diligence of posterity, when doubts had arisen, have now become clear. No orthodox believer, certainly, now doubts whether there be a Purgatory, of which, however, those early writers made no mention, or next to none. Nay, the Greeks up to this day do not believe it ... Nor did the Latins, all at once, nor save gradually, apprehend the truth of this matter. For faith, whether in Purgatory or in Indulgences, was not so necessary in the Primitive Church as now. For then love so burned, that every one was ready to meet death for Christ. Crimes were rare: and such as occurred, were avenged by the great severity of the Canons. Now, however, a good part of the people would rather give up Christianity itself, than bear the rigour of the Canons; so that it was not without the especial providence of the Holy Spirit, that, after the lapse of so many years, belief in Purgatory and the use of Indulgences was generally received by the orthodox. As long as there was no care of Purgatory, no one sought for Indulgences. For the consideration of Indulgences depends entirely on it. If you take away Purgatory, what is the use of Indulgences? for we should not need these, but for it. By considering, then, that Purgatory was for some time unknown, and then believed by certain persons, by degrees, partly from revelations, partly from the Scriptures, and so at length, that faith in it became firmly and generally received by the orthodox Church, we shall most easily form our view of Indulgences." [Note 31] {73}


5. Medina, a Spanish Franciscan of the same century, well esteemed for his learning in the Fathers and Councils, when writing upon the subject of Episcopacy, is led to consider the opinion of St. Jerome, who is accused by many of expressing himself incorrectly concerning it. This is not the place to examine that Father's views; Medina does examine them, and, in consequence, charges him with agreeing with the Aerian heretics. Not content with this, he brings a similar charge against Ambrose, Augustine, Sedulius, Primasius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ecumenius, and Theophylact. This, in addition to its untenable nature, is, indeed, a startling accusation in the mouth of one, who, according to the abstract profession of his Church, is bound to direct himself by the judgment of Antiquity. The circumstance of error in a single Father we could bear without any great surprise; but should there be so many of them upon one side as he supposes in the case before him, perchance we are the heretics, and they the witnesses of Catholic doctrine. To those, however, who rest upon the Church's Infallibility, there is certainly no danger of such a misfortune. Medina, feeling himself in that {74} position, and independent of all the Fathers brought together, thus remarks: "Thus spoke men otherwise most holy, and most thoroughly acquainted with the Holy Scriptures; yet this opinion of theirs was condemned by the Church, first in Aerius, then in the Waldenses, lastly in Wickliffe." And presently, "From respect to Jerome and those Greek Fathers, this opinion was in their case hushed up, or tolerated ... but in the case of those heretics, who in many other points also dissented from the Church, it has always been condemned as heretical." [Note 32] It is fair to add that Bellarmine, who quotes this passage to refute it, speaks of it with severity [Note 33].

6. To the same purport is the following avowal of the University of Douay, as contained in the Belgic Expurgatory Index. "In the old Catholic writers we suffer very many errors, and we extenuate them, excuse them, frequently find out some explanation and so deny them, and assign some fitting sense, when they are objected in disputations." [Note 34] {75}

7. It is not surprising, with these sentiments, that Romanists should have undertaken before now to suppress and correct portions of the Fathers' writings. An edition of St. Austin published at Venice contains the following most suspicious confession: "Besides the recovery of many passages by collation with ancient copies, we have taken care to remove whatever might infect the minds of the faithful with heretical pravity, or turn them aside from the Catholic and orthodox faith." [Note 35] And a corrector of the press at Lyons, of the middle of the 16th century, complains that he was obliged by certain Franciscans to cancel various passages of St. Ambrose, whose works he was engaged upon [Note 36].


8. The Council of Constance furnishes us with a memorable instance of the same disregard for Antiquity to which the whole Roman Communion is committed, in the decree by which it formally debars the laity from the participation of the Cup in the Lord's Supper. There is no need here of entering into the defence put forward by its advocates, as if the Church had a certain discretion committed to her in the Administration of the Sacraments, and used it in this prohibition, as in the substitution of affusion for immersion in Baptism. Even allowing this {76} for argument's sake, the question simply is whether the spirit of the following passage is one of reverence for Antiquity:—

"Although," says the Council, "in the primitive Church the Sacrament was received by the faithful under both kinds, yet for the avoiding some dangers and scandals, this custom has been reasonably introduced, that it be received by the consecrating persons under both kinds, and by the laity only under the bread; since it is to be most firmly believed, and in no wise to be doubted, that the entire Body and Blood of Christ is truly contained as well under the bread as under the wine." [Note 37] The Primitive Church, we can believe, has authority as the legitimate Expositor of Christ's meaning; she acts not from her own discretion, but from Christ and His Apostles [Note 38]. We communicate in the morning, not in the evening, though He did in the evening, because she, His work and pattern to us, was used to do so. For the same reason we baptize Infants, and consider the washing the feet no Sacrament, though His own words, literally taken, command the latter far more strongly than the former observance. But, what is to be thought of a theology which, on its own authority, on mere grounds of expedience, to avoid dangers and scandals, reverses what itself confesses to be the custom of the Church from the time of the Apostles?


9. Such was the conduct of the Council of Constance. Cardinal Cusa justifies its decree in a passage which shall be next referred to. He may be taken as the representative of two great parties in the Church in the fifteenth century. He was present at the Council of Basil, being {77} an upholder of the rights of a General Council above the Pope. Afterwards he joined the Pope who was then censured, and assisted at Florence, but without modifying his former opinions. With this double claim upon our notice, he rests his defence of the withholding of the cup from the laity, on an argument which is thus summed up by Bishop Taylor: "If the Church do expound any evangelical sense contrary to what the current sense and practice of the Catholic Primitive Church did, not that, but this present interpretation must be taken for the way of salvation, for God changes His judgment as the Church does." [Note 39]

10. Lastly, I quote the words of Cornelius Mussus, Bishop of Bitonto, who acted a conspicuous part at the Council of Trent: "I for my part, to speak candidly, would rather credit one Pope in matters touching the faith, than a thousand Augustines, Jeromes, or Gregories." [Note 40]


Before concluding, I would briefly remark, that instances such as the foregoing, altogether expose the pretence of some Roman writers [Note 41], that the silence of Antiquity on the subject of their peculiarities arises from a disciplina arcani, as it has been called, or Rule of secrecy, practised in the early Church, which forbad the publication of the more sacred articles of faith to the world at large. For it has now been seen that, according to the avowed or implied conviction of their most eminent divines, there is much actually to censure in the writings of the Fathers, much which is positively hostile to the Roman system. No rule of secrecy could lead honest men to make statements diametrically {78} opposite to their real belief, statements which are now the refuge of those who resist what Romanists consider the real opinion of the men who made them.

I am led to this remark, because apprehensions have been felt, I would say causelessly, lest those who admit the existence of this primitive rule, or rather usage, were thereby making some dangerous concession to the Roman party; which it cannot be, if, as the latter avow, the Fathers, not merely fail to mention, but actually contradict the Roman peculiarities. But, were the Fathers only silent respecting them, so as just to admit of the hypothesis of a rule of secrecy of such a nature as these apologists wish, at least this would be inconsistent with Bossuet's boast of the "conditions and restrictions" under which the Church has ever exercised her gift of infallibility. "Far from wishing," he says in a passage already quoted, but which will be now more justly estimated after the specimens since given of his Church's reckless conduct towards the primitive Fathers, "far from wishing to become absolute mistress of her faith, as is laid to her charge, she has on the contrary done everything in her power to tie up her own hands, and deprive herself of the means of innovation; for she not only submits to Holy Scripture, but in order to banish for ever those arbitrary interpretations, which would substitute the fancies of man for Scripture, she hath bound herself to interpret it, in what concerns faith and morality, according to the sense of the holy Fathers from which she professes never to depart." That is, she implicitly obeys an authority which, even on the more favourable supposition, says nothing for, and as the fact really is, earnestly protests against the course which she ventures to pursue.


I make one remark more. Enough has been said to show the hopefulness of our own prospects in the controversy {79} with Rome. We have her own avowal that the Fathers ought to be followed, and again that she does not follow them; what more can we require than her witness against herself which is here supplied us? If such inconsistency is not at once fatal to her claims, which it would seem to be, at least it is a most encouraging omen in our contest with her. We have but to remain pertinaciously and immoveably fixed on the ground of Antiquity; and, as truth is ours, so will the victory be also. We have joined issue with her, and that in a point which admits of a decision,—of a decision, as she confesses, against herself. Abstract arguments, original views, novel interpretations of Scripture, may be met by similar artifices on the other side; but historical facts are proof against the force of talent, and remain where they were, when it has expended itself. How mere Protestants, who rest upon no such solid foundation, are to withstand our common adversary, is not so clear, and not our concern. We would fain make them partakers of our vantage-ground; but since they despise it, they must take care of themselves, and must not complain if we refuse to desert a position which promises to be impregnable,—impregnable both as against Rome and against themselves.

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1. [I do not see why the author connects the doctrine of the Church's Infallibility with the "practical workings of its system," and not with its "abstract theory," i.e. formal theology. The case is rather the reverse. The Pope (or the Church) is not infallible in action, but in doctrinal utterances. But in speaking of "practical workings," the author seems here to limit his view to the Roman method of controversy or of argumentation; and so far, I confess, belief in the Church's infallibility rules all inquiries into matters of doctrine. Vid. supr. note, p. 38.]
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2. [Take a parallel. St. Paul was infallible; first he gave proofs of it, viz. by miracles, &c., then he acted upon it. He did not appeal to James, Cephas, and John for his doctrine, though they were "pillars." Was he then "inconsistent"? Supposing the Church is infallible, that very thing must happen which does happen, viz. she must assert her infallibility, and then act upon it as decisive in every controversy of faith. I say "supposing;" and this supposition the author, though repudiating here, actually grants to his own hypothetical "Church Catholic" in Lecture viii., in these words, "Not only is the Church Catholic bound to teach the truth, but she is ever divinely guided to teach it ... She is indefectible in it ... How can she have authority in controversies of faith, unless she be, so far, certainly true in her declarations? ... Our reception of the Athanasian Creed is another proof of our holding the infallibility of the Church, as some of our divines express it, in matters of saving faith."]
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3. [As I have said, the infallible Church supersedes the ancient Fathers, just as much as St. Paul's infallibility put aside the procedure of Peter in Gal. ii., and St. Peter and St. James St. Paul, in James ii., 2 Pet. iii.]
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4. [Hardly so; one instance of "modern consent" is still possible and exists, which is a stronger proof of doctrine than any other, viz. a consent maintained through ages in spite of division and antagonism in the communions maintaining it. Such is the present doctrinal consent of the Churches of Rome and Greece, as regards the cult of the Blessed Virgin and all saints, and the ritual generally, and specially in their judgment of the theological and ethical tenets of all branches of the Reformed Religion.]
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5. ["Ecclesiastical Liberty" is introduced here among other instances upon the ground, I suppose, that, till the secular power came within the pale of the Church, the question of her liberty could not arise.]
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6. [Not incomprehensible. The highest authority speaks last, and Vincent's Rule is for use in the free controversy which precedes and may supersede the exercise of infallibility. A passage from my Apologia, p. 267, written with another drift, will illustrate this point. "All through Church history from the first, how slow is authority in interfering! Perhaps a local teacher, or a doctor in some local school, hazards a proposition, and a controversy ensues. It smoulders or burns in one place, no one interposing; Rome simply lets it alone. Then it comes before a Bishop ... Then it comes before a University, and it may be condemned by the theological faculty ... Rome is still silent ... Meanwhile the question has been ventilated and turned over and over again," &c., &c. ... Vid. a parallel passage infr. Lecture xiii.; and so Perrone de Rom. Pont. p. 517, "Cum aliquis error aut hŠresis," &c., &c.]
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7. [Surely this unmanageableness is a reason against Vincent's Rule being the divinely appointed instrument by which Revelation is to be brought home to individuals. Without offending by the use of a priori un-Butlerian arguments (though Butler does use them too), we may surely say that a Revelation is intended to reveal. But, if this Rule is all that is given us for the interpretation of Scripture or of Antiquity, it is a "lucus Ó non lucendo."]
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8. [What do Catholic theologians more than the author himself did a few pages back, when he discarded the statements of Pope Gregory, Gregory Nyssen, Ephraim, Austin, Cyril, Tertullian, and Origen, when those Fathers contradicted, not Antiquity, but the Anglican view of Antiquity?]
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9. [Is not this precisely the method of other controversialists beside the Roman? May it not be retorted, "This is how Anglicans get over St. Gregory Nyssen's witness to transubstantiation, and St. Ephraim's to the glories of Mary," &c. &c.?]
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10. [We disparage them only so far as this, that we do not hold even the greatest of them to be infallible, whereas the Church is infallible.]
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11. [This ought to be proved by instances, as being a categorical and definite charge.]
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12. Chap. xix.
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13. Letters xi. and xii.
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14. De Verb. Dei Interpr. iii. 10.
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15. De Purg. i. 15.
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16. [So far from making the Trinitarian doctrine "rest on the mere declaration of the Church," he has a Preface of six chapters in order to show that it is to be received on the warrant of a continuous tradition.]
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17. Defens. Fid Nicen. Proœm. ž 7, 8.
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18. [That is, one man was disrespectful to the early Fathers, and the whole of the Gallican Church rose up against him: how does this prove that Catholics generally are accustomed to "explain away the arguments, judgment, and testimony" of the Fathers? And, as to Petavius, let it be observed, he was maintaining just the doctrine which Anglicans also maintain concerning the Blessed Trinity, not innovating; and was "explaining away" nothing in Justin, Origen, &c. It was Bull who, rightly or wrongly, explained away seeming heterodoxies in them.]
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19. Vid. Palmer on the Church, i. 11. Append. 1.
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20. Admonit. in Libr. de Bono Mortis.
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21. [The answer to this is an exposition of the doctrine of the growth and development in the Catholic mind, as time goes on, of the Apostolic depositum. It is difficult for any one to deny that there are points of doctrine on which the Church is clearer now than in the first age. We are not the only parties who maintain this; our opponents maintain it also, in their own creed. Will any Anglican deny that (say) Dr. Pusey has a more exact, a truer view of the "Filioque" than Theodoret or St. John Damascene? Will any Protestant deny that Luther, in his "Articulus stantis vel cadentis EcclesiŠ," saw Gospel truth with a luminousness and assurance which, they consider, was not enjoyed by St. Basil, St. Ambrose, and St. Chrysostom?]
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22. Chapter I.
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23. Bickersteth on Popery, p. 8.
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24. Vol. iv. p. 208. Bellarmine's work was excepted against in the Index of Sextus V. The evidence of this fact, which seemed to need clearing up, has lately been brought out by Mr. Gibbings in his Reprint of the Index, and by Mr. Mendham.
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25. De Purgat. i. 10; ii. 1. [This explanation may be given of Bellarmine's proceeding, viz. that a "consensus Patrum" is, according to Vincent's Rule, necessary for the validity of the argument from Antiquity; and therefore he had quite a right to adduce in his proof of Purgatory that doctrine in which they all agreed together, while he rejected those points in which they differed from each other.]
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26. [But if infallibility exists in the Church, it must supersede, as far us the gift is exercised, all argument and all authority of doctors; now the author himself allows in Lecture viii. that the Church is infallible, at least according to the divine intention.]
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27. [No, not Antiquity, but the conclusions which divines who do not even pretend to be infallible, Ussher, Taylor, and Stillingfleet, draw from the testimonies of Antiquity as regards the articles of the Christian faith. Who, for instance, will be "venturous" enough to say that the twenty-two Fathers, whether they agree or not with Roman doctrine, are in any sort of accordance with Anglican?]
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28. [Those "rivals" never were Popes, never professed to be infallible.]
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29. [Certainly no Catholic controversialist will say that his real ground for considering (e.g.) infant baptism obligatory, is the testimony of the first three centuries. Of course he must appeal to the voice of the infallible Church. On what do Anglicans rest its obligation?]
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30. Vid. Note 1 at the end of this Lecture. [The note follows—NR.]

NOTE 1 on p. 71.

Stillingfleet supplies us with the following specimens, which must be looked at as a whole, as marking the temper of Romanism, and its disrespectful bearing towards the Fathers. "If St. Cyprian," he says, "speaks against Tradition, 'it was,' saith Bellarmine, 'in defence of his error, and therefore no wonder if he argued after the manner of erroneous persons.' If he opposeth Stephen, Bishop of Rome, in the business of rebaptization, 'he seemeth,' saith he, 'to have erred mortally in it.' ... If St. Chrysostom saith, 'That it is better not to be present at the Eucharist, than to be present and not receive it,' 'I say,' saith Bellarmine, 'that Chrysostom, as at other times, went beyond his bounds in saying so.' If St. Augustine expound a place of Scripture not to his mind, he tells him roundly, 'He did not {80} thoroughly consider what he said.' Do not these things argue that due respect they had for the Fathers? So long as they think they can make them serve their turns, then 'who but the Fathers?' If they appear refractory, and will not serve as hewers of wood and drawers of water to them, then, 'Who are the Fathers?' It is the Church's judgment they rely on, and not the Fathers ... Thus the price of the Fathers rises and falls according to their use, like slaves in a market. If yet the Fathers seem to deliver their judgments peremptorily in a matter contrary to the present sense of their Church, then either they speak it 'in the heat of disputation,' or, if not, they were 'contradicted by others as good as they;' if many of them concur, yet, 'it was but their private judgment,' not the sense of the Catholic Church which they delivered. Still we see the rate the Fathers stand at is their agreement with the present Roman Church; if they differ from this, they were men like others, and might be deceived; only the Pope is infallible, or at least the present Roman Church. For if Hilary, Gregory Nyssen, Chrysostom, Cyril, Augustine, and others say, that Christ, when He said, 'Upon this rock will I build my Church,' understood Peter's confession of Himself, saith Maldonate, 'Nothing could be more incongruous than what they say.' ... The same liberty he takes in very many other places."—Stillingfleet, Grounds, i. 5. 19. pp. 137, 138.

Bishop Taylor writes to the same effect in his Dissuasive: "What think we," he asks, "of the saying of Cardinal Cajetan, 'If you chance to meet with any new exposition which is agreeable to the text, &c. although, perhaps, it differs from that which is given by the whole current of the Holy Doctors, I desire the readers that they would not too hastily reject it.' And again; 'Let no man, therefore, reject a new exposition of any passage of Scripture, under pretence that it is contrary to what the Ancient Doctors gave.' What think we of the words of Petavius? 'There are many things by the most Holy Fathers scattered, especially St. Chrysostom in his Homilies, which if you would accommodate to the rule of exact truth, they will seem to be void of good sense.' And again; 'there is no cause why the authority of certain Fathers should be objected, for they can say nothing but what they have learned from St. Luke; neither is there any reason why we should rather interpret St. Luke by them, than those things which they say by St. Luke.'" Presently Taylor adds, "Of late, 'knowledge is increased,'—at least many writers think so; and though the ancient interpretations were more honoured than new, yet Salmeron says plainly, 'that the younger doctors are better-sighted and more perspicacious.' And the question being about the conception of the blessed Virgin, without original sin, against which a multitude of Fathers are brought: the Jesuit answers the argument with the word in Exodus xxiii. 'Thou shalt not follow a multitude to sin.'"—Taylor, Dissuasive, part 2, Introd. vol. x. p. 320. Vid. also, Ussher's Answer to Jesuit. ch. i.

[I do not know that it is necessary to hunt out in the original the above {81} passages as professedly quoted here from Catholic writers. Doubtless reference was carefully made to them, or to their Anglican quoters, in former editions of this volume. The substance of them is perfectly true, and must be true, if, as the Author grants in Lecture 8, the Church is infallible in faith and morals. Whether it be they or their translators, who had expressed themselves so roughly, intemperately or flippantly, matters little in view of the main question whether they are right or wrong in principle. We may freely grant that individual theologians, nay particular schools or parties, have made extravagant assertions. On the main subject, vid. the Author's Essay on Development of Doctrine.]
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31. Assert. Luther. Confut. 18. [Here again we derive an explanation of what at first sight certainly is startling, by referring to the doctrine of the Development of the Catholic Creed. Its principle and defence are found in the Tract of Vincent, spoken of by the author a few pages back, as so great an authority in the present controversy. He says: "Forsitan dicit aliquis, nullusne ergo in EcclesiÔ Christi profectus habebitur religionis? Habeatur planŔ, et maximus ... Sed ita tamen, ut vere profectus sit ille fidei, non pemutatio ... Imitetur animarum religio rationem corporum, quŠ licet annorum processu numeros suos evolvant et explicent, eadem tamen quŠ erant permanent. Multum interest inter pueritiŠ fiorem et senectutis maturitatem ... parva lactantium membra, magna juvenum, eadem ipsa sunt tamen ... Fas est ut prisca illa cœlestis philosophiŠ dogmata processu temporis excurentur, limentur, poliantur; sed nefas est ut commutentur. Accipiant licet evidentiam, lucem, distinctionem; sed retineant necesse est plenitudinem, integritatem, proprietatem." 28-30.]
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32. De Clericis, i. 15. The passages quoted are as follows: "Atque ita isti viri alioqui sanctissimi et sanctarum scripturarum consultissimi; quorum tamen sententiam prius in Aerio, deinde in Waldensibus, postremo Joanne Wiclefo damnavit Ecclesia ... Ergo in Hieronymo et GrŠcis illis Patribus, olim propter eorum honorem et reverentiam hŠc sententia aut dissimulabatur aut tolerabatur, quanquam Christianis ac Theologicis disputationibus semper repulsam paterentur; in illis contra hŠreticis, Aerio, &c. quod in aliis quoque multis ab EcclesiÔ declinarent, tanquam hŠretica semper est damnata." De Sacr. Hom. continent. i. 5. pp. 5, 6.
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33. [How then can Medina, any more than Petavius, be taken as the representative of Catholic theologians, considering that, as the Gallican Church protested against the latter, so the foremost and pattern Catholic controversialist of the Reformation era, Bellarmine, enters his protest against the former?]
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34. Taylor's Dissuasive, i. i. 1. vol. x. p. 136. Gibbings, Preface, p. xliv. The passage stands thus in the Index: "Ut Liber Bertrami Pres. de Corp. et Sang. Domini tolerari emendatus queat.—Judicium Universitatis Duacensis censoribus probatum. Quanquam librum istum magni non existemus momenti, ... attamen cum jam sŠpe recusus sit et lectus a plurimis, &c. … [cum] in catholicis veteribus aliis plurimos feramus errores, et extenuemus, excusemus, ex cogitato commento persŠpe negemus, et commodum iis sensum affingamus, dum opponuntur in disputationibus aut in conflictionibus cum adversariis, non videmus cur non eandem Šquitatem at diligentem recognitionem mereatur Bertramus," &c.—p. 11. ed. 1599.
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35. "In quo, prŠter locorum multorum restitutionem secundum collationem veterum exemplarium, curavimus removeri illa omnia, quŠ fidelium mentes hŠreticÔ pravitate possent inficere, aut Ó catholicÔ orthodoxÔ fide deviare." Vid. Taylor, Diss. Part. ii. i. 6. vol. x. p. 497.
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36. "Qui pro auctoritate has omnes paginas dispunxenunt, ut vides, et illas substitui in locum priorum curaverunt, prŠter omnem librorum nostrorum fidem." Ibid.
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37. Act. Conc. Constant. Sess. 13.
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38. [Catholics of course hold that, whatever the Primitive Church could lawfully do, that and such as that can be done by her in every age.]
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39. Vid. Dissuasive, Works, vol. x. p. 485. Stillingfleet (on the Council of Trent, Works, vol. vi. p. 451) quotes a sentence from the same Epistle. The whole passage in the original is too long to quote, but some portions are extracted at the end of this Lecture. [Vid. Note 2.] [The note follows—NR.]

NOTE 2, on p. 77.

Cardinal Cusa, Ep. ii. de Usu Communionis ad Bohemos, Works, p. 833-5, speaks as follows: "Dices fortasse, 'Ecclesia hodierna non ita ambulat in ritu communionis, sicut ante ista tempora, quando sanctissimi viri utriusque speciei sacramentum necessarium esse vi prŠcepti Christi et verbo et opera astruebant. Potuitne tunc Ecclesia errare? Certe non. Quod si non, quomodo id hodie verum non est, quod tunc omnium opinione affirmabatur, cum non sit alia Ecclesia ista quam illa?' Certe hoc te non moveat, quod diversis temporibus alius et alius ritus sacrificiorum et etiam sacramentorum stante veritate invenitur, scripturasque esse ad tempus adaptatas, et varie intellectas, ita ut uno tempore secundum currentem universalem ritum exponerentur, mutato ritu iterum sententia mutaretur. Christus enim, cui Pater regnum cœleste terrenumque tradidit, in utroque ... dispensat, et quŠ singulis temporibus congruent, vel occultÔ inspiratione, vel evidentiore illustratione, suggerit. HŠc est doctoris sententia Ambrosii, &c. ... Quare etiam si hodie alia fuerit interpretatio EcclesiŠ, ejusdem prŠcepti evangelici quam aliquando, tamen hic sensus nunc in usu currens ad regimen EcclesiŠ inspiratus, uti tempori congruus, ut salutis via debet aeceptari, sicut de Baptismi forma Apostolorum tempore, ubi in Christi nomine, et alio sequente ubi in Trinitatis nomine, &c. … Hanc sententiam [Augustini libro 18 de Civ. Dei] radicem universalium conciliorum, in omnibus pœne conciliis reperimus canonizatam, quia ex unanimitate omnium, etiam paucis resistentibus, inspirationem divinam sententiam dictasse legitur. Fatuum es ergo argumentum, velle universalem EcclesiŠ ritum ex scripturis prŠdecessorum arguere … ScripturŠ de bene esse regiminis EcclesiŠ etiam inceptŠ et continuatŠ, nequaquam de essentiÔ existere possunt … Si ut concilium, dixerit Ecclesia scripturam etiam in verbis prŠceptivis explicatam, verbo vel praxi acceptandam, cum non habeat aliud auctoritatis quam uti per Ecclesiam dictatur, non ad verba, sed ad experimentalem sensum EcclesiŠ obliget, quoniam Ecclesia est, quŠ non habet maculam neque rugam erroris at falsitatis. Est enim corpus Christi, qui est veritas, et sic spiritu veritatis continue vegetatur at regitur, quia in EcclesiÔ loquitur Christus, et in Christo Ecclesia {82} … Et ita mutatio ista interpretationis Ó Christi voluntate ita nunc volentis inspirante dependet; sicut prŠceptum ipsum quandum juxta illius temporis convenientem aliter practicatum, et propterea hŠc ligandi et solvendi potestas non minor est in Ecclesia quam in Christo."
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40. [Vid. Note 3 at the end of this Lecture.] [The note follows—NR.]

NOTE 3, on p. 77.

["Si certum tibi fuerit, illum contra Deum dicere, regulam habes. Obedire magis oportet Deo, quÓm hominibus. At si dubium tibi sit, dicatne secundum Deum vel non, ne sollicitus sis. PrŠlato crede; illius culpa erit, si peccabis. Animam meam exquiret Deus de manibus suis. Ego, ut ingenue fatear, plus uni summo Pontifici crederem, in his quŠ fidei mysteria tangunt, quÓm mille Augustinis, Hieronymis, Gregoriis, ne dicam Ricardis, Scotis, Guillelmis. Credo enim et scio, quod summus Pontifex in his, quŠ fidei sunt, errare non potest, quoniam EcclesiŠ auctoritas determinandi, quŠ ad fidem spectant, in Pontifice residet. Et ita Pontificis error, universalis error EcclesiŠ esset. Universalis autem Ecclesia errare non potest. Ne mihi dicas de concilio, &c." in Rom. xiv. p. 606. vid. Stillingfleet, Grounds, i. 5. ž 19. p. 137.] Yet Mussus was a divine of great moderation on some points. Pallavicino gives him a high character, Hist. p. 261. [Anglicans may deny, if they will, the Pope's Infallibility; but, if he is infallible, his determination on points of faith is and must be worth the judgment of a thousand St. Augustines or St. Jeromes.

I sum up what I have to say on this Lecture thus:—

1. There is the same difference between the modern and primitive teaching and action of the Catholic Church, as between the boy and the grown man.

2. Such difference as little interferes with the identity of the modern and primitive teaching, as with the identity of man and boy.

3. This growth or development in the Church's teaching proceeds on fixed laws under the safeguard of her infallibility, which secures her from whatever is abnormal or unhealthy.

4. The early Fathers, who are witnesses to her early teaching, are not in a position to act as judges of her later.

5. If those Fathers, though Doctors of the Church, must be kept apart from, not confused with her, so surely must modern theologians, such as Bellarmine or Bossuet, however great their reputation.

6. As to language such as Medina's, or conduct such as that attributed to the editors of the Venice St. Austin, those may defend it who care to do so.]
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41. Pagi Ann. 118. n 9.
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